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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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Friday Five: June 29, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?:    Spike Lee’s  Do the Right Thing  depicts the entire spectrum of life within a Brooklyn neighborhood and leaves it up to the viewer to decide if, in the end, anybody actually does the "right thing."

DID YOU KNOW?: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing depicts the entire spectrum of life within a Brooklyn neighborhood and leaves it up to the viewer to decide if, in the end, anybody actually does the "right thing."

Spike Lee’s third feature film, Do the Right Thing, was released on June 30, 1989 in theaters across the United States. The racially charged, thought-provoking drama focuses on the hottest day of the year on one block within the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn—a block that is home to the only white-owned business in the black-majority neighborhood, Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. The story unfolds as the cast of memorable characters circulates around Sal’s. Rising tensions lead to an eventual breaking point that results in violence and catastrophic consequences. Upon its release, the film caused quite a stir due to its provocative depiction of race relations, which included explicit references to recent notorious events in New York. Lee’s Do the Right Thing was nominated for two Oscars (Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay) and was later dubbed “culturally significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress. Today, it stands as one of Hollywood’s most noteworthy depictions of race relations in America. But before you login to your Netflix account to see if its available to stream, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  Tips for Effective Storytelling

Behind every brand is a story. According to Forbes, creating the right narrative—especially in the nonprofit world—is crucial for driving engagement and garnering support for an organization’s mission. And it’s not just the story nonprofits are telling, but the way they tell it that can make all the difference when connecting with potential donors. While mastering the art of storytelling may seem like a huge feat, there are techniques that one can use to facilitate the creation of marketing content strategies. Want to better engage donors through storytelling? Click on the link above to discover six effective techniques for fine-tuning your organization’s narrative.

2.  Leadership Gaps in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofits are not just a “feel good” sector—they are a necessity to local and international communities alike. Organizations within the nonprofit sector, however, are suffering from a leadership gap. A gap that, according to Quartz, stems from a lack of investment in leadership development. In a recent study of approximately 1,200 nonprofit leaders, only 20% are confident they have the abilities to enable their team to achieve its goals. And only 20% of the leaders stated that they had a formal succession plan in place at their organization. So, what does leadership training entail and how can it benefit your organization? Learn more by checking out the link above.

3.  Strategic Reserves and Financial Sustainability

For nonprofit organizations, endowments represent the apex of ideal funding streams—a fantastic notion of being able to fund everything from organizational infrastructure to workplace coffee, all without having to shave dollars from each and every contract. But with the scarcity of such funding, most nonprofits are forced to find alternatives, alternatives that are scantily described or discussed. A recent webinar from the Nonprofit Quarterly, however, showcases an emerging trend among funders and their grantees: funder strategic reserves made available for long-term use in the pursuit of nonprofit missions. Follow the link above to discover how a reserve grant program can impact your financial sustainability.

4.  Considering Social Enterprise? Read This

Oftentimes nonprofit leaders look to social enterprise as a means to diversify funding sources and drive sustainable revenue. But what about social enterprise’s ability to impact an organizational mission? By selling a service or product, nonprofit organizations utilize a market-driven approach to address unmet, rudimentary needs—and help to solve social and environmental problems along the way. In this way, according to Forbes, social enterprise can become a substantial accompaniment to current operations of any charitable organization. Before you choose to strengthen your nonprofit with social enterprise, check out the link above for three things to consider.

5.  How Does Your Nonprofit Self-Identify?

The last 35 years have seen a shift in the nonprofit sector and self-identity. Once seen as the “volunteer sector,” nonprofits now insist on being recognized as a sector of paid professionals. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, this unintentional aftereffect of a focus on professionalism has led to the dismissal of all-volunteer nonprofits. Movements—contrary to professional and expert-led organizational initiatives—arise from those most directly affected by a problem. Recognizing the democratic process that gives both respect and authority to non-experts, perhaps the nonprofit sector should reclaim its identity as the “volunteer sector.” Learn more about the inherently democratic identity of the nonprofit sector by clicking on the link above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re all set for a great weekend ahead—“And that’s the double-truth, Ruth!” 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: June 22, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?:   Originally copper-colored, the statue has undergone a process of natural color change called patination—this has contributed to its current greenish-blue hue.

