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Category: National Nonprofit News

Savi Student Loan Workshop: Status Update on One-Time Debt Relief

Join this LIVE workshop and Q+A session with student loan experts to discuss the current status of One-Time Debt Relief.

The Supreme Court has officially blocked the Biden-Harris Administration’s One-Time Debt Relief program today, which means The Department of Education cannot proceed with issuing $10-20k in debt relief for borrowers. This news may be disappointing to your employees or members. There may still be other relief options available to them, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Savi is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, July 6th at 4pm ET to explain what this decision means for borrowers and to talk about the options they still have. Borrowers can register here. If you are looking for materials to promote this event, reach out to your Savi Account Manager. We’ll be covering:
  • What this decision means for borrowers
  • What other programs are still available to borrowers right now
  • How borrowers should prepare for payments resuming starting in October 2023
  • How Savi can help borrowers find the best options for their loans
 
For more information on our partnership with Savi, please click here.

News and Info for Nonprofits: Listen4Good – DEI & Capacity Building Opportunity – June 1 Deadline

DEI & Capacity Building Opportunity – June 1 Deadline

Submitted by: Listen4Good

Are you looking to accelerate your impact and advance your equity goals? Listen4Good helps nonprofits build high-quality feedback loops and gather client-centered data for decision-making, fundraising, and reporting. Through our rigorous program, we provide 1:1 coaching, deep training, and a lively peer community.

Learn more at www.listen4good.org and download our free case study and guide here

The deadline to register is June 1.

For more information about Listen4Good, download their informational flyer here.

Or contact Wendy Maldonado at wendymaldonado.damico@gmail.com

Listen4Good logo, orange circular shape with the characters L4G text in white. Three white u-shape elements craddle under the number 4.

‘Collapse’ in Small Gifts Poses Threat for Nonprofits as Recession Looms, Report Says

White cloud hovering over pink piggy bank on blue background, white surface

As the chances of an economic recession grow, nonprofits are losing the supporters who could help them navigate a downturn, according to a new report.

The number of donors to organizations fell by 7 percent in the first half of 2022 compared with the first half of 2021. The decline is due largely to a “collapse” in the number of small-gift supporters in those six months, the report says. The number of people making contributions of $100 or less dropped more than 17 percent, and 8 percent fewer donors made gifts of $101 to $500.

“That’s an indicator as a sector that we’re not ready for a recession,” says Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for GivingTuesday and one of the report’s researchers. Broad support — including from small-gift donors — is critical during an economic downturn. Research indicates wealthy donors curtail giving in response to bad economic times, Rosenbaum says.

The report is the latest evidence that weakening support for charities — a trend for more than a decade — continues. Although 2020 saw a pandemic-sparked uptick in giving and new donors in 2020, the number of individuals giving to charity has now shrunk for five straight quarters, according to the report.

Researchers are particularly worried about donor-retention rates. The number of people who made a gift last year and again this year declined 4.2 percent — this after a 7.2 percent decline in 2021.

“The bottom is falling out, and we’re heading for a big problem if we don’t address that,” Rosenbaum said.

The country’s extraordinary economic situation muted even good news from the report. Dollars donated to charity grew by 6.2 percent in the first half of the year, but that failed to keep pace with the country’s 8.5 percent inflation rate.

Bright Spot

 

The report — released by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, a research effort of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy and GivingTuesday — captures $4 billion in giving to nearly 9,000 nonprofits, none of which receive more than $25 million in contributions annually.

Among the few bright spots in the report, the number of “recaptured donors” — individuals who did not give to the organization the previous year but had donated before — grew 6.3 percent. “Organizations could reap considerable benefits by ensuring they stay relevant for this group through consistent solicitation and outreach activities,” Lori Gusdorf, executive vice president of the AFP Foundation, said in a news release.

Researchers suggested that this group of donors likely includes those who supported a charity during the surge in pandemic-related giving in 2020. It also includes donors who paused their giving during the pandemic and resumed in 2022.

Rosenbaum said organizations could use the last months of the year to double down on engagement and broad stewardship of everyday donors. “There’s lots of room to move and lots of opportunity to turn things around.”

Click here for link to original article.

How Philanthropy Upholds White Supremacy

Three sets of hands raised up against a burgundy background.

by Anti-Racism Daily

Do you know much about philanthropy? Most people don’t. If you don’t either, here’s a statistic to start you off: An overwhelming 82{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156} of 8,900 private and community foundation board members across the U.S. identify as white despite only representing 58{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156} of the U.S. population (Council of FoundationPolitico)Philanthropy’s decision makers are not exactly representative of the general public, yet their influence has ripple effects on marginalized communities.

But why would you need to know anything about philanthropy? And why does it matter that wealthy white people control philanthropy? Bill Gates and Warren Buffet can do whatever they like with their money. It doesn’t affect us, and we should just be grateful they are “giving back,” right? 

Wrong.
We need to know how philanthropy works and affects us for two reasons:

      1. It’s not their money. Once an individual puts money in a foundation or donor-advised fund (DAF), a fund that holds money for charitable purposes, it’s not theirs anymore. They receive a tax break for making the donation, which is often the impetus for creating foundations and DAFs in the first place (Foundation Source). They agree to “relinquish dominion and control” of the funds (Cornell Law); they do not own the money anymore. The money then belongs to the foundation or DAF. The organization or fund may include their name, but they don’t own that either–no one does. It exists to serve the public good.

