Nonprofit Newswire | December 22, 2009

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The Nonprofit QuarterlyGoodwill Non-Profit Sues to Get Domain Name
Dec 21, 2009; Domain Name Wire | You’ve probably come across Web sites that contain nothing but links about a particular topic. Some are an unethical way of driving traffic to yet another Web site, and others exist as legal money-making schemes for their creator. They’re unfortunate and underhanded, but legal. So when some Web-savvy entrepreneurs at Cyber2Media saw that was up for grabs, they purchased it, and installed their software to start making money by linking to various charity sites. Now, the nonprofit giant Goodwill Industries International, is suing Cyber2Media, claiming their donations are lagging because doesn’t point you to the Goodwill Industries Web site, which, they claim is, in legal terms “interference with prospective economic advantage, and unjust enrichment.” More, due to the nature of the sites that Cyber2Media pointed to—namely, other charities—Goodwill Industries is claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition. At the time of writing, neither nor the DomainSponsor Web site were reachable. Thanks to @ianwilhelm for alerting us to the story via Twitter!—James David Morgan

The Nonprofit QuarterlyCanadians No Scrooges When it Comes to Charity
Dec 21; Times Colonist | There’s good news among the mixed signals coming from Canada’s nonprofit sector. While the Canadian Salvation Army is experiencing similar troubles to the American United Ways, this study by Investors Group released Monday might just be reason for optimism. The survey detailed Canadian generosity per capita, and the numbers are: 13 monthly volunteer hours, more than $1,000 to charity, and a desire to increase both figures in 2010. Another study, this one the Fraser Institute’s 2009 Generosity Index, confirms the above numbers, recognizing that the overall number of Canadians who donated dropped this year. Manitobans are carrying some extra weight this year, it seems, as they outrank their fellow citizens in charitable giving, as well as the American national average, giving both countries a model example of a thriving culture of giving.—James David Morgan

The Nonprofit QuarterlyState Has Long Way to Go to Make Taxes Fair
Dec 20, 2009; Tuscaloosa News
| A solution to the state budget crisis affecting nonprofits won’t be found in program rescissions and threats of charges and fees on tax exempt entities. The necessary “fix” requires an overall rethinking of how states raise revenues, not just how they make decisions on revenue allocations.  The Alabama Arise Citizen Policy Project, a nonprofit advocacy coalition of some 150 community groups and churches, noted that Alabama has the nation’s second lowest tax threshold for a two-parent family of four—$12,600 (above only Montana’s $12,200, though Montana’s threshold rises with inflation, making Alabama likely to soon be the nation’s lowest). For families at the poverty line, Alabama has the nation’s highest income tax at $483 compared to $53 in Louisiana, $73 in next door Mississippi, and $223 in Georgia; only 16 states require poverty level families to pay any income tax. The budget fix isn’t just to raise more money to fund services, but to raise money in an equitable way that doesn’t adversely affect the people nonprofits are trying to serve.—Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlyTexas agency slow to spend stimulus funds to weatherize homes
Dec 20, 2009; Dallas Morning News
| Here is the challenge for nonprofits in the stimulus: they have much to do, but their ability to do it depends on the effectiveness of the architecture of government agencies in charge of disbursing stimulus funds. In Texas, the state has received $163 million for weatherization activities, but has spent only $1.8 million, most of it, according to the Dallas Morning News, for state administrative costs. Only seven homes have been weatherized since the state received the funds. The nonprofits trying to pry the weatherization funds from the state have been distraught about the state’s bureaucracy slowing the process down, and the state blames federal red tape. The state agency in charge, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, will get a total of $327 million from the stimulus legislation. Its goal is to spend the weatherization funds through March 2012 with a target of weatherizing 56,000 homes. Maybe it’s not all that bad; Texas is ahead of 11 other states in spending stimulus-funded weatherization dollars, as hard as that is to believe. We suspect a major concern is state agency capacity. As McCall Johnson with Environment Texas described the state department in charge of these funds, “They were not an agency equipped to take on $327 million, they didn’t have the staff.” The state is also complaining that the weatherization funds have to support staff who work at “prevailing wages.” But the experienced weatherization groups have criticized the state for delays in hiring or replacing state staff, delays in signing contracts, and trying to send weatherization funds to agencies that had no experience in running federally funded weatherization activities. Nonprofits have to be attentive to identifying and monitoring the roadblocks they are encountering in the stimulus program, else nonprofits inherit some blame they don’t deserve for slow rates of expenditures.—Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlyPittsburgh Mayor Drops Tuition Tax
Dec 21, 2009; Pittsburgh Business Times
| Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said Monday morning he is dropping a proposed 1 percent tuition tax after reaching an agreement with nonprofits in the city. Contributions from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Highmark Inc. (a health insurer) have ended a standoff between the mayor and the nonprofits as the mayor proposed to tax universities across the board if a deal wasn’t struck. Initially, the tuition tax proposal drew instant and widespread criticism from students and the city’s universities, but it appeared to have enough support in council to pass. The two universities and one health insurer blinked and the pressure has, for now, been eased. Look for much more on this issue from the folks at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh in our upcoming Winter print magazine. Subscribe here and see for yourself.—Aaron Lester



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