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FRIDAY FIVE: MARCH 8, 2019

In 1908, garment workers went on strike in New York City and launched the first International Women’s Day, which is now celebrated around the world on March 8th.

In 1908, garment workers went on strike in New York City and launched the first International Women’s Day, which is now celebrated around the world on March 8th.

Since the official designation by the United Nations in 1975, March 8th has been considered International Women’s Day. The annual celebration can be traced back to February 1908 in New York City, when garment workers went on strike and marched through the city protesting unjust working conditions and unequal pay. The day was quickly recognized in Europe in the early 1910s, and German campaigner Clara Zetkin transitioned the day into an international movement advocating for universal suffrage. In Russia, International Women’s Day was established in 1913, and related protests in March 1917 directly led to women gaining the right to vote that year—one year earlier than Britain and three years earlier than the United States.

1.       Radio Station Pleasantly Surprised by Listeners’ Estate Plans  

KEXP, a public radio station in Seattle, is reeling from planned giving donations as many of its listeners move to include the radio station in their estate plans. The majority of KEXP’s supporters fall in the mid-30s to mid-50s age range so it comes as a surprise to the station that so many listeners are planning their estate plans with KEXP in mind. KEXP has retained supporters spanning decades of annual giving since it began as a college station in the early 1970s.

Last year a loyal listener left a $10 million bequest to KEXP, making it the largest gift the station has ever received. Known as Suzanne, this donor previously made a gift to the capital campaign for a new KEXP facility in 2015. Following this gift, she was invited to lunch with KEXP’s executive director, where they discussed the campaign for the new facility and Suzanne’s relationship with the radio station at that time. Fast forward to last year when Suzanne made the unexpected donation of $10 million to KEXP, making it among the largest donations ever given to a single public radio station. Following this donation, KEXP received a $20,000 bequest from a first-time donor. This gift prompted the creation of the formal planned giving operation now officially known as the Reverb Society.

The new planned giving club is promoted just a few times a year and with minimal marketing. A KEXP fundraiser says the fundraising team sees the planned giving club as a slower and drawn-out process that will develop over time. Fortunately, Suzanne’s unprecedented gift activated other donors who subsequently informed KEXP of their planned bequest commitments to the station in their estate plans. While KEXP continues to receive unsolicited calls from lawyers and estate planners, the radio station can continue to revel in the influx of bequest donors and the progression of their newly launched giving club, the Reverb Society.

2.        Arkansas Bill Seeks to Provide Transparency of Public-Private Partnerships

Introduced by Arkansas Senator Kim Hammer, Bill 231 would permit state oversight of business deals made by nonprofits that work with public entities, such as support foundations for universities and other public institutions. The bill would grant the public transparency of copies of documents including contracts and loan agreements made by such foundations. This legislation is endorsed by the Arkansas Freedom of Information Task Force, composed of attorneys, public officials, and journalists. An attorney from the task force insists the bill presents an appropriate balance of the public’s right to know about the work of private foundations, and that it makes it clear that it applies to private entities. Another task force member cites the documents in question are already subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

However, this bill comes as The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was just denied documents they had requested from university support foundations. Although the IRS Form 990 is publicly accessible, it presents expenses with few details. When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was unsuccessful in obtaining documents from the Razorback Foundation (a private foundation assisting University of Arkansas in the search for a new head football coach), the newspaper probed further into the separation between the school and support foundation. In addition to finding 22,000 emails between foundation staff and the university, the newspaper found the University of Arkansas promoted the foundation membership program and also let the foundation renege on millions of dollars of capital campaign commitments. A system spokesperson from the University of Arkansas said the system opposes Bill 231 “as it is written”, and claims that defining foundation records as ‘public’ would negatively impact private fundraising for university projects. The university gave no explanation to back up this claim. Robert Steinbuch, a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock who helped write Bill 231, claims this storyline is common. Support foundations like the Razorback Foundation exist to help universities, but  the two entities must be maintained as singular and separate.

 

3.       Rising Costs Call for Innovative Models as Healthcare Professionals Turn to Startups

 

Startups are popping up across all industries, and investors are now searching for innovative technology companies to take on the challenges of the costly U.S. healthcare system. Investors are looking to reverse the spiraling costs in the $3.5 trillion healthcare market, and are referring to startups as potential models to reduce costs and deliver quality services. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare expenditures comprise nearly 18% of the gross domestic product, with hospital care and physician services rising higher than average in recent years. Panelists at last week’s Association for Corporate Growth’s 11th Annual Healthcare Conference advocated for innovated strategies to be used to find companies that achieve cost-savings and improved patient outcomes. Oak HC/FT, a $1.1 billion healthcare venture fund is searching the healthcare landscape for innovations that reduce the “social determinants” of poor health among vulnerable populations.

With new technologies specifically addressing these populations and their need for increased housing, transportation, and nutritional care, hospital admission rates could drop drastically. For example, SafeRide Health, a medical transportation startup, could reduce hospital admission rates among dialysis patients by providing necessary transportation throughout their entire treatment, rather than interrupting treatment due to a patient’s lack of transportation. Ankur Agrawal, a partner at McKinsey & Co.’s healthcare systems and services practice, encourages healthcare professionals to adopt a “fee for value versus fee for care” model which would control the costs of services by aligning incentives for insurance payers and doctors to deliver care based on overall quality of the services provided. Agrawal identifies the main drivers of the healthcare system as physicians and not consumers, thus differentiating this industry from others and proving it difficult to compare with other industries’ startups. The question of how to rein in healthcare costs and produce improved patient outcomes lies in diverse and innovative models that may be incomparable to existing startups due to the structure and influential players of the current healthcare system.

 

4.       Transparency Law Comes for California Charter Schools

 

Following the successful teacher strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland, on March 5th, 2019 California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that will require charter schools to follow the same transparency rules that apply to public schools. Among other issues, the topic of charter schools emerged from the recent teacher strikes. Senate Bill 126 will require more transparency from charter schools, including holding open meetings and adherence to the California Public Records Act. Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown vetoed similar measures while in office, and Newsom says that the bill “made common sense…Sometimes people claim they are for transparency for everybody else, but not for themselves. In this case its transparency for all of us.” Newsom was joined by the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) in supporting the implementation of stronger oversight of charter schools. CTA and CCSA have historically battled one another, so it comes as an accomplishment for both of them to sign on to the new bill, sending the message that the two groups are reaching a new phase of dialogue on the issue of school transparency. The law will go into effect in January 2020, although it makes no mention of the proposed moratorium on charter school expansion brought by the Los Angeles Board of Education.

5.       The Significance and Detriment of the “Founder’s Syndrome” Label

Nonprofit governance literature uses the term “founder’s syndrome” to explain the challenges that nonprofits face once the founder has carried out all major efforts to initiate and launch their organization. Any illness stemming from the organization typically tends to fall on the founder, and Elizabeth Schmidt, author of this article, affirms that the board of the organization should address the symptoms of founder’s syndrome from a mission-centric point of view in order to mitigate governance issues and to avoid stereotypes and blaming of the organization’s founder. Schmidt identifies the four main symptoms of “founder’s syndrome”; the sense of grandiosity of the founder’s organization to serve his or her ego, the inability to delegate responsibilities; the inability to make smooth transitions in and out of positions; and the unwavering dedication to the original vision of the organization. Although some founder situations do fit the diagnosis, these conditions of governance are also found in non-founder-led organizations. Founder’s syndrome literature draws from commonsense notions and anecdotes, reinforcing stereotypes of nonprofit leadership, Schmidt claims.

The literature surrounding founder’s syndrome suggests potential psychological problems of founders, coupled with the irony of denial being a major part of the syndrome, as it is impossible to defend oneself without exhibiting some form of denial. Studies have been done to measure organizations’ governance practices and attitudes among founder-led and non-founder-led organizations, which produced inconclusive results. Schmidt does not find substantial evidence in the data that “founder’s syndrome” is true and accurate and believes that targeting founders with the syndrome label reflects the worrisome trend of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality that emphasizes “best practices” that do not always lead to better governance. Instead, governance should be emphasized in the mission of the organization, as should the board’s duty of obedience to the mission.

Overall, the founder’s syndrome diagnosis is overly broad and nears on a stereotypical, simplification, and exaggeration of an organization’s governance, not to mention the blame placed on founders for all past, present, and future issues tied to their organizations. Belief in the “founder’s syndrome” produces a distrust that could subsequently prevent founders from appropriately addressing and implementing ideas and practices to solve some of society’s problems, thus doing a disservice to the individual founders, the organizations themselves, and society as a whole.

 

 

 

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FRIDAY FIVE: MARCH 1, 2019

weathermen bombing.jpg

On this day in history…

On March 1, 1971, a bomb exploded in the bathroom on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol building, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, although it left no casualties. The Weather Underground, a leftist anti-war group claimed responsibility for this event and other bomb attacks in the early 1970s. The group’s political goal was to create a revolutionary party to overthrow U.S. imperialism and the Weathermen (as they were commonly known) cited their actions and placement of the bomb “in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos.” (Photo taken from The Washington Post)

1.       False Promises Made by Loan Forgiveness Program

Launched in 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program provides young adults with the opportunity to have their student loans forgiven if they work in the government or nonprofit sector and make regular minimal loan payments throughout a ten-year period. This program is intended to encourage recent graduates to enter the government or nonprofit sectors, both of which are known for low paying jobs. However, a 2018 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that only 55 of the 19,000 people who completed the ten-year requirement had their debt forgiven.

In 2017, three borrowers who were working for 501(c)(6) legal organizations and one borrower working for a 501(c)(19) veterans association filed a lawsuit to defend their access to the PSLF program after their approval letters from FedLoan Servicing were rescinded with little or no opportunity to appeal the decision. Those who qualify for the PSLF program use an income-based repayment plan that do not cover all accruing interest. So, while they make minimum payments, their balances continue to grow and it comes as a great shock when their debt is not forgiven by the PSLF program. The three borrowers who worked for 501(c)(6) organizations won their case and now have grounds to petition the US Education Department to reinstate their eligibility for the PSLF program. There is currently a total of 890,000 people who have been approved for the PSLF program. This issue will keep growing until  the US Education Department fixes the program such that it doesn’t leave graduates in worse financial circumstances than when they first took out their loans as well as cause a shortage of applicants for the future who are wary of the program as a result.

2.       Nuances from Storytelling Model Measures Social Impact

Social enterprises are value and purpose-driven business models and when examining the concept of “social impact” among social enterprises, one method to diversify and leverage participant voices lies in the practice of storytelling. Commonly known as Social Return on Investment (SROI), this method presents the story of change affected by the activities from the perspective of the stakeholders. SROI is a given when discussing an organization’s social impact. SROI For a social enterprise to engage its stakeholders, maintain existing funders and initiate new connections for future activities, it is crucial that the organization’s social impact is understood, measured, and communicated well amongst all parties involved. Varying greatly from traditional surveys and questionnaires measuring social impact, storytelling sticks out as an effective method to qualitatively measure social impact. Storytelling fosters a sense of belonging and pride for stakeholders in the value and the purpose of the organization, in turn leading to significantly higher SROI.

The GlobalGiving Storytelling Project uses storytelling to create a databank of organizations that are making a difference in the presentation of community voices around the world. This project strives to create better feedback loops for measuring the social impact of organizations directly through the impacted communities. From 2010-2011 Kenyan and Ugandan scribes were able to collect 57,200 stories from over 5,000 community voices. Storytelling allows for human stories to shared, which gives a sense of dynamism and excitement that traditional datasets fail to provide. As seen in a case study in India, it is easier to share experiences in an informal, semi-structured way and valuable insights and first-hand opinions are leveraged through the storytelling model, which is not seen in either surveys or questionnaires. However, this method for measuring impact is also resource intensive and more time-consuming than traditional data collection. Storytelling is most effective at measuring social impact if it is used in conjunction with more traditional quantitative methods, thus providing a rich layer to impersonal data points by complementing the personal, micro-level impact with the big picture analysis of the social impact. 

3.       Nonprofit Theaters Preserve and Educate Communities

While companies like Netflix and Amazon continue to monopolize the technology and entertainment sectors, small movie theaters are counteracting this monopoly with the transformation and reopening of small theaters under nonprofit ownership. After closing in July 2015, the Osio Theater in Monterey, California was able to reopen in May 2016 with the support of $76,000 from a local crowdfunding campaign. On March 9th, this small independent movie theater will hold a grand reopening as it transitions into a nonprofit-owned theater. Membership will be available at varying levels—ranging from $10-$25 per month for individual membership and $2,000-$3,500 for businesses. Membership structures for nonprofits like the Osio Theater help to maintain historic buildings and typically provide alternatives to mainstream theaters by screening independent films, documentaries, and foreign language cinema. The new mission of Osio Theater is “to make film and digital media education programs available to all Monterey County K-12 students” while retaining cultural diversity in the local arts community. While theater and nonprofit video stores continue to pop up, these organizations can serve as models to preserve culturally rich landmarks and to provide on-the-ground opportunities for local neighborhoods to engage and strengthen their communities.

4.       Oregon Senator Passes First Ever State-Wide Rent Control, But Housing Advocates Identify Shortcomings and Loopholes

On February 27, 2019, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed SB 608, the nation’s first statewide rent control law. The bill was declared as an emergency and is in effect immediately while housing advocates expose the problematic shortfalls of the much-needed law confronting the housing crisis in Oregon. SB 608 imposes a cap on rent increases to seven percent per year plus the cost of inflation. This essentially allows landlords to increase rents up to a total of ten percent per year, which is actually a higher rate of increase than seen without the rent control bill in recent years. The cap of a seven percent increase is very high compared to some cities in California that limit rent increases at the cost of inflation, usually averaging 3% in the past five years. Exceptions to SB 608 include rental units constructed within the last fifteen years, subsidized units such as Section 8 housing, and units vacated by tenants on their own accord. The bill has provisions related to no-cause evictions, but Portland tenant advocates identify loopholes in the bill such as no-cause evictions allowed during the first year of tenancy as well as weak language surrounding qualifying reasons for which a tenant may be evicted.

Although the bill helps to mitigate sudden price increases that have forced Oregon renters almost immediately from their homes, it does very little to increase long-term neighborhood stability. In response to the passing of the bill, Portland Tenants United (PTU) continue to call for the restoration of local control over rents, citing these loopholes and overall inefficacy of SC 608. A tenant organizer claims the bill “does more to protect landlords from strong tenant protection than to protect tenants from landlords.” Until housing is deemed a basic right, housing advocates and renters will surely persist in their demand for more drastic and local initiatives to ensure renters and neighborhoods maintain stability and affordability in the face of sky-high values presented by the current housing market. 

 

5.       Business Succession Plans to Build and Retain Community Wealth

As the “baby boom” generation nears retirement age, many business owners from this generation encounter themselves at a crossroad regarding succession plans for their businesses. Often called the “silver tsunami”, the business ownership succession wave is on the rise as baby boomers close in on their retirement plans. Business owners in the Adirondack North Country region have been turning to a helpful community organization for tools and resources for creating appropriate succession plans.

Since 1955, the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has been supporting economic development in the area by employing a “local first” approach to community wealth building and focusing on “self-reliance for goods and services through locally owned, import substituting (LOIS) businesses.” This year, ANCA created the North Country Center for Businesses in Transition—a virtual “center” that provides matchmaking services and planning tools to clients looking to purchase an existing business or to start a new career path towards business ownership, by providing these clients with resources on employee ownership models and opportunities. The center plans to hold monthly workshop series to share insights and offer skills and resources to help local businesses in transition. This effort is supported by more than fifty organizations and community leaders in the Adirondack North Country region. Coordinators and community liaisons at ANCA focus on selling in the open market, intergenerational family transitions, and business conversions to a worker ownership model. ANCA’s current goals are to transition 240 businesses and preserve 1,440 jobs in the next three years.

ANCA highlights the importance of employee ownership and cites benefits to the new law put forth by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, known as the Main Street Employee Ownership Act; employee ownership strengthens companies by increasing productivity and sales, prevents layoffs and rewards workers with greater job stability through locally rooted jobs. As retirement looms over baby boomer business owners, resources like the North Country Center for Businesses in Transition are likely to gain more clients who are looking to transition their businesses and further reel in the advantages of employee ownership enacted by the Main Street Employee Ownership Act.

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FRIDAY FOUR: FEBRUARY 22, 2019

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On this day in history…

Andy Warhol, American artist and leader of the pop art movement, died on February 23, 1987. Known for his silkscreen paintings Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962), Warhol’s image has been commercialized and reproduced all around the world since he first exhibited his work in the 1950s. In 1968, Valerie Solanas, a radical feminist writer, shot Warhol at his New York studio. Earlier in the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from Warhol’s studio after she asked him to return her script. The script was supposedly misplaced. Warhol was seriously wounded and hospitalized where surgeons opened up his chest to massage his heart and stimulate movement. Warhol continued to suffer physical effects for the rest of his life before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative irregular heartbeat in 1987.

1.              Accountability Demanded for HBCUs to Thrive

New legislation is being introduced regarding equitable funding and capacity building for the future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). HBCUs often struggle to maintain their institutions due to typically smaller endowments, higher rates of students receiving federal aid, and less access to federal funding programs. In 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies to work more closely with the delivery of federal grants and contracts to HBCUs. However, many HBCU groups claim this Executive Order lacks appropriate enforcement mechanisms, which is a concern that led to the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Toward a New Era of Results for Students (HBCU PARTNERS Act). The HBCU PARTNERS Act calls for agencies to be held accountable to the Executive Order and respective funds intended for HBCUs by requiring such agencies to annually submit to Congress their plans to strengthen HBCUs’ capacity to participate in federal grants, contacts, or cooperative agreements. Agencies will be responsible for identifying federal programs in their jurisdiction in which HBCUs are under-represented and will further develop plans to improve HBCU engagement in such programs. According to David Sheppard, senior vice president of General Counsel for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, “public universities receive 43 percent of their revenues from grants, federal contracts, or appropriations on average, while HBCUs only receive approximately one percent.” Many HBCU Presidents are advocating for more financial support and claim inequitable funding to their institutions. Within weeks the HBCU PARTNERS Act is expected to pass the House of Representatives. Although HBCUs represent just three percent of American higher-education institutions, they serve more than a fifth of Black college students and providing equitable funding access to these institutions is critical for Black communities across the country.

2.              Board Disputes as Nursery Management Changes Direction

Thirty-seven years ago, Sister Ann founded the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, which offers space for parents in crisis to drop off their children for a limited time of respite. During a recent board meeting, Board President Lynne Vuskovic, a banker, decided the board would transition to managing the nursery in a more business-like manner. The announcement of Sister Ann’s departure from the nursery came in the third quarter newsletter of 2018 and included no specific reason for her departure. Sister Ann was offered retirement which she declined, and was then placed on paid administrative leave. A dive into the recent history of the nursery provides appropriate context for Sister Ann’s removal. Evidenced in the nursery’s IRS 990 forms from the past two years, the nursery has been losing money every year including a loss of $183,000 in 2016. In the 2016 annual report Sister Ann noted the financial situation of the nursery was grim due to substantial financial loss and the parting of many employees from the nursery staff.  Research into the nursery’s financials shows a reliance of almost ninety percent on individual donations since the nursery does not receive any government grants, contracts, or any other type of sponsorship. However, Sister Ann’s departure still came as a surprise despite these factors that led to the unfortunate financial situation of the nursery. Sister Ann and her order are now calling for the entire board of directors to be replaced and for her return to her former position at the nursery. This dispute will continue as both parties proceed with legal counsel. Vuskovic vocalized her hopes for Sister Ann’s legacy to be celebrated and for Sister Ann to remain visible and connected with donors, while Vuskovic carries on her plans to run the nursery “as a business.”

3.              Mega-Donors Shift Power Dynamics within the Nonprofit Sector

A new wave of mega-donors is emerging and raising concerns surrounding the power dynamic between donors and recipient organizations. Mega-donors are tied to large-scale philanthropy since they have more resources than the average donor, thus allowing them to deal with complex and transformational philanthropy. For example, small donors may donate to a food bank while ultra-wealthy donors may be involved with tackling the broader issue of food insecurity. The value of large donors goes beyond the size of their gifts; mega-donors’ social and political capital comes along with their donations, as evidenced by a new form of strategic philanthropy combining research and advocacy to intentionally utilize donations to change public policy. However, there is a power shift when donors combine their wealth and influence with an investment mentality. With their money, large donors can set societal priorities primarily reflective of their personal interests. The rise of large-scale donors carries risks, as expected, so it will be crucial for organizations to weigh power dynamics to ensure the nonprofit sector remains a key component of democracy. If mega-donors grow to be considered threatening to these organizations, then the time is past when individual organizations, both big and small, are able to direct their own course and stability. Policy changes in the nonprofit sector may become necessary to ensure both small and big organizations maintain their agency and as to not alienate wealthy mega-donors from the sector, either.

