Wednesday, September 8, 2021

IRS to No Longer Issue Letter Rulings on Certain Activities of Private Foundations

In Revenue Procedure 2021-40, 2021-38, IRB (due for publication on September 20, 2021), the Internal Revenue Service is set to announce that it will no longer issue letter rulings on whether certain transactions are self-dealing within the meaning of section 4941(d) of the Internal Revenue Code.  In making the announcement in a recent Guidewire release, the Service stated that specifically, it "will not issue rulings on whether an act of self-dealing occurs when a private foundation (or other entity subject to section 4941) owns or receives an interest in a limited liability company or other entity that owns a promissory note issued by a disqualified person." This approach amplifies Rev. Proc. 2021-3, 2021-1 IRB 140, which sets forth areas of the Internal Revenue Code relating to issues on which the Internal Revenue Service will not issue letter rulings or determination letters.

Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law 

 

September 8, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Winner-Take-All Philanthropy

28896220393_9a39e66c35_cAbout two weeks ago, I read a New York Times article about the latest round of MacKenzie Scott's philanthropy. The article caught my eye for two reasons: first, a $2.7 billion round of donations is massive. And second, a lot of the money was going to arts organizations (and, as the article noted, dance organizations).

At this point, I kind of have a long history of attending dance performances. I'd been to very few before I moved to New York and met my now-wife. I'm more of a music person, personally, but my wife is a dancer and a dance teacher. So I'm familiar with several of the names on this latest round of funding.

And what was interesting to me was the framing. The donations were framed as being made to "organizations[] which are themselves historically underfunded." Which is hugely laudable and maybe not entirely accurate. Two names especially caught my eye: Alvin Ailey ($20 million) and Jazz at Lincoln Center (some amount that I can't find online in a quick search).

Continue reading

July 6, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Suicide Prevention Overnight Fundraiser Goes Virtual

This year's American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s overnight fundraising event will be virtual. The Overnight Virtual Experience, an online event which will take place the night of June 26 through the morning of June 27, is a culmination of a month-long physical movement and self-care activities drive.

According to a report in the NonProfit Times,

The lead-up activities to June 26 consist of four components: physical activities, including walking at least 16 miles or other actions; social engagement, including guidance on using social media to share experiences and spread information online; fundraising milestones, with a variety of tiered rewards; and, programming on June 26, including time to honor loved ones, connect with the community and, for those who need it, healing activities. All participants will receive a luminaria they can decorate as they wish, including to honor those loved and lost, and which they can share via an app during the June 26 virtual event.

The Times continues:

The 2021 Overnight Virtual Experience marks the second year in a row the event will be held virtually. In 2020, the roughly 3,300 participants raised more than $1.6 million. Last year’s event was initially planned as an overnight walk, but was recast as a virtual experience in April 2020. At that time, a fundraising minimum of $1,000 per participant was waived.

This year’s virtual event similarly does not have a fundraising minimum, although participants who reached multi-tiered levels of fundraising by May 31 were given a variety of premiums. As of June 11, pledges totaled just less than $700,000, but American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Public Relations Director Alexis O’Brien was optimistic final totals would exceed $750,000.

According to the Times, some aspects of the fundraiser have carried over to 2021. As in the past, "each participant is paired with a Walker Coach who provides guidance and encouragement regarding reaching fundraising milestones, and who helps measure impact as participants disseminate information regarding mental health and suicide among their communities." 

Unfortunately, the organization expects the 2021 fundraising level to fall short of what the organization realized during two in-person events in 2019. That year, more than 1,400 participants in San Francisco raised over $1.6 million, while a Boston event that boasted 2,400 participants brought in more than $2.7 million.

According to O'Brien, the Overnight should return to an in-person event in 2022.

Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law

June 17, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Educational Philanthropy Gets Ethical Update

Today's NonProfitTimes is reporting that the standards, guidelines and definitions for reporting the results of educational philanthropy have been updated with new guidance on gift counting, a new definition of educational philanthropy and for the first time, a statement on ethics.

According to the Times, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recently released the CASE Global Reporting Standards. For the first time since its initial publication in 1982, the standards offer a digital subscription and six-country supplement.

Previously referred to as the CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines, the CASE Global Reporting Standards is a common set of standards, guidelines and definitions for reporting the results of educational philanthropy activities at schools, colleges and universities across the globe.

