Friday, November 29, 2013
I'll admit it: I've been closely following the release of the proposed new Treasury regulations governing political advocacy of 501(c)(4) organizations. Today's Washington Post asserts that the new rules bring both clarity and confusion to a broken system. The Post's article begins by acknowleding that the rules governing the political activities of nonprofit advocacy groups is "an area of the tax code that has been crying out for greater clarity." According to the newspaper, while the "proposed regulation unvieled Tuesday by the Treasury Department draws the boundaries clearly," they "instantly kicked off intense debate about whether the lines are in the right place."
According to the Post,
One phrase in the official notice summed up the imperfect nature of the exercise. The new rules, the department said, "may be both more restrictive and more permissive than the current approach."
Notwithstanding the apparent confusion, the Post acknowledges what we all know: the system was broken and needed to be fixed.
Earlier this week, we blogged about the proposed new political activity rules for tax-exempt organizations proposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service. The NonProfitTimes is reporting that the proposed rules are drawing sharp criticism from some members of the nonprofit sector.
As an initial matter, we note that the rules specifically target 501(c)(4) organizations and political lobbying and activism. However, the Times notes that the proposed rules can also apply to 501(c)(3) groups. For example, under the proposed regulations, activities that will be counted as political activity include voter registration drives, nonpartisan voter guides and events such as debates at which candidates appear. Section 501(c)(3) groups sometimes organize these activities.
Organizations classified as 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations are permitted to undertake political activity, so long as it does not constitute the group’s primary purpose. Nonpartisan activities such as voter registration drives currently are not counted against that threshold. The IRS uses a “facts and circumstances” determination on a case-by-case basis to decide whether a given group’s political activity is its primary purpose.
The facts and circumstances test [is] “all very specific to an organization,” according to Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C. “It is subjective and can be ambiguous. What the IRS is trying to do is just have some bright line rules.”
This does not satisfy some members of the nonprofit sector. The NonProfitTimes reports that some sector members have labeled the proposed rules "an attack on First Amendment free speech rights."
The report notes opposition from other sources:
Marcus Owens, the former director of the IRS Tax Exemption Division and now a lawyer at the Washington, D.C. firm Caplin and Drysdale, said, the proposed rule “eliminates some of the tax rule ambiguities and replaces them with election law ambiguities. There’s still a lot of uncertainty. There’s just different words describing that uncertainty.”
Owens believes the regulations go too far in restricting activities that, because of their nonpartisan nature, did not count as political acts. “It means that for groups like the League of Women Voters, which publishes voters’ guides, that won’t happen in all likelihood,” he said. “What we’ll be left with is biased guides from political groups. Instead of more objective presentation, the public is going to get bombarded with partisan communications.”
Some groups agree with Owens that the proposed regulations go too far, saying that they infringe on free speech. “These proposed new regulations put the First Amendment rights of Americans at even greater risk,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C. said via a statement. “With this move, the Obama Administration opens a new front in its war against political dissent.”
Owens points out that some of the activities that the regulations call political activity, such as get-out-the-vote drives and issue communications, are permitted for 501(c)(3) charities and foundations, which are restricted entirely from political activity. “The Treasury has created a harsher rule,” he said. “They could have mimicked the standards private foundations have to adhere to but instead went with a shotgun approach that does a disservice to the public.”
Gary Bass, executive director of the Bauman Foundation in Washington, D.C., called the proposal “extremely troubling for those who believe in democratic practices.” He worries about the implications for 501(c)(3) groups: “If nonpartisan voter registration, get-out-the-vote, etc., are political for (c)4’s, how can they not be for (c)3’s?” he asked rhetorically.
Bass, like Owens, is critical of the proposal’s ambiguity. “Once again, nonprofits don’t know what they can do,” he said. “The first principle for a rule should be to encourage democratic practice while stifling abuses. This NPRM (notice of proposed rulemaking) abandons such a principle.”
Further, he said the proposed rules will have a chilling effect on foundation funding for nonpartisan civic engagement like voter registration. “Even if there is a legal pathway, it will scare the hell out of foundation legal counsel—and encourage foundations to stay out of this area of funding.”
Not all sector members are critical. The Times reports that unlike Owens and Bass,
Other groups are more optimistic about the proposal. “The proposal is good for no other reason than it gets the ball rolling on a critical issue,” said Craig Holman, Ph.D., a government affairs lobbyist with the Washington, D.C. group Public Citizen. “It admirably attempts to offer some clarity in what nonprofit groups can and cannot do and reduces the discretion of the IRS in evaluating activities of nonprofits. Overall, it is a positive step by the Treasury Department.”
