Monday, December 20, 2010

How Will the New Tax Law Affect Your Nonprofit, Your Employees, and the People You Serve?

Yesterday Congress passed the $857 billion tax package negotiated by President Obama and congressional Republicans. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation today.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (H.R. 4853) has numerous components of interest and concern to nonprofits – as employers and as mission-based organizations involved in local communities. This list presents portions of interest to most nonprofits, nonprofit employees, and the people they serve:
  • Tax Rates Maintained: All of the individual tax rates put in effect in 2001 and 2003 are maintained through 2012, including those for upper-income tax brackets. Most immediately, this means that nonprofit and other employers will not have to adjust employee withholdings for income taxes.
  • Individual Payroll Taxes Reduced: Employees receive a two percent reduction in the Social Security tax they pay. For 2011, nonprofit and other employers will need to reduce the individual's share of payroll withholding from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. To illustrate what this change means, an individual earning $50,000 will see $1,000 in tax savings.
  • Estate Tax: The bill restores and reduces the federal estate tax at a rate of 35 percent and increases the exemption level to $5 million, two changes that many fear will eliminate previous incentives for the wealthy to give.
  • Charitable Giving Incentives: The IRA rollover and other expired charitable giving incentives (promoting donations of food, land, computers, and books) are restored for the remainder of 2010 and through the end of 2011, which should help promote giving.
  • Unemployment Benefits: The legislation extends the enhanced program of 99-weeks of unemployment benefits through 2011. This allowance may prevent additional strain that would have hit many nonprofits that provide services to those with no income.
  • Alternative Minimum Tax: Middle-income taxpayers will not be subject to the alternative minimum tax in 2010 and 2011 because the bill renews a "patch" that limits the application of the AMT to approximately four million upper-income individuals. Without this patch, many taxpayers would have seen an automatic increase in their tax rates.
The following link will take readers to a 12-page summary that provides greater detail about the bill, including provisions that might be of interest to particular nonprofits (e.g., those providing child care, adoption assistance, certain education): Summary of the Reid-McConnell Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.
Also, the IRS just released instructions to help employers implement the 2011 cut in payroll taxes, along with new income-tax withholding tables that employers will use during 2011. See Notice 1036.
1101 Vermont Avenue NW | Suite 1002 | Washington DC 20005

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SBA, Microsoft create technology guide, online course

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced a new technology resource is available for small business owners.

The SBA and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. have teamed up to create "Business Technology Simplified," a free guidebook that offers tips on how to use technology and innovation to make businesses work more efficiently, the SBA said in a news release.
The guidebook includes material on simplifying work tasks, do-it-yourself marketing, time management, and finding and cultivating customers.

"Business Technology Simplified" is available in a printed format at the SBA Syracuse district office. Computer users can also access the guidebook online at the Microsoft website.
It's also available as a free distance-learning course, according to the SBA.

The course is available at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Helping 1,000 startups in 2,000 days

From the Business Review

Veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Babinec is looking for an Albany-area university to team up with him.

Babinec, of Little Falls, N.Y., founded Upstate Venture Connect in January and already has partnered with Cornell University, Syracuse University and LeMoyne College in Central New York to make it easier for technology startups to succeed.

Babinec formed UVC with a goal of helping entrepreneurs team up with advisers and find access to investors to increase their odds of survival. UVC seeks to help create 1,000 technology startups in upstate New York over the next 2,000 days.

“For entrepreneurs to get connected here is extremely difficult,” Babinec said.

UVC, a nonprofit, is developing a database and social network for mentors, advisers, startup companies, incubators and investors.

Teaming up with upstate universities to create a network of resources to help entrepreneurs solve funding, marketing, sales and commercialization problems is a key that Babinec said will help upstate encourage the development of more startup companies.

The resident of Herkimer County, N.Y., spent 22 years building TriNet HR Corp., a San Leandro, Calif.-based human resources outsourcing company, into a national firm with $200 million in annual revenue and more than 2,800 clients in the Unites States.

Babinec, who remains on the TriNet board and is the second-largest shareholder of the private company, said he is dedicating the next 10 years to bringing some of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurship culture to upstate New York.

UVC is run by Nasir Ali, president of The Tech Garden in Syracuse.

Last month, UVC opened an office in Saratoga Springs. Greg Gibson, an entrepreneur who moved to Saratoga Springs from Boston two years ago, is running the local office.

“Upstate has many of the assets necessary to build an innovation-oriented economy,” Babinec said. They include 113 universities and colleges, roughly 500,000 students who attract more than $3 billion in research funding each year.

Those assets are spread out and do not work together as much as they should.

By partnering with universities throughout upstate, Babinec said he hopes to start changing the entrepreneurship culture here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to Donate like a Pro

In a Time of Tighter Budgets—For Benefactors and Charities Alike—It's More Important Than Ever to Make Your Gifts Count. Here's How

Investors demand a good return from their assets. Now donors are increasingly seeking the same for their charitable dollars.

Many philanthropists, large and small, are anxious about writing checks—and many endowments have yet to recover fully from the bruising they took during the financial crisis. Finding the worthiest, most-efficient organizations to maximize the impact of your donations couldn't be more pressing.

Yet identifying the best charity can be as difficult as picking a good money manager, with philanthropists left to navigate a world of tax forms, ratings systems and often misleading jargon. It's easy just to write a check and hope for the best—but you stand the risk of getting a poor return on your charitable investments.

Making matters more complicated: Many long-cherished tax breaks are coming under fire. Next year could bring the return of limits on itemized deductions, including those for donations, if Congress doesn't extend the Bush-era tax cuts for couples earning more than $250,000 ($200,000 for individuals). Even if Congress extends the cuts for all, the idea of cutting back charitable tax breaks is still in play: President Obama's deficit commission this week proposed limiting the deductions for large gifts to amounts above 2% of adjusted gross income.

All this is making donors rethink their giving strategies, says Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. "They want to make sure now more than ever that they're using their money wisely."

Overall giving is down sharply from its recent highs. Among high-net-worth households—who account for the bulk of individual charitable dollars—average giving dropped 34.9% to $54,016 in 2009, from $83,034 in 2007, according to a survey conducted by the center and sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The downward trend appears to be continuing. One in five people say they are giving to fewer organizations than in the past, according to a November poll from Harris Interactive. A third are giving in smaller amounts this year than last. And the percentage of people not giving at all has doubled to 12% in 2010 from last year.

There are a host of charity-rating agencies to consult, but to get a more-accurate picture, consider volunteering your time before giving money. Do your own research: Talk to beneficiaries, visit work sites and study a group's finances yourself to judge the effectiveness of its programs.

That's what Denise Winston did. The former business banker "always just wrote a check," she says. But after leaving her job and starting her own financial-education business in 2009, the Bakersfield, Calif., resident became more frustrated over how little of her donations were going to beneficiaries. She decided she would spend time volunteering with different organizations before giving, partly to get a better sense of her time and money's impact.

"I'm closer to the person receiving support," she says. "Anyone can write a check. But I like to give things you can't buy."

Here's how to navigate the system and make sure the dollars you donate are making the biggest impact possible.

Article continued at Wall Street, includes ways of gauging donor's impact and red flags that donors should watch out for.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Charities Seeing Slight Recovery in Giving, But Not Enough to Keep Up with Demand or Budget Cuts

Nonprofit organizations have seen a slight turnaround in giving so far this year that mirrors the slow economic recovery, a new survey from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) finds. But the small rebound hasn't been enough to help many nonprofits that are grappling with staff and service cuts even as demand for their services has increased.