4.                       Organizations Adopt New Model to Solve Human Resources Issues

Many small nonprofits and foundations are facings challenges related to human resources, and the arrival of the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) model has relieved these organizations of the time-consuming and costly human resources model from the past. Organizations that have struggled to ensure compliance with ever-changing regulations and to compete for top talent are now turning to PEO as an attractive solution to their HR problems. PEO allows employers to outsource HR risks, lower HR-related costs, and free up staff time for mission-related activities. HR duties have traditionally diverted time and funds from an organization’s mission to fix errors related to noncompliance or issues concerning employee benefits, thus further distracting the organization’s leaders from urgent matters related to the organization’s activities. PEOs use a “co-employment” model in which the employees of a nonprofit technically become employees of the PEOs too. With a much higher aggregate number of employees, PEOs use their greater buying power to offer a variety of options and to negotiate discounts on a variety of benefits from gym memberships to healthcare insurance. PEOs handle payroll, employee benefits, and completes official filings and compliance. PEOs consolidate benefits information and provide access through a single portal in which an employee can easily gain access to items ranging from external benefits to internal records. Current PEO models that are used by many nonprofits include ADP Total Source, Namely, Zenefits, and numerous others. There are pros and cons to the PEO model, depending on the size, type and needs of organization using PEOs. One size does not fit all in this case, and organizations should definitely assess their profile and needs before adopting the PEO model. However, current employers using PEOs appreciate the ease of the human resources burden, assured compliance with the law and the capacity to compete for qualified employees.

 

 

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FRIDAY FIVE: FEBRUARY 15, 2019

This image depicts the execution of Valentine, a Roman priest who was condemned to death for carrying out secret marriages.

This image depicts the execution of Valentine, a Roman priest who was condemned to death for carrying out secret marriages.

What you didn’t know about Valentine’s Day… It wasn’t always hearts and love songs.

On February 14th around the year 278 A.D., a Roman priest by the name of Valentine was executed. This event occurred under the reign of Emperor Claudius II, also known as Claudius the Cruel, who banned all marriages and engagements in Rome due to his difficulty in recruiting soldiers to join the military. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the military because they were too attached to their wives and families. Valentine, being a holy priest, continued to perform marriages in secret. Upon discovery of this, Claudius ordered Valentine to be condemned to death by clubbing and execution. In honor of his service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

  1. Policy Brief: Impacts on Los Angeles County from Commercial Property Tax Reform, by The California Community Foundation (December 2018)

“How to Raise Billions for Schools and Services by Reforming the Commercial Property Tax System”

Commercial Property Tax Reform Exposes Underutilized and Underassessed Land

The most significant property tax reform in forty years is coming to the November 2020 ballot in California. The reform measure involves Proposition 13, the commercial property tax system in place since 1978, and is expected to generate new revenue for cities, counties, schools, and special districts. Proposition 13 reform calls for the market-value reassessment of commercial and industrial properties on underutilized land, but does not impact residential property taxes. Revenues are expected to amount to more than $3.6 million in Los Angeles County alone, composing 32% of predicted statewide revenues. As evidenced in a multi-year study carried out by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (USC/PERE), revenues are predicted to total nearly twice the amount received from current property taxes on such properties. Funds will be allocated for local purposes including infrastructure, public safety, parks, libraries, affordable housing, health care, and homelessness services. The study executed by USC/PERE shows wide disparities of assessed land values in LA County; land assessments vary from company to company as well as within a single company. For example, in Carson, CA, two major commercial property owners’ plots are currently assessed at $1 per square foot (fair market value from 1975), while new commercial owners’ properties are assessed at $46 per square foot. Therefore, it is clear that the underassessment of properties results in a large loss on land value, not to mention property tax revenue that could be benefiting local communities. The majority of revenues from land reassessment will come from long-held properties, including some dating back to 1975. Commercial property tax reform will lead to more efficient land use where it is currently vacant or in low-level uses, higher density housing around commercial strips and transit lines, and significant revenue to be allocated for local purposes, critically including low-incoming housing and homelessness services.

2.      New Market Tax Credit Drama in Oregon

There is controversy surrounding the Oregon-based nonprofit, Ecotrust, and how it secured a new market tax credit for the failed reopening of a small-town sawmill. Ecotrust sought a new market tax credit to reopen a sawmill called Rough & Ready Lumber in Cave Junction, Oregon, promising the revival of the town’s single largest employer. Less than twenty months after Ecotrust received the investment to reopen from the state agency, Business Oregon, the sawmill business and all the promised jobs were gone. According to the Oregonian, Ecotrust inflated the value of the project by $5 million. After the failed reopening, owners of the sawmill essentially sold the property to themselves—they composed 99% of the owners of the corporation to which it was sold. This “sale” was counted as an investment in the property, making the project large enough to justify the new market tax credits investment.  If the sawmill had reopened appropriately and successfully created jobs for the town, perhaps the creative financing might not have been pointed out by Business Oregon. However, in August 2018, Business Oregon issued a memorandum detailing the ways Ecotrust had misrepresented the deal and called for $1.3 million to be reinvested in another project or simply returned to the state. Ecotrust just last week agreed to reinvest the money in a new project involving the purchase of a warehouse in a low-income area of Portland. Although the investment of the $1.3 million into this new project yields far fewer jobs than what was intended with the sawmill reopening, there is much less risk involved in this project than in the sawmill project.  Overall, Ecotrust has publicly defended the sawmill investment and its use of new market tax credits, as seen in detail on its website. Ecotrust heralds itself as a “catalyst for radical, practical change”, and what is worthy to take into account is how much risk is tied to its undertakings, along with how much accountability nonprofits have when projects using tax credits are unsuccessful. To what extent should nonprofits be held accountable for failed endeavors, especially when owners are skirting rules meant to benefit low income communities?

3.       Senator Wyden Blocks Nomination of Elizabeth Darling; Citing Discriminatory Policy

Originally nominated in March 2018 to a commissioner role in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Elizabeth Darling now faces a roadblock to becoming the commissioner of the Administration of Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at HHS. This hurdle comes from Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a member of the Senate Finance Committee who moved to block the nomination of Darling to the ACYF commissioner role. Darling, CEO of OneStar, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit that works to promote partnerships, philanthropy, volunteerism and service to drive innovative community solutions, did not comment on the hindrance to her nomination and the fact that it has yet to make it to the Senate floor after being nominated and re-nominated just last month. A contentious debate has ensued over Darling’s nomination and the policies she would oversee as a federal commissioner. The Trump administration granted a waiver of federal rules to South Carolina foster care agencies, allowing agencies to place children only with Christian families. This agency and others affected by the change in federal rules continue to receive federal funds to place children in South Carolina only in Christian households. Senator Wyden has spoken out about his critique of the change in policy, saying this policy is discriminatory and will deny adults the opportunity to foster children on religious grounds, making them victims of another discriminatory policy set up by the Trump administration. Darling holds a legacy in the nonprofit and community service sector, elected as one of the charitable sector’s Power & Influence Top 50 in 2014, 2015, 2016. As Darling attempts to move her position in the nonprofit world into the governmental sector, it will be crucial to pay close attention to her transition and how it aligns with discriminatory changes to federal policies, as well as the vocal resistance to such policies made by Wyden and other members of Congress.  

4.       Immigrant Worker Co-op Franchise Model Grows Despite Challenges  

Worker cooperatives have been booming in recent years with public and philanthropic support directed towards the funding and legislation of co-ops. Worker co-ops are valuable for those who are commonly exploited by the mainstream economy, since the cooperatives pay higher wages and tend to generate higher profits via increased productivity. Additionally, co-ops are credited with building community wealth and political power, in addition to fostering broader movement building. Since many cleaners work in exploitative home service industries, there is a compelling need to scale cleaning and other domestic worker co-ops. Araceli Dominguez, resident of Staten Island, New York, is the founder of Brightly®, a worker-owned cleaning cooperative. Brightly® was developed by the Center for Family Life (CFL), a Brooklyn-based social service program that has been developing worker cooperatives since 2006. Since then, CFL has developed twenty-one worker cooperatives, where 87% of co-op member owners are immigrants and 85% are women. CFL brings together franchising and worker co-ops to create a new nonprofit cooperative franchisor called Coopportunity, which has begun licensing co-op franchises in the cleaning industry under the trademark Brightly®. Coopportunity aims to connect well-developed worker co-ops to new areas through collaborations with local partners. Brightly has the goal of launching at least one Brightly co-op franchise in each state, with experienced members training and developing the new co-ops. Currently, there are twenty states in the United States without a single worker cooperative. There are reasons that worker cooperatives are not the dominant business model—difficulties attracting capital, the unknown of what a worker co-op constitutes, and as noted by Emma Yorra, author of this article; “any business model built on guaranteeing living wages already faces an uphill battle.” Brand recognition was also noted as a challenge that co-op models face in initiating and sustaining development, not to mention thin margins of profit in domestic work industries. Nevertheless, worker cooperatives and the franchising of these businesses are on the rise, and in September 2018, Brightly® was approved as a franchise in the state of New York state, becoming the first U.S. worker co-op to be so recognized.

5.       New Startups Strive to Expand Benefits for Gig Economy Workers

The gig economy is rapidly expanding as startups such as Icon, Steady, GreenLight, and Trupo are developing financial, retirement, and benefit products for gig economy workers. These startups are exposing how it may be less costly to provide gig workers with benefits through startups than traditional benefits given through standard employment. For example, Laurie Rowley is developing the Icon Savings Plan to enable gig economy workers to build retirement accounts as they move among jobs and employers. Rowley is piecing together a retirement plan for the modern mobile workforce that is “radically less expensive than a 401k plan, and much easier to use.” Steady, founded in 2017, offers a range of ideas to gig economy workers regarding income supplement activities, aiming to provide support for people pulling together different sources of income through the gig economy. GreenLight is a new company that helps employers working in the gig economy by assisting them with managing tax and regulatory compliances as well as onboarding and payroll for independent contractors. Greenlight also hopes to expand medical insurance coverage to gig economy workers, while Trupo, launched in 2018, offers short term disability insurance to freelance workers. Prominent gig economy businesses Lyft, Airbnb, and Uber are developing education, workforce, and ownership opportunities for their workers. These efforts are driven by entrepreneurs who firmly believe their products will strengthen the gig economy workforce structure. Although these programs are fairly new with some still navigating through development stages, these efforts show how rapidly the gig economy is developing on its own through private sector entrepreneurs and gig economy firms, which provide exciting opportunities for gig workers as their economy is transitioning to benefit and sustain the workers themselves, and not just users and consumers of the gig economy. 

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FRIDAY FIVE: February 8, 2019

In August 1962, South African women demonstrated and demanded the release of Nelson Mandela, who appeared in court on a charge of incitement. The women, including ex-wife Winnie Mandela, chanted "down with Verwoerd", referring to then-Prime Minister of South Africa Hendrik Verwoerd, on the steps of the Johannesburg City Hall.

In August 1962, South African women demonstrated and demanded the release of Nelson Mandela, who appeared in court on a charge of incitement. The women, including ex-wife Winnie Mandela, chanted "down with Verwoerd", referring to then-Prime Minister of South Africa Hendrik Verwoerd, on the steps of the Johannesburg City Hall.

Did you know?

On February 11th, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after twenty-seven years. In June 1964, after already serving shorter prison terms for incitement and leaving the country illegally, Mandela and other African National Congress (ANC) leaders were convicted on charges of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela spent the first eighteen years of his sentence at the infamous Robben Island Prison where he led a civil disobedience movement that resulted in drastic improvements to the harsh prison conditions. The anti-apartheid leader was moved out of Robben Island Prison in 1982 and continued his sentence in various hospitals, prisons, and under house arrest. In February 1990, Mandela met President FW de Klerk, who made a claim for Mandela’s release after lifting the ban on all political organizations including the ANC. Mandela initially rejected De Klerk’s offer for his release and asked for a two-week extension for the ANC to prepare for his release. De Klerk refused Mandela’s request and Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison on February 11th, 1990.

1.       Narratives from the Government Shutdown: Philanthropists and Foundations to Combat or Sustain Inequality?

The ever-widening wealth gap was evident as the country watched working class families suffer from the longest government shutdown in United States history. The shutdown revealed how financially precarious working-class families are as they find themselves unable to buy groceries and pay bills. Wes Moore, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City nonprofit committed to fighting poverty, asserts that charities that supported workers during the government shutdown must be active players in fighting the inequality seen in today’s society. Alternately, Ruth McCambridge questions whether the philanthropic community can effectively develop tools to restructure today’s societal inequalities in America. Ms. McCambridge raises the question of the role of class in the nonprofit sector, since almost all organizations look to corporations and foundations for funding. For example, Ken Griffin, a major donor to the Robin Hood Foundation, recently purchased the most expensive home ever to be sold in New York for $238 million. His new home is just around the corner from a new homeless shelter site. In this juxtaposition of class and power, Ms. McCambridge questions the usual narratives of philanthropy, and whether philanthropists and foundations are equipped to reverse the socioeconomic patterns that support and reproduce inequality. As she critiques the role of philanthropists and large foundations that have the power to direct social reform, she raises the question: Is it possible to ever resolve the cognitive dissonance between the super wealthy, such as Ken Griffin, and those in need? With the possibility for large foundations and philanthropists to use their financial means to provide and promote ideas for political change, Ms. McCambridge cites Joan Roelof: “the nonprofit world is also a system of power that is exercised in the interest of the corporate world” (see “The Third Sector as a Protective Layer for Capitalism” (2006)). Roelof questions whether the potential for radical alternatives to the current system has been opposed by the ‘third sector’, that is, the philanthropists and large foundations that fund a major portion of the nonprofit sector.

2.       Candid: A Collaboration Between The Foundation Center and Guidestar

On February 5, 2019, a new organization, “Candid,” was formed by the merger of two important corporations in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, The Foundation Center and GuideStar.  These two nonprofits combined forces after seven years of discussions and preparations. The Foundation Center, founded in 1956 as a public information service on philanthropy, maintains the world’s largest database of global grantmaking. Its new partner Guidestar, released and expanded the first searchable electronic database of all tax-exempt organizations registered with the IRS. Together, they formed “Candid”, and both boards agreed to build on their organizations’ complementary capacities to “keep users front and center” as they collaborate to combine thirty different business systems, retaining all technology, data, and organizational processes and cultures involved in these systems. The recently announced merger is still underway as CEOs of both organizations work together to establish a new structure for Candid by engaging both boards and organizational structures. It will be key for Candid to work on its ability to function as a platform and place of collaboration, in addition to keeping prices accessible to its users. Overall, the seven year long merging process has gone well because of the project’s long-term support from major philanthropic institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Fidelity Charitable Trustees Initiative. However, some critics of the merger have already expressed concern about the possibility of a de facto monopoly. Time will tell how this new entity will impact and potentially alter the nonprofit sector.

3.       Instagram To Facilitate Charitable Giving

As social media continues to grow and unveil new features, Facebook and Instagram look to support nonprofit organizations by adding user friendly fundraising tools for both individuals and charities to utilize in their social media profiles. Facebook is in the process of developing details surrounding the new donation button, which will be embedded in Instagram stories—posts that expire twenty-four hours after they are uploaded. Once clicked, the donation button will link a user directly to a charity’s donation page, thus allowing users to navigate easily through an organization’s social media profile directly to the donation page. According to Facebook, users will be able to select an organization from a list of charities that Facebook has preapproved. This is not the first time Facebook has supported charitable giving; this latest development of the Instagram donation button is likely a result of the success Facebook has had since 2015 when the company first launched a donation button that made it easy for people to collect donations on their birthdays for causes they deeply care about. Facebook says the company will cover all operation and credit-card processing fees to ensure that 100% of donations go directly to the organizations. As social media platforms expand their reach to support and promote certain causes, nonprofit organizations may see an influx of donations through social media sites, as seen on Giving Tuesday in November 2018, when nonprofits raised $125 million solely through donations made on Facebook.

4.       Nonprofits Benefit from Cloud Technology Must Keep Security in Mind

Cloud technology has become routine storage space for data for many nonprofit organizations, including some who may not even realize they are using the cloud. For example, accepting online donations can mean that an organization is using cloud technology. Whether they know it or not, most nonprofit organizations are already using the cloud, so nonprofits will need to focus on what exactly is happening to their data stored in the cloud. Related to the cloud is artificial intelligence technology (AI) that finds insights in cloud-stored data to further benefit organizations using the cloud. The cloud makes all innovations in AI, machine learning, and performance management possible at an accessible scale and affordability, according to the Vice President of Blackbaud, a South Carolina fundraising technology firm. Essentially, cloud computing is the ability to rent capabilities rather than spend heavily on capital, people, and security, therefore leveling the playing field for small organizations. By offering these advanced capabilities that were typically only available to large organizations and companies, small organizations may also reap the benefits of this technology.  Although the cloud and AI technology have become widely used technology systems, now passing their initial stages of development into a more innovative and expansive phase, nonprofits must stay vigilant about protecting their data and systems.

5.       How to Resist a Food Desert with Nonprofit Grocery Stores

The term food desert was coined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to indicate low-income communities where there is no grocery store within a mile radius in urban areas, or within a ten-mile radius in rural areas. Nonprofit grocery stores are slowly beginning to develop to serve both urban and rural low-income communities located in food deserts. It is difficult, however, for a nonprofit grocery store to succeed since the grocery business is low margin, competitive, cash and debt intensive, and fluid with openings, closings, and mergers of stores constantly happening.  For example, City Square, a Christian community development organization, together with Oak Cliff, a small advocacy group, are committed to serve south Dallas communities by opening a nonprofit grocery store in 2020. These Dallas organizations look to another Texas nonprofit, Mission Waco, for guidance as they prepare for the store opening. In order to start Jubilee Food Market, Mission Waco offered Opportunity Advancing Social Innovation Stock (OASIS) shares at twenty-five dollars each. These shares were quickly bought up by eager donors and community members, allowing Mission Waco to easily raise the funds needed for the initial costs of start-up and operations for the first year of Jubilee Food Market. After two years of operations, Jubilee Food Market plans to rely heavily on donations and grants.  Another nonprofit grocery store, Good Foods Market in Washington DC, highlights the importance of community surveys and residents’ purchase decisions in the creation and sustainability of the grocery store. There are many challenges facing the viability of nonprofit grocery stores in food deserts, but with community support and creative business plans these unconventional grocery store models have the potential to change the lives of many low-income families lacking access to fresh and healthy food options.

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FRIDAY FIVE: February 1, 2019

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DID YOU KNOW? February marks Black History Month, a nationwide celebration that remembers the significant role African Americans have played in shaping U.S. history. To learn more about the man behind this holiday, Carter G. Woodson, and why the month of February was chosen, check out this article. But first, here are this week’s nonprofit headlines!

1. Bay Area Efforts to Confront Affordable Housing Crisis

The national affordable housing shortage occurring in the United States presents many people with the reality that full-time employment does not always guarantee quality housing. Renters across the country are faced with an extreme shortage of affordable housing as well as gentrification and displacement threats, all of which are especially prevalent in the Bay Area. When federal government support for housing is “a third of what it was in the 1970s” nonprofit corporations and social benefit organizations begin to take on the housing crisis themselves. Martin Levine announces The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a $500 million effort dedicated to developing and preserving affordable housing in the Bay Area. CZI funds are known as the Partnership for the Bay Area’s Future which aims to stabilize housing for 175,000 families in the next five years. These funds will be directed towards nonprofits to buy buildings in surrounding communities as a method to maintain existing affordable housing, and are also allocated for the construction of new affordable housing units. Levine highlights how these new investments will need public-private partnerships to help them move towards their goals, and that these efforts should not substitute government effort to create and maintain affordable housing. It is also reported that Microsoft committed to lend $225 million to the preservation and construction of middle-income housing as well as an additional $250 million to low-income housing in the region surrounding its Redmond headquarters. In the face of a national housing crisis, will the involvement of nonprofits and major corporations in both the preservation and construction of affordable housing be enough to leverage concrete changes and improvements to public policy?