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 in Washington, D.C., agreed. “Democracy 21 applauds the action taken today by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to initiate a rulemaking to address the inadequate rules that have been used by the IRS to determine 501(c)4 tax-exempt status,” said Wertheimer in a statement.
Once the regulations are published in the Federal Register, the public will have at least 60 days to comment.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Today's Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that more than than 7,000 nonprofits plan to band together to promote Giving Tuesday next week. This represent's a significant increase over last year's 2,500 charities that participated in the event.
According to the Chronicle, companies, foundations, and other big donors are also chipping in to promote the day, which will largely rely on social media to promote giving and volunteering. The Chronicle continues:
Even the Obama administration is urging people to give and volunteer on December 3. In the White House Blog, Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, calls Giving Tuesday “a wonderful opportunity for a national conversation about the ability of all Americans to participate in positive action.”
The first "Giving Tuesday" was organized last year as an answer to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping traditions.
Monday, November 25, 2013
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently launched its WKKF Community Leadership Network, a three-year fellowship program for community-based leaders. According to a report in today's Philanthropy News Digest, the iniaitive "aims to develop the leadership skills of individuals working to help vulnerable children and families achieve optimal health and well-being, academic success, and financial security."
To that end, every WKKF fellow will receive an annual stipend of $20,000 and be reimbursed for travel expenses as they enhance their leadership skills through quarterly meetings with fellow community leaders. The Digest continues:
The initiative aims to support an inclusive, intergenerational mix of emerging and established leaders who can unify diverse communities into a cohesive whole dedicated to the advancement of at-risk children and their families. For each cohort, a hundred fellows will be selected from the foundation’s geographic focus areas in the U.S. — Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans — while another twenty will be selected from outside these regions to serve as a national cohort whose work will focus on racial healing and equity. Fellows will be required to participate in individual and group learning activities that foster ongoing connectedness beyond the three-year program.
Commenting on the launching of the new program, WKKF president and CEO, Sterling K. Speirn, said: "The initiative is meant to advance our goal of leveraging community leaders to find and implement lasting solutions for improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families. During the program, fellows will develop skills directly applicable to addressing the needs of vulnerable children and the structural disparities that disrupt their lives and well-being."
Thursday, November 21, 2013
According to The Jewish Week, the Brooklyn-based Aleh Foundation is the defendant in a $5 million lawsuit filed by Masha and Shaul Yakobzon, an Israeli couple who moved to New York City about ten years ago to obtain better medical care for their young daughter, Ayalah. Aleh Foundation allegedly used a photograph of Ayalah to solicit funds, ostensibly to support her family’s efforts to serve her needs. Says the story:
The only problem is that the Aleh Foundation, which purports to be the American fundraising arm of ALEH, a well-known Israeli charity that provides residential facilities for the disabled, never gave a dime for Ayalah’s care, and it used her likeness fraudulently, according to a $5 million lawsuit filed this fall in Brooklyn Supreme Court. [The suit claims] … that representatives of the Aleh Foundation never indicated that their daughter’s likeness “might be widely published, disseminated, or otherwise exploited for a fundraising campaign.” And, the parents claim, “No funds, additional special services, products, or monetary assistance of any kind, has been provided” to the family for Ayalah’s care.
And that’s not all. The story also reports that officials of ALEH, described as “a well-known Israeli charity that provides residential facilities for the disabled,” have been attempting to distance their charity from the Brooklyn entity. The story continues:
For officials at ALEH, who have for three years been trying quietly to get the Aleh Foundation and its longtime head, the politically connected Borough Park rabbi, Shlomo Braun, to stop passing himself off as a representative of the charity, the Yakobzons’ lawsuit is the last straw. And it has pushed what had been a private dispute into public view.
Talking to the media for the first time, in extensive interviews with The Jewish Week, ALEH officials are mounting an offensive against Rabbi Braun in an effort to prevent confusion in the minds of donors about the relationship between the two groups. They allege that Rabbi Braun has funneled only a fraction of the money he has raised on ALEH’s behalf to the organization in Israel. And they claim that he has not provided requested documentation about his fundraising expenses.