The guidelines underpin CASE’s ongoing work to guide the profession, ensure integrity and consistency in educational advancement work, and to support CASE’s own work in data collection and reporting with its AMAtlas suite of tools such as the recently released Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey results.

The Times notes three key changes within the standards this year:

  • Updated guidance around gift counting, funds received, new funds committed, and donor control and influence.
  • For the first time, the CASE Global Reporting Standards added the CASE Statement on Ethics to the front of the book and adds the CASE Principles of Practice for the advancement disciplines, all recently updated by the CASE Commissions for Philanthropy, Communications and Marketing, and Alumni Relations and approved by the CASE Board of Trustees. The CASE Principles of Practice provide global guidelines for those professions and represent the community-derived foundations on which the advancement profession stands.
  • A new definition for educational philanthropy: Voluntary act of providing private financial support to nonprofit educational institutions. To be categorized as philanthropy in keeping with CASE standards, such financial support must be provided for the sole purpose of benefiting the institution’s mission and its social impact, without the expressed or implied expectation that the donor will receive anything more than recognition and stewardship as the result of such support. 

Announcing the new guidelines via a press release, CASE President & CEO Sue Cunningham stated, “The CASE Global Reporting Standards have at their core the CASE Ethics Statement and Principles of Practice for the profession. As institutional funding has evolved and created increasing expectations for philanthropic support, the need for clear guidance is paramount.”

The standards were reviewed and updated under the leadership of the CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines Working Group. The group is comprised of 19 CASE volunteers and staff, co-chaired by Matthew Eynon, Vice President for College Advancement at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Brian Hastings, President and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation in Lincoln, Nebraska. Six groups of regional volunteers also provided guidance on the new regional supplements for Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including text in Spanish and French.

Commenting on the project, Enyon had this to say: “In developing the first global reporting standards for the advancement profession, CASE has decided to make a statement about the power, impact and importance of philanthropy around the world. The working group members represented many of the leading advancement programs in the world, and their efforts helped to ensure we defined standards which represent excellence in our profession.” 

Hastings added: “The standards are an essential element of upholding the integrity of our profession on a global scale. By reporting and benchmarking annual and campaign results consistent with the standards, all CASE member institutions can compare results with a greater level of confidence and understanding.”

Print copies and digital subscriptions of the Global Reporting Standards are available with a CASE membership discount from the CASE bookstore.

Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law

 

 

March 16, 2021 in Current Affairs, In the News, International, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 6, 2020

Brody, Pause Play

NUPOC Show EBYesterday I got an email from Eveyln Brody (Professor Emeritus, Chicago-Kent). I'm sure everybody reading this knows what an important voice she has been in the world of nonprofit and tax law. But did you know that she's an amazing artist?

A year and a half ago or so, I went to see an exhibition of her pastels at the Leslie Wolf Gallery in Chicago. And now, for the next two months, she's back with a new show of seven of her large pastels entitled "Pause Play." The show will be at the NUPOC Gallery in downtown Chicago during all of March and April.

Evelyn's paintings capture apparently unremarkable moments in time--my favorite are when she paints people riding public transportation, but she also does amazing things with people in museums. And other things. Somehow, the moments she captures manage to be both perfectly ordinary and somehow transcendent.

If you're in Chicago during the next two months, I'd highly recommend checking out the second career of a tremendously talented law professor; maybe I'll see you there.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. It's located inn Suite 1100 at 680 N. Lake Shore Drive.  Public hours are 9:00-4:45, Monday-Friday.

Samuel D. Brunson

March 6, 2020 in Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Nonprofit Halloween

Devers-kerr-qNp4xmD0GaE-unsplashHappy Halloween! In honor of today, I wanted some sort of Halloween nonprofit story.

Frankly, when I think about holidays and nonprofits, I think about the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas corridor. That seems to be when a lot of volunteering happens and, as the end of the tax year approaches, it also seems to be when a lot of year-end funding requests happen.

Are there any Halloween-oriented charities? Almost certainly. And the one I found quickly on Google was 'Ween Dream, a Louisiana-based public charity that provides costumes to kids who might otherwise not have costumes.

It's a small organization, collecting roughly $10,000 of donations annually. I don't know anything substantive about it, but I like that they're taking a charitable approach to a holiday that, as wonderful as it is, doesn't usually invoke thoughts of charity.