DID YOU KNOW?: Originally copper-colored, the statue has undergone a process of natural color change called patination—this has contributed to its current greenish-blue hue.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from France to the United States, arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885. Shipped across the Atlantic in more than 200 crates, the 350 individual copper and iron pieces of the dismantled Lady Liberty would—collectively—become a world-renowned, enduring symbol of freedom and democracy. The statue, meant to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of camaraderie between France and the U.S., was designed by French sculptor Frederic-August Bartholdi with the assistance of Gustave Eiffel (the man who would later develop the iconic tower in Paris that would bear his name). The statue, which cost France approximately $250,000 (more than $5.5 million today), was completed in Paris in the summer of 1884 and then taken apart for shipment to the States. After her reassembly, the robed, female figure holding a torch in an uplifted arm was officially dedicated On October 28, 1886 during a ceremony presided over by President Cleveland. At the time of her dedication, the Statue of Liberty was taller than any structure in New York City. During the time Ellis Island served as America’s chief immigration station, Lady Liberty stood watch over the more than 12 million immigrants sailing into New York Harbor. Today she remains a symbol of America’s proud history as the land of opportunity. And now that you’re well-versed in your trivia of one of America’s most famous landmarks, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  "Culture of Philanthropy"

Building a “culture of philanthropy” within a nonprofit is to integrate all aspects of the organization. Instead of isolating grant writers, each person within the organization—from the receptionist to individual board members—plays a vital role in the philanthropic life of the nonprofit. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, fundraising should not be seen as a necessary evil, but should act as only a part of an organization’s philanthropic culture and fund development plan. Grant-writing goals should be integrated with fundraising goals and should be based on reasonable and well-researched data. How is your organization’s “culture of philanthropy? Click on the link above to discover why resourcing your mission is as important as ensuring good strategy.

2.  Four Common Mistakes Made by New Nonprofits

Much like starting any for-profit business, establishing a nonprofit organization has many challenges—challenges that extend beyond securing tax-exempt status. Unfortunately, there are far fewer resources for nonprofit entrepreneurs than their for-profit counterparts. That said, when it comes to formation and the first few years of navigation, emerging nonprofits are more likely to make mistakes that cost them in the long run. Is your nonprofit in its infancy? Learn to differentiate between growing pains and potential deep-seated issues. Check out the link above from Forbes for four common mistakes made by newly established nonprofits and how to avoid them.

3.  Creating a Nonprofit Exit Checklist

Nonprofit leaders often talk about designing exit strategies, but few organizations are able to successfully phase out their work in a way that provides sustainability to the communities they are leaving. More often than not, nonprofit program exits arise from implausible timelines and scarcity of funds—rather than results. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, nonprofits must rethink how they design and implement exit strategies. Instead of focusing on money spent and timelines, organizations should place an emphasis on sustainability and impact. Through simple and flexible checklists—used in transparent and consistent ways—nonprofits can depart from projects all while minimizing mistakes and maximizing impact. Need to rethink your program exit strategies? Follow the link above to discover how to create a nonprofit exit checklist.

4.  Experiments in Fundraising

whether big or small, world-renowned and local organizations alike find fundraising is arguably the biggest challenge for in the entirety of the nonprofit sector. With thousands of nonprofit organizations tottering on the edge of stagnation or collapse, far too many noble ideas for solving social problems are falling through the cracks or are unable to be applied at the scale they deserve. While traditional advice suggests that diversification of funding sources is the key to meeting fundraising goals, there may not be a one-size-fits-all strategy for success. According to the Harvard Business Review, new generations of social innovators are demonstrating that experimentation may be the best way to mollify risk with regards to developing funding streams. If conventional formulaic diversification isn’t working for your organization, check out the link above to read more.

5.  Social Impact Company? Start Here

In the business world, it should be acknowledged that the phrase “doing good” is open for interpretation. Newly-formed entities on the hunt for funding as well as established entities pressed for resources may take on the guise of socially conscious start-ups as a means to appeal to both investors and customers. But they do not always live up to their promises. This disparity between actions and words can have a profoundly negative impact on the idea that business can be a force for good. So, what should you do if your company genuinely values social impact? Click on the link above from Entrepreneur to learn how to balance the goals of for-profit work with those of community-oriented resources.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re thankful for the gift of Lady Liberty and all she has come to represent. 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: June 15, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?: The building at Prinsengracht 263, home to the “Secret Annex,” opened to the public in 1960 as Anne Frank House—a museum devoted to the life of Anne Frank. Her original diary is on display there.

