Thursday, October 24, 2013

You're Invited to our Second Annual Volunteer Managers Conference!

Institute for Human Services

Developing Effective Leadership Skills for Volunteer Managers: 2013 Volunteer Conference

Wednesday November 13, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM EST
Add to Calendar

Corning Museum of Glass
1 Museum Way
Corning, NY 14830
Driving Directions

Join IHS and the 2-1-1 HELPLINE Give Help program 
for our second Annual Volunteer Conference. The 
Conference is an opportunity for organizations to
 share their experiences working with volunteers, 
build skills to better manage them, and learn about
 new trends and issues. Volunteer leaders of all 
different experience levels are invited to this event with
 our keynote speaker, Shirley Brown from Follow
 Through Consulting, panels of volunteer administrators
 and volunteers, and conference wrap up discussion.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference and please contact us with any questions.
Tess McKinley
Institute for Human Services/ 2-1-1 HELPLINE Give Help

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters | October 7, 2013

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters banner

Paying for Indirect Costs Essential to Success, New Report Finds
Investing for Impact coverPrevailing government policies and practices render many charitable nonprofits less efficient and effective, according to findings presented in a new report by the National Council of Nonprofits. Investing for Impact: Indirect Costs are Essential for Success details how a combination of inconsistent terminology by governments, arbitrary application of those terms, and unrealistic expectations impair the ability of nonprofits to deliver services that governments at all levels contract with them to provide and weakens the viability of the entire sector to provide services to the public on behalf of governments. Among other findings, the report challenges outdated thinking and demonstrates that actual indirect costs range from 20 percent to 40 percent at charitable nonprofits.

Investing for Impact offers practical solutions that governments at all levels can adopt to strengthen the government-nonprofit contracting relationship while ensuring higher-performing partners and cost savings for taxpayers. Charitable nonprofits are invited to help ongoing contracting reform efforts by sharing your experiences and problems with contracting with local and state governments. For more on the report and on the Council of Nonprofits’ government-nonprofit contracting reform initiative, go

Long Federal Shutdown Means Greater Demands, Impact on Nonprofits
When the federal government shut down on October 1 due to the failure of politicians to reach agreement on a bill to fund federal programs, many people presumed that the government would be closed for only a few days and the impact would be relatively light. However, the widening chasm between the political parties suggests that the shutdown could continue for weeks, perhaps even spilling over to and beyond the October 17 date when the federal government will hit the statutory debt limit. Every day of shutdown increases the tally of adverse effects for nonprofits and the people they serve. Many federally funded, community-based programs that provide food for infants, children, veterans, and seniors, such as Meals on Wheels and WIC (Women, Infant, and Children Supplemental Nutrition), report having only enough resources to continue operating for a few more days. At least 23 Head Start programs in 11 states have already run out of money, leaving children without access to vital educational programs and their parents scrambling for options. People who could be applying for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans' benefits, or other essential programs -- all of which have been idled during the shutdown -- turn to charities for help. Members of the VISTA national service program continue to accrue their stipends during the shutdown, but they won’t be paid until government operations resume, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service; yet, VISTA participants reportedly are prohibited from taking second jobs to earn other income while they wait to be paid. 

Government shutdowns – just like arbitrary sequestration cuts – may stop funding, but they do not stop human needs. Indeed, they actually increase needs. When people are in need, they turn to charitable nonprofits for help – yet nonprofits have been stretched beyond capacity the last several years since the Great Recession due to higher demands for help and reduced revenues.