The story contains additional details of the history of the two entities and the specific concerns of the representatives of the Israeli charity regarding what they believe to be fundraising irregularities surrounding the Brooklyn entity. It is also noteworthy that Charity Navigator, which rates the efficiency of nonprofits, has issued a “donor advisory” with respect to the Brooklyn entity because of the lawsuit.
Monday, November 18, 2013
On November 15, the IRS issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place following Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on November 8 and brought widespread devastation. Says the alert:
Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.
The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips …
The specific pointers offered by the IRS are available here.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, a leaked affidavit of an FBI agent asserts that California State Senator Ronald S. Calderon has offered political favors in connection with facilitating contributions to a charitable nonprofit established by his brother, Tom Calderon, with less than entirely charitable goals in mind. Key excerpts of the story follow:
Calderon … allegedly accepted $60,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a studio executive in exchange for pursuing legislation to expand tax breaks for film companies, according to a sealed FBI affidavit made public by a cable network.
The agent agreed to pay $25,000 of the money to a nonprofit set up by the senator's brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, says the affidavit ….
"We have this nonprofit. It is called Californians for Diversity," Calderon told the agent, according to a transcript of a recording included in the document.
The group, Calderon said, was set up to advocate positions on issues being debated in California.
"Then Tom and I down the road, we build that up, we can pay ourselves," the senator allegedly told the agent. "Just kind of make, you know, part of [a] living."
The nonprofit, formed in 2008, also received $25,000 from "Yes We Can," a political committee of the California Legislative Latino Caucus, which made the donation in January.
The FBI affidavit alleges the "Yes We Can" donation was arranged by Sen. Kevin de Leon …"in exchange for Ronald Calderon agreeing not to challenge Senator [Ricardo] Lara to become the Chairman of the Latino Caucus."
"They are doing exactly what contribution limits are there to guard against," said [Loyola Law Professor Jessica] Levinson, a member of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.
According to the story, Calderon and De Leon have denied any wrongdoing, and nobody named in the affidavit has yet been charged with a crime.
The Times reports on connections between other California lawmakers and various nonprofit entities, but pinpoints nothing of such import as the facts surrounding Senator Calderon.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
As reported by the Daily Tax Report and Nonprofit Quarterly, the Citizens fpr Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has requested that the IRS take notice of the use of 501(c)(6)s as the new tax-exempt vehicle for political campaign activity. CREW specifically targeted Freedom Partners, a nonprofit organization linked to the Koch brothers that fundraised and distributed between $235 and $250 million in the 2012 election cycle, asking the IRS to review the organization's use of its tax-exempt status to funnel anonymous donations to other organizations conveying a predominantly conservative political message. Organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(6) are typically business leagues or trade associations associated with a particular line of business or industry. According to its website, Freedom Partners states that it is a "501(c)(6) chamber of commerce that promotes the benefits of free markets and a free society." Both the Nonprofit Quarterly and CREW similarly opine that Freedom Partners seems to lack a "common business interest" other than ideological. CREW acknowledged the "vague" rules governing 501(c)(6) organizations, requesting that the IRS provide clarification on required and restricted activities.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is closing his NERD (that's New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify Fund) Fund. The NERD Fund was formed to raise funds to defray the cost of Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. The Fund reportedly also paid the salary of a Snyder aide, Richard Baird.
The NERD Fund apparently qualified as a Section 501(c)(4) organization, and as a result, does not have to disclose its donors. Synder has gotten some heat from watchdog groups and the press, who accused him of using the NERD Fund as a way back door way for special interests to give to Snyder. Query whether it could have been formed as a Section 501(c)(3) for the purpose of lessening the burdens of government?
Sadly, this arises at the same time that The Chronicle of Philanthropy (Sub required) raises the question "Can Philanthropy Save Detroit?" It sort of boggles the mind that the closing of the NERD Fund is in the same issue of The Chronicle.
And, most importantly, who the heck thought that The NERD Fund was a good name? Someone FOIA that, stat.
Friday, October 18, 2013
The Miami New Times is reporting that Dr. Norman Block, a chairholder at the University of Miami’s Miller School of medicine, has brought a legal action against the school on the grounds that it has improperly disbursed funds from a $1 million endowment for prostate research. Says the story:
The $1 million at the heart of the dispute was given to UM in 1981 by L. Austin Weeks, a philanthropist who later died from prostate cancer. He left the money "to enhance the research being conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine in the field of prostate cancer" and asked that it be used to support a chairholder and a research position, as well as help incorporate hormonal studies and increase an animal research colony.
