Friday, March 2, 2012

Illinois To Continue Reviewing Nonprofit Hospital Tax Exemptions

The deadline for a new proposal for dealing with Illinois nonprofit hospitals' tax exemptions has come and gone, and no solution was reached.  That led to a decision that will not please the hospitals.

The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn lifted a moratorium on the state's review of property tax exemptions requested by nonprofit hospitals.  Two proposals emerged Tuesday, but it seems like talks didn't go anywhere with the hospitals.  The state's Department of Revenue currently has as many as 18 pending applications from nonprofit hospitals requesting tax exemption.

The Illinois Hospital Association, along with other groups, argue that the current definition of what constitutes charitable care is far too narrow.  They argue that hospitals aren't given enough credit for providing other community benefits, such as donations to charitable community healthcare organizations.  The state's constitution, however, says that tax exemptions are only allowed for property that is used "exclusively for charitable purposes."

This rule was rarely enforced until 2004, when Illinois revoked Provena Covenant Medical Center's tax exempt status because its charitable care was deemed insufficient.  The hospital appealed the ruling and it eventually ended up in the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled the state was justified in its initial ruling.

Talks between the hospitals and the state will continue next week in hopes of striking a deal.  You can read the full story in The Chicago Tribune.

6 Key Principles For Fundraising Beginners

When you look back at your first attempt at any job, there are bound to be things you wish you could try again. This idea certainly holds true when it comes to fundraising.  If you don't believe me, just ask Andrea McManus.

McManus, president of the Development Group, wrote in "Nonprofit Management 101" that she made a lot of big mistakes during her first foray into fundraising.  One of the errors that she mentioned was not fully understanding the fundamentals of philanthropic giving, which led to mistakes such as not customizing her fundraising letters.

None of those mistakes prevented McManus from attaining future success in the world of philanthropy, but she believes being better prepared would have helped her even further.  She can't go back in time and change those mistakes, but she can make sure other aspiring fundraisers approach the job the correct way.  That's why she shared six fundraising principles to help make that first fundraising job a successful one:

  • People give to people. Understand that people don’t want to give to organizations, they want to give to the people your mission serves.
  • Much comes from few. Don’t send out a mass mailing to 70-80 potential corporate prospects. Take the time to identify the top 10 who have some alignment with your mission and put most of your time there.
  • Wealth is not always obvious nor is it necessarily interested in your cause. Too many organizations spend too much time trying to secure donations from high-profile sources. Take a broader view that includes the many individuals with less, or less obvious, wealth who still have the means and the interest to support your mission.
  • It’s not about the money -- it’s about building the relationship. Build strong relationships with your donors.
  • Fundraising is not a stand-alone activity.
  • Philanthropy is something to be proud of, and fundraising exists to enable philanthropy. Be proud of the work you do to help philanthropists as they use their resources to help others.
You can get more tips like these by signing up to NPT Instant Fundraising, one of our free weekly eNewsletters.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1 Issue Released

The March 1, 2012 issue of The NonProfit Times has just been released.  Let's take a look at the content you can expect to find within its pages:

Special Report:

  • 10 Things To Consider In A CRM Package: This Special Report examines the factors your nonprofit should consider when purchasing a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system.  Factors include whether CRMs are the best solution for your nonprofit, what constituents you are trying to support, and what processes to use in order to support these constituents?
  • Where's Your 990?: NPT examines the kind of information charities redact from their Form 990s when posting them on their website.
  • Pink Ribbon Gets Black Eye: What does one of the previously most trusted nonprofit brands in the nation have to do to regain the trust of donors?
  • Blackbaud And Convio: Find out the details of the merger between Convio and Blackbaud in this in-depth report.
  • Tweeting For A Better WorldYou’ve got to get out there, or so nonprofits are told. “There” is the world of social media: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and the ever-expanding array of web-based and mobile technologies that can turn communication into an interactive dialogue.
Read the full articles over on our website.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hawaii Nonprofits Fighting Against Itemized Deduction Caps

Hawaii nonprofits are pushing back against a 2011 law that they say will discourage charitable giving for the local population.

The Pacific Business News reported yesterday that local nonprofits, led by the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, asked state lawmakers to remove a provision in a State Senate bill that places a cap on the amount of itemized deductions can claim on their charitable contributions.  The cap applies to individuals that earn an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or more, a joint or surviving spouse that earns $200,000 or more, and a head of household that earns $150,000 or more.

Nonprofits say that these caps will remove a big tax incentive to give for wealthy individuals.  The thought is these people would be more willing to spread their money around via large donations to charities.  While this is certainly not the only reason people give donations, nonprofits say that it does help boost giving.

The issue of charitable deduction has been national in recent months.  President Barack Obama has repeatedly tried to cap it, most recently in his latest federal budget proposal.  He had last tried to insert it in the American Jobs Act he proposed last fall.  That provision was eventually pulled from the bill by Senate Democrats.  An October 2011 study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University estimated that itemized giving would decline by nearly $800 million in the first year if Obama's proposal were to have been instituted.  That decline would increase to $2.43 billion in the second year.

You can read the full article on this story on The Pacific Business News website.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can Illinois Nonprofit Hospitals Keep Their Tax Exemptions?

Illinois governor Pat Quinn last year told the state to stop challenging nonprofit hospitals' property tax-exemptions so the state could come up with a solution.  The goal was to come up with guidelines for what would constitute appropriate levels of care by March 1.  With that deadline quickly approaching, details are emerging about potential proposals.

