July 10, 2014

Online Activism

Tepid Progress on Detroit Water Crisis, But Where Are the Big Nonprofit Players?

WaterThe Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage is taking tepidly positive steps on the water crisis, such as notifying commercial and industrial customers that they might be delinquent too and ginning up a $1 million fund to help lower-income residential customers. Those are steps that wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the advocacy of Rep. John Conyers and a handful of grassroots nonprofits, but there’s so much more to be done—and we’re waiting for mainstream nonprofits and foundations to announce what they’re going to do to intervene in this human rights crisis.

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Improbable Tales: Nonprofit Gives Back $10 Million Grant (and $10M Match)

Trojan horseWhen is a multimillion dollar grant not needed? When it locks you into a way of doing things that is either unsustainable or simply not ideal.

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Under Re-Construction: San Diego Opera Cutting Costs and Rebuilding Trust for 50th Anniversary Season

SDOAfter the highly publicized near-closure of the San Diego Opera this spring, the organization has cut its operating budget by about a third—including some staff layoffs—and is preparing to raise the curtain on its 50th anniversary season. A recent decision by San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture underscores both the progress that’s been made and the work that remains to be done.

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Reporter Views Lack of Salary Disclosure as Provocative Indicator

MoneyAn Asheville, N.C reporter reveals a bit of his thinking and it is worth considering: In his opinion, when an organization working with tax dollars refuses to reveal top salaries, they warrant a deeper investigative look.

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Financial Cautionary Tales for Nonprofits (Google+ Hangout)

Kate Barr of the Nonprofits Assistance Fund joined Nonprofit Quarterly for a special webinar where Kate shared vividly illustrated cautionary tales about how to avoid common nonprofit financial traps. This is the kind of material you could ask your board and emerging leaders to watch. A stitch in time will help avoid embarrassing and reputation damaging meltdowns.

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Will Hobby Lobby Feel Financial Blowback from Customers?

Hobby LobbyWill Hobby Lobby feel any financial blowback from that portion of their potential customer base that finds the recent SCOTUS decision unpalatable?

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Is IRS Denying Nonprofit Status to Open Source Software Groups?

IRSThis article in Network World suggests the IRS may be averse to approving nonprofit status for nonprofit groups making Open Source software.

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The “People’s Opera” May Rise Again, But It’s a Waiting Game for Buyers

POThere are potential buyers waiting to be given the chance to buy and resuscitate the New York City Opera, and one of them thinks the board, grinding its way through bankruptcy proceedings, is dragging its collective feet!

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Carmel Tea Party Argues for Municipal Transparency

TeaEven the Tea Party can get something sort of right. In Carmel, Indiana, a local Tea Party group is pushing for enhanced standards of municipal government transparency.

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Historic Social Enterprise Cries Uncle as SF Rent Rises

UORNonprofits in high-rent towns like New York and San Francisco are having a hard time with space, and so it is perhaps no surprise that at the end of July, Under One Roof, a historic social enterprise in the Castro District of San Francisco, will close after 23 years.

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Community Foundation CEO Steps Down After 20 Years and Leaves Ideas for the Future

LightsBefore Nancy Kieling accepted a job at the Princeton Area Community Foundation twenty years ago, she had never heard of a community foundation. In six months, she will leave behind an organization that has established strong community ties between donors and nonprofits that her successor will be charged with cultivating and expanding beginning January 1st.

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Boards and Magical Thinking

TreeWild ambition to create change and good governance can easily coexist, and NPQ believes that working for the impossible to become possible is what this sector is all about. Perhaps that requires some thinking beyond the most practical of bounds, but we don’t know how many times over this past year we have written the phrase, “But where was the board?” in relation to an enterprise that failed much to the surprise of its governing body. Here, Kathy Ridge discusses what she has found working with organizations on the brink.