Dealing with the Federal Government Shutdown at the State Level
The National Governors Association has made clear that state governors oppose the federal government shutdown and are concerned about whether and how the states will backfill reduced federal support, especially if the political impasse goes on for long. “We will not be acting as the federal government's bank,” said Michigan Budget Director John Nixon, suggesting that individuals will have to turn elsewhere for help. Arizona took it a step further, cutting off welfare assistance to the very poor. To avert additional pressures on nonprofits and their communities, State Associations across the country are working to prepare nonprofits for the range of effects the government shutdown could have on their work and the people they serve:
Nonprofits Prepare for 2014 State Tax Reform Discussions
Tax reform discussions for the 2014 legislative sessions are already underway across the country. Last week New York Governor Cuomo announced the creation of a new tax reform committee tasked with reducing sales taxes for individuals and businesses. The new tax committee must submit its report to the Governor by December 6, 2013. The Nebraska Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee kicked off a series of tax reform hearings in September that seek to gather input from the public on tax reform topics. The Committee has until December 15 to submit its recommendations to the Legislature. The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands is working to engage local nonprofits in the state tax reform dialogue to ensure the organizations have a seat at the table on tax changes that could negatively affect their work in communities. Vermont policymakers during their 2014 session are also expected to discuss a tax reform proposal that would cap all itemized deductions, including the charitable giving incentive, at 2.5 times the standard deduction. Common Good Vermont and several other nonprofits in the state have alreadyvoiced concerns about the proposed change.

Taxes, Fees, PILOTs
  • Property Tax Exemptions: The New Jersey Supreme Court ended a decade-long battle over property taxes, ruling that nonprofit organizations that provide housing and other services to mentally ill and disabled persons do not owe property taxes on their residential facilities. The Court’s unanimous decision stressed the importance of protecting nonprofits’ tax-exempt status because it decreases the demands on government. The case represents a crucial precedent in New Jersey, where the state and local governments have tried on several other occasions in recent years to levy taxes, fees, or PILOTs on charitable nonprofits.
  • Property Tax Exemptions: The Ohio Tax Commissionruled that a hospital must be reimbursed for more than $1 million in property taxes assessed by a local school district. The nonprofit hospital had been paying property taxes for five years despite having applied for tax-exempt status in 2008. The Commission ruled that the hospital is classified as a nonprofit organization and, therefore, should have been exempt from property taxes during this period.
  • Business Taxes: A New Hampshire State Representative is considering submitting a bill that would apply the state’s Business Enterprise Tax to nonprofit colleges and hospitals. The tax currently charges businesses above a certain size a 0.75 percent fee on interest, dividends, and compensation, but exempts charitable nonprofits. Some nonprofits in New Hampshire are pushing back against the idea: “They provide a public good, which is why they’re exempt from the Business Enterprise Tax and generally exempt from taxes,” a nonprofit representative said. “It would be a direct challenge to their tax-exempt status.”
Government-Nonprofit Contracting News
Illinois Implements Reforms that Benefit Nonprofits and Taxpayers

Illinois taxpayers, individuals receiving vital services, and nonprofit service providers are the beneficiaries of ongoing contracting reform efforts. Key areas of progress include creation of an electronic document repository, reduction of nonprofit monitoring from annual reviews to once every three-to-five years, and adoption of a common contract agreement template that five separate state agencies can use, according to a report to the Illinois General Assembly from the Management Improvement Initiative Committee (MIIC). The Centralized Repository Vault (CRV) is generating savings by allowing nonprofits to electronically upload standard documents like an organization’s articles of incorporation and IRS Form 990 only once, when previously they were required to submit as hard copies to each state agency multiple times – thus saving taxpayers the costs of storage and retrieval. The MIIC is also working on a process for accepting deemed status of service providers to reduce regulatory burdens on nonprofits and a new standardized billing system and reporting format. MIIC was created in 2011 by the General Assembly to improve government-nonprofit contracting practices and procedures across Illinois’ five human services agencies.

