Thursday, April 9, 2009

President Obama to Host Seder at White House

The JTA is reporting that President Obama will host a Passover seder at the White House this evening. 

The JTA report states in part:

William Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of the United Jewish Communities Washington office, said the seder was scheduled on the second night so as not to disrupt first night family seders and is "a testament to how far we have come as a Jewish people in America.

"Jews are a vital component in the mosaic that is American culture and society," he said. "Our welcome through the front door, and the dining room door, of the White House speaks to the inclusiveness of today's America and of President Obama. This night is indeed different from all other nights."

We rejoice with our Jewish friends at this development.

Be patient with me as I digress and rejoice about another matter: the appointment of my friend and colleague, David A. Brennen, as dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law.  David was one of my tax law professors (I actually took three classes with him) when I was a law student at Syracuse University College of Law many, many years ago.  I learned much from David, both in and out of the classroom, and for many years after I had graduated from law school.  I rejoice with him, and wish him well in this new endeavor.


April 9, 2009 in Church and State, Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Plan to Help Nonprofit Groups

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, on Monday announced a package of measures to help the city's nonprofit groups weather the recession.  These measures include efforts to streamline government procedures, expand loan programs, and help groups save energy costs.

In a news release issued on Monday, Mayor Bloomberg stated: “As nonprofits face increasing challenges due to the economic downturn, it’s critical that the city take concrete steps to strengthen the sector and help it thrive."

In keeping with this sentiment, Mayor Bloomberg, speaking at a public forum at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, stated that the city would:

  • Set up a program to help nonprofit groups save money by “group purchasing” goods and services, starting with information technology next summer, followed by insurance by the end of the year;
  • Lead an evaluation of energy use by nonprofit groups and use the findings to develop energy-efficiency strategies;
  • Speed up the process under which nonprofit groups demonstrate that they comply with charities regulation;
  • Propose increasing a bridge-loan fund that helps charities under contract with the city cover short-term cash-flow problems — from $8-million to $20-million during the next two fiscal years;
  • Introduce a standard human-services contract for multiple city agencies to reduce red tape;
  • Offer referrals to nonprofit groups that contact the city’s “311” online and phone service on issues like where to get help developing a strategic plan or managing financial resources;
  • Create an “executive director hotline” to allow nonprofit leaders to get strategic advice from senior members of Community Resource Exchange, a nonprofit consulting firm; and 
  • Create a program through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York that will pair business executives with nonprofit executive directors for two years to work on innovative solutions to nonprofit business challenges. 


April 9, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Press Coverage of Dean Brennen

As we announced yesterday, our co-editor, David A. Brennen, has been named Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law.  According to the Lexington-Herald:

He probably doesn't want me to say this, but if readers knew David's humble upbringing they would understand what a momentous achievement this is for David and the University of Kentucky.  David grew up in the same little country town as my wife so I know a little about it.  He didn't walk ten miles in the snow to school or anything like that, but frankly the barriers to Deanship at a top school for a knucklehead black boy from Alachua Florida are enormous.  No this is not the Presidency.  But that David has overcome those barriers is truly amazing.  I just hope he introduces me to Obama when he gets a chance.  Ok, enough of that.  Back to nonprofit stuff.

April 9, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Report: Foundations Giving Up Inspite of Bad Economy -- But Future Declines Possible

The NonProfitTimes is reporting that in the midst of the current deepening economic crisis, the more than 75,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations increased their giving 2.8 percent during 2008 to an estimated $45.6 billion.  These figures come from a report, “Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook” (2009 Edition), recently released by the Foundation Center.

However, the Times is quick to point out that "[a]lthough foundation giving grew modestly in 2008, it did not grow as much as had been expected due to the extreme nature of the current economic downturn."

According to the Times

Just fewer than one-third (29 percent) of the more than 1,200 foundations that responded one year ago to the Foundation Center's annual “Foundation Giving Forecast Survey” -- before the economic crisis took hold -- said they expected to reduce their giving in 2008. But according to findings from the latest survey conducted in early 2009, close to half of the top U.S. funders (47 percent) actually reduced their giving in 2008.

Findings from the Foundation Center’s latest survey suggest that in 2009 foundation giving will decrease in the range of the high single digits to low double digits, even though estimated foundation assets declined a far greater 21.9 percent in 2008. Most respondents (67.1 percent) say they expect to reduce their 2009 giving to at least some extent, with community foundations being most likely to anticipate a decrease. Given the continuing instability in the economy and stock market, it is also likely that foundation giving will decline further in 2010.

So, while the news was good for 2008, the future does not look as bright.  Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center in New York City, explains the situation thus: “Foundations remain one of the few sources of stability for nonprofit organizations in this very volatile economic climate. However, the longer this crisis persists, the more foundations will have to reduce giving.”