Samuel D. Brunson

Photo by Devers Kerr on Unsplash

October 31, 2019 in Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Philip Hackney Introductory Post

As this is my first post on Nonprofit Law Prof Blog, I thought I would do an introductory post. Excited to be blogging here. My name is Philip Hackney, and I am an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. I primarily teach tax law related courses and my scholarship focuses on nonprofit organizations, tax-exemption, tax law, and the IRS. You can see my scholarship here and you can see some articles I have written for more popular press here

I worked for five years at the Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS in Washington DC regulating the nonprofit sector. That work very much influences my research and scholarship and likely what I will blog about here. For instance, I will likely speak about stories like the Taxpayer Advocate Service ("TAS") criticizing the IRS on its new Form 1023-EZ. I note this story because in TAS's 2020 Objectives Report to Congress, TAS again criticizes the IRS's management of its tax-exempt application system. The Form 1023 EZ is a relatively new cursory form that allows small nonprofits to quickly qualify with the IRS as tax exempt organizations. The form was a response to chronic backups at the IRS for approval of routine applications for tax-exemption. TAS is not wrong about the problems raised by the adoption of Form 1023 EZ, a form that will be abused. Charities that should not get tax benefits will be approved by the IRS as a result of the cursory form. The IRS is not doing the kind of audit work that will ensure those organizations are caught. But the reality is that the IRS does not have the resources to do the oversight of the nonprofit sector to the extent many people seem to want. I don't want to get deeply into this issue here, other than to highlight a perspective that I try to bring to the table, which is that as we think about the nonprofit community it is important to be realistic about the resources we are willing to dedicate to their oversight -- not much -- and then work from there.

I will also blog about the role of nonprofits in our democracy. Values of democracy deeply inform my scholarship, and I will work to highlight the democratic role, or often lack thereof, of nonprofit entities in the US, states, and local governments. Because I believe the well-working of our nonprofit community in its democratic role is critical to the governance fabric of our nation, I think thoughtful laws and well operated oversight of the sector matters greatly. I hope to talk about that.

My wife, who is an artist, and I are deeply engaged in the arts community. I have taken an interest in art law as a result and will likely blog about art law matters as well, particularly as they intersect with nonprofits.

Look forward to interacting with this community. 

Philip Hackney

June 24, 2019 in Other, Studies and Reports, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 3, 2019

Soccer, Rock Climbing, and Jazz, Oh My!

I'm excited to be here! (Thanks to the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog folks for inviting me!)

Because I wasn't told any differently, I thought I'd take today to briefly introduce myself. I'll get to more substantive blogging tomorrow.

ClimbingI've been teaching at Loyola University Chicago for a decade now. In addition to here, I do some tax blogging at the Surly Subgroup and some religious/Mormon/tax blogging at By Common Consent. I'm broadly interest in tax and nonprofit issues, and am really interested in questions of the taxation of religious stuff.

My outside-of-work time largely consists of two things: shuttling kids to (and sometimes participating in) an insane number of extracurricular activities and listening to jazz. (I'd like it to involve a little more saxophone playing, but you do what you can.) And both of these things implicate tax-exempt organizations and nonprofits, and may provide me with future blogging fodder.

For instance: today after work, I'll take a bus to pick my daughter up from school. Then we'll take the train to First Ascent. I'll climb and work out while she (and my other daughter) practice with their climbing teams. (Side note: did you know that competitive rock climbing was a thing? Me either, until my kids started doing it. But it'll be in the 2020 Olympics.) Competitive rock climbing is governed by USA Climbing, a 501(c)(3) organization.

I also coach my son's soccer team, through AYSO. (My sister is still incredulous, probably rightfully, since I quit soccer when I was 8. Still, I know more than my son and his cohort, and by coaching, I get to choose when we hold practice, which is kind of critical given my family's schedule.) Like USA Climbing, AYSO is a 501(c)(3) exempt organization.

It makes sense, of course: section 501(c)(3) explicitly allows an exemption for organizations that "foster national or international amateur sports competition." I'll admit, though, that I haven't yet carefully thought through this exemption. When I've thought about it, the two organizations that first come to mind are the NCAA and the US Olympic Committee. My suspicion is that both of these organizations are substantially different, though, from USA Climbing and AYSO. I'll be interested in casually exploring the amateur athletics exemption in future posts.

