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Friday Five: March 16, 2017

Four leaves may bring you luck, but three leaves are just as beautiful.

Four leaves may bring you luck, but three leaves are just as beautiful.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Supposedly on this day St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, which is less impressive when you realize that Ireland never had any snakes to begin with.  Nevertheless, it’s a day to celebrate Irish heritage and culture, including their famous gift of gab.  We must have some of the Irish in us, for we have a need to gab about these stories in nonprofit news.

1. Nonprofits Matter (in California, at Least) 

As one of the largest states in the country by almost every metric, the California legislature has a lot on its plate. It’s heartening, then, to see that they still make the time to focus on nonprofits. The California Association of Nonprofits has announced that the legislature has created an assembly select committee to focus on the nonprofit sector, helping to connect the various parts of the nonprofit universe and strengthening the state’s commitment towards nonprofits. You can learn more at the Association’s announcement.

2. You’re Always Your Own Best Advocate 

Today’s political climate has been pushing more and more nonprofits into an advocacy role, but many nonprofits find themselves with an outdated set of skills for the job, or worse, no advocacy skills at all.  Writing at Social Velocity, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits Tim Delaney lays out a few ideas to help get you started on the journey towards advocacy, including a reminder that you may already know more than you realize.

3. Singing in the Rain is More Fun with an Umbrella

Donations are a notoriously unreliable form of income.  People are wonderfully generous, but they aren’t always generous in a sustained, standardized way, and that makes life difficult for balance sheets. Writing at the Nonprofit Quarterly, Hilda H. Polanco and John Summers discuss the importance of building up a reserve for when times are difficult, as well as how you can start building up your rainy day fund without negatively impacting the important work you’re already doing.

4. Speaking of Rainy Days

The White House released its budget blueprint on Wednesday, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy is already hard at work combing through the details to find out how it could affect nonprofits. Initial reports indicate that numerous federal programs that fund work in poverty, education, the arts, the environment, rural development and foreign aid may be cut or in some cases completely eliminated. While the full budget proposal, complete with line items, has yet to be released, this initial blueprint serves as a useful metric for nonprofits to know what the President’s budgetary priorities are.

5. Be All That You Can Be 

Activism is important and drives much of the work we do, but there are ways to be the best activist you can be. Ruth McCambridge of the Nonprofit Quarterly discusses a recent article in Curbed New York about the best ways a new activist can get involve and be of the most help. With the new wave of civic activism in America, these suggestions are more important than ever. Read more at Nonprofit Quarterly and the original article that inspired Ruth at Curbed New York.

May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back, and may you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead. See you next week!

Can’t get enough 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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AB2855 is a very bad bill for nonprofits.

HERE'S WHY YOU SHOULD HELP STOP IT.

Zombie bill AB2855 in the California assembly refuses to die, despite its potential to cause an outbreak of unnecessary costs and burdens.

The indispensible Gene Takagi has a thorough analysis and roundup of the opposition here : http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/oppose-california-ab-2855-the-required-overhead-disclosure-bill/

Short version:  AB2855, proposed by Democratic assembly member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), just survived a committee vote to advance to the full California Assembly. If the bill becomes law, it will require each and every nonprofit that fundraises in California to add a so-called ‘warning label’ to any fundraising or fundraising-related document that it distributes linking back to the CA Attorney General’s website. This may not sound like a big deal, but think about how many fundraising documents nonprofits put out, and the burden of updating each one. Calnonprofits has a short, incomplete list:

“…[S]igns on coin collection jars, private letters to individual donors, billboards and other large-scale outdoor advertisements, flyers posted in laundromats, neighborhood association newsletters, to name just a few.”

Furthermore, there are no controls in place as to what could be on the Attorney General’s site. As Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, notes: “Such legislative  language puts nonprofits at the mercy of an elected partisan’s changing views on what’s “appropriate” on such things as overhead, compensation, and advocacy – as well as which charitable causes are worthy.” [emphasis ours]

Worse yet, there are serious Constitutional issues around AB2855; the potential lack of compelling governmental interest poses a serious freedom of speech question. But that does not mean that we can rely on state or federal courts to halt the bill before it becomes law.  

Finally, there is absolutely no need for this bill. Nonprofits are already carefully regulated by the Federal Government, the IRS and the California state government. This bill will impose an expensive and pointless burden on every California nonprofit of every political stripe.

It’s important to note that Gene Takagi almost always uses measured, neutral language to describe events. Pay attention to how he describes this bill:

AB 2855 is a dangerous bill that threatens nonprofits raising funds in California and reflects several Assemblymembers’ lack of understanding of the nonprofit sector’s work… If this bill passes, it will rank among the worst laws in the country in its characterization and treatment of nonprofits.” [emphasis ours]

Dangerous. Among the worst in the country.

Bergman and Allderdice rarely recommends direct legislative action, but this is a nonpartisan issue that will affect every nonprofit in California if it’s passed.

Please take the time to review Gene’s analysis . If you agree with it and live in California, take ten minutes to do the following:

1)  Call Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, chair of the appropriations committee  at (916) 319-2080 to let her know you oppose AB2855 because it will harm nonprofits; and

2) Contact your own Assembly Member with the same message. Click here (http://assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers) to find out how to contact your Assembly Member.

With your help, we can stop this burdensome, unnecessary, and dangerous bill before it gets any further.

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