The national survey showed that 36 percent of charities reported an increase in donations in the first nine months of 2010, compared with only 23 percent in the same period of 2009.

Thirty-seven percent of charities reported a decrease in giving, a dramatic change from 2009's 51 percent. Among those experiencing a decline in giving, the main reason cited was fewer individual donations and smaller amounts. Lower amounts received from foundations and corporations also contributed to the overall lower giving amounts at these charities. Giving remained unchanged at 26 percent of nonprofits in 2010 vs. 25 percent in 2009.

"We are beginning to see some positive signs, but despite that giving still has a long way to go to return to the levels it was at three or four years ago," said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which spearheaded the collaboration. "One-fifth of charities in the survey said their budgets for 2011 will be lower than for 2010, forcing many of them to look at cuts in services, salaries and staff."

Among the 20 percent of nonprofits anticipating reduced budgets next year, 66 percent say they will have to reduce programs, services or operating hours, 59 percent expect to cut or freeze staff salaries or benefits, and 49 percent are planning layoffs or hiring freezes.

"The Nonprofit Fundraising Survey: November 2010" is the first product of a collaboration involving six organizations that serve the nonprofit sector: the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Blackbaud, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the Foundation Center, GuideStar USA Inc., and the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics.

"For the first time in two years, there is cause for cautious optimism about the nonprofit sector in this economy," said Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of GuideStar. "Nonetheless, in this latest study, as in all prior years, nonprofits also are reporting increased demand for their services. Even as giving increases, philanthropic dollars fall short of the amounts needed to help people in our country and abroad."

Demand for services increased at 78 percent of human service nonprofits and 68 percent of charities overall in 2010. Charities will be hard-pressed in 2011 to secure funding for growing needs, especially as individual and foundation donors are cautious about boosting support and other sources of funding — including government contracts for services — are cut.

"Younger, less well-established nonprofits have been especially hard hit by the recession," noted Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for research at the Foundation Center. "Many foundations, seeking to maximize more limited resources, have steered their grantmaking toward organizations they believe have the best chance to weather the economic storm."

Other Key NRC Survey Findings:

  • In four of eight subsectors, the share of organizations reporting an increase in contributions was about the same as the share reporting a decrease. The four with nearly equal percentages of organizations with giving up and giving down are: arts, education, environment/animals, and human services.
  • International organizations were the most likely to report an increase in contributions, reflecting donations made for disaster relief.
  • In three subsectors — health, public-society benefit, and religion — a larger share of the organizations reported declines than reported increases.
  • The larger an organization's annual expenditures, the more likely it reported an increase in charitable receipts in the first nine months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009.
  • Most organizations were guardedly optimistic about 2011. Forty-seven percent plan budget increases, 33 percent expect to maintain their current level of expenditures, and 20 percent anticipate a lower budget for 2011.
The Collaborative and Survey Methodology

By working together, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative can reduce the number of surveys nonprofits are asked to complete, collect information more efficiently, and analyze it in more useful ways to create the benchmarks and trends that nonprofits and grant makers use to guide their work. Each partner has at least a decade of direct experience collecting information from nonprofits on charitable receipts, fundraising practices, and/or grantmaking activities. Survey participants will form a panel over time, allowing for trend comparisons among the same organizations. This approach provides more useful benchmarking information than repeated cross-sectional studies.

The first NRC survey, based on questions that GuideStar used for its annual economic surveys, was fielded between October 19 and November 3, 2010. It received 2,513 responses. More than 2,350 charities completed the questions, as did 163 foundations. The analysis for grant makers includes responses from charities that make grants but that are not foundations. These include United Ways, Jewish federations, congregations, and a number of other types of organizations. There were responses from 386 grant makers.

The respondents form a convenience sample. There is no margin of error or measure of statistical significance using this sampling technique, as it is not a random sample of the population studied. However, given the long-running nature of GuideStar's economic surveys and the strong relationship between findings in those studies in prior years and actual results once tax data about charitable giving are available, the method employed here is a useful barometer of what charities experience and what total giving will look like. In the future, the NRC surveys are expected to occur in early winter, spring, and fall every year.

"The Nonprofit Fundraising Survey: November 2010" (PDF), which includes responses broken down by types of nonprofits and budget size, can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Foundations Likely to Increase Giving in 2011, According to Foundation Center Survey

Foundation Operations Have Stabilized in the Wake of Widespread Disruption

Giving by U.S. foundations is poised for modest overall growth in 2011, after remaining flat in 2010. But it may take several years for giving to match the peak level recorded in 2008, according to estimates reported by the Foundation Center in Moving Beyond the Economic Crisis: Foundations Assess the Impact and Their Response.

Foundation operations appear to have stabilized following cuts in staffing, travel, or other operating expenses by a majority of grantmakers. In a sign that foundations may be turning the corner, only 12 percent of respondents to the Center's September 2010 "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" expect these operational changes to remain in place over the longer term. Among the changes that could persist: funders making fewer site visits to grantees, attending fewer conferences, eliminating print copies of annual reports, and moving to electronic grant applications.

"The foundation community is adapting in our dramatically changed environment," said Steven Lawrence, director of research at the Foundation Center and author of the advisory. "Even though the 2010 economy has been anything but predictable, foundations are working with greater efficiency, holding their giving steady, and a number are planning for growth."

Findings from the new report also indicate that about 40 percent of respondents have made some type of modification to their grantmaking priorities as a result of the economic crisis. However, less than 8 percent expect these to be long-term changes. The priority changes described by respondents range from providing greater support for safety net activities to tightening their grantmaking focus to eliminate funding that falls outside of their existing priority areas.

This Foundation Center research advisory is the latest in a series that has explored the impact of the economic downturn on the nonprofit sector. The advisories are available at the Center's Focus on the Economic Crisis web page, which offers a variety of resources to help nonprofits and foundations deal with the challenging economy. Also available on this page is the Center's interactive map that displays the most recent data available on U.S. foundation support for the crisis, totaling $440 million to date. Moving Beyond the Economic Crisis: Foundations Assess the Impact and Their Response (PDF) can also be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.

About the Survey
In September 2010, the Foundation Center launched a special online update of its annual "Foundation Giving Forecast Survey" and made it available to approximately 5,000 large and mid-size U.S. independent, corporate, and community foundations. The survey included questions on the outlook for foundation giving in 2010 and 2011, changes in their grantmaking priorities and operations, and their response to specific needs created by the economic crisis. A total of 719 foundations provided useable responses as of mid-October 2010. The Center's next Foundation Giving Forecast Survey will be conducted in January 2011, with results released in the April 2011 edition of Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates.

This study was made possible in part by support from The Wallace Foundation. The Foundation Center's Research Institute is funded in part by The Wallace Foundation, which supports and shares effective ideas and practices to help institutions expand learning and enrichment opportunities. To learn more, visit the Knowledge Center at

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nonprofits Have Big Role in State

As Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo and legislators shape their plans for New York next year, they should pay close attention to the state's vibrant not-for-profit sector, as it is the standard-bearer for innovation and service to the state and its people. The 80,000 not-for-profit organizations in the state play crucial roles: leading efforts to prevent or cure disease, alleviate poverty, advance education, address environmental and social concerns, and ennoble through culture.

New York's robust charitable sector, including such powerhouses as Columbia University, Sloan-Kettering, the Red Cross, the Ford Foundation and Lincoln Center, as well as community-based organizations, such as local drug-prevention programs, small community theaters and religion-based charities, help fuel the state's economy, generating over $150 billion in revenue annually and employing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Second in size only to the government as an employer in the city, the nonprofit sector provides more jobs than the financial and insurance industries combined.

