Thursday, December 15, 2011
The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.
"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.
"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."
•Study: 1 in 5 American children lives in poverty
Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.
With nearly 14 million Americans unemployed, a new child welfare study finds one in five children are living in poverty. Nearly one in three live in homes where no parent works full-time year-round. NBC's Chris Jansing reports.
"There's no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen," Rector said. "As we come out of recession, it will be important that these programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work."
Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income.
States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.
The struggling Americans include Zenobia Bechtol, 18, in Austin, Texas, who earns minimum wage as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Bechtol and her 7-month-old baby were recently evicted from their bedbug-infested apartment after her boyfriend, an electrician, lost his job in the sluggish economy.
After an 18-month job search, Bechtol's boyfriend now works as a waiter and the family of three is temporarily living with her mother.
"We're paying my mom $200 a month for rent, and after diapers and formula and gas for work, we barely have enough money to spend," said Bechtol, a high school graduate who wants to go to college. "If it weren't for food stamps and other government money for families who need help, we wouldn't have been able to survive."
About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.
Read more here.
Monday, December 12, 2011
With her birthday request, Lowe-Fotos furthered what has increasingly become a fundamental truth in today's philanthropic world: Women are driving charitable giving. In fact, three out of four individuals in households with incomes of $200,000 or more report women are either the sole decision maker or equal partner in directing their family's philanthropy, according a new Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey released today.
"Women in this country currently hold the majority of wealth," says Claire Costello, senior vice president and national foundation executive for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "So it behooves everyone in the nonprofit sector to pay attention to the financial clout and moral imagination of women as they really determine where dollars go."
Because they live longer than men, women could oversee more than $41 trillion passed from generation to generation during the next 50 years, according to the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University, which researched the Bank of America report. For most women, however, philanthropy is much more than writing a check.
"Women give to causes close to their heart," says Lisa Dietlin, a Chicago-based philanthropic adviser. "They get directly involved, either by volunteering or providing ideas and problem-solving to make an organization better."
Not surprisingly, women's ongoing rise in philanthropy parallels their growing presence in the workplace and own accumulation of personal wealth. Also at work, however, has been the expansion of women's funding networks across the country during the last two decades. These organizations, usually community-based, typically grant anywhere from $10,000 to $2 million annually. More importantly, though, they provide women donors with a sense of collective impact.
"It's recognizing that we can do more together than we ever could alone," says Tracy Johnson, director of the San Diego Women's Foundation, which usually awards grants of $250,000 or more. "Every member puts $2,000 in the pot for five years to begin, and now you have something truly significant."
Many women first learn about a cause or funding network at a friend's kitchen table or in their living room. Jill Hammond, for instance, joined the Washington State-based Jewish Women's Funding Network in 2006 at the request of a close friend. She and its 49 other members solicit and vet grant proposals. Where the group's annual $25,000 grant goes is decided by ballot.
"Discussions are lively and everyone has a say," Hammond says. "What I appreciate most is that it is truly democratic."
Even on their own, women tend to be more strategic in their philanthropy than men, the Bank of America findings suggest. They are more inclined to create a plan and budget as well as undertake more due diligence before meting out funds.
"Women donors want to be partners, meet the leadership, go out into the field and see what a nonprofit really does on a day-to-day basis," says Sara Hall, founder of New Philanthropic Advisors, a Boston-based firm that counsels high-net-worth women donors. "They do real analysis and research."
Consider Sasha Rabsey, one of Hall's clients. A stay-at-home mom from the San Francisco Bay area, Rabsey three years ago packed up her family and spent five weeks in Ghana caring for sick children. The experience led Rabsey to form her own foundation, the HOW Fund, which has now given out nearly $200,000 to grassroots nonprofit groups throughout Africa. "I go on site visits and ask a ton of questions," she says. "Because being actively engaged is the only way to do this if you want to be successful."
This hands-on approach may also be why women tend to take more risks in their giving - and they are more willing than men to stop giving if the results aren't there. "Women are tenacious, dogged and willing to work on solving any problem an organization has," Dietlin says. "But if an organization does give back in kind, most women donors aren't going to give again."
WHERE MALE AND FEMALE DONORS DIFFER
At the Dallas Women's Foundation, one of its success stories is a donor who, when she first joined, only gave about $10,000 per year. Five years later, she was a $1 million donor, says Roslyn Dawson Thompson, who joined the network at its inception in 1985 as a donor and now is its CEO. "She had the means but didn't believe she had the power or the right to give more."
Indeed, two main distinctions in men and women's giving patterns is consistency and size. Men will often give every year to the same cause, frequently larger institutions such as their alma maters, according to both the Bank of America survey and other studies, and their donations tend to be larger. Women instead spread their wealth, giving smaller amounts to several groups.
"Women have great power in philanthropy," says K. Sujata, president of the Chicago Foundation for Women. "We're encouraging members not to be afraid to give in a way that makes a deep commitment both over time and in terms of the dollar amount."
Sujata also wants women to take credit for their giving. "They're giving to causes that are changing lives," she says. "Be bold about saying yes, I am directing my family's funds to this because it is important."
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
We are pleased to announce that Christopher Marblo, M.A., has been appointed as the new President of The Arts Center of the Capital Region. Marblo, a seasoned educator with a strong arts background, comes from The Town School in New York City.
"I am thrilled and honored to be the next President of The Arts Center" said Marblo. "The Center serves a vital role in the promotion and experience of the arts in the Capital Region, and I look forward to building on its rich and enduring legacy and helping to write the next chapters of its story."
Interim President Deborah Onslow will remain with The Arts Center until Marblo begins in June 2012.
Welcome, Chris! We are very excited to have you on board.
For the more information and the complete press release, please visit our website.
November 23, 2011, 11:04 am
By Cody Switzer
Only 4 percent of donors had given online in 2001. This year, about 65 percent have given to charity through the Internet.
That’s one of the comparisons made in a new graphic from Network for Good, a fund-raising and volunteerism Web site that celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.
In 2001, the average donation through the site was $226. But this year the average gift is $73, a change that Network for Good interprets as a sign that online giving has “gone mainstream.”
Here’s the full graphic:
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Nov. 15, 2011, 3:01 a.m. EST
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says late contract approvals and payments by the state are hurting nonprofit providers and jeopardizing services.