2. Movement for Community Schools as Teacher Strike Seeks Charter School Cap

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the nation, is fresh off of the recent teacher strike and Angelenos are wondering about the resurgence of community schools as a response to teachers’ demands. As the School Board now faces a vote on a resolution asking the state to establish a charter school cap, Steve Dubb raises the possibility of fighting charter schools with community schools. The community school movement has existed for over one hundred years and maintains the core idea that schools should be neighborhood hubs that bring together families, educators, government agencies, and community groups to provide opportunities and services to young people who need it most.  One of the demands that came from the strike calls for LAUSD to convert thirty schools in high-need areas into community schools. This will include investing $400,000 in each school over the course of two years. Data published by the Learning Policy Institute and the National Education Policy Center show the overall impact of community schools to be highly positive and effective for low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. In fact, a charter school can be a community school but in general the majority of community schools function out of regular public schools. Charter schools in Los Angeles have historically been funded by wealthy philanthropists. As the teachers’ strike continues to heat tensions around the charter school movement, this raises the question of funding and whether the wealthy philanthropists who supported charter schools will extend their support to community schools.  

3. Millions Invested to Bridge Data Science and Social Impact

Technology companies are looking to extend data science into the social sector with the hopes of providing new technology platforms that support an organizations’ fight for human prosperity, community health, and inclusive growth. Founded in 2011, DataKind provides a network of more than 30,000 volunteer data scientists and engineers who work on more than 250 social impact projects around the world. DataKind focuses on providing new technology platforms to support nonprofits and social organizations that often lack such data science tools. The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation will invest $50 million over five years to build data science for social impact and have already initiated their investment with $20 million directed towards DataKind. A major goal of DataKind is to bridge the gap between technology companies and social impact organizations where data science tools are needed and where data scientists can channel their skills towards social good. This investment is meant to spark a new generation of leaders with the ability to use data science to promote social causes, through the implementation of data research, skills, and new technology platforms.    

4. The Gates Foundation Cuts Back on Paid Family Leave, Citing Work Disruption

Just three and a half years after changing the paid parental leave policy from sixteen weeks to one year, The Gates Foundation is now cutting down the parental leave period—this time to six months. In 2015 when the jump to one year of paid parental leave was made, the foundation cited the commitment to healthy children and strong, stable families. It was also announced that parental leave would be offered to both men and women, with the goal of promoting gender equity and inclusiveness in the workplace. Now, the Gates Foundation is noting the disruption in work productivity that has been caused by staff members utilizing the one-year period of paid parental leave. Reasons to cut family leave in half include not just work disruption, but the difficulty of identifying and hiring replacement talent, and the possibility that there are not enough experienced temporary workers to fill the need. Additionally, the Gates Foundation refers to the difficulties regarding knowledge transfer to temporary employees, thus resulting in greater work disruption and inefficient transitions. According to a 2017 study by the Urban Institute, The United States is one of two countries without a national paid family leave policy. In this same study, researchers found that a high percentage of both Democrats and Republicans are in favor of requiring employers to offer paid leave to new parents and family caretakers. Recently elected Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to increase California’s paid medical leave from six weeks to six months, a benefit that could go to one parent or be shared by both parents. Without a national paid leave policy, and with just four states implementing paid family and medical leave as of 2018, workers may look to their employers, specifically prominent institutions like the Gates Foundation, to establish and maintain adequate paid family leave and to advocate for a national paid family and medical leave policy.

5. The Potential of Social Donors to Give Regularly

Many nonprofits identify donors purchasing event tickets or sponsoring a friend or colleague in a fundraising event as “social donors.” Social donors are often assumed to be difficult to maintain as regular supporters of the charity they donate to. However, a study conducted by OneCause, a fundraising and technology company, with the collaboration of Edge Research, highlights the intricacies in retaining social donors and ensuring they have an easy, positive, and repeatable giving experience. The study compiled data from a survey that was sent to one thousand social donors in October 2018. The study concluded that social donors want to know how their money makes an impact on the organization’s cause since their initial gift’s influence will certainly affect their decision to give annually or monthly in the future. Three main variables in social donor giving identified in the study were the importance of recognizing the charity’s name or mission, having an enjoyable giving experience, and feeling motivated to make another, similar donation. An obvious factor towards retaining a donor is making the process of giving as easy as possible. In addition to facilitating the process, it is noted that a personalized follow-up often triggers subsequent giving. Across all generations, social donors prefer organizations to contact them by email. Despite the omnipresence of technology, there is oftentimes a gap in communication that occurs when donors receive a substandard response lacking information about how their gift mattered. A major downfall is when social donors are never contacted again after they first give, thus causing nonprofits to completely miss out on potential donations. Personal connections with social donors should be utilized as a method to keep donors engaged with the organization and interested in giving again. Contrary to commonly held beliefs that social donors contribute sporadically, this study finds that one in four social donors is open to the idea of regularly supporting an organization through sponsorship or event ticket purchases.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: January 25, 2019

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Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights March in Washington D.C. (1963)

DID YOU KNOW? This past Monday, January 21, the country commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday remembering the birth of social activist and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Officially declared a federal holiday in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on the third Monday of January every year, sometimes falling on King’s actual date of birth. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929, King was the second child of pastor Martin Luther King Sr., and former schoolteacher, Alberta Williams King. King emerged as the primary leader of the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and led the country in nonviolent protests until his assassination on April 4, 1968. Throughout history, the nonprofit sector has been and continues to be influenced by the work and vision of Dr. King. In an article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, thirteen nonprofit leaders weigh in on how charities today can work to advance the goals of social justice and racial equality professed by Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and 60s. To read the article in full, click here. But first, check out these nonprofit headlines!

1. Nonprofits Under Regulatory Scrutiny for Accounting Errors

According to a recent article in the Nonprofit Times, state charity regulators are cracking down on nonprofits failing to correctly allocate joint costs and valuations of non-cash donations, or “gifts in kind,” in their financial statements. Some have accused charities of blurring accounting categories when calculating total spending in order to exaggerate their program expenses and disguise fundraising costs. Many states are alleging that as a result of this inaccurate allocation of joint costs, organizations have made “materially false statements in the financial documents they submit as part of their required state reporting.” To illustrate this point, the article discusses the common use of program resources, such as educational pamphlets, in direct mail solicitations in order to justify the categorization of postage costs as operational or program expenses rather than fundraising. Under current accounting rules, organizations are able to classify costs of activities related to fundraising as “program expenses” as long as a “call to action” is included in such activities. Yet with complex accounting language often leaving room for multiple interpretations and confusion, charities can easily find themselves in tricky positions. “Nonprofit employees are often tasked with applying these complex principles to allocate millions of dollars in expenses without a full understanding of the rules, and their allocations are often not closely reviewed or questioned during the independent audit review process,” the article explains. To read more about generally accepted accounting principles and common mistakes to avoid when allocating funds, visit the article above.

2. Nonprofit Hospitals With Nowhere to Turn Begin Soliciting Patients

The next time you visit your local hospital, your doctor might end up calculating more than just your heart rate. An article published this week in the New York Times reports that more and more hospitals are conducting “wealth screenings” of their patients in order to identify and target potential donors for the hospital. These screenings use software to gather patients’ public records such as past contributions to charities and political campaigns. Once large potential donors have been identified, it is common for hospital executives to visit these patients’ rooms and provide them with extra amenities over the course of their care. Other hospitals instruct doctors to take note of patients who express appreciation for the care they have received in order to add these patients to the list of potential donors. Both of these are strategies of what are commonly referred to as “grateful patient programs.” This uptick in wealth screenings and grateful patient programs arose in part due to a change in a federal health privacy law in 2013 that removed restrictions on hospitals targeting patients for funding. According a survey conducted in 2016 by the consulting firm, the Advisory Board, 68 out of the 108 hospitals surveyed were found to have grateful patient programs. Yet this increase has evoked heightened concerns of the ethics of such programs. Many argue that patients will now worry that the quality of their care could be dependent upon their willingness to open their checkbooks and offer a donation in addition to their own medical costs. Others contend that wealth screenings have been used for years in the fundraising strategies of universities and other nonprofits and, therefore, their inclusion in hospitals should not be vilified. However, according to the article, many ethicists maintain that they present a unique issue for the healthcare system. Nancy Berlinger, a bioethicist at Hastings Center, claims that “eeding health care is different than choosing to go to college or going to the opera.” “When you are sick,” she says, “you need a trusting relationship to be formed and focused on your health. There is a vulnerability there that is not present in other nonprofits.” To learn more about the debate surrounding grateful patient programs and how these ethical questions might apply to your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, click on the link above.

3. 11 Philanthropic Trends Already Shaping 2019

Leaders at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy have compiled a list of trends in philanthropy predicted to shape the nonprofit sector in 2019. One of such trends, as identified by Michael Moody, the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy, is the increasing overlap of business and charity. While this blurring of lines between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors could lead to confusion and less clearly defined societal roles, it has proven to lead to impressive innovation. Another trend presented by Moody is the correlation between wealth inequality and giving inequality. According to him, as the wealth gap intensifies in the country, “it appears that patterns in giving may follow this dramatic bifurcation.” Tamela Spicer, Program Manager at the Johnson Center, mentions the declining religiosity in Americans as another significant trend that could affect philanthropy in 2019.  With religious organizations receiving a lower share of donations in the country and traditional methods of giving significantly changing, we are beginning to see how “nonprofits’ understanding of how faith and spirituality impact giving needs to expand.” The Executive Director of the Johnson Center, Teri Behrens, outlines a final trend to expect in 2019: a decline in foundations focused on long-term change and an increase in those with a defined endpoint. While reasons for this shift vary greatly from foundation to foundation, these “limited-life foundations” have been on the rise for nearly a decade now. To learn more about the trends expected to define the sector in 2019, click on the article linked above.

4. Is a Virtual Workforce a Good Option for Your Nonprofit?

Tighter budgets have pushed more and more nonprofits to explore the shift to a virtual workforce as a strategy to save on administrative costs and create happier and more productive employees. In fact, “according to the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) 2018 Digital Adoption report, 41% of employees at the nonprofits surveyed were working exclusively outside the organization's office delivering programs and services, working from home, or telecommuting.” The survey also found that only around one in nine nonprofit employees split their time between the office other work environments, and less than half of employees work exclusively at the office. In an article from the Forbes Technology Council, Tal Frankfurt, Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, makes a case for why this trend represents a move in the right direction. Still, while there are many benefits in moving to telecommuting, Frankfurt urges nonprofits to keep a few things in mind during the transition. First, ensure that you have the right people for an at-home work environment. Working virtually can lead to a significant boost in productivity only if you have the self-motivated individuals willing to put into the extra effort to connect with the other members of your organization to get work done in a non-traditional work environment. While technology has made the vision of a virtual workforce possible, it will only get you halfway. According to Frankfurt “just like with any workforce, fostering a welcoming, virtual culture takes intention and time.” To learn more tips on creating a virtual workforce and determine if it is a smart option for your organization, check out the article above.

5. GoFundMe Launches Campaign to Aid Federal Workers During Shutdown

Whether it was to support a classmate’s fund for a volunteer trip abroad or to help ease the burden of a friend’s rising hospital bill, most people have either heard of or donated to a GoFundMe campaign since the popular crowdsourcing platform emerged in 2010. According to an article from TechCrunch, with the partial government shutdown currently on day thirty-five, GoFundMe has recently decided to move from platform to fundraiser by launching a campaign of its own. The goal of the campaign will be assisting the hundreds of thousands of federal workers now looking at their second missed paycheck since the shutdown began. The campaign will be supporting a number of nonprofits, including #ChefsForFeds, a program serving free meals in Washington D.C., and the National Diaper Bank Network, an organization providing essential supplies for parents during the shutdown. Earlier this week, the platform’s CEO, Rob Solomon, emphasized the nonpartisan nature of the campaign. “This is not about politics. This is lending a helping hand to someone in need,” he said in a recent announcement. Between the launch of the initiative and the publication of the TechCrunch article reporting on it, GoFundMe’s campaign has raised over $94,000 from over 1,170 donors with an average donation size of $80. To learn more about GoFundMe’s decision to take a more direct role in fundraising and where the campaign stands, check out the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read about the National Day of Racial Healing, also celebrated this week on January 22, 2019, check out this article from BoardSource.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: January 18, 2019

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DID YOU KNOW? The Women’s March in 2017, which included marches in Washington DC and cities across the country, marked the largest protests in American history. On January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump was inaugurated, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in a kind of “counterinauguration” movement to express resistance to the President’s election. The event included a variety of speakers and performers that addressed crowds in DC before beginning their march to the White House. Many praised the movement for bringing together supporters of a range of causes, from reproductive rights, to immigration rights and racial justice. Begun as a simple Facebook post, the event rapidly gained national attention and amassed turnouts so large in some cities that marches had to be cancelled for safety reasons. The number of protesters in last year’s march dropped significantly from 2017. This year’s Women’s March is set to take place tomorrow, January 19th, and while it seems unlikely that it will attract crowds similar to those in 2017, recent controversies within the administration, including the recent partial government shutdown, might bring more people. For more information on this year’s march as well as some of the recent controversy surrounding the movement, check out this article from the New York Times. But first, check out these nonprofit headlines!

1. Nonprofits to Collect Funding for National Parks Recovery Efforts During Shutdown

With the partial government shutdown still in full swing, countless government-funded organizations are finding themselves more and more strapped for cash and with fewer places to turn. As many services are likely to remain closed entirely until the shutdown is over, some nonprofits are looking to the future. Last week, the National Park Foundation, the organization that serves as the official charity of the National Park Service, announced a new fundraising campaign to help national parks fund essential recovery services once the shutdown officially ends. The Parks Restoration Fund was launched after concerns arose about the harm the lack of funding is causing the country’s national parks. According to an article in The Hill, the Trump Administration’s decision to leave the parks open to the public with nearly no staff to provide essential services has left many parks trash-ridden, and in some cases even more permanently damaged. In fact, the same day the National Park Foundation began its efforts, a photo of a tree cut down in California’s Joshua Tree National Park went viral, sparking further calls for funding. Will Shafroth, the President of the National Park Foundation, said in a statement that the public’s “love for their national parks is palpable” and that “once the government reopens and rangers have determined what needs to be done, this fund will help repair damage where it’s needed most.” CalNonprofits is currently collecting information from nonprofits regarding how the government shutdown has affected their organizations in order to learn how to best advocate on their behalf until government funding is restored. To fill out the survey and have your voice heard, click here.

2. National Council of Nonprofits Outlines Nonprofit Legislative Agenda

In a publication late last year, the National Council of Nonprofits released an open letter to federal legislators that outlined a nonprofit legislative agenda and recommended actions that would create a stronger and more effective nonprofit sector.  A recent post in the Nonprofit Law Blog from the Law Professor Blogs Network that mentions the letter reminds us of the open letter’s continued relevance for the sector. The letter was addressed to the chairs of the congressional tax-writing committees: Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley, and Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Richard Neal. The letter begins as follows: “Tax policy does far more than just define the nonprofit sector as tax exempt; whether intentionally or not, it also can promote fairness or its opposite, pick winners and losers, and support or ruin well managed operations trying their best to improve the lives of others.” After discussing the relevance and severe effects of tax policy on nonprofit operations, the letter continues on with a call to protect the Johnson Amendment and to challenge various provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which imposed new taxes on tax-exempt organizations and significantly reduced tax incentives for most Americans to participate in their typical level of charitable giving. The letter ends with a strong plea for the withdrawal of Form 1023-EZ, a form meant to help streamline the application process of organizations seeking charitable tax-exempt status with the IRS. According to the letter, the council argues that this form represents an abdication of IRS duties “to protect the public by screening out unqualified or unscrupulous individuals who seek charitable tax-exempt status.” To learn more about the nonprofit legislative agenda as outlined by the National Council of Nonprofits and read the letter in its entirety, click here or check out the link above.

3. Creating a Self-Funding Business Model

Every nonprofit, regardless of size, shape, or model, has had to worry about the uncertainty of future funding. In a recent article, nine members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council offer several methods to help struggling nonprofits build a more self-funded model in order to remove part of such uncertainty. One of these methods, as outlined by Ronald Tompkins of 82nd Street Academics, is diversifying funding streams to ensure a dominant secondary source of funding, especially if a government contract is your primary source. His own organization’s targets for funding sources are “40% contract, 40% fee for service, 10% gifts, and 10% grants.” Another suggestion from Aaron Alejandro of the Texas FFA Foundation encourages nonprofits to take advantage of automated online giving and social media scheduling tools in order to plan asks ahead of time and carry them out on a consistent basis. While such social media tools are still relatively new to the philanthropic world, Alejandro predicts that this platform can only become more effective as giving technologies continue to improve. Finally, according to Steven Moore of M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, “almost every nonprofit generates something of value as a byproduct of their service to the community and making that available for sale can cover a portion of revenue needs.” While this may look different for every organization, with possibilities including selling physical goods in a store to creating digital resources and selling them online, every nonprofit can identify at least one route to a potential earned income stream. To read more advice from those who have made their own self-funding models, visit the link above.  

4. Community Impact Tours Used to Prompt Giving

According to a recent article in the Nonprofit Times, community foundations have increasingly been serving as community educators as well as partners for peer organizations. In just one of these cases, The Heart of West Michigan United Way in Grand Rapids recently began using their bus tours, originally designed to orient new board members, as a fundraising tool. They have begun inviting company campaign coordinators to participate in such tours with the hope of educating them of the community need and encouraging them to share this information with their co-workers. Some larger companies have even begun requesting private tours. Their tours typically consist of a short breakdown of the services they provide, a video presentation, and at times a beneficiary testimony. Two workers at the United Way of Greater Topeka in Kansas, Angela Romero, Vice President of Resource and Development, and Brett Martin, Vice President of Community Impact, also articulated the value of community impact tours as a new tool to spread messages and boost fundraising. According to the article, “the pair attended a storytelling conference in California and found the idea of tours is fairly new, even among nonprofit professionals seeking ways to share stories.” Yet a common thread among nonprofits employing tours is their lack of a strong ask for funding. While an eventual goal of these tours is that participants will ultimately decide to support the organization’s mission, the primary focus of the tours “remains experimental with the hope that participants share what they see with peers.” The funding benefits will hopefully follow suit. So, if your organization is looking for a creative and inexpensive way to spread the word and increase giving from company partners, you might want to consider bringing supporters to the frontline of your operations. To read more about community impact tours and how United Ways are using them differently across the country, click the link to the article above.

5. Using Behavioral Economics to Identify Giving Patterns

Identifying the specific reasons that make people decide to donate to charity as well as those that make them not donate, can help organizations get a better sense of who their donors really are. Reasons people give might include generosity, guilt, reciprocity, or duty, while reasons not to give could come from inattention, distrust, or insufficient income, among many others. According to an article published recently in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, while people decide to give to charity for a variety of reasons, two trends remain constant: “donors rarely give as much as they would like and they are rarely able to articulate consistent, evidence-based approaches to choosing the recipients of their aid.” Charities struggling to find the motivation behind their donors’ giving patterns can find answers by applying behavioral economics to charitable practices. An interdisciplinary science that uses psychology, economics, and several other fields, behavioral economics can help determine whether donating practices are impulsive or deliberate. Ultimately, the article finds that “some donors prefer to give impulsively and embrace strategies that encourage intuitive, quick actions that make them feel good,” while “other donors want to be more deliberate with their giving, and the right tools can help them follow through on those intentions.” It is more than likely that your organization has supporters that fall into both categories. Thus, developing fundraising strategies that appeal to both types of giving practices will be necessary to appeal to your entire donor base. To read more about applying behavioral economics to charitable giving and how it can help your organization, check out the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read about some of the highlights from the historic Women’s March of 2017, check out this article.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: January 11, 2019

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Suffragettes at the Capitol

DID YOU KNOW? On January 10, 1917, women began a picket line outside of the White House in order to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to support a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee women the right to vote. Over the course of the year, more than 1,000 women left their homes across the country and courageously joined the picketing. Yet the White House lawn did not always remain the peaceful venue for protest it may have started as. According to the Library of Congress, between June and November 1917, “218 protesters from 26 states were arrested and charged with ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’” Protesters began this picket line with relatively mild signs that showed messages like “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?” As the summer approached, however, these signs got more provocative and bystanders even became violent. In January of 1918, one year after the start of this picketing, President Wilson finally gave his support for the amendment and it was passed by Congress shortly after. On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was officially ratified and, after years of bravery and sacrifice, women had finally won the right to vote. Today, August 18th is commemorated as Women’s Equality Day. But before learning more about the lives of the brave women who picketed for change, check out the nonprofit headlines below!