DID YOU KNOW?: The building at Prinsengracht 263, home to the “Secret Annex,” opened to the public in 1960 as Anne Frank House—a museum devoted to the life of Anne Frank. Her original diary is on display there.

On June 12, 1942, a young Jewish girl named Anneliese Marie Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday. Just a month later, Anne Frank’s family went into hiding from the Nazis. Hidden in the attic apartment behind her father Otto Frank’s business in Amsterdam, Anne kept a diary for two years. The Franks and four other families were fed and looked after by Gentile friends as they lived in constant fear of being discovered. Life for the eight people living in the small apartment (which Anne dubbed the Secret Annex in her diary) was tense and required complete silence during daytime hours in order to avoid detection. In an effort to pass the time, the diarist chronicled her daily observations and feelings in her diary. In entries to an imaginary friend named Kitty, Anne would write about her loneliness, lack of privacy and typical teenage issues such as arguments with her mother and resentment toward her sister. She also displayed acute insight and maturity with regards to issues of humanity, war and her own identity. On August 4, 1944 the Secret Annex was discovered by the Gestapo after an anonymous tip. Anne’s parents were taken to Auschwitz while she and her sister were transferred to another camp. It was there, at Bergen-Berlsen, that Anne would succumb to typhus one month before the war ended. After having survived his time at the Nazi concentration camp, Otto Frank published his daughter’s diary in 1947 as The Diary of a Young Girl. Today, the book has been translated into 70 languages in more than 60 countries. Now that you’ve been reminded of the resilience of the human spirit, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  Nonprofits and the Millennial Mindset

It appears as though Millennials have the odds stacked against them: mounting student debt, soaring costs of living and limited job opportunities. Yet, somehow, Millennials have been able to achieve what generations before them could not. Through the creation of a global community, this generation promotes connectivity and networking and demonstrates the interconnectedness of social change and startup culture. According to Forbes, Millennials have become one of the most powerful generations of our time working to diminish boundaries and create new dimensions within the nonprofit sector. Is this generation better suited for creating impactful change within the philanthropic stratum? Click on the link above to discover three attributes of the Millennial mindset that your nonprofit can leverage to generate greater and more effective reach.

2.  Where Have All the Donors Gone?

Whether it’s economic swings, demographic changes, "new" philanthropy or the plethora of ways to support a cause—no one knows for certain what’s causing our country’s decline in giving. The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s special report, “The Disappearing Donor,” examines this issue further with new data that shows a decline across all demographics (age, income, education, marital status and religion), even among donors that are typically staunch nonprofit supporters. In an attempt to reckon with this narrowing base of support, fundraisers within the nonprofit world are throwing ideas at the wall—with the hope that something will stick. As your organization begins to reassess its fundraising strategies, check out the link above for a more in-depth analysis of America’s shrinking donor base.

3.  U.S. to Receive Poor Report Card in Issues of Poverty

Philip Alston—United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights—is scheduled to present his findings from a 12-day fact-finding tour on poverty in the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 21st in Geneva, Switzerland. Alston’s final report, published a month ago, focuses on poverty and stereotypes surrounding it as well as racism, voting rights, income inequality, health care, and even mass incarceration. While Alston will be giving the U.S. a poor report card in front of the international community, he also offers five policy recommendations as a helpful step in implementing change. Follow the link above from Nonprofit Quarterly to discover key insights unveiled by Alston’s report and his recommended changes in U.S. policy.

4.  Giving and Volunteering and Workplace Turnover

Fostering a workplace culture that emphasizes goodness and engagement proves exponentially beneficial to employers. According to a new report from Benevity, Inc., a social-responsibility and employee-engagement software provider, the turnover rate for employees that both donate money and volunteer their time is 57% below that of unengaged employees. Not only do charities benefit, but employees are happier and more engaged—making for a more productive and stable workplace. Want to learn more about employee-centric giving programs and how they may benefit your organization? Check out the link above from The NonProfit Times to read more.

