Friday, December 21, 2012

After Newtown, Charity Scam Hits Victim's Family

After a tragedy the magnitude of last week's school shootings in Newtown, Conn., it is common to see charities emerge in an effort to help the victims. Yet another trend has emerged after these incidents that is not quite as uplifting: Charity scams.

The Huffington Post reported Wednesday that an individual was soliciting donations on behalf of the family of 6-year-old Noah Ponzer, who was killed during the shooting. The e-mail claimed they would send cards, packages, and money to Ponzer's parents, family, and siblings. A website was even set up, which used Noah's name as the address, and included links to petitions on gun control.

After finding out about the bogus solicitation Alexis Haller, Noah's uncle, alerted authorities to put an end to it. He was quoted in The Huffington Post article as saying "These scammers are stealing from the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy."

The website in question was turned over to the Ponzer family and its creator, who was identified as Jason Martin, reportedly told Victoria Haller, Noah's Aunt, who had replied to the original e-mail, that it was meant to honor Noah and promote gun control.

This isn't the first time, and it probably won't be the last, that bogus charities have emerged following a tragedy or some other disaster. For instance, after the the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., scammers contacted victims' families asking for credit card donations.

You can read the full story in The Huffington Post.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

8 Nonprofit Conduct Policies

What's the first thing that happens when you are officially hired for a job? You usually have a meeting with the human resources officer, who informs you of the organization's conduct policies. It's basically a no-brainer to most people by know that it's unethical to steal office equipment, or other things like that. Yet sometimes it’s the little things that can really get you in trouble.

What was that about not sweating the small stuff?

Thomas Wolf, in his book "Managing a Nonprofit Organization," wrote that the little details relating to day-to-day work life should be properly explained to employees. Some of these relate specifically to in-office procedures, while some are more general.

Wolf listed eight examples of these policies that you should include in your employee conduct manual:

  • Specific rules about how the staff is authorized to make purchases.
  • Guidelines governing travel (such as per-diem limits, times when air travel is permitted, and mileage reimbursement rates).
  • Controls on personal use of the office telephone.
  • Rules governing the use and care of office equipment.
  • Limits placed on the organization’s liability for personal property left on the premises.
  • Guidelines governing outside work, such as whether the employer has first refusal on publications and whether the organization permits leaves of absences to do outside jobs.
  • Intellectual property and confidentiality issues.
  • Policies regarding working hours and conditions that address regular office working hours, flextime or overtime arrangements, and overtime compensation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Featured Nonprofit Job: Communications Director

We have yet another featured nonprofit job to share with our readers today. This one comes from the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), which is looking to hire a Communications Director.

The Communications Director will develop  content and prepare the layout and design of all association print and electronic publications, i.e., national print magazine, electronic newsletters, conference guides and programs, PowerPoint presentations, etc. The chosen candidate will also be responsible for the web site and communications with our members via social media, as well as multiple press releases and speeches.

The successful applicant for this position will meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated expertise in InDesign, Photoshop, and Microsoft office products;
  • Excellent editing, time management, and computer skills;
  • Working knowledge of production and printing processes; and,
  • Proficient in Web site content management systems and social media tools, along with a working knowledge of HTML.
You can learn more on this job, including information on how to apply, by visiting our career center.

Ex-Nonprofit Leader On The Lam

The founder and former CEO of a Naperville, Ill.-based nonprofit has allegedly fled the country amid allegations he stole nearly $200,000 from the organization for a film company he founded.

Robert Geniesse founded Our Children's Homestead, a nonprofit foster-care and adoption agency, and was CEO until the board of directors fired him in March 2011, according to a report in The Daily Herald. He was fired under suspicion that he was embezzling from the organization, and a criminal investigation was soon launched.

Geniesse was formerly charged this month with funneling over $200,000 from the organization to his film company, Reverse Momentum Films. Four days before the charges were filed, however, he fled to Hamburg, Germany, according to the FBI. It was also alleged that his wife, who runs the film company along with her husband, went to Germany one month before the charges were issued. Howe is not charged with any wrongdoing in the case.

Along with using the funds for production of documentary films, Geniesse allegedly used the agency credit card for hotel rooms, rental cars, and other expenses during filming in Kenya and the Philippines. Reverse Momentum Films produced at least one picture in 2009, "I Am You," a documentary about poverty in the Philippines.

Despite the alleged theft, Our Children's Homestead remains in a good financial state. Kurt Freidenauer, who replaced Geniesse as CEO last year, told The Herald that the organization has been able to maintain its daily operations. He gave credit to the board for firing Geniesse before any more damage could be done.

Should he be located, the FBI will seek to expedite Geniesse back to Illinois, where, if convicted, he faces a $100,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

You can read the full story in The Daily Herald.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Featured Nonprofit Job: Director Of Major/Planned Giving

Do you have a passion for both healthcare and fundraising? If the answer to that question is "yes," the newest featured nonprofit job on the Nonprofit Job Seeker should perk your interest.

The Abington Memorial Hospital (AMH) in Pennsylvania is looking to hire a Director of Major and Planned Giving. Under the direction of the Vice President and Director of Fund Development, this individual will be responsible for the direction, planning, implementation, and evaluation of all aspects of the planned and major giving programs.

While experience is needed to qualify for this job, it doesn't need to be significant. Below are the requirements that AMH listed in its job description:
  • A minimum of three years planned giving/trust experience, preferably in a hospital setting.
  • Extensive knowledge of planned giving instruments.
  • Knowledge of computers and planned giving software programs.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Bachelor's degree with course work/experience in fundraising.
  • Advanced training in adjunct field very desirable, such as law, accounting, stocks and bonds, real estate, insurance, etc.
You can read more about what it takes to become a Director of Major and Planned Giving by visiting our career center.

Opinion: Charitable Deduction Must Be Protected

As the debate over the so-called "fiscal cliff" rages on in Washington, D.C., some in the government are setting their eyes on the charitable deduction. They argue that eliminating it will raise revenue for the government. In a new opinion column posted on our website, our editor-in-chief, Paul Clolery, wrote that this is exactly the wrong approach to take. Here's an excerpt from his piece:


Advocacy organization Independent Sector has statistics that its executives trot out, showing the benefit of a $350 tax break is actually $1,000. They have argued that itemizing households accounted for 70 percent of the $229 billion in charitable donations in 2008 and that 2 percent of taxpayers in the top bracket were responsible for 33 percent of all charitable giving that year.

Here’s the kicker: Only one-third of tax filers, the wealthiest Americans, itemized deductions that year. Congressional and White House officials argue that capping the deduction for the wealthiest Americans won’t really hurt that much, after all, charity at the highest levels is a competition for names on buildings and board seats at the opera.

The government officials probably didn't read a Bank of America study that showed 67 percent of wealthy households responded that they would somewhat or dramatically decrease charitable contributions if they received zero income tax deductions for their donations.

Government officials argue that the $16-trillion debt and $1.3-trillion budget shortfall has to be made up somewhere. They should start with cutting a budget few of them have probably even read.

The loud rancor of the debates has already affected how people spend, share and shelter their assets. Many more affluent Americans are already making early decisions around their income, deductions and possible tax implication now. That must also be affecting Sandy donations. That’s the simple math part.

The observation element is that giving to Sandy relief is lagging because those 1 percenters always being singled out as villains are spending their money putting their lives back together. It is estimated that 600,000 homes were damaged or destroyed across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Those rich guys working on Wall Street or with information technology or investing in real estate along the east coast do not have the cash to donate as they usually do. They are who is missing from the fundraising effort. If the deduction is taken away, they will stay away longer.


You can read the full piece on The NonProfit Times' website.