      2. Philanthropy affects our options and access to services and support in big life-altering moments and small everyday choices. That money funds everything from afterschool programs to cancer research, food banks to the opera, community gardens to climate change solutions. Philanthropy decides which programs and what communities get funding. Though foundation staff usually make recommendations, the board chairs and members have the final say on all these decisions.

TAKE ACTION

• Learn about Participatory GrantmakingA Just TransitionWhole Philanthropy, and other alternative models of philanthropy that center representation and Black & Brown community voices.

• Familiarize yourself with the decision-makers and private foundations in your community here. Check if they have a website with a list of their board members, and learn about them to understand if they represent your community. If they don’t, or there isn’t a website, contact them to ask what steps they are taking to include the community in their decision-making process.

• Find a community foundation near you. Email them to ask how they are centering representation and community voice. Ask for their most recent board meeting notes, a breakdown of their board demographics, their DEI commitment, and how they plan to increase representation if it doesn’t match the community. And inquire about how you can get involved or learn more about their grantmaking process.


But doesn’t the money donated from private philanthropy pale in comparison to the total money that comes from individual giving from the general public? 

Yes and no. The key is not the total dollars donated, but the influence wielded with the grant. Foundations exert way more influence than you and I and have an outsized power on nonprofits and community organizations. Unlike money received from an accumulation of small donations, grants from foundations typically come with conditions and requirements on how to spend the money. Board members decide if money flows to your community or one that looks more like theirs. They determine if it goes to programs they believe are important or ones your community knows are necessary. And they dictate whether the money is allowed to pay nonprofit staff livable wages or restricted to only materials — restricted funding is a widespread practice (Candid) that contributes to nonprofit community workers being underpaid and overworked (NonprofitAF) and disproportionately affects Black-led nonprofits (Echoing Green). 


Who holds foundations accountable? And why is it important to question/challenge the power dynamics of philanthropy?

Currently, there is very little accountability for foundations and their boards. One of the few concrete standards of activity is a rule requiring all foundations to spend at least 5{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156} of their endowment each year (NCFP). Unfortunately, in most cases, this actually acts as a ceiling for grantmaking (Beyond 5{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156}). Foundations often calculate their grantmaking budgets so that they spend as little as possible, over 5{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156}, leaving the other 95{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156} of their endowment to sit (and grow). There are no specific professional standards of performance, no requirements to report on successes and failures, no regulatory bodies, and no philanthropic version of the Hippocratic Oath to ground decisions. Most grantmaking decisions are made privately with few people privy to the process or discussions since there are no transparency requirements. In fact, 90{7cf7efa4ed7e42dbeb764d091adc68dfd948cec65b014490bfea23a66ca7e156} of foundations don’t even have a website (Glasspockets). 

None of this is to say that foundations and their board members are bad, power hungry, or racist. We see many white foundation staff actively doing the work through programs like the Capital Collaborative. It’s just that the system that currently governs how philanthropy flows upholds white supremacy. And if everyday citizens and communities of color don’t know how that system works—or, more accurately, doesn’t work—we can’t agitate, advocate for, imagine, design, or demand change to a system that quietly affects us all.

When we incorrectly believe or misunderstand that the contributions to foundations and donor-advised funds still belong to the founders, we reassign ownership of the foundation and the funds to them. This perpetuates a concentration of power at odds with representation, inclusion, democracy, and community. 

Our understanding influences who holds power. 

And in the case of philanthropy, power is often held by people who are furthest away from the communities served, spend the least amount of time studying the history, context, and data of issues being addressed, and are most likely to be involved in philanthropy due to family obligation, professional expectations, or the idea of “legacy.” 

We need ultimate decision-making power and board seats to be in the hands of a broad range of people who are from the communities served; who spend their careers studying the history, context, and data of issues being addressed; and who are involved in philanthropy due to a personal mission to serve their communities or a deeply held belief in a radically different future.

If founders truly divested control of foundation and DAF funds to diverse groups like this, money would flow more freely to Black and Brown communities. By maintaining control through board seats, founders and founding families exert undue influence in Black and Brown communities–by commission or omission–and carve out for themselves another well-heeled version of the white man’s burden.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Foundations influence and determine what nonprofits and other institutions are able to provide to your community.

 

• Foundation board members are disproportionately white and are decision-makers on programs and initiatives in Black and Brown communities.

 

• Understanding how philanthropy works is vital when advocating for change and more diversified power over how money flows to our communities.


This piece was modified in collaboration with Capital Collaborative.

Click here for link to original article.

Leashing the Monster: The Biden Administration Tackles Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

by Marian Conway | July 25, 2022 | Nonprofit Quarterly

Photo by Alp Ancel on Unsplash

This July, the US Department of Education announced the release of proposed new federal student loan regulations, using language that only a bureaucrat could love, but which nonetheless affect millions of federal student loan borrowers nationwide. (A four-page summary of the proposal is available here.)