5.  Artificial Intelligence for Good

According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, many mission-driven organizations will look to artificial intelligence (AI) to amplify their work, stretch philanthropic dollars and expand impact. This sort of “mission-driven AI”—dubbed “AI for good”—will apply AI to solve ecological and societal challenges as machine-learning techniques help to streamline operations and enhance programming within social enterprises and nonprofit organizations. Want to know how recent breakthroughs in the world of AI would benefit your nonprofit? Click on the link above to learn more about the opportunities AI presents to the social change sector.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re dusting off an old copy of Anne Frank’s diary and diving in. 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: June 8, 2018

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it  —  always.” - Mahatma Gandhi

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of italways.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Born in India and educated in England, Mohandas K. Gandhi traveled to South Africa in 1893 as a young Indian lawyer. During a one-year contract to practice law, Gandhi was exposed to racism and subjugated to South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian workers. In a moment he would later recall as his “moment of truth,” Gandhi was removed from a first-class railway compartment and ejected from a train after he refused to comply with racial segregation rules. Upon the expiration of his work contract, he decided to remain in South Africa—determined to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian. Gandhi went on to launch a campaign against legislation that would deny Indians voting rights and form the Natal Indian Congress. These actions helped to shine a global spotlight on the plight of Indians in South Africa. But when the Transvaal government sought to further restrict Indians’ rights, Gandhi was compelled to organize his first act of mass civil disobedience—satyagraha—on June 7, 1893. After seven years of protest, a compromise with the South African government was finally made. In 1914, Gandhi returned to India where he lived an abstinent and spiritual life. Always nonviolent, he was revered for his philosophy of peaceful and passive resistance. Known as Mahatma—the great-soul—his persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced and inspired leaders of human rights movements around the world. Are you feeling inspired? We wouldn’t blame you! But check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week before planning your next peaceful protest.

1.  Want to Change the World? You'll Need These Two Things:

The world we live in today is nearly unrecognizable from that of past generations. To keep up with the times, nonprofit organizations are ever-evolving in their efforts to facilitate change. But advancements in society do not arise from disconnect and lack of insight. According to Forbes, sweeping change and large-scale progression depend on two components—a big vision and effective collaboration. As both are essential to tackle the difficulties faced by nearly every sector, merging multidisciplinary efforts can help to implement organizational visions. Is your nonprofit’s vision hindered by a disjointed team? Click on the link above to discover how your organization can leverage collaborations in order to advance your mission.

2.  Want to Start a Nonprofit? Read this:

After battling an eating disorder, ADD and other learning disorders as well as meth addiction, Concetta Mantinan got sober and devoted herself to starting her first business—now, she is launching her third. A recent article from Entrepreneur focuses on the story of this social entrepreneur and the lessons she’s learned regarding how to establish, fund and run a nonprofit organization. Are you contemplating turning your passion into a nonprofit? Check out the link above to read more about Mantinan’s journey and three tips for a successful business strategy.

3.  Nonprofit and For-Profit: Can They Work Together?

Public for-profit companies and private nonprofit organizations have always behaved as rivals. Treating the other as polar opposite in both composition and intention, for-profit and nonprofit sectors are constantly competing for attention, recognition and funding. Because both have such distinct characteristics, is it possible to align the two sectors on a path toward mutual success? According to Forbes, both sectors can generate great, lasting change through collaboration. Want to know how your organization can achieve mutually beneficial success with a for-profit collaborator? Follow the link above to learn how to form partnerships for a greater cause!

4.  White Space in the Nonprofit Sector

In the days of viral videos and social media newsfeeds, the narrative and counter-narrative with regards to race in the United States is becoming increasingly predominant and hard to ignore. Nonprofit organizations, acting as overseers of the public space, should examine the ways in which “white space” plays out within its own sector. According to the Nonprofit Quarterly, our country is experiencing a shift from implicit bias to explicit violence—this shift is crucial to the nonprofit sector as its own narrative, for the most part, echoes a narrative of racial inequity. How are your organization’s leaders approaching and addressing the issue of race? Check out the link above to read more about the nonprofit sector as white space and its role in bringing systems change.

