Friday, March 8, 2013

LACMA Proposes Merger With Struggling Museum

Struggling with financial troubles and staff and board defections, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) has been contacted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) about a potential merger.

According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, LACMA director Michael Govan and two co-chairs of his board made the offer to the MOCA board in a Feb. 24 letter. Sources who have seen the letter but were not authorized to discuss it told The Times that the proposed acquisition would preserve MOCA's two downtown LA locations and they would still operate them under the MOCA brand.

Additionally, LACMA would agree to raise $100 million for the two museums as a condition for completing the deal.

The proposed acquisition was confirmed by LACMA in a blog post on its website by Govan, who wrote that he "appreciates" the impact MOCA has on the community and desires to see that work continue as part of a successful merger.

"Combining LACMA and MOCA would strengthen both [museums]. LACMA’s mission is to share world-class art with the widest array of audiences possible," wrote Govan in the blog post. "MOCA’s downtown location, extraordinary collection and devoted constituency, combined with LACMA’s modern art masterpieces, large audiences and broad educational outreach (especially in schools near downtown L.A.) would create a cultural institution that is much more than the sum of its parts."

Founded in 1979, MOCA has fallen on hard times in recent years. According to an article in The New York Times, the 2010 hiring of Jeffrey Deitch as the museum's director was criticized, as the Manhattan art dealer was considered to be too celebrity-driven. In June of that same year, MOCA's long-time curator Paul Schimmel was forced out, and that was soon followed by a mass-exodus of board members.

Ultimately, Govan believes that a merger with LACMA would not only solve MOCA's current financial problems, it would also set the combined organization up for future success. He wrote in his blog post that the merger would open up new opportunities for visitors and donors alike.

"The scale and common purpose of the larger combined institution would provide stability, confidence, and opportunity for donors," he wrote. "Each facility and location could retain individual character and the potential to reach different audiences."

This is not the first time to two art museums have been involved in merger talks. The two institutions were discussing a deal in 2008 until philanthropist Eli Broad pledged a $30 million matching gift to MOCA, making the merger unnecessary.

The NonProfit Times Store -- An Overview

One of the key features of our redesigned website is the new online store. Whereas before it was located on a separate URL, we have now integrated it into the main NPT website for optimal use.

This integration means that the store will be easier to access and, maybe more importantly, you will still be able to browse the rest of the website even when you have items in your shopping cart. It works like this: Say you decided to purchase the 2012 Salary and Benefits Report but are alerted to a breaking story on the NPT homepage. Instead of opening a new tab on your browser, you can simply navigate to the news story without any affect on your purchase.

As you browse the rest of the site, you will see an icon on the side of the page reminding you that there are items in your shopping cart. Once you are done with your other business, you can click on that icon and complete your purchase.

A look at the new shopping cart functionality

Some of the main items currently available in the online store are:

Head over to the new online store, try out the new functionality and, as always, continue to give us your feedback.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Organizing For Action Flips On Corporate Donations

The head of the nonprofit formed to take over President Barack Obama's campaign apparatus announced the organization would no longer accept corporate donations, after initially signaling it would.

In an op-ed originally posted on, Organizing for Action (OFA) chairman Jim Messina wrote that the advocacy nonprofit would also publicly disclose donors who contribute more than $250. Messina wrote that these moves were made in an effort to promote transparency.

Messina also sought to clarify the mission of OFA. He explained that nonprofit's overall goal is to support the president's second term agenda, but they will not be endorsing Democratic or any other candidates for office. "The president has always believed that special interests have undue influence over the policymaking process", he wrote, "and the mission of this organization is to rebalance the power structure."

According to an article in The Washington Post, the group will also institute a ban on donations from federal lobbyists and foreign nationals.

Campaign finance reform groups, which were critical of OFA's initial decision to accept corporate donations, met Messina's announcement with some skepticism. Washington, D.C.-based Common Cause president Bob Edgar said in a statement on the organization's website that while he is glad OFA reconsidered its initial decision, he believes there is still work to be done to make the 501(c)(4) organization more transparent.

"If Organizing for Action is serious about putting to bed public concerns that contributions buy access, it should mobilize its impressive small-donor and activist base to push for real reform to clean up Washington," Edgar said. "That means getting behind legislation like the DISCLOSE Act, supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and rein in runaway political spending, and developing a new, small-donor public funding system that lets candidates break their dependence on big money."

Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer was more critical saying in a press release that while the decision is appreciated, it does not "solve the fundamental problems created by President Obama’s involvement with OFA."

"OFA remains an unprecedented entity that allows individual donors and bundlers to provide unlimited amounts of money to an organization functioning as an arm of the Obama presidency," he continued.

Wertheimer is also concerned about the unlimited donations donors can make to OFA, saying that they, at minimum, create the perception that individual donors and bundlers can buy influence over the Obama administration's policies and decisions.

The administration has previously pushed back on the suggestion that donors who contribute more than $500,000 will be invited to a face-to-face meeting with Obama, denying that there is not a "price tag" on meeting the president.

Launched in January, OFA has already begun a six-figure online advertising campaign to convince Republican lawmakers to support universal background checks on gun purchases. The group has also rallied supporters to support the president's plan to replace the sequester.

The NonProfit Times' Resource Marketplace

In our ongoing look at the new and/or improved features of The NonProfit Times' new website, today we will take a look at the Resource Marketplace.