Working together, state government and nonprofits can help maintain our state's primacy as innovator, incubator and magnet for investment. Here's how.

* Adjust taxes to encourage more giving. For example, reward taxpayers for increases in year-over-year charitable giving and incentivize artists to donate their work to charity auctions in support of good causes.

* Promote regulatory, administrative and legislative reforms that make it easier to start and operate nonprofits, especially in high-tech, medical research and green industries.

* Encourage and facilitate partnering among nonprofits and between them and for-profit businesses. For instance, provide a clearinghouse so that environmental groups can pair up with green-tech businesses or so arts-in-education organizations can collaborate with founders of charter schools.

* Incentivize nonprofits to hire recent college graduates to fill needed roles while they learn important lessons about professional development and social responsibility.

* Rearrange state budgets with existing charitable resources in mind. For example, recalibrate school aid and Medicaid expenditures so that public spending on students, the elderly and the disabled complements and stimulates private nonprofit resources and support.

* Safeguard against encroachments on sales- or property-tax -exemptions, which would hurt already-stretched hospitals, elder-care facilities and YMCAs.

* Promote visibility for worthy nonprofits by providing voluntary check-offs on state tax forms.

* Include nonprofit destinations in the state's promotion of tourism and convention activity.

* Make nonprofits part of New York's federal lobbying strategy.

The public's trust in state government may be at a low ebb, but public support for nonprofits endures. By recommitting himself to the well-being of our valuable nonprofit institutions, Mr. Cuomo can take important steps toward reclaiming the state's role as a national beacon and perpetuate its highest ideals.

by Lesley Freidman Rosenthal, for original article click here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Deadline is Dec 1 for Knight News Challenge media innovation contest

If you have an innovative media technology idea, you might be able to get funding from the Knight News Challenge contest.

Run by the Knight Foundation, the grant competition awards up to $5 million annually for innovative projects that use digital technology to transform the way communities send, receive and make use of news and information.

More info can be found here: The site includes application information, as well as details about past winners.

This year's application deadline is December 1. The News Challenge is looking for applications in four categories: mobile, authenticity, sustainability and community. All projects must make use of digital technology to distribute news in the public interest.

The contest is open to anyone in the world.

A simple description of the project is all you need to apply. Submit a brief pitch to If the reviewers like it, you'll be asked to submit a full proposal later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NYSCA: Actors Fund Affordable Housing Survey

As a member of the professional performing arts and entertainment community, have you struggled to find affordable housing?

If so, the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation (AFHDC) wants to hear from you.

NYSCA is working with AFHDC in their efforts to learn about the housing needs of the performing arts and entertainment community in the New York/New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania regions.

From now until December 6th, you can participate in a 10-minute survey to help them determine the unique affordable housing needs of entertainment professionals.

Your opinion is vital as your responses will assist AFHDC in determining interest, need, design, amenities and more! Your input, and the input of your friends, will move this project forward!

Take the survey now at

If you have questions or need more information, contact The Actors Fund Survey Team at 212.221.7300 ext 107.

For more on The Actors Fund, please visit

Spread the word and help us help AFHDC!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Survey: CFOs have mixed feelings about employees using social media

About half the CFOs in a new survey said their “greatest concern” about employees’ use of social media was wasting time on such sites during business hours.

Accountemps, a division of Menlo Park, Calif.–based Robert Half International, released the survey Thursday. Robert Half International specializes in the placement of skilled administrative professionals.Besides those concerned about workplace use of social media, another 18 percent were worried about employees behaving unprofessionally while using sites such as Facebook or Twitter. The survey also found 11 percent were worried about employees posting financial or confidential company information and 10 percent were concerned about employees posting negative comments about their firm.

When asked about the greatest benefit for a company of employees’ use of social media, 28 percent said it’s a way to provide better customer service. Another 22 percent saw it as a way to enhance the company’s reputation.

International Communications Research, a Media, Pa.–based independent-research firm, conducted the survey through telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

by Eric Reinhardt, from Business Journal

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nonprofit Times TV

Nonprofit Times TV has a collection of webcasts and other videos directed specifically to nonprofits and their needs and interests. Videos cover not just current news, but issues such as fundraising, volunteer management, legal issues, and finance. Most videos are less than three minutes, giving necessary information without taking too much time. Users can also submit their own videos to share ideas with others in the sector.

Their current webcast discusses the loss of revenue of national nonprofit organizations and the Jerry Lewis telethon. Check out Nonprofit Times TV here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nonprofits Seek Increased Support for Advocacy

Supporting a cause is central to the mission of most nonprofit organizations in the United States, but a lack of resources often forces lobbying and advocacy to the backburner, according to a roundtable of leaders and experts gathered by the Johns Hopkins University Nonprofit Listening Post Project.

Besides having limited funds and small staffs to devote to lobbying, nonprofit leaders also worry that taking strong stances on the issues will offend their donors and board members.

"Nonprofits are supposed to be the agents of democracy and give voice to the powerless," noted Lester M. Salamon, director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. "But their ability to do this is hampered by limited funding."

The roundtable brought together experts in nonprofit advocacy and practitioners representing both service organizations and intermediary organizations. Participants explored nonprofit involvement in the policy process and identified steps that might be taken to boost the scope, scale, and effectiveness of policy advocacy.

Issues raised by roundtable participants included:
  • A lack of funding for nonprofit advocacy and lobbying efforts.
  • Concerns among nonprofits that policy advocacy efforts would be frowned upon by their local community, offend their donor base, or encounter board disapproval.
  • The need to strengthen and underwrite the activities of advocacy coalitions and intermediary groups, which are increasingly important in nonprofit advocacy efforts.
  • Concerns that while nonprofits can be somewhat effective in "playing defense" by responding to a proposed policy or legislative cut, they often lack the resources or sophistication needed to develop new policy proposals.

Participants also identified steps that might be taken to boost nonprofit policy advocacy including:

  • Taking a more strategic and inventive approach to advocacy by encouraging board members to tap into their own social networks or by bringing the people organizations serve directly into lobbying efforts to build greater credibility.
  • Integrate advocacy into all aspects of an organization by including it in mission statements, strategic plans, staff job descriptions, board job descriptions and budgets.
  • Encourage foundations to support nonprofit policy advocacy and invest in local, state, and national nonprofit advocacy coalitions and intermediary organizations.
  • Learn to act strategically and build long-term positive relationships between nonprofits and government officials.
  • Rely on a wide range of tools, not just e-mail but also blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook.
  • Educate legislators and the public about the nonprofit sector's critical role in public service and advocacy in order to build recognition of the value of engaging nonprofit organizations in the policy arena.

A survey conducted by the Listening Post Project in 2007 found that:

  • 85 percent of responding organizations spent less than 2 percent of their budget on advocacy or lobbying.
  • Nearly three-fourths of all responding organizations reported undertaking some form of advocacy or lobbying, such as signing correspondence to a public official.
  • However, when it came to more involved forms of participation, such as testifying at hearings or organizing a public event, the proportions reporting any involvement fell to about a third.
  • The vast majority (90 percent) of surveyed organizations agreed that "nonprofits have a duty to advocate for policies important to their missions;" a comparable proportion also agreed that organizations like their own should be "more active and involved."