1. Members of Congress to Donate Salaries During Shutdown

The recent government shutdown, which began on December 22nd due to a dispute over funding for the President’s proposed border security wall, still has no definitive end in sight. Yet according to a recent article in the Nonprofit Times, although the government may be closed, the wallets of the men and women in Congress might be opening even wider. Several Senators and Representatives have pledged to donate their salaries to various charities for as long as the government is shut down. A few of the many members donating their pay include: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote in a tweet last week that she would be directing her pay to HIAS, a nonprofit that works to protect refugees. In the tweet, Warren also claimed that the government shutdown has forced over 7,000 workers in her home state of Massachusetts to remain at home or work without pay. Although he did not specify the specific charity his donation would support, recently elected representative Max Rose (D-N.Y.), stated, “…it’s time for us to do our jobs, and until we do I will donate any pay.” According to the article, the breakdown of many of these members’ salaries equates roughly to $725/day. Thus, considering the continued controversy surrounding the border wall and the lack of compromise in the foreseeable future, these donations could give a handful of charities a welcomed beginning of the year boost to fundraising. To read more about the shutdown and where other members of Congress are directing their salaries, check out the article linked above.

2. DC Charities Help Close Gaps in Services During Shutdown  

Despite the generosity of the Senators and Representatives mentioned above, the government shutdown has brought particular challenges to nonprofits, many of which are now attempting to support the more than 800,000 federal workers and their families during a period of no pay. As of January 9, the date of this article, the stalemate was just days away from marking the longest government shutdown in the country’s history. The Capital Area Food Bank has been hit particularly hard, anticipating a 10 to 20 percent increase in demand, which could require an extra $300,000 of funding. Several organizations have directed funds allocated for emergencies to help assist affected workers. This week, the United Way of the National Capital Area announced a pledge of $50,000 of such funds to help nonprofits “providing vital food, rent, and utility assistance” to federal workers in the area. Some worry, however, that such donations will not be enough and that nonprofits may need to rethink their approach to government shutdowns. Radha Muthiah, Chief Executive of the Capital Area Food Bank, stated that “what’s becoming more clear is we need to think of shutdowns as a larger bucket of possible emergencies.” Others are calling attention to the fact that the list of those affected by the shutdown extends beyond federal workers. According to Rosie Allen-Herring, President and Chief Executive of the United Way of the National Capital Area, “there’s another rung of smaller, more disadvantaged businesses who contract with the federal government” who are also feeling the pinch. To read more about the government shutdown and what nonprofits are doing to mitigate its negative impacts on federal workers and contractors, visit the article above.

3. How Stock Market Fluctuations Could Impact Charitable Giving

Although the recent volatility of the stock market might not have come as a total surprise to managers of nonprofit endowments, continued fluctuations have raised concerns about possible effects on fundraising in the new year. An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy outlines a few important trends for nonprofits to take note of during this uncertain time and offers tips on how to best retain donors despite market volatility. According to the article, the health of the stock market can have significant impacts on both a foundation’s grant writing and large donations by wealthy individuals. Given that many foundations calculate their giving caps based on a three to five year average of their endowment returns, a weak year for the stock market could have a much more sustained effect on overall giving trends. This, coupled with the potential for increased demand for nonprofit services should the economy weaken, could lead to hard times for the nonprofit sector ahead. Yet, according to experts, the best thing to do now is begin to “plan ahead and not panic.” Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett Foundation, urged foundations to take into account the profound impact their immediate giving patterns will have on the well-being of current grantees should they abruptly discontinue funding. Those at the Commonfund, a nonprofit endowment manager, also warned of the danger of making rash changes in investment strategies. Tim Yates, Commonfund’s Managing Director, said in a statement, “Due to their long-term focus, the most relevant, material risk for nonprofit portfolios is not volatility but rather a severe drawdown in portfolio value that compromises the ability to spend in support of a mission." The article advises fundraisers looking to calm anxious donors to spend a little extra time and attention on some of their biggest and most loyal donors and talk through any concerns they may have. It also encourages nonprofits to “go back to basics” by asking critical questions about donation types at the beginning of these conversations. Knowing the type of asset a donor is thinking of giving “opens the door to a discussion about the tax benefits of giving appreciated assets, including not only stock but real estate or other possessions.” This can help you answer questions before concerns arise. To read more about the potential effect of current investment patterns on charitable giving, check out the article above.

4. “Google It”

Today more than ever, those wondering where to direct their charitable giving are often met with answers like, “just Google it.” A recent study of Google search trends carried out by Digital Third Coast found that people in certain states were far more likely than others to search online for organizations to which they could donate both their money and their time. The highest rates of such searches were found in Massachusetts, Delaware, and Michigan. Other states in the top ten included New Hampshire, Virginia, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Connecticut. The study identified a considerable gap in search rates between these states and the southern states, which typically showed far lower rates. Jenny Lake, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Digital Third Coast, attributed this discrepancy to larger financial centers on the East Coast, claiming that people there might be receiving more consistent ads asking for donations. The key phrases that were searched included: “volunteer opportunities near me,” “best charities to donate to,” “best nonprofits to donate to,” “places to donate near me,” and “what percentage of my income should be donated to charity.” The first of these, however, “volunteer opportunities near me,” was by far the most popular, with 33,100 monthly searches. The second most popular phrase, “best charities to donate to,” fell far behind this total at 6,600 searches. According to Lyndsey Maddox, the Director of Business Development at Digital Third Coast, organizations looking to improve their online visibility will need to focus on these keywords in order to appear in the results of these popular searches. To do this, begin by taking a look at Google Ad’s “Keyword Planner” tool to find other keywords that show up in frequent searches and adding some of these words to your website’s text and headlines, as well as putting them on image tags. Encouraging corporate sponsors to post your link somewhere on their website can also bring you heightened online visibility by adding their website as a search result for your organization. Finally, the article recommends taking advantage of “Google Grants,” which give up to $10,000 per month in free advertising to certain charities. To learn more about how you can ensure your nonprofit shows up in these popular Google searches, click the article linked above.

5. Women Nonprofit Founders in Tech: the Unsung Heroes of 2018

While less than 20% of founders in the for-profit sector are women, a remarkable 47% of tech nonprofit founders are women. An article in Forbes magazine takes a look back on some of the most influential women founders of tech nonprofits in 2018 and their significant impact in the field. Mitchell Baker is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating an internet that is “open, accessible, humane, and inclusive.” Last year, Baker teamed up with fellow philanthropists to launch the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, a campaign to create more ethical computer science education. Founder and CEO of Code for America, Jennifer Pahlka, along with her team, launched the organization’s Clear My Record program, a product that automates the process of wiping outdated, low-level convictions from records in order to eliminate barriers for those seeking employment and housing loans. Last year, Anushka Ratnayake, Founder and CEO of myAgro, helped nearly 47,000 farmers in Western Africa buy necessary agricultural tools through a bank-less digital payment system, also called a mobile layaway program. In 2018 alone, farmers using this system made close to 1 million digital investments in their farms. Jess Ladd, Co-Founder and CEO of Project Callisto aslo made massive strides in 2018. Originally designed as a product for college campuses, Callisto is a reporting software that gives survivors of sexual assault the opportunity to anonymously file complaints and/or report perpetrators. Last year Ladd and her team announced Callisto Expansion, a program meant to detect repeat perpetrators. To read about other female CEOs and founders of tech nonprofits and get some inspiration for making impact in your community in 2019, click on the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! For more information on the courageous women who began picketing the White House on a cold January morning in January, 1917, check out this article.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: December 28, 2018

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DID YOU KNOW? This year marks the 175th year since literary legend Charles Dickens released his classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. Published on December 19, 1843, the full title of the book reads, A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. The short novel became an instant best-seller in both England and the United States, with every one of its 6,000 copies selling out within six days of its publication. By 1844, thirteen editions of A Christmas Carol had been written. To this day, the story is widely considered one of the most prominent Christmas tales in modern literature. It tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cranky old miser who has rejected his family and lives in solitude, indifferent to the needs of society and poverty of those living quite literally outside his window. Scrooge is then visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, who sends the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future who show Scrooge his misguided ways and transform him into a kind and more generous man. To read more about how Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has influenced modern day Christmas traditions and cuisine, check out this article from the BBC.

1. Altering the Landscape of Corporate Giving  

A recent article in Forbes discusses how emerging charity platform, Benevity, is restructuring the world of corporate giving. By creating personalized accounts for a each of a company’s employees, Benevity, Inc. allows users to automatically direct part of their electronic paychecks to the charity of their choice. The software even gives employees the option to apply for a company donation match if their selected charity meets certain criteria. Participants can also use their Benevity accounts to sign up for volunteer work that might make them eligible for a corporate donation match or that is able to take place during work hours. “Benevity not only makes giving more convenient but also democratizes it—putting control in the hands of ordinary workers,” the article states. Of the near two million charities worldwide now available to receive donations on the platform, Benevity reported that Planned Parenthood was the top recipient of charitable giving through its platform this year. Other charities that made it into recipients with the highest contributions include: “the American Civil Liberties Union, Doctors Without Borders and Islamic Relief Worldwide, as well as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” Between 2016 and 2018, the amount of money processed through Benevity more than doubled, with an impressive $649 million in donations processed in fiscal year 2018. Bryan de Lottinville, the company’s founder and CEO, says a critical moment in Benevity’s development came when he realized its potential usefulness for large employers looking to “court Millennial workers by playing to their sense of social responsibility.” To find out more about the history of Benevity, how the company is evolving to accommodate larger givers with donor-advised-funds, and how your organization might be able to benefit from its services, check out the link above.

2. Proposed Update to Nonprofit Accounting Will Change Measurements of Intangible Assets

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) recently announced an update to a proposed nonprofit accounting rule that would affect how nonprofits measure certain intangible assets, among other things. FASB set a deadline of February 18, 2019, for any comments on the proposed accounting standards update (ASU). The complex update boasts the appropriately long title: “Intangibles — Goodwill and Other (Topic 350), Business Combinations (Topic 805), and Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958) Extending the Private Company Accounting Alternatives on Goodwill and Certain Identifiable Intangible Assets to Not-for-Profit Entities.” Back in 2014, after concerns arose from several private companies, FASB issued an accounting standards update meant to simplify accounting for goodwill. According to an article in the Nonprofit Times reporting on this latest update, the most recent ASU would allow nonprofits to pass up testing goodwill impairment at the reporting unit level. Specifically, according to the article, nonprofits would “be able to amortize goodwill over 10 years or less, on a straight-line basis, test for impairment upon a triggering event, elect to test for impairment at the entity level, and, incorporate certain customer-related intangible assets and all non-compete agreements into goodwill.” To find out the specifics of the proposed update, what questions FASB is asking about it, and how it might affect the accounting of your organization, visit the link to the article above.

3. Improving Health Benefits on a Budget

Attracting employees to the nonprofit world is often difficult enough without the added disadvantage of decreasing budgets for benefits packages. A recent article by Martin Trussell of the Forbes Nonprofit Council gives small organizations tips on creating big changes in the health care offerings for their employees. As benefit packages have the potential to make or break employee decisions regarding future job openings, it is important that even organizations with limited budgets make the sometimes minor changes necessary to make their openings that much more attractive. A recent study measures that “more than half (55%) of employees surveyed would be at least somewhat likely to accept a job with lower compensation but a more robust benefits package." One of the ways the article suggests nonprofits can improve benefits is by offering tax-preferred accounts, such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Considered a simple and inexpensive bonus to any benefit plan, these accounts can be paid for using deducted payroll from pre-taxed employee salaries. Another suggestion encourages nonprofits that have not already done so to implement a wellness program to help keep their employees healthy and prevent possible health needs down the line. Elements of a wellness program can include anything from providing nutritious snack alternatives at work, to carrying out health risk assessments, to investing in more ergonomic furniture. A recent RAND Corporation survey reported that 69 percent of employers with over 50 employees had wellness programs in place. To read more tips on how to boost the health benefit packages available at your nonprofit on a budget, click on the article above.

4. NAACP Calls for Boycott of Tech Giant

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently called for a weeklong boycott of social media platforms Facebook and Instagram after reports were released last week that claim Russian online trolls used these sites to target Black voters. The Russian troll factory, called the “Internet Research Agency” (IRA), supposedly used voter suppression messages to target these voters and keep them away from the polls. “#LogOutFacebook,” what the organization is calling this boycott movement, now appears in large white letters on the homepage of the NAACP website. A statement released by the organization said it would be implementing this boycott “in response to the tech company’s history of data hacks which unfairly target its users of color.” Two of the reports were put together by Oxford University and New Knowledge, a cybersecurity firm, and were presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Both reports concluded that the campaign by the Russians was clearly meant to target Black voters and “shared and cross-promoted authentic Black media to create an immersive influence ecosystem” in order to do so. A third report, released this week by Amnesty International along with Element AI, highlights the specific targeting of women and women of color in the campaign, particularly using the social media platform Twitter. In an even bolder and more shocking act of protest, the NAACP announced it would be returning a donation from Facebook in response to the company’s failure to protect the privacy of its users, particularly its users of color, and accused the tech giant of putting corporate interests before the safety and privacy of these users. For more information on the NAACP’s announcement and what specific reports are saying about Facebook’s role in the data breach, click on the article above from Nonprofit Quarterly.

5. Charitable Giving: A Year in Review

As this calendar year of charitable giving quickly draws to a close, we can take a look back at significant records broken and emerging trends in the nonprofit world. A few surveys released this year identify such trends using data from 2017, the latest period with data available. According to the National Philanthropic Trust’s Annual Report released in October, assets in donor-advised funds (DAFs) meant for charitable grants exceeded the $100 billion mark for the first time. The report also found that grant totals rose in 2017 to $19.1 billion, up from $15.9 billion the previous year. Foundation Source reported in July that “private foundations with less than $50 million in assets earned more, gave more and received more contributions from their donors in 2017 than they did during the previous year.” Cygnus Applied Research also released a survey this year that measured changes in overall giving patterns. Of the more than 12,000 donors surveyed, 53 percent donated more to nonprofits in 2017 than the previous year, with only 8 percent, the lowest percentage ever recorded, reporting to have given less. While more than half of these donors (55 percent) cited increased financial stability as the main reason for increased levels of giving, a striking 38 percent reported increasing their donations due to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Finally, several studies cited a dramatic increase in the number of private foundations. To learn more about the charitable giving highlights of the last year and what surveys are saying made it a year to remember, check out the article from ThinkAdvisor above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read some of the news clippings written by the New York Times about Charles Dickens’s holiday novel, check out this article.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: December 21, 2018

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Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in by Justice Warren Burger, with her husband John O’Connor (9/25/1981)

DID YOU KNOW? Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas, O’Connor served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. After serving as the Deputy Attorney in San Mateo County in California, the Civil Attorney for the German Army, and the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona, among other things, she was elected as a Republican to the Arizona Senate in 1969. There, O’Connor became the first women in the United States to rise to the position of majority leader in the Senate. In the summer of 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated O’Connor to the Supreme Court to fill the vacant spot of newly retired Justice Potter Stewart. O’Connor was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the first female justice to the Supreme Court on September 25, 1981. Throughout her service on the Supreme Court, O’Connor heard several prominent cases. Although considered a moderate conservative by most, she was often a significant swing vote on the bench, especially regarding cases of election law and abortion rights. In 2006, O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Today, three women serve in the highest judicial position in the country: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. But before finding out more about the journeys of these brave women, check out these nonprofit headlines of the week.

1. Google to Waive Fees for New Android Donation Feature

Google is feeling extra generous this holiday season. Last week, the search engine launched its “Giving Season on Play,” a program that will allow Android users to donate to their favorite nonprofits through its Play Store app, all without requiring any donation processing fees. By waiving its classic 30 percent fee for all app and in-app purchases, the company’s new donation feature will allow 100 percent of charitable gifts to go directly to the nonprofits they are supporting. Maxim Mai, Google Play’s Business Developer Manager, reported that the feature will not be restricted solely to Play Store users in the United States, claiming that it will soon become available to users in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, and Indonesia. According to an article in The Verge reporting on this new feature, the growing list of nonprofits that users can donate to through the program includes organizations such as Girls Who Code, the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders USA, UNICEF, and more. Yet Google is not the only one encouraging mobile donations to nonprofits. A few years ago, Apple began processing mobile donations on its App Store, many of which benefited the Red Cross in the wake of natural disasters. These donations helped fund relief efforts during Hurricane Harvey last year and in the aftermath of the devastating California wildfires this year. So, whether your supporters prefer Androids or iPhones, donating to your nonprofit just became that much easier. To find out more about Google’s new Giving Season on Play, see the full list of nonprofits already involved, and find out how your organization might benefit from this new feature, check out the article linked above.

2. How to Get Your Trustees to Prioritize Your Brand

Although more and more marketers are moving from the for-profit to the nonprofit sector, most organizations still lack personnel and board members with experience in marketing and are thus unable to justify expanding marketing budgets. A recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy offers advice to nonprofits hoping to persuade their trustees of the necessity of investing in marketing and communications. First, the article recommends keeping it simple. Ditch the fancy marketing jargon and buzzwords like “brand positioning” and “brand imagery” that will likely go right over your board members’ heads. Instead, keep your message succinct – demonstrate how putting more effort into your public profile will lead to a boost in fundraising and use data to backup your claims. Second, the article suggests finding a data analyst to calculate exactly how much of your overall budget you would need to transfer to marketing in order to see positive results, or your “breakthrough” cost. This will not only allow you to understand exactly how your budget will shift, but also to create projections for specific quarters that you can use to keep your board members up to date on your current progress. Although some such projections might be difficult to make or based on guesswork, your board is likely to appreciate this kind of specificity in your proposal. Third, if your organization has not done so already, begin developing a data collection system that can track both brand awareness and brand perceptions. This will give you concrete numbers to present to trustees when making the case for a larger marketing budget. According to the article, a popular metric for nonprofits to collect is “claimed intent,” which involves “comparing the public’s expressed intent to give money to a specific charity with the amount actually donated.” To find out the fourth and final pillar of a convincing ask for greater marketing funding and learn more specifics to include in your proposal, check out the article above.

3. Senate (Barely) Votes to Overturn Donor Disclosure Restriction

Last week, in a narrow 50 to 49 vote, the Senate moved to overturn a donor disclosure mandate passed under the Trump administration that allowed 501(c)(4)s to withhold donor identities from the government. An article in the Washington Post reported that this decision reflects a “growing unease among Democrats over the influence of wealthy donors and foreign actors in U.S. elections,” but will have little chance of surviving in the Republican-led House or receive the support of the president. Back in July, the Treasury Department under the Trump Administration enacted a rule that no longer required these organizations to disclose the names or addresses of their donors to the IRS. They were, however, still required to hold onto donor information and turn it over to the IRS should it be requested. Outspoken critics of this new rule, including Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), argue that “dark money” groups threaten democracy by removing transparency from sources of funding for political activity. Those that supported this move by the Treasury Department, including Brent Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer for Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by billionaire Charles Koch, contend that donors should be allowed to participate in political activity in accordance with their personal beliefs “without fear of reprisal.” Although the Senate’s vote to overturn this rule will face an uphill, if not impossible, battle in the House, many think last week’s decision was a symbolic win for supporters of campaign finance restrictions. Wyden, currently the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said that the decision was a “huge first step in America’s fight against anonymous political insiders looking to tighten their grip on Washington.” To find out more about how this rule, or the reversal of this rule, might affect the tax filings of your nonprofit, and to read more about what this vote could mean for the future of 501(c)(4) participation in politics, click on the article from the Washington Post above.

4. U.S. Ranks Fourth on Generosity Scale Despite High Donation Totals

A recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Americans donated around $410 billion to charity in 2017. Yet while this is quite an impressive figure, the latest Gallup study ranked the United States fourth in the world in terms of “generosity.” The study, which collected data from 153,000 people in 146 countries, ranked Indonesia as the most generous country in the world, followed by Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Ireland, in that order. It reported that while 61 percent of Americans claim to have donated to charity, an impressive 78 percent of people living in Indonesia claim the same. Indonesians were also found to donate more of their time to charitable organizations than Americans. Jon Clifton, Global Managing Partner at Gallup, highlighted a key takeaway of the study in the report when he wrote, “the United States is often considered the most generous country in the world . . . You don’t need to be rich to give back.” Clifton predicted that these findings would come as a surprise to most, as many people assume that the measurements of spending power are directly correlated with those of generosity. Yet countries with significantly lower GDPs than the U.S. found themselves among the most generous in the world, with countries like Bahrain, Kenya, and Myanmar ranked in the top ten. China fell far below these countries in the findings, ranking third from the bottom. Many of the lower scores, as predicted, were given to countries with significant turmoil and instability, including Greece, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Turkey. So, while the U.S. is home to a widespread and successful nonprofit sector, your nonprofit might even want to consider contacting organizations in parts of the world who seem to have created an even more prominent culture of generosity and see how we can mirror their successful efforts here in the U.S. To read more findings from the study, visit the article above.

