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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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FRIDAY FIVE: October 5, 2018

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JOHN D. AND CATHERINE T. MACARTHUR FOUNDATION

DID YOU KNOW? The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently released the twenty-five winners of its coveted MacArthur Fellows Program, commonly referred to as the MacArthur “Genius Grant.” Every year, the Foundation, whose mission is to “support creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world,” names a list of innovators from all walks of life that have shown exceptional creativity and dedication in their field. A good portion of this year’s winners have significant ties to the nonprofit world. Becca Heller, co-founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project and practicing human rights lawyer, is just one such winner. Heller’s work in immigration was nationally recognized when she helped organize a “pro-bono brigade” of lawyers travelling to airports to help defend immigrants and fight back against the Trump Administration’s travel ban. Another winner of the grant, Vijay Gupta of Los Angeles, is both a violinist and social justice advocate who plays music to build connections with people who are incarcerated or homeless. Other winners of this prestigious award include an epidemiologist turned HIV/AIDS activist and a pastor from North Carolina who hosts weekly civil disobedience rallies. This year’s winners also include a composer, an analytical chemist, a playwright, a filmmaker, and an investigative journalist. Each MacArthur Fellow will receive a $625,000 stipend paid out over five years that can be used for any purpose. But before calculating just how much change you could create with that stipend and taking a deeper look at the inspiring lives of the remaining fellows, check out these nonprofit headlines of the week!

1. Using Technology to Make This Year’s Giving Tuesday Count

Is your organization ready for Giving Tuesday? “Giving Tuesday,” founded by by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in 2012, is November 27th this year and is a day that promotes charitable giving through social media campaigns and other nonprofit outreach efforts. Last year alone, the Giving Tuesday campaign helped raise over $300 million for organizations of all shapes and sizes. So, as the most popular philanthropic day of the year quickly approaches, it might be time for your organization to make a concrete plan to maximize fundraising. An article in BizTech Magazine outlines a few tips for using technology to make the most of your Giving Tuesday. It advises organizations to begin by ensuring their websites are donor friendly, easy to locate, and customized with specific information about their causes and impact stories. Nonprofits should also ensure their servers are equipped to handle greater than normal traffic on that day due to the high volume of donors that may be browsing your site. If you think your site is at risk of being overloaded, it might be wise to look into load-balancing software tools that can re-route traffic to available servers in order to ensure a responsive website on that day. Another tip encourages nonprofits to use several methods of donor outreach (i.e. social media, blogs, email, PR campaign, etc.) leading up to Giving Tuesday, and to start such outreach at least a week prior. Nonprofits should also keep in mind that the best strategies do not end on Giving Tuesday; following up with and thanking supporters who donate on Giving Tuesday is essential when looking to build longer-term donor relationships for successful Giving Tuesdays in coming years. To read more tips on how to effectively use technology during what could be your organization’s most important day of the year, check out the article linked above.

2. Considering Impact in Risk Management Strategies

An article in the Nonprofit Times warns nonprofits that while there is no single, correct way to create an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program, its effective implementation will help your organization proactively address risks so as to be prepared when crises occur. The success of your ERM program will not only mean “utilizing a comprehensive, structured methodology, informed by the experience of others, to identify, evaluate, report and mitigate key risks to your organization,” but also outlining the impact of each potential risk. Yet when it comes to actually forming your ERM program, not everyone might be on the same page. While your organization’s management might be able to easily identify the greatest risks you might face, not every department will necessarily weigh the impact of each risk the same. Those working in finance might not deem the impact of negative press coverage nearly as significant as those on your communications team, while those working in marketing might not even see the impacts of inaccurate financial data. The key, according to the article, is acknowledging the multi-faceted nature of these impacts and dividing them into categories in order to best understand their significance. Such categories include: strategic, financial, operational, reputational, environmental, technology, and legal. One risk might have impacts in all of these categories, while others could apply to hardly any. To find out more about ERM programs and why an analysis of impact is so crucial, click the link above.

3. New Donor Trends Renew Cry for Universal Charitable Deduction

An article in Nonprofit Quarterly identifies an alarming trend in charitable giving. It reports that while charitable giving is at an all-time high, fewer people are donating. Thus, higher-level donors are writing even bigger checks and making up an even more significant portion of overall giving. This trend could be due in large part to the new tax regulation, which raised the standard deduction for individuals to $12,000 and therefore gives only wealthier donors the ability to itemize. The article claims that now more than ever, we are in need of a “decisive, equity-based tax agenda to reverse this antidemocratic tax measure” and to re-diversify donations. Many are concerned that if we do not re-diversify, the current trend will hurt small, local organizations who previously relied on smaller donations from many contributors, most of whom can no longer itemize their deductions. Others claim that wealthier donors tend to support large-scale organizations that do not necessarily serve local needs, which, if this trend in giving is accurate, will lead to an even greater deficiency in resources for local communities. Many nonprofits have begun advocating for the universal charitable deduction – also known as a “non-itemizer” or “above-the-line” deduction. Currently, only two states, Colorado and Minnesota, have any kind of incentive for taxpayers that cannot itemize their deductions; however, bills proposed this year to expand these incentives by removing giving thresholds failed in both states. To see what your nonprofit can do to support policy-makers and the one hundred plus organizations that make up the Charitable Giving Coalition in lobbying for a universal charitable deduction, visit the link above.

4. Chapter Success = Organizational Success

National nonprofits that have several local chapters face a complex set of obstacles when it comes to furthering organization success. Colleen Ennis and Robert King Novara, Account Managers for the online-fundraising platform Classy, lay out several steps you can take to ensure you are maintaining a healthy and productive relationship with your organization’s chapters. The first, according to Ennis, is to recognize and appreciate the diversity and subjectivity of each of your chapters. Do not flood your chapters with resources and toolkits that do not pertain to their individual communities, as this might serve to confuse chapters succeeding in areas where extra resources are still being provided from nationals. Since this is surely no easy task for someone already attempting to run a national branch, you might consider assigning a separate team to analyze your chapters and allocate resources accordingly. Other suggestions for how to empower your chapters to succeed include promoting idea sharing among chapters and opening up a transparent line of communication through which someone at nationals can somehow always be reached by your chapters. Finally, they suggest that while you encourage subjectivity among chapters, your organization is still careful to present a single brand to the public so as not to create confusion or appear disorganized or decentralized. You can do this by creating an updated and easily-accessible logo of your organization as well as creating uniform copies of handbooks, toolkits, etc. to post on your shared online resources. While all these tactics, and many more, are important in maintaining the support and success of your chapters, according to Ennis and Novara, it all essentially comes down to trust. Even if you follow all of the above steps, if you do not have people at your local chapters whom you trust to follow the mission of your organization and who trust you to provide them with adequate resources to do so, tense relations might ensue. To read more tips on how to build trustworthy and mutually beneficial relationships with organizational chapters, visit the link above.

5. Using Friendly Competition and Volunteer Recognition to Build Community

To most, “knighting” one’s volunteers might seem quite out of the ordinary, but one organization has used this spirited way of recognition to help foster meaningful connections with its supporters. Being honored at a knighting ceremony as “Knights of the Bald Table” is just one of the many ways St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research, uses recognition and friendly competition to more deeply engage its community. Those running the foundation’s peer-to-peer fundraising efforts promote such competition when organizing events in which participants receive donations in return for shaving their heads – a showing of solidarity with children undergoing chemotherapy treatment. On the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s website, a "Top of the Charts" page lists the top raising events, teams, and individuals, and includes links to individual fundraising pages where browsers can read more about why or for whom each person is competing. According to Kathleen Ruddy, the Foundation’s Executive Director, competitors vie for a top spot on this list every year, and those who do not make it are still able to set up their own one-on-one challenges and display the winners online. St. Baldrick’s acknowledges volunteers of three or more years by inducting them into the “League of Legendary Heroes.” Longtime volunteers of seven-plus years are recognized at a “knighting ceremony,” mentioned above, during one of the Foundation’s head-shaving events. Finding unique ways to show appreciation for your volunteers and evoke their competitive side might help your organization build lasting connections with your volunteers and keep them coming back for another year. To read more about St. Baldrick’s Foundation and how you can use similar, lively strategies to engage your volunteers, visit the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To find out more about the winners of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship, check out this article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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: September 28, 2018

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Tibetan Postcards For Sale

DID YOU KNOW? This week, Hostelling International kicked off its first ever “Peace Postcard Project,” a postcard-writing campaign in which people from across the globe are encouraged to tell the United Nations (UN) how traveling to a new place changed how they see the world. With more than 4,000 nonprofit hostels in over 80 countries, Hostelling International based this project in its belief that travel has the unique ability to change people’s minds and build bridges that might lead to lasting conflict resolution and peace. By sending these postcards, Hostelling International hopes to cause a disruption that forces the UN and the rest of the world to recognize the importance of traveling in helping to promote tolerance and understanding that cannot be taught, but rather is experienced. On the day the project launched, travelers could participate by attending and creating postcards at “Peace Postcard Parties,” held at hostels in nearly 30 countries on the International Day of Peace on September 21, or by staying home and sending a postcard from the website or posting one on Twitter with the appropriate hashtag. According to organizers from Hostelling International, the project was expected to create about 10,000 pieces of mail for the UN – to cause a disruption they could not ignore. To find out more about this postcard-writing campaign and why organizers from Hostelling International think something as simple as buying a plane ticket is a step towards peace, check out this article from Forbes Magazine.

