Monday, December 28, 2009

Health Care Changes Wouldn’t Have Big Effect for Many

The NY Times featured an article about the roughly 160 million workers and their dependents who already have health insurance through an employer. As the article relates:

For many people, the result of the long, angry health care debate in Washington may be little more than more of the same.

As President Obama once promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.”

That may be true even if you don’t like your health plan. And no one seems to agree on whether the legislation will do much to reduce workers’ continually rising out-of-pocket costs.

True, there is an important advantage for the working insured: more peace of mind for people who are worried about being laid off or would like to change jobs.

There are still many gaps to bridge between the House and Senate bills. But even before the House-Senate negotiations begin in January, both bills offer this assurance: If you lose your job or move to one that does not provide benefits, there should be better alternatives when shopping for your own coverage.

And both the House and Senate bills share the same basic goal of placing new rules on insurers so that even someone with a pre-existing medical condition, or a few years to go before qualifying for Medicare, should have a much easier time finding a relatively affordable policy.

The legislation should give most working people “the guarantee of security if their circumstances change,” said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, an independent research group that has studied the House and Senate bills.

Of course, with more security will come more obligation. Congress seems likely to impose an individual mandate that will require people to be insured or face a financial penalty.

The other proposed changes for employer-provided coverage seem aimed mainly at workers whose benefits are either very generous or exceedingly skimpy. Read more here.

Save Time. Save Money. Stay Informed.

In Today's Economy, NYCON Membership is More Valuable Than Ever Before!

Thank you for being a member of NYCON in 2009! Reflecting on the challenges and changes that nonprofits have experienced this year, makes the fact that you maintained your membership in the New York Council of Nonprofits (formerly the Council of Community Services of NYS, Inc.) a real testament to your organization. We commend you on your continued dedication to sound board governance, best practices in management, organizational efficiencies and economies of scale.

What's Ahead?
In 2009 our 1,600 members helped shape a more promising future for our sector. For the first time ever we saw your stories being taken to Capitol Hill and the White House as our country's elected officials met with national nonprofit leaders to discuss issues such as capacity building and the inclusion of nonprofits in healthcare reform legislation.

On the home front, NYCON members saved valuable dollars that were reinvested into their missions. Nonprofits saved over $1 million in Unemployment costs and over $500,000 in other insurance premiums in 2008 and 2009. Members have also benefitted from purchasing programs in Dental insurance, Flexible Spending Accounts and Life Insurance.

New cost-savings programs this year from the National Council of Nonprofits, of which you are a member by virtue of your affiliation with NYCON, include discounts on background checks, a free color copier program and technology training through Idealware.

You may notice that for the first time in over 5 years, NYCON Membership dues are being raised...but by only $10! NYCON knows that in this economy membership must pay for itself and we are certain that it will continue to do so.

Renewing Your Membership Is Easy!
Steps to renew your NYCON Membership:
1. Click here to log into your account. Forgot your password? Click on "Forgot Password" button and enter your email.
1. Update Your Record. Do we have your correct Phone, Fax and Email Address? Do we have current contact information for your staff and board?
2. Pay 2010 Dues. You can pay easily online.
3. If you would prefer to renew via paper application, please send a check and an updated board list with your application.

Renew by January 15th, 2010 and be entered to win great prizes including a $100 credit to any NYCON Conference, a series of free Build a Better Nonprofit Trainings, and more!

Once again, thank you for all that you do for your community and for the nonprofit sector. If you have any questions about your memership renewal, please feel free to contact me at (800) 515-5012 ext 121 or via email at


Valerie Venezia
Vice President of Membership & Marketing

Join online or click here for a paper application.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


For Immediate Release: December 13, 2009
Contact: Marissa Shorenstein 518.474.8418 212.681.4640
DOB Contact: Matt Anderson 518.473.3885 518.248.7310

Action Needed to Address Cash-Flow Problem

Through Use of the Certification Provision, Budget Division to Withhold $750 Million in Scheduled Payments

Governor David A. Paterson today outlined what steps he has directed the Division of the Budget to take in order to keep the New York State solvent. To address a severe cash shortage and help keep the current-year budget in balance, he has ordered $750 million in reductions to scheduled December payments. The following fact sheet outlines the State’s current cash position, as well as the specific actions Governor Paterson is ordering the Budget Division to implement through its Certification Provision authority. These measures will ensure the continued operation of New York’s government.

December Payment Reductions Fact Sheet

The Division of the Budget’s most recent update to the State financial plan forecasted a current-year deficit of $3.2 billion. Additionally, the Office of the State Comptroller has said that this budget gap could be more than $4 billion. However, the Deficit Reduction Plan (DRP) that the Legislature enacted on December 2 – when combined with the administrative cuts Governor Paterson is implementing – included only $2.7 billion in current-year savings actions. Regardless of any budget actions proposed in January, measures must be taken to address the State’s severe projected cash-flow crunch during the month of December and the remainder of this fiscal year.