On the jazz front, I've recently become aware of Giant Step Arts, a nonprofit focused on presenting and recording live jazz. I know basically nothing about Giant Step Arts, though several of the projects it has recorded have made for great listening. I plan on looking at it, its mission, and its tax-exempt status (I think, assuming the linked organization is the same as the jazz nonprofit).

Until those posts, though, thanks for having me, and I look forward to my time on this blog!

Samuel D. Brunson

June 3, 2019 in Music, Other, Sports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Brody Receives ARNOVA Distinguished Achievement in Leadership and Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research Award

Brody-evelyn-portraitI am pleased to share the good news that Evelyn Brody (Chicago-Kent) is the recipient of the 2018 ARNOVA Distinguished Achievement in Leadership and Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research Award

The Distinguished Achievement Award is given annually for significant and sustained contributions to the field through research and leadership. Nominees must have demonstrated outstanding achievement(s) in the field of nonprofit and voluntary action research and/or significant leadership achievements in the advancement and promotion of such research over an extended period of time.

Professor Brody will be presented with this award at the ARNOVA Annual Conference in Austin, Texas from November 15-17, 2018.  Please join me in congratulating Evelyn on this outstanding achievement.

TLH

October 7, 2018 in Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mayer Honored as Notre Dame All-Faculty Team Honoree

Mayer_ad_thumbnailI am delighted to share the good news that Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) was honored last weekend as a member of the 2018 Notre Dame All-Faculty Team. The Notre Dame All-Faculty Team borrows from the tradition of recognizing outstanding student-athletes being named to All-American teams.  In doing so, Notre Dame recognizes the accomplishments of its most outstanding professors:

At every home football game, the provost will honor a different member of the faculty on the field during a timeout. These . . . individuals have been chosen from across Notre Dame’s colleges and schools for their excellence in research, teaching, and service to the University.

Please join me in congratulating Lloyd on this well-deserved honor.

TLH

October 7, 2018 in Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cross-Post: A Lawyer Helping Wounded Warriors

I am pleased to cross post this article by the very wonderful Joan Heminway (University of Tennessee)  from our sister blog, the Business Law Prof Blog, entitled "A Lawyer Helping Wounded Warriors, One House at a Time"

As a legal advisor to both for-profit and not-for-profit ventures for more than 30 years, I have had to learn about the business operations of new clients many, many times.  The facts are so important in these knowledge acquisition processes (which generally take time to complete).  The more experienced one is as a business lawyer, the more adept one is at getting the right facts--and analyzing the legal risks, rights, and responsibilities they represent or signal.

As a law professor, I have had many opportunities to experience joy from the work of my students.  They do such amazing things!  As the careers of my former students lengthen and deepen, my pride in them often exponentially increases.

With all that in mind, I bring you today a podcast featuring one of my beloved former students.  She doesn't work for a law firm or a major multinational corporation.  She is not a general counsel.  Instead, she works for a relatively small nonprofit organization in a broad-based planning and development role.

Jump on over to the Business Law Prof Blog for the rest of the article and the link to the Podcast for a great reminder of why it is we do nonprofit work.

 

EWW

July 10, 2018 in In the News, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Experiential Learning in Nonprofit Law

Rather than talk about news or scholarship, I want to pose a question about experiential approaches to teaching nonprofit law. What are some of the innovative teaching techniques that you have used or heard of in nonprofit law?

One program that I run is a policy advocacy course that puts a mix of law, MPA (public administration) and MNAL (nonprofit management) students to work as lobbyists seeking changes to state and local policies.  The catch: students are not allowed to threaten litigation--they have to navigate political structures as a lobbyist (without any cash) would.  Our named partner this semester is United Way of Greater Cleveland, but students work with a range of community based organizations on issues ranging from animal cruelty to policy responses to the Heroin crisis, to local nuisance laws that lead to the eviction of victims of domestic violence.  The class has proven successful in accomplishing pedagogical goals, enhancing student career opportunities, and making a positive difference in the community. 