The full text of a report summarizing findings that emerged from the "Roundtable on Nonprofit Advocacy and Lobbying" is available at

The Listening Post Project is a collaborative undertaking of the Center for Civil Society Studies at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies, the Alliance for Children and Families, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the American Association of Museums, Community Action Partnership, the League of American Orchestras, Lutheran Services in America, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, the National Council of Nonprofits, and United Neighborhood Centers of America. Its goal is to monitor the health of the nation's nonprofit organizations and assess how nonprofits are responding to important economic and policy changes. The project maintains a nationwide sample of over 1,000 nonprofit children and family service, elderly service, community development, and arts organizations. Support for the project has been provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Surdna Foundation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Report: Donations to major charities dropped by billions

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that donations to the country's 400 biggest charities plunged last year by 11 percent, the worst decline since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking the fundraising organizations two decades ago.

The Chronicle's Philanthropy 400 rankings show six of the top 10 charities reported declines in donations, including the United Way Worldwide and the Salvation Army.

In all, the 400 charities raised about $68.6 billion in 2009, according to the Chronicle. The median amount decreased from $105 million in 2008 to $98.8 million in 2009.

"Food for the Poor (No. 6) saw contributions fall by more than 27 percent, while donations to the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (No. 7) plunged by 40.3 percent, largely because it relies heavily on stock gifts, which were not very popular last year," a report from the Chronicle states.

But some charities enjoyed stronger donations. Catholic Charities USA had a 66 percent increase in donations, and the AmeriCares Foundation saw an 18.1 percent rise in giving, mostly in food, medicine, and other donated goods, according to the Chronicle. Feed the Children and Habitat for Humanity also grew by more than $1 billion.

The Philanthropy 400 list ranks charities that raise the most from private sources, The Chronicle said. Government funds are not counted. Read more here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Curtains for NYSTI?

The Albany Business Review reported that the end of December could mark curtains for The New York State Theatre Institute. That’s when the production company runs out of money and will be forced to close if it does not raise enough money to continue operations.

But David Bunce, the theater group’s interim producing artistic director, holds out hope that both the theatrical shows and the theatre’s educational and school-based programs will go on. Bunce took over in May, replacing Patricia Snyder, who resigned amid allegations that she and her family misspent hundreds of thousands of NYSTI dollars.

“We do so much good that I have to believe we’re going to make it,” Bunce said.

He will be joined on Wednesday for a press conference at the theater, located at 37 First St. in Troy, in the Schacht Fine Arts Center on the campus of Sage Colleges, by a group of teachers and community leaders to announce a fundraising campaign to carry the institute through March 31.

In June, Gov. David Paterson slashed the nonprofit’s funding in half for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The state’s 2011-12 budget eliminates NYSTI’s funding altogether. Bunce says it’s possible to save the institute. NYSTI’s annual budget is $3.5 million; the state covered $3 million and the theater’s productions and education programs covered the remaining $500,000.

The State University of New York provided a short reprieve to help NYSTI get through this year, but that money will be exhausted in December. It is enough to cover production costs for the institute’s two remaining shows, “The Miracle Worker” and “A Christmas Carol,” and 20 performances of “B-Bomb,” a show about bullying written for school-age children.

Since the budget cuts, staff was reduced to 15 from 30, with many of the exiting staffers taking advantage of the state’s early retirement incentive.

“We need to make a huge fundraising push,” Bunce said.

He has developed a business plan that calls for fundraising campaigns, slightly increased costs for educational programs and accelerated grant-writing efforts.

Read more: Curtains for NYSTI? - The Business Review (Albany)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Tools For Measuring Impact!

The Foundation Center, the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, has launched an online database of proven approaches to measuring and analyzing the impact of social investments. As philanthropists and the nonprofit community shift towards more strategic approaches to get a "social return," evaluation activities must also operate at a higher level. TRASI ("Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact") addresses these growing needs by offering tools and methodologies that place a premium on evidence and metrics in tracking progress.

"Measuring the effectiveness of social programs has always been a challenge because it's not just about the numbers. TRASI helps organizations meet that challenge and go beyond simply determining whether projected outcomes were achieved," said Lawrence T. McGill, the Foundation Center's vice president for research. "The organizations that have generously shared their own strategic methods for measuring impact will greatly help others to find a solution that is a good fit for them."

Developed in partnership with McKinsey & Co., the assessment approaches in TRASI were authored by a range of organizations, including social investors, foundations, NGOs, and microfinance institutions. The Better Business Bureau, USAID, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy are among them. The resources in the database range from off-the-shelf tools and concrete methodologies to generalized best practices and are complemented by multimedia features and social networking tools.

Each approach has been carefully indexed against a common set of key elements and presented in a way that makes it easy to compare their relative merits. The key elements include: who the approach applies to, what kind of organization or evaluation the approach is best suited for, and the costs and techniques involved in its implementation. Each approach was thoroughly reviewed by an Expert Review Panel convened by the New York University Stern School of Business.

Online Kick-off Event
The Center is hosting an online event to kick-off the TRASI launch. Beginning at 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, a live chat with some of the individuals from the Expert Review Panel will be held. Anyone interested in learning more about impact assessment and the TRASI platform is invited to attend by visiting

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Board of Regents Ending Injunction Against Museums’ Art Sales

The NY Time reported that in a surprise development in the battle over whether museums should be allowed to sell art to cover operating costs, the New York State Board of Regents on Tuesday approved the expiration of emergency regulations regarding such “deaccessioning” on Oct. 8.

Those rules, which enjoined such sales, have been in effect since 2008. After hearing views from museums statewide, “there was no consensus on the efficacy of those emergency regulations,” David Steiner, the state’s education commissioner, said in a statement. Thus, “those regulations will be allowed to expire, allowing the prior regulations regarding museum collections to once again take effect.”

Last month the board indicated it planned to make the emergency regulations permanent, in part because a bill to prohibit cultural institutions from selling pieces from their collections to pay for expenses had stalled in the Legislature. “This removes a substantial obstacle to the monetization of art held in the public trust and to the transfer of art from public hands to private hands,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, who led the drafting of the bill. The education department also said it was developing an advisory group to inform the Regents’ future decisions on collections and other museum matters.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Governor Paterson Names Advisory Committee to Help Health Care Reform Cabinet

Governor David A. Paterson today named 37 organizations to the Health Care Reform Advisory Committee, which will provide input to the Governor's Health Care Reform Cabinet on the implementation of federal health care reform in New York State. The Advisory Committee includes organizations representing health care providers, consumers, businesses, organized labor, local governments, health plans and health insurers, and health policy experts.

"Federal health care reform will have a significantly positive impact for New York's residents, families, small business owners and the 2.5 million New Yorkers who are currently uninsured," Governor Paterson said. "It is essential that we get health reform right, making the most of this opportunity to improve access to health care while reducing cost. Our broad advisory group will help us achieve this goal."

The Advisory Committee will advise the Cabinet on reform provisions and ensure stakeholder and public engagement in all aspects of federal health care reform. It will support the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. In addition, Advisory Committee Workgroups will be created to focus on specific issues and additional organizations with expertise will be asked to join those work groups. A series of public forums across the State will also be held to provide opportunities for further stakeholder input.

Wendy Saunders, Deputy Secretary for Health, Medicaid and Oversight and Chair of the Health Care Reform Cabinet, said: "I commend Governor Paterson for his dedication to health care reform and for his efforts to expand access to quality health care for all New Yorkers. Implementing federal health care reform is a complex task, and many decisions must be made by the end of this year. We need public participation and input to help make reform a success and the Advisory Committee is an essential part of that input."

