Friday, April 27, 2012

Salvation Army To Announce NFL Draft Pick

If you are a sports fan, you likely know that Radio City Music Hall in New York City has been hosting the 2012 NFL Draft. What you might not know is that the Salvation Army will be announcing a pick for one of the teams.

The organization announced on its website today that Chief Communications Officer Major General George Hood will be announcing the Dallas Cowboy's fourth round draft pick tomorrow morning.

“This is a very exciting opportunity. A way to recognize the long-standing relationship between The Salvation Army and the Dallas Cowboys,” said Major Hood. “It will certainly be an honor for me to announce the fourth round draft pick and on a personal note, should be a lot of fun!“

The Dallas Cowboys, who selected Louisiana State University's Corner Back Morris Claiborne in the Draft's first round last night, have supported the Salvation Army for 14 years in a number of ways. For instance, the team's Executive Vice President of Brand Management, Charlotte Jones Anderson, has served as the nonprofit's National Advisory Board Chairperson. She has also organized the annual Red Kettle Kickoff event at Cowboys stadium on Thanksgiving Day since 1998.

4th round draft choices don't exactly come with the hype of first or even second round picks but that doesn't mean the player chosen won't have an impact. After all, some guy named Tom Brady was the New England Patriot's sixth round draft pick in 2000.

You can read the full story on the Salvation Army's blog.

California Academy of Sciences Tops Most Expensive U.S. Museums

How would you like to spend $30 to go to a museum? That's the amount you will have to shell out if you want to enjoy the California Academy of Sciences.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based museum tops Consumer Search's top 20 most expensive museums in the U.S. Other institutions that made this dubious list were New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art ($25; recommended price), Boston's Museum of Fine Arts ($22), and Washington, D.C.'s International Spy Museum ($19.95).

Museums are mostly nonprofits and thus free from property taxes, which would lead the average citizen to believe they should be relatively cheap to enter. This seems like a rational thought, but there's a number of issues. The pieces that appear in these museums can sometimes go for millions of dollars and those prices have to be subsidized somehow. Museums also have legions of curators, art restorers, and researches on staff, and they don't come cheap either. Finally, government grants to museums have continually decreased in value, according to a study by USA Today.

There are ways to avoid these steep prices. Many of these museums allow visitors to purchase annual memberships which reduce the prices of tickets. There are also some institutions that have free admission on weekends and certain times. Yet D.C. seems to have the best deal: Most of the museums there, outside of the Spy Museum, are free. This includes the National Gallery of Art and the Air and Space Museum.

Want to see Consumer Search's full list? Head on over to their website and see which museums will cost you the most.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

U.S. Senate Passes Postal Reform

The United States Senate voted yesterday to pass the Postal Reform Act. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives where it awaits an uncertain fate.

As reported by The Washington Post, the Postal Reform Act will make sweeping reforms to the United States Postal Service (USPS). It would, among other things, permit the ending of Saturday mail deliveries in two years if the USPS determines it financially necessary, and would place restrictions on the amount of facilities that can be closed. For example, USPS cannot close a rural post office unless the next-nearest location is no more than 10 miles away. It would also maintain the current nonprofit postage rate.

The bill, passed 62 to 37, is meant to preserve the cash-strapped USPS. The organization has been on the verge of financial collapse for years, and it is no longer able to sustain delivery operations that still process 554 million pieces of mail a day. That is why the Postal Service has pushed to end Saturday mail. While the Senate version of the bill delays that decision, the House bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) would permit the USPS to immediately end Saturday deliveries. A strong majority of Republican representatives, including Issa, oppose the current Senate bill.

The House has until May 15, when the USPS will resume closing its facilities, to pass the bill. This is part of its plan to cut more than $22 million in costs by 2015. Direct mail has been in a decline in recent years as e-mail has increased in popularity. According to statistics from the Postal Service, only 168 million pieces of mail were delivered last year, compared to 202.8 billion a decade ago.

You can read the full story in The Washington Post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Privacy Issues For Mobile Payments?

The popularity of smartphone has led to the rise of better payment technology. More and more companies are allowing customers to pay for products from their cell phones. Nonprofits are also jumping on the bandwagon, with the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) recently making their famous cookies available through mobile payments.

Yet, as The New York Times reported yesterday, this ease of use may be coming at price of reduced privacy. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that focuses on technology laws, recently published a blog post expressing its concerns about mobile payment technology.

One of the organization's issues with this technology is that it can expose payment data to more parties than if you paid with a credit card. For example, when you use Google Wallet your information is not only given to Google, but also to credit card issuers and payment processors. Third-party applications can also potentially get a hold of this data. All of this information comes in small bits but once it is all combined, companies have a very detailed file from which to work.

Another issue comes in the form of telemarketing. Users can still get these unwanted calls even if they are on the national do-not-call list if they use mobile payments. Why? If a mobile payment app collects a user's number, the merchant can make phone or text solicitations.