Denver Strengthens Partnership with Nonprofit Contractors
Nonprofits in Denver are seeing positive results from the City’s efforts to improve contracting and partnerships. The Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships (DOSP), which serves as a liaison between the City and local charitable nonprofit service providers, last week began posting a listing of funding opportunities on DOSP’s website and expanding its newsletter to highlight City funding opportunities for their nonprofit partners. The Office also released a guide for City agencies on the selection process for nonprofit funding streams to support efforts to structure a clear and transparent selection process, and is providing training to City employees on working effectively with nonprofits. Denver’s commitment to streamlining contracting processes is demonstrated by DOSP Executive Director, Dace West: “As a City, we elect to work with the nonprofit community to complement and support services already provided by City agencies or to meet needs that the City does not have the capacity, resources or expertise to address. As a result, the City is able to more effectively and efficiently execute its vision of creating a world-class city where everyone matters.”

Additional State and Local Issues

Nonprofits Take to Advocacy to Avoid Another Round of Sequestration
Nonprofits nationwide are actively engaging with policymakers in efforts to prevent a second round of sequestration cuts from taking effect in January of 2014. The Maine Association of Nonprofits is hosting a discussion with Senator Angus King to end sequestration and demonstrate how the arbitrary and across-the-board cuts are limiting the ability of nonprofits to serve their communities. Similarly, the National Head Start Association held a rally on October 2nd at the US Capitol to demonstrate the adverse effects of current and future sequester cuts. Those cuts have already forced Head Start programs nationally to drop 57,000 children from their early education programs in addition to firing teachers, cutting schedules and reducing transportation for low-income families. The advocacy efforts of nonprofits like these are essential for ensuring that policymakers and the public see the true cost of these arbitrary cuts and recognize the impact they have on charitable nonprofits and the communities they serve. Readers can share stories about how sequestration has affected their communities and read others, from every state,

Best of the Web: October 2013

Idealware: Helping Nonprofits Make Smart Software Decisions

Best of the Web: October 2013

The Idealware “Best of the Web” is a monthly roundup of the top nonprofit resources from the Idealware blog, our Facebook page, and our Twitter feed to help you make the right technology decisions. 

The Best Times to Post on Social Media: Introducing the Burrito Principal (Beth’s Blog)It’s a question that is often asked, "when is the best time to post on social media?" While the same solution won’t work for everyone, Beth Kanter provides a simple, but often overlooked, insight: post when your fans have downtime online. Whether they’re just clocking in for the morning, grabbing a bite at lunch, or checking in after a long day, contemplating your audience’s social media viewing habits can increase your chances of getting important messages heard.

Don’t Fall Into This Trap That Could Destroy Your Blog (ProBlogger)Comparing yourself to other nonprofit blogs, websites, and social media pages can be a great way to get ideas and get started, but it’s important to go your own way. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but as this blog post points out, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how your blog performs against your one-time online communications idols.

13 Ethical Ways to Increase Your Site’s Search Traffic (Mashable)When you’re first starting out with a website, it can be all too tempting to use trickery to boost your search engine ranking. The fact is that providing great content (the kind people want to find when they search) is the key to getting your rank up and keeping it there. These lessons from the for-profit sector are good things to keep in mind for any nonprofit website goals.

Three Tips for Managing Your Interns & Skilled Volunteers (Idealware)Interns and volunteers can save you an incredible amount of money, help to make your organization run smoother, and become valued members of your team. That is, of course, provided they are well managed, and welcomed to an environment that nurtures good work. This guest blog post, written by an intern at VolunteerMatch, will give you some ideas as to how you can get the best performance out of your part time staff.

One Page Scrolling Web Sites: A Great New Way to Tell a Story (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)When dealing with large campaigns, it is important to tell a compelling story, and translate it clearly and concisely. While you wouldn’t want to use it on every page of your site, or in every campaign, a single vertical page full of engaging multimedia can be a great way to walk your reader from the beginning to the end of your story.

New Study Shows Millennials Want To Make A Global Difference (Frogloop)Looking to connect with a younger, global audience? The good news is that they want to help; you just have to know how to reach them. This study, performed by Telefonica and The Financial Times, looked at the optimism of young people around the world, and their adoption of technology, to give you insight into how you can make the connection.