The Health Care Reform Cabinet is responsible for:

• Identifying deadlines for the completion of interim or final steps necessary or desired to comply with the provisions of federal health care reform;

• Determining those provisions of federal health care reform with which the State must comply and those that are optional, and evaluating whether participation in optional programs is appropriate;

• Assessing the State's capacity to carry out those provisions of federal health care reform that affect or potentially affect the State;

• Identifying any changes needed to State statute, regulation, policy or procedure in order to implement such provisions, and facilitating the achievement of such changes as necessary;

• Communicating with the federal government, local governments, other states, health care providers, and other stakeholders as advisable or necessary; and

• Providing public outreach to educate individuals on the implementation of the reforms as necessary.

Under Governor Paterson's leadership, New York State has become a national leader in expanding access to quality health care for children and adults through its public health insurance programs, including Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Healthy New York and Medicaid, while implementing efficiencies to ensure that funds are used in the most cost-effective manner. New York is the only state in the nation with both open enrollment and pure community rating and has been a leader in efforts to guarantee access to private health insurance coverage.

Organizations participating in the Governor's Health Care Reform Advisory Committee include:

• 1199 SEIU
• Business and Labor Coalition of New York
• Business Council of New York State
• Centerstate CEO
• Chamber Alliance of New York State
• Children's Defense Fund
• Coalition of New York State Public Health Plans
• Community Health Care Association of New York State
• Community Service Society
• Consumer Directed Choices
• Empire Justice Center
• Family Planning Advocates
• Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency
• Greater New York Hospital Association
• Health Care for All New York
• Healthcare Association of New York State
• Hispanic Federation
• Medicaid Matters
• Medical Society of the State of New York
• Medicare Rights Center
• National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
• New York Health Plan Association
• New York Immigration Coalition
• New York State Association of Counties
• New York State Association of Health Underwriters
• New York State Conference of Blue Cross Plans
• New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
• New York State Health Foundation
• New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage
• Office of the Mayor of New York City
• P2 Collaborative of Western New York
• Partnership for New York City
• Project CHARGE
• United Hospital Fund
• Visiting Nurse Service of New York
• Young Invincibles

For additional information on health care reform implementation in New York State, please visit:

Congressional Charities Pulling In Corporate Cash

The NY Times related that Representative Joe Baca has achieved near celebrity status in his suburban Los Angeles district, as much for his record of giveaways — Thanksgiving turkeys, college scholarships, spare boots for firefighters — as for anything he has done in Congress.

That generosity is made possible by the Joe Baca Foundation, a charity his family set up three years ago to aid local organizations. It provides another benefit, too: helping the Democratic congressman run something akin to a permanent political campaign.

Joe Baca T-shirts and caps are given out at the charity’s events, where banners display his name. Local newspapers mention the charity’s donations, and cable stations show appearances by Mr. Baca and his family at functions his foundation supports.

“It’s great,” said Laura Goodloe, 36, as she watched her 8-year-old son, Jordan, play at the arena in San Bernardino, Calif., where the Baca Foundation offered a free basketball clinic last month. “He is giving back to the community.”

But unlike most private foundations, Mr. Baca’s gets little of its money from its founders’ pockets. Instead, local companies and major corporations that have often turned to Mr. Baca’s Washington office for help, and usually succeed in getting it, are the chief donors.

A review by The New York Times of federal tax records and House and Senate disclosure reports found at least two dozen charities that lawmakers or their families helped create or run that routinely accept donations from businesses seeking to influence them. The sponsors — AT&T, Chevron, General Dynamics, Morgan Stanley, Eli Lilly and dozens of others — contribute millions of dollars annually in gifts ranging from token amounts to a check for $5 million.

Since 2009, businesses have sent lobbyists and executives to the plush Boulders resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a fund-raiser for the scholarship fund of Representative Steve Buyer, Republican of Indiana; sponsored a skeet shooting competition in Florida to help the favorite food bank of Representative Allen Boyd, Democrat of Florida; and subsidized a spa and speedway outing in Las Vegas to aid the charity of Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada.

Just last month, they touted their largess with flags bearing their names near the tees at a golf tournament benefiting the foundation of Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina.

Despite rules imposed in 2007 to curb the influence of special interests in Congress, corporate donations to lawmakers’ charities have continued, thanks to a provision that allows businesses to make unlimited gifts to them. And while business executives say they want to give to a good cause, their pattern of spending — contributions that often are not disclosed, in apparent violation of ethics rules — suggests another reason. Read more here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Independent Contractors and Consultants – Doing it Right

NYCON's national association, The National Council of Nonprofits, offers Nonprofit Knowledge Matters and a look at Contractors and Consultants:

You’ve just hired an independent contractor or consultant to work on a special project. Did you first evaluate whether the worker should be treated as an employee instead? Does it matter?

Yes, it matters because the government makes a distinction between the two classifications of workers (independent contractor/consultant versus employee) and requires nonprofits to treat them differently for payroll and withholding purposes. Also, insurance issues will surface when the consultant is injured and tries to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Is she covered? It depends on whether she is a consultant – or not.

Federal and state governments have regulations that define who is an independent contractor/consultant and who is an employee. If a nonprofit misclassifies a worker, the nonprofit is at significant risk. There are serious penalties and back taxes owed when a nonprofit incorrectly treats someone as an independent contractor/ consultant, when in fact the worker should have been classified and treated as an employee.

Additionally there are risks to misclassifying a worker as an exempt employee, when s/he should be classified as non-exempt. For tips and tools for avoiding misclassifying workers, read more about this topic from the resources available on the National Council’s website.

IRS guidance provides that someone is properly classified as an independent contractor/consultant “when the nonprofit has the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.” We hope you feel comfortable with the distinction between independent contractors/consultants and employees. If you are not sure, here are some resources to help you classify workers correctly and avoid associated risks:

Spread the word: Deadline extended to October 15th for nonprofits to file their 990s.
Please join the State Association network of the National Council of Nonprofits, the IRS, and others to spread the word – to small nonprofits in particular – that they need to file with the IRS annually. Most urgently, many small nonprofits will lose their tax-exempt status if they have not filed in the past 3 years and fail to file by October 15th of this year. The IRS has announced a one-time relief program for nonprofits required to file the 990-N or 990-EZ that missed their deadline earlier this year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nonprofit Fund Faces Questions About Conflicts and Selection Procedures

The NY Times reported that in late July, the Social Innovation Fund, a new $50 million federal program aimed at financing the replication of nonprofit programs that work, made its first grants.

But what was supposed to have been an emblem of the administration’s commitment to nonprofit groups has become instead a messy controversy over potential conflicts of interest and the process used to select the grantees.

Several of the 48 independent reviewers who vetted the initial 54 applications for the grants were surprised by some of the winners because they had awarded them mediocre scores.

Critics noted that the executive director of the fund, Paul Carttar, had worked at New Profit Inc., a nonprofit group that helps promising social programs. New Profit Inc. received a $5 million grant from the fund.

Similarly, Patrick Corvington, the official who oversees the Corporation for National and Community Service, where the fund resides, previously worked for a foundation that financed a program operated by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, better known as LISC. The foundation won a $4.2 million grant.

Marta Urquilla, senior adviser to the fund, said Mr. Carttar and Mr. Corvington played no role in selecting the winners. “We knew the things people are saying now would be said,” Ms. Urquilla said, “and so we made sure each application got its fair chance and stood on its own merits.”

But the fund has not disclosed who reviewed the grants — or who applied for them or the ratings the applicants received, information that often is provided by many other government agencies that make grants.

In soliciting applications, the fund published a detailed set of criteria it would use to evaluate them, but the process by which they would be vetted was unclear. Last week, it disclosed more information about the procedures, including that the applications went through four stages, as well as the number of organizations culled after each.

