Friday, June 29, 2012

Veterans Groups Create $30 Million Fund

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and four other nonprofits, have joined forces to create a fund that will raise money for war veterans.

Called the Veteran Support Fund, it will direct donations to IAVA and the four partner organizations, according to MSNBC. Those four organizations are Operation Mend, which gives medical support to critically injured veterans; Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which provides coping and trauma resources; Operation Homefront, which offers emergency financial aid to wounded soldiers and their families; and the National Military Family Association, which advocates for benefits and programs for military families.

The goal of the fund is to raise $30 million, and it has already received founding gifts of $1.1 million.

IAVA executive director Paul Rieckhoff, who is himself a veteran of the Iraq War, said in a statement that "Supporting veterans isn’t charity, it’s an absolute necessity and an investment in our country’s future. After ten years of war, our nation’s military families are strained, nonprofit services are maxed out and our veterans’ community is severely under-resourced."

Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Operation Homefront, told MSNBC that the money from the Veteran Support Fund will help the organization provide more services than they would normally be able to. The nonprofit last year met more than 5,000 emergency requests and provided transitional housing for 80 families. He stressed the need to continue to help veterans even with the two wars seemingly winding down.

You can read the full story on MSNBC's website.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are Capital Campaigns Right For Your Nonprofit?

There are plenty of reasons for nonprofits to love capital campaigns. They have the potential to generate a lot of cash for the organization, and can help increase awareness of your mission. On the downside, they take a lot of time and effort, and there's no guarantee for success.

So the question remains: To campaign or not to campaign?

The answer really depends on how ready your organization is. At a recent Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) annual conference, William Brans and Lee Appelman of Arts Consulting Group, Inc, and Susan Shapiro of Shapiro Associates LLC, said that the key to a successful capital campaign is being prepared.

How can you tell if your nonprofit is ready for a capital campaign? They listed the following qualifications:

  • A strong annual fund;
  •  A good story, an urgent and compelling case for support;
  • Internal leadership;
  • External leadership;
  • Qualified major gifts prospects;
  • Assessing the environment: external as well as internal;
  • A feasibility study with results that indicate campaign success;
  • Knowing that the organization is a top priority for high-level donors;
  • A strong, positive institutional image: Confidence and thinking big;
  • The president/CEO/director are capable, eager fundraisers;
  • The institution has invested in fundraising;
  • Human, financial and technical resources are in place; and,
  • Proper campaign timing.
If your nonprofit has all of these qualities, the congratulations: You're ready to campaign! Otherwise, you should consider waiting a little while before you start.

Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

UPDATE: We have added more information to our story, including reaction from nonprofits


In just the last few minutes, the United States Supreme Court has voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by a 5-4 vote. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote.

The NonProfit Times has continuing coverage of this breaking story, so head on over to our website to follow our developing article on this breaking story. We will update this post whenever we update our story with new information.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Proposed Rule Would Curb Nonprofit Hospital Debt Collection

The United States Treasury Department released a proposed guidance last week that, if enacted, would make changes to the debt collection process by nonprofit hospitals.

The new rules, which are regulation on a provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, were released last Friday, according to a blog post on National Public Radio's (NPR) website. The changes would require hospitals to take the following actions before requesting payment from patients:

  • Provide patients with a plain language summary of the financial assistance policy before discharge and with the first three bills;
  • Give patients at least 120 days following the first bill to submit an application for financial assistance before commencing certain collection actions;
  • Give the patient an additional 120 days (for 240 days total) to submit a complete application; and,
  • If a patient is determined eligible for financial assistance during these 240 days, refund any excess payments made before applying for aid and seek to reverse any collections actions already commenced.
In a statement, Acting Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Emily McMahon said the proposal was made because their had been many reports of aggressive hospital debt collection activities, including allowing collectors into emergency rooms.

"These practices jeopardize patient care, and our proposed rules will help ensure they don't happen in charitable hospitals," she said. "These rules also require charitable hospitals to establish and publicize financial assistance policies, and give hospitals the flexibility to establish programs that meet the needs of their communities."

The American Hospital Association (AHA), a trade group, has already come out in opposition to the proposed rules. Melinda Hatton, the group's general counsel, say the changes put too much of the blame on hospitals for the actions of third-party debt collectors. She also said that the penalties for being in violation were too severe, with with hospitals standing to lose their tax exemption.

At a hearing on the proposed changes in the U.S. Senate, Accretive Health Vice President Greg Kazarian apologized to patients about these aggressive tactics, but also said that their actions were exaggerated during investigation. A patient of Kazarian's company, Deb Waldin, said during the hearing that she was approached by a debt collector while she was in extreme pain from kidney stones.

You can read the full story on NPR.

NPT Editor-In-Chief To Be On Nonprofit Radio

Based in New York City,  Tony Martignetti has been helping nonprofits since 1997 through his work in planned giving and state charity registration. His Nonprofit Radio show has been a big part of that, as he interviews people in the nonprofit sector on topics ranging from fundraising to boards.

On Friday June 29, our editor-in-chief, Paul Clolery, will be joining Tony on Nonprofit Radio for an exclusive interview. Paul will be discussing a variety of topics of interest to listeners, including what is trending in the sector and his concerns about the future of charities.

Nonprofit Radio will also be talking to Gayle Gifford, author of "How to Make Your Board Dramatically More Effective, Today." She will discuss with Tony about how to make sure your charity's mission is relevant, your CEO is supported, and your board is strong.