1. The Persistence of Unequal Pay: Why Some Nonprofits Might Be Part of the Problem

A recent study from GuideStar, a nonprofit information service, shows that the “gender gap” in pay persists in most nonprofits, but appears most glaring in those with significantly larger annual budgets. In recent years, nonprofits with budgets of over $50 million have made little progress in closing the gender pay gap, which was reported as 21 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2016. One reason for this enduring discrepancy in pay is the difference in rising compensation rates for male and female nonprofit CEOs. According to the study, CEO compensations at these larger nonprofits rose 4.9 percent for women and 8.9 percent for men in 2016. Holly Ivel, the Director of Data Services at GuideStar, said that while this gap remains significant among nonprofits in the highest budget brackets, small and midsize organizations are making larger strides in the right direction. In fact, the study reports that in 2016, at nonprofits with budgets between $2.5 million and $25 million, in general, women received larger pay increases than men. Another noteworthy trend presented in the study shows a noticeable growth in human resources and information-technology jobs as an organization moves into higher budget brackets, with sharper increases in these jobs in organizations with budgets of more than $1 million. So, while both men and women entering the nonprofit world will face increased opportunity in certain employment sectors, no nonprofit is automatically immune to the pervasive pattern of unequal pay. Though many, particularly smaller-scale nonprofits, are undoubtedly moving in the right direction. To find out more about the gender pay gap in nonprofits and other findings in the report published by GuideStar, take a look at the article above.

2. Study Shows Great Lack of Confidence in Retirement Savings Among Nonprofit Employees

In its 2018 Nonprofit Survey, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) reported that only 11 percent of nonprofit employees feel confident that they are saving enough for their retirement. Around half of respondents in the survey, which in total included 1,004 nonprofit employees and 502 nonprofit managers from a variety of ages and backgrounds, claimed that salaries and benefits are worse at nonprofits than in the for-profit sector.  A majority of respondents cited the rising cost of healthcare as a major concern in regards to retirement saving. While the future of healthcare and social security funding in the U.S. remains relatively uncertain in a changing political climate, nonprofits may need to consider doing more to ensure the future financial security of their employees if they hope to keep the field attractive and competitive. As the third largest employment sector in the country whose wage total of $638 billion was topped only by those of manufacturing and professional services in 2016, the nonprofit sector represents not only a significant portion of the economy, but also a major influence on perceptions of retirement planning. If the study shows an accurate sample and only around one-tenth of nonprofit employees are confident in their retirement savings, organizations should take note. Even if funding is limited, your organization may want to consider taking steps to boost this confidence by holding informational sessions on retirement planning or opening up dialogue with your employees so as to not shy away from the issue. To learn more about the other findings from the TIAA survey, check out the link above.

3. Overhead vs. Waste: Changing the Conversation of Nonprofit Financial Management

In an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, Keenan Wellar, the Co-Founder and Director of Communications at LiveWorkPlay.ca, is just one of many nonprofit researchers challenging the belief that overhead is synonymous with waste in the nonprofit sector. According to Wellar, the narrative of nonprofits “wasting money on overhead costs” has become much more prevalent with the rise of charity rating systems over the last ten years or so. In findings published in a recent edition of Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Jason Coupet actually reports observing a negative correlation between an organization’s overhead rate and its efficiency. Coupet claims that the overhead ratio is a poor indicator of efficiency because it not only fails to take into account what an organization is actually doing with its resources on the ground, but also ignores what it is able to accomplish with its non-overhead spending. By using this and other one-dimensional financial measurements as a means of assessing a nonprofit’s efficiency, charity rating systems like Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance risk misleading donors by underestimating what these organizations are able to achieve. When we fixate on low overhead costs as the primary or only measurement of success, we perpetuate what the Stanford Social Innovation Review has dubbed “The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.” By doing so, “we starve charities of the freedom they need to best serve the people and communities they are trying to serve,” according to a letter published by Nonprofit Quarterly. So, if your organization has ever been discouraged by the “overhead myth” that all overhead costs are inherently harmful, or felt pressured to under-report when asked to convey overhead costs, do not be frustrated because you are likely not alone. With more and more research emerging showing the importance of investing your surpluses in overhead to ensure the future stability of your organization, the narrative might very well be shifting. To read more about the overhead debate and why some think that donors are looking for more detailed transparency regarding decisions on expenditures and investments, check out the article above.

4. How Thoughtful Posting Can Bring Real Results

In a post published by the Forbes Nonprofit Council, Austin Gallagher outlines a brief guide to help nonprofit leaders boost their organizations’ brands on social media. Gallagher, CEO of Beneath the Waves, an environmental nonprofit focused on finding solutions to the planet’s most pressing marine conservation issues, has been able to accumulate supporters, further professional relationships, and bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding and in-kind donations for his organization, all via a strong social media presence. Having done all of this without a formal PR team, Gallagher shares a few tips on how to best maintain a positive but limited social media presence in order to best spread your message and connect with your supporters. Among other things, he advises leaders to be cautious of over-sharing victories, focus on quality by paring down posts to no more than a couple per week, diversifying content, refrain from complaining or speaking negatively of critics, and most importantly, demonstrate your passion for what you do. Gallagher wisely tells leaders to “treat social media as a way to communicate your passion and motivation to move forward and make the world a better place.” After all, he says, this is what most of your supporters (or followers) will connect with the most. Long story short, social media is your friend. Deliberate and engaging posts can bring your organization quantifiable benefits in terms of funding, corporate sponsorships, increased awareness, and other important partnerships that you might never have found otherwise. To learn more about what posting, and not posting, on social media platforms might mean for the growth of your organization, check out the link to the Forbes Nonprofit Council above.

5. The Fatality of Fraud: Why Accusations Prove Annoying for Some and Lethal for Others

While an accusation of fraudulent activity can significantly damage anyone’s reputation, reports of fraud in the nonprofit world, whether accurate or not, are often followed by an organization’s swift and permanent demise. Yet fraud does not haunt all of these organizations equally. In an article published in April by Nonprofit Management and Leadership, researchers took a look at 115 nonprofits who had all been the recipients of very public allegations of fraud. Of the organizations studied, a quarter of them shut their doors within three years of the time the alleged fraud was committed, and the vast majority of these closures occurred among smaller and newer nonprofits. Researchers from the study cite several reasons for this, including, among others, a lack of structure in newer nonprofits and the inability of smaller nonprofits to recover from financial crises from which their larger and much deeper-pocketed counterparts are often able to bounce back far more easily. But size and age were not the only two relevant variables that impacted the likelihood of these closures. Among other factors, the study showed that if the fraud was committed against the public rather than the organization itself, the nonprofit was far more likely to shut down. Still, if your organization is on the smaller or younger side and you are worried about increased rates of fraud in nonprofits similarly sized, there are a few safeguarding steps you can take. Ruth McCambridge, Editor in Chief of Nonprofit Quarterly, says that one such step is creating and maintaining a board unafraid to ask tough questions when it comes to your organization’s financials, and making sure everyone on your board is aware of how to properly monitor funding. To learn more about what makes instances of fraud so deadly to nonprofits and what you can do to prevent your organization from ever facing that challenge, click the link to the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To find out more about Hostelling International’s creative strategy to create peace and tolerance across the globe, check out this article from Forbes Magazine.

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: September 21, 2018

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Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon

DID YOU KNOW? Jeff Bezos is dipping his toes in the philanthropic world. In an announcement made just this week, Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, made his largest monetary commitment to nonprofits to date. In his statement, Bezos pledged $2 billion to the creation of new nonprofit preschools that will serve low-income communities and to funding for existing nonprofits that fight homelessness. The new project, entitled Bezos Day One Families Fund, will set up “a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.” The commitment, while praised by many, has received criticism for its size, ambiguity, and timing, among other things. According to Bloomberg, Bezos, with an estimated net worth of $164 billion, recently became the wealthiest man in the world. Some are hesitant to commend a donation that represents such a small fraction of Bezos’s wealth, claiming that he could do more. Others are asking questions to clarify the exact classification of the new organization. In his announcement, Bezos did not specify whether the Day One Fund would operate as a foundation, donor-advised fund, nonprofit, or a limited liability corporation (LLC). Still, aside from such criticism, some have applauded Bezos’s pledge and believe it to be just the beginning of a long commitment to nonprofits and social responsibility. Leslie Lenkowsky, Senior Counselor to the Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, counters critics who claim that the size of Bezos’s commitment is insufficient, citing that it might be more successful to start with a pledge that is smaller in quantity but more manageable. To find out more about the CEO’s foray into the nonprofit world, why many are already critical and confused, and what Bezos is doing differently from his billionaire counterparts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, check out this article in the Nonprofit Times. But first, check out these five nonprofit headlines of the week.

1. Picture This: Using Photography to Connect With Your Entire Audience

A picture is worth a thousand words. For your nonprofit, it might also be worth a few more volunteers. In a recent effort to attract a more diverse volunteer and donor base, the Sierra Club organized a series of photo shoots featuring Latinos taking part in the organization’s activities. The first of such photo shoots, held in Puerto Rico this past summer, showed Latinos of all ages participating in nature cleanups, protests, and other outdoor activities. A major focus of the shoot was maintaining authenticity – to produce pictures of real people doing real things because they really care, rather than simply hiring a more diverse group of models to stand in the outdoors. In the shoot, posing was limited and the photographer focused on facial expressions and individual interactions within the shots rather than on the landscape itself. According to Elena Reglero, the Sierra Club’s Director of Membership Development, for-profit marketing teams in the corporate world launched similar campaigns in the 1980s to include more Latinos in advertisements in attempts to attract a more diverse audience of consumers. The nonprofit world, however, hasn’t quite caught up. Diversifying the subjects of your nonprofit’s public images – whether they be on your website, social media, or in brochures – may help the diverse community in which you work identify more strongly with your cause. What’s worse, outdated photos that do not accurately represent your volunteer base might end up pushing potential supporters away. To learn more about the Sierra Club’s efforts and how you can use photographs to communicate with your supporters, visit the link above.