“The bare minimum would be to release the names of the peer reviewers, the names of the applicants and the score they each received,” said Dean Zerbe, a former tax counsel to Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has persistently scrutinized the Corporation for National and Community Service’s grants and programs.

The fund was created with the passage of the SERVE America Act last year and quickly became one of the hottest topics for discussion in the nonprofit sector, which saw it as a means of getting government financing for young but promising programs at a time when the economy has crippled much fund-raising and hobbled many endowments.

The 11 winners effectively serve as conduits to channel the grant money to other nonprofit organizations that operate successful programs that can be expanded to serve more people in more areas. The winners must match the government’s money, which also must be matched by the final recipients, potentially trebling the fund’s financial effect.

The broader goal, Ms. Urquilla said, is to develop a network of intermediaries like the grant winners that can identify promising programs and connect them to donors and other sources of financing to allow them to expand.

The criticism has led the fund to decide to publish redacted versions of the winning applications in the coming weeks, together with the ratings they were given by various panels and how those compare with applications that did not win. “We fully embrace open government and the trend toward greater transparency,” Ms. Urquilla said. “We just want to make sure we do it in a deliberative and responsive way.”

The disclosures may not satisfy the critics, though.

Ruth McCambridge, editor of the Nonprofit Quarterly magazine, said that she may file a request for all the applications under the Freedom of Information Act. “This is supposed to be a learning process,” Ms. McCambridge said. “That’s the way the people at the fund have billed it, and applicants for the next round of funding, if there is one, might find it useful to see what didn’t work the first time around.”

She questioned why the fund would not release the names of the applicants or the peer reviewers and why it asked the reviewers to shred their work when it was finished. Read more here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bill to Halt Certain Sales of Artwork May Be Dead

The NY Times reported that a bill to prohibit cultural institutions from selling pieces from their collections to cover operating costs has all but died in the New York State Legislature, in the face of opposition from major cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the withdrawal of support from the bill’s Senate sponsor.

“It looks like it is lost for this session and for the foreseeable future,” said Michael Botwinick, director of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, who worked on the bill as a board member of the Museum Association of New York.

Some museums are already precluded from such sales by the state Board of Regents, but the bill would have made the practice illegal and expanded the prohibition to all museums.

“The problem is, we’ll have a two-tiered system,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, who led the drafting of the bill and is running for attorney general.

Though museums sell artworks all the time, they generally direct the proceeds toward acquiring other works of art. Many in the museum world have deemed selling — or deaccessioning — artworks to pay expenses a misuse of funds that jeopardizes preserving cultural heritage as a public trust.

But some museums that would have been affected by the bill argued that it was overly broad and confining and that they were fully capable of governing themselves.

A spokesman for the Met called the legislation “impractical, unworkable and unneeded,” and the Met’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, wrote in an e-mail, “While we respect efforts to bring clarity to the deaccessioning process, we believe the Metropolitan Museum has maintained a scrupulously transparent process for more than three decades — tightly governed by its trustees, subject to review by the State Attorney General, and requiring that funds from deaccessioning be used only for the purpose of acquiring other works of art.”

The sense of urgency around deaccessioning has been spurred by several factors, including the National Academy Museum’s sale in 2008 of two Hudson River School paintings to cover operating costs, and by the fear that financially challenged institutions are coming to the view that, as Mr. Botwinick put it, “the Rembrandts in the collection are no different than the IBM stock.” Read more here.

Money still flowing to 'pork' projects in N.Y.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Gov. David Paterson's veto pen has yet to end spending for legislative earmarks, state records show.

The state in July signed off on $12.5 million in member items for lawmakers' hometown projects — including $438,000 for a senior center in Queens, $100,000 for a group opposed to a major power line in central New York and $7,500 for the Rochester crime stoppers program.

In all, 609 member items were signed off by the state Comptroller's Office in July, a review by the Journal's Albany bureau found. An additional 57 projects totaling nearly $1 million were approved in just the first few days of August.

The spending comes even after Paterson held marathon sessions last month to personally sign 6,709 vetoes of lawmakers' pork-barrel projects approved in last year's budget, a total of about $190 million. But the vetoes haven't shut off the spending spigot quite yet.

State law allows the money from last year's budget to flow until Sept. 15. So nonprofits and local governments, who were banking on the money before Paterson's surprising vetoes, are making a dash for the cash before it's too late.

"We're hearing from groups all over that they are scrambling right now to get all their vouchers in and work completed," said Ron Deutsch, who heads New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, a group that works with non-profits. "Everyone's in scramble mode right now."

The stakes are high from some groups that rely on the member items to fund programs and, in some cases, to stay in business.

Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, R-Red Hook, said he doesn't oppose Paterson's vetoes of the member items, but the governor should have done it last year — before the groups were counting on the money.

"I have a concern about the governor vetoing dollars that have been awarded and, at the very least, were in the process of being contracted," he said.

Some groups said they have been waiting for reimbursements from member items pledged for their projects last year. Read more here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

GuideStar Offers: The Effect of the Economy on the Nonprofit Sector

More than 7,000 people responded to our June 2010 economic survey, which measured the impact of these difficult economic times on the nonprofit sector. Among respondents, nearly half were CEOs, executive directors, or presidents—our leaders in the nonprofit industry. The results are compelling:

Some 40 percent of participants reported that contributions to their organizations dropped between January 1 and May 31, 2010, compared to the same period a year earlier.
Eight percent indicated that their organizations were in imminent danger of closing.
Sixty-three percent reported a total increase in demand for their organization's services between January 1, 2010 and May 31, 2010, compared to the same period a year prior.

Read all of the survey's findings here, for free:"The Effect of the Economy on the Nonprofit Sector."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2010 New York State Grand Rounds on the Abuse of Prescription Pain Relievers

September 20, 2010
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Room MS169
Albany Medical College

Live, Video conference and/or webcast
The streaming link is:

Dial in participants will dial
Pass code 800285.

Your phones will be muted during the panel presentations and will turned on when the panel is open for discussion.

If you have Codecs and want to be active participants via ISDN or IP, that can be arranged as well.

Please contact Joyce Davis with any questions you might have at:
518-686-0221 or

2010 New York State Grand Rounds on the Abuse of Prescription Pain Relievers
Panel Discussion

Non-medical use of prescription pain relievers rose 111 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Rensselaer County 4 youth died between September 2009 and April 2010 from abusing prescription pain medications. This CME program is geared to assist medical personnel who prescribe prescription pain medications assure they are not abused by youth and adults.

The training will be offered in four venues: at the Medical College, by video conference and webcast live and an archive stream provided by the Adirondack Area Network. Participants in the webcast will be able to call in and ask questions during the presentation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2010 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award

Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)

In recognition of the important role, talents and leadership that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State can provide as a board member for community-based charities, NYCON and NYSSCPA are pleased to announce the 7th Annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award.

The award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, CPA, former partner of Urbach, Kahn and Werlin, former NYS Commissioner of Tax and Finance and Chair of the State Employees federated Appeal, and board leader of a number of charities.

Award Criteria & Submission
Candidates must:
  • Be a CPA in good standing and a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants;
  • Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once;
  • Have demonstrated exemplary board leadership resulting in significant and positive organizational impact including, but not limited to, financial turn-around, growth, and/or organizational re-structuring; and
  • Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities.

Deadline - August 30th, 2010
Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be submitted in writing and received by August 30th, 2010. Nominators are strongly encouraged to include letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership.

Send six (6) packets of nomination materials to:
Urbach Community Builder's Award Committee
New York Council of Nonprofits
272 Broadway
Albany NY 12204

Announcement & Presentation
The 2010 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of September 30th at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York.