DiNapoli says state agencies last year were on average six months late in approving nine out of 10 contracts valued at $50,000 or more, often after services were provided.
An analysis of the first half of 2011 shows nearly 90 percent of contracts approved by the comptroller were submitted late by state agencies.
DiNapoli says nonprofits operate on thin margins and provide basic services ranging from health care clinics to work programs, with 22,000 active grant contracts totaling $16.8 billion.
The nonprofit sector employed 1.25 million people statewide last year.
You can access the article by Clicking Here.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Using Our Outside Voices in the House … and in the Senate
Nonprofits are not used to raising our voices. We teach others to use their “indoor voices,” and we mediate disputes so others won’t yell in anger. We heal the wounded, silently. We feed the hungry, quietly. At times we play loud music and paint loud colors on canvases. But you get the picture: we are not used to yelling.
Recently Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, was in Georgia, Montana, and New York, encouraging nonprofits to raise their voices -- literally. In rooms filled with nonprofit leaders attending major conferences, he designated half the room the loud "Yes” crowd, and the other half the “Nos.” Tim then pointed to one side – “YES” came the refrain; then to the other side and louder “NOs” reverberated. After a few volleys, the friendly competition could be measured in deafening decibels. Tim then instructed the “Yes” side to remain silent – they weren’t allowed to use their voices. After a couple more volleys of loud “NOs” that were met with silence, Tim noted what policymakers hear: silence from the majority who are too busy and too unsure, versus resounding and unmatched “NOs” from the vocal opposition. Each time the “No!” voices boomed against the silence, members of the audience grasped the danger of remaining silent.
Silence is the nonprofit sector’s worst enemy. If nonprofits don’t raise our voices, we are powerless. Right now, it’s urgent that all nonprofits speak up.
The charitable giving incentive is at risk.
Congress is considering, on a tight timeline, how to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. Slashing the deficit by that much guarantees that every option to save money will be on the table, without much thought as to the consequences – unless the downside is abundantly clear. The National Council – and so far, more than 20 other national organizations and 2,800 community-based nonprofits across America – think it is abundantly clear that if the Supercommittee recommends elimination of the charitable giving incentive, then individuals and communities served by nonprofits will suffer.
Raise your voice now!
Sign on to the Nonprofit Community Letter to protect the charitable giving incentive.
See which nonprofits in your state have already signed on.
Learn more about the charitable giving incentive.
Spread the word! Tweet: The #charitable giving incentive that supports #nonprofits is at risk! Take action now to protect it. bit.ly/olnPHp (via @NatlCouncilNPs) or #Nonprofits, tell the #supercommittee not to change the #charitable #giving incentive http://bit.ly/rZcH5q #takeaction (via @NatlCouncilNPs)
Advocacy by nonprofits is legal – and needed.
Join your State Association to keep informed about capacity building and policy issues that impact all nonprofits.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Foundation Center Launches www.WASHfunders.org
New York, NY — October 19, 2011. The Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide, has launched a custom web portal to serve as a hub of information and resources for funders working around the world to improve water access, sanitation, and hygiene — commonly referred to as "WASH." The new site, WASHfunders.org, addresses a critical challenge in philanthropy — knowing who is funding what, and where — so that the community of funders can more effectively, and collectively, meet global challenges.
"WASHfunders.org is a cutting-edge web portal that will play a vital role in promoting effectiveness, increasing collaboration, and facilitating decision making within the donor community," according to Steven M. Hilton, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, a leading funder of water issues. "Access to safe water supplies, improved sanitation, and good hygienic practices are key building blocks for improving the quality of human health, education, livelihoods, and overall well-being. We hope that this user-friendly tool will help bring more visibility to the global water crisis, attract new partners and funders, and fill a key gap in the effort to meet the global WASH challenges."
WASHfunders.org provides free access to a broad set of knowledge resources for funders, practitioners, and policymakers, including:
A mapping tool that enables users to interact with data on international aid flows, foundation funding, and key development indicators;
Profiles documenting the WASH strategies of leading foundations;
Case studies that illustrate the successes and challenges of WASH projects around the world;
Tools and resources for assessing project outcomes; and
A searchable archive of research reports recommended by sector leaders.
These knowledge tools empower donors to be more strategic, using data-driven decision making and peer-to-peer insights to strengthen their philanthropy.
"WASHfunders.org re-envisions traditional frameworks of how donors can work together to solve the world's water crisis," said Bradford Smith, president of the Foundation Center. "This customized web portal not only serves as a model of how the Foundation Center can empower donors to be more effective, it also raises awareness of philanthropy's contribution to making a better world."
WASHfunders.org was produced with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
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 more than 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit foundationcenter.org or call (212) 620-4230.
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Monday, October 17, 2011
Below is information about the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) required poster describing employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
The National Labor Relations Board has postponed the implementation date for its new notice-posting rule by more than two months. The new effective date of the rule is Jan. 31, 2012.
The Board’s jurisdiction extends to most small business owners. However, some very small employers whose annual volume of business is not large enough to have more than a slight effect on interstate commerce are exempted. In the case of retail businesses, including home construction, the Board’s jurisdiction covers any employer with a gross annual volume of business of $500,000 or more. The Board’s non-retail jurisdictional standard applies to most other employers. It is based on the amount of goods sold or services provided by the employer out of state (called “outflow”) or goods or services purchased by the employer from out of state (called “inflow”), even indirectly. Under this standard, the Board will take jurisdiction over an employer with an annual inflow or outflow of at least $50,000. See “Frequently Asked Question” Link below for more details about the Board’s jurisdiction standards.
A workplace poster that describes employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act is now available for free download from the NLRB website at www.nlrb.gov/poster
Private-sector employers within the NLRB’s jurisdiction will be required to display the poster where other workplace notices are posted. The National Labor Relations Board has postponed the implementation date for its new notice-posting rule by more than two months in order to allow for enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium sized businesses. The new effective date of the rule is Jan. 31, 2012. The decision to extend the rollout period followed queries from businesses and trade organizations indicating uncertainty about which businesses fall under the Board’s jurisdiction, and was made in the interest of ensuring broad voluntary compliance. No other changes in the rule, or in the form or content of the notice, will be made. Employers who customarily post personnel rules or policies on an internet or intranet site must also provide a link to the rights poster from those sites. In addition, copies of the Notice will soon be available without charge from any NLRB regional office.