5. New Year, New Donor Trends

As 2019 is quickly approaches, it is important to understand the possible changes to giving patterns that await you in the new year. An article in Time Magazine highlights a few of the major predictions from philanthropy experts that nonprofits should expect to find in the upcoming year. Although the latest tax law will be a major driver of such changes, other determinants of shifting patterns of charitable giving include new technologies and cultural movements. First, experts predict a significant increase in “bundling,” or grouping donations together in larger sums rather than giving smaller sums multiple times, in response to the heightened threshold on charitable deductions in the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Another anticipated trend is an increase in crowdfunding on social media platforms. Una Odili, a Professor of Economics and Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, suggests that this is the result of the convergence of two patterns: “the desire of donors to personalize their giving, and advances in technology that make giving, or asking others to give on your behalf, as easy as typing up a heartfelt message and hitting ‘enter.’” According to the article, experts also predict the continued expansion of what is commonly referred to as “ultra-philanthropy,” or the dominance of large donors in the giving world. Paul Schervish, Professor Emeritus and retired Director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, predicts that “we’re going to continue to find that the top one-half of 1% will be giving about 30% of all the charitable dollars.” While these major charitable donations given by powerful figures like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg will continue to have significant and positive impacts in the sector, this inflation of “ultra-philanthropy” might leave smaller nonprofits, who typically rely on small to medium-sized donations, facing even steeper uphill battles when it comes to fundraising. Other notable trends predicted for the new year include a proliferation of impact investing and a greater role for women and donors of diverse backgrounds in philanthropic leadership positions. To learn more about what 2019 might have in store and what your organization can do to prepare for altered giving patterns, check out the article above.  

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! For more information on the historically male-dominant structure of the Supreme Court and how this breakdown has shifted slightly over time thanks to brave justices like Sandra Day O’Connor, Thurgood Marshall, Sonia Sotomayor, and more, check out this article.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: December 14, 2018

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Eleanor Roosevelt holding The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

DID YOU KNOW? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on December 10, 1948, begins by powerfully asserting, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Last Monday marked the 70th anniversary of the adoption of this historic document. Led by the fierce chair of the United Nations Commission, Eleanor Roosevelt, who famously nicknamed the influential document the “the Magna Carta of humankind,” the declaration was adopted by a vote of 48-0, with 2 abstentions. Arising from the atrocities of World War II, the declaration included 30 articles detailing the rights that every human should be accorded in an ideal world and called for an end to discrimination on the basis of everything from race, religion, sex, among many other things. The adoption of the declaration, according to an article in Forbes magazine commemorating this momentous occasion, marked a new era in history by not only declaring these rights as, like the name aptly suggests, universal and without exception, but also by establishing an international responsibility for ensuring these rights are upheld. Contrary to previous notions of isolationism and total sovereignty over what goes on within one’s borders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated that should human rights abuses occur anywhere in the world, other countries and international entities have an obligation to respond. While human rights abuses can still be found in nearly every corner of the world, thanks to the ardent efforts of those like Eleanor Roosevelt, the ultimate adoption of this document has made human rights “a routine feature of international diplomacy and political discourse.” To learn more about the declaration and its relevance still today, check out this article from Forbes magazine.

1. Why Donor Gift-Giving Might be a Thing of the Past  

In a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Alex Daniels calls into question the effectiveness of giving gifts to potential donors to boost donation rates. According to the article, “more than half of fundraising solicitations try to entice donors by including a gift as a token of appreciation,” suggesting a widespread belief in the capacity for both unconditional and anticipated, or promised, gifts to persuade those who may be on the fence about donating. Daniels, however, along with several economists at Texas A&M University, are not entirely convinced. Researchers at the university created a study in which they sent 140,000 solicitations to each of its funders who had not donated in at least one year. They randomly split the solicitations into three categories: those that included an unconditional gift of a luggage tag, those that did not include a gift but promised a gift in exchange for a future donation, and, acting as the control of the experiment, those that included no gift at all. The results of the experiment showed no remarkable distinction in rates of donations for those who were offered conditional gifts and those who were given no gift at all. Donors who were given a gift included in the initial solicitation were in fact found to be more likely to donate; however, upon calculating its costs, the university found that these items were worth more than the value of the donations it had received in return. These economists were thus skeptical about the use of donor gifts in fundraising strategies. Still, Daniels cautions nonprofits to not jump to entirely eliminating such gifts quite yet. Jonathan Meer, one of the study’s co-authors, suggests that “gifts may be more effective with recent donors if they feel like a thank-you and not a quid pro quo.” To read the full study and find out how your organization can alter your gift-giving strategies to make more significant impacts on your fundraising, check out the link above.  

2. Facebook Fundraisers: A Hacker’s Dream Come True

With more and more people utilizing online means of giving, whether directly through an organization’s website or indirectly through a third-party social media platform, questions of the security of online fundraising are beginning to surface. An article in Wired warns organizations that Facebook, one of the largest of such social media crowdfunding tools, might not be as secure as one would expect considering the platform’s growing popularity as a fundraising tool. According to the article, as any registered 501(c)(3) organization with a bank account is eligible to use its fundraising services, “over one million charitable organizations in 19 countries accept donations on Facebook.” The article discusses the story of Alana and Lollar, nonprofit leaders whose Facebook fundraising pages had been threatened and hacked by uninvited administrators. Despite contacting Facebook repeatedly, these women could not get assistance from a representative in time to prevent future attacks and suffered thousands of dollars in lost revenue as a result. John Cantarella, Director for Social Good and Community Partnerships at Facebook, assured worried nonprofit leaders that their pages are safe in Facebook’s hands, maintaining that the company has made available sufficient security features to administrators on nonprofit pages. Still, however, complaints of hackers persist. Due to the high volume of donations filtering through the sector, as well as individual organization’s tight budgets and limited resources allocated for damage control, nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to online attacks. According to the article, nearly “60 percent of nonprofits do not provide cybersecurity trainings to staff on a regular basis,” and “70 percent say they don’t have a plan in the case of a cybersecurity attack.” Concerned nonprofits have recently spoken up about Facebook’s lack of guidance in dealing with possible hacks. To find out more about Alana and Lollar, and how your organization can advocate for increased guidance and protect your social media pages from possible attack, click on the link above.

3. Thanks But No Thanks

In just one of the most recent ripple effects of the new tax overhaul, predicted uncertainty in funding has led many nonprofits to take a critical look at their “funding acceptance policies,” or create them if no such policies exist. An article in The Nonprofit Times stresses the importance of nonprofits adopting such an acceptance policy “regardless of size and complexity of the funding strategy.” Constructing a gift acceptance policy may be burdensome and can, understandably, fall rather low on the priority list of organizations struggling to cover bare-bones operating costs. However, implementing such a policy sooner rather than later can help your organization not only manage its donor expectations, but also maintain important relationships with major donors if and when their donations are rejected. Yet, a gift acceptance policy saves you from more than just a few awkward conversations with disgruntled donors. A predetermined framework for donation acceptances ensures that your organization accepts funding only from those who share your mission and standards of integrity. It can also serve as a “powerful tool to communicate to prospective funders the organization’s preference for the unrestricted gifts and the need for overhead.” Any effective gift acceptance policy entails an explanation to donors whose gifts might have been rejected that clearly outlines the kind of funding that will be accepted in the future. The common misconception that “any funding is good funding,” according to the article, must be challenged. There are many instances in which accepting funding might very well do more harm than good, such as when such funds fail to support a nonprofit’s mission or its overhead costs. Ultimately, although outlining a policy for how and when to reject donations might seem counterintuitive for an organization struggling to make ends meet, adopting these policies will ensure that your organization is accepting funds that will make its operations more efficient, rather than bog you down with unnecessary paperwork. Despite a higher level of certainty in light of the new tax law, organizations that create and stick to a donation acceptance policy are more likely to benefit in the long-run. To read more about gift acceptance policies and what your organization should be accepting as well as rejecting in terms of funding, visit the article linked above.  

4. (Helpful?) IRS Guideline for Nonprofits on Minimizing Impact of New Parking Tax

Among many other things, last year’s tax law prevented businesses from deducting expenses used to provide fringe benefits like parking, as well as forces nonprofits to pay a 21 percent unrelated business income tax (UBIT) for all employee transportation benefits. Unsurprisingly, the inclusion of these provisions was strongly opposed by charitable organizations and faced bipartisan criticism in Congress. As mentioned in last week’s post, Kevin Brady (R-Texas),  House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, proposed the removal of this provision from this year’s plan, Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) wrote letters urging the Treasury to delay the implementation of the tax. Until more permanent decisions are made on the controversial tax, however, the Treasury Department and the IRS released a guideline this week for how nonprofits can best calculate the tax so as to minimize losses. One such way the IRS suggests nonprofits boost their deductions on parking expenses is by reducing the number of parking spaces reserved for employees come spring. The IRS also announced its “tax-penalty relief,” which will give some financial relief to those who did not have to file a business income tax return last year and who are offering fringe benefits. Yet, although seemingly meant to benefit these newly taxed entities, this guideline has come under fire from many claiming that it does not do nearly enough. David L. Thompson, Vice President of Public Policy of the National Council of Nonprofit, was openly critical about the IRS’s recent announcement, claiming that the only viable solution to this problem is a complete repeal of the nonprofit tax. Thompson argued that “the notice provides minimal instruction, relieves some organizations of penalties that result from the IRS’s own delay, and completely ignores the imposition of the new taxes on transit benefits.” Additionally, Thompson called out the guideline for being overly simplistic, as it offers a one-step approach that will undoubtedly play out drastically differently among different organizations and from one month to another. To find out more about the latest update on the parking tax and how the Treasury Department claims this new guideline will minimize impact on nonprofits, check out the link above.

5. Emerging Giving Circles to Help Counteract Predicted Declines in Individual Donations

Nonprofit Quarterly recently reported an upward trend in the number of emerging “giving circles,” or a group in which several donors collectively raise money and then vote on a cause who shares its mission and values to be the beneficiary of such funding. In fact, one study showed that between 2007 and 2016, the number of giving circles across the United States tripled.  This development is likely due in part to the recent repudiation of the universal charitable deduction, causing many donors to rethink how they can best maximize their impact. While individual amounts given within each giving circle vary greatly from group to group, this movement has also shown a steep increase in overall funding over the years. A study carried out this year estimated that these groups disbursed close to $1.29 billion since the creation of the very first giving circle, yet last year’s funding alone made up for a whopping $410 billion of this total. Although the purpose of giving circles is the pooling of smaller-scale individual donations to create greater impact, some circles have claimed rather steep individual donation levels. Impact100 Philadelphia, for example, an all-women giving circle with the purpose of getting more women involved in philanthropy, has a $575 entry level donation for young donors and a $1,150 level for older ones. Still, other circles, like the Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle which is comprised of a 50 member donor group who donate a minimum of $50 a year, have significantly lower buy-ins. According to Peter Van Do, Chairman of the Philadelphia-based entity of this circle, even smaller circles can have significant impact, especially on organizations often ignored by larger, mainstream foundations. To learn more about the rise of giving circles and why your nonprofit might want to restructure its outreach to encourage smaller donors to seek out such groups in light of predicted declines in individual donations, visit the link above.  

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! For more information on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the controversy surrounding its adoption, and the many ways it is still relevant in our world today, check out this article from NPR.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: December 7, 2018

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DID YOU KNOW? Last week, after indulging in the tempting deals of consumer-centered Black Friday and Cyber Monday, millions of people opened their checkbooks to support their favorite causes on the annual day of charitable giving, “#GivingTuesday”. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday – typically used with a hashtag to denote its widespread presence on social media – has helped encourage over $1 billion in charitable donations to nonprofits. A preliminary estimate published by the Nonprofit Times announced that this year’s #GivingTuesday donation total exceeded $380 million in the U.S., with over 3.6 million donations, making it the most successful year yet. This marked a 27 percent increase from last year’s total, which reached an impressive $300 million, and a 45 percent increase in the number of individual donations, which stood at over 2.5 million in 2017. In a press release last week, Henry Timms, Executive Director of 92Y and Co-Founder of #GivingTuesday, expressed that the original intentions when creating this day were to overcome division and emphasize shared values. “To now surpass a billion dollars in giving and volunteering is a testament to a global spirit of generosity that may not always make it into the headlines but is evident in every corner of America and around the world,” Timms said in a press release last week. Starting from a simple idea, #GivingTuesday is now recognized as an international day of giving. Its founders are hoping to increase the impact of this day in future years by encouraging participants to consider also volunteering on this day, rather than simply making a donation. For more information on this year’s #GivingTuesday numbers and the history of the day of giving, visit this article from the Nonprofit Times.

1. Patagonia to Donate $10 Million of New Tax Cut to Nonprofits Fighting Climate Change  

Last week, Patagonia made one of this giving season’s biggest donations yet. Rose Marcario, CEO of the outdoor clothing company, announced that the company would donate all $10 million of the money it received as a result of the new corporate tax cut to organizations fighting climate change. While Patagonia has long been a supporter of environmental groups, this will mark its largest single donation to charitable causes. In a statement posted on LinkedIn, Marcario took a critical stance of the new administration’s decision to change the tax code, accusing the it of threatening essential services to society’s most vulnerable, including the planet, typically funded by these taxes. According to Marcario, “being a responsible company means paying your taxes in proportion to your success and supporting your state and federal governments, which in turn contribute to the health and well-being of civil society.” The post also included an economic critique of this policy. Citing the most recent Climate Assessment Report, which predicts that the U.S. economy could suffer billions of dollars of losses as a result of the current climate crisis, Marcario mentions a few ways the country has already felt these consequences, including mega-fires, deadly heat waves, and toxic algae blooms. Some are skeptical of the motivation behind the decision, claiming that it was meant as an appeal to its consumers rather than a moral objection to the new tax code. In a speech made at UC Berkeley earlier this year, Marcario stated, “Any time that we do something good for the environment, we make more money.” Yet while the company’s consumer base does indeed consist primarily of those who care deeply about protecting the environment, others argue that this alone is not likely to elicit such a significant donation. Many are looking at other companies to follow suit. In a report from Bloomberg, similar “unplanned cash” that 180 of the country’s biggest corporations found themselves with as a result of the tax cut amounted to a remarkable $13 billion. So, this giving season, by focusing on strategic solicitations, your organization might be able to reap the benefits of particular socially-minded organizations feeling a little extra “generous.” For more information on Patagonia’s decision, click the link to the article above from Nonprofit Quarterly.

2. Scaling Sustainably

In an article from the Forbes Nonprofit Council, Eric Griswold, CEO and Chairman of the Board at “The $100 Solution,” establishes a few priorities an organization should establish when attempting to scale or grow a nonprofit. According to Griswold, whether it means providing more services or expanding the reach of your services nationally, deciding what scaling means for your organization is a necessary place to start. Ensuring that your organization has the proper infrastructure in place is the next step in planning such an expansion. Yet this might not only require expanding to new properties or hiring more staff. Building this infrastructure will also involve acquiring the software and tools to handle an increase in online traffic and getting your website up to date. Another essential precautionary measure to take will be implementing sustainable fundraising practices. While asking your donors for a one-time gift for a new project expansion will, in most cases, lead to a hike in fundraising, this temporary solution will not lead to lasting, secure funding that will allow you to maintain such an expansion. When asking donors to consider supporting new scaling, paint them a picture of what your organization will look like many stages into this growth, highlighting the greater reach of your impact. In order to diversity this funding, consider identifying and applying to grants for which you might now qualify as a result of newly offered services. Finally, when contemplating an expansion, consider how your team members’ roles might shift during this process, making note of how particular members’ strengths might naturally fit into new positions. Don’t be afraid to look outside your organization if you do not envision a successful transitioning of roles of current staff. Though increasing the scale of your organization typically does not happen overnight, having a plan in place for future infrastructure, funding, and personnel will ensure a smooth process when this scaling does occur. To learn more tips on scaling and how Griswold saw these ideas play out at his own organization, check out the link above.

3. Rise in 501(c)(4)s Further Blurs Line Between Tax-Exempt Status and Political Activity

A recent article in The Atlantic discusses the considerable increase in registrations of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations as a result of the current political climate and the newest changes to the tax code. According to the article, a significant number of nonprofits that have historically focused on litigation and education are reorganizing themselves and entering the political stage as social welfare organizations. Conservative organizations have typically been more inclined to abandon the benefit of tax deductible donations inherent in 501(c)(3) status for the permitted political activity tied to 501(c)(4)s. Many liberal organizations were initially critical of this politicization of social welfare organizations; however, a recent skepticism in the effectiveness of the “court-centric” approach to producing social change as well as the heightened charitable deduction thresholds in the new tax code has led many liberal organizations to follow in the footsteps of their conservative counterparts and adopt 501(c)(4) status. Specifically, according to the article, the most recent conservative appointment to the Supreme Court made many nonprofits and resistance groups question the court’s future ability to promote liberal values, prompting many to jump into the political ring themselves. Similarly, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, under which most taxpayers will no longer be able to itemize and receive tax deductions from charitable donations, made claiming 501(c)(3) status considerably less relevant for fundraising purposes and thus far less attractive. In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which operates both a public-charity and a social welfare organization, saw the total assets of its 501(c)(3) grow 17 percent, while the total assets of its 501(c)(4) grew at an astonishing 89 percent. The NAACP took an even bolder step, restructuring itself completely from a 501(c)(3) into a 501(c)(4). This transformation, according the article, represents a “distinct brand of legal liberalism for the 21st century—one less oriented around lawsuits and tax-subsidized donations and more closely connected to partisan politics and grassroots organizing.” While the emergence and increasing importance of 501(c)(4) organizations is not a new realization, understanding how this trend is tied to the current political climate will lead to more accurate predictions of their roles in civil society going forward. To learn more about how this trend will further complicate the role of tax-exempt organizations in the political arena and the increased pressure on Congress and the IRS to regulate tax-exempt statuses and the potential flow of “dark money” as a result, click the link above.

4. House Republicans To Consider Rescinding Nonprofit Tax

Speaking of new tax legislation. Last year, a Republican-backed provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act required historically tax-exempt organizations such as churches, hospitals, and colleges to pay a 21 percent tax on some types of employee fringe benefits. Many churches and other nonprofit organizations, previously foreign to the complex tax filings of the IRS, immediately renounced the tax. Now, according to an article in Politico, House Republicans, led by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and hoping to get the new tax bill to the President’s desk before the end of the year, are proposing to overturn this tax. The legislation, which, among other changes, proposes to revise some temporary provisions that have since expired and “revamp the IRS,” faces opposition ahead from Democrats, who have consistently opposed the legislation for other purposes. While many Democrats have publicly opposed the new nonprofit tax specifically, it is unlikely that this revision alone will get the Democrats on board. Yet, the new proposal to overturn this measure does suggest possible hope for nonprofits. Last week, Senators James Lankford (R-Okl.) abd Chris Coons (D-Del.) sent a letter asking the Treasury Department to temporarily suspend the nonprofit tax. While the heightened thresholds for charitable deductions in the new tax code still threaten nonprofit funding and the future of this specific nonprofit tax provision still hangs in the balance, such collaboration represents a promising outcome. To read more about Chairman Brady’s proposal and its likelihood of success, visit the article above.