More common courses/practices in experiential nonprofit law include:

  • Board Fellows – several schools (including Cleveland State) run a program where students are placed as trustees on community boards in a non-voting capacity for an academic year
  • Start-up Workshop – the number of requests for assistance for creating a new nonprofit can be overwhelming, and law schools might offer advice on filing creation documents and seeking federal tax-exempt status. (Although, for a lot of these requests, the best and most honest advice is that the requester might want to rethink creating a new nonprofit.)
  • A Tax or Transactional Clinic -- assist nonprofits with a particular issue or transaction, e.g., Georgetown Law Clinic
  • UVa's Nonprofit Clinic -  provides a "legal health checkup" to nonprofit boards

Personally, I would like to see more interdisciplinary projects--students from law, business, social work, policy, etc.--to provide a deeper, richer analysis of an issue facing a nonprofit, while also giving students a more complete understanding of nonprofit practice (but disciplinary silos can be hard to break down.)

Other ideas?  How else can we get students engaged in meaningful work in nonprofit law?

@josephwmead

October 26, 2016 in Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Totally OT: Your Daily Funny Courtesy of the FEC and the Business Law Prof Blog

So this is off topic, I'll admit, but it gave me a laugh this morning so I thought I'd share.   There's some law in there, somewhere.   From fellow Law Prof Blog blogger Anne Tucker at the Business Law Prof Blog, her blog post entitled Your Daily Funny Courtesy of the FEC

 

Keep reading only if you have 3 minutes that you don't care about being productive or relating to business law, at least not directly.

The Federal Election Committee issued a proposed draft of an advisory opinion on a question brought by Huckabee for President,  Inc.--the committee responsible for the 2016 presidential campaign of  former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.  The Committee wanted to know if it can use part of a legal defense fund to pay a settlement. The FEC says yes.  This isn't an election law blog, so I won't go into the details.  The litigation arose over the campaign's use of the song "Eye of the Tiger".  The FEC,  feeling quite cheeky writes the following: 

The complaint, seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages, alleged that 21 the Committee had violated federal copyright law by playing the song “Eye of the Tiger” at a campaign event on September 8, 2015. The Committee,rising up to the challenge of its rival, incurred attorneys’ fees and other expenses in defending itself in that litigation. After briefly relishing the thrill of the fight, the parties settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.

Has the political circus of the 2016 election warped the sense of decorum at the FEC or should we all want to be friends with the lawyers there?  I can't decide.  But I do know that you should (a) click on the link to the song, and (b) jam away in your office for the next 4 minutes.  

You are welcome.

-Anne Tucker

 
Enjoy having that go through your head for the rest of the day.  And if that leaves you wanting more, try this!    EWW
 
 
(P.S. It's far happier that mourning Gordie Howe with strains of Brass Bonanza, which is what was stuck in my  head previously.  God's speed, Mr. Hockey.)  
 
 
 

June 10, 2016 in Federal – Executive, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Zoning Violations and Tax-Exempt Status

When does an alleged zoning violation justify automatic removal of a property's tax-exempt status? New York State Supreme Court --Appellate Division, Second Department, recently had the opportunity to review the issue.

In Community Assn., Inc. v. Town of Ramapo, 2016 NY Slip Op 01458, 2nd Dept 3-2-16, the Second Department, reversing the trial court, determined that an alleged violation, for which the property owner had never been cited, did not justify the automatic removal of the property's tax-exempt status. The property had been tax-exempt for years as low-income property. The court found that the alleged zoning violation -- that the property owner had more than two residential apartments -- was not incompatible with the tax-exempt use. Therefore, the court held, the alleged zoning violation could not justify automatic removal of the tax-exempt status. Said the court:

[E]ven assuming that a zoning violation had been sufficiently established, the defendants have failed to articulate why such a violation, under the particular circumstances presented, should result in loss of the plaintiff's tax exemption. Not all violations of law automatically result in the loss of a tax exemption ... . 'The concern of the taxing authority is not with the observance or non-observance by plaintiff of regulatory provisions relating to a specific building, but to the use to which the real property as an entity is or is intended to be devoted' ... . This is not a case in which the applicable zoning regulation is incompatible with the occupant's tax-exempt use ... . In such cases, the rationale for denying the tax exemption is simple and clear, as compliance with both the tax-exempt use and the zoning regulation is impossible. Here, by contrast, the tax-exempt use of providing residential housing to low-income tenants is consonant with the property's permitted use as a two-family dwelling. Under these circumstances, the defendants have failed to establish, prima facie, that the nature of the alleged violation (i.e., that the plaintiff had more than two residential apartments) can serve as a valid legal basis for denying the property tax exemption ...".