For further information about the posting, including a detailed discussion of which employers are covered by the NLRA, and what to do if a substantial share of the workplace speaks a language other than English, please see our Frequently Asked Questions. . For questions that do not appear on the list, or to arrange for an NLRB presentation on the rule, please contact the agency at email@example.com or 866-667-NLRB.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Information for your members: You may have seen that in late September the IRS announced a voluntary compliance program for employers (including nonprofit employers) to enable those who have mistakenly classified workers as independent contractors to make a correction, along with a modest payment, and avoid the usual penalties of noncompliance. This program’s announcement offers an opportunity to remind nonprofits about the risk of misclassification and share information with them about the voluntary compliance program. See the National Council’s website materials on this topic.
Here is the text of the IRS announcement about the voluntary compliance program (from the IRS’s EO Update circulated on October 4):
“The IRS has launched a new program that will enable many employers, including tax-exempt employers, to resolve past worker classification issues and come back into compliance by making a minimal payment covering past payroll tax obligations rather than waiting for an IRS audit. To be eligible for the new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program an applicant must:
Consistently have treated the workers as nonemployees in the past
Filed all required Forms 1099 for the workers for the previous three years
Not currently be under audit by the IRS, Department of Labor or a state agency concerning the classification of these workers.
Full details, including FAQs, will be available on the Employment Tax Pages of IRS.gov and in Announcement 2011-64.”
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The merger will combine the services of the Albany, New York, nonprofits under a single umbrella, a measure that will make it easier for clients who access assistance from both organizations, or transition from one program to another.
The organizations will use a $300,000 grant from the New York State Health Foundation to execute the merger, expected to be finalized by Jan. 1, 2012.
ClearView Center’s executive director, Dorothy Cucinelli, will head the combined agency. Kathleen Tanner, executive director of Equinox, will assist in the transition.
The two organizations offer related services. Equinox’s services include residential programs for homeless youth and victims of domestic violence, counseling, advocacy, outreach and prevention programs, and delivers thousands of Thanksgiving meals each year for disadvantaged families. ClearView serves people with mental illness.
“We think that being under one roof will be more seamless for our clients,” Cucinelli said.
Both organizations are fiscally sound, she said. Each operates with an annual budget of about $5.5 million, and each employs a little more than 100 people. Once the merger is complete, the new entity will operate with a combined $11 million annual budget. No jobs will be lost, Cucinelli said.
“This is not a situation where one is taking over another that is in trouble,” she said.
The new entity will continue to operate ClearView’s eight locations and Equinox’s four locations. It hasn’t been determined yet where the headquarters will be located. Currently, ClearView’s main offices are at 500 Central Ave.; Equinox’s are at 95 Central Ave.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
The CEO of a nonprofit group Andrew Cuomo founded in the 1980s resigned the same month that Cuomo, now governor, opened a probe of high salaries at charitable groups.
The New York World, a project of Columbia University journalism students, reported that HELP USA’s chief executive resigned from his $500,000 job in August. Laurence Belinsky ran the charity founded by Cuomo to build affordable housing for the homeless. Cuomo’s sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, is chairwoman of the nonprofit.
advertisement Neither the governor nor HELP USA had any immediate comment Friday. Cuomo has no role in the charity now.
A spokesman for HELP USA told The Wall Street Journal the departure had nothing to do with the governor’s review of nonprofits.
The newspaper reported that Belinsky is married to one of the governor’s cousins and is a former housing official for Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, when he was governor. The reports state that the nonprofit’s board of directors includes Andrew Cuomo’s campaign manager and one of his closest health care advisers.
In August, the governor ordered an investigation of the compensation that nonprofit groups provide their top executives. Many nonprofits carry out social services using government grants and other benefits and Gov. Cuomo said the public needs to know if the compensation is justified.
The Wall Street Journal stated Belinsky was paid $546,000 in 2008, including a $157,000 bonus.
The charity operates on a $71 million budget that includes government grants.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Washington, DC U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Senate passage today of the Disaster Relief legislation. The $6.9 billion disaster funding bill included $5.1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $266 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Senator Gillibrand aggressively lobbied her Senate colleagues to pass this disaster package. Senator Gillibrand has traveled across the state, receiving briefings and viewing the damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, working to bring all federal resources to bear to aid in the recovery. Senator Gillibrand has toured damage on Long Island, in Westchester County, the Capital Region, Catskill, Schoharie County and Binghamton.
This legislation is a step forward to ensuring federal assistance to help our families, farmers, businesses and communities recover, said Senator Gillibrand. America has always stood by those suffering from disaster and helped them to rebuild. We have an obligation to help these families rebuild today. Across New York the North Country, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, and Long Island no one can question the devastation these storms left in these communities. We must stand with them in this time of great need.
$5.1 Billion For The FEMA Disaster Relief Fund
The FEMA Disaster Relief Fund provides Public Assistance and Individual Assistance to designated counties. Without final passage of this legislation, FEMA will likely run out of funding in the next few weeks and be unable to pay, reimburse, or loan money to families and communities.
FEMA's individual assistance program includes a range of programs, such as home repair, temporary housing, grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.
Public assistance is federal aid made available to public and certain nonprofit entities for emergency services and the repair or replacement of public facilities damaged in a natural disaster. Qualifying municipalities and entities can use public assistance funding for debris removal and cleanup, emergency protective measures to save lives and prevent further property damage following a storm and to repair washed out and heavily damaged roads and bridges. Local governments can also utilize this source of funding to repair water control facilities including dams and levees, to repair public buildings and equipment damaged from the storm, repair utilities, and repair or restore public parks and other recreational facilities.
$78 Million For The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)
The ECP is coordinated through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to repair farmland damaged by natural disasters, and to carry out emergency water conservation measures during severe drought. Conservation practices include removing debris, restoring fences and conservation structures, and providing water for livestock.
For land to be eligible for ECP resources, the natural disaster must create new conservation problems that if left untreated would impair or endanger the land, materially affect the lands productive capacity, represent unusual damage, and be so costly to repair that federal assistance is or will be required to return the land to productive agricultural use.