CDT urged companies to put stronger privacy protections into their mobile payment services if they want to gain the trust of consumers.

You can read the full story in The New York Times.

Seattle Hates Junk-Mail

You think you hate junk-mail? Your hatred is nothing compared to Seattle's crusade against unwanted mail.

The Atlantic reported Monday on a new ranking put together by Berkeley, Calif.-based Catalog Choice, a privacy protection company, shows that Seattle, Wash. is the top city in the country when it comes to battling junk-mail. The organization surveyed its customers and found that the Emerald City had the most people who contacted them to get removed from the lists of junk-mail senders. Other cities that made the list were Santa Fe, NM, Boulder, Col., and Ithaca, NY.

Junk-mail is mostly associated with e-mail these days, but the death of junk direct mail has been delayed thanks to an initiative by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The "Every Door Direct Mail" program will essentially allow business to bombard your house with mail. Companies don't even have to know your address to send to you; they can simply select a neighborhood they want to target and their mail will be delivered to every house in that area.

Spam mail is not only annoying to recipients, it also is very pricey for city budgets. It costs about $40 a ton to send garbage to a landfill. On the other hand, it costs only $10 for them to work with Catalog Choice to get them removed from junk-mail lists.

You can read the full list of cities ranked by Catalog Choice in The Atlantic.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Art Museum Director Paid $1 Million

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY paid its director $1.04 million in salary and benefits in 2010, according to a report in Bloomberg.

The article states that Thomas P. Campbell, who was named director in 2009, earned a 2 percent increase from his previous salary. Overall, he made $653,402 when the nearly $389,051 in benefits is excluded. That is way below the average for executives in the arts field, as shown by NPT's 2011 Salary and Benefits Report. Still, it is comparable to other top museum jobs. The Museum of Modern Art's head, Glen Lowry, earned $1.6 million in compensation in 2009.

The increase in salary for Campbell coincided with the museum's highest attendance levels in nearly four decades. For the year ending June 2011, attendance was 5.7 million, a 9 percent increase. This was due in large part to the wildly popular exhibit showcasing clothes and accessories designed by the late fashion designer Steve McQueen.

A spokesman for the Met told Bloomberg that the increased benefits Campbell received was due in large part to his move to a museum-owned apartment in September 2009. The apartment, which is rent-free, is used for museum-related entertainment and events. The spokesman added that Campbell's travel wasn't part of compensation.

You can read the full story in Bloomberg.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Advocacy Group Files IRS Complaint Against ALEC

An advocacy group filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), claiming that the group is violating its tax-exempt status.

The Washington Post reported today that D.C.-based Common Cause accused ALEC of lobbying the government while hiding behind its nonprofit status. ALEC describes itself as a nonprofit that brings together lawmakers and private sector organizations to develop new legislation and policy.

Common Cause disagrees with this premise, saying that the organization's main motivation is to lobby for policies that favorably impact businesses. The nonprofit requested that the IRS conduct an audit of ALEC's work, penalties, and back taxes.

ALEC, which was formed in the 1970s, has long been a target of open government groups that are suspicious of its partnership with legislators. The group has made headlines recently for its support of the "Stand Your Ground Laws," which have played a major role in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Companies that have previously partnered with ALEC, such as Coca Cola, are no longer members, and the group says it is disbanding its task force that was responsible for importing the law to other states.

You can read the full story in The Washington Post.

What Should You Pay Nonprofit Executives?

One of the facts of life is that business executives are rewarded handsomely for their work. Whether or not you think their compensation is fair is besides the point.

Executive compensation is always going to be a hot topic, but it is even more scrutinized at nonprofits where there is an expectation of greater restraint. There have been many cases over the past few years of organizations getting in hot water because of perceived excesses, the most recent being New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's investigation of nonprofit executive pay in the state.

The easiest way to determine whether executives at your nonprofit are being paid appropriately is to look at what the big wigs at similar organizations are making. In NPT's 2011 Salary and Benefits Report, we see that the size of the nonprofit plays a big role in the compensation of executives. Organizations with an operating budget of $0 to $499,999 gave top employees an average salary of $55,766. This number ballooned to $166,867 when the budget was $50,000,000 or more.

The field the agency is in also plays a big role in executive compensation. Our report shows that the Healthcare Sector, which is in great demand, gives out an average salary of $100,603. International/Foreign Affairs salaries are even higher, topping out at $110,057. The area that paid the lowest was the Arts, at $67,454. This isn't too much of a surprises at these institutions have seen a lot of funding cuts in recent years.

Your board should keep these numbers in mind when considering what to pay the CEO or other executive. If you want to learn more, purchase the 2011 Salary and Benefits Report. You should also make sure to participate in our 2012 Salary Survey, so these numbers can stay up-to-date.