Cornell Law Library. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Cornell Law Library. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Welcome to August! On this day in 1861, the U.S. levied the first federal income tax, setting us on a path towards the existence of 501(c)(3) organizations. More recently, on this date in 2011, NASA disclosed that the Mars Orbiter had possible evidence of water on Mars.

We could use some of that water here in California, given our drought. But there’s no drought of articles about nonprofit news and opinions. Here are five of the best:

1) At the Nonprofit Law Blog, David Brennen flags proposed legislation in Massachusetts that would require nonprofits in that state to begin paying property tax; nonprofits are currently exempt from doing so. The plan is part of an economic development package that is still going through House and Senate negotiations, so it’s not yet law. However, the proposal certainly bears watching as it could inspire similar bills in other states:
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2016/07/massachusetts-contemplating-change-in-non-profit-property-tax.html

2) In a thought-provoking piece in The New York Times, Ben Davis, national art critic for ArtNet News, illuminates several alarming trends: the potentially unsustainable growth in physical buildings, the steep decline in attendance at galleries and museums and the decline in government funding for the latter. You can see Davis’ complete opinion here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/opinion/sunday/how-the-rich-are-hurting-the-museums-they-fund.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

3) In an effort to increase empathy towards the homeless, some organizations have been creating “poverty simulation” workshops, enabling those who participate to experience what the homeless and poor go through every day. While the idea may be well-intentioned, Nonprofit Quarterly makes note of efforts that go too far and end up in the land of “misery tourism.” Read on to find out which organizations are engaging in best practices and how to avoid worst practices:
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2016/08/04/simulating-poverty-effective-way-understand-experience/

4) Human rights organizations are facing increasing, and alarming, constraints on their work. This piece in The Philanthropic News Digest’s blog goes in depth about efforts that activists and donors around the globe are undertaking to ensure that they can continue to pressure countries to meet human rights standards. One of their key strategies rests on the concept of ‘civic space.’ How do they plan to pull this off? Find out at: http://pndblog.typepad.com/pndblog/2016/08/funding-the-frontlines-the-value-of-supporting-grassroots-organizing

5) Nonprofits spend a lot of time thinking about new donors and major donors, but what about the middle donors—supporters and volunteers who donate regularly, but can’t afford to give at the top levels? Network for Good has assembled an entire PDF that’s free and full of tips on how to maintain connections with your mid-level donors and make them feel appreciated. Get the PDF here:
http://www.networkforgood.com/nonprofitblog/middle-donors-give-more/

This has been your Friday Five. We’ll continue to keep our ears to the ground for what’s new in the nonprofit world. We’ll be back in a week, but make sure follow us on Twitter at @BergAlldLaw for more great articles.

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