According to the press release, the proposed regulatory changes seek to alleviate “student loan debt burdens for borrowers whose schools closed or lied to them, who are totally and permanently disabled, and for nonprofit and public sector workers who have met their commitments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The regulations also propose stopping many instances of interest capitalization, which occur when unpaid interest is added to a borrower’s principal balance, increasing the total amount they owe.”

What does this all mean? As should be obvious to all, the world of the $1.73 trillion federal student loan market is nothing if not opaque.

An Uncertain Environment

As many NPQ readers know, accumulation of interest on student loans has been frozen since March 13, 2020. The freeze originally was slated to expire in September 2020 but has been extended six times, most recently this past April, when the date to end the freeze was extended from May 1 to August 31.

Might the Biden administration extend the deadline once more? It might. After all, midterm elections are in November, so another extension is certainly a possibility. In June, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona noted that another extension “could be coming. President Biden has also suggested that a seventh extension might occur, saying last month that the matter was “on the table.”

It is also possible that Biden might offer an across-the-board reduction in loan balances of $10,000 per borrower (provided annual income is less than $150,000). On top of this, there is pressure from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and others to cancel $50,000 of debt per borrower, while activist groups like the Debt Collective argue for full debt cancellation.

While much can change between now and the end of August, the prospects for across-the-board debt cancellation remain uncertain, and the August 31 date to resume loan payments looms large. How does a borrower prepare for the possibility that payment will soon resume?

The quick answer is that there are some things student loan borrowers should do to at least prepare the possibility. One added wrinkle: loan servicers are changing. If you are one of the 45 million-plus Americans with student loan debt, to check on who is servicing your account, you can go to your federal loan page’s payment history, enter “all” in the timeframe, and print the history out. You may also be able to export your payment history to spreadsheet software, which is a good idea. As servicers change, borrowers need to ensure that their payment history is moved to the new servicer’s platform correctly.

Only a short time is left to prepare to resume making payments for those who haven’t been paying during forbearance. And only a short time remains to make a payment or two that will go entirely toward the principal without the crush of interest.

The Promise of the New Regulatory Framework

While there is no across-the-board cancellation of school loans to date, it appears that the Biden administration and US Department of Education are putting a foot in every door of the student loan programs and policies, hoping to pry open some room to allow—in even the smallest of ways—release from crushing debt for student loan borrowers. The proposed regulation changes were released on July 6, and shortly after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, a 30-day comment period will commence. Those comments will be considered and edits made, and the rules will be published in the fall. The Biden administration aims for the new rules to take effect by July 1, 2023.

Limiting Accumulated Interest

In the student loan program, it is often easy to qualify for forbearance. For example, imagine a parent who has a child and leaves the workforce for a few years. The person is not earning income and therefore is granted forbearance. With forbearance, payments are suspended. However—except for the current payment freeze period—typically, interest still accrues when a loan is on deferment or forbearance, and that interest is capitalized, meaning it is added to the principal amount of the total student loan debt. When payments resume, a borrower might find that their loan balance is far greater than it was when that person graduated from college.

There is a better option for these borrowers—namely, income-based repayment plans that might require a “zero” payment and don’t accumulate interest—but for-profit servicers often steer borrowers into the much higher cost forbearance option. As attorney Adam Minsky explains, “Millions of borrowers were improperly steered into forbearance, rather than an income based repayment plan, causing them to lose months or years of progress towards student loan forgiveness.” In other words, millions of borrowers—Minsky estimates at least 3.6 million Americans—owe thousands or even tens of thousands more than the law says they should.

Stacey Cowley of the New York Times contends that fixing this is “the most far-reaching move” of the new rules. At some level, it would “affect nearly all the tens of millions of people with federal student loans by limiting interest capitalization—which adds unpaid interest to the borrower’s principal, compounding the total amount owed. Under the Biden administration’s proposal, interest would no longer be capitalized when a borrower either starts repaying or defaults on a loan.”

Writing in the Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel explains that, according to US Education Department survey data, “27 percent of people who started college in 2003-04 had a larger principal balance after 12 years than what they originally borrowed. Black borrowers and those from low-income households were overrepresented in that group.”

Click here for link to the original article.

 

 

We Committed to Paying Our Staff More Than A Living Wage. Your Nonprofit Should Do the Same.

by Minor Sinclair | July 13, 2022 | The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Click here to read original article.

An illustration shows a businesswoman with pogostick jumping over stacks of dollar bills.

Runeer, Getty Images

The rally outside New York City Hall was a familiar scene of speakers and placards decrying the injustice of near-poverty-level wages. The hundreds of workers gathered that day in March demanded a minimum wage of $21 per hour and a 6 percent cost-of-living adjustment — not unreasonable given the cost of living there.

What made this rally different was that the workers were not protesting Amazon or other large corporations. They were nonprofit workers seeking better pay from the food pantries, domestic-violence shelters, and foster-care groups they serve

In New York State, human-service workers earn only 70 percent of what their counterparts at government agencies are paid — not enough to survive in normal times, let alone during a period of escalating inflation. Given the demographics of the state’s human-service workers — 66 percent women and 68 percent people of color — low nonprofit wages are fueling New York’s poverty and inequality.