ECP program participants receive cost-share assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost to implement approved conservation practices determined by county FSA committees. Individual or cumulative requests for cost-sharing of $50,000 or less per person, per disaster are approved at the county committee level, $50,001 to $100,000 is approved at the state level, and over $100,000 is approved at the federal level. Technical assistance may be provided by the USDAs Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
$139 Million For The Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP)
The EWP was established to help conserve natural resources following natural disasters by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, drought, windstorms and other severe weather. The EWP responds to hazards including debris-clogged streams and channels, undermined and unstable stream banks, jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructure, wind-borne debris removal, and damaged upland sites stripped of protective vegetation by fire or drought.
Protection efforts can include purchasing floodplain easements to restore, protect, maintain and enhance the floodplain, including wetlands and riparian areas. It can also conserve natural values, including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention and groundwater recharge, and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought and erosion.
NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures. The remaining costs must come from local sources, and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services. Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor, such as the state, local government, or conservation district.
All EWP work must reduce the threat to life and property, be economically, environmentally and socially defensible, and come from a sound technical standpoint.
$100 Million For Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would specifically use this funding for disaster recovery. HUD gives states and localities the flexibility to meet a variety of needs, from assisting individual homeowners and business owners, to buying out properties to make way for more robust flood protection in the future, to developing infrastructure to rebuild homes and business zones away from flood danger.
$135 Million For The Economic Development Administration (EDA)
EDA would use this funding to provide financial resources and technical assistance to help rebuild economic development plans following a disaster and grants to build new infrastructure (e.g. business incubators, technology parks, research facilities, basic utilities such as water treatment) that foster economic development to retain or attract jobs to the region.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Two weeks ago, a state task force named by Mr. Cuomo began asking nonprofits to submit detailed information to the Cuomo administration about their executive pay levels and compensation policies. The task force said it is collecting information on a rolling basis from all nonprofits that receive funding from the state.
But one nonprofit that had not received a request by Wednesday is HELP USA, a homeless housing group founded by Mr. Cuomo in the 1980s. The governor's sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, is the group's chairperson, and its board of directors includes Mr. Cuomo's campaign treasurer Richard Sirota and Jeffrey Sachs, one of his closest health-care advisers, according to HELP's website.
HELP operates homeless shelters and develops low-income housing around the nation and gets most of its $71 million budget from federal, state and city contracts and grants, according to its tax filings.
The nonprofit paid its chief executive, Laurence Belinsky, $546,000 in 2008—including a $157,000 bonus—and $508,000 in 2009, according to IRS filings. His salary is more than 40% higher than the median salary of chief executives of nonprofits based in the Northeast with operating budgets of more than $13 million, according to Charity Navigator, a prominent charity database.
Mr. Belinsky couldn't be reached for comment.
Another powerful group that hasn't received a letter is the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents many Medicaid-dependent hospitals in the city region and pays its chief executive $2 million a year, according to tax filings.
After a reporter inquired about the status of data requests to HELP and the hospital association, a state official said on Thursday that the task force had mailed letters to the groups.
Meanwhile, one of the first groups to get the request was the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a social service group run by William Rapfogel, the husband of the chief of staff to Democratic Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver. Mr. Rapfogel received a $435,000 pay package in 2009, tax filings show.
A spokesman for the taskforce said all nonprofits that receive government money would eventually receive a request for information.
"There are thousands of not-for-profits that we are looking at, so we are sending the letters in waves on a rolling basis," said the spokesman.
Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause, which advocates for transparent government, said the governor's investigation would be successful only if all charities are treated equally.
"You need an objective standard by which to judge what is or is not excessive compensation. Where are we headed with this?" Ms. Lerner said.
Jeff Stonecash, a Syracuse University political science professor, said Mr. Cuomo's probe was treading on politically sensitive ground. "There are some pitfalls here, but there's a lot of gain if he can get the right headlines," he said.
Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said the investigation would be fair.
"Politics never got in the way of investigations before, and it won't now. If you think otherwise, just ask Pedro Espada," Mr. Vlasto said, referring to the former Democratic Bronx state senator whom Mr. Cuomo investigated while attorney general.
Mr. Cuomo's investigative foray into state-subsidized charities has been the object of much interest and anxiety around the nonprofit world. The governor has promised a wide-ranging review, an undertaking that could be handled by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office regulates charities.
The governor has been praised for drawing more attention to nonprofit executive pay as it has stretched deeper into six and seven figures. But, depending on how Mr. Cuomo navigates those loyalties and rivalries within the nonprofit world, the task force also carries political risk.
"I can't see that he isn't smart enough or ethical enough to see that it would be problematic to target only organizations with whom he has no connection," said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Lower Manhattan Democrat who introduced a bill this year to limit compensation for hospital executives.
Mr. Cuomo assembled the task force in early August in the wake of a New York Times article that scrutinized the executive compensation of a Medicaid-financed nonprofit group that reportedly paid two of its top executives close to $1 million a year. He put two of his most trusted aides on the task force, Financial Services superintendent Benjamin Lawsky and State Inspector General Ellen Biben.
But the inquiry's goal hasn't been defined. The task force may hold hearings and issue a report, leading to potential regulatory changes and legislation.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
To register, please click on the corresponding link below. If you plan to attend multiple trainings, please be sure to register for each below.
New User Orientation
We recommend a New User Orientation if your organization is new to the CDP or if you need a refresher on data entry. This training session will provide an overview of the history and goals of the New York State CDP as well as an introduction to the types of data collected. During the session, we will walk participants through the process of entering data, applying to participating funders and generating reports.
New User Orientation, Brooklyn
Irondale Ensemble Project
September 20, 2011
CDP Reports Orientation
If your organization has already submitted at least one Data Profile into the system, we encourage you to join us for a Reports Orientation to learn more about the 77 trend and comparison reports available to your organization, at no-cost! This training offers tips for integrating use of these reports in your financial management, planning and evaluation.
CDP Reports Orientation, Brooklyn
Irondale Ensemble Project
September 20, 2011
CDP Reports Orientation for Nonprofit Leaders
Is your board interested in analyzing financial trends? Is your executive director looking to set fundraising and marketing goals? CDP reports can help your organization's board and staff make operational decisions, build the case for support and facilitate long-term planning.