5. Keeping it Short and Sweet: Communicating Your Message to Policymakers

Engaging policymakers in your organization’s mission is often no easy task. Conveying your message to any potential collaborator poses its own set of obstacles, let alone career public servants with long lists of to-do’s and a million similar proposals sitting on their desks. In an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Lisa Witter and Odette Chalaby outline eight tactics that social sector leaders should employ when creating presentations or solicitations for such policymakers. The data used to compile this list is taken in part from a study done by Apolitical in over 140 countries that asked policymakers what resources typically have the greatest impact on their decisions. One of the first findings of the study was that public servants are heavily time-burdened. While a seemingly obvious observation, this can have important impacts on the proposals a policymaker chooses to hear. Thus, in order to effectively communicate your message to busy public servants, get to the point. The article suggests keeping written pieces to around 700 words or less, using graphics and visuals to summarize lengthy information, and avoiding complicated details and colloquial language that someone outside of your field is unlikely to understand. According to Witter and Chalaby, “policymakers like to get real, and fast.” Your presentation is far from the first they have heard of its kind, likely that day alone. Make sure to outline the process, timeline, and scalability of your proposal quickly and matter-of-factly, and be realistic about possible risks and delays. Another tip encourages organizations to be upfront about exactly which departments and how much money it will take to accomplish their goals. If the involvement of several departments will be necessary, give the policymakers all the tools they will need to get them on board. If you leave this part up to them, your proposal is likely to get lost in a mound of paperwork under other pressing issues. To read more suggestions on how to get your local policymakers’ attention without drowning them in information, visit the link to the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! For tips from the online fundraising platform Classy on how to capitalize on post-#GivingTuesday excitement and how to steward and engage donors in the final month of this giving season, click here.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: November 30, 2018

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DID YOU KNOW? Last Thursday, on November 23rd, millions of Americans sat down to beautifully prepared Thanksgiving feasts, commemorating the colonial Pilgrims' harvest meal in 1621. Yet, much controversy has surrounded the classic account of the encounters between the Pilgrims and Native Americans upon which this holiday is based, with many historians citing that this meeting was much more violent than described and activists arguing that modern narratives present Native Americans as separate from the U.S. population. This Thanksgiving season, one organization has sought to build counternarratives to the classic Thanksgiving tale that more accurately and respectfully describe the lives of the Wampanoag. According to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, the Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. has launched a week-long training program for 50 social studies teachers across the country, attempting to guide them in “how to teach the first Thanksgiving in a way that is true to actual events and respectful of Native cultures.” Participants of the training were able to hear first-hand accounts of Native Americans’ experience in the U.S. and analyze historical photos of their ancestors. They were also educated on a wider variety of U.S. political history as it related to Native Americans, with topics including the Dawes Act and the American Indian removal policies of Jackson in the 1830s. Many teachers who participated said the training allowed them to come up with creative ways to counter antiquated history textbooks that dismiss Native American struggles and simplify the complex history of the holiday. For more information on the Museum of the American Indian and how you too can challenge the classic Thanksgiving narrative, click here.

1. As Value of Volunteer Hours Rise, Percent of Those Volunteering Reaches an All-Time Low

The Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland recently released a report, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data from all fifty states, that indicated a worrisome trend in the share of Americans volunteering. According to the report, in the last fifteen years, the United States has experienced a significant decrease in the percentage of those who volunteer their time to nonprofits, reaching an all-time low of 24.9 percent in 2015 (the most recent year studied). The study predicts that “if the volunteer rate had not declined at all between 2004 and 2015, over 9.8 million more Americans would have volunteered in 2015. Interestingly, however, as the percent of those who volunteer may be declining, the number of total volunteer hours has actually increased during the same period, possibly masking the negative impacts of fewer workers. A separate study by the Independent Sector reported that the value of a volunteer’s time has grown at a steady pace since 2002, reaching $24.69/hour in 2017. Given such trends, as well as the greater value lost by declining volunteers, your organization may need to invest in creative solutions in order to attract new volunteers this year. While seeking funding often takes precedence over appealing to volunteers, not forgetting about the latter will help your organization preserve the invaluable social capital that volunteers create by spreading your mission and furthering your operational goals. To read more notable findings in the study from the University of Maryland, visit the article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy linked above, or click here to view the official report.

2. Making Financial Resilience a Reality in Your Organization

Though every nonprofit strives for “financial resilience,” implementing practices to achieve such security can prove more challenging than expected. An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review reports that “despite growing awareness in the sector, some organizations continue to have a reactive and stressful relationship with their financial health and performance.” The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Local Grantmaking Program, noticing this trend of financial instability among its grantees, partnered with the Fiscal Management Associates, LLC (FMA) to provide hands-on financial support and training for ten of its partnering organizations. The project sought to find areas in which community organizations needed the most support and, thus, exactly what building “financial resilience” would mean for nonprofits. The foundation identified three practices as especially important to maintaining long-term financial security. The first of these is projecting your organization’s budget over several years to account for decisions – such as hiring decisions and multiyear grants – that will affect long-term finances. Another suggested tool that has become increasingly popular in the sector is the use of visual dashboards to give your organization a “shared language” and “tangible tools” to improve its operational health. The last consistent marker of financial resilience identified from the project is an operating reserves policy, designed to dictate when an organization will build, maintain, and spend its reserves. While having consecutive years of surplus funds is not exactly a reality for many nonprofits, having a plan for if/when these surpluses do occur will put you one step closer to financial stability. Though often thrown around casually and used in the abstract, “financial resilience” can become a reality for your organization by taking a few of these concrete steps today. To find out more about the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s deep dive into financial resilience and what their grantees reported back, check out the article above.

3. Airbnb to Join Fight Against Homelessness in San Francisco

Airbnb, the hospitality service headquartered in San Francisco, has recently promised to donate $5 million over the next three years to help mitigate the homelessness crisis in SF. The company will reportedly be working with community organizations and local government agencies to direct the funds to programs addressing the most urgent and immediate housing needs. Among such programs expected to benefit from the donation is the new Rising Up initiative that will provide housing and employment opportunities to 500 people between the ages of 18 and 25. Local agency officials seem enthusiastic about partnering with Airbnb to support such programs. Jeff Kositsky, Director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, expressed gratitude that the company was looking to collaborate with the city before directing the funds, and Mayor London Breed claimed that donations like this one “will help [the city] get to a better place.” Yet the decision has not come without public skepticism. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on the company pledge, “some activists and lawmakers accuse Airbnb of contributing to San Francisco’s housing crisis by luring landlords to turn units into lucrative vacation rentals.” These accusations have made for a tense relationship between Airbnb and the city of San Francisco in recent years. Thus, many are critical of the donation, claiming it was done to help alleviate an issue that the company itself helped perpetuate in the first place. Others are more supportive of the pledge, citing that Airbnb has taken significant steps in the last few years to ensure that all its rentals are registered with the city, allowing the city to investigate illegal rentals by non-permanent residents. So, when looking for donors to support your organization’s programs, consider corporations based locally that are intimately connected to your cause, in whatever capacity that might be. In this new age of “social responsibility,” many corporations whose practices have produced unintended, negative social externalities might very well be eager to help. To read more about Airbnb’s decision to enter the fight against homelessness, and how they are mending their relationship with local agencies, check out the link above.

4. Nonprofits as Models for Socially-Minded Businesses

While in the past many start-up nonprofits have look to established businesses as models for things like investment strategies or board composition, in recent years, these roles have begun to reverse. In the era of “social-responsibility,” more and more corporations are shifting to more sustainable and socially-minded business models, and thus, are looking to nonprofits, inherently purpose driven organizations, to serve as models for this transition. In the shift to become more purpose-driven, corporations’ marketing teams are looking to nonprofits for inspiration on how to  engage their customers and shareholders in new and creative ways. In an article in AdWeek, Betsy Henning, CEO and Founder of AHA, offers corporations a few suggestions to model their new socially-minded practices off nonprofits, including doing more with less and committing one’s organization’s mission to memory – things that come instinctively to most in the nonprofit world. In the next few decades, it is predicted that a rise in nonprofit-corporate sponsorships, along with an increasing number of corporations becoming more mission-driven, will blur the lines between the nonprofit and for-profit sector, giving each a far greater pool of resources from which to draw. According to Henning, “it’s likely that the two distinct entities—one commercial and the other nonprofit—will continue to discover areas of overlap where they are mirroring the other to both do well and do good.” Serving as this model for businesses gives nonprofits like yours the chance not only to inspire positive social change in the for-profit world, but also to undergo a meaningful reflection on your own operating standards to ensure they are effective, up-to-date, and “worthy” to serve as a guide to others. This shift might also push corporate leaders to get involved in your organization in hopes of gaining insight into your operational model and learn from your successes. So, when recruiting new board members and corporate partners, be sure to frame the opportunity as mutually-beneficial, as the nonprofit world has a lot to offer to a for-profit world looking for a mission. To learn more about brands that have become more purpose-driven and how your organization can serve as a model for success, click the link above.

5. Local Donors to Need Extra Push in Light of New Tax Law  

During this Thanksgiving season, nonprofits should be feeling especially grateful for their donors who give locally. An article from the National Council of Nonprofits reports that in light of the new federal tax law that increased deductions on charitable giving, local contributions will have important impacts this year. According to many experts, “as a result of the new federal tax law, about 21 million fewer taxpayers will claim charitable and other deductions.” Organizations that rely on local donations, typically small and mid-sized community-based nonprofits, are most likely to be hurt by heightened thresholds for tax deductions. Thus, unless donors shift their behavior to focus on their local nonprofits who might not survive the predicted declining giving rates, an increasing number of nonprofits will face tighter budgets and limited potential for growth in the coming year. So, while stewarding all your donors will be important, especially with Giving Tuesday quickly approaching, local donors will often be those with the fewest personal incentives to give, and, therefore, require and deserve a bit more of your attention this giving season. Relying on the contributions of consistent donors without doing such outreach might not yield the same results this year. This is the time to be both proactive and thankful when it comes to your local donations. Your outreach to engage and express gratitude toward these supporters will be crucial in preventing a drop-off in local giving. For more information on what role local donations will play in this year’s giving season, how they help boost local economies, and more, visit the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read about one nonprofit’s inspiring efforts to make Thanksgiving dinners for the victims of the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California that has burned more than 153,000 acres and left tragedy in its wake, check out this article.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: November 16, 2018

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)

DID YOU KNOW? On Sunday, November 11th, leaders, military personnel, and members of the public across the world solemnly marked the centennial of the armistice of World War I with ceremonies to remember those who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918. On this day, commonly known as Armistice Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in the U.K, an armistice was signed that signified a cessation of hostilities and a long-awaited end to the “war to end all wars.” The 100-year anniversary of this armistice was commemorated by world leaders in Paris on Sunday Morning at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which lies at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. French President Emmanuel Macron led the ceremonies, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood in attendance. Another remembrance took place in England, as the royal family and senior politicians led the country in a moment of silence at 11 a.m. to commemorate the end of the war and those who gave their lives. An article from the National Council of Nonprofits reporting on the armistice centennial highlights a few nonprofits that mobilized during the war to provide much needed services and relieve suffering. Among the organizations that made the most impact are the American Red Cross, the YMCA, the Jewish Welfare Board, and The Salvation Army. According to the article, by the end of the war, almost one-third of the entire U.S. population had either donated their time or money to the Red Cross. For more information on the international Armistice Day memorials that took place this week, click here.

1. New Report Shows Rapid Growth in Donor-Advised Funds

The twelfth annual report released by the National Philanthropic Trust this week shows a significant increase in assets held in donor-advised funds (DAFs). According to the report, the growth of these assets stood at 27.3 percent and their total worth surpassed the $100-billion mark for the first time, reaching an impressive $110 billion by the end of 2017. While remarkable, this growth was not entirely surprising. Many anticipated this rapid rise in DAF contributions after studying donor reactions to the new tax bill. Donors trying to take advantage of the tax deduction have likely increased their contributions to these funds, hoping to meet the higher giving threshold for deductibles under the new law. More surprising, however, was that the average size of DAFs actually decreased by about 20 percent during the same period. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, this trend seems to suggest that donors had been “bundling,” or taking money originally allocated for future giving and redirecting it to already existing funds to increase their size, in order to receive an even greater tax deduction under the new law. Still, the report found that the total money donated to charity rose from $15.9 billion in 2016 to $19.1 the following year. So, while bundling might have meant more frontloading of funds, charitable donations to these funds continues to rise. Eileen Heisman, the President of the National Philanthropic Trust, predicts grants from DAFs will exceed $20 billion by the end of 2018. For more information on the latest trends in DAFs, check out the link above.

2. Brave Nonprofits Give New Life to Historic Building in the Fillmore, SF

Two determined nonprofits in San Francisco have reclaimed and reopened the Fillmore Heritage Center, a large space in the city’s historic Fillmore District. The center has served several functions over the decades, including two bouts as a jazz club, but has been vacant for the last three years. According to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, the New Community Leadership Foundation (NCLF) and the San Francisco Housing Development Corp. are hoping to revive the once booming center and provide “live music, community events, and housing and financial empowerment workshops” to the population of the Fillmore. By reactivating this site, these nonprofits hope to give a much needed boost to the neighborhood’s struggling economy and provide a foundation from which it can rebuild African-American-owned businesses who have suffered at the hands of recent large scale redevelopment projects. Residents in the Fillmore, a predominantly African American neighborhood, have experienced widespread displacement in the past few years as the city’s housing industry continues to boom and cost of living skyrockets. The NCLF and the Housing Development Corp. are hoping to reverse this cycle. Thus, while the newly revived center will surely be a place of art, entertainment, and culture, it will also seek to address the community’s economic needs. David Sobel, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Development Corp., claims that the site is planning to hold workshops on everything from “renting, credit repair, rental readiness, and first-time home-buying.” So, if your nonprofit is looking for new real estate, try tapping into your community’s history. Who knows? There might be a Fillmore Heritage Center in your neighborhood waiting to take on its next life. To learn more about the Fillmore Heritage Center and why San Francisco District Five Supervisor Vallie Brown says she is optimistic that its reactivation will provide an “economic and cultural anchor” for the neighborhood, visit the link to the article above.

3. Crowdfunding, Done Responsibly

Crowdfunding, or “broad, public, online fundraising campaigns,” is becoming an increasingly popular mode of fundraising. Crowdfunding campaigns have become so widely used and well-liked, both among nonprofits and donors, in large part because of their convenience. In such campaigns, nonprofits and individuals spread their messages to wide audiences through various forms of social media and personal outreach in the hopes of gaining modest contributions from many donors. These donors are then encouraged to spread the message along to those in their circles, creating a cycle of giving typically comprised of small but numerous donations. Yet as this fundraising mechanism continues to spread, concerns have arisen regarding its susceptibility to fraud, lack of ability to collect adequate donor data, and insufficient legislation regulating its use, among other issues. Donors also expressed concerns about uncertainty surrounding tax deductibility and what crowdfunding will mean for existing donor-advised funds (DAFs). In response to such concerns, CalNonprofits recently published its “Principles for Responsible Crowdfunding” to help guide nonprofits in conducting ethical crowdfunding efforts and to call on legislators to more clearly define what is legally permitted in these campaigns. Among such principles are those specifically concerning practices of online crowdfunding platforms, such as making apparent one’s tax-deductible status on the initial donation page, transferring the funds raised to the nonprofit within thirty days, and disclosing all fees before the point of the actual donation. As more policy attention is being directed towards this type of fundraising at both the state and federal level, nonprofits must keep up with current legislation pertaining to crowdfunding in order to carry out responsible, ethical, and successful future campaigns. To find out more about evolving crowdfunding practices and how CalNonprofits suggests your organization can stay ethical and consistent despite the paucity of on-point legislation, click the link above.

4. Learning a Living: Avoiding Complacency and Developing Your Team’s Skills

Today’s dynamic workplace requires more and more that employers not only utilize their workers strengths, but also develop and modify them through training and educational programs to keep up with current trends. In a recent article, members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council outline nine ways to promote education among your employees and ensure that your team’s skills evolve as your brand does. One such way, according to Tom Van Winkle of the Hinsdale Humane Society, is by hosting in-house training sessions rather than sending staff to conferences in order to ensure the quality of the training and avoid travel costs. If your organization does not have the resources or space to offer such a training, try partnering with local organizations and businesses to host a joint session. Another member tells of her success in offering tuition reimbursements to her staff members as incentive to take courses that benefit the organization’s development. These courses, according to Kimberly Lewis, CEO of Goodwill Industries of East Texas, could range from GED classes, to basic computer/software development, to more casual online classes and webinars. Yet another tip, likely more financially feasible for more organizations, involves researching and joining a regional center for nonprofit management, found throughout the country, and attending its occasional workshops and hearing guest speakers with your staff. Kristine Sloan of StartingBloc encourages nonprofit staff members to share any professional development resources they found helpful on internal communication platforms like Slack to share new opportunities and help promote and normalize a culture of learning. Other suggestions include focusing on problem-solving skills, being candid when discussing strengths and weaknesses, and setting not only operational goals for each of your employees but also line items for professional development. For more tips on keeping your employees’ skill sets up to date, check out the link above.

5. Implicit Sexism in the Nonprofit World: A Donor’s Perspective

In an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Isa Catto, a long-time charitable funder and leader of a family foundation, gives personal insight on the sexism and implicit bias that she has experienced in the nonprofit sector. Catto points out that while the focus of combatting sexism in the workplace has been rightfully on preventing explicit harassment and other abuses, more subtle or even subconscious sexist practices and biases often go unnoticed in the nonprofit world. She argues that while certainly less threatening, such sexism nevertheless undermines the critical and inclusive work of nonprofits, and, speaking from her own experience, isolates key donors. In the article, Catto recalls times when she and her husband have jointly attended fundraisers and an organization’s leaders have spent most of their conversations looking primarily at her husband and avoiding eye contact with her almost entirely, despite having no prior connection to him. Other times, she remembers nonprofit leaders handing a business card only to her husband at the end of similar conversations about funding. She also remarks on the noticeable lack of engagement or interest from the male leaders she works with in matters not pertaining to work, as compared to the frequent questions she receives about her children and family and general well-being from many women leaders. This is just one of the reasons, Catto claims, that she finds her foundation increasingly shifting towards partnering with organizations led by a woman. Debra Mesch, a Professor of Philanthropic Studies at University of Indiana, reported in an article that this might be a reason that less information is known about the motivations and experiences of women donors, despite their growing numbers. Finally, Catto offers a few suggestions to leaders who are seeking to end such sexism in the nonprofit world and beyond, including promoting board diversity and more closely monitoring staff behavior with funders to identify and correct possible gender inequities. To read more on this donor’s perspective and ways that your nonprofit can combat implicit bias and change cultural norms that isolate female funders, visit the article linked above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read more about the nonprofits that arose out of the tragedy of WWI and the work they are still doing today, check out this article from the National Council of Nonprofits.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: November 9, 2018

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Interior of the Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, burned on Kristallnacht (Berlin)

DID YOU KNOW? This week marks the 80th anniversary of the devastating Kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass,” sparking powerful acts of remembrance, solidarity, and mourning across the world. On November 9 and November 10, 1938, in a violent attack on Jewish people in Germany and Austria, Nazi paramilitary forces and German civilians torched synagogues and vandalized thousands of Jewish-owned homes, businesses, and schools, killing nearly 100 Jews and causing irreparable damage to countless communities. The name Kristallnacht comes from the millions of shards of shattered glass that fell from storefront windows and homes as the Germans tore across cities, leaving entire Jewish neighborhoods in shambles and tragedy in their wake. While Jews in Germany had been subject to repressive policies for years before this, the horrific incident of Kristallnacht marked a violent shift in Nazi attitudes and would be remembered as a turning point among the devastating events leading up to the Holocaust. Today, many across the world hold ceremonies to remember those who tragically lost their lives on this day. The Jewish Community of Berlin, a public corporation in Germany, has organized a number of memorial events, including a ceremony during which the names all every Jewish person killed during the Holocaust will be read out loud at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. But before finding out what other countries are doing to mourn this infamous day in history, check out these nonprofit headlines.

1. Investing in Your Interns

The past few decades have seen a drastic rise in the number of internship and returnship positions. According to a study conducted by NACE, “80% of college graduates have taken on at least one internship, compared to only 10% 30 years ago.” Yet this increase can mean more than just the latest “fad” to your organization. By taking advantage of this new trend, your nonprofit can form mutually beneficial partnerships and reap the rewards of a group of creative, passionate, and motivated young people who are hungry for experience. The challenge lies in making this experience both helpful to the operational goals of your organization and meaningful for the intern carrying out the work. In an article in the Forbes Nonprofit Council, Pamela Hawley, Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving, offers nonprofits a few tips on how to do just this. First, Hawley urges, make the commitment to use your interns’ capabilities to their full potential. The days of hiring interns to do coffee runs are in the past. Start by identifying your intern’s strengths and how they might promote your business unit goals, set up a project management system, and stay engaged on the project’s progress. Other tips include assigning your interns a “coach,” helping to develop their professional skills, and making time to speak with them about their passions (whether they are related to your organization’s mission or not). While it may seem daunting, by investing time and energy into your interns, you will not only help them along their career paths, but you will also be “creating a community, a circle of goodness and a powerful recruitment channel.” To read more tips on creating a positive and impactful internship experience, check out the link above.

