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In recent years around the nation, local governments have faced critical budget shortfalls. At the same time, the need for public services and assistance has skyrocketed due, at least in part, to growing economic inequality.   Legislators and officials have tried to squeeze every possible nickel and dime out of the taxpaying base of individuals and entities. But in many localities, the biggest players and property owners are the “eds and meds”: the major health…
“Respecting a donor’s intent is an ethical issue and also a legal matter,” according to the National Council of Nonprofits on its website section on “ethical fundraising.”  And a recent study confirms what is certainly a matter of common sense: A donor whose intent about a charitable contribution is not carefully followed feels “betrayed” and is unlikely to continue supporting that donee financially or in any other way. Even if the organization uses the…
“Detroit was still smoldering from the 1967 riots” when civil-rights activists Father William T. Cunningham and Eleanor M. Josaltis took the first steps toward creating what has become Focus: Hope.   Now, fifty years later, the 501(c)(3) organization has an annual budget of over $30 million and a staff of about 200 people. The group has fought against racism and poverty over the span of its five-decade history through a robust and wide-ranging menu of…
In A New Accounting Rule: But Don’t Sleep Through This One (March 10, 2015), we first told you about a bold step by the federal government to more fully reimburse government grantees and contractors for both direct and indirect costs.  These important changes to the Uniform Guidance Rules of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) apply to all contracts signed after December 26, 2014, that include federal dollars as part of the funding. …
The prestigious Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is written “by and for social change leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society—nonprofits, foundations, business, government, and engaged citizens.”  We’re big fans of this award-winning publication of Stanford (University’s) Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Last year, for instance, in The “Big Bet” Social Change Movement (April 15, 2019), we highlighted SSIR’s engaging forum on that topic.  Thoughts on Diversity  Two days…
There’s news from (and about) the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on several matters of interest to the nonprofit sector. The most notable development is a reimbursement process for those 501(c)(3)s that paid unrelated business income taxes on the universally reviled “parking tax” that was just repealed in December 2019.    IRS Gives Relief – Or Does It? Two years ago, the nonprofit world was surprised and dismayed by a number of the provisions of…
Our readers know that Vu Le (@NonprofitAF) is one of our favorite bloggers. In November 2019, he wrote an important piece reflecting on the imminent completion of his executive directorship of Seattle-based RVC , which “promotes social justice by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.” The title of the post, It’s time funders take nonprofit leadership turnover seriously, speaks volumes about Mr. Le’s…
Marian Conway of The Nonprofit Quarterly says that “for nonprofits, this is a dream come true.” What is this much-anticipated gift? “The City of New York is planning to help pay indirect costs.”  Until recently, there has been a wall of resistance from donors and funders (foundation and governments) for supporting overhead items in grants and contracts. Traditionally, foundations have preferred making grants for “exciting programs,” not to keep a grantee’s lights on, and…
In the year 2019, “impact” became one of the hottest buzzwords in the nonprofit sector. But nonprofits have struggled to measure “impact.”   Just ahead of last month’s Giving Tuesday event, a new ratings organization – ImpactMatters – appeared on the philanthropy scene. Whether or not this new watchdog group meets an unmet need – and, if so, whether it does the job well – is an open question.     Struggling to Measure Impact ”It’s no…
The corrosive effect of The Overhead Myth is well-known among board and staff of nonprofit organizations. We’ve written about it several times, most recently in Smashing the Overhead Myth: A Step Forward (October 24, 2019).  Simply put, there’s been a false narrative floating around for decades that a nonprofit should be judged on its effectiveness by how little it spends on overhead. But the opposite is true: that is, “it takes money to achieve charitable