Friday, January 13, 2012

Featured Nonprofit Job: Director of Facilities

Cross-Posted From Nonprofit Jobs

When employers post their jobs to the Nonprofit Job Seeker, they have the option to make them "featured jobs." This is done to give the job the highest possible exposure. We had one of those jobs posted today from The Lathrop Community Group, Inc.

Located in Easthampton, MA, this nonprofit is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that provides senior citizens with affordable housing. They are currently seeking a Director of Facilities to help keep their buildings in excellent condition. Duties would include developing, planning, organizing, and directing the functions of the maintenance department. The position will also involve the oversight of the Housekeeping, Security, and Transportation departments, so you should be comfortable juggling many tasks at once.

As for requirements, it is recommended that you have a strong background in the healthcare field. You should also be very good with technology and have strong leadership skills. Here are some other requirements.
  • A Bachelor's (Master's preferred) degree in Engineering, Management, or another related field.
  • At least five years of proven experience managing at a large facility (preferably a healthcare-related environment).
  • An equivalent combination of education and experience will be considered.
Interested? Apply for Director of Facilities position on our job board.

Technology Dos And Don'ts

Technology can make our lives so much easier. But then again it can also make it that much more complicated.

While some nonprofits would rather not have to deal with the potential headaches that come with technology like computers and smartphones, it’s simply unavoidable in today’s society. An organization will quickly fall behind if it is using outdated technology. In his book “Nonprofit Management 101,” Darian Rodriguez Heyman lists some dos and don’ts for nonprofits when managing technology. Let’s start with the dos:
  • DO let your mission and strategy be your guides when making technology decisions.
  • DO establish strong systems. Your staff can’t get much mission-critical work done if they have to reboot the computers every hour.
  • DO plan! You don’t have to get out your crystal ball to plan effectively for your technology needs.
  • DO evaluate continuously. You can’t learn from your experiences if you never stop to reflect.
Here are the don’ts:
  • DON’T make technology decisions based solely on cost. Cost is only one factor in determining the value and expense of technology.
  • DON’T forget to include staff in your technology decisions. You’ll need allies as you implement new systems.
  • DON’T select mission-critical software like a donor database without first documenting your key business processes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Head Of Chicago Nonprofit Ousted

Robert Wharton, the head of one of the largest nonprofits in Illinois, was ousted from the organization after a series of financial-related scandals.

The Chicago Tribune reported the news today after the announcement from the board of the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) of Cook County.  The move follows a report from The Tribune earlier in the week that Wharton, who was CEO of the organization, had failed to make court-appointed payments to his former secretary, 91-year old Dorothy Hork.

The Cook County public guardian accused Wharton of manipulating Hork, who has dementia, over several years to write him checks for tens of thousands of dollars.  Wharton had agreed in 2011 to repay her $78,000 through a series of monthly installments.  He eventually defaulted on those payments after writing her checks that bounced due to a lack of funds.  He still owes Hork $71,000, which he has since agreed to pay using retirement funds.  Circuit Court Judge Ann Collins-Dole has demanded he pay $17,400 by the end of the month.

Wharton had led CEDA since his appointment in 1997.  The organization helps residents of Cook County with programs such as child and family development, housing, and weatherization.  Abe Thompson, a spokesman for the organization, would not say how the board came to its decision, but it's likely Wharton's recent problems played a big role.

You can read the full story in The Chicago Tribune.

The Danger Of Online Lobbying

The campaign season is starting to heat up as we move closer to the 2012 Presidential elections, and soon the real fun will begin: Lobbying for one candidate over another.  But nonprofits need to be careful about how they participate in this kind of advocacy.

In the most recent edition of The NonProfit Times, we went over how the IRS is increasingly scrutinizing nonprofit organization's participation in political advocacy.  If an organization is perceived to have overstepped its boundaries, they could be in danger of getting heavily fined.

This campaign season, it will be common for nonprofits to want to post voter guides on their websites to let their supporters make educated decisions on which candidate to support.  In order to help avoid some of the pitfalls of online lobbying, Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum and Lisa M. Hix of Venable LLP offered the following advice:
  • Simply linking to candidate-related material alone is not enough to be considered political campaign intervention.
  • If you're unsure about what constitutes intervention, consider the following: Are all candidates equally represented?  Does the website your linking to favor one candidate over another?  Is the link being offered with an exempt purpose (i.e. candidate education)?
  • When preparing to post a link, organizations should be very careful.  Any website that contains specific views on legislation, as well as links to a voting legislator's e-mail, will be treated as a "call to action," even if that wasn't the intention.
  • Check sites for links added inadvertently or without authorization.