The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that the state is considering competing proposals that would set up standards for how nonprofit hospitals could keep their tax exemptions.  This issue came to the forefront after the Illinois Department of Revenue denied three hospitals their tax exemption, citing a 2010 Illinois Supreme Court ruling that defined the amount of money that needed to be put into care.  Gov. Quinn later told the state to hold off on any further rulings so he could work with the hospital industry and legislators to find a compromise.

The first proposal was sent to the Governor's office on Feb. 17 by the Fair Care Coalition, a group of healthcare advocates.  Their plan states that each hospital would have to provide 6 percent of its total revenue for charitable benefits in order to keep tax exempt status.  Eighty percent of that would have to be in the form of free or discounted care for poor patients.  Failing to meet these standards would not only make hospitals ineligible for tax exemption, but would also make them pay into a pool of funds that would be distributed to nonprofit and public hospitals that met this criteria.  It seems unlikely the Illinois Hospital Association would agree to this proposal, as they have opposed similar measures in the past.

Another proposal came on Monday from the Civic Federation.  Under the Federation's proposal, hospitals would be required to provide charitable care and other benefits to the community equal or greater than the amount they would pay if they paid property taxes.

Gov. Quinn's March 1 deadline is only two days away.  It's not clear what will happen if a compromise is not reached before that date.  You can read the full story in The Chicago Tribune.

Featured Nonprofit Job: Interactive Marketing Associate

Marketing jobs have certainly changed a lot in the last decade or so.  With the increasing popularity of the Internet and computers, marketers have turned to that medium for a lot of their work.  It's now virtually unheard of for a nonprofit or other business not to have some sort of e-mail marketing campaign.  If this is the kind of work you are interested in, the Nonprofit Job Seeker has an exciting opportunity available.

The New York City office of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international humanitarian organization, is looking to hire an Interactive Marketing Associate.  Working under the supervision of the Integrated Marketing Manager, this position will help implement the organization's e-marketing and telemarketing campaigns.  The accepted applicant will also work closely with the web and programming team to maximize income and create and improve performance of web donation forms.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Works with fundraising systems team to ensure that gift processing standards and financial controls are followed as they relate to online giving.
  • Assists in reporting needed by the Integrated Marketing Manager on all aspects of data for telemarketing campaigns.
  • Maintains understanding of direct marketing campaign tools, and campaign plans, and backs up Integrated Marketing Manager in the development of direct marketing campaigns across all channels.
  • Responsible for monitoring reports on marketing expenditures on a per project basis, as needed, and participates in budgeting process.
  • 4-year Bachelor's degree, or equivalent combination of education and experience, in relevant field.
  • At least 3 years of relevant work experience, preferably at a nonprofit.
  • Solid understanding of web-based donations applications and web development best practices such as accessibility, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), readability, etc.
  • Experience with online direct marketing implementation.
  • Ability to work with little supervision.
You can read more about this job, including salary information, on our website.  If you think you have what it takes to take on this position, apply immediately!

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    IRS Adjusts Disclosure Requirements

    As we creep ever closer to tax season, the IRS has announced some changes to its disclosure requirements in an effort to make them easier to understand.

    The North Bay Business Journal reported today that, in a recently released Jan. 11 memo, the IRS outlined changes to Form 990 for the 2011 tax year.  While the changes are relatively small, they are designed to help reduce some of the headaches that come with disclosure requirements.  Among the changes is a clarification of what could be considered income for executives and other highly compensated employees, including information from their W-2 forms.  This change should make it easier for nonprofits to know what they need to report when it comes to executive compensation.

    Another change that was discussed in the memo involves how nonprofits should treat partnerships on their balance sheet.  It is now required that organizations report the share of assets between the partner organizations as a separate item, showing the ending capital from the joint venture.  The IRS also sought to clarify requirements to foreign activity, which is important for nonprofits that run missions overseas.  Foreign investments can now be valued up to $100,000 before disclosure, whereas organizations were only required to disclose this information if the investments resulted in a $10,000 net revenue or expense.

    While all these changes are designed to make the Form 990 easier to understand, it will undoubtedly lead to more work for nonprofits come tax day.  We'd like to hear your thoughts on these new changes.  Do you think they will make things easier, or do you foresee new headaches because of them?

    You can read the full story in The North Bay Business Journal.

    Komen Surveying Supporters

    After a couple of relatively quiet weeks, it seems that Susan G. Komen For the Cure is stirring up controversy once again.  This time it comes in the form of a survey.

    In the latest edition of NPT Weekly, we report on a story that the Irving, Texas-based organization had hired a consulting firm to do some damage control in the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood controversy.  This firm created a survey that was to be sent to supporters asking them a variety of questions about their opinion of the nonprofit.  Among the questions were whether the organization owes donors an apology, followed by a list of potential apologies that would be acceptable.  The survey also asks supporters to rate a list of potential new spokespeople, including musician Melissa Etheridge.

    While it's not exactly unusual for a nonprofit to test messaging through a survey, the reaction has been fairly strong because they don't usually become so public.  Rebecca Devine, co-founder and principal of Philadelphia, Pa.-based Maven Communications, told The NonProfit Times that Komen needs to be asking these same questions with core stakeholders.  She also said the organization should be holding one-on-one discussions with donors to ask how they can make the situation better.

    You can read the full story on our website.  For more stories like this, make sure to sign-up for NPT Weekly or our other free eNewsletters.