2. Accessing Affordable Childcare in a Wage-Depressed World

An article in Nonprofit Quarterly takes a deeper look into the concerning irony of childcare workers who are unable to afford basic early-stage childcare for their own children. Unlike lawyers and doctors, who typically have little trouble paying for their own legal or medical needs, childcare providers work in a field that generally provides fewer benefits, hours, and lower wages, making it much harder for them to afford childcare. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, high quality early childcare and education provide several “long-term cost savings for society as a whole, including a lower prison population.” By estimating the long-term savings, Heckman argues it would be a good investment to significantly increase public funding for these sectors in order to pay childcare providers a living wage. He claims only then will we begin to provide affordable, quality childcare. It is unfair and unwise to ask nonprofits to fill the gap; like childcare workers themselves, the nonprofit world cannot afford this burden. In an article published in 2016, Nonprofit Quarterly tells its readers that the nonprofit world has long operated within similar “wage-ghettos,” unable to both pay workers a living wage and carry out essential services. To find out more about other wage-depressed fields and what economists are saying nonprofits should and should not be doing to find solutions, click the link above.

3. Text Messaging as the Latest (and Easiest) Fundraising Tool for Your Nonprofit

Texting is no longer just used for the occasional “Hey” or “Happy Birthday!” According to an article in the Nonprofit Times, in recent years, text messaging has been used by more and more nonprofits as a popular tool for fundraising. During the Nonprofit Technology Network’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference, held this year in New Orleans, a session titled “Can You Really Raise Money Through Text Messages?” gave panelists from nonprofits who had been using this tool the opportunity to share their recommendations. One of the panelists was Luz Hernandez, the online campaign manager for Food & Water Watch. Among other helpful hints, Hernandez stressed the importance of humanizing the messages so they do not sound automated, and responding to text messages within a 24-hour period. Other important panelist tips listed in the article include sending a link to a donation page in the initial text, using source codes, limiting messages to one text, introducing your nonprofit, and removing recipients who cannot accept MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) when sending pictures, videos, or GIFs. If your nonprofit hopes to utilize texting as a fundraising tool, start by ensuring that all websites and web forms are accessible and easy to use via mobile phone. Then construct a brief but powerful message and get to texting! To learn more about the Nonprofit Technology Conference and get more tips for raising money via text messaging, click the link to the article above.

4. California Assembly Bill 2252

Last week, thanks to the continued advocacy of many California nonprofits, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2252, which will create an online portal to help nonprofits learn about their eligibility for certain state funding opportunities. This portal will not only enable nonprofits to locate major potential grants from a searchable database, but will also allow them to apply for grant funding directly. This will help streamline the complicated process of applying for grants. Securing funding from the State of California can often be especially difficult, as each government department and agency posts grant opportunities in different formats and in different places on their websites. Assemblymember Monique Limón, author of the bill and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector, cites the importance of this bill in making access to funding opportunities public knowledge. Before AB 2252 was signed, no such statewide public database for grants available to nonprofits existed. CalNonprofits, a sponsor of the bill, is hopeful that, among other things, the bill will address the growing funding disparities seen in nonprofit communities throughout the state. To learn more about AB 2252 and the funding opportunities that could become available to your nonprofit as a result of its passing, visit the link to the CalNonprofits website above.

5. Supreme Court to Require 501(c)(4)s to Disclose Identities of Certain Political Donors

This week, the Nonprofit Times reported that after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a temporary stay on an appellate court decision on Tuesday, nonprofits that make partisan political ads will have to disclose the identities of certain donors. Specifically, this new ruling will demand disclosures from nonprofits of all their contributors who gave over $200 in one year if their ads explicitly tell viewers who they should vote for in a political election. Those in the nonprofit world were quick to comment on this pivotal decision. Tim Delaney, CEO of the National Council on Nonprofits, told the magazine that the impact of this decision would be far-reaching. He did specify, however, that the new ruling will only apply Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, not to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, which are subject to strict limitations on partisan political activity. Many, including Allison Grayson, Director of Policy Development and Analysis at Independent Sector, are asking that the FEC immediately clarify certain provisions of the decision to minimize confusion and non-compliance. Limits on political activity of nonprofits, such as those spelled out in the Johnson Amendment, have long been debated. Grayson claims that this new decision is only a symptom of a much broader problem stemming from the conflicting rules governing a nonprofit’s political activity, and organizations will likely need help navigating this new territory. Check out the link above to find out how your nonprofit might be affected by these new rules and learn more about the original case – between parties Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) and Crossroads GPS – that sparked these changes.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To find out what nonprofits and others are saying about Jeff Bezos’s new Day One Fund, 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: September 14, 2018

Design of The Ocean Cleanup’s Deployment System

DID YOU KNOW? The largest beach cleanup in history is now underway – and this one will involve a whole lot more than a few concerned community members with sticks and trash bags. Once a pipe-dream of 18-year-old Dutch inventor and founder of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat, in 2013, the attempted massive cleanup of the 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating in the Pacific will now become a reality. Ocean Cleanup, Slat’s nonprofit carrying out the ambitious project, operates with a mission of developing “advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic." Their target this time is an enormous vortex of trash located in in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii known as the Pacific Garbage Patch, which now covers around 1.6 million square kilometers and can be easily seen from space. Using a “floating boom system,” the organization aims to remove 150,000 pounds of plastic per year, which would put the team on track to clear half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the first five years. While currently undergoing testing and set to be towed out in mid-October, the system’s capabilities remain somewhat uncertain, as its technologies have yet to be tested in the open ocean. Still, with no comparable deployable cleanup systems, this might be our best and only option. To learn more about Ocean Cleanup, its plan, and its partnerships with other environmental groups and tech billionaires like Marc Benioff, check out the article from Forbes Magazine here. But before learning about the technology involved in the cleanup, check out these five nonprofit headlines of the week.

1. Outcome or Result? Why Your Words Matter

Even the most seasoned writers would agree that using words like goal and objective interchangeably would get a similar point across. Yet for grant-writers seeking to score some cash, the difference between the two words could very well mean a loss of thousands of dollars in crucial funding. Barbara Floersch, the chief of training and curriculum at The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, claims that “the terms vision, goal, objective, outcome, result, and impact mean different things to different grantmakers.” Though some specifics of grant proposals, she says, are counted across the board. Regardless of the particular language in a proposal, funders will generally always need to see an idea of what you hope to accomplish with the funding and what would be the long-term impact of these accomplishments on your organization’s growth. Thus, if you are unsure what one funder’s definitions of certain terms are, by focusing on concepts rather than language in your writing, you might be able to get away with using the “wrong” word every now and again. And if you believe you will absolutely need a clearer definition of certain language to write a successful and cohesive proposal, just ask for it! Most funders would be happy to clarify. If for some reason you still find yourself stuck, take a look at Floersch’s “hierarchy of concepts,” designed to help nonprofits deconstruct ambiguous language and prioritize certain concepts in proposals. To read this four-point “hierarchy” and more, check out the article from the Nonprofit Times linked above.

2.  The Future of Pharmaceuticals

Most salary negotiations in the pharmaceutical world would likely consist of potential hires shooting higher than they would accept and ending up with an agreeable compromise. Martin Van Trieste, new CEO of the recently-formed nonprofit pharmaceutical company Civica Rx, adopted a slightly different strategy. Van Trieste has agreed to head the organization on a few conditions, one of which is that he will not be paid. With public trust in pharmaceutical companies quickly plummeting, several nonprofit pharmaceutical companies have emerged with the mission of combating skyrocketing generic drug prices and providing patients with affordable alternatives to essential medications. With nearly a third of the country’s hospitals having “either expressed interest or committed to participate in Civica Rx,” it seems apparent that the substantial lack of affordable health services has become a crisis recognized nationwide. Now, nonprofits like Civica Rx and Harm Reduction Therapeutics are seeking to fill this gap. Several philanthropic organizations have also jumped on board Civica’s mission, some pledging as much as $10 million dollars upfront to kickstart the company’s efforts. Yet, while these nonprofits have claimed a steadfast commitment to transparency, with trust in pharma companies at an all-time low, they face hurdles ahead. It may very well take a bold step like that of Van Trieste’s refusal to take a salary or the company’s creation of such a large coalition of healthcare organizations to ensure the skeptical public that they do indeed come in peace. So, if your organization is having trouble gaining public support, it might be time for a daring display of trustworthiness. To read more about the rise of nonprofit pharmaceuticals, their ambitious goals, and why they might have a bumpy road ahead, check out the article above.

3. Being Blunt: The Ongoing Battle to Increase Diversity in Your Nonprofit

Recent studies suggest that progress on increasing diversity within the nonprofit sector might not be as far along as we thought. Yet most in the field, including eight members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council who sat down to discuss the issue, agree that it remains a priority. Among the suggestions from these members on how to effectively approach the topic of diversity, Ronald Tompkins from 82nd Street Academics suggests “destroying the silence.” Rather than tip-toeing around the topic at a half-silent conference table while eyes are glued to the floor, Tompkins encourages nonprofits to be a bit more blunt. Candidly discussing how to make your employees look more like the community you serve will not only help the topic become less taboo, but could also lead to more successful hires, according to Tompkins. Indeed, while it is important to consider the value of diversity for diversity’s sake, your organization’s promotion of diversity in gender, class, race, and age, among others, will also help business. Kimberely Lewis, another member of the council, claims studies have shown that “companies with women in positions of leadership score high on levels of productivity.” Other suggestions from the council include recruiting from universities that promote diversity and focussing on maintaining an environment of inclusiveness after the hiring process is done. For more tips on how your organization can be  more than a bystander in the movement towards increased nonprofit diversity, check out the article above.