The Luncheon will take place during CAMP FINANCE, a two-day retreat that provides the very best in knowledge and skill development sessions for fiscal and management staff, as well as board members. New this year, it has expanded to include the popular "Money for Mission" tracks that will focus on fundraising, marketing, social media, grant making (both government and philanthropic) and more!

In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a certified public accountant who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2010 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award three (3) nonprofit executives of their choice Camp Finance scholarships in Hal's name. In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builder's Award in his tribute.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grant Writing Classes

The Community Grant Writers and Fundraisers of New York State is hosting a series of two-day grant writing classes in various locations and you are invited to send one or more participants. Attendees receive a manual, in both hard copy and on CD. All of our instructors are successful veteran grant writers.

Staff, administrators, grant managers and makers, consultants and board of directors are welcome. Beginners learn what they need to write successful proposals. Experienced attendees gain new insights, sharpen skills, affirm their knowledge, and leave with renewed confidence in their abilities and mission. Everyone will learn where to find grant funding today, with our present economic situation.

The cost of $250.00 includes both sessions, signed certificate (suitable for framing with letter confirming completion of training), manuals (hard copy and CD). For every three participants your organization sends a fourth may attend for free. Seating is limited. Payment in full must be received prior to the workshop – walk ins are not permitted.

Workshop Topics:

Ø How to write grant proposals start to finish and how to locate and track relevant grant opportunities. Federal, state, local and non-governmental, and private sector grants are covered. You'll learn everything you need to know to get started writing grants.

Ø Locate and track relevant grant opportunities from Federal, State and local government sources, private foundations and corporate giving programs.

Ø Developing your plan for grant evaluation, both subjective and objective; integrating your plan with the grant maker's required evaluation and reporting system. Summarizing your request for that impossibly small summary opportunity on the standard federal cover page or, the one/two page foundation request.

Ø Dissecting the RFP; researching enabling legislation; understanding the "spirit and intent" of the grant program; technical assistance contacts and the need for open and honest communication; developing a compelling problem statement; attachments; finishing touches.

Ø What is required after you receive the grant.

Feel free to contact our main office with any questions you may have or to make reservations for a workshop at any location. We can be reached by phone at 518-366-6183 or by email at address is:

Grant Writing Class Schedule: Classes begin at 9:00 am sharp and end at 4:00 both days. There are two 15 minute breaks and one hour for lunch.

Grant Writing Classes for 2010

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 24 and 25)

Wednesday and Thursday (August 25 and 26)

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 31 and September 1)

Tuesday and Thursday (August 24 and 26)

Wednesday and Thursday (September 1 and 2)

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 31 and September 1)

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 24 and 25)

Wednesday and Thursday (August 25 and 26)

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 31 and September 1)

Wednesday and Thursday (September 1 and 2)

White Plains
Wednesday and Thursday (August 25 and 26)

Tuesday and Thursday (August 24 and 26)

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 24 and 25)

Wednesday and Thursday (September 1 and 2)

Wednesday and Thursday (August 25 and 26)

Tuesday and Thursday (August 24 and 26)

Tuesday and Wednesday (August 31 and September 1)

Staten Island
Wednesday and Thursday (September 1 and 2)

Long Island – Nassau County
Tuesday and Wednesday (August 24 and 25)

Long Island – Suffolk County
Wednesday and Thursday (August 25 and 26

The Community Grant Writers and Fundraisers of New York State is an association that serves organizations seeking funds, either through grants or other fundraising efforts, as well as the fundraisers and grant writers who assist to secure these funds. We have 42 State Chapters throughout the country and New York State has many local chapters.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lawmakers Seeking Cuts Look at Nonprofit Salaries

The NY Times reported that State and federal officials are starting to take their knives to the pay of leaders of nonprofit groups they do business with to help share the pain of tighter budgets.

A provision in New Jersey’s recently passed budget, for example, includes a limit on what nonprofit groups can pay their chief executives if they are providing social services under state contracts. The cap, based on a formula that also applies to for-profits providing such services on behalf of the state, is part of a broader effort by Gov. Chris Christie to rein in salaries on state workers.

In New Hampshire, Attorney General Michael A. Delaney is investigating compensation among nonprofit hospital executives. And Vermont legislators are trying various ways of curbing salaries paid by nonprofit groups that have contracts with the state.

On Capitol Hill, four senators this spring refused to approve a $425 million package of federal grants for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America after staff members looked at the organization’s tax forms as part of a routine vetting process and were surprised to learn that the organization paid its chief executive almost $1 million in 2008 — $510,774 in salary and bonus and $477,817 in retirement and other benefits.

“A nearly $1 million salary and benefit package for a nonprofit executive is not only questionable on its face but also raises questions about how the organization manages its finances in other areas,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma.

Another senator, Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, has told Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner that he is concerned that the Internal Revenue Service is not tough enough in policing pay in the nonprofit sector and that regulations governing compensation are too weak.

“I’ve asked him to review these regulations to see how they can be made effective,” Mr. Grassley said. “What’s there now doesn’t seem to be working.”

Mr. Grassley, who has used his seat on the Finance Committee to scrutinize a wide variety of nonprofit practices, noted that pay had been a “major issue” in his reviews over the last several years of universities, charitable hospitals and the Smithsonian Institution.

Compensation has long been a point of controversy among donors to nonprofits. By far the biggest category of complaints posted on the Web site of Charity Navigator, which offers research and analysis of nonprofit groups, involves complaints about pay. Read more here, especially for the other perspective offered by some nonprofit EDs.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New York CAN: Public Benefit Enrollment Training Launched

Dear Colleague-

The NYS Community Action Association is pleased to announce the training schedule for FREE training for nonprofits to help raise awareness of the range of public benefits available to struggling New Yorkers. This training series is being done in partnership with the Empire Justice Center, Nutritution Consortium of NYS, Chautauqua Opportunities, and Single Stop USA.
NYSCAA recently received a grant from the NYS Department of State to develop this day-long training to familiarize staff on the range of public benefits available to struggling families as well as the online tool, developed by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The funding for this project comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the Community Services Block Grant.

We are pleased to say the training launched this week and we have 30+ trainings being held statewide over the next 11 weeks. We hope you will pass this along to your staff, partners, members, colleagues and encourage them to attend. We hope to train 1,000 nonprofit staff over the next 2.5 months which is a big target to hit.

The training is FREE, would be useful for any staff that works with customers, and will run 9:30-4:30 in most places and in some locations will go 10:00-5:00 with a pizza lunch provided. All participants will receive a training binder that includes the Helping Hands Tool Kit. To download a one-page flyer for the training, go to Advanced topic webinars will be offered as well and we will let you know when they are scheduled.

We do ask folks pre-register; however, if you have a significant # attending, you can send me the list via email to and we can register the group.

The schedule put in place thus far is as follows (click here for more info

Upstate and Long Island (more to come)
· July 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, Utica
· July 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, Rochester
· July 29 Benefits Enrollment Training, Central Islip
· July 29 Benefits Enrollment Training, Dunkirk
· July 30 Benefits Enrollment Training, Fort Edward
· August 2 Benefits Enrollment Training, Syracuse
· August 3 Benefits Enrollment Training, Watertown
· August 4 Benefits Enrollment Training, Corning
· August 4 Benefits Enrollment Training, Patchogue
· August 5 Benefits Enrollment Training, Binghamton
· August 5 Benefits Enrollment Training, Central Islip
· August 13 Benefits Enrollment Training, Fonda
· August 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, Elmsford
· September 2 Benefits Enrollment Training, Batavia
· September 10 Benefits Enrollment Training, Salamanca
· September 13 Benefits Enrollment Training, Newburgh

New York City (more to come)
· July 22 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· July 29 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· July 30 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· August 5 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 8/5/10
· August 6 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· August 12 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 8/12/10
· August 13 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC 8/13/10
· August 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 8/27/10
· September 2 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/2/10
· September 3 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/3/10
· September 16 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/16/10
· September 17 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/17/10
· September 23 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/23/10

The schedule is still not fully in place so keep an eye on for an updated calendar.