This reports orientation session is designed specifically for executive directors, board members, and other nonprofit leaders and will provide participants with an overview of the reports available through the CDP and how they can be used for key decision-making within your organization.
CDP Reports for Nonprofit Leaders, Manhattan
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
September 21, 2011
Join a CDP training session from your home or office ONLINE via webinar!
New User and CDP Reports Orientation Sessions are offered monthly to all CDP users. You can participate in a WEB-BASED Training Session from your office or home computer. A CDP associate will conduct the training session, during which you will be able to ask questions and learn more about the Cultural Data Project. New User Orientations take place on the first Wednesday and Reports Orientations are held on the third Thursday of every month.
New User Orientation
10:00 am and 2:00pm
CDP Reports Orientation
10:00 am and 2:00 pm
One day prior to the training session, you will be sent a link to connect to this training session online.
Questions? Visit www.nysculturaldata.org or contact the New York State CDP Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-NYSCDP-1 (1-888-697-2371).
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Submit Your Testimonial to NYCON & the Governor Today!
On August 3rd the Governor announced the formation of a task force charged with investigating executive compensation at nonprofit agencies (full announcement from Gov. Cuomo below).
NYCON is in agreement with the Governor that activities like those recently exposed in the NY Times that were the impetus to the formation of this task force, can have significant detrimental effects on the relationship between nonprofits and the public.
However, we also know that these types of activities are not solely a "nonprofit issue" and, furthermore, that there are many more positive stories than negative ones occurring in nonprofits.
We want to make sure the Governor realizes this too.
We are asking you to help us remind Governor Cuomo that nonprofits employ hard-working New Yorkers who provide much needed services in communities across our state.
Let the administration know the services you provide are essential and are delivered in an ethical, honest and efficient manner that rivals any successful for-profit company. Let's remind them, and all taxpayers, that we're delivering services at costs far below our private sector counterparts, and take on contractual obligations from the State that they would never agree to, often times to our own detriment - because we exist for our mission, not profit.
Please submit your stories here.
NYCON is creating a web page dedicated to publishing your testimonials, and we encourage you to submit your stories which will be shared online and with the Governor's press office. You can also submit your comments directly to the press office at: email@example.com.
Please feel free to contact our membership office if you have any questions or comments.
Thank you again for all you do and for your continued dedication to the nonprofit sector and your community.
CEO, New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
New Task Force Will Make Recommendations for New Rules to Prevent Taxpayer Dollars from being Used to Support Excessive Compensation
Albany, NY (August 3, 2011) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has created a new task force to investigate the executive and administrator compensation levels at not-for-profits that receive taxpayer support from the state. The task force will be led by the New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben, Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, the Medicaid Inspector General Jim Cox, and the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky.
"Not-for-profits that provide services to the poor and the needy have a special obligation to the taxpayers that support them. Executives at these not-for-profits should be using the taxpayer dollars they receive to help New Yorkers, not to line their own pockets. This task force will do a top-to-bottom review, not only to audit current compensation levels, but also to make recommendations for future rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to serve and support the people of this state, not pay for excessive salaries and compensation," Governor Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo continued, "There is a whole range of compensation levels and extremes that have existed for too long and must be reviewed. The use of taxpayer dollars must be scrutinized at every level."
The Governor's task force will determine the protocol and scope of the investigation in order to target the audit to focus on ensuring that state taxpayer dollars meant to help and protect New Yorkers, particularly the poor and indigent, are going to that purpose and are not being diverted to compensation. It will also provide recommendations for State agency policies and procedures that will ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being diverted to excessive compensation.
Commissioners from the Department of Health, the Office of Mental Health, and OPWDD will also serve on the task force.
The Governor's action follows reports of startlingly excessive salaries and compensation packages for executives at not-for-profits that depended on state Medicaid funding through the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and other State agencies.
The State's Medicaid Inspector General has the authority necessary to exclude providers from participation in the Medicaid program if it is found that they have engaged in fraudulent or abusive practices.
There are currently no state rules governing executive and administrative compensation for not-for-profits that receive state support.
According to the Department of the Budget's January 2010 preliminary analysis of not-for-profit employees contracting with the mental hygiene agencies (Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, and Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services), there were approximately 1,926 employees with annual salaries greater than or equal to $100,000. The total value of their salaries was $324.6 million, with an average salary of $168,555.
NYCON Statement on Governor's
Review of Executive Compensation:
"NYCON supports IRS and state enforcement efforts to root out those relatively few and often large institutional nonprofits, especially in health care and higher education, where charitable resources are used for the private and personal gain of executives. Such abuses are a stain on the sector and the Governor is right, public trust is integral to the mission and work of our state's charities. The Internal Revenue Service already provides compensation guidelines as set forth in the federal tax code and we believe those guidelines should be upheld.
It needs to be emphasized, however, that these cases are very much the exception.
The vast majority of community-based nonprofit employees are doing hard and challenging work at compensation levels that are far below public employees and often the for-profit sector. It should also be noted that the phrase "taxpayer supported nonprofits" is misleading as the state government contracts to buy services from nonprofits, just as it contracts with the for-profit sector; except the nonprofit is often expected to unfairly perform at below the actual cost of doing business. Perhaps it is also time to order an extensive review of the executive compensation levels of "taxpayer supported for-profit businesses."
NYCON asks the Governor to take this opportunity to go beyond the immediate executive compensation issue and take a comprehensive look at how the state's overall regulatory and business relationship with the nonprofit sector can be improved in the interest of all concerned."
Doug Sauer, CEO, New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
1-800-515-5012, ext 103
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)
Submission Accepted through August 22nd, 2011
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 8th Annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builders 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
- 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 22, 2011
Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be received by August 22nd. Nominators are strongly encouraged to address the candidate's qualifications related to the four (4) criteria's mentioned above and to include at least three (3) letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership.
Send seven (7) packets of nomination materials to:
Urbach Community Builders Award Committee
New York Council of Nonprofits
Albany NY 12204
or email the packet to Melissa Currado, Executive Assistant to the CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Announcement & Presentation
The 2011 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of October 6th 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, skill and strategy sessions for your staff and volunteer leaders.
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 2011 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award one (1) nonprofit executive of their choice a Camp Finance scholarship in Hal's name. In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award in his tribute.