4. Being a 501(c)(3) . . . and Keeping it That Way

Before celebrating earning your official status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, it might be wise to first understand what is required to maintain this status. Any threat to your 501(c)(3) status is a threat to the survival of your organization, and thus cannot be taken lightly. A report from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center identifies rules that nonprofits must follow in order to maintain their tax-exempt status in six key areas, including private benefit/inurement, lobbying, private political activity, reporting obligations, and more. Due to violations of provisions in these categories, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revokes the status of over one-hundred 501(c)(3) organizations every year. Not all of these instances involve obvious, intentional refusals to abide by widely-known IRS requirements of say, for example, not endorsing political candidates for public office on behalf of your organization. Some may be more subtle, and are often even accidental. Among many other violations, the generation of undeclared unrelated business income (UBI), or a failure to file either Form 990, Form 990- EZ, or submit online electronic notice Form 990-N to renew your organization’s status with the IRS, might all result in a revocation of tax-exempt status. Looking to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of these mistakes and ensure the renewal of your 501(c)(3) status? Easy. Familiarize yourself with current guidelines and stay updated as they change. To get more information on avoiding activities that might threaten your 501(c)(3) status, click on the article from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center above. To sign up to receive periodic updates of Exempt Organization issues that might affect your organization, visit www.irs.gov.

5. Maintaining Innovation in Collaboration

Small-scale nonprofits know all too well the challenges of spreading their message to a broad audience. Yet, also quite familiar with the practice of collaboration, many smaller nonprofits have vast experience in pooling resources from organizations with similar missions to tackle more sizable projects. Recently, we have seen this trend exemplified in the nonprofit media model. According to a an article in The Conversation, a nonprofit news source, the modern nonprofit media model in the U.S. is a surprisingly recent phenomenon, having only really taken off ten or so years ago. Lately, these outlets have started working with both nonprofit and for-profit newsrooms with the belief that by joining forces, “they can inform bigger audiences about the problems like corruption, environmental dangers and abusive business practices.” Challenging the common conception of cutthroat journalists hiding sources and withholding information, these news outlets are voluntarily and happily sharing coverage of stories to help increase both content quality and viewership. Some such newsrooms have grown rapidly, such as the Institute for Nonprofit News which grew from 27 to 100 publishers in less than a decade. Critics of the trend remained concerned that this sharing model might stifle innovation, since smaller publishers would likely have to cover stories that more closely resemble mainstream news articles in order to get enough viewers. So, if your organization is looking to collaborate to expand its audience, you are not alone. Just be sure to not leave your unique perspectives at the door in the process. For more information on these nonprofit newsrooms and how they are navigating collaboration, check out the article from the San Francisco Chronicle above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To learn more about the complex technology involved in The Ocean Cleanup’s deployment system, 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: September 7, 2018

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DID YOU KNOW? After decades of debate and intense lobbying, California will soon become the first state to abolish cash bail. “Cash bail,” or a monetary sum posted to avoid jail time for qualifying suspects awaiting trial, has been condemned by many in California who claim that it discriminates against those who cannot afford to buy their freedom, and statistically, people of color. California Governor Jerry Brown has adamantly opposed the practice of cash bail for years, citing again, that it has created a biased criminal justice system in which those of lower socioeconomic status face a harsher punishment for committing similar crimes as wealthier suspects. However, while many expected the bill to enjoy overwhelming support from progressive nonprofits and criminal justice reform advocates, several organizations have come out in harsh opposition to the bill. Once an original co-sponsor of the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently withdrew its support, claiming that the bill in its final form gives judges far too much discretion in choosing their rationale for releasing suspects or keeping them in custody. Thus, many argue, the elimination of cash bail would only lead to more arbitrary decisions in judicial proceedings and perpetuate or even deepen class and racial discrimination in court sentencing. Other nonprofits such as Human Rights Watch and Silicon Valley De-Bug have since joined the ACLU in their resistance to the bill citing similar reasons. The bill, entitled the “California Money Bail Reform Act,” is set to go into effect in October of 2019. To find out more about why nonprofits and advocacy groups with similar missions have found themselves on different sides of this debate, check out the article from National Public Radio linked here. But before doing that, let’s take a look at these five nonprofit headlines of the week!


1. YouTube to Test Fundraising Tool for Qualifying 501(c)(3)s

Following in the footsteps of other major online platforms seeking to promote charitable giving on their sites, YouTube recently launched a beta test of its own fundraising tool, “YouTube Giving.” The tool’s “fundraising” element, one of the four features of the new launch, will allow video creators and qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to embed a fundraising campaign on the same page as their videos, allowing viewers to donate to their favorite causes directly on the site. While little information is available regarding processing fees that nonprofits may need to pay to access these new features in the future, YouTube has pledged to cover all transaction fees at least until the tool’s trial period has ended. Other features of this tool include “community fundraisers,” in which qualifying parties can co-host and co-manage drives, and “campaign matching,” which, once released, would allow users of this feature to receive matching pledges to boost their efforts and maybe prompt more hesitant viewers to donate. To find out how your nonprofit can join organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Hope For Paws in testing out YouTube’s new streamlined donation tool, visit the link above.

2. Why a Tax Code Remodel Might Also Mean a Remodel for Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy

One of the major provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a tax reform bill presented to Congress in 2017 and generally supported by congressional republicans and the Trump administration, might force nonprofits to significantly redesign strategies of donor acquisition and retention. Besides reducing general tax rates for qualifying businesses and individuals, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will create a “higher standard deduction,” making it less attractive for taxpayers to make charitable donations. Under this act, the threshold to qualify for these deductions will nearly double for both individuals and married couples, increasing from $6,350 to $12,000 and from $12,700 to $24,000 respectively. Members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council have compiled a short list of strategies to help your nonprofit soften the blow that this new tax reform could have on your fundraising. Among other things, members suggest publicizing the need for non-monetary donations of time, talent, and resources to retain donors that might be newly unable or unwilling to give without the ability to take charitable deductions come tax season. Still, not all members of the council seem as convinced that this tax reform will significantly impact nonprofit fundraising. Blake Pang of United Ways claimed that strong personal relationships, especially with an organization’s major donors, might prove more important than the lack of a tax write-off when a donor is deciding whether or not to give. To find out the rest of these tips and learn how this act might indeed affect your organization, click the link above.

3. Data Security: From Trendy to Necessity  

As standards for website security rise across fields, your nonprofit might face higher expectations for protecting your organization’s data. An article published by the National Council for Nonprofits urges nonprofits to stay informed on heightened data security standards, specifically regarding the Google’s Chrome web browser’s new policy of flagging all websites not using an “HTTPS security standard” as “not secure.” Previously considered a security “bonus” for nonprofits seeking to ensure its donors that their data would be protected, HTTPS has now become the norm, and any website not abiding by this standard is sure to stand out to its viewers. While not meeting the HTTPS standard does not necessarily mean that your nonprofit’s website is indeed insecure and vulnerable to online data breaches, being labeled as such might shift your potential donors’ perceptions just enough for them to hesitate when visiting your site. Even if your organization does not ask for or store donor information online, switching to the HTTPS standard can still help your site come up sooner in Google searches of your organization. To learn more about how ensuring data security may benefit your nonprofit and how to update your website to meet new security standards, check out the article from the National Council for Nonprofits above.

4. Recent Data Suggests Nonprofit Sector Is An Economic Force to be Reckoned With

When most of us think of the influence of nonprofits, we think of the positive impact they have on the lives of their clients. Somewhat less publicized, however, is the nonprofit sector’s significant role in shaping the country’s economy. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data showing that between 2007 and 2016, job growth in the nonprofit sector outpaced the for-profit sector by more than 3 to 1. Preceded only by retail trade and manufacturing, the nonprofit sector represents the third largest private workforce in all U.S. industries. Nonprofits have also generated a significant portion of wages across the country, exceeding income produced by the manufacturing industry in nearly half of all fifty states in 2016. Such data suggests that nonprofits are playing an increasingly critical part in determining the future of employment trends in the U.S. While some recent changes to national policy, such as the tax reform that increases thresholds for charitable deductions mentioned above, have created setbacks for nonprofits, the field’s widespread success in employment growth persists. To see a far more detailed report on this recent growth and more data outlining nonprofits’ contributions to the economy, check out the article published by the Johns Hopkins University and its Center for Civil Society Studies in the link above.

5. A Second Act in the Nonprofit World

In recent years, more and more corporations have designed programs for their employees to spend part of their paid work time volunteering at local nonprofits. Some, however, are looking even farther into the future. Through its “CLIF CORPS Re-Ternship” program, Clif Bar, an organic food and drink company based in Emeryville, California, has created an 18-month paid internship for several of its nearly retired employees designed to teach them the ins and outs of nonprofit work. The hope of the program is that these employees will find their “post-Clif Bar place in the world,” and have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a position in the nonprofit sector during their retirement. Before the introduction of the “re-ternship” program, Clif Bar already conducted a widespread employee volunteer program, with more than 90% of its employees participating in some type of volunteer work on company time in the last year alone. Thus, the re-ternship program represented a logical next step in expanding the company’s commitment to social responsibility. Many have argued that millennials are starting to change the ways of the philanthropic world, but who is to say that retirees won’t be next? To read more about the CLIF CORPS Re-Ternship Program and find out how your nonprofit can recruit its next employees from a qualified and diverse pool of retirees, check out the article in Forbes Magazine linked above.

 

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To learn more about the ACLU's reasoning for opposing California's recent bill to abolish cash bail, check out this interview with the deputy national political director of the ACLU, Udi Ofer. 