Velvet Underground Sues Andy Warhol Foundation Over Visual

How much is a banana worth?  According to legendary rock band The Velvet Underground, it's worth enough to start a lawsuit.

The New York Post reported yesterday that band members Lou Reed and John Cale are suing the Andy Warhol Foundation over its use of of the iconic banana image from the band's debut album, "The Velvet Underground and Nico."  The suit, which was filed in a Manhattan federal court, claims that the Foundation illegally licensed the image for use on iPad cases and accessories in an effort to exploit the "goodwill" generated by the group.  The filing goes on to say that the Foundation is attempting to "deceive the public" into thinking the products have the approval of The Velvet Underground.

Warhol had served as producer of VU's debut album, and created the banana image from an ad that was in the public domain.  Although he never copyrighted the image, the music community widely agrees that it has become a symbol of The Velvet Underground.  The band has gone on to note that the image as its logo in a 1995 box set, and licenced its use in 2001 ad for Absolut Vodka.  In this case, it appears the band was not consulted.  The Andy Warhol Foundation had no comment to The Post regarding the suit.

The use of logos is always a touchy subject legally.  A simple image can define an entire organization and groups are very protective of that power.  That's why branding is so important for any group or organization.

You can read more about this story in The New York Post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Site Spotlight: The Resource Marketplace

Today, we want to put a spotlight on one of the sections of our website: The Resource Marketplace. It is important for any nonprofit manager to have a list of contacts that can help with any need that might arise, and that is exactly what the Resource Marketplace can do for you. From accounting services to grant writers, this page has high quality contacts that can immediately help your nonprofit.

When you click on any of the categories in the Resource Marketplace, it will call up a list of matching businesses. This list will contain the company's name, contact information, and a short description detailing what they do. We are constantly updating this list whenever we make new connections, so keep checking if you don't find a service that meets your organization's needs.

Head on over to Resource Marketplace today and see what's available.

Families Reach Settlement In Death Of WV Miners

USA Today reported yesterday that Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, which bought the mine from Massey Energy last summer, reached a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuits filed by the families of those killed in the April 2010 blast, which was the worst mine disaster in nearly 40 years. 

The company did not confirm the agreement, but attorney Mark Moreland confirmed that the deal was struck on Tuesday.  Moreland would not disclose the details of the agreement, saying only that it was "compensation."  The NonProfit Times reported on this disaster in 2010, in a piece about Black Lung Trusts.

These were the final 13 lawsuits remaining.  Some had already been settled, including a $210-million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in December that spared Alpha Natural Resources from criminal prosecution.  Individuals from the corporation, however, can still be prosecuted.  Former security chief Hughie Elbert Stover has already been convicted of lying to investigators and destroying mine records.  He is currently awaiting sentencing.

Investigation into the Upper Big Branch blast by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the United Mine Workers of America and an independent panel appointed by former Gov. Joe Manchin concluded that Massey had allowed highly explosive methane gas and coal dust to build up in the mine, creating a hazardous work environment.  The parties also agreed that the main cause of the disaster was Massey's efforts to conceal these problems.

You can read more about the settlement in USA Today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Handling Employee Online Privacy

One of the big responsibilities of human resources is to make sure employees are treated fairly and their privacy is protected.  Employees expect what happens in the office to remain there, but today's technology allows people to easily spread the word out to countless people. 

It's up to HR to make sure this doesn't happen so the organization can avoid any legal problems.  But how to do this when the technology makes it so easy?  Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum and Lisa M. Hix of D.C.-based Venable LLP offered some tips on how nonprofits can better handle these sticky situations:
  • Employees are going to use their computers for personal use whether you like it or not.  It's an unavoidable fact of life, so make sure staff is educated on what they can and can't post.
  • You need a clear and reasonable policy that explains expectations on usage. It should reduce any expectation of privacy on the organization’s computers or email, phone/voicemail or Blackberry systems and the data on them.
  • Make sure the policy you create addresses permissible use while guarding against potential legal pitfalls.
  • Always be prepared.  Organize a team (consisting of legal, executive, marketing, and HR staff) before a crisis happens, not after.
  • Want to check out a potential employee's online interactions?  Get written consent from them first.
  • Screen all your candidates the same way.  Don't treat one different than the other.
  • Remember that you can only decide not to hire someone based on online interactions if it's a non-discriminatory reason.  For example, you can't just not hire a person because you found out they have different political beliefs than you.