2. Breaking Down Barriers to Volunteering, One Interest Payment at a Time

The student debt crisis in the U.S. has provoked unprecedented concern, as the current total student loan debt is set to reach nearly $1.5 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve. Thus, these days it is not uncommon for recent graduates, strapped with massive student loan debt and incomes that barely support costs of living, to take up “side hustles” in order to help supplement this repayment. A nonprofit called Shared Harvest Fund (SHF) is attempting to steer these graduates away from taking these “side hustle” jobs at popular companies like Uber and Lyft and to instead spend this time volunteering at charitable organizations by providing them with opportunities to receive partial loan repayments in exchange for such work. While the concept of coupling volunteering and student loan debt relief is not necessarily new – popularized by organizations like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps – SHF is making this prospect a reality for busy professionals who may not have the time to commit to a year or multi-year long project. Upon completing certain service projects at organizations partnering with SHF, volunteers will receive a payment from SHF made out directly to their student loan lender, which typically ranges from $250–$1,000 for any given project. As of now, volunteers can earn up to $5,000 a year toward their debt relief, but SHF is hoping to increase this number and expand the organization’s reach in the coming years. To learn more about SHF and how your organization can help tear down possible barriers for your own volunteers, visit the link above.  

3. Nonprofit Leaders Seek State-Level Solutions for Expected Post-Election Gridlock

As the Democrats regained control of the House on Tuesday and split the White House once again, nonprofit leaders were left wondering what this political shift could mean for future legislation affecting the sector. Many, undoubtedly disappointed that more nonprofit advocates did not receive the necessary majorities on election day, are worried that the inevitable and paralyzing gridlock likely to ensue will prevent important legislation from being passed and threaten to cripple the sector’s growth. Still, others are seeing the newly divided government as a “glass half full.” David Thompson, Vice President of Public Policy at the National Council of Nonprofits, expressed that this expected gridlock might not be the worst thing after all, as it will, at the very least, prevent the passage of significant bills posing an immediate harm to the sector. Thompson also claimed to be optimistic that the election results will sway the vote on the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) just enough to issue its repeal. Yet while the extent of the expected gridlock is unclear, many leaders agree that this change will require organizations to form closer relationships with new legislators and public officials at the state and local level. The lack of federal action might indeed necessitate their greater involvement in shaping public policy issues relating to the nonprofit sector. For more information on what Tuesday’s election could mean for future nonprofit legislation, including the recent postal reform legislation that could affect mailing costs for organizations like yours, click the link to the article in the Nonprofit Times above.

4. Getting Creative with Restrictive “Microgrants”

While most grant-seekers would agree that a larger grant equals a larger potential for impact, strategic implementation of even the smallest grants can allow any level of funding to improve your organization’s operations. An article in Nonprofit Quarterly reports on the impact of “microgrants,” or mini-grants of relatively small amounts, urging nonprofits to seek creative ways to maximize the effectiveness of such funding. According to the article, these grants are commonly used to support individuals in community-building projects and to widen the scope of start-up nonprofits. Grants like this can be particularly effective in these scenarios, where a small amount of funding can often result in a significant impact. Whether it be providing an individual with seed money to implement an idea or establishing a small but solid base for an emerging organization by funding its initial administrative spending, when placed and utilized strategically, these grants can go a long way. Ironically, microgrants also often come with the most restrictive conditions on spending and strict reporting requirements. Still, creative nonprofit leaders in a variety of fields have found ways to make these grants count. A program of Winrock International known as the Wallace Center recently launched its Food Systems Leadership Network (FSLN), which strategically employs the microgrants it receives for furthering the professional development of its staff. So, if your organization tends to shy away from applying for smaller grants in fear that their attached requirements might entail more hassle than they’re worth, you might be overlooking potential opportunities for growth in both your operations and your staff. To find out more about microgrants and how other organizations have used them successfully, check out the article above.

5. Frank vs. Gaos: The Delicate Future of Cy Pres Awards

In an article from the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal, Erwin Chemerinsky tells of a recent Supreme Court case that could threaten the future use of cy pres awards in class action suits. “Cy pres,” which comes from the French “cy pres comme possible,” is a term given to awards meant “to come as close as possible to fulfilling the purpose of the class action suit.” In other words, during a class action suit, a court might award a certain portion of a settlement to an organization – often a nonprofit or educational institution – if this furthers the intent of the lawsuit. Frank vs. Gaos was prompted by a class action that gave out such awards in its settlement after Google was sued for reportedly selling information about their browser’s frequently used search terms to businesses. Yet while the settlement of this suit was significant, requiring Google to cover $8.5 million in damages, it would only amount to 4 cents per person if dispersed evenly across all its class members. Thus, the district court approved a cy pres award in this case to institutions focused on securing internet privacy, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld this ruling. Petitioners in Frank vs. Gaos, hoping the court will deem cy pres awards unjustified, claim that such awards violate Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires settlements to be “fair, reasonable and adequate.” They reason that Rule 23 prevents settlements comprised solely of cy pres awards from falling under the discretion of district courts, and that even if they did, there is always inherent bias involved in choosing such recipients. Respondents argue that the courts have done enough to mitigate potential conflicts of interest and ensure that cy pres awards are solely used to further the purpose of the class action. There is also heated debate surrounding what will be done with the money from the settlements should cy pres awards be disallowed in class action suits. Thus, with the future of cy pres awards hanging in the balance, nonprofits and educational institutions might very well be forced to seek out funding that comes from such suits elsewhere. To find out more about Frank vs. Gaos and why your organization might have a stake in the fate of cy pres awards, visit the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read more about the ceremonies taking place across the world to remember the tragic loss of life eighty years ago during Kristallnacht, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s address to a Berlin synagogue, visit this link.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: November 2, 2018

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“ . . . nonprofits not only engaged a younger, more diverse electorate but that they also significantly increased the likelihood of those voters showing up on election day and voting.” (Nonprofit VOTE)

DID YOU KNOW? This Tuesday, November 6, is election day. Corporations and organizations on both sides of the aisle have embarked on massive, often nonpartisan, “get out the vote” (GOTV) campaigns in the hopes of reversing past trends of low voter turnout in midterm elections. According to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, in 2014, voter turnout for the midterms was 34.7 percent, which marks the lowest turnout has been in 70 years. Many nonprofits who have partnered with corporations this year to help encourage and facilitate voting have reported surprisingly high corporate enthusiasm for a midterm election. TurboVote Challenge is one of the many organizations engaging employers to participate and claims that the number of participating corporate partners is more than twice what it was last year. The Washington Post reported that over 135 employers, including Walmart, Farmers Insurance, and Gap Inc., launched a “Time to Vote” campaign in September, “aimed at increasing awareness about what employers can do to allow time for employees to vote.” If your organization has yet to get involved in the nonpartisan GOTV campaigns but wants to, there’s still time! CalNonprofits offers a few ways your organization can help bring people to the polls on Tuesday, including hanging “vote with your mission” posters around your office and community, publicly posting your position on ballot measures, or sharing nonpartisan voting resources online such as Voter’s Edge and CalMatters2018 Voter Guide. For more information on what you can do to encourage your community and supporters to vote, check out this article from CalNonprofits. But first, check out these five nonprofit headlines of the week.

1. Forging Mutually Beneficial Corporate Partnerships

Securing corporate sponsorships can be a daunting task, especially for nonprofits doing so for the very first time. Yet once forged, these partnerships can help your organization gain national attention and significantly increase your donor base. An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy offers a few tips on how to create long-lasting, successful partnerships with national companies that will leave both parties satisfied. Before exploring possible companies to contact, it is important that you are clear about your objectives. Finding a partner whose strengths will compliment and contribute to your goals will only be possible if you have identified exactly what these goals are. Similarly, it will be helpful in your search to focus on companies that share certain values with your organization. Many companies’ social responsibility efforts are focused in certain fields, such as the environment, education, disaster relief, or child advocacy. Thus, identifying companies who are looking to increase their impact in a field similar to yours will help narrow your search and ease the overwhelming task of mass corporate outreach. Other tips to keep in mind during your partnership search include demonstrating how your proposal will support a company’s business goals, offering companies a way to get their employees involved, keeping in regular contact with your corporate sponsor, and encouraging companies to collaborate. To read more about forging corporate partnerships and to learn about how Comic Relief U.S.A. used such partnerships with Walgreens and Mars to publicize the now popular “Red Nose Day” to raise money to fight child poverty, click the link to the article above.

2. Wrapping Up 2018: Year-End Giving Trends and What to Make of Them

As we officially enter November, year-end giving patterns are slowly beginning to unravel. An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy identifies a few patterns to note when crafting your organization’s final fundraising push for 2018. The first prediction stipulates that the significant decrease in megagifts, or donations of $1 million or more, in the first half of 2018 will leave your wealthiest donors with more to give as the year comes to a close. According to a study done by the Chronicle, gifts of $1 million or more in the first half of 2018 amounted to roughly $4.5 billion, more than a $2 billion decrease from these gifts last year. Although it remains to be seen what exactly accounted for this drop, if donors are simply shifting their giving timelines, the end of the year might be a time to capitalize on this disparity. Other predictions suggest that the results of the midterm elections might shift donor priorities. Similar to the “Trump bump” that led to increased support of nonprofits working in civil rights, immigration, and reproductive health following the 2016 presidential elections, this year’s midterms could prove to boost certain sectors depending on the outcome of House, Senate and state elections. Another trend to note is the potential for increased use of bundling, or the practice in which “donors make a big gift one year and skip the next year or two to maximize their tax benefits.” Many predict bundling to increase as a result of the new federal tax rules enacted at the end of last year that double the standard deduction and reduce taxpayer’s incentive to give smaller sums. Other trends to note as the year-end nears suggest that disaster relief will be a top giving priority for donors, and that this year’s stock market volatility is unlikely to significantly affect year-end charitable giving. To read more about 2018’s end of the year giving patterns and how to maximize your fundraising in these last few months, check out the link above.

3. Many in LGBTQ Community Feel Nonprofit Work Environments Are Not Accepting

The inaugural Diversity Among Philanthropy Professionals (DAPP) survey entitled, “The Philanthropic Closet: LGBTQ People in Philanthropy” carried out by Funders for LGBTQ Issues sheds light into the LGBTQ experience in the nonprofit sector – and the results suggest that LGBTQ people do not feel as welcomed at their jobs as one would like to think. According to the survey, which included almost 1,000 individuals from 36 foundations, one in ten LGBTQ repondents reported that they had left a job at a nonprofit because they felt the environment was “not very accepting.” Additionally, the survey found that LGBTQ people working at nonprofits were slightly less likely to be “out of the closet,” or having disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity to most of their colleagues, than those in the corporate sector (although these numbers shift when only considering nonprofits with a social justice or LGBTQ focus). Considering that no federal laws exist that explicitly protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace, and 26 states do not have laws that do this either, it is the job of nonprofits to ensure this protection for its LGBTQ empoyees as it does for all others. An article in the Nonprofit Times suggests a few ways your organization can become more LGBTQ-inclusive. First, make sure that your non-discrimination policies do not just cover broad categories, but rather have explicit language protecting people based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression. Next, consider adding to your general recruitment outreach and conducting specific outreach to LGBTQ communities not only when looking for staff positions, but also board and leadership positions. Other suggestions for creating an LGBTQ-friendly work environment include ensuring that your health insurance policy offers transition healthcare for transgender employees and providing trainings on general cultural competency and LGBTQ issues. To read more about the DAPP survey and what your organization can do to help reverse some of these disturbing statistics, check out the article above.

4. How to Be Issue-Oriented Yet Grounded in Hope

When writing grant proposals, it can be tempting to highlight the darkest part of your work, in the hope that funders will want to allocate the most to those most in need. While this seems logical, reciting only these depressing statistics can leave both you and your funders drowning in the seeming hopelessness of your cause. In an article in the Nonprofit Times, Barbara Floersch, Chief of Training and Curriculum of the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, tells nonprofits that focusing on the negative in grant proposals is a mistake. Floresch encourages nonprofits seeking grants to emphasize the potential for positive change that their approach provides and to offer their funders the exciting and unique chance to be a part of such a change. Unfortunately, this overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by widespread societal problems and disturbing statistics is often prevalent in all nonprofit work, not just one’s grant proposals. The important thing to remember, according to the article, is to stay “grounded in hope.” Being grounded in hope does not mean ignoring the facts or the sometimes dire reality of the situation around you. Rather, it means understanding the facts enough to truly know the problem you face, but to not prioritize them to the point where they overshadow all potential for change, all hope. According to Floersch, “As long as you can get excited about promising approaches and feel joy in the accomplishments of those you are working to assist, you’re grounded in hope.” A logical next step that will hopefully help your organization secure more funding, according to Floersch, is bringing that hope into your grant proposals.  

5. Lessons to Draw as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Draws to a Close

Among many other causes represented in this month, October is designated as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Though October is just ending, it is never too late to start implementing some of the safety measures recommended to organizations during this time to boost your cybersecurity. Not sure why cybersecurity is important or if it even applies to your organization in the first place? An article in BizTech Magazine outlines four reasons nonprofits might want to assess their current cybersecurity practices. First, understanding your specific Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements is essential if financial transactions are occurring on your organization’s server, as this always entails some kind of liability and punishments for noncompliance are hefty. Compliance standards naturally become more complicated as nonprofits become larger and when they use third-party payment processors. Thus, it is essential that you check the PCI of all third-party providers to ensure that your organization is within compliance. Another reason to evaluate your organization’s risk management and cybersecurity status is to protect donor information and maintain donor trust. Having high cybersecurity ratings on your organization’s website signals to donors that you did everything possible to protect their credit card information and other personal data. An overload in visitors could also cause your website to crash, potentially causing significant damage if your organization relies solely on its website for donor and community outreach. Finally, the magazine suggests you invest time in cybersecurity plans to establish a foundation for future technology updates that might require heightened security to fully access. To learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, click here. To learn more about why you should be concerned about your cybersecurity, visit the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To learn more about next week’s election and what your nonprofit can do to help get out the vote, check out this article from Nonprofit Quarterly.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: October 26, 2018

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Celebration of United Nations Day 2016 at UNIS Hanoi


DID YOU KNOW?  This week marked the 73rd anniversary of the official creation of the United Nations (UN) through the ratification of the UN Charter on October 24th, 1945. This day has been celebrated as UN Day since 1948. In 1971, the UN General Assembly declared it an international holiday and recommended that it also be observed as a public holiday by member states, hoping that this day will help spread awareness of the mission and achievements of the UN worldwide. Every year, the organization sponsors several events to call attention to this day of commemoration. One of these events is an evening concert in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York. The theme of this year’s concert is “Traditions of Peace and Non-Violence” and features Ustad Amjad Ali Khan with his two sons as well as the Refugee Orchestra Project, conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya. A photo exhibition to celebrate the day has also been installed in the UN Headquarters lobby and will remain there until November. Entitled “People on the Move,” the photographs challenge their audience to consider the struggles and humanity of the millions of migrants and refugees across the world over the last 70 years. It depicts personal stories to encourage viewers to think about these migrants’ individual struggles rather than simply their role as part of a daunting statistic. But before learning more about UN Day and planning your celebrations for next year, check out these nonprofit headlines of the week.

1. Financial Literacy on Your Board

The financial literacy of your board members is crucial to maintain your organization’s fiscal integrity. Having board members who do not understand the organization’s finance puts you at risk of dangerous miscommunication and even potential mismanagement of funds. An article from Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ) tells of an instance of alleged embezzlement by a board member of the Springboro Clearcreek Baseball Association and warns nonprofits of the dangers of failing to ensure the financial literacy of its board members. While it is unrealistic and typically undesirable to have a board made up entirely of certified public accountants (CPAs), “every board member must be engaged in the organization’s financial processes, and be confident and comfortable enough to thoroughly review financial information, and especially to ask questions.” Relaying this financial information will undoubtedly take time – time that most nonprofit leadership teams do not necessarily have. So, if a similar body does not already exist, your organization might want to consider creating a finance committee to help maintain this financial literacy and transparency among your board members. If nothing else, the creation of this group will ensure that financial processes are being overseen by multiple bodies, rather than the one trusted CPA on your board. While the composition and function of your committee might be limited depending on the portion of your staff and budget you can realistically allocate to it, adding any kind of financial oversight certainly can’t hurt. To access more resources to help you improve the financial security and oversight of your nonprofit, take a look at the list of research papers and webinars compiled by NPQ in the article above.

2. Resistance to E-Filing: Why Some Nonprofits Still Prefer to File the Old-Fashioned Way

In an age where paper forms have become nearly obsolete, it might be shocking to hear that some nonprofits still choose to file their tax returns the old-fashioned way. According to data published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “one third of tax-exempt organizations that file commonly used annual forms choose to submit paper forms.” The IRS reported that of the 990 and 990-EZ forms filed in 2017, only 68 percent were filed electronically.  Many have criticized nonprofits who opt out of the online filing option, claiming that they are making it much harder to accumulate and analyze data to better understand the sector. Filing electronically, according to these critics, also helps grant-makers and general donors decide where to direct funds, allows nonprofit leaders to compare their finances with others, and makes it far easier for law enforcement and regulators to identify suspicious transactions. Nonprofits who defend their continued use of the paper forms cite different reasons for their resistance to electronic methods. Some, including the Conrad Hilton Foundation, claim they have been late to adopt this new filing method simply because the IRS has yet to require them to do so. This might not always be the case, however, as the House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would gradually incorporate an electronic filing requirement, with similar legislation in the works in the Senate. Others argue that the electronic form is far more restrictive in terms of the amount and content nonprofits can provide, and that the online forms are far from user-friendly. And it’s not just small charities who are rejecting online filing options. Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund and the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund are among the many larger-scale charities still submitting paper forms. To find out more about why paper forms remain popular among nonprofits more than a decade after the IRS introduced the option of e-filing, check out the link above.

3. Debunking the Overhead Myth: How to Advocate for Your Organization’s Needs

Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes struggle to find funding and secure grants to carry out their services. Far more difficult, however, is convincing donors to provide funding for strictly administrative or overhead costs like insurance, salaries, and rent. An emphasis on charity rating systems in the last few decades has made securing such funding that much trickier. Although clearly well intended, these rating systems have put pressure on nonprofits to minimize overhead costs and report ever higher percentages of funding allocated for programs. According to an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, donors now expect nonprofits to spend at least 80 percent of revenue directly on program implementation. Therefore, many organizations, try to avoid directly asking for overhead costs funding altogether, worried that “charity watchdog” groups will be quick to label them as misusing funds. A survey published by the Nonprofit Finance Fund in 2015 showed that “only 31 percent of fundraisers said they felt they could talk to donors about the need for general operating support.” Yet obtaining such backing might be a key step in improving your organization’s infrastructure and reach. The question, therefore, is not whether you should seek out this funding, but how to approach the conversation to see the best results. Kathleen Enright, President of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, tells nonprofits that foundations are more likely to fund general operating costs when they are linked to initiatives of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and when organizations have made personal ties with the communities they serve. Other strategies to build the trust of your funders and procure donations for overhead costs include providing them with detailed reports of your operating spending, or holding quarterly one-on-one meetings to discuss your organization’s spending and its needs. Yet opening up this dialogue with your donors is only the first step. Your donors will also likely have to change their own attitudes on the necessity of overhead costs if we hope to reverse this “overhead myth.” According to Belen Vargas, the Senior Vice President of the Weingart Foundation,“the burden is on the foundations to create an environment for the organizations to feel safe to share their greatest needs and priorities.” For more tips on how to advocate for overhead cost funding for your nonprofit, visit the article linked above.

4. How to Improve (or Create) an Effective Executive Team

While the use of executive teams in the for-profit sector has been much more thoroughly explored, these teams in the nonprofit sector are often underutilized. In fact, according to a recent Bridgespan group diagnostic survey, “only 19 percent [of the 362 executive team members surveyed] strongly agreed that their team focuses on the right work.” An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review examines the potential of executive teams and offers strategies to help nonprofits increase their effectiveness. An executive team, or a group of “senior leaders who work together to chart the organization’s direction and keep it on track toward its goals,” differs from groups of senior managers who meet periodically with CEOs to hear reports of recent decisions and report on day-to-day operations. An executive team functions as one entity rather than heads of different departments, helping to advise the CEO and shape decisions that will affect the entire organization. While the composition of an executive team will certainly depend on the size, budget, and capabilities of a nonprofit, the effective development of any such team will require the active participation of the organization's CEO. According to the article, the involvement of a CEO is only one factor to consider to guide the development of your executive team. Other factors include ensuring that the team is focused on the most interdependent issues of your organization with the highest stakes, and making sure the team composition is simple enough to be manageable. To find out more about what you can do to create a successful executive team that serves as an asset rather than a burden to your organization, check out the link above.