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: August 31, 2018

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Hurricane Lane, as seen from the International Space Station

DID YOU KNOW? Hurricane season is officially upon us. According to the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans see the largest number of hurricanes between August and October. These violent storms, or “tropical cyclones,” are caused by changing heat and pressure patterns over the equator and have brought destruction and devastation to populations across the globe. 2017 turned out to have an exceptionally active and disastrous season, with 17 named storms – 10 classified as hurricanes. Among these storms were Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which hit landfall in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico respectively and killed dozens of people in their paths. Marking a catastrophic end to a 12-year run of no major hurricanes making landfall on the continental United States, these storms left no shortage of need. As their aftermaths brought dangerous flooding, shortages of food and water, lack of power, and billions of dollars in damages, emergency responders, city officials and nonprofit organizations were left with a massive job with few resources at their disposal. In fact, the sheer number of charities working in these areas encouraged many organizations to design systems to help donors direct their money to best support disaster-relief efforts. To learn more about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s predictions for this year’s hurricane season, you can click here. But before doing that, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the week. 

1. Why Nonprofits May Need to Rethink Their Dependency on Postal Premiums

A new proposal from the United States Postal Service (USPS) could hike shipping costs for nonprofits using mailing premiums to acquire and renew donors. If passed, the provision would no longer allow organizations to classify its mail as Marketing, or “Standard,” Mail, unless all its content is limited to paper-based material. This means that in order to send pieces of mail containing so much as a paper clip, organizations will have to use other USPS rates such as Priority Mail or Parcel Select. Cheryl Keedy from the Harrington Agency, a fundraising consultancy that works with many nonprofits, predicted that under the new proposal, organizations might see their postal fees double. Among other rationales, the USPS is proposing the change in the hope of improving tracking services and reducing operating inefficiencies. The USPS is waiting to decide on the proposal until further feedback has been collected. To find out how you can make your voice heard before a decision is made that might affect your organization, visit the link above. 

2. From Band-Aids to Solutions: Understanding Intersectionality as a Key to Effective Decision-Making

The recent emergence of an expanding homeless encampment in Minneapolis has sparked partnerships between the city’s government, American Indian communities, and local nonprofits, all trying to alleviate the city’s escalating rate of homelessness. The residents at the camp, largely American Indians, have faced outbreaks of infectious diseases and many have expressed concerns for the safety of women. The American Indian Community Development Corporation, just one of the many nonprofits involved in efforts to eliminate the camp and house its residents, has set up hygienic service areas with toilets and showers throughout the encampment. By working with American Indian leaders and acknowledging the increased rates of homelessness among people of color, officials in Minneapolis serve as an important example of how governments and nonprofits will have to go about addressing overlapping disparities. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, as the issue of homelessness grows increasingly dire across the country, a recognition of the role that intersectionality plays in homelessness will become essential in making lasting change. To learn more about the efforts in Minneapolis and how intersectionality might help determine the direction and mission of your nonprofit, check out the article above.

3. Using Nonpartisan Political Engagement to Your Advantage

As nonpartisan organizations who serve populations in need regardless of their members’ political allegiance, many nonprofits opt out of participating in political events of any kind. Some such events, however, might provide your nonprofit with a unique opportunity to engage members of your community, raise awareness, and maybe even to inspire future champions of your cause. National Voter Registration Day, a day on which organizations like yours can join others to ensure everyone in your community is exercising the right to vote, has registered an impressive 1.6 million Americans since its inception in 2012. No experience with voter registration drives? No problem. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, if your nonprofit chooses to participate, you will receive informational resources to help you run and publicize your event. Regardless of political affiliation, your nonprofit can use this day to highlight the importance of civic engagement. To learn about other ways in which your organization can take part in this year’s National Voter Registration Day on September 25th, check out the link above. 

4. Charity or Advocacy?: Being Apolitical in a Hyper-politicized World

Speaking of politics. According to an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Johnson Amendment might be looking at a remodel. The infamous amendment, which prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations from participating in or interfering with any political campaign on behalf of a candidate for public office, has surfaced with increasing frequency in recent debates regarding the role of nonprofits in society. Those wishing to modify the amendment claim that some of today’s most significant nonprofit organizations got their start in advocacy work for deeply political issues, and the amendment was only proposed in fear that their increasing influence might dangerously offset an administration’s power. Proponents of the amendment argue it was proposed to protect tax-exempt agencies from the corruption and bias of the world of politics. If this were the case, however, the creation of 501(c)(4) organizations has largely defeated the amendment’s original purpose. Unlike their “apolitical” counterparts, 501(c)(4) organizations are not restricted by the limitations established by the Johnson Amendment. Thus, many modern 501(c)(3)s have created their own 501(c)(4)s to carry out the very political work they are prohibited from doing themselves. In today’s hyper-politicized and hyper-polarized environment, it might prove difficult for nonprofits to find their place in society – especially with 501(c)(4)s continuing to blur the lines between aid and advocacy. To read a more comprehensive history of the Johnson Amendment and see how it continues to change the nonprofit narrative, visit the link above. 

5. Boosting Morale to Boost Your Results

Often left without the possibility of using monetary incentives, many nonprofit leaders must be creative when determining how to best motivate their employees. Studies have shown that organizations, whether nonprofit or for-profit, typically see a decline in employee performance as the end of the year approaches. Representing organizations across the country, nine members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council have compiled a list of tips for nonprofits to keep their employees engaged and motivated even through this end-of-the-year slump. One member, Tom Van Winkle of the Hinsdale Humane Society, suggests that leaders revisit the feasibility of initial goals a few months into the year, in case recent developments have rendered any unattainable. Other tips include introducing friendly competition, renewing a sense of ownership of projects in your employees, engaging stakeholders and sponsors, and increasing the frequency of your projects’ benchmarks and assessments. To find out other tips for maintaining a motivated staff through the summer and the holidays, click the link above. 

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To find out how your nonprofit can take steps to prepare for natural disasters during peak hurricane season, check out these tips from BizTech Magazine. 

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: August 24, 2018

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Hetch Hetchy Valley, Yosemite National Park

"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.” –John Muir

 

DID YOU KNOW? If you have ever drunk from the tap in the San Francisco Bay Area, you have probably tasted the water from California’s breathtaking Hetch Hetchy Valley. Located in the northwest section of Yosemite National Park, the colossal man-made reservoir at Hetch Hetchy holds 117 billion gallons of water and provides nearly 2.4 million Bay Area residents with clean drinking water. Yet the construction of the O'Shaughnessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy, which controls the flow of the Tuolumne River and formed this massive reservoir, was far from smooth. The proposal to build a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley was met with an outcry of opposition from preservationist groups, led by environmental activist John Muir, who worried that the dam would artificially disrupt existing ecosystems and argued that the area should be left in peace. Supporters of the project claimed that the dam was a necessary solution to San Francisco’s growing number of water and power shortages, perpetuated by the devastating earthquake in 1906. Although the dam was eventually built, the controversy surrounding the Hetch Hetchy Valley marked a pivotal moment in the preservationist movement in the United States and raised awareness that would lead to countless more environmental campaigns. Today, many environmental nonprofit organizations, like the Sierra Club, have used the battle over Hetch Hetchy as motivation for dam-removal campaigns across the nation. According to the Sierra Club, more than 850 dams have been removed from rivers in the U.S. since 1999. But before taking your position in this complex environmental justice debate, let’s take a look at these five nonprofit headlines from the week.

1. Making Your Birthday Count

Hate getting gifts on your birthday? Try giving them instead. Facebook has recently introduced a feature through which users can celebrate their birthdays by crowdfunding for the organization of their choice. Anyone that can view their profile can then donate to their friends’ favorite causes without ever having to leave the site. Plus, Facebook will even take care of the processing fees. While some claim this new feature is nothing more than Zuckerberg’s latest publicity stunt, few can argue with its effectiveness. Since announcing this birthday fundraising tool just last year, Facebook has claimed to help its users raise over $300 million in donations to the nonprofits of their choice. In other attempts to become more “nonprofit friendly” and boost crowdfunding efforts on its platform, Facebook has also helped facilitate matching gifts and ways for users to collaborate on fundraisers to increase the scope of their supporters. To find out how your nonprofit can join Golden State Warriors point-guard Stephen Curry and organizations like the American Cancer Society in using Facebook’s birthday fundraising feature to affect positive social change, check out the link above.

2. Measuring Success: How Data Collection Might Be More Important Than You Think

While hardly the most glamorous part of any job, thorough data collection can play a crucial role in helping your nonprofit identify and eliminate roadblocks, secure funders, and satisfy board members. According to Forbes, rather than seeing it as a bothersome and otherwise unimportant activity carried out solely to fill out the more “boring” sections of grant proposals, data collection can serve as a powerful method for tying metrics to action in a meaningful and tangible way. While retrospective data analysis might be low on the priority list of a nonprofit with barely enough resources to carry out daily operations, many data collection technologies offer discounted prices to nonprofits and investing in these now are likely to be worth it in the long-term. To learn how to use data collection to your organization’s advantage by tailoring metrics to specific audiences, strategically choosing what information to collect, and engaging stakeholders in the process, visit the article from the Forbes Nonprofit Council above.

3. Staying Relevant in a Purpose-Led World

As recent studies continue to show correlations between adopting more meaningful, mission-driven business models and higher performance levels, more and more corporations are claiming to be “purpose-led.” While those doing nonprofit work are obviously no strangers to meaningful operating practices, standing out and succeeding in this new purpose-led world may require a shift in both mindset and behavior. Yet the newly blurred line between value-based for-profit organizations and nonprofits need not be a disadvantage to the latter. Rather, this new reality might serve as an opportunity for both the corporate and nonprofit sectors to share expertise and create greater, more sustainable change. Fast Company Magazine suggests that nonprofits use this shift to “see the corporate world not just as a funder or gift-in-kind provider, but as a genuine partner.” To find out how the emergence of more socially responsible companies can lead to long-term corporate partnerships for your organization, click the link above.