So to answer the question with which we started, When does a zoning violation justify automatic removal of a property's tax-exempt status? New York's Second Department is clear: When the applicable zoning regulation is incompatible with the property occupant's tax-exempt use. 

VEJ       

 

March 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, In the News, Other, State – Judicial | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Carneigie Corporation Awards $3.6 Million to New York Institutions

New York City seems to be in the news a lot this week.  In a press release issued yesterday, the Carnegie Corporation of New York announced grants totaling $3.6 million in support of education and enrichment programs in the greater New York City region.

The awards form part of the foundation's 2015 Presidential Discretionary Grants program.  Pursuant to that program, eighteen museums, libraries, and performing arts and science centers received grants of $200,000 each for existing programs aimed at K-12 students.  Grant recipients include the American Museum of Natural History; the Asia Society; the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Carnegie Hall; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Liberty Science Center; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Morgan Library & Museum; the Museum of Modern Art; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; the New York Botanical Garden; the New York-Historical Society; the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens public libraries; and Studio in a School

Commenting on the awards, Carnegie president, Vartan Gregorian, said:

New York City, one of the cultural capitals on the United States, has the largest public school system in the nation.  Carnegie Corporation is proud to support the City's cultural institutions in order to enhance the curriculum of our public as well as private and parochial schools with the riches these museums, libraries, and centers possess.  It speaks well of these organizations' leaders that they have developed education programs to help students overcome deficiencies in the arts and sciences that our schools can't provide due to financial factors.   

VEJ

May 7, 2015 in Current Affairs, In the News, Other | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tribute to Peter Dobkin Hall from Evelyn Brody

Peter-dobkin-hall_ksgarticlefeatureEvelyn Brody (Chicago-Kent) provided the following tribute to Peter Dobkin Hall (Harvard Hauser Institute for Civil Society, Baruch College School of Public Affairs), who died yesterday.  

    Today, the academy lost a leading scholar of the history of the nonprofit sector – as judged not just by the quality of his output but also by the role he played in influencing the work of others, inside and outside his discipline, in both the academic and policy arenas.  Today I lost a dear mentor, colleague, and friend, Peter Dobkin Hall.

    I started my academic career as a tax lawyer, but as any nonprofit researcher quickly learns, nonprofit studies is a broad and multi-disciplinary business.  I became aware of Peter’s work from his chapter in PONPO’s recently published compendium of the state-of-the-art nonprofit scholarship in political science, economics, law, history, sociology, management, and policy studies – The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook (Walter F. Powell, editor) (Program on Non-Profit Organizations, Yale University Press 1987).  But I became hooked on Peter’s work when I read his collection of essays in Inventing the Nonprofit Sector (Johns Hopkins 1992).  To some degree, the field of nonprofit studies suffers from “cheerleading” by some of its practitioners.  As a lawyer, I was skeptical of claims of exceptionalism on the part of “unowned” organizations controlling vast sums of wealth, no matter how good their intentions.  As a tax lawyer, I was baffled by the structure of the federal tax-exemption scheme and the variety of organizations it embraces.  I found persuasive and eye-opening Peter’s account of a relatively recent “invention” of a “nonprofit sector” – in part initiated by those who sought to draw under a single umbrella a group of firms that had not previously identified with each other, in order to defend against congressional attack.  Indeed, I found Peter’s overall analysis so compelling that I introduced my second nonprofit article with the following quote from Peter’s 1992 book:

[Nonprofit organizations’] crucially important function in the American polity [derives from] their concrete historical association with a particular institutional culture, a configuration of values, resources, organizational technologies, legal infrastructure, and styles of leadership.  This institutional culture originated at the end of the eighteenth century, became dominant . . . in the twentieth, and entered a period of crisis – quite possibly a crisis of success rather than of failure – in our own time.