Tune into Nonprofit Radio Friday at 1 PM to hear the interview with Paul and Gayle. It should be a great show!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NY LGBT Center Head Accused Of Theft

The former head of the primary lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community center in the Bronx, N.Y. has been arrested on charges of stealing more than $338,000 from the organization.

According to a report in The New York Post, Lisa Winters was charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records at the Bronx Community Pride Center (BCPC). Winters served as the organization's executive director from 2004 to 2010, when she was terminated from the position. Winters allegedly used the funds to pay for various personal expenses, such as dog walking, a trip to South Africa, and clothes.

The missing money leaves BCPC in considerable debt which, according to officials at the nonprofit, could force it to close its doors.

Winters was fired in January 2010, as the NYC Department of Investigation (DOI) began to investigate claims that she spent BCPC money without permission. The DOI eventually released a report that found that Winters used $338,674 of the organization's funds from 2005 until 2009. The largest amount was allegedly spent on the South Africa trip in 2007, which she took with her now-wife Eileen Scroggins.

BCPC board Chair Michelle Lopez also told investigators that her daughter lived with Winters in 2008, and that she went on a cruise with her. The cruise had been purchased by the nonprofit to auction at a fundraiser, but Lopez accused Winters of taking it for herself.

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

County Controller Says Nonprofits Should Pay Up

The controller for Allegheny County, Pa. said yesterday that, in light of the higher taxes residents are seeing, nonprofits should be forced to give up their tax-exempt status.

According to a report in The Tribune-Review, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner made the statement Monday in what was billed a "taxpayer alert." "Residents are seeing their taxes go up and their services go down," Wagner said in the alert. "We’re saying the free riders need to be held accountable." Wagner estimated the county could raise $95 million by taxing around 26,500 tax-exempt parcels. 

Under Wagner's proposal, nonprofits that want to keep their tax-exemption to send an application to the Office of Property Assessments every year, explaining why the deserve a tax break under the state's charities law. Despite her strong push for change, state officials seem skeptical that such a law could be passed. State Senator Wayne Fontanta (D-Brookline), said he received almost no support when he introduced a bill that would have allowed local governments to tax nonprofits on the value of their land, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald questioned why Wagner did not introduce the plan she is proposing when she was a state representative from 2007 to 2012.

Wagner specifically singled out five organizations in Allegheny County: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, West Penn Allegheny Health System,  and Duquesne University. A UPMC spokeswomen responded to Wagner's report by saying that nonprofit medical and education organizations have driven the economic recovery in Western Pennsylvania, and that UPMC has contributed its fair share to the county. The medical center paid $176 million in federal and state employment taxes last year, in addition to contributing $565 million in charity and uncompensated care.

You can read the full report in The Tribune Review.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Major Gifts: 5 Tips To Boost Your Success

The strict nonprofit manager's first instinct when staff doesn't meet major gift goals is to fire them. That's not necessarily the right move, according to fundraising expert Laura Fredricks.

In her book "The Ask: How To Ask Anyone for Any Amount for Any Purpose," Fredricks wrote that there are other steps you can take to boost the results of your major gifts campaigns. Rather than give your hard-working staff the ax, she suggested implementing the following five tips:

  • Time Management: They say that time is money, so don't waste it with too many meetings. Try to limit the ones you have to only the essentials. Fredricks also cautions against multitasking. While it sounds good in theory, it is really better to focus on one task at a time.
  • Make Clear and Measurable Goals: Give your staff goals they can actually obtain. Do this by letting them know exactly what you expect and do reviews every few months to check on their progress. Remember that goals don't just have to be measured in dollar signs. You can easily measure success in face-to-face donor contact, meetings, and special event attendance.
  • Be Cross-Functional: Is one of your key fundraisers out of the office? Make sure to teach members of your staff their skills so they can perform their job if needed. Something unexpected always happens, so you need people who can pick up the slack.
  • Risk Management: You don't want to be pessimistic, but you should always have a plan in case the worst happens.Think about events that could hinder your operations (i.e., law changes, natural disasters) and come up with ways to manage those risks.
  • Communicate and Demonstrate Your Staff's Worth: You should treat your staff like a team. All of the players are needed for your program to be a success -- and you should make sure they know that. There is no better way to boost employee morale than by showing that their opinions matter.

3 Necessities For Nonprofit Scaling

With the economy still floundering along, the demand for nonprofit services are high. Yet these same organizations are experiencing a lack of resources to fund important programs. How are nonprofits expected to make do? According to a recent post on Huffington Post Impact, the answer lies in scaling.

In the article, Ventureneer founder Geri Stengle wrote that organizations must scale if they are to continue to provide programs that solve social issues. This was a topic that was discussed in detail at the Social Impact Exchange in New York City. According to Stengle, the overarching theme of this year's conference was that scaling must be accompanied by appropriate investment in an organization's capacity.

Here are three methods of support that were discussed at the conference:

  • Business Planning: Business plans are an opportunity to think things through on paper before putting the plan to the test. Nicole Farmer Hurd from the National College Advising Corps, Lisa Jackson from New Profit Inc., and Meghan Duffy, Manager of Special Initiatives at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations made this point during their panel.
  • Leadership Development: Richard Brown of American Express Philanthropy told audiences that new leaders must get training when first beginning. Brown said that the leaders he has coached said that the advice they got from coaches transformed the way they thought.
  • Peer Advisory Groups: During her panel, United Way of Long Island President/CEO Theresa Regnante espoused the benefits of being part of a group of decision makers. She shared the benefits she received while working with a group of executive directors who met regularly with a facilitator to solve problems.
There were four other methods discussed at the conference. You can read the rest in Stengle's article on Huffington Post Impact.