4. Creative Solutions at the Border

The New York Times reported that the current administration’s family separation policy being carried out along the U.S.-Mexico border has forcibly removed thousands of children from their parents who are seeking asylum. After a law professor at the University of Michigan tweeted that she had donated her frequent flier miles to Miles4Migrants, an international aid organization that uses donated miles to help migrants fly to countries that have allowed them entry, many followed suit. Since this tweet went viral, Miles4Migrants has received nearly 28 million donated miles to further their efforts at the border and beyond. For some, this unique strategy, of using not strictly monetary donations to help end separations one family at a time, might not seem like the most effective way to solve a problem so utterly dire and complex. Yet by taking the time to find a creative solution to a problem rather than simply funneling money into it, those at Miles4Migrants were able to spur widespread awareness and use “recycled,” non-monetary donations to address very specific, personalized needs. To learn more about the organization and get inspired to find creative ways for your funders to donate, visit the link above.

5. Donor-Retention: How It’s Changing and Why You Should Care

The latest report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, which includes data from more than 13,600 charities, indicates a concerning trend in nonprofit donor and dollar-retention rates over the past decade. The report showed that between 2016 and 2017, dollar-retention rates, or the amount raised in one year from the same donors that contributed the year before, did not change. Donor-retention rates grew a whopping half a percent. According to the report, both of these measurements have remained under 50% in the last ten years, and overall donation rates are barely keeping pace with inflation rates. Due to the importance of donor-retention in reaching fundraising goals, this stagnation may prove to have crippling effects on long-term growth for many nonprofits. Among other things, the report suggests that your nonprofit continually monitor its various donor and type of donation categories and evaluate the return on investment in each. To find out why smaller nonprofits show worse fundraising gains than their larger counterparts and learn more strategies to counteract unchanging donor-retention rates, check out the article linked above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To see how you can witness the beauty of the Hetch Hetchy Valley for yourself, and find out how the recent outbreak of wildfires in California is affecting Yosemite, 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: August 17, 2018

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I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.” – Lou Gehrig (right)

 

DID YOU KNOW? Eighty-five years ago today, on August 17, 1933, the legendary New York Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig, broke the record for most consecutive baseball games ever played in his 1,308th game. Born in New York City on June 19, 1903, and eventually signed by the Yankees in 1923, Gehrig quickly proved to be an exceptional talent, leading the American League in home runs and runs for multiple years and in hitting once. Among other impressive accomplishments, Gehrig became the first player to hit four home runs in a single game, was named American League MVP in 1927, and helped the Yankees take six World Series titles over the course of his career. In 1938, just fifteen years into his professional career, Gehrig began to show symptoms of a chronic illness. Eventually diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, Gehrig was forced to remove himself from many games and eventually retired. ALS is now commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” and the ALS Association was established in 1985 to help patients and their families cope with the daily struggles of ALS. The ALS Association remains the largest national nonprofit organization fighting ALS through research, treatment, education, public policy, and much more. Now that we’ve seen how Lou Gehrig’s struggle with ALS helped inspire a nonprofit organization that has changed countless lives, let’s take a look at these five nonprofit headlines from this week’s news.

1. How to Get Your Message into the Right Folder

We’ve all missed the occasional “evite” to a co-worker’s barbeque that somehow found its way to our spam folders. Even more likely, we’ve all missed an opportunity to support our favorite cause. According to the 2018 Nonprofit Email Deliverability Study published by EveryAction, 24% of fundraising emails sent by nonprofits in 2017 ended up in spam folders. With online fundraising methods becoming increasingly more popular as a means of giving, this could mean a serious missed opportunity for nonprofits seeking to capitalize on online donations. According to the study, a 1% spam rate translates to a loss of $1,225.73 per 100,000 emails sent. The spam rate from 2017 resulted in an average annual loss of $30,000 for nonprofits. In order to avoid such losses and maximize viewership, EveryAction suggests that your organization adopt an “opt-in and confirm process” to ensure that email addresses are correct and processed properly. To find out if your online fundraising potential is being affected by pesky spam folders and what you can do to reach all your supporters, click the link above.

2. Making a Donation Just Got That Much Easier

Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-controlled speaker that does everything from search the web, to dim your lights, to play music tracks all at the sound of your voice, can now also donate to your favorite nonprofits. Instead of having to pick up the phone or punch in credit card numbers, those who donate through Alexa need only say something to the tune of “Alexa, make a donation.” The system then prompts the owner to choose from the more than 120 charities so far registered to accept donations through Alexa. While obviously a helpful tool for fundraising, Alexa Donations is also being considered by some nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society, as a way to conveniently spread their mission to more households. With early-stage hiccups such as delays in the nonprofit registration process and difficulties in collecting accurate donor data, voice-controlled donation methods such as Alexa Donations will likely require significant research and adjustment before becoming popularized methods of giving. To find out if your organization could benefit from voice-controlled giving technology, how to register, and what fees may be involved, visit the link above.

3. Nonprofit Work and Secondary Traumatic Stress

While stress-level management is necessary in every line of work, it becomes increasingly important when dealing with fields in the nonprofit world. An article from the Forbes Nonprofit Council describes how the sensitive nature of nonprofit work can sometimes leave workers with secondary traumatic stress, or “emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another.” In order to ensure that your organization can continue to make the greatest impact possible on the people it serves, nonprofit leaders must ensure that their employees are given the tools to properly cope with such secondary stress. A few strategies your organization can adopt to combat the negative impacts of secondary traumatic stress include raising awareness of the potential for such trauma to occur, encouraging a healthy work-life balance, providing stress management trainings, creating a culture of teamwork, and regularly sharing stories of your employees’ or organization’s successes, rather than just those of failure. To read about who is more at risk for such trauma and daily strategies your organization can use to promote self-care and lower such risk, click the link above.

4. Voluntary Audits as a Proactive Approach to Financial Credibility

Often used in the same sentence as “fraudulent activity” or “embezzlement,” audit can be a scary word for some. Yet, while these connotations are sometimes justified, it is a common misconception that audits are primarily carried out to uncover unethical business practices. According to NEO Law Group, both independent audits and audit committees can actually be used to help nonprofits develop strategies to prevent against potential instances of fraud. In California, the provisions of the Nonprofit Integrity Act of 2004 (NIA) do not apply to most nonprofits due to their $2 million gross revenue threshold for mandatory audits. However, the NEO Law Group recommends that your nonprofit still consider utilizing independent audits and/or audit committees in order to demonstrate financial integrity, maintain donor confidence, protect board members, and become eligible for funders that require audited statements, among other benefits. To find out more about the difference between independent audits and audit committees, specific audit requirements for nonprofits in California, and more cost efficient alternatives to independent audits, visit the link above. 

5. How Emphasizing One Can Bring Change to Thousand

We sometimes think that the most effective way of explaining the gravity of an issue is by quantifying it. If people know how many residents of California are homeless, they are much more likely to donate to organizations building shelters and affordable housing . . . right? Yet empathy sometimes works in mysterious ways. According to the Nonprofit Times, organizations might reach donors more effectively if they emphasize focused, individualized anecdotes rather than ambiguous quantities of victims. Shankar Vedantam, the social scientist correspondent for National Public Radio, commented that he “can ask you to put yourself in the shoes of another person but not in the shoes of 1,000 people.” Although seemingly counterintuitive, by focusing on the one and not the many, organizations can sometimes evoke greater empathy and deepen their donors’ connections to their respective causes. To learn more about how the story of one Jack Russel terrier did just this for the Hawaiian Humane Society, click the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To support those living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease by participating in one of the ALS Association’s “Walks to Defeat ALS” in your community, 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: August 10, 2018

  “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”  – Malala Yousafzai

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai

DID YOU KNOW? In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan, on July 12, 1997, and grew up attending the school for girls run by her father. When her village was taken over by the Taliban soon thereafter, the extremist leaders implemented strict social practices, including banning girls from attending school. As a young girl growing up in this remote Pakistani village where violence and oppression were commonplace and fear was endemic, Yousafzai surely had the odds stacked against her. Yet her love for education prevailed. She quickly became an advocate for girls’ education and spoke publicly and with inexplicable bravery about a girl’s right to access a safe, quality education. This soon made Yousafzai, still just a young girl herself, a target of the Taliban. On October 9, 2012, a member of the Taliban followed 15-year-old Yousafzai, stopped the school bus she was on and shot her in the side of the head. Yousafzai miraculously survived, and after being treated in a hospital in the U.K., continued her fight for a girl’s right to receive an education. In 2013, her autobiography, I Am Malala, became an international bestseller. After establishing the Malala Fund and the Malala Fund’s Gulmakei Network, an organization designed to promote girls’ education in developing countries across the world, Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014. She is currently studying philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University, and her dedication to education activism and women’s rights has only since deepened. But before you start planning your path to becoming the next Nobel laureate, check out these five nonprofit headlines from this week’s news.

1. Is the Nonprofit World for You?

Making the switch to the nonprofit sector is no simple task. Myths and misconceptions about the nonprofit world are all around us. So, before making the leap from the private sector, consider beginning with self-reflection, targeted research, and nonprofit exposure. According to Forbes, assessing why you are considering a move to the nonprofit sector can be a vital first step to determining if this switch is right for you. For more tips on how to make a successful and smooth transition from the private sector to the nonprofit world, take a look at the link above.