The UBIT Bowl?

Is the Sugar Bowl disclosing all of its taxable incomes?  That's exactly what the IRS will have to find out.

Last night's 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game is run by the registered 501(3)(c) organization, and tickets for it ranged from $300 to $350, face value.  A steep price to pay but, presumably, that money was going to a good cause.  ESPN reported a few days ago that the Sugar Bowl's IRS disclosure form showed that the organization gave away $6.21 million in grants in the fiscal year ending June 2010.  Pretty charitable, right?  Not so fast.

A closer inspection reveals that the $6 million is a grant in name only.  It's really just a payment to the BCS, which theoretically uses that tax-free money to fund higher education.  But, according to ESPN, the BCS uses a majority of those funds to subsidize the high ticket prices they force universities to buy.  In total, the Sugar Bowl gave only $210,056 to charities in 2010, and those grants were the Southern Yacht Club and the Friends of New Orleans Lacrosse.

In the same blog post, ESPN reported some news that won't make the bowls too happy.  A lobbying group called the Playoff PAC plans to ask the IRS to look into the spending of all of the bowls.  They say there is a pattern of frivolous spending amongst the organizations, as well as undisclosed lobbying payments.  The IRS is already looking into the regime of former Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker who is accused, among other things, of reimbursing employees for donations they made to political candidates and throwing extravagant parties that included trips to strip clubs.  This was covered in more detail in an article in last year's edition of The NonProfit Times.

Playoff PAC plans to officially file their complaint to the IRS later this month and, should it be confirmed, the bowls will be forced to pay more in unrelated business income taxes (UBIT).  To put in perspective how little the bowls have paid, the Orange, Sugar, and Rose Bowls all claimed zero in UBIT revenue in 2010.  The Fiesta Bowl claimed only $3,054.  If the allegations by Playoff PAC turn out to be true, it means the bowls are seriously underreporting their taxable incomes.

Read the full story on ESPN.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nonprofit Works To Restore WWII-Air Navy Tower

Part of keeping the past alive is protecting it from the elements.  And that's exactly what one Washington-based nonprofit is hoping to do.

The News Tribune reported that a nonprofit group under the leadership of Malin Bergstrom, president of Pasco, Wa.-based Bergstrom Aircraft, is working on a fundraising campaign to get $70,000 for the first phase of restoration of the historic Pasco Naval Air Station tower.  Crews began temporary repairs last week to protect it from weather.

The campaign was made possible when the nonprofit leading the campaign, Save the Old Tower, received its nonprofit status from the IRS.  Once this happened, they were able to raise money and accept tax-deductible cash and in-kind donations, like labor and supplies.  The group has already raised $4,000 according to Bergstrom, and they hope to reach their $70,000 goal in the next year.

The Pasco Naval Air Station tower, which was first commissioned in 1942, is under serious threat because of a leaky roof that has caused water to spread to the nearby 20,360-square-foot hangar, which the Port of Pasco had hoped to repair and rent.  Bergstrom says the repairs that are ongoing are a step in the right direction, but more extensive renovation is needed to fully restore the tower to its former glory.  The tower is not currently accessible to the public, and Save the Old Tower will have to work with the port, Transportation and Safety Administration, and Homeland Security to make this possible.

Read more about the Pasco Naval Air Station tower in The News Tribune.

Winners Chosen For First Annual NP LOL People's Choice Awards

And who said nonprofits aren't funny?

NP Humour, a blog dedicated to jokes and satire about the nonprofit sector, has announced the winners of its first annual NP LOL People's Choice Awards.  After people from across the United States, Canada, and Australia weighed in with their votes in December, the funniest stories from NP Humour were chosen.

Voters had a ton of choices on their hands: The awards featured 13 nominees in two categories--stories and animated features.  The winner of the stories category was entitled "God turned down our grant application to create humankind."  It collected 30 percent of the vote to win the honors.  The winner of the animated features category was a short called "Local charity asks manger to donate salary and work for free."

NP Humour was created by John Stuart (no, not that one) in early 2011 and officially launched on Nov. 18.  Their stories are pretty hilarious, so check them out when you get the chance.  You can read more about the NP LOL People's Choice Awards on our website.