    So of course I was thrilled when Peter, then serving as PONPO director, invited me join a project studying the changing dimensions of trusteeship.  Pushed beyond my tax-law comfort zone, I found myself exploring issues of corporate and trust fiduciary law, ultimately leading to my writing the chapter on the legal framework for nonprofit organizations for the second edition of The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook (edited by Richard Steinberg and Walter W. Powell) (Yale University Press 2006).  In addition, at Peter’s invitation, I supplied a legal scholar’s perspective to the multi-disciplinary Symposium Book Review of Henry Hansmann’s The Ownership of Enterprise, published in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (1999).  Peter provided a historical perspective for both these projects.  As a Research Scholar with the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, I was delighted to reverse roles: I recruited Peter to contribute a chapter – on the history of nonprofit property-tax exemptions in his beloved New Haven – to the book I was editing, Property Tax Exemption for Charities: Mapping the Battlefield (Urban institute Press 2002).

    It was not always easy for Peter to meet every deadline he’d agreed to; his prolific research agenda was to a large extent driven by demands made by others.  And readers outside his field, like me, appreciate the simplicity, drama, and beauty of his writing style and presentation.  As a separate matter, Peter was one of the rare scholars in the nonprofit field to have taken seriously (and produced nuanced and serious) research on religious organizations.

    Finally, I would like to praise the energy and intelligence that Peter brought to the formation and activities of the multi-disciplinary Association of Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Association (ARNOVA).  From 1996, when I joined the association, for many years I thought Peter always was and always would be the book review editor, producing a plethora of thoughtful book reviews.  As chair of the Annual Book Award Committee, Peter sought to identify the definitive meritorious publication by assembling a comprehensive list of the several dozen volumes published in the most recent five years on philanthropy, voluntary organizations, nonprofits, civil society, and related topics.

    I always looked forward to spotting Peter’s dapper broad-brimmed hat and handle-bar mustache at ARNOVA meetings and other academic conferences.  He loved nonprofits both as an intellectual subject and as a vehicle for social change.  His enthusiasm, perceptiveness, and eagerness to right injustices served him not only as a leading nonprofit academic, but also as an inspiring community leader.

I also received the following message via the ARNOVA list-serv:  "Peter's family suggests that anyone wishing to make contribution in his memory consider his favorite nonprofit: The Northwest Chicago Film Society, 1635 East 55th St. Chicago, IL 60615, www.northwestchicagofilmsociety.org.

I know we all join with Evelyn in mourning the loss of Peter as a scholar, colleague, and friend.

 

Lloyd Mayer

May 1, 2015 in Other | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dewey Winburne Awards to Honor Community-Service Projects in Far-Flung Countries

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that ten individuals using technology to improve the world will be honored tonight at the Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference.  The awards honor the late Dewey Wineburne, a co-founder of SXSW Interactive, who had deep interests in education and technology.

According to the Chronicle:

This year’s honorees, selected by a panel of previous winners who live in Austin, represent five countries and a range of interests, including literacy, economic opportunity, and journalism. Each will receive $1,000 for the charity of their choice.  

Among the honorees are: 

  • Rebecca McDonald of Australia who, after seeing footage of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, quit her job in Australia and moved with her husband to the Caribbean country where she founded Library for All, an online digital library accessible using tablets distributed to schools across Haiti.  Books are carefully selected to be culturally relevant and language-appropriate, with most written in French or Creole.  The organization pays local publishers for texts and asks larger companies, which do not usually sell books to Haiti, to donate books.
  • Jukay Hsu, a native of Queens, New York, who founded Coalition for Queens, a nonprofit designed, according to Mr. Hsu, to foster "a more inclusive tech ecosystem" and "pioneer a pathway from poverty to the middle class."  The organization's keystone program, Access Code, trains people — many of them immigrants — to create mobile applications and prepare for entry-level developer jobs.  So far, the average income of participants going into the program has been $26,000, while their average income after completion is $73,000. 
  • Libby Powell, of London, England, who has used her training as a journalist to found Radar, a communications-rights organization that trains citizen reporters and promotes the stories they tell through social media and other ways online.  Based in the United Kingdom, the staff offers editorial guidance to local correspondents who report from the field.  The group has generated coverage about elections and Ebola in Sierra Leone and slavery in India and is working on new projects that give voice to people living with dementia and those who are homeless.  Created with money raised through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, Radar works to raise awareness among the public, policy makers, and service providers about issues affecting marginalized groups.  The organization has helped place articles in The Guardian and the BBC. 
  • Tembinkosi Qondela, of Cape Town, South Africa, who founded Whizz ICT Centre, an organization that seeks to facilitate the use of information communication technology (ICT) tools for development efforts of the community in Khayelitsha, one of the largest and poorest areas of Cape Town, South Africa.  Mr. Qondela observed that marginalization of poor people in the use of ICT and the lack of access to information perpetuates the inequalities and poverty that face most young South Africans.  Whizz ICT runs a center which gives young people access to computer training, other ICT related services and training in a range of income generating skills.  To date Whizz ICT has provided training to over 1000 youth.