2. Community Inclusion in Decision-Making

It is obvious you should take into account the opinions of top strategists and researchers when considering how your nonprofit’s project should be carried out. What is much less obvious, and often far more difficult, is including the opinions of those you are attempting to represent. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, the “saviorism mentality” that has been adopted by too many organizations has forced marginalized communities’ voices to the periphery in the nonprofit decision-making process, instead of the center, where they belong. There is something to be said about recognizing knowledge that is gained through experience rather than that from a printed page. Check out the link above to see an example of how Historic Boston Incorporated, a Boston-based nonprofit, used community opinions and support to purchase and plan the redevelopment of the St. James African Orthodox Church.

3. Nonprofit Diversity: Fact or Fiction?

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recently surveyed over 200 nonprofit CEOs about their thoughts on diversity as a key to their organizational goals. The study found that while the majority of leaders agreed that diversity is crucial to achieving organizational goals, the emphasis on diversity in gender identity, sexual orientation, and disabilities tended to lag far behind other forms of diversity in both priority and practice. Prioritization of diversity among staff members also tended to decrease when assessing higher levels of leadership. To learn more about common diversity disparities in nonprofits and how your organization can interact most effectively with funders surrounding diversity objectives, visit the link above.

4. Grants: Tracking Down the Best and Avoiding the Unlikely

Every nonprofit has experienced the time-consuming and often unfruitful task of researching and applying for grants. Before using costly grant research tools, the National Council of Nonprofits recommends first ensuring that you are connected to your state association of nonprofits, which may offer support through educational programs, grant databases, and discounts to access further research tools. Another recommended first step is checking your regional association of grantmakers for potential funders. For more information about grant research tools that best fit your organization’s needs and a chart compiled by the National Council of Nonprofits that assesses the strengths of different grant research databases, click the link above.

5. New Tax Regulations on Nonprofit Employee Benefits

The federal tax bill signed last December included a cryptic yet significant measure that changes how nonprofits and churches are taxed regarding employee benefits. Sometimes called the “parking tax,” this provision requires any nonprofit that provides transportation benefits to its employees to categorize such expenses as “unrelated business income” and pay a 21% UBIT tax on the amount of the benefit. The vague nature of the language in the new tax measure has caused confusion and resistance from nonprofits. Organizations like CalNonprofits and the National Council of Nonprofits are pushing the IRS and Treasury Department to delay changes to the UBIT, at least until this language can be clarified. To learn about how this “parking tax” might affect your nonprofit, and what steps you can take to pressure your legislators to repeal it, check out the link above for tips from the California Association of Nonprofits.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! Here’s hoping that more of the “Malala Yousafzais” of the nonprofit world get the recognition they deserve! See you next week!

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. We’ll be back next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: August 3, 2018

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The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, ended the Mexican-American War started by President James K. Polk, and added an additional 525,000 square miles to United States territory. Included in this expansion are Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Mexico also agreed to give up all claims to Texas and set the Rio Grande river as America’s southern boundary.

DID YOU KNOW? Trump’s family separation policy, which has faced much public backlash and been challenged in the courts, brings to mind the impact of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Hispanic residents in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. Though these residents were legally granted U.S. citizenship overnight, many were treated as squatters and were evicted from their land after being unable to prove their property ownership to the satisfaction of the land speculators who purchased the properties from afar and arrived hoping to discover gold. This disrupted and dismantled communities that had long settled in the area. Families were broken up, as some residents were forced to purchase their lands while others moved away. Land disputes ensued into the early part of the next century.

Let’s be grateful for the insight that history can shed on current events as we dive into this week's nonprofit news below!

1. Use governance best practices to leverage the best from your board

One best practice your organization can implement is to ensure each board member understands his or her role on the board. All members of your nonprofit board should have a clear vision of how their efforts help to support the organization. Included within this is a clarification of each board member's role, which can range from strategy and marketing to fundraising.  Board members in particular should know exactly how their contributions shape the nonprofit so there is less confusion about overlapping responsibilities in the future. Don’t be afraid to designate formal roles and responsibilities for each board member, including the creation of a quarterly schedule of responsibilities.

Also, consider the types of support you feel the organization needs. If you need assistance in adding talent to the organization, then utilize your board members by asking for feedback and sharing their personal and professional networks. Leveraging the strengths of your board members may surprise you; they can ideally provide support on finance and legal issues, succession planning, leadership advice, etc.

As a reconnection tactic, consider holding regular board meetings each year to focus on reassessing results. Doing so will provide an excellent opportunity for your organization to formalize future strategies and priorities as well as help your board members reconnect and offer insights and opinions on each other’s performance.

For more reading, check out the link above.

2. Promoting Gender Diversity

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) in Cambridge, MA surveyed 205 nonprofit CEOs and found that 52% of respondents identified gender identity diversity as organizationally relevant. In comparison, 68% found diversity among individuals with disabilities to be important and 82% believed racial diversity to be relevant.

If you’re looking for impact, try out foundation funders as an option for potentially driving diversity. According to a 2018 Georgetown University report, utilizing foundation support can fund additional staff and professional development opportunities, convene trainings with equality focuses, and help identify and encourage investment in building career-propelling pipelines for diverse groups to navigate traditionally homogenous networks.

Click the link above to read on.

3. Helping donors to achieve their goals

If you’re having trouble attracting money from tech donors like the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP) did, then try talking like a start-up.

In 2018, the BGCP found that their biggest Silicon Valley donors tended to favor “effective altruism,” a philosophy that espouses evidence and careful analysis as the best methods for philanthropists seeking to identify worthy causes. As an answer to this, Peter Fortenbaugh, the Executive Director of BGCP, started sending donors an “Annual Report to Stakeholders” with detailed data about impact and an analysis of their current efforts compared to previous years. Fortenbaugh even launched a “Shark Tank” event where employees and students could pitch to wealthy Silicon Valley donors about certain programs and outline the equity that donors would receive on those programs. This approach, which assures donors that BGCP’s cost per student was lower than that of competing programs, has been remarkably effective in bringing in donations. Last year, BGCP raised $2.7 million in 45 minutes from donations.

Want to read more about Fortenbaugh’s winning donation strategy? Click the link above to learn more!

4.  Did you know that your 501(c)(4) no longer has to disclose its donors on Schedule B of the 990?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had, until recently, required tax-exempt groups to disclose to the IRS some donor information on Schedule B of their annual 990 returns. This included the disclosure of donor names, addresses, and donation amounts over $5,000.

                Currently, the Treasury Department and the IRS no longer require such donor disclosure for certain types of 501(c) organizations, excluding 501(c)(3) public charities and 527 political organizations. Several factors influenced this decision, including the accidental release of confidential Schedule B information by the IRS in the past. Despite public criticism of this change in the past few weeks, the IRS frames the move as a good faith attempt to increase public trust and reinforce donor confidentiality. Continue down to number 5 to find out what some critics of the change in donor disclosure policy have said.

Want more details? Check out the link above. For the flip-side view of this recent development, check out the summary below.

5. How the IRS’s Stance on Donor Disclosure Corrupts the Nonprofit World

Now that funding sources for advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association no longer need to be disclosed, what could go wrong?

For starters, some fear that foreign nationals wishing to illegally intervene in U.S. elections will have an easier time doing so now that disclosure of donor information is not required. Secondly, donors to political action committees (PACs) and super PACs are no longer public information, thus potentially increasing the risk for corruption. Add to this the risk of improper use of charitable donations for political purposes, and you have a smorgasbord of reasons for why the public could lose trust in nonprofits.

Want more reading? Click on the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re all set for a great weekend ahead. See you next week!

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. We’ll be back next week!

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FRIDAY FIVE: July 27, 2018

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Emma Lazarus is well-known for her Petrarchan Sonnet "The New Colossus," inscribed on a plaque of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal.

Did you know?

Though many have quoted excerpts of Lazarus' iconic sonnet to speak to the merit of diversity in recapturing America's identity, many may not know the origins of her writing this poem. Recognized for her prose pieces that eloquently captured the worldview of newly arrived exiles and refugees’ in America, she was approached to submit a poem for a fundraising auction to raise money for the building of the Statue of Liberty pedestal. Now you know of The New Colossus's fundraising roots and how it came to be. Check out this week's nonprofit news below!

1. Want more of a social media presence for your nonprofit? Try out Tumblr.

Tumblr is a social media platform/blog site that is great for using hashtags (#saywhat!). It’s also functional for search-engine optimization (Read more about SEO below).  Tumblr is user-friendly especially for those Twitter users and is appealing to the under 35 demographic (millennium impact!). Taking these points together with the fact that Tumblr has around 80 million blogs adds up to fantastic marketing potential!

For more tips, check out the link above.

2. Is your organization up to date?

Cryptocurrency has been making headlines lately, but how should nonprofits handle a cryptocurrency gift? For starters, it’s good practice to set policies in order for your organization to better handle this volatile commodity. Some questions to start the conversation would be: Can my bank handle it directly or do I need a separate crypto wallet?; Should I convert the currency to dollars or keep it as an investment?; Are there any implications I should be made aware of by the bank or by my financial advisor?  Knowing how to accept cryptocurrency donations and convert them will likely increase overall donations.

                Does your organization still contact donors on their landline? If so, frustration may build up, since most families nowadays either do not have a landline to call or are only gathered near the landline for some family time and would be annoyed at the phonathon intrusion. Instead, nonprofits should take advantage of the mobile phone, and call donors directly during the day. This route would be less annoying to some donors who prize family time around the dinner table and don’t want to be interrupted during the occasion.

Click the link above to read on.

