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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.