The story of low wages for nonprofit employees is not unique to New York. Nationally, nonprofits employ about 10 percent of the entire private workforce. That’s 12 million paid workers — nearly as many as the entire manufacturing field. Many of those employees, with the exception of higher-paid college and hospital workers, earn $4 to $5 per hour less in terms of total compensation than similar workers in private industry. In my home state of Massachusetts, a quarter of all adult recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are full-time workers, and nearly 10 percent of those are employed by nonprofit organizations.

Many factors contribute to the nonprofit wage gap. For some organizations, a reliance on donations or government contracts puts a ceiling on employee compensation. For others, mission-first means serving the cause even if it means sacrificing the financial well-being of the employees tasked with doing the actual work.

This is unacceptable — especially during a time when the nonprofit world is increasingly focused on the importance of aligning mission and human-resource policies. But figuring out how to make that alignment happen is the tricky part.

How We Made Changes

 

The organization I lead, the Center for Progressive Reform, faces challenges similar to that of many nonprofits, and we strive to provide a living wage and good benefits to our staff. We recently embarked on an effort to assess our compensation practices and to hold ourselves accountable for standing by our staff in tough times. I believe our experience can be instructive to other nonprofits.

Most of our staff live in high-cost metropolitan areas where housing and child care represent a huge strain on family budgets. Inflation has compounded the problem. Despite offering solid annual salary increases of 4 to 5 percent a year on average, it was clear that some of our staff members were struggling. Several talented employees left for larger institutions that offered higher salaries.

We set out to address salary erosion in three ways. First, our board established a contingency fund to augment salaries for this year only to help mitigate the impact of inflation. Staff received a $1,000 payment in the spring of 2022, which will likely be renewed in the fall if inflation continues through the year. The fact that we are a virtual organization with no office headquarters costs — and no commute for our staff — allows us some budget flexibility and makes gas prices less of a bite.

Second, we upgraded our benefits package, including providing a modest allowance to offset internet or utility costs for people working from home. We also added an extra week of vacation for all staff to be taken at the end of the year. And we now offer short- and long-term disability pay — something we consider essential, particularly in the Covid-19 era. These changes meant a lot to staff without blowing up our organizational budget.

Finally, the Center for Progressive Reform made explicit and public our commitment to pay all our staff more than a living wage. To achieve that goal, we went outside our organization to partner with a group called Living Wage for US, which certifies for-profit and nonprofit organizations that commit to paying living wages. (Disclosure: I supported the development of Living Wage for US back in its early days.)

Drawing on its own research as well as analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the group assesses the costs to live in specific areas of the country, including housing, food, education, child care, and health care. It then sets a wage-and-benefits standard based on where different employees reside. This was especially important for us since our employees are scattered throughout the United States.

To meet the wage-and-benefits standard, we allowed Living Wage for US to conduct an individual assessment of each staff member’s living-wage costs and salary-and-benefits package. The assessments are updated and shared with staff annually. Through this process, we found that while all our staff members received at least the living wage in terms of overall compensation, our benefits package was insufficient. We rectified that by adding new benefits, which allowed us to be certified as a Leading Living Wage Employer — the first nonprofit in the country to receive that designation.

Why is that important? Certification by a third party is much more credible than any claim that we could make ourselves. Our staff is proud that we are a living wage employer, and the designation has already helped attract new people to our organization. Employees also know that if Living Wage for US finds that their compensation does not exceed their living-wage costs, they can press for a salary increase or ask Living Wage for US to de-certify us.

Understand Pressure on Workers

 

Regardless of whether a nonprofit works with an organization such as Living Wage for US, it’s important to understand the financial pressures staff members face. Can they afford decent housing and also pay the grocery bills? Can they cover child-care costs? Can they weather an emergency or unexpected event? Unless the answer is yes, nonprofits may be contributing to the problem rather than helping to solve it.

The upsides to paying living wages are clear. Absenteeism goes down and morale goes up. Families are more food secure, gain access to child care, and can save for unexpected events. Employers improve their standing with their clients and customers, and nonprofits have bragging rights with their donors.

Grant makers can also play an important role by ensuring that their funding allows grantee organizations to pay all staff a living wage — at a minimum. If the nonprofits they fund aren’t meeting that goal, they can offer strategies, ideas, and most important, increased resources.

At a time when high inflation has made it harder for nonprofit workers to make ends meet, leaders in this field need to recognize that underpayment of staff is an increasingly serious problem. My organization’s steps to improve our benefits and compensation have had significant positive effects. Our staff, board, and donors feel proud that we are living our mission and supporting our people. When it comes right down to it, isn’t that why we all went into this business in the first place?

 

 

New Poll Finds Support for Foundations — but Not the Hefty Tax Breaks Their Donors Get

by Alex Daniels | July 14, 2022 | The Chronicles of Philanthropy

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Large majorities of Americans from across the political spectrum say foundations and other philanthropic funds should direct money to charities faster instead of holding onto those assets for future use, according to a poll released Thursday by an organization seeking to changern how federal charity law works.

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The survey, underwritten by the Institute for Policy Studies, comes as wealthy donors and private foundations have faced criticism for keeping money tied up in endowments rather than sending it directly to charities. The criticism has come from all politicalrn directions, including from progressive social-justice organizations that want foundations to make more grants and from conservative politicians, including J.D. Vance, a Republican contender for the U.S. Senate who has called for taxing the large endowmentsrn of Harvard University and the Ford Foundation

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While 82 percent of those polled said foundations play an important role in society, about the same percentage of Americans disapprove of the tax breaks wealthy people receive to start foundations that operate forever and give money slowly over a longrn period.