Nonprofit Storytelling for Crowdfunding & Online Fundraising (CauseVox)In storytelling, it’s not always what your organization does that tugs at your donor’s heartstrings, but the people you help, and the difference it makes. This blog post gives examples of how you can break away from the “laundry list of programs your nonprofit provides” and make a unique, impactful statement in your fundraising appeals.

Tracking Volunteer Time to Boost Your Bottom Line: A Complete Accounting Guide (blue avocado)Your volunteers work hard, are they receiving due credit? Tracking your volunteers’ time can give you a unique perspective on the amount of work your organization is doing, and the return on investment your donors enjoy. This guide will give you everything you need to get started, including a sample tracking form.
Idealware’s Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide: Three Perspectives (TechSoup)You like us! You really like us! This blog post, written by our friends at TechSoup, shows how jam packed our Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide really is, as three writers offer three unique takeaways from the report.

Using SROI to Show Your Nonprofit’s Impact ( Nonprofit Charitable Orgs)We all know about ROI, or return on investment, but what about SROI: social return on investment? You can determine the impact of your nonprofit by looking at what would happen if your nonprofit never existed, thereby determining your value to your community, and comparing it with the cost to run your programs and how many people you are helping. This unique approach to outcomes measurement isn’t for everyone, but the right organizations can make compelling arguments for their value to donors and foundations.

Nonprofit Knowledge Matters | The Leadership Lens

Nonprofit Knowledge Matters banner

The Leadership Lens

Editor’s notes, by Jennifer Chandler 
Jennifer ChandlerMy appreciation for what leadership is – and isn’t – has been sharpened lately listening to stories about first jobs. One young adult close to my family shared his experiences working for a leader who sounds like the antithesis of a "servant-leader." Hearing that young person's misgivings motivated me to search for resources about good governance and inspiring leaders, both of which are abundant in the charitable nonprofit community. Hence the theme of this issue of Nonprofit Knowledge Matters. Whatever your leadership lens, we hope these articles will offer ideas for discussions with your nonprofit peers about the leadership role charitable nonprofits play in communities, and the characteristics you aspire to demonstrate in your own leadership journey.  


Dynamic Leadership
We expect so much of leaders. And leaders expect so much of themselves. But one person, or even a small leadership team, may have a blind spot. We’ve all read about the “wisdom of crowds” and the challenges of overworked, overstressed leaders making decisions. What if your nonprofit used a governance and decision-making process that made the organization smarter than any one leader/small leadership team? Read more in our guest post by Sheella Mierson.

Can everyone lead?
Nonprofit leaders take their role seriously. That’s why convenings hosted by state associations of nonprofits often include conversations about effective leadership. Paul Schmitz, keynote speaker at the recent Nonprofit Leadership Summit hosted by theNew Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, and author of Everyone Leads, has questioned the premise that leadership is only for a few. Another leader and convener of nonprofits in New England, Common Good Vermont (a Nonprofit Ally member of the National Council of Nonprofits), has taken up the mantle of leadership in a big way. Common Good Vermont aspires to weave leadership and citizenship into the fabric of the Green Mountain state so that leadership is not just something that others do, but something thateveryone does. Find out more aboutCommon Good Vermont's initiative in an article by Council of Nonprofits intern Molly Tilghman.

Providing Leadership for Collaboration
GEO reportA new report from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) highlights how funders can support nonprofits engaged in collaborations.Working Better Together: Building Nonprofit Collaborative Capacity lays out insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to effectively collaborate — including strong leadership and an open mindset, the ability to share power and responsibility, adaptability and flexibility, and strong connectivity and relationship building — and how grantmakers can play a vital role in building these capacities. As described in the report, key roles grantmakers can play include: helping nonprofits make connections with collaborative partners, offering core support (i.e., unrestricted) long-term funding, and providing other resources, such as technology, that may be needed to support and enable collaborative work. 