Past Urbach Award Honorees
Edward S. Mucenski, CPA of Potsdam
Lewis "Lew" Kramer, CPA of Chappaqua
Mel Zachter, CPA of Staten Island
Eugene H. Fleishman, CPA of Poughkeepsie
Craig Sickler, CPA from Kingston
Paul Battaglia, CPA from Batavia
For More Information
visit NYCON at http://www.nycon.org/ or contact Melissa Currado at (800) 515-5012 or email@example.com
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Find Out if the Unemployment Savings Program for NYCON Members through First Nonprofits Companies can Save You Money.
Why pay a tax if you don’t have to? Many NYCON Members have switched from paying the state unemployment tax rates to First Nonprofit Unemployment Savings Program saving up to 60% of their unemployment costs annually. Find out if you can too. Take NYCON's FREE upcoming Beneft Spotlight: Unemployment Savings Program on August 23rd from 10 am to 11am. REGISTER HERE
A Big Bill for Employers
The Albany Times Union reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday rolled out a sweeping plan to help revitalize the state's economy, complete with an ad campaign and competitive grant program designed to spark innovation.
But businesses have a more immediate concern: The bill is coming due for New York's unemployment insurance.
Citing the need to borrow more than $3 billion from the federal government to prop up its chronically empty account, the state faces a whopping $95 million interest payment on loans for the fund due Sept. 30.
As a result, the state Department of Labor is assessing businesses up to $21.25 per employee to cover the cost. That payment is due Aug. 15.
Complaints about what businesses describe as a hidden tax were rolling in Tuesday after numerous employers received the notices and as Cuomo expounded on his plans for the economy.
"This is something that could -- depending on the number of employees -- be a pretty hefty cost in this economy," said Mike Durant, New York state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
When asked about the surcharge during a news conference outlining his revitalization plans, Cuomo stressed that the bill for interest is ultimately coming from Washington, D.C.
"It's a federal decision whether or not they'll waive the interest payments. I hope that they do," he said, adding that his office was pushing the state's congressional delegation on the issue.
The hefty tab illustrates what can happen as the federal stimulus program, enacted shortly after the recession started in 2008, runs out.
The Department of Labor noted that the stimulus program provided no-interest loans to the states in 2009 and 2010, but not this year.
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/A-big-bill-for-your-boss-1472786.php#ixzz1SetH4Zip
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
"I'm honored that Attorney General Schneiderman has asked us to bring NYCON's statewide perspective and expertise to this important collaborative effort," said Doug Sauer. "We're proud to represent 3,000 small to moderately sized member nonprofits who provide critical services in communities across New York. It's a testament to the Attorney General's initiative that he is seeking the input of these grass roots groups as he strives to help improve nonprofit efficiency, make oversight more effective and help increase the public's faith in our sector."
In addition to providing critical services to New Yorkers, nonprofits are also a driving economic force. Statewide, nonprofits employ between 17 and 18 percent of the workforce. In New York City alone nonprofits employ 500,000 people.
"For too long, New York's regulatory framework has placed unnecessary burdens on nonprofits, which are simply untenable during these challenging financial times," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "We must modernize the rules of the road so the nonprofit sector can thrive. We can be tougher on policing fraud without imposing needless burdens and costs on this vital sector of New York's economy."
Based on the key issues that the nonprofit sector has identified to the Attorney General's Office, the Leadership Committee's activities will focus on the following:
Making recommendations on how to reduce regulatory burdens and more effectively address regulatory concerns;
Developing legislative proposals to modernize New York's nonprofit laws that would eliminate outdated requirements and unnecessary burdens while strengthening accountability; and
Proposing measures to enhance board governance and effectiveness, including through new programs to recruit and train nonprofit board members.
The Leadership Committee will be staffed by the Attorney General's Charities Bureau Chief, Jason Lilien, and will be charged with completing its work by the end of this year.
Stay tuned to our emails, as NYCON will be seeking the input of all current members on its website at www.nycon.org beginning in August.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Working in partnership, Museumwise & MANY have made great strides towards reaching several of our initial milestones of conducting organizational assessments of the two organizations, planning the first of two facilitated meetings of both boards and staff, and developing a stakeholder engagement strategy. Keep an eye on your inboxes, because our next round of messaging will include a link to our membership survey to gather your thoughts about consolidation and what a new model of service may look like for you.
Our next significant milestone will be the first joint meeting of the boards on July 18th in Albany. Led by our facilitator Scott Sears, this will be an opportunity for the Museumwise and MANY boards to sit down together to get acquainted with the vision, value and service of each other's organization and to begin envisioning the qualities of and defining the outcome criteria for a blended organization. The rapport developed among the T7 planning committee has set the stage for a progressive and productive session with the two boards. As a launching point for these discussions, the T7 compiled an organizational assessment document placing Museumwise's and MANY's services, programs and future interests side by side to establish similarities between and distinctiveness of the two organizations.
One of the activities on July 18th will be the creation of a 'shared history' - a timeline of trends and events that have defined the New York State museum community and Museumwise's and MANY's histories over the last 10+ years. Can you help us flesh this history out?
Please share with us your thoughts about the trends and events that have defined each organization and our collective professional community by sending them along to Catherine firstname.lastname@example.org and Anne email@example.com.
Thanks in advance for your replies -
Catherine Gilbert, Anne Ackerson,
Executive Director Director
Museumwise Museum Association of New York
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
SCHUMER: IRS ANNOUNCEMENT COULD MISTAKENLY COST UPSTATE NY CHARITIES, LITTLE LEAGUES, PUBLIC LIBRARIES, MUSEUMS AND OTHERS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS EACH
Report Provides County-By-County Breakdown Of The Over 6,000 New York Nonprofit Groups That Lost Tax Exempt Status – Groups Can Correct Error, But Have To Do It Soon Before Costs Go Up
Schumer: Losing Tax-Exempt Status Could Be An Unfair Blow To New York’s Nonprofits
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer unveiled a new section of his website to aid New York nonprofit groups that may have mistakenly lost their tax exempt status. Schumer is strongly encouraging nonprofit groups to check a recently-released Internal Revenue Service (IRS) list, available on Schumer’s website, to ensure that they have not been mistakenly stripped of their tax-exempt status – a move that could cost these groups thousands of dollars. Schumer’s webpage was launched shortly after media reports indicated that several nonprofit groups, including the New Windsor Little League and Plattekill Public Library, were included on the list released June 8th, despite the fact that their paperwork was up to date and filed with the IRS. Several nonprofit groups were never contacted by the IRS, despite several attempts to send mailings and other communications to warn the groups of the looming deadline to avoid losing their designation as a 501(c)(3) group.