 3.  A look at Nonprofit Organizational Design

The Architecture of Humanity, an international group that championed humanitarian designs in the aftermath of crises, experienced a financial crisis and eventually closed its doors after 16 years. (Quick tidbit: They helped to redesign schools in Haiti after their catastrophic earthquake that hit in 2010.) In its place, birthed a phoenix of an organization in 2016 known as the Open Architecture Collaborative (OAC), whose core purpose was participatory design and longer-term relationships with community. Garrett Jacobs, the executive director of the organization, explained that the renewal was in response to redefining the mission so that it fit the issues of the present, and helped to authentically build trust with communities affected by trauma. Their case is an excellent example of an organization that redesigned itself from a one-off project framework to a more sustainable design that seeks to find system issues within communities and create projects that promote resiliency within those communities. Essentially, the OAC design was created in response to the Architecture of Humanity’s failed retroactive project approach, and in its stead, embraced a proactive, more sustainable approach.

Want more details? Check out the link above.

4. Want more followers and donors? Try search-engine optimizing your blog content.

Search-engine optimizing (SEO) a website allows you to drive more people to your website by linking their keyword search content to your web page/blog. Use the following SEO tips and see what a difference in effective traffic it makes: Add search-relevant keywords to visible areas of your webpage (title, headers, URL, etc.); Don’t overuse similar keyword tags, because search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo) may penalize your website for duplicate content; Use free Analytic Report tools to analyze the efficacy of the key words for drawing in customers to your webpage (e.g. Google’s Search Console).

Want more tips? Click on the link above.

5. What the "H" is a 501(c)(3)?

Before the involvement of the government with 501(c) legal descriptions, voluntary organizations were places for people to join in order to aid their less fortunate neighbors. Some examples found in early communities are volunteer fire and militia groups, women’s societies and church aid societies, which all helped to make life more equitable for all.

                After the Revolution, philanthropy took a turn and became more institutionalized. Women’s societies played a pivotal role here, and were deemed as “soften[ing] men’s obdurate hearts” to procure donations. By the end of the 19th century, philanthropy became the hallmark of the wealthy. Trusts and foundations were established, and many of these became the 501(c)s we know today. During the 20th century, the government introduced changes to its dealings with businesses and nonprofit organizations. Congress passed laws that regulated taxes and established tax-exempt status for nonprofits. Tax deductions were also introduced in the Revenue Act of 1918, producing incentive for the wealthy to donate. Later laws established the tax codes as we know them today as well as lobbying and member inurement restrictions. Now, the 501(c)(3) part of all this history actually comes from the Revenue Act of 1943, which requires that all nonprofits file a Form 990 to report sources of income, assets, and liabilities. This code section was later revised to require public access to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations’ Form 990 data. In other words, 501(c)(3) refers to the section and subsections from this part of the Internal Revenue Code.

So, now you know what the “H” a 501(c)(3) is. Click the link above to learn more.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re all set for a great weekend ahead. See you next week!

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. We’ll be back next week!

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Friday Five: July 20, 2018

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Friday Five: July 20, 2018

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FRIDAY FIVE: July 20, 2018

DID YOU KNOW? The Rosetta Stone was found in 1799 by one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers during their campaign in Egypt.

Though several scholars have tried to crack the code found on the Rosetta Stone, a French Egyptologist named Jean-Francois Champollion was the one who ultimately deciphered the hieroglyphics using his knowledge of Greek as a helping guide. His contribution gave way to new insight on Egyptian culture and language and brought hieroglyphics back to life – a language thought dead for nearly 2,000 years. Now that you’ve been inspired by this story of how discovery led to a bringing-together of the cultures, let’s check out these five timely nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  Leveraging the Pro Bono Business Model for your Nonprofit

People are happy to volunteer their time if they know that doing so will give them a sense of purpose. A nonprofit may encounter some unique challenges in seeking to leverage a pro bono business model though. For example, how do you ensure people honor the commitment they make? Effective leaders should tap into their employees’ emotional intelligence and use positive reinforcement where needed in order to provide a platform for their working-for-free employees to thrive. In order to create an operational system to facilitate the work, nonprofits should focus on finding the right people, such as business-minded people who value the cause and dedicated people who want a more authoritative position in order to create a larger impact. Burnout and attrition among volunteers must be tackled as well though. It is important to maintain a strong sense of community, ensure that time off and breaks are taken, and celebrate victories while taking into account individuals’ needs. Learn more by clicking on the link above!

2. Current news on suggestions for 501(c)(4) reformation

Section 501(c)(4) has, at times, undermined provisions of section 501(c), leading to statutory changes for veterans’ organizations, homeowners’ organizations, amateur sports, and credit counseling. As a result of these negative impacts, Ellen P. Aprill has written an article with suggestions on how to reform the 501(c)(4). She makes the case for possible taxation of investment income and predicted growth of the subsector in light of 2017 tax legislation that increased the standard deduction and limited certain itemized deduction. Check out her article by clicking the link above.

Want more information connected to 501(c)(4)s engaged in political activity? Want “More About 501(c)(4)s Than You Ever Wanted to Know? Check out this link.

3. What is a 501(h) election?

Do you have 501(c)(3) status and want to learn more about the effects of lobbying on your nonprofit? A 501(h) election may help you.         All charitable nonprofits may freely engage in legislative lobbying as long as those activities remain an insubstantial amount in comparison to the nonprofit’s other activities. A 501(h) election is a consideration for those nonprofits who may be worried whether their legislative lobbying activities will interfere with their tax-exempt status. Essentially, it is a form that nonprofits can file in order to elect to be measured by an “expenditure test.” In other words, it serves as insurance for nonprofits who may otherwise overstep their tax-exempt status into IRS no-no land.

Table of Limits specified in section 4911.

Organizations with an interest in filing 501(h) election should submit Form 5768 at any time during the tax year for which it is to be effective.

Learn more by clicking the link above for more info.

4.  How to counteract workplace toxicity

Though nonprofits do great work, it should not be taken for granted that they are great places to work. Are your organization’s values and cultural norms explicitly stated? If not, create an explicit values statement. Are there accountability policies in place? Start with incorporating questions about values and culture into the board’s annual performance assessment. (Check out the National Council on Nonprofits for helpful resources in this area.) Have members reflect on their overall performance in light of the organization’s mission, values, and goals. Have in place a 360-degree feedback process to provide employees perspective on their achievements. To this end, managers should use a survey tool or confidential interviews from peers.

Does your organization have policies in place to support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at all levels? With the help of strong human resource policies, nonprofits can develop a culture of belonging in which employees can thrive. Does your revenue model take into account fair and equitable employee compensation? It is clearly bad practice to overwork and underpay your employees, and attracting and retaining talented staff involves fair compensation. Make the case to your funders that your budget must include the full cost for delivering great programs. Don’t forget other employee benefits, such as sabbaticals, wellness or self-care programs, and professional development opportunities as well! Click on the link above to read more.

5.  How to handle customer disappointment

Nonprofits provide important services, and complaints inevitably crop up. However, customer complaints are often preventable. A mantra for your organization to live by:

1)       Open communication lines with customers.

2)       Set good/feasible expectations with customers.

3)       Maintain high commitment to customer service.

a.        This will help prevent issues before they become problems.

 

Research shows that resolving a customer complaint in a positive manner will lead the customers to

1)       recommend the business to others

2)       return as repeat customers

 

Top Customer Complaints:

1)       Product Disappointment

a.        Customers will often leave negative reviews of the product and business on Yelp and Google, which can then result in businesses responding in a manner that worsens the situation.

                                                               i.      Remedy: Have an excellent Quality Control department and Customer Expectation Management.

1.       QC- Is it the right color/size/etc. for the order? (Don’t have a QC dept.? You, the owner, can fill this role and be your own quality control member.)

2.       Customer expectations- share important product details with the customer before purchase so reasonable expectations are set.

2)       Poor Service

a.        Bad service experiences can lose customers to the competition. Reports of employee rudeness/knowledge/speed

b.       Customers need the assurance they’ll be treated with courtesy, and that their issue will be resolved in a timely and satisfactory manner.

                                                               i.      Remedy: Breed a culture of service within the team. Every team member (including those not directly involved with customer service) should exemplify customer respect.

3)       Negative Atmosphere

a.        Think dirty restrooms, uncomfortable seats, horrible temperatures, and aggravating music.

b.       A lack of transparency that allows for customers to find what they need can also contribute to the problem.

                                                               i.      Remedy: Be honest when you answer this question: Is your establishment user-friendly? The physical grounds are an extension of the business and play a part in representing the whole of the establishment.

1.       Open communication lines à Dirty restroom – Call this number and leave feedback. Thank you for your time! (It’s super important to catch these issues in real time!!!)

4)       Poor Communication

a.        (E.g. Product is no longer available; There was a mistake in the order; Can’t deliver as promised.) Hey, mistakes happen. Don’t fret, just communicate. Companies should be more up front with customers about issues that have popped up. Secondly, have a game plan in hand for when an issue arises, and communicate with the customer about it. Make sure a game of phone tag doesn’t ensue and allow for follow-up with the customer so that the issue doesn’t stay unresolved.

                                                               i.      Remedy: Be upfront, clear, and always available. Even if there’s bad news, deliver it to the customer.

5)       A Lack of Information

a.        Customers want to know the services your business provides.

                                                               i.      Remedy: Share important details about your business.

1.       Clear, easy to find contact information with phone, email, and mail options

2.       Directions and parking options

3.       Menus or prices

4.       Service details and amenities available

5.       Testimonials or reviews

6.       Options for giving feedback

Want more top customer complaints? Click on the link above. 😊

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re all set for a great weekend ahead. See you next week!

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. We’ll be back next week!

 

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