Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Mess in Illinois

Some weeks ago, maybe months now, the Chicago Tribune began reporting about admissions standards at the University of Illinois, including its law school.  The paper alleged that the school had admitted subpar applicants, under pressure from legislatures and members of the board of trustees.  A letter written by a group of professors pointed out that the fingers should have pointed at those exerting the pressure and not at the school's admissions officers.  U of I is a public school after all, dependent on the legislature for at least some of its support.

The Illinois Admissions Review Commission, created in the wake of the Tribune articles, investigated the abuses and recommended that the entire Board of Trustees of U of I step down so that the Governor could decide which trustees to keep.

Today the Chicago Tribune reports that the Governor continues to pursue his goal of having the Board of Trustees step down.  The article suggests that if some of the trustees refuse to go quietly, the Guv may fire them.  And that may raise additional legal questions.  The Constitution allows the Governor to fire trustees for "incompetence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance" and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that fired appointees could fight their dismissals in court.  As Ann Lousin, a John Marshall Law School professor says, "It's going to be an interesting case."


August 15, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fair and Reasonable Compensation

Tax regulations require that the compensation paid to nonprofit executives be "fair and reasonable."  A board is expected to make that determination based on comparables - what a similar executive would earn for a similar job.  For many nonprofits, getting the information necessary to support a decision on compensation can be difficult.  GuideStar just announced a new service - CEO Compensation Checkpoint - that "evaluates a nonprofit CEO's compensation against a group of peer organizations" and then prepares a report for use by the board.  This blog is not endorsing GuideStar's service or product, and there is a fee for the service, but it is useful to know that the service exists.  It is also a reminder that a lot of IRS regulations, while adopted with the worthy goal of promoting "good" behavior by nonprofits, will cause many nonprofits to incur extra expenses.


August 14, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Survey Shows How Charities Cope with Recession

Yesterday we blogged about a similar survey.  Today we'll look at a Guidestar survey, completed by 2,279 readers of the Guidestar newsletter.  Most are public charites.  The survey shows results similar to those from a similar survey completed in March.  52% of charities in the survey reported a decrease in contributions, the same percentage reported in the prior survey.  Most (72%) of the charities report fewer individual gifts and smaller individual gifts and some report that private foundation grants, corporate gifts, and government grants were smaller or discontinued.

For the same period, 58% of the charities showed that demand for their services had increased, yet 57% had had to reduce services offered.  Salary freezes and layoffs were among the other strategies for coping with decreased funds, but 36% showed a budget increase from the prior year (36% showed a decrease).

The data does not provide a lot of new information, but it is interesting to see how charities are being affected and how some are trying to cope.


August 14, 2009 in Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Symposium on Philanthropy Law - Free!

A Symposium on the Law of Philanthropy in the 21st Century will be held at Chicago-Kent College of Law, in Chicago, Illinois,  on October 23, 2009.  This full-day symposium features academic papers presented on panels organized around governance, tax and donor intent.  Marian Fremont-Smith will be the keynote speaker and will speak following lunch.  The symposium concludes with a reception at the end of the day. Chicago-Kent is hosting the symposium and its law review will publish the papers in a symposium issue. The ACTEC Foundation has provided funding for the symposium which makes it possible for the symposium to  offered free of charge - registration, materials, lunch and the reception are all free!

The symposium brochure and information about online registration can be found at


August 13, 2009 in Paper Presentations and Seminars | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Survey Finds Nonprofits Cutting Staff

The Chronicle on Philanthropy reports the results of a survey conducted by Campbell and Company.  The survey looks at different strategies nonprofits are using to survive the recession.  Of the nonprofits surveyed, 47.4% have laid off employees and about half have instituted salary freezes.  51.4% of nonprofits have lower budgets this year, but 24.4% have increased the size of their budgets.  The remaining nonprofits have budgets that have stayed the same.  This new survey shows that layoffs are being used by more nonprofits as the recession lingers.


August 13, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

PILOTs Under Review in Boston Area

Communities in the Boston area have been pushing local nonprofits, especially private schools, for increases in the amounts the nonprofits contribute as payments in lieu of taxes.  An article in today's Boston Globe details changes for a number of schools and the efforts of local officials to encourage larger payments.  The discussions are difficult because even wealthy prep schools have seen their endowments drop while the scholarship needs of their students increase.  Even so, the article reports increases agreed to by several schools, including an increase for the Groton School from $31,000 to $100,000.  Two schools in Southborough, St. Mark's and Fay's School have both increased their contributions, in part to help the town pay for a new fire engine.  St. Mark's increased its annual contribution from $15,000 to $20,000 in 2006 and now has added another $10,000 for ten years, to help pay for the ladder truck.  Fay's school increased it's contribution from $5,000 to $10,000 for ten years, but the city's Selectmen are hoping for more.  The board chair says the Selectmen have asked the school to "reassess its position and consider giving something more equitable."  PILOTs are now an accepted fact in these communities, but figuring out what amount is fair remains difficult.


August 13, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)