5.  Is Your Collaboration on the Outs?

Successful collaborations between organizations accomplishes more than either entity could on its own. But because power is the “secret sauce” of nonprofit collaborations, a power imbalance left unaddressed could result in an ugly and counterproductive situation. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, collaborations fail when collaborative parties don’t discuss power and its implications. If you’re considering walking away from a collaboration because the other entity is seemingly too uncollaborative, consider whether power is the underlying problem. Click on the link above for suggestions on how to properly address power dynamics and leverage strengths for successful collaboration.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re feeling grateful for another reminder that lasting change is possible. 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: June 1, 2018

DID YOU KNOW? Big Ben is one of the most iconic (and misidentified) landmarks in the world. The name initially referred not to the tower (Elizabeth Tower), but to the enormous 13-ton bell housed inside it. The name is now used to refer to the clock itself.

DID YOU KNOW? Big Ben is one of the most iconic (and misidentified) landmarks in the world. The name initially referred not to the tower (Elizabeth Tower), but to the enormous 13-ton bell housed inside it. The name is now used to refer to the clock itself.

Quintessentially British. Located at the top of the renamed Elizabeth Tower—rising 320 feet above Westminster, London—the famous clock known as Big Ben began to tick on May 31, 1859. After a fire ravaged much of the Palace of Westminster (the British Parliament headquarters) in October 1834, a design for the new palace was set forth. A standout feature of the project was to be a large clock atop a tower. Sir George Airy, the royal astronomer, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, a feat that many clockmakers at the time dismissed as impossible. But with the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a barrister and expert of horology—the science of measuring time, Airy succeeded in producing a clock that is now famous for its accurate timekeeping. Big Ben’s accuracy is achieved by the steady movement of the clock's hands, guaranteed by a stack of coins placed on the clock’s gigantic pendulum. During nighttime, all four of Big Ben’s clock faces (each 23 feet in diameter) are lit, and a light above the clock is illuminated to indicate to the public when Parliament is in session. There are two competing narratives as to how the clock got its name. Some theorize it is nicknamed for a 19th century boxing champion, Benjamin Caunt, while others argue it is named after a Welsh engineer who oversaw the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament after the 1834 fire, Sir Benjamin Hall. Now that we’ve got you browsing flights to London for the next three-day weekend, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  "Othering" Language and the Nonprofit Narrative

Two types of language most commonly used for nonprofit and mission-based narratives are identity-first language and person-first language. Identity-first language defines individuals by their conditions—for example, a “homeless person,” while person-first language identifies the person first then adds a characteristic –for instance, a person experiencing homelessness.” Both languages are most frequently seen in donor- and funder-targeted materials and are used to evoke an emotional response that will lead to gifts. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, this type of “othering” language does a disservice to the individuals serviced by nonprofits. Have you examined the language used by your organization? Click on the link above to discover how your nonprofit can rewrite its narratives to empower, not victimize or dehumanize, individuals.

2.  Number of Nonprofit Organizations Nears 1.8 Million

The number of nonprofit organizations in the United States is now approaching 1.8 million, as more than 93 percent of tax-exempt applications were approved last year by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). With fewer than 100 out of 91,975 applications rejected by the IRS in 2017, the nonprofit sector is becoming increasingly saturated. Drastic steps taken by the IRS to expedite the tax-exempt application process with the shortened form 1023 and the high rate of approvals may be indicative of both resource constraints as well as budget stress. How will the high-rate of approvals for tax-exempt status impact your nonprofit? Check out the link above from The NonProfit Times to read more.

3.  Adaptive Strategy is Adapting

Through its work with foundations and nonprofits, the Monitor Institute by Deloitte has focused on the concept of “adaptive strategy.” This concept stems from the idea that organizations must do more than set a destination in its crosshairs—it must also execute and adjust over time. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, advancements in the disciplines of execution management, data science and innovation are influencing the way nonprofit leaders approach strategy and have created new opportunities to increase impact. Want to know how your organization can adapt by integrating insights from these fields? Follow the link above to find examples and start turning strategy into a verb!

4.  Effective Grant Writers Are ________________.

Grant writing is unlike any other type of writing as it requires a nuanced, specialized skill set that melds personable and analytical writing. Because nonprofit organizations need supplementary support while putting together grant proposals, grant writers are now in high demand. But what traits make a candidate stand out when applying to fill a grant writing position? Before considering your next hire, click on the link above from Forbes to discover nine traits of effective grant writers.