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The poll could go a long way toward drumming up support for a bill that is languishing on Capitol Hill that would require philanthropic funds to make grants to charity at a higher rate. But since there is relatively little data on public sentiment onrn philanthropic payout, the survey fills a void on a topic that took new significance this week when Bill Gates put $20 billion into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and urged fellow billionairesrn to send more of their wealth to philanthropy to deal with immediate crises like climate change and the pandemic.

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Legislation called the Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act hasrn been introduced in both the House and the Senate that includes an incentive to boost their annual payout from the 5 percent minimum required by federal law to 7 percent.

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Donors who choose to make gifts through donor-advised funds, a rapidly growing form of charitable giving, would get an immediate tax benefit only if they committed to give that money to an operating charity within 15 years. Alternatively, a donor couldrn elect to create a fund with a 50-year time limit. In that case, the donor would receive estate-tax and capital-gains tax benefits at the time of the contribution but would not be eligible to file for an income-tax deduction until the money is actuallyrn given to charities.

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Not in the Public Eye

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The public has little knowledge of the arguments that have raged in philanthropy circles over the share of assets foundations should distribute annually, said Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality and the Common Good program.rn But the more people heard from pollsters about how much donors and foundations are required to provide to charities out of their endowments and donor-advised funds, the more they saw a need for change, he said.

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“Whether it is a private foundation doing it for generations or a [donor-advised fund], the idea that you get a tax break but then sit on the money doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” he said.

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More than 80 percent of people who identified as “very left” either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize billionaires/wealthy Americans who wish to create permanent legacy foundations to give donationsrn to charities of their choosing.” On the other side of the political spectrum, 73 percent of those who identified as “very right” agreed with the statement.

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Over all, 70 percent said foundations and donor-advised funds should direct 10 percent of their assets to charities each year. While support was stronger among liberals, majorities of people identifying as conservative or Republican and “very right” supportedrn those policy proposals.

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Half of those surveyed said they would support a requirement that donors empty their donor-advised fund accounts within two years of making a contribution — a far stricter requirement than the provisions of the Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act. Thern online survey of 1,005 people was conducted by public-opinion polling firm Ipsos and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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Collins suggested that people of all political persuasions are increasingly seeing charitable giving as a way private organizations and individuals use their wealth to short-circuit the public-policy process. While the poll did not ask about this issue,rn he says that lobbying by philanthropy organizations to protect current policy could backfire because the more that charitable giving is seen as a “protected class of activity without public accountability, the more that populist pushback is goingrn to emerge.”

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Any effort to paint foundations and donor-advised fund holders as hoarding their wealth doesn’t reflect the generosity demonstrated by philanthropy during the pandemic, some philanthropy advocates say. Nor, they say, is itrn accurate to depict donor-advised funds as places where the super-rich warehouse their philanthropic contributions. Donor-advised fund accounts had an average of $159,000 in them in 2020, according to the latest survey by the National Philanthropic Trust, which managesrn the funds.

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Attempts to make philanthropic funds distribute money more rapidly or to weaken the tax incentive to give could stifle charitable giving, say philanthropy leaders that represent those groups. While people give for a variety of reasons, said Kathleen Enright,rn president of the Council on Foundations, the ability to deduct gifts from their tax bill is key.

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A group of foundation executives gathered by the council came up with a set of policies thatrn would add some restrictions and reporting requirements for donor-advised funds at community foundations that are not as stringent as the legislation currently being considered by Congress.

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If foundations were required to significantly increase the minimum percentage of their assets that they must direct to charity annually, their investment gains would not be able to cover the increased costs, Enright said. She said policies that requirern a bigger share of assets to be distributed every year would erode foundation endowments over time, and philanthropies designed to last in perpetuity would be forced to shut their doors.

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Foundation longevity is a plus, Enright said, because they “outlast societal fads.”

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“When companies are driven by quarterly profits, and when elected officials are worried about being voted out of office, foundations can look in the very long term about what’s in the best interests of their charitable missions and the people in theirrn communities,” she said.

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Enright said the tax incentive for charitable giving results in a stronger network of nonprofits working for societal good. Rather than eliminate an incentive for people to donate, Enright suggested lawmakers look to raise more revenue in other ways,rn including raising taxes on the wealthy.

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“These are the billionaires who choose to use part of their largess to make the world a better place,” she said, referring to rich people who receive take a tax deduction for charitable gifts. “But there are billionaires who do not give philanthropically.rn So if you’re attempting to ensure that billionaires are paying their fair share, why don’t you look at the portion of their wealth that is not already dedicated to the social good?”

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The Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act has drawn significant opposition from organizations that sponsor donor-advised funds. They say that if organizations that manage donor-advised funds are required to keep a tally of payout at the fund level in orderrn to determine the tax treatment of the donor, it would place a huge burden on both the donors and the fund sponsors to keep track of gifts, said Stephan Kline, associate vice president for public policy at the Jewish Federations of North America. Therern are nearly 90 federations and Jewish community foundations in the group’s network that manage donor-advised funds.