Leadership to Change Perspectives on Indirect Costs
Investing for Impact coverKudos to the many leaders in the nonprofit community who havesigned the pledge to educate donors and grantmakers about the fact that programs run by nonprofits require general operating funds to turn on the lights, process payroll, purchase liability insurance, and pay for a myriad of other “indirect costs.” Charitable nonprofits are also taking a leadership role in spreading the word thatgovernment contracts and grants should reimburse nonprofits for the indirect costs that they incur

If your nonprofit provides services on behalf of governments, we think you will be interested in a new report from the National Council of Nonprofits, Investing for Impact: Indirect Costs Are Essential for Success. Even if your nonprofit doesn't have any government contracts or grants, you will still find Investing for Impact useful because it shares substantial research for board members and funders about the need to invest in core infrastructure to have a stronger nonprofit. The new report offers nonprofits ideas for how to explain to their government partners and private philanthropy that payment of indirect costs is vital to the effectiveness of the services provided, and for the sustainability of the nonprofit. The report includes practical solutions that governments at all levels can adopt to strengthen the government-nonprofit contracting relationship, ensure higher-performing nonprofit partners (and cost savings for taxpayers). BUT -- it’s up to charitable nonprofits to lead the way with the key messages in the report when negotiating with governments. Lead on!

More resources on leadership

Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's Weekly News

News From State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli

For the week ending October 6, 2013 

DiNapoli Tours Rochester–based Vnomics to Promote
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Tuesday toured Vnomics Corp.
, a Rochester-based provider of fleet management software, to highlight 
investments made by the State Common Retirement Fund’s In–State
 Private Equity Program in companies emerging from New York’s universities.
 The Fund has invested more than $500,000 in the company since 2011 through
 High Peaks Venture Partners.

A.G. Schneiderman & Comptroller Dinapoli Announce 

Than $50k In Goods & Services

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Tuesday the arrest of Roger Burlew, Highway Superintendent fo
r                 the  Town of Erin, for stealing more than $50,000 in goods and services. The            Attorney General’s criminal complaint alleges Burlew stole the money by       submitting fraudulent vouchers for payment to the Town of Erin. The Joint                 Task Force on Public Integrity is a cooperative effort between Attorney                General Schneiderman’s and Comptroller DiNapoli’s offices to root out                 public corruption and maximize the resources of each office.
Stole Nearly $108,000

The director of Binghamton’s Parks and Recreation Department pocketed    
 nearly $108,000 in taxpayer funds and allegedly used the cash to pay for         his mortgage, summer rental, car lease, and loans to his sons, according to an audit by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
 and Unemployment Insurance Benefits

An audit of five counties by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office            
 found that hundreds of county jail inmates received inappropriate payments         totaling more than $236,000 from various social welfare programs and                  almost $325,000 in state unemployment insurance (UI). The inappropriate            benefits were caused by deficiencies in how four of the five counties                monitored the eligibility of jail inmates   for welfare payments, and by a        combination of potential fraud and delays providing the state Department                       of Labor (DOL) with information about inmates receiving UI benefits.

DiNapoli: Audit Cites Town of Shandaken Employee for Stealing Funds

The secretary of the Ulster County town of Shandaken highway department           
misused more than $20,000, including $5,000 in federal funding that was       earmarked for flood cleanup costs, according to an audit released Wednesday                by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The findings of the Comptroller’s          audit and investigation were referred to the New York State Police. They              arrested Florence Sullivan on July 17 and charged her with one count of                    grand      larceny in the third degree, one count of falsifying business records                in the first degree and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree.

DiNapoli Releases Bond Calendar for Fourth Quarter

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Tuesday announced a tentative schedule for the planned sale of obligations for the State, New York City, and their major public authorities during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases School Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Tuesday his office completed audits of the Hudson City School District, the Islip Union Free School District, and the Ramapo Central School District.
Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Tuesday his office completed audits of the Cayuga County Probation Department, the                  
 Coldspring Fire District, and the Town of Stockport.