This section of the site acts as a directory for a variety of nonprofit services, ranging from online fundraising to grant writers. If there is a service your nonprofit needs, chances are we have links to companies that offer them. This feature was on our website before, but we have made a couple of changes to make it a little easier to navigate.

First of all, we have included the number of resources included in each category so readers know immediately how many services are being offered. We have also included a "Latest Resources" feed, which automatically updates whenever a new service is added to the page.

Keep an eye on the Resource Marketplace as we continue to add new services, and let us know what you think of the redesign.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The NonProfit Times eNewsletters: An Introduction

One of the features that received an overhaul in our website re-design is our eNewsletter page. Whereas before users would individually sign-up for the newsletter they wanted to receive, the process has now been streamlined to make it much more user-friendly.

The first thing you will see when you enter the new eNewsletter page is a simple box asking you to enter your e-mail address. Once you do that, you will receive a message at that address asking you to confirm that you do want to receive messages from The NonProfit Times. After confirming you will be bought to your eNewsletter preferences page (see picture below) where you can manage which newsletters you want to get (Weekly, Instant Fundraising, Jobs, Technobuzz, and Exempt).

The eNewsletter preference center allows users to customize which newsletters they want to receive, and more.

We believe that this new format will make it much simpler for users to decide which eNewsletters they want to receive. Your inbox is likely cluttered with all sorts of messages, so there's no need for you to be getting information you don't want.

What do you think about the new design? Let us know in the comments section below.

Welcome To The New NonProfit Times

If you have been to The NonProfit Times' website this morning, you will have noticed it looks a little different. This is the result of a new design we have been working on for some time now which will make the site easier to navigate.

“This new evolution of our web platform reflects a year-long effort to meet the information needs of our readers and advertising partners,” said John McIlquham, president/CEO of The NonProfit Times. “We're proud of these changes because our subscribers have been vocal in what type of information presentation they need us to provide. Our advertising partners also provided valuable feedback.”

The new web platforms for The NonProfit Times, Exempt Magazine and the Nonprofit Job Seeker, the site's career center, incorporate more than an updated new design that allows for greater video and audio capability. It is also built on a content management system featuring a new ecommerce platform and recommendation engine. The new features allow more content centric access to a huge catalog of articles, interviews and videos.

The launch offers a more integrated approach to executive functions so that web visitors can tour information on all three sites from one location. There will be interactive links to education, online libraries, grants and jobs boards that multiply a visitors’ ability to tap into a substantial and growing information base.

We are also happy to announce that the new website has been optimized for smartphones and tablets, allowing users to access the latest nonprofit news and information wherever they are.

A look at the mobile version of the new site

"We're excited about this new effort to reach out to more organizations looking for expertise in managing, hiring and promoting their cause," McIlquham noted, "because technology has opened vistas for our subscribers in accessing information that will translate into new ideas, new opportunities and new funding for their missions." Visit to learn more about the re-designed site.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Philadelphia Considers PILOT Program

Two Philadelphia council members are pushing for changes that could potentially open the door for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program in the city.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown started the push by calling for a hearing on property tax exemptions for nonprofits in Philadelphia. The city holds nearly $13 billion in exempted property -- 10 percent of the total market value -- making it a prime candidate for PILOTs.

In addition to the hearing, which is to be held sometime this spring, Councilman Bill Green introduced legislation that would require nonprofits to prove they deserve their tax exemptions and would identify programs that should pay business taxes.

Some of the city's nonprofits are not greeting this news with open arms particularly hospitals, which would stand to pay $112 million in taxes if they were not exempt. Curt Schroder, regional executive for the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council, told The Inquirer that he is "concerned" about the discussion and hopes the council doesn't end up implementing a PILOT program.

Though Philadelphia nonprofits might not like them, PILOT programs are common in the United States. They typically arise in cities with vast hospital systems and universities such as Providence, R.I., which recently agreed to a deal with Brown University to receive doubled payments from the college. The biggest recipient of PILOTs is Boston, which collected $19.4 million from nonprofits in 2012.

In addition, a study by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies featured last year in The NonProfit Times revealed that 63 percent of nonprofits reported paying fees or taxes to local governments.

You can read the full story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Monday, March 4, 2013

5 Questions About Donors

What makes donors tick? That's a question that some fundraisers don't necessarily feel the need to answer; if they're giving money who cares, right? To keep them giving, however, it is good to get a better idea of what donors are thinking.

Understanding what donors are thinking will give you a better idea of how to cultivate them and, in turn, allow your organization to have enough money to complete its mission. In his book, “The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising,” Larry C. Johnson poses several questions that he believes nonprofits should be asking about their donors. Those questions are:

  • Why are donors’ values important? When organizations come to terms with the fact that donors are people just like nonprofit employees -- and act upon this certainty -- they have made the single most important step toward success in fundraising.
  • What is philanthropy ultimately about? It is about giving and receiving. Donors want to be engaged, not enticed.
  • How can an organization engage donors? Engaging people by first learning who they are and what is important to them allows a charity to fashion messages that will be understood, acted upon and appreciated.
  • What do donors want? First and foremost, donors want to be seen for what they are -- investors.
  • What is the difference between program focus and donor focus? It is important to remember that people give to people. Programming is merely the vehicle to enriching the lives and meeting the needs of human beings.