Weeks recommended his own doctor — Block, a renowned urologist — as the first chairholder. Block has held that chair ever since and has used the gift to help UM become a leader in the field through innovative studies and hires ....
All of that fell apart in August, Block says. That's when — in addition to learning about the cuts to his own funding — he discovered the school had disbursed $441,723.24 from the endowment without his consent. (The suit doesn't specify where that money went.)
A spokesperson for the school reportedly offered no public statement about the litigation and explained that the school’s policy forbids commenting on “personnel matters.”
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The October 7 issue of the National Council of Nonprofits’ Nonprofit Advocacy Matters contains a number of stories that may interest readers. Here is a summary of the article titles in the issue:
Paying for Indirect Costs Essential to Success, New Report Finds
Long Federal Shutdown Means Greater Demands, Impact on Nonprofits
Dealing with the Federal Government Shutdown at the State Level
Nonprofits Prepare for 2014 State Tax Reform Discussions
Taxes, Fees, PILOTs
Illinois Implements Reforms that Benefit Nonprofits and Taxpayers
Denver Strengthens Partnership with Nonprofit Contractors
Additional State and Local Issues
Nonprofits Take to Advocacy to Avoid Another Round of Sequestration
“Business as Usual: A Tale of Two Sectors,” by Tim Delaney, Huffington Post, September 30, 2013.
“When Government Shuts Down, the Nonprofit Community Pays,” by Tim Delaney, Foundation Center, October 4, 2013.
“Charitable Giving Tied to State Tax Deduction Decisions,”analyzing the consequences of actions by legislatures to reconsider and largely to retain charitable giving incentives in Hawai’i, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Vermont.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
As reported by the Nonprofit Quarterly, nonprofit organizations have no choice but to contend with a potentially extended government shutdown and the loss of government funds. The article refers to guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which issued a memorandum several weeks ago to all federal agencies entitled, “Planning for Agency Operations during a Potential Lapse in Appropriations.” In the memorandum, OMB advised federal agencies to update “their plans for operations in the absence of appropriations” and that “agency leaders should ensure that only those activities that are ‘excepted’ pursuant to applicable legal requirements would continue to be performed during a lapse in the appropriation for those activities.” As the article further states, one of the clear impacts of government shutdown for nonprofits are short-term financial decisions that could result in layoffs or furloughs.
Lois Lerner, the embattled former head of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, retired on Monday, September 23, 2013 after 30 years of civil service. As Politico stated in an article about Lerner's retirement: "Lois Lerner is the political piñata that Congress still loves to whack months after she awkwardly acknowledged that the IRS wrongly scrutinized conservative groups for years. Her sudden retirement on Monday after 12 years at the agency won’t change that."
The Huffington Post blog published an article yesterday entitled, "The IRS Scandal That Wasn't," providing an interesting historical and, of course, political recounting of the 501(c)(4) determination process with respect to politically-oriented organizations that led to Lerner's undoing. The article, however, makes a profound statement of caution in its conclusion: "Far more troubling is that the current brawl over the IRS may make the agency too gun shy to properly police tax-exempt groups."
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Last Wednesday I blogged about Georgetown Law's finiancial boot camp. Today I write to report that Georgetown is not the only law school seeking to give its students a sense of the business world. The National Law Journal is reporting that "a growing number of law schools are borrowing a page from the MBA playbook and adding courses intended to give students a foundation in business, in addition to the law." The other schools profiled in the Journal report are Elon University School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Harvard Law School, University of Michigan Law School and University of Colorado Law School.
According to the Journal, the business courses now taught at these law schools are an outgrowth of the rising demand for law graduates to have some real-world legal experience. In the past, legal educators believed that law students could obtain this experience through clinics and externships. Not any more. Legal educators
...are now starting to take a broader view of what, exactly, prepares a student to practice law. They're realizing that basic business and management skills would prove useful whether the student ends up counseling corporate clients, goes solo or works in a small nonprofit.
I applaud the new trend. May it last well into the future.
I have enjoyed blogging this past week. Tomorrow, one of my colleagues will take over the blogging duties. I thank my recently-graduated former student, Ibukun Adepoju, for helping me spot stories for blogging. May she have peace of mind as she awaits the results of the July bar exam.
Here is another education story, this one from the New York Times Sunday Review...