“Little leagues, public libraries, museums, meal programs, and other nonprofit organizations that are the very fabric of communities throughout Upstate New York are at risk of losing their tax-exempt status and paying thousands of dollars in penalties through no fault of their own,” said Schumer. “Whether because of a lost notice in the mail or paperwork errors, no nonprofit should needlessly lose their tax exempt status. Every nonprofit group in Upstate New York should take a moment to ensure that they won’t be forced to pay unnecessary taxes this year. I’ve launched this new page on my website to make it easy and painless for groups to make sure that they’re not on the list, and to take steps to correct the problem if they are. Remaining tax-exempt helps keep costs down while boosting fundraising for charity organizations.”
"The good work of community charities has a vital impact on the everyday lives of New Yorkers,” said Doug Sauer, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Council of Nonprofits. “Whether it is providing volunteer first responder assistance, providing food and housing to families in need, caring for our children, disabled and elderly, fostering economic development or creating and promoting arts and culture - charities are integral to our quality of life in ways that are often taken for granted. NYCON is eager to do what we can to assist those organizations whose tax status have been revoked so that they continue their important contributions."
On June 8th, the IRS released a list of 275,000 nonprofits nationwide who automatically lost their tax-exempt status because they failed to file annual reports for three years in a row. The list included over 19,000 New York organizations, including more than 6,000 across Upstate New York. While the IRS believes that many of these organizations are no longer operational, they acknowledge that some groups on the list might not have been aware of the requirement, and are taking steps to allow these nonprofits to reinstate their tax-exempt status. In making the announcement, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said that, “We realize there may be some legitimate organizations, especially very small ones that were unaware of their new filing requirement.”
The list includes a diverse range of nonprofit groups including sports leagues, public libraries, museums and other educational programs, conservation groups, religious organizations, business networking groups, and others. There are over 106,000 registered nonprofits in New York state, according to the New York Council of Nonprofits, employing over 1.2 million New Yorkers statewide. Included in this total are 3,000 food pantries that feed approximately 3 million people each year. Over 17,000 people work in New York museums, which help contribute over a billion dollars to the state’s economy each year, thanks to visits from 6.6 million families, senior citizens, and students. In 2010, the American Red Cross in New York responded to 3,920 local disasters, and has trained nearly 590,000 people in First Aid. The group has also trained over 168,000 people in emergency preparedness, collected over 400,000 units of blood, and helped over 66,000 military families through their Armed Forces Emergency Services and Community Outreach Programs, according to the New York Council of Nonprofits. New York charities play an important role in communities across the state, and should be allowed to continue to do their good work in a tax-exempt state that will help their bottom line, allowing the nonprofits to serve more Upstate New Yorkers.
Here is how the nonprofits who lost their tax-exempt status break down across the state:
- In the Capital Region, approximately 952 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
- In Western New York, approximately 687 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, approximately 867 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
- In the Southern Tier, approximately 562 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
- In Central New York, approximately 811 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
- In the Hudson Valley, approximately 1,942 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
- In the North Country, approximately 426 nonprofits lost their tax-exempt status.
Being included on the list means that these nonprofits are no longer eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, and that any income the group receives may be taxed. This has the effect of raising taxes on the nonprofit, while also putting a serious damper on their fundraising. The Pension Protection Act, passed by Congress in 2007, requires tax-exempt organizations to file an information return or notice each year with the IRS. Smaller groups are required to file for the first time in 2007, and the law automatically revokes the tax-exempt status of groups that do not file for three consecutive years. As a result, the first nonprofits to be revoked under the new law saw their status removed based on 2010 returns, filed in April of this year.
Fortunately, as long as groups are aware that they have been improperly stripped of their tax-exempt status, they can take corrective action at minimal cost to the group. Any nonprofit that can demonstrate that it has met its filing requirement for one or more of the last three years can fax copies of their past tax returns to be reinstated at no cost to the group. Additionally, those groups with under $50,000 in income that have not filed tax returns over the past three years can file for reinstatement for a reduced fee of just $100. If the groups fail to file by December 31, 2011, that fee jumps to $400-850 for 2012. Due to the limited window to take advantage of cheaper and easier ways to reapply for tax-exempt status, Schumer is encouraging nonprofits across Upstate New York to check his website and the list of those that lost 501(c)(3) status to ensure that their paperwork is up to date. If a group finds that they have lost their tax exempt status, they can follow the instructions on Schumer’s website and take steps to see that it is reinstated.
The new section of Schumer’s website can be accessed by visiting http://schumer.senate.gov/Public/irs_6_22_11.htm
Thursday, June 16, 2011
“the primary aim of the case studies is to help those interested in the work of nonprofits to understand how these organizations can become more effective advocates.”
“We have published these cases as part of our commitment to documenting the key role that nonprofits play in the civic life of this city and to providing education materials that can be used to train the next generations of nonprofit leaders,” says Jack Krauskopf, Director of the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management.
The case studies are unique and provide background of the advocacy campaigns, identify the outcomes and impacts, analyze the role of the advocacy organizations and coalitions, and determine the key factors in the success or failure of the different elements of the campaigns.
Each written case narrative has an accompanying video of interviews with the advocates highlighted in the case, and an appendix with links to supplementary online documentation and examples of print and visual media coverage of the issues. An additional background paper, Understanding Nonprofit Advocacy, explores definitions of advocacy and the challenges in evaluating the outcomes of advocacy campaigns. In addition, Teaching Notes provide instructors with additional information on how to use the cases.
Professor John Casey, the project coordinator, notes that “the primary aim of the case studies is to help those interested in the work of nonprofits to understand how these organizations can become more effective advocates.”