Background: Cash-flow Situation

Even after using $1.2 billion in rainy day reserve funds for cash-flow purposes and delaying a scheduled $1 billion pension fund payment, the Division of the Budget forecasts that, if current expenditures are made on schedule, the State’s General Fund will have a negative balance of over $1 billion at the close of December. This would represent the first time in New York’s history that the General Fund has ended a month with a negative balance. Indeed, the State’s cash position is weaker than at any point in recent history – even after the attacks on September 11.

When the General Fund has a negative balance, it is authorized to temporarily borrow money from other governmental funds (the “Short-term Investment Pool” or STIP) for a period of up to four months or the end of the fiscal year – whichever period is shorter – in order to help meet immediate cash-flow needs. However, the funds available to the State in the STIP for cash-flow purposes are limited. At the close of December, current projections from the Division of the Budget and Office of the State Comptroller indicate that STIP resources may be temporarily exhausted. Moreover, within the month of December itself, there may be periods of time when daily available fund balances are inadequate to make scheduled payments.

Background: Certification Provision

The 2009-10 Enacted Budget included a blanket “Certification Provision” that governs local assistance appropriations. It states that:

“No moneys appropriated by this [law] shall be available for payment until a certificate of approval has been issued by the director of the budget, who shall file such certificate with the department of audit and control, the chairperson of the senate finance committee and the chairperson of the assembly ways and means committee.”

In order to preserve the continued financial stability and orderly operation of State government, Governor Paterson has directed the Division of the Budget to exercise its authority to withhold certification of local assistance payments for appropriations subject to the Certification Provision.
Specific December Payment Reductions

The Division of the Budget has identified the largest expenditures that the State is expected to make in December. These include: a $2.3 billion payment to school districts for the STAR program; $1.5 billion in School Aid payments; $450 million in payments to cities through the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) program; $398 million in payments to counties for human services reimbursements; and $247 million in payments to health insurers for State employee fringe benefits. Together, they total $4.9 billion.

Municipalities and school districts are expected to receive payments for AIM ($450 million) and School Aid ($1.5 billion) by December 15. The certificates for those payments will each be reduced by 10 percent. These reductions will help the State maintain a positive cash position over the course of the next week.

Additional payments for STAR, human services, and State employee fringe benefits are expected to be made later in the month. The certifications for those expenditures will each be reduced by approximately 19 percent. This higher percentage reflects the significant uncertainties related to cash availability at the end of the month due to risks associated with potential receipts volatility.

In total, these December certification reductions will produce a total of $750 million in cash-flow savings.

Payment Amount Reduction Payee
STAR Payment $2,295M $436M School Districts
School Aid $1,460M $146M School Districts
AIM $450M $45M Cities
GSCs (State Employee Fringe Benefits) $247M $47M Insurance Carriers
Human Services $398M $76M Counties
TOTAL $4,850M $750M

As sufficient revenue becomes available, the State will potentially pay the amounts that were delayed. As a result, these particular December reductions represent cash-management actions, rather than a permanent elimination of liability for these specific payments. Governor Paterson will announce further actions in his Executive Budget to fully eliminate the Stare’s remaining current-year deficit. He also reserves the right to institute further payment delays later over the remaining months of the fiscal year in order to preserve the State’s cash position.

Local Governments Seek to Raise Revenues through Fees on Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits reported that with revenues depleted, an increasing number of local governments have been trying to tap nonprofits for funds. This excellent article summarizes why nonprofits - as one leader of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits testified - are feeling "death by a thousand cuts" due to a proliferation of fees and assessments from local government. As a YMCA leader explained: "Nonprofits have tax exemption for a reason - they provide service to the community that lessens the burden on government. We are partners with government and the community. But as these additional fees and assessments get assigned, it comes out of our donated dollars and resources."

Allegheny County Commission (Pennyslvania) recently voted unanimously to impose $13 million in fees on tax exempt property. The County Executive, however, vetoed the tax, saying it was illegal under Pennsylvania law. When the county solicitor agreed that the tax was unconstitutional, the Commission backed off - although several commissioners reportedly vowed to search for other ways to get money from nonprofits.

Even though Minnesota law recognizes that nonprofits lessen the burden of government and therefore exempts nonprofit property from taxation, Minneapolis has tried to be creative by instead imposing a "streetlight" fee on churches and other nonprofits.

In Kingston (New York), local officials are looking to follow this emerging trend of charging nonprofits for local services. The garbage collection fee, unofficially dubbed "pay-as-you-throw," would raise nearly $1 million in revenue for the city. Local officials have also considered additional fees for public safety and other municipal services.

Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends

This new book, “Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends,” was co-edited by Dr. Steve Yuen, a professor of Instructional Technology at The University of Southern Mississippi and Professor Harrison Hao Yang at the State University of New York at Oswego and is published by IGI Global.

As education continues to integrate technological advancements into learning and instruction, a resource dedicated to the latest findings and implications becomes necessary. The Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends provides academicians, researchers, and practitioners with a comprehensive view of the historical, conceptual, theoretical, and practical perspectives of conventional e-learning and innovative e-learning 2.0. Presenting cutting-edge research, case studies, best practices, and pedagogical approaches and strategies, this defining reference source incorporates the latest and most discussed Web 2.0 technologies in educational learning and practice.

Learning has been dramatically influenced by information and communication technology (ICT). There is no doubt that ICT keeps bringing new excitement into learning and communication. Multimedia on the Internet, telecommunications, wireless applications, mobile devices, social network software, Web 2.0, etc. are all radically redefining the way people obtain information and the way to learn and communicate. Consequently, electronic learning (e-learning) has become one of the most exciting, dynamic, and yet challenging fields that we have been facing. What is the history of e-learning? Where are we now? What will the future bring? What are the key elements of e-learning we need to focus on? Where has progress been made? How will we face and rise to new opportunities and challenges? How do we analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate e-learning? In order to shed light on these questions, we have taken a comprehensive view and looked at e-learning and innovative e-learning 2.0 from historical, conceptual, empirical, practical, and vocational perspectives. The result is this book, entitled Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends.

Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends is written for broader audiences including educators, trainers, administrators, and researchers working in the area of e-learning or distance learning in various disciplines, e.g. education, corporate training, instructional technology, computer science, library information science, information technology, and workforce development. We hope readers will benefit from the work of authors who range from cutting edge researchers to experienced practitioners regarding the research and practices in e-learning. The book covers focal points of e-learning and is organized into five parts of e-learning: Chronical and Conceptual Perspectives (Chapters 1-4); E-Learners (Chapters 5-9); E-Learning Environments and Communities (Chapters 10-14); Professional and Disciplinary Implications (Chapters 15-19); and Pedagogical Design and Implementations (Chapters 20-29). Read more about the book here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Charities Rise, Costing U.S. Billions in Tax Breaks

The NY Times reported that the number of organizations that can offer their donors a tax break in the name of charity has grown more than 60 percent in the United States, to 1.1 million, in just a decade.

Experts say nonprofits are skillfully exploiting the tax code’s broad and elastic definition of what constitutes such a charity, making it difficult for the Internal Revenue Service, which must bless them, to say no. The agency approved 99 percent of the applications for public charity status last year, according to a new study by students at Stanford University — or more than one every 10 to 15 minutes.

Take the Woohoo Sistahs, a social club that won approval last year. Its 50 or so members meet regularly over drinks and dinner in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and raise money for cancer research and other causes through walkathons and sales held in retailers’ parking lots.

What the Sistahs do is not so different from what the Shriners have done for decades to raise money for their hospitals — except that the Sistahs can offer their donors a tax break that the Shriners cannot because decades ago they registered as a different type of charity with the I.R.S. (Direct donation to Shriners hospitals are deductible.)

The $300 billion donated to charities last year cost the federal government more than $50 billion in lost tax revenue.

“Especially during these tough economic times, it’s troubling to hear we are increasing the number of these organizations at such a rapid pace,” said Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat who is one of the few members of Congress to pay attention to the nonprofit sector.

“It’s not free,” Mr. Becerra said, “and so we need to do something to make sure taxpayers are getting a big enough benefit in return.”

Timothy Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, agreed that the rapid increase in charities was an issue but said that addressing it would be extremely complicated.

“What are we going to do?” Mr. Delaney asked. “Have some bureaucrat establish a quota for arts organizations? Or after-school programs?” Read more here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Women Who Mean Business: Mary Seeley, Nonprofit Leader

The Albany Business Review featured a story on Mary Seeley, the Executive Director for Equinox. As the article relates:

Mary Seeley had two reasons to worry when the economy stumbled.

As more people around the region began losing their jobs last year, the executive director of Equinox Inc. of Albany knew her organization would have to work harder to serve a growing number of impoverished and homeless women and children.

At the same time, she feared federal and state budget cuts might slash Equinox’s $4.5 million annual operating budget, making it more difficult for her staff of 100 to respond. Eighty-three percent of the nonprofit’s revenue comes from government sources.

“It’s been both a blessing and a challenge that we manage so many grants,” said Mary Seeley, who was named The Business Review's Nonprofit Leader in 2009. Read more here.