5.  Why Don't College Students Want to Volunteer?

More than three-quarters of students entering college feel as though it is their duty to help those in need. While this sentiment has grown steadily in the past few years, only 26 percent of all college students actually volunteer—a number lower than high school students. According to Fast Company, this is troubling as the college set is thought to have a more flexible schedule and to be more affluent and better educated than high-schoolers. Additionally, those who do not volunteer as college students, do not go on to volunteer as adults either. So what can your organization do to encourage volunteerism from students in higher education? Check out the link above for real-world examples of programs focused on encouraging students to get involved, both entrepreneurially and philanthropically.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re contemplating grabbing a pint at the pub after work—if we can’t be in London, that seems like the next best thing. Cheers!

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: May 25, 2018

DID YOU KNOW? The trademark color of the Golden Gate Bridge is “International Orange”—a vermilion color that is rust and fade resistant and meant to complement the picturesque sunsets of the San Francisco Bay.

DID YOU KNOW? The trademark color of the Golden Gate Bridge is “International Orange”—a vermilion color that is rust and fade resistant and meant to complement the picturesque sunsets of the San Francisco Bay.

The Golden Gate Bridge, a spectacular artistic and technological feat, spans the Golden Gate Straight at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay and connects San Francisco with Marin County, California. Prior to its construction, the concept of the bridge was so controversial that it took engineer Joseph Strauss 16 years to persuade doubtful city officials and others who opposed the project. After public opinion began to sway in favor of the undertaking, design plans were set and financing secured. Construction for the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933—when the economy had reached bottom as a result of the Great Depression. Strauss and his workers endured many challenges throughout the bridge’s creation, including frequent storms, heavy fogs and tumultuous waters from the straight—strong tides that constituted grave dangers for the necessary underwater construction. After just over four years of construction and eleven casualties, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public to great acclaim on May 27, 1937. On opening day, dubbed “Pedestrian Day,” some 200,000 people showed up to marvel at the 4,200-foot-long suspension bridge—the longest bridge of its kind in the world at the time. At its unveiling, the Golden Gate Bridge stood as a symbol of triumph and progress amidst economic hardship. After 80-plus years of operation, the bridge stands today as one of the world’s most recognizable architectural achievements. Now that you’ve added some facts to your trove of trivia, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  Hope, Not Rage, Driving Donations

According to a recent survey from Edge Research, approximately one in five people who made at least one donation in 2017 gave in reaction to a social or political shift that encroached upon their principles. While the press has begun to label these gifts as “rage donations,” findings from the above-mentioned report indicate that rage was not in fact the prime motivator for donating. Instead, hope (63%) and empowerment (58%) were the top two key drivers for reactive giving—with anger (26%) ranking fifth on the list overall. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, understanding what stirs donors to action is vital for fundraising, especially for nonprofits fighting regressive policies. Want to know more about emotionally driven charitable donations? Click on the link above to discover an in-depth summary of the study’s noteworthy findings.

2.  Franchise Organizations Serving Their Communities

Because of the unique structure of franchise organizations, individual owners are able to create a huge impact in the communities they serve. Through collaboration, shared technology platforms, buying power and pooled marketing dollars, networks of entrepreneurial business owners can give back and provide boots on the ground support to local initiatives. Most franchise owners are encouraged by their brands to participate in community efforts and some even have formal programs to streamline efforts. Want a snapshot of the types of initiatives taking place in the current marketplace? Check out the link above from Entrepreneur for three examples of franchise organizations providing much-needed resources to those in need.

3.  New Nonprofit? Avoid these Fundraising Mistakes

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million (and growing) tax-exempt organizations in the United States. That said, it can be a challenge for nonprofits to gain their share of charitable giving. This is especially true of newly-formed organizations that have not yet established recognition or a reputation amongst donors. A recent article from Forbes states that younger organizations oftentimes act too quickly in attempts to appeal to donors—leading to desperate measures that may cause long-term damage. Follow the link above to read about thirteen common fundraising errors to avoid in the infancy stages of your nonprofit.

4.  Donor-Advised Funds: The Basics

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) can be described as a personal charitable savings account. Donors create accounts and make contributions such as cash, stock, or other assets (artwork, real estate and the like) that are eligible for an immediate tax deduction. DAFs are controlled by nonprofits, referred to as sponsoring organizations, that manage the account and invest to charitable organizations according to donor wishes. While the use of DAFs is but a small part of philanthropy, their popularity has flourished in recent years. Because DAFs account for billions of dollars (and are seeing continual growth), people have are a lot of questions with regards to how these funds function. Want to learn more about DAFs? Click on the link above from The Chronicle of Philanthropy for the basics.