The names and brief profiles of the other six honorees are available on SXSW's website.   We congratulate them all.

VEJ

March 12, 2015 in Current Affairs, In the News, International, Other | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

Steve Martin
One of the best resources out there for keeping track of state adoption of hybrid entities is socentlaw.com and specifically, the fantastic multi-colored map that keeps track of who has what where.   

So it is with a great excitement that would do Navin Johnson proud that we can share that Cass Brewer has updated his map.   Check it out!

EWW (dating herself....)

February 18, 2015 in Other, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Avoiding Mistakes in Nonprofit Personnel Matters

In You Hired Who? Top 10 Nonprofit Employment Mistakes, a brief article appearing a few weeks ago in The NonProfit Times, Siobhan Kelley discusses several mistakes to avoid in the process of hiring and managing personnel.  Because nonprofits must practice good governance, the article is worth a look.  The article identifies and discusses the following mistakes: 

  1. Rushing To Fill An Empty Seat With A Warm Body: Mistakes In Hiring
  2. Failing to Maintain Performance/Disciplinary Records
  3. Not Requiring Managers To Document Performance Problems
  4. Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
  5. Making All Employees “Salaried”
  6. Letting Employees Work “Off The Clock” Or Volunteer
  7. Drafting “Overly Optimistic” Personnel Policies
  8. Not Appropriately Addressing Disability Issues
  9. Treating Employees As Clients
  10. Forgetting About The Employee On A Leave Of Absence

 JRB

November 18, 2014 in Other | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nonprofit CEOs Say Board Members Need to be Better Fundraisers

 

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that a recent "Living with Intent" survey conducted by the nonprofit watchdog group BoardSource found that nonprofit leaders gave their boards an average grade of B minus, and judged trustees to be better at technical tasks like financial oversight than at setting strategy or reaching out to the community.

As in years past, the CEOs cited fundraising as a significant concern: 60 percent of them said it was the area their boards most needed to improve.

BoardSource works to improve nonprofit governance.

According to the Chronicle:

In 1994, chief executives said that 60 percent of their board members gave money to the organization, a figure that grew to 85 percent in this year’s survey. But giving by 100 percent of all board members—the gold standard espoused by BoardSource and other nonprofit experts—was reported by only 60 percent of the respondents in this year’s survey.

Many nonprofit organizations set minimum donations expected by trustees and encourage them to contribute at least that amount and ask others to follow their example. But trustees remain challenged when it comes to asking family members, friends, and colleagues for donations; 43 percent of board members in this year’s survey, about the same as in previous years, said they are uncomfortable asking for money.

The survey also found some signs of improvement in boards’ racial and ethnic diversity, which was rated as more important for boards than including equal numbers of male and female trustees or making sure that organizations recruit trustees of different ages. Respondents reported that 20 percent of their board members, on average, are people of color, up from 16 percent in 2010, but a quarter of the respondents said their boards are all white and nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated they are dissatisfied with the racial and ethnic composition of their boards.

Gender representation among the executive ranks of nonprofit organizations in the survey has improved over the years, but women remain underrepresented as chief executives in large organizations. Women accounted for 65 percent of chief executives in groups with budgets under $1-million; 75 percent among nonprofits with budgets of $1-million to $9.9-million. But among groups with budgets of $10-million or more, only 37 percent of chief executives were women.

Nonprofits appear to be recruiting more board members under 40 years old, with 17 percent of respondents in this year’s survey reporting trustees in that age group, up from 14 percent in 2010.

Nonprofits also are recruiting smaller boards, the survey found. In 1994, the first year of the survey, respondents reported 19 trustees, on average. In this year’s survey, that number dropped to 15.

According to the Chronicle, 850 chief executives and 246 board chairs responded to questions posed by the survey.  A free coipy of the findings are available online.  BoardSource says it will publish a more complete report on its website in December. 

 

Vaughn E. James

November 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, In the News, Other | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)