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Like Enright, Kline had not seen the results of the poll.

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New regulations could cause donor-advised funds to lose one of their key appeals, he said: that donors can give and get an immediate tax deduction very easily, while taking the time they may need to decide where to parcel out the donations.

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Voters’ Influence

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Since it was introduced in the Senate in June 2021, the legislation designed to boost payout has not gone anywhere, and only a handful of lawmakers support it or a corresponding bill in the House. Kline sees the lack of movement as an indicationrn that there is little public support for big changes.

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“They’ve made no headway in a year, he said. “If this stuff had wings, one would think that it would be getting scores and scores of sponsors.”

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Collins, of the Institute for Policy Studies, is convinced lawmakers can be persuaded if their constituents express their opinion. He hopes the survey can be a counterweight to the “powerful groups lobbying for the status quo.”

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Efforts to get rich donors to move more money to charity have yet to succeed legislatively, but Collins is confident that voters can apply pressure to make changes. While many have assumed that foundations should exist forever and receive a tax benefit,rn Collins said that when they are informed about the practices of philanthropy, people take a dim view.

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“The more they learn about the system, the less happy they are about it,” he said.” There’s an appetite for bolder reform.”

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Locating Your NPO’s Piece Of $350B From Uncle Sam

by Tom Delany | 6.23.22  | The NonProfit Times

Click here for link to original article.

President Ronald Reagan, known for his optimism, reportedly had a favorite joke about twin boys that went something like this …

The six-year-olds were identical in appearance, but opposites in attitude. On Christmas morning, the two young lads raced down the stairs to see what Santa brought.

When Pete, the pessimist, saw the giant pile of toys with his name, he began wailing. Dismayed, his mom asked why he wasn’t happy with all the toys. He whimpered between sobs, “Because if I play with the toys, they’ll just break!”

Suddenly, the parents heard twin-brother Owen whooping with glee. They looked over as he joyfully dug into the big pile with his name tag. Startled by both the giant pile of horse manure and the fact that Owen was using his bare hands to dig deeper into the pile, his dad yelled, “Son, what are you doing?!” Optimistic Owen turned around with a big grin and replied, “With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

So it is with a once-in-a-generation $350 billion funding program for which nonprofits are eligible, indirectly, to receive a piece. The good news for nonprofits is that the National Council of Nonprofits already dug into the 242-page bill where the program is buried, the 117 pages in the Federal Register presenting the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Final Rule implementing the program, Treasury’s 44-page Overview of the Final Rule, and 50 pages of FAQs — all to identify, clarify, and improve the breadth of nonprofit eligibility.

It’s now up to you to triumphantly put a saddle on that pony and put resources in your nonprofit to address challenges and improve conditions in communities you serve.

Background

Congress created a $350 billion funding program in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). That program, the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund (CSLFRF), designates specific amounts for each state, county, city, “non-entitlement area” (local governments typically serving populations of less than 50,000, including cities, towns, townships, and villages), Tribal, and territorial government.

Congress declared that those governments may spend some or all their allotments on themselves and/or to distribute the funds as “assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or to aid impacted industries.”

Beginning in May, the federal government started funding the second (and final) tranche of ARPA dollars to state and local governments, prompting some to hold public hearings on how best to spend their allocations, as recently done by the Boston City Council. Some states received their full allocation last year due to high unemployment rates, but few have spent all of their ARPA funds so far. Each government has until the end of 2024 to make final decisions on how to spend their allocations. They must spend all dollars by the end of 2026.

NPOs Can Get Funding In Two Ways

The Treasury Department, seeking to reinforce that Congress authorized governments to spend their ARPA allocations on or through charitable nonprofits, clarified that governments may spend their allocations on charitable nonprofits in two ways:

  1. To give direct assistance to nonprofits as beneficiaries trying to recover from the pandemic’s impact on their organizations; and,
  2. To hire nonprofits as providers of services to others on behalf of those governments.

To be over simplistic, nonprofits receiving funds as beneficiaries would be akin to nonprofits receiving a general operating support grant from a foundation. You still must be a good steward of the funds, spending them only as permitted by law, but you should not have to provide overly detailed reports.

Nonprofits hired to be providers of services to others on behalf of the government would be like receiving a program grant from a foundation which will require reports showing funds were spent on the program and not on other uses. More complex federal compliance oversight and accounting rules will apply.

A Treasure Hunt

Whether your nonprofit is reeling because of COVID-induced financial pains or your community’s demands exceed capacity, odds are high that your staff members are exhausted. So instead of viewing the pursuit of an ARPA grant as pushing yet another Sisyphean boulder up a hill, inject some fun by looking at it as a treasure hunt.

But first, please recognize that while this commentary is written with some levity so you’re not bored (and will keep reading), it’s based on extensive involvement the National Council of Nonprofits has had with this ARPA program since its inception, both in Congress and at the Treasury Department. Plus, we’ve worked with our nationwide network of state associations of nonprofits and others to create a updated and expanded Special Report, which identifies more than 60 examples of ARPA-funded nonprofit programs from across the country you can use for ideas (available free at https://bit.ly/3Nd9vru).

The tips below share insights we’ve gained and come with the caveat that, because every nonprofit is different, one strategy doesn’t fit all. Therefore, adjust as you see fit.