We've heard the stories; we know they are true: dedicated principals work endless, exhausting hours. "Along the way, they struggle with budgets, staffing problems, disengaged parents, gang violence, holes in the roof and finding clean clothing for impoverished children who arrive disheveled and unwahsed."
Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, recently described the public school principal's life in her city as "near impossible." According to Berry, "It is impossible to come to the end of the day and say you finished that day's work. That just doesn't happen."
The principals of Chicago now have more to do since the city introduced a new teacher evaluation system that produced its first teacher ratings this month. The evaluation system requires school principals to oversee the installation of a rigorous new Common Core standards with ambitious learning goals intended to move schools away from rote learning and memorization and toward intensive writing and high-level reasoning skills.
Traditionally, principals reviewed teachers by making brief class visits, and then declared almost every teacher excellent or at least competent. Struggling teachers did not get the help they needed and disastrous ones stayed on the job.
The new evaluation regimes taking hold across the country call for administrators to perform more frequent observations, during which they focus closely on things like the classroom environment, how well lessons are planned, and whether or not the teacher engages students and conveys information effectively.
This approach — and the mentoring that is supposed to support the teachers — will require a great deal of training for principals and an enormous investment of time, something school administrators don’t have. Beyond that, for the new system to work, administrators need the trust of teachers, who often view the evaluations as part of a plan to dislodge them from their jobs.
Yet, according to a study by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, teachers have responded to the new system in generally favorable terms:
Eighty-seven percent reported that the evaluator had provided fair and unbiased assessments of their work. Ninety-four percent of school administrators said the classroom observations and the conversations with teachers that followed had deepened the discussion about teaching. And principals said they had seen instructional improvements that seemed to flow from those conversations.
Meanwhile, principals are feeling somewhat pressured:
The study also suggests that principals desperately need better training in how to help teachers improve. One administrator said of struggling teachers: “There’s 15 things they need to get better at, and so all 15 of them are important, where do I begin?” Another spoke of struggling to find the right ways to reach teachers with markedly different sensibilities. Some do well with the direct approach, he said, but the phrase “this is what you should do” turns others right off.
Lack of time is a huge challenge. The average elementary school administrator in Chicago, for example, spent over two weeks solely on teacher observations. The workload will increase for all principals next year, when tenured as well as nontenured teachers will be evaluated. For a high school principal, the study says, that could take six and a half weeks. Principals at all levels say they are already sacrificing other important duties, like working directly with students and parents.
The new system may or may not be a good thing. It might succeed; it might fail. Whatever happens, it appears that Chicago is trying to do the best for its students.
According to the Digest,
The gift will enable the university to recruit two of the four chemists for its new Center of Excellence in Polymer Chemistry and will support the center's efforts to develop new polymer products and technologies that can be used to make products for the fiber, communication, packaging, and other industries. According to the university, chemists at the center will emphasize fundamental chemistry research but will also work with Houston-area petrochemical companies seeking to convert natural gas feedstock into advanced materials.
Reacting to the receipt of the grant, David Hoffman, who chairs the university's department of chemistry, said: "The foundation's grant will help the university more rapidly expand and enhance its research on polymers, an area of research important to Texas and, in particular, Houston because of its close proximity and ties to the petrochemical industry."
Congratulations to the University of Houston.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
It's a new day, a new week. But let's begin it with an age-old story -- a story about law, education and religion.
The New York Times is reporting that as Texas gears up to select biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade, the panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth.
According to the Times,
One is a nutiritonist who believes "creation science" based on biblical principles should be taught in the classroom. Another is a chemical engineer who is listed as a "Darwin Skeptic" on the Web site of the Creation Science Hall of Fame. a third is a trained biologist who also happens to be a fellow of the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based center of the intelligent-design movement and a vice president at an evangelical ministry in Plano, Texas.
The Times continues:
In the state whose governor, Rick Perry, boasted as a candidate for president that his schools taught both creationism and evolution, the State Board of Education, which includes members who hold creationist views, helped nominate several members of the textbook review panel. Others were named by parents and educators. Prospective candidates could also nominate themselves. The state's education commissioner, Michael L. Williams, a Perry appointee and a conservative Republican, made the final appointments to the 28-member panel. Six of them are known to reject evolution.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors the activities of far-right organizations, lamented that "Utterly unqualified partisan politicians will look at what utterly unqualified citizens have said about a textbook and decide whether it meets the requirements of a textbook."