Margaret C. Ayers, the President of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, comments that “our focus on advocacy reflects our desire to maximize the impact of our limited philanthropic dollars. By influencing government policies and programs, our grantees affect the expenditure of millions of dollars in public funds--an impact many times the size of our grants budget. Policy change rarely happens quickly or easily. To mount these kinds of long-term campaigns, advocates need long-term funding and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation is committed to supporting them.”
For more about Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, go to http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/spa/home.php.
Monday, June 13, 2011
The proposed legislation would establish a health insurance exchange, a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can, come 2014, shop for and compare private insurance plans.
The Senate bill “is a first step in advancing a health insurance exchange that will ensure affordable and accessible coverage that meets the unique insurance needs of all New Yorkers,” said Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta, who, as chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, has sponsored the legislation.
Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, is the bill’s cosponsor.
The bill was drafted following a roundtable discussion in April with health care and insurance experts.
“This legislation sets up the governing structure and basic functions that are required in order for the exchange to begin to function, while providing for a transparent process and careful consideration of policy choices,” Hannon said.
There has yet to be a companion bill introduced in the state Assembly. Seward says talks are ongoing with the Assembly and the governor’s office.
Seward’s bill establishes the exchange as a public authority with an 11-member board of directors. States have the power to choose how the exchanges are governed and whether it will exist as a nonprofit organization, quasi-governmental entity like a public authority or within a state agency.
“We don’t want this to turn into an expensive and beaurcratic program,” Seward said in explaining the decision to create the exchange as a public authority.
The exchange will not receive any state funding, under the bill. Seward said its operation could be kept going by fees paid by participating health care providers and others. It’s unknown at this point how much it will cost to keep the exchange running.
According to Seward, the federal government has given New York $28 million to date to establish the exchange.
Although a public authority operates with more independence than a state agency, questions still exist about whether the exchange will be sufficiently insulated from political influence and special interests within the insurance industry, including who will be charged with choosing the board of directors. “Some of these decisions are yet to be made,” Seward said.
Under the health care law, states must establish the governing structure of the exchanges by the end of this year. By 2013, states must prove to the federal government they are qualified to run the program. Consumers will be able to purchase insurance through the exchanges in 2014.
Members of Congress, too, will be getting their health insurance through exchanges starting in 2014.
The exchanges are a main provision of the health care law. The hope is that by increasing competition among health care plans and providing more choices for individuals and businesses, costs will come down.
“As a result of high costs, the market for individuals in the state has been in sharp decline for years,” said Paul Howard, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, in a recent report. “As recently as 2001, more than 128,000 individuals were enrolled in (health maintenance organizations) in the direct-pay market. By 2010, enrollment had plummeted to just 31,000.” Premiums have roughly tripled during that period, according to Howard.
“In all, about 15 percent (2.6 million) of New York’s residents are uninsured, a group that is largely young (about half are aged 18 to 34), in good health and without dependents,” he added. Under the new federal law, young adults can remain on their parents’ plan until they turn 26. That provision has already taken effect.
To learn more about the law’s many provisions and when they take effect, visit www.healthcare.gov.
“Frankly, I have mixed feelings (about the health care law),” Seward said.
Judges on a federal appeals court panel on Wednesday repeatedly raised questions about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, expressing unease with the requirement that virtually all Americans carry health insurance or face penalties.
All three judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel questioned whether upholding the landmark law could open the door to Congress adopting other sweeping economic mandates. The panel is made up of two Democratic appointees and one Republican appointee.
The Atlanta panel did not immediately rule on the lawsuit brought by 26 states, a coalition of small businesses and private individuals who urged the three to side with a Florida judge who struck down the law. And it's never easy to predict how an appeals panel will decide.
But during almost three hours of oral arguments, the judges asked pointed questions about the so-called individual mandate, which the federal government says is needed to expand coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
With other challenges to the law before other federal appeals courts, lawyers expect that its fate will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chief Judge Joel Dubina, who was tapped by President George H.W. Bush, struck early by asking the government's attorney “if we uphold the individual mandate in this case, are there any limits on Congressional power?” Circuit Judges Frank Hull and Stanley Marcus, who were both appointed by President Bill Clinton, echoed his concerns later in the hearing.
Acting U.S. Solicitor Neal Katyal sought to ease their concerns by saying the legislative branch can only exercise its powers to regulate commerce if it will have a substantial effect on the economy and solve a national, not local, problem. Health care coverage, he said, is unique because of the billions of dollars shifted in the economy when Americans without coverage seek medical care.
“That's what stops the slippery slope,” he said.
Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor representing the states, countered that the federal government should not have the power to compel residents to buy to engage in commercial transactions. “This is the case that crosses the line,” he said.
Hull also seemed skeptical about the government's claim that the mandate was crucial to covering the 50 million or so uninsured Americans. She said the rolls of the uninsured could be pared significantly through other parts of the package, including expanded Medicare discounts for some seniors and a change that makes it easier for those with pre-existing medical conditions to get coverage.
The court, which did not indicate when it would rule, has several options. But Hull and Dubina asked the lawyers on both sides to focus on a particular outcome: What could happen to the overhaul, they asked separately, if the individual mandate were invalidated but the rest of the package were upheld?
Parts of the overall law should still survive, said Katyal, but he warned the judges they’d make a “deep, deep mistake” if the insurance requirement were found to be unconstitutional. He said Congress had the right to regulate what uninsured Americans must buy because they shift $43 billion each year in medical costs to other taxpayers.
Clement, however, argued that the insurance requirement is the “driving force” of the broader package, which he said violates the Constitution's legitimate authority. Without it, he said, the rest of the package should collapse.
“If you take out the hub, the spokes will fall,” Clement said.
Marcus, meanwhile, said the case struck him as an argument over individual liberties, but questioned whether the judicial branch should “stop at the water’s edge” or intervene.
The 11th Circuit is not the first appeals court to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the federal health care overhaul, as panels in Cincinnati and Richmond have both heard similar legal challenges to the law within the last month. But legal observers say the Atlanta panel’s decision could be the most pivotal because the ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida is considered the broadest assault yet on the law.
While a Republican-appointed federal judge in Virginia struck down the requirement that nearly all Americans carry health insurance, Vinson invalidated the entire law, from the Medicare expansion to a change that allows adult children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance. Three federal judges, all Democratic appointees, have upheld the law.