Tip #1: Action Is Required

A good treasure hunt requires action, as we know from Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. You’ll need to take action to avoid being left behind.

Congress made nonprofits eligible for this ARPA funding, but it didn’t mandate governments spend a specific dollar amount or percentage on nonprofits — or on any other entities. Instead, Congress gave unprecedented freedom for government leaders to spend their allocations as they see fit.

Speak up to help your city, county, and state understand what the greatest needs are — including, when appropriate, asking for resources to advance your nonprofit’s mission in helping local communities. As old Lottery ads said, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

Tip #2: Act with Urgency

Treasure hunt movies use upbeat theme music to excite the audience. Do you need some excitement to inspire you to act?

If so, ponder for a moment whether the other entities authorized to receive these federal funds — governments to use on their own initiatives, or “households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or …impacted industries” — are sitting around waiting. They’re not. Some localities reportedly are using their ARPA funds on things like golf courses.

Would that be the most urgent and best use of funds intended to help your community recover from the pandemic? If not, then throw it in gear.

Tip #3: Create Your Treasure Map

Just as Indiana Jones bounced from country to country searching for the lost ark and the Holy Grail, you also get to search in various places for treasure.

Pull out a blank sheet of paper to create your own treasure map. Draw two vertical lines to create three columns. Label the top left column as “Total Allocation,” the middle column as “Possibilities” and the right column as “Available.” Now create three rows, labeling them, “City,” “County,” “State.” (If your nonprofit operates in multiple cities and counties, then create space to add and track each as possible funding sources.)

Many governments have already spent portions of their allocations on specific organizations for designated purposes. Elsewhere, government leaders have decided to spend certain amounts on broad categories, but not specific recipients yet. That’s the “Possibilities” column where you will want to see if your nonprofit might match any of those categories. Other places have mostly unobligated funds and will be starting their decision-making processes (on their timetables). That’s the “Available” column showing where you can still influence outcomes.

Where can you get data to complete the remaining columns? That’s where your sleuth skills come in because there’s not a centralized place reporting that information. Accompanying Table B provides links to resources that can get you started.

Here are some places to get started:

* Local: Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker, Brookings Institute, update Apr. 13, 2022. https://brook.gs/3wyvv9E

* State: ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Fund Allocations, National Conference of State Legislatures, updated May 11, 2022. https://bit.ly/3lhjlwQ

* State: Check with your state association of nonprofits (and join if you’re not a member yet — there’s power in numbers): https://bit.ly/39uuVSF

* Nationwide: ARPA Spending Website, National Council of Nonprofits, updated regularly: https://bit.ly/3wldPzG

The best tool, however, is likely within your reach now – your phone. Contact your city, county, and state officials to ask them for this public information and then fill in the other columns with data you deem relevant.

Tip #4:  Align Connections with Opportunities

Do you know the scenes when the hero holds the puzzle box, and she must align the rotating symbols in the correct sequence for the box to spring open and reveal the final clue to the treasure? That’s where you are now.

Superimpose on your treasure map the connections your nonprofit has with officials at the state and in each city and county where your nonprofit operates. Think about your board members’ contacts, as well as those of your staff members. Also consider colleague organizations for coalition building. Don’t forget the everyday advocacy that’s possible through the media, writing op-eds or gaining coverage for your community’s needs.

Prioritize the “Possibilities” and “Available” columns as the places where you’ll align your strengths to influence the direction those governments go with their unspent ARPA funds. You can’t be everywhere, so where are the very best places to focus on influencing decision-makers regarding the greatest needs.

When governments hold public meetings to hear from the public, don’t hoard your valuable frontline knowledge about the greatest community needs. Speak up and share your insights.

Tip #5: Identify the Greatest Need for the Public Good

Action heroes usually wind up with the treasure in hand, but if they see a greater need, they share or give it all away. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe nonprofits should do the same with these ARPA funds.

Assess for the greatest needs. If the pandemic harmed your nonprofit in a lasting way, then Congress determined you are eligible as a “beneficiary,” and you should make your case. If your nonprofit provides services that the community desperately needs, then step forward as a potential “provider of services” and make your case.

But if you have an easy “in” because the mayor or a county official is a close friend, yet your nonprofit doesn’t really need the funding to recover from the pandemic or provide urgently needed services, then help open the door for others. Be the hero by introducing colleague organizations to your decision-making contacts to help them partner together to improve the community.

There are still unmet needs because of the pandemic. Let’s all do our part to promote the equitable use of these once-in-a-generation funds.

*****

Tim Delaney has been president & CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits since 2008. His email is tdelaney@councilofnonprofits.org

3 in 4 Fundraisers Say They’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work, New Report Says

by Emily Haynes | May 16, 2022 | The Chronicles of Philanthropy

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A majority of fundraisers — 76 percent — say they’ve been sexually harassed at work, and 42 percent say they experienced such harassment from July 2018 through August 2020, according to a new report releasedrn Monday by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and researchers at Ohio State University. In an online survey that ran during July and August 2020, researchers asked 1,783 fundraisers whether they’d been treated differently because of theirrn gender, received unwelcome sexual messages, faced pressure for dates, or experienced other inappropriate behaviors on the job.