5. Building Cultural Bridges to Promote Global Collaboration

Organizations have long been struggling to effectively share their messages across borders in an increasingly globalized world. Nonprofits are no exception. In an article from the Forbes Nonprofit Council, James Da Costa, Head of Partnerships and Innovations at China Africa Tech Initiative (CAT-I), offers a few helpful tips on how organizations can work through cultural barriers to collaborate with groups around the world and achieve shared objectives. One such tip emphasizes the importance of not only acknowledging and celebrating differences, but also of looking for common ground. Finding similarities, no matter how nuanced or seemingly irrelevant, will help your organization build cultural bridges to develop a strategy requiring neither collaborator to veer too far from typical operating practices. Da Costa uses the Chinese concept of “guanxi,” or “relationships,” to illustrate this suggestion, claiming that the incorporation of guanxi into business is extremely important in Chinese and many African cultures. Another tip urges nonprofits to consider the value of face-to-face interaction. While it can often be difficult to find time to meet even with those in your immediate office space (let alone those in different time zones), making time for a voice or video call is essential when working with a diverse range of cultures. Solely communicating by email poses the risk of messages getting lost in translation, either due to varying cultural interpretations, physical language barriers, or lack of any detectable tone. In his work with CAT-I, Da Costa claims that only by “combining our personal narrative with our fact-based achievements,” was his team able to gain the trust of stakeholders. So, in order to convince stakeholders that such collaboration is possible, make sure to provide factual instances where your collaborative efforts have led to success, but do not be afraid to share your personal connections to these efforts. For more tips on how to effectively collaborate across cultural and geographical lines, check out the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To learn more about United Nations Day and what people are doing around the world to celebrate, visit this link to the UN website.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: October 19, 2018

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Street Art Featuring Peter Norman (left), Tommy Smith (center), and John Carlos (right)

DID YOU KNOW? Fifty years ago this week, in October of 1968, two athletes raised their fists in protest of racial discrimination and segregation in the United States on one of the largest international stages: the podium of the Olympic Games. Once the 200-meter running event had concluded, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, having won gold and bronze medals respectively, stood shoeless on the podium and turned to the American flag to listen to the Star-Spangled Banner. As the anthem played, Smith and Carlos each slowly raised a black-gloved fist in the air and kept them up for the remainder of the song. These athletes likely had no idea that this silent act of protest would create one of the most iconic images of their time. The photographs taken of this moment were instantly sent to newspapers and appeared on front pages across the world. Yet the consequences of such a defiant act were nearly as immediate. According to a report from ABC Australia following the event, the two athletes were suspended from their team and asked to leave both the Olympic Village in Mexico City and the country within hours of the ceremony. The International Olympic Committee, whose President, Avery Brundage, made no objections to the Nazi salutes of the Berlin Olympics, deemed this act unsuitable for an apolitical international organization. What fewer people know is that the third person on the podium, Peter Norman of Australia, who shocked the world by earning the silver medal in this race, also participated in this protest, although more subtly. All three athletes proudly wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on their chests to symbolize their solidarity. When Norman passed away in 2006, Smith and Carlos took the trip across the world to Australia to be pallbearers at his funeral. But before reading more about the moment that further popularized the Black Power symbol, check out these nonprofit headlines of the week.

1. Why Stewardship Matters: A Message From Philanthropists

During a discussion at the annual International Conference of American Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), Darlene Marcos Shiley, President of the Shiley Foundation, urged the audience to think about “what makes a philanthropist tick.” Shiley and her late husband Donald, who amassed their fortune through the development of a heart valve, have given millions of dollars through their foundation over the years to organizations focused primarily on healthcare, education, and the arts. Shiley, who said the couple’s decisions about large donations were typically made at the dinner table, practiced “total engagement” following her foundation’s charitable gifts. She often chats with students at colleges or universities to which she has donated and has gotten to know those at Public Broadcasting personally enough to grant her the witty nickname, “Duchess of Downton.” Thus, Shiley advises nonprofits not to be afraid of getting personal. Do not be afraid of reaching out to donors who have already written a check in fear that they will be bothered by your request for further engagement. Donors, especially long-time givers, want to get to know your organization in a deeper, non-monetary fashion, and will likely welcome further communication that has nothing to do with their checkbook. Your stewardship should not end after the last thank-you card is sent. Shiley also advises nonprofits to set wish list goals high, as you never know what item or service for which you are asking funding will evoke a personal response from a large-scale donor like herself and prompt a donation. Finally, although developing personal connections and directly showing your donors your impact will undoubtedly help donor retention, Shiley reminds nonprofits that philanthropists often feel pressure to switch it up. So, if a donor does not return one year, it might be no fault of your stewardship strategy. To read about Shiley’s address and how your organization can put impact and stewardship at the forefront of your fundraising efforts, click the link to the article above.

2. The Right Way to Work from Your Living Room

The last decade has seen a sharp increase in telecommuting, or employees who work at least part of the time from home. According to Global Workforce Analytics, the amount of people working from home has increased by 140% since 2005. Those in the nonprofit sector, always eager to minimize costs of rent, energy, and general office space maintenance, have happily joined this movement. Yet this trend has also raised concerns about ergonomic safety in makeshift home office spaces. Far too many telecommuters work in environments that are convenient yet ergonomically irresponsible due to their potential to lead to chronic negative health effects. One of the most significant examples of such risks is tied to computer use. An article from the Forbes Nonprofit Council explains how “computer-based work can cause chronic shoulder, wrist, neck or other types of musculoskeletal disorders due to overuse or unsafe ergonomic practices.” Another potential hazard of remote work is the tendency to remain sedentary and not take breaks from one’s work or computer screen when there is a lack of environmental stimuli. Thus, done in poorly designed environments and without adequate training, increased telecommuting among employees could prove more costly than beneficial to your organization. The article gives nonprofits a few tips on ensuring healthy ergonomic practices for their employees who work from home. These tips include, among others, investing in a supportive chair, steering clear of distracting locations, locating your desk away from windows to escape sun glare, and placing one’s computer monitor at arms length and eye level to avoid “posture-related discomfort.” Taking these steps to promote ergonomic safety in employees’ homes will allow your organization to reap far more benefits than simply lowered rent costs. Telecommuting also helps reduce carbon emissions by taking commuters off the road and allows organizations to hire the most qualified candidates regardless of their permanent geographical locations or reluctance to relocate. To read more tips on how to help your telecommuter employees create safe and healthy work environments at home, check out the link above.

3. Cost-Effective Solutions to Promoting Professional Development

With typically less spare time and far smaller budgets, nonprofits often find it more difficult to prioritize their employees’ professional development than their for-profit counterparts. Yet promoting professional development does not need to mean paying for an expensive conference space and hosting an in-depth training. It can mean as little as setting aside one hour a month to grab coffee with your employees to discuss upcoming projects and strategies, giving your employees some coveted “face-time” with your organization’s leaders at little to no cost to you. An article in the Nonprofit Times outlines a few manageable and affordable approaches to creating time for training and development amidst a hectic schedule. One approach encourages nonprofits to look for community leaders with unique career paths and ask them to speak to your team in an informal environment after work hours. Another suggests organizing a mentorship program in which new hires are matched with a more experienced employee to not only help acclimate new employees to their environment, but also to answer questions about their professional path. Yet another strategy for professional development on a budget recommends creating a set of audio-trainings that employees could access at a local library. You could also look into apps that record similar trainings that employees could access at home from their phones. Other strategies for squeezing opportunities for professional development into your busy schedule include: hosting a quick training during a casual quarterly potluck; engaging your employees by making meetings and trainings more interactive; making projects more collaborative to encourage the exchange of strategies amongst employees; or tapping into your employees’ competitive nature and holding an incentivized contest to encourage the hunt for creative solutions. While providing these opportunities for professional development might seem daunting given most nonprofits’ limitations on time and resources, taking a few hours out of your calendar every month to try one of these strategies will lead to a more productive and engaged team and prepare your employees to tackle more complicated projects. For more suggestions on how to train employees on a budget and why doing so even matters, check out the link above.

4. Getting Your Organization “In the Cloud”

This week, at Blackbaud’s annual “bbcon 2018 Conference,” Blackbaud and Microsoft announced that they are combining forces to create what they call Nonprofit Resource Management (NRM), a digital resource management suite designed specifically for nonprofit use. NRM represents the “first resource management solution designed specifically for unique needs of nonprofits and the patterns and practices of resource distribution,” as well as the first suite created jointly by these two companies. According to Jay Odell, President and General Manager of Blackbaud Nonprofit Solutions, this resource will prove especially useful for nonprofits working in relief and aid, as the proper measurement and distribution of physical goods tends to be particularly important for achieving these organizations’ missions. One of the companies’ motivations behind NRM’s development was the lack of resource management tools available that address the unique challenges faced by the nonprofit sector. Without such resources, many organizations are forced to rely on “cumbersome spreadsheets, homegrown solutions, or antiquated tools to track inventory management on gifts-in-kind and goods distribution,” which in turn can lead to “lost time, wasted resources, vulnerability to fraud, and underutilized human and physical capital.” Another goal was to create an industry model to allow nonprofits to easily exchange information and assess impact. The more nonprofits use NRM, the easier it will be to identify effective practices across the board. Justin Spelhaug, General Manager of Microsoft Tech for Social Impact, uses an example of 29 nonprofits working at one refugee camp to demonstrate that if each nonprofit working in a specific location has its own system and understanding of service delivery, there is no way to easily identify which services have the greatest impact. NRM would change this, according to Spelhaug. While the NRM suite is still in development, its first capability set, Good Distribution, will launch next summer and will reportedly be followed shortly by others. To learn more about NRM and how Blackbaud and Microsoft’s Integrated Cloud Initiative for Nonprofits might serve as an asset to your organization, check out the link above.

5. Collecting Data That is “Just-Right”

In a joint opinion piece, Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean Karlan, authors of “The Goldilocks Challenge: Right-Fit Evidence for the Social Sector," warn nonprofits that focusing solely on impact can lead to a dangerous disregard for collecting the data that really matters. They claim that while studying impact can be valuable, it can sometimes put too much weight on results observed at one particular time in one particular place rather than analyzing them as parts of a larger puzzle. Gugerty and Karlan urge nonprofits to take on this “Goldilocks Challenge,” or the pursuit of a data collection strategy that is not too big nor too small. Your organization should strive to gather data that is not all-encompassing and thus irrelevant to what you hope to accomplish, yet also not too specific and insufficient to be of practical use. In order to find a data collection strategy that is “just-right” for your organization, begin by asking yourself if your data is credible, actionable, responsible, and transportable. According to Gugerty and Karlan, if your answer to all of these is “yes,” you are well on your way to smart, efficient, and effective data collection. When ensuring the credibility of your data, it is important to include a control measure of “what would have happened,” in order to measure accurately the impact of a new operational strategy. To assess whether data is actionable and thus worth pursuing, ask yourself if the data in question will change your plan of action and if you even have the resources required to implement this action. To deem if the potential data is responsible, make sure the costs of its collection outweigh both real costs and opportunity costs, or what you could have accomplished with the resources/time used to collect such data. Finally,  making sure to collect transportable data means to pursue data that will create insights that are applicable to other programs and to be willing to share your findings with others. Doing these assessments will help your organization avoid collecting data for the sake of collecting it and will instead allow you to use your data to make effective adjustments. To find out more about the “Goldilocks Challenge” and why a one-dimensional focus on impact might be problematic, check out the article linked above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To learn more about the moment of protest at the 1968 Olympics and why this bold act made international headlines still discussed fifty years later, check out this article from National Public Radio.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: October 12, 2018

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Indigenous People’s Day Celebrations in Berkeley, CA

DID YOU KNOW? The long-celebrated “Columbus Day” is becoming more commonly recognized across the country as “Indigenous People’s Day.” Columbus day, often assumed to be an age-old holiday, was actually first celebrated relatively recently in the history of the United States. While Christopher Columbus may have landed in the Americas in the fifteenth century, the first Columbus Day was not officially recognized in the U.S. as a federal holiday until 1937, long after the country’s independence. According to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, the official recognition of the holiday was due in large part to intense lobbying from newly politically powerful Italian Americans. Today, however, many have taken issue with the dedication of a day to a historic figure who owned and tortured slaves and incited mass genocide of Native American populations. “For us, the bottom line is Columbus Day is just a celebration of genocide,” said Roberto Borrero, the president of the United Confederation of Taíno People, a group from the Caribbean – 85 percent of whom died in the early sixteenth century due to conquest violence and disease. This recent pushback against the celebration of Columbus Day made way for the emergence of “Indigenous People’s Day,” which began to gain popularity in the early 1990s. The City of Berkeley, California, declared Indigenous People’s Day a holiday as early as 1992, appropriately on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Bahamas. This day, which aims to replace Columbus Day on the second Monday of October, has been officially recognized by four states (Minnesota, Vermont, Alaska, and South Dakota), sixty cities, and many other institutions as of last year. This year, several more cities, including Los Angeles, made the switch as well. But before planning your organization’s Indigenous People’s Day celebrations for 2019, check out these nonprofit headlines from the week.

1. (Dis)Trustworthy

An article in Nonprofit Quarterly identifies public distrust in charity as a possible contributor to the recent decline in household giving. A similar trend in public distrust is gaining attention in the United Kingdom (UK). Tina Wendy Stowell, a leader in the House of Lords and the new Chair of the UK’s Charity Commission, is attempting to combat this distrust in the hopes of strengthening the nonprofit sector in the country. In a speech given this week, Stowell emphasized the Commission’s role in holding charities accountable to the public interest in order to inspire and maintain trust. According to Robert Booth, Social Affairs Correspondent of The Guardian, Stowell warns charities that they need to invest in gaining their communities’ trust now more than ever if they hope to sustain giving rates, since they “no longer enjoy a monopoly on people’s altruistic impulses, with crowdfunding, peer-to-peer apps and social enterprises offering competition.” With more opportunities than ever to give, your organization might need to consider increasing the transparency of your operations and finances to inspire the trust of your supporters and ensure donor retention. Avoiding extravagance and unnecessary spending, gathering feedback from supporters, and making access to financial information more accessible to the public will make your nonprofit stand out from social enterprises competing for your donors. While many assume the recent decline in number of charitable donations to be a result of the new tax reform policies on charitable deduction, others suggest that declining public trust in the nonprofit sector could be playing a larger role than we think. To find out more about what the U.K. is doing to reverse this trend and what we can learn from this, click the link above.

2. Are You Prepared for a Potential Board Transition?

Most leaders know that a well-run board can be critical to an organization’s success. But what if, either due to an ending term limit or unforeseen circumstances, a board member must leave his/her position? Even an organization with the most dedicated, experienced, and effective board can run into trouble when a board member has to step down for one reason or another, especially if there is no succession process in place. While sudden vacancies do occur, you are probably more likely to face a board transition due to the end of a member’s term. Establishing set term limits for your board members will allow your nonprofit to find board members that believe in your mission and will make positive contributions to your charity. A post from the National Council of Nonprofits encourages organizations to establish such a process to ensure board transitions are seamless and produce the most qualified replacements. After identifying potential new board members, the next and slightly more challenging step is actually recruiting them. To cultivate and test out new board members to ensure they will be a fit for your organization, try inviting them first to serve in other volunteer positions. This will not only allow you to assess the potential member’s capabilities and commitment, but also for him/her to get acquainted with your mission and your leadership style. Once you have determined that someone is a fit, begin by outlining clear expectations for the position so that there is no confusion about the time commitment required after the new member accepts. Even your most qualified candidates are unlikely to be successful if they do not have the time to devote to your cause. For more information on the board transition process and what your organization could be doing now to effectively recruit qualified candidates in the future, check out the link above.

3. CA Signs Bill to Put More Women on Boards

Speaking of board compositions. California recently became the first state to mandate that at least one woman serve on the board of directors of publicly traded companies.  Signed by Governor Jerry Brown just this week, the bill requires public companies with executive offices located in the state to adhere to the law by the end of next year. According to the bill, the minimum number of women on a board is slightly higher for organizations with over five and over seven members, who will need to maintain a board with at least two women and three women respectively. Yet while the bill enjoyed significant support, many are now claiming it is both an unfair expectation and legally questionable. According to an article from National Public Radio (NPR), California's Chamber of Commerce and 29 other business organizations have come out in opposition of the bill on the grounds that it does not take into account other types of diversity and it attempts, unconstitutionally, to “manage the directors of companies that are incorporated in another state.” Regardless of whether the new law withstands challenges, many in the nonprofit sector have recently spoken out about the benefits of having women serving on an organization’s board of directors. An article published last week in Nonprofit Quarterly lists the results of a survey done by the Hampton-Alexander Review that asked firms about their lack of women board members. Among the “ten worst reasons” they reported in the survey were comments like: “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”; “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”; and “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.” Many might react to such statements from corporate leaders with disbelief that anyone in the nonprofit sector would respond in a similar way; yet, gender disparities in board compositions do not only exist in the for-profit world. While women served on 43 percent of nonprofit boards in 2015, this percentage drops to 33 percent when looking at organizations with revenues of $25 million or more. So, before pointing the finger at the for-profit sector, take a good look at female representation on your boards and join the movement begun in CA to fight this gender disparity. To read more about CA SB826 and why some are already fighting its implementation, take a look at the article from NPR linked above. To read more of the “ten worst reasons” some claim that women are “not suitable” for board membership and how the nonprofit sector can set an example in changing such perceptions, check out this article from Nonprofit Quarterly.

4.  Digital Assets: The Latest (and Riskiest) Way to Give

More and more larger charities have begun accepting digital assets as donations – often in the form of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Silicon Valley Community Foundation, one of the country’s largest charities reportedly held a third of its $13.5 billion investments in digital assets, according to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly. This trend has in part been attributed to the increased proportion of giving being done by a small group of wealthy donors, who typically hold more digital assets than smaller-scale donors. Yet while the giving of digital assets has been taking place for many years now, a recent hike in the giving of cryptocurrency specifically – after the IRS decision in 2014 that equated digital currency to a form of investment property – has brought unprecedented risk to the situation. Digital currency can prove extremely volatile. The bitcoin crash of early 2018, for instance, came as a shock to most, who had been watching the currency rise by 1,318 percent against the US dollar in 2017. In fact, The Conversation reported that “some charities that received massive cryptocurrency donations in 2017 may not have been able to convert them into regular money before they lost much of their value the next year.” Yet the volatility of these assets is not the only risk they post to nonprofits. Exchanges that hold these cryptocurrency investments are also in danger of being hacked, and regulators still face widespread compliance problems. So, if your organization is considering dealing with digital assets, proceed with caution. Take extra care to determine your donations’ risk-adjusted returns to determine if your organization is capable of taking on such a risk. Still, as the development of cryptocurrencies is relatively new, we will likely need to wait and see exactly how the government chooses to regulate such currency before calculating the exact risk it will carry for the nonprofit sector. To find out more about risks involved in accepting and managing cryptocurrency as donations, take a look at the link above.

5. ‘Tis the Season

As the holiday season approaches, your organization might want to consider establishing a Fall email marketing campaign to capitalize on end-of-the-year patterns of increased giving. According to online fundraising platform Classy, around 34% of all charitable giving is done between October and December. Clearly there is strong reason to invest in greater communication efforts toward the end of the year. But before unpacking the decorations just yet, take a minute to look into what has and has not been successful in certain campaigns so as not to repeat the mistakes of failed past endeavors. Classy recently published a list of holiday “dos and don’ts” for end-of-the-year nonprofit marketing strategies. Among other “dos,” it suggests that nonprofits increase the frequency of their requests for donations toward the end of the year to attract donors seeking to make their tax-deductible gifts before December 31st. It also encourages nonprofits to deliver hyper-targeted emails that segment personalized messages into categories based on last donation size, last donation date, volunteer status, and more. Another “do” advises nonprofits to split donor categories and test certain email variables (i.e. different subject lines, donate button placement, type of visual content), changing only one variable at a time and adjusting email styles based on the data you receive. Just as important as what to include in your Fall giving campaign is what not to include. Classy warns organizations not to give vague calls to action or send emails with average, unnoticeable subject lines, in order to have the best possible chance of standing out in inboxes that are likely jam-packed with dozens of other end-of-the-year requests for donations. It also urges nonprofits not to forget to analyze “open and click through rates” so as not to continue hounding those who have already given or potential donors that haven’t opened your emails in weeks. Finally, it suggests that organizations make sure to optimize emails for the “small screen” so that donors who are on the go can easily read your messages – and even donate – from their mobile devices. To find out more “dos” and “don’ts” of holiday marketing and why a successful holiday campaign might significantly improve your year-end fundraising, visit the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To learn more about the history of Columbus Day and the newly recognized Indigenous People’s Day, check out this article.

Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to info@b-alaw.com. See you next week!

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