Thank you to our partners Empire Justice Center, Chautauqua Opportunities, Nutrition Consortium, and Single Stop (NYC) who have assisted in the development of curriculum and are conducting training across the state!

We hope these sessions appeal to you and your staff. Certificates will be provided to attendees for their records.

Thank you,


Denise Harlow, CEO
New York State Community Action Association, Inc.
2 Charles Blvd.
Guilderland, NY 12084
518-690-0491, ext. 24
FAX 518-690-0498

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two FREE Idealware Seminars

NYCON endorsed vendor, Idealware, is pleased to announce three free seminars in the month of July!

Website Domains: Getting, Keeping and Working with a Website Address
Thursday, July 22, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Eastern. FREE!
In this free one-hour seminar, we'll talk through the important things you need to know about setting up and maintaining control over a website domain, as well as how to use it for your website and email needs. This seminar is funded by the Pierce Family Foundation.
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Raising Your Network's Technology IQ
Thursday, July 29, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Eastern. FREE!
Are you a membership organization, grantmaker, or affiliate group? Are you trying to figure out affordable ways to help your network use technology more effectively? We'll talk through the types of technology support your network is most likely to need, and the methods -- from free to inexpensive to more comprehensive -- that are likely to help.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

National Council of Nonprofits: Nonprofit Advocacy Matters Update

Five Worst Government Contracting Abuses
Late payments for contracted services is only one of many ways that governments shortchange nonprofits and exploit the contracting relationship. See the five worst government contracting abuses and let us know if you can add further documentation, if you've seen worse, or if you know of solutions in your state that help prevent these and other abuses.

Hearing to Consider Gulf Coast Need for Charitable Assistance
Viewing the impact of the Gulf oil spill on people in the region, Congress is asking "what needs to be done and how the charitable sector and others can reach out to these communities and help." The Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, July 20, to consider these questions and examine how donations contributed to charities are being used. In announcing the hearing, Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) stated, "This is the moment when government must rely on charitable organizations to fulfill their missions and address these urgent needs."

Rival Estate Tax Revisions Proposed
The estate tax expired at the end of 2009, but will snap back automatically in 2011 to a 55 percent tax rate with a $1 million exemption unless changes are made. Senators are proposing rival plans to weaken or strengthen the federal tax on estates. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced a measure last week to set the estate tax rate at 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption phased in over 10 years and indexed for inflation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act, S.3533 to set an exemption of $3.5 million and impose tax rates from between 35 percent and 55 percent based on the size of the estate above the exemption level. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he does not intend to allow any estate tax votes in the coming weeks, but he continues to negotiate with the Republican Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the Senate schedule and amendments.

Financial Regulatory Reform Enacted, Cuts Debit Card Fees
Last week the Senate passed and sent to President Obama the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R.4173). The measure imposes new restrictions on risky financial investments, creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve, and allows the Federal Reserve to regulate the amount of fees that nonprofits and merchants can be charged for debit card transactions. President Obama is expected to sign the bill this week.

Nonprofit Sector Act
Federal Data of "Uncertain Quality"
The case for the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act, H.R. 5533, was made recently by SubsidyScope, a program of Pew Charitable Trusts. In seeking to analyze the effects of tax subsidies and federal grants, the authors reached the following conclusions:

"It is challenging to assemble and present spending and subsidy data regarding the nonprofit sector because the federal government does not identify nonprofits as a distinct budget category. Further, federal budget data are of uncertain quality; specifically, the data available through are incomplete because certain program information is missing for a number of records, making it difficult to discern which specific agencies and programs may be awarding funds to nonprofits."

A key component of H.R. 5533 is to overcome the data challenges that SubsidyScope, and many other nonprofit researchers, have identified.

IRS Seeks Comments on New Disclosure Requirement
The health care reform law enacted earlier this year requires nonprofits and businesses, starting in 2012, to report aggregate payments to vendors in excess of $600 for goods and other property. The requirement applies for payments to all vendors, not just those related to health care. Currently, nonprofits and others are required to file Form 1099s for payment of services by independent contractors, but not for goods from vendors. The IRS is seeking public comment on how to most effectively carry out the law change, with the stated goal of minimizing burdens and avoiding duplicate reporting. The deadline for comments is Sept. 29, 2010. Please share this information with your accounting and operations personnel and send the National Council your ideas on how best to limit the impact of this new reporting requirement.

Friday, July 16, 2010

State Drops “R” Word as OMRDD Becomes OPWDD

The NY Nonprofit Press reported that The NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) has a new name. The agency will now be known as New York State Office For People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Legislation removing the words “Mental Retardation” from the agency’s name – as well as from State statute and regulations, was signed by Governor Paterson on Tuesday and takes effect immediately.

“This name change sends a strong message that New York values the dignity and respect of individuals with developmental disabilities” Governor Paterson said. “For many people with developmental disabilities the words ‘mental retardation’ are hurtful and represent a disrespectful term. The Office For People With Developmental Disabilities is a name that respects their rights as people with developmental disabilities to have an agency name that invokes pride, and not shame.”

“The time has finally come for New York to join the 48 other states that have dropped the ‘R’ word,” said OPWDD Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter. “I want to assure everyone that our name may be changing, but who we are and what we do stays the same: We have and will always provide top quality supports and services to people and families.”

“The use of the “R” word is hurtful, perpetuates prejudice and discrimination in a time when we seek to create communities of respect and acceptance of all people” said Ann Hardiman, Executive Director of NYSACRA. “The state agency name change is one major milestone to reverse language which is disparaging and harmful and promotes greater awareness, acceptance and inclusion across the State of New York.”

“As the organization that initiated the idea of a separate office for persons with developmental disabilities nearly half a century ago, we applaud the Governor and the Legislature for a successful initiative that keeps with the tradition of dignity and respect that our families and their loved ones have fought to maintain for so many decades,” said Marc Brandt, Executive Director of NYSARC, Inc.

“This was clearly something that people with developmental disabilities wanted,” said Peter Pierri, Executive Director of the InterAgency Council of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC). “In recent years, the term had taken on a very negative connotation.” Pierri went on to note that some nonprofit agencies – including his own – would soon be following the State’s lead. “We absolutely have to,” he said, indicating that he expected a name change at IAC this Fall.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nonprofit Leaders Speak Up to Stop Charitable Deduction Changes

NYCON has added it's voice to those of other nonprofit leaders taking a stand against the proposed change to charitable deducations for high income individuals in New York State.

The proposal would result in a 50% decrease in the deductibility of charitable gifts from higher income donors. Already, earners of $1 million or more can only claim 50% of their contribution as a deduction. This proposal would allow donors earning $10 million or more to claim just 25% of their contribution. NYCON is also concerned that this may potentially be the start of eroding charitable deductions in general.

We are urging our members to learn more about this proposal by reading the following articles by the New York Nonprofit Press, The Daily News, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Then, please join us in adding your voice to the memo of opposition by contacting us via email or calling Doug Sauer, CEO at (800) 515-5012 ext. 103.

Contact NYCON and sign onto the Memo of Opposition.
Contact your Senator. Click here for a searchable database of representatives.