5.  Philanthropy Meets Advocacy

The widening rift between Democrats and Republicans is continually highlighted in headlines. Whether it is with regards to issues of race, immigration, the environment, or other serious issues, gridlock at the congressional level hinders elected officials' ability to solve our nation’s challenges. That said, Americans have begun to look to the nonprofit sector to address policy issues and take up the torch for causes they care about. According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, philanthropists can, and should, engage the public and policy makers and step up their advocacy work. But how should they proceed? Check out the link above for five questions philanthropists should work through to build and execute advocacy campaigns.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re wishing everyone a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend. 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: May 18, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?   Segregation has existed in other countries throughout history, including England, Ireland, French Algeria, Germany, China, Italy, Latin America, Norway, Rhodesia, South Africa, Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Israel, Liberia, Malaysia, Mauritania, and Yemen.

DID YOU KNOW? Segregation has existed in other countries throughout history, including England, Ireland, French Algeria, Germany, China, Italy, Latin America, Norway, Rhodesia, South Africa, Bahrain, Canada, Fiji, Israel, Liberia, Malaysia, Mauritania, and Yemen.

In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” railroad car accommodations conformed to equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. This ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson, was further used to justify the segregation of all public facilities, even schools. It wasn’t until the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that the federal tolerance of racial segregation was brought to an end. Because of the color of her skin, Linda Brown had been denied entrance to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas—a school that was miles closer to her home and far superior to her black alternative. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rallied around Linda and her case. The case made it before the Supreme Court with Thurgood Marshall, African American lawyer and future Supreme Court justice, at the forefront of Brown’s legal team. On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. This ruling was a major civil rights victory that ultimately led to the abolishment of racial segregation in all accommodations and public facilities. Now that you’ve had your history lesson for the day, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  Nonprofits, Keep Your Partners Happy

Nonprofit leaders invest a lot of time fostering relationships with their organization’s partners. In this sense, charitable organizations operate just like any other business—with partners expecting a return for the time, services or financial investments they make to your organization. Because the support of these agencies often plays an integral role in the advancement of your nonprofit’s mission, it is important to show them exactly what they’re getting out of the relationship. How does your nonprofit maintain mutually beneficial relationships? Click on the link above from Forbes to discover 11 tips for sustaining successful partnerships.

2.  Social Responsibility and Your Small Business

The business sector is continually changing. This is due in large part to the fact that business operations are based on cultural, technological and generational changes. Because we are in an era of social impact, a large number of businesses have shifted to a more socially responsible company platform. Do you want to attract talent and investors and help them feel good about what type of company they are committing to? Check out the link above from Entrepreneur and consider five reasons smaller businesses could benefit from following a social responsibility business model.

3.  Help Your Board to Spot Red Flags

There has been a disheartening amount of news coverage lately with regards to nonprofits facing insurmountable financial challenges. Whether it is critical audit reports, back taxes, cancelled federal grants, or unpaid bills, one has to wonder if members of these nonprofit boards missed the red flags. With the gift of hindsight, it is easy to look at the evidence available now and wonder how these issues could have gone unnoticed. Because most board “best practices” advise against micromanaging, problems may go unresolved as a result of governance vs. management. So what can be done to ensure your organization’s operations stay on the up-and-up? Follow the link above from Nonprofit Quarterly to learn how your board members can spot red flags.

4.  Is Your Nonprofit Ready to Expand Globally?

After having perfected service to its local (and perhaps even regional) area, it is natural for a nonprofit organization to consider global expansion as part of its growth strategy. While the organization may believe outward is the next step, how can leaders be sure their nonprofit is truly ready to take the leap? Because replicating service offerings on a global scale is not always a simple feat, there are steps organizations must take before expanding. Is your organization considering transitioning from a national platform to an international stage? Click on the link above from Forbes to find out how to expand deliberately with a solid strategy.