April 8, 2009 in Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

David Brennen, Co-Editor of Nonprofit Law Prof Blog, Named University of Kentucky College of Law Dean

Photo of Prof. Brennen   We, at the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog, are pleased and proud to announce that the University of Kentucky has selected Co-Editor David A. Brennen as the next Dean of its College of Law.  The University of Kentucky boasts a top tier law school, according to U.S. News and World Report, and Professor Brennen is a renowned tax scholar and administrator, having only recently completed a two year stint as Deputy Director of the American Association of Law Schools.   He has previously taught at the University of Georgia, Mercer University, Syracuse, and the University of Richmond, among other places.  He is a widely cited and consulted authority on the tax laws pertaining to nonprofit organizations, a driving force behind the founding of the AALS Section on Nonprofit Law, the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog, and a truly dedicated servant of the law and legal profession.  There is, of course, many more positive things to say about our colleague.  We will post the official University of Kentucky press release as soon as it is made available sometime tomorrow.  Congratulations David!


April 8, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Religious Organizations Grapple With How to Layoff Employees

The Religions News Network (For Churches, a Right and Wrong Way to Hire and Fire) is reporting that many congregations, facing declining contributions and reduced budgets, are following the lead of cash-strapped corporations by laying off employees. However, this is not a task being taken lightly.  The stakes are higher, congregational leaders say, when you’re putting someone’s spiritual leader out on the street.

The RNN report states in part: 

Churches have never been good at this. “Terminal niceness” keeps congregations from dealing honestly with unneeded or ineffective staff members, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch told ministers recently.

Congregational leaders, meanwhile, say already-tough financial decisions can become excruciating when you are firing the man who married your daughter or the woman who held your hand in the hospital.

“Terminating employees, in business or in churches, is never an easy task,” said Phill Martin, deputy executive director of the Dallas-based National Association of Church Business Administration. But the task becomes immeasurably more complicated, he said, if church leaders and ministers are lowering the ax.

“When you live out of the values of ministry, it is more difficult to segregate the impact on the individuals’ and families’ lives than it is for most business people,” Martin explained. “It’s tough when your core value is `I’m here to minister to people’ and you become the author of that pain.”

Instead, churches in financial crisis “get all flustered,” said congregational expert David Odom, executive vice president of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C. Congregations typically vacillate “between cold, hard business facts and denial,” he said.

In a bid to delay firing employees, congregations are utilizing other coping measures such as giving employees unpaid furloughs and shifting some staff to part-time status.  However, if the economy does not improve soon, these congregations will have no option but to lay off some employees.    


April 7, 2009 in Current Affairs, In the News, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where Are The jobs?

Today's job market does not look pretty.  For nonprofit organizations, the picture is far from pretty! 

Yesterday's Non Profit Times took an insightful look at the current job market, with special focus on the nonprofit sector.  The report makes an interesting observation: the economic downturn might bring some benefits to the nonprofit sector -- at least as far as personnel is concerned.  According to the Times:

The economic crunch might help bring much needed talent into the nonprofit leadership ranks. Organizations will need an estimated 640,000 senior managers during the next decade, according to a 2006 study conducted by The Bridgespan Group. Even with sector consolidation, people working longer and conservative turnover rates, the survey expects at least 330,000 new managers will be needed to fill in leadership gaps.

The report also noted that certain factors could influence the impact the economic downturn is having on jobs in the nonprofit sector:

The degree of impact on the job scene in the nonprofit sector depends on the geographic location and specific link with corporate donors. For example, the Bernard Madoff investment scandal is hurting nonprofits in New York and Florida but not affecting California as much. Job losses in Las Vegas are hurting nonprofits in Nevada, while the housing deflation hit groups in Georgia.

As regards educational institutions, the report states:

The niche area of professional research universities either has a hiring freeze, or like Harvard University, sent word that budgets are about to be cut, according to Katina Leodas, president of the Leodas Search Group in Boston. Academic medical centers aren’t using the word cuts, although growth has slowed.


April 7, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Donor's Legal Troubles Cause Museum to Consider Bankruptcy

Friday's Los Angeles Times reported that director Cecilia Aguilera Glassman of the Children's Museum of Los Angeles has stated that absent an unexpected "angel" donation, the museum would file for liquidation under Chapter 7 of federal bankruptcy laws and cease operations.

Ms. Glassman's announcement followed the revelation that the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit accusing businessman Bruce Friedman of Sherman Oaks, California, of diverting more than $17 million from investors in his company, Diversified Lending Group, and has persuaded a judge to freeze all the company's assets.

According to the Times, Friedman's charity, the Friedman Charitable Foundation, became the museum's  largest donor in 2007 when it pledged$10 million to the organization.  However, according to Glassman, the museum has received "less than half" of the pledge and has not determined whether it can keep the money.

Construction of a 57,000-square-foot building for the museum in the Hansen Dam Recreation Area was completed in 2007.  However, the facility has remained empty because museum officials have not been able to raise the funds needed to purchase exhibits and cover operating costs.  Friedman's pledge, therefore, was welcome news to the organization.  In fact, Glassman asserts that without the $10-million gift, the museum would be about $22 million short of the $58.5 million it needs to open.  Accordingly, on March 27 the museum's board of governors voted to declare bankruptcy.  Museum officials have also been engaged in discussions with a court-appointed receiver managing Friedman's assets to determine whether the museum needs to return the money it has received from the Friedman Charitable Foundation.

According to Glassman, "The only thing that could change the course is if there were one or more angel donors who would step in and see the value of the project.  Otherwise, we'll probably not see a children's museum in Los Angeles."

What can I say?  Another sign of the times...


April 5, 2009 in Current Affairs, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)