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The survey found a considerably higher rate of sexual harassment among fundraisers than previous polls, including a Harris Poll conducted for AFP and the Chronicle in 2018. That surveyrn foundrn one in four female fundraisers andrn only 7 percent of male fundraisers had been sexually harassed on the job. The new survey found that in the two years before August 2020, those rates were 44 percent for female fundraisers and 30 percent for male fundraisers.

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The new survey likely found a higher incidence because its questions asked professionals about concrete actions, such as unwelcome sexual teasing or invasion of personal space, that fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment, says Megan LePere-Schloop,rn assistant professor at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State and an author of the report.

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“When you ask about specific behaviors, all of a sudden the rate goes up because some behaviors that people might dismiss as being not serious enough to constitute sexual harassment are on their radar,” she says.

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Researchers also asked fundraisers about their racial and ethnic identities and sexuality. Slicing the data by respondents’ different social identities, they found that fundraisers of color and fundraisers who were lesbian, bisexual, or gay said theyrn were sexually coerced at work at higher rates than white and heterosexual fundraisers.

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Nearly 10 percent of BIPOC fundraisers said that in the last two years they’d endured behavior including pressure for sexual favors and stalking. Among white fundraisers, the rate was 6 percent. Similarly, almost 12 percent of lesbian, gay, or bisexualrn fundraisers said they’d been sexually coerced in the last two years compared with 6 percent of heterosexual fundraisers.

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“All of these issues are about power,” says Erynn Beaton, assistant professor at the college and an author of the report. In interviews, she says, fundraisers of color told her that their race played into their experiences of sexual harassment — not justrn their gender. She notes that past research has found that groups with less diverse staff typically have the most problems with sexual harassment.

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Leaders need to consider how their employees’ interconnected identities may put them more at risk of abuses of power, such as sexual harassment, says LePere-Schloop. They’ll have a blind spot if they don’t — and fundraisers will notice it, she says.

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Training Scenarios

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Among fundraisers who experienced sexual harassment in the two years before the 2020 survey, 32 percent identified their harasser as a coworker while 24 percent said they were harassed by a board member, donor, or other stakeholder. Fundraisers tendedrn to adjust their response to harassment depending on who perpetrated the behavior. Roughly a fourth of fundraisers said they would confront a coworker who harassed them, and the same share of fundraisers said they would avoid a coworker who harassedrn them. The numbers changed when the harasser was not a coworker. Forty-five percent of fundraisers said they’d confront a harasser who was a board member or donor, and 35 percent said they’d avoid that person.

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It makes sense that fundraisers would be more inclined to confront a stakeholder than a coworker, LePere-Schloop says. “Fundraising is framed as relationship-building,” she says. “That response is kind of in line with that, that you’re trying to reaffirmrn the boundaries of that relationship.”

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LePere-Schloop adds that it’s notable that fundraisers often choose to simply avoid their harasser rather than report their behavior. Reporting, in fact, is infrequent. Just 15 percent reported harassment by a coworker and 27 percent reported harassmentrn by a board member, donor, or other stakeholder, according to the report.

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The report includes resources such as scenarios and questions that fundraisers and leaders can use in staff trainings. Each scenario is based on experiences of harassment that fundraisers shared with researchers in one-on-one interviews. The questionsrn encourage training participants to imagine how they would respond if they experienced such behavior and how bystanders can support the fundraiser after the harassment has stopped, among other scenarios.

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There is also a questionnaire readers can use to assess how prepared their organization is to prevent and respond to sexual harassment. The assessment asks about the diversity of leadership and whether the organization’s leaders show they’re committedrn to a safe workplace. “A lot of times you go to trainings and if the executive director isn’t there at the training, it doesn’t seem as if it’s very important to the organization,” Beaton says.

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The authors hope nonprofits with small or one-person fundraising teams will find the resources especially useful. The scenarios and assessments can help fundraisers explain the unique challenges of their role to colleagues and demonstrate how they canrn be better supported, LaPere-Schloop says.

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Among the other findings:

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  • 67 percent of fundraisers are confident their employer would respond appropriately to a complaint. Still, just 15 percent of fundraisers said they’d reported their harassment experience.
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  • 88 percent said their organization had a sexual-harassment policy in place, while 74 percent said their employer barred workplace bullying.
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  • Among respondents whose employer had a sexual-harassment policy, 61 percent said it applied to the board of directors, 57 percent said it applied to the nonprofit’s volunteers, and 34 percent said it applied to donors or clients.
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Click here for link to original article.

The Voyager Scholarship: THE OBAMA-CHESKY SCHOLARSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

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The Obama Foundation 

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THE OBAMA-CHESKY SCHOLARSHIP FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

 

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An increasingly globalized world needs young leaders who can bridge divides and help solve our biggest challenges together.


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The Voyager Scholarship was created by the Obamas and Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO, to help shape such leaders. Even though they come from different backgrounds, both the President and Brian believe that exposure to new places and experiences generates understanding,rn empathy, and cooperation which equips the next generation to create meaningful change.


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This scholarship gives college students financial aid to alleviate the burden of college debt, meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them.

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Learn about the eligibility requirements

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DEADLINE TO APPLY: JUNE 14, 2022 3:00 PM CENTRAL TIME