5.  Building Capacity in Times of Disruption

Nonprofit leadership is no walk in the park. Even before the 2016 US election, nonprofit work has been at the mercy of a myriad of factors such as technology, increasing inequality, globalization, and social and political movements. In recent years, it has become clear that for change to endure, leaders must understand what is happening on the frontlines and what nonprofits must do to do their work effectively. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, funders must also embrace the same tenents that nonprofit leaders are charged with. If funders are as adaptive as they ask their grantees to be, the social sector may be able to achieve change at the scale of the problems it faces. Check out the link above for suggestions for building capacity during times of disruption.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! With more knowledge of the past, we’re feeling even more appreciative for the present. 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: May 11, 2018

DID YOU KNOW? The "four-minute barrier" has since been broken by over 1,400 athletes. In the last 50 years, the mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, and currently stands at 3:43.13.

DID YOU KNOW? The "four-minute barrier" has since been broken by over 1,400 athletes. In the last 50 years, the mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, and currently stands at 3:43.13.

For years, many athletes tried (and failed) to run a mile in less than four minutes. So many were unsuccessful in the feat that the concept of the four-minute mile was thought to be physically impossible. In 1945, the world record for the fastest mile was set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden at four minutes and 1.3 seconds. In the 1950s, perhaps lured by the elusiveness of the task, several runners devoted themselves to being the first to finish within the three-minute time zone. It wasn’t until May 6, 1954 that a medical student named Roger Bannister accomplished the impossible by becoming the first person in recorded history to run a mile in under four minutes. After having broken track and field’s most famous barrier at three minutes and 59.4 seconds, Bannister paved the way for many athletes to follow. The once impossible task continues to be achieved, and the record for fastest mile lowered. But before you lace up your running shoes, check out these five nonprofit headlines from the news this week.

1.  New IRS Tool Provides Greater Public Insight into Exempt Organizations

Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service introduced a new online tool on IRS.gov that is meant to provide expanded access to information on exempt organizations. With quicker, easier access than its predecessor (EO Select Check), the new Tax Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) will allow greater insight for taxpayers considering donations to charitable organizations. Key features of TEOS include images of newly-filed 990 forms—made available to the public for the first time ever—as well as the ability to search for favorable determination letters. Additionally, the tool has been optimized for mobile use and can be accessed through tablets and even smartphones. Before making your next donation, give the new TEOS tool a try. Click on the link above to discover what information is now available to you.

2.  Politics and Philanthropy

In an effort to understand what factors allow philanthropy to flourish or flounder, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI conducted the 2018 Global Philanthropy Environment Index (GPEI). The study evaluated 79 economies on a five-point scale across five key factors in order to evaluate the level of ease with which philanthropic organizations can operate. This year’s report examined how governing laws and socio-cultural and political environments either incentivize or hinder giving efforts around the world. Want to know how your region faired on the latest GPEI? Check out the link above from The NonProfit Times to learn how politics is affecting philanthropy in areas throughout the world.

3.  Follow Your Passion Without Losing Your Salary

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations in the United States. With that many organizations striving to bring about positive change, there are numerous opportunities for those wanting to turn their passion into something more valuable. As set forth in a recent article from Entrepreneur, passion and profitability do not have to be mutually exclusive. If you’re considering the switch from the for-profit to the nonprofit sector, consider the ways in which you may be able to parlay your corporate experience to achieve quantifiable results as part of a nonprofit organization. Socially meaningful investments made by nonprofits serve those in need as well as provide a return to social impact financial partners. Follow the link above to learn more about how to pursue your passion without sacrificing an important business role (or a paycheck).

4.  Issues of Inequity and Affordable Housing

On the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, President Johnson pleaded with congressional members to enact legislation that would prohibit discrimination in housing sales, rentals and financing. As a result, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fair Housing Act. While the law was a step in the right direction, affordable housing continues to be unattainable for many—as millions of families across the U.S. today still struggle with housing insecurity. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, finding a solution to the affordable housing crisis means addressing issues of inequity—whether issues of race, age, class or gender. So how can we spark a conversation and adjust the public viewpoints encumbering better, quality housing for all? Click on the link above for a look at two ways to change the story told about housing in America.

5.  Nonprofit Website Design Mistakes

According to Internet Statistics Live, there are more than 1.8 billion websites—a number that continues to grow. With that amount of competition, it can be a challenge to create a website that excels in both content and design. This is especially true for nonprofits wanting to ensure that donors look to them when they are ready to give. Want to ensure that your website is user-friendly and attractive to viewers? Check out the Forbes article linked above for the seven most common web design mistakes and how your nonprofit can avoid them.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! We’re feeling motivated and ready to tackle the impossible. See you next week.

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