Miller's statement reflects the view of some Texans who worry that ideologically driven review panel members and state school board members are slowly eroding science education in the state. Some parents even worry that if the State Board of Education has its way, their children will not be able to compete for jobs that require scientific backgrounds.
Others -- especially teachers -- see nothing wrong in teaching creationism or its cousin, intelligent design, as valid scientific alternatives to Darwinian evolutionary theory. The Times concludes its story as follows:
In Texas, the debate has each side borrowing from the other to make its point. Those who challenge evolution invoke the scientists Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, while those who plead for the sanctity of science cite Genesis and the Book of Job.
At the public hearing this month, Michael Singer, a biology professor at the University of Texas who teaches courses to nonscience majors, said his students were often nervous about learning evolution. “I tell them that the Book of Job says that their faith will be tested,” he said. “You don’t need faith to believe what the evidence suggests. You need faith to believe what the evidence doesn’t suggest.”
Then he pulled out a £10 note from his native Britain to show the audience: on one side was a picture of Queen Elizabeth II, on the other, Charles Darwin.
Time will tell how this all ends. Have a great week ahead.
Grantseekers need the assurance that grantmaking foundations are good fits for their organizations. How can they ensure this good fit?
According to a tip from The NonProfit Times,
The information summarized in a funding database provides a glimpse of a private foundation's priorities and giving habits. But savvy grantseekers know they need the full picture before making contact or submitting a grant proposal.
Foundation websites can fill in the missing pieces, but many foundations don't have websites. What's the grantseeker to do?
Barbara Floresch, director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, CA, has a proposal for grantseekers: "first, use a database to identify foundations that seem like a good fit for your organization. Then, if they don't have in-depth websites, go to Guidestar.org, set up a free account, and take a look at the foundation's recent tax returns (990-PFs)."
According to Floresch:
Foundation tax returns are public information and they’re invaluable to grantseekers. They provide not only information about assets and officers but also a complete list of grants awarded during the fiscal year – including the amount of each grant and the recipient’s name and location.
Examine each foundation’s 990-PFs to determine whether that foundation is truly a good fit with your organization’s work. For starters, look at several fiscal years to determine:
- The average amount of funding granted to organizations similar to yours;
- The average amount granted for the area in which you'll seek support (i.e., youth services, education, the arts, the environment);
- Geographic preferences in grantmaking; and
- Whether the foundation provides multi-year funding.
And what is the grantseeker to do with this information? Use it to construct a well-informed plan of action and a well-targeted request for support. While the 990-PF is not the place to start one's research, it can refine the grantseeker's understanding of a grantmaker. Says Floresch: "When it comes to winning grants, thorough information is essential. The 990-PF can help you fill in the blanks."
The Ninth Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting ended in New York City on Thursday with an emphasis on optimism and mobilizing for action to address the most pressing global challenges. Over the three days of the meeting, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) members made over 160 new Commitments to Action, expected to impact nearly 22.2 million lives and valued at more than $10.8 billion when fully funded and implemented.
According to a press release issued shortly after the meeting ended,
Through the CGI commitments announced this year, nearly 27 million metric tons of CO2 will not be released into the atmosphere, more than 2 million girls will be reached by efforts specifically targeting female enrollment in schools, more than 11.6 million children will have a better education, nearly 4 million people will have increased access to health services, and more than $7 billion will be invested in or loaned to small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Former President Clinton noted that "this year’s commitments highlight the enthusiasm, creativity, and general characteristic of CGI members. They also reinforced our theme of ‘mobilizing for impact.’ So many partners have come together, to increase their impact by drawing upon each other’s strengths and creating new partnerships to truly put ideas into action: this is what CGI is all about. I am so grateful to everyone who joined us this year, whether in person or online, and who continue to work with us to create a better world.”
The CGI announced two major Commitments to Action focusing on health and on animal preservation. First, Former President Clinton, joined by Don Thompson, President and CEO of McDonald's, and Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association, announced a partnership to increase customers' access to fruit and vegetables and help families and children to make informed choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles.
Former Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and African government leaders including the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Gabon, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ministers from Botswana and Zambia made an announcement with leaders of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the African Wildlife Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Save the Elephants, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the Jane Goodall Institute regarding Partnership to Save Africa's Elephants, a new Commitment to Action aiming to end poaching by addressing poaching, trafficking, and international demand.
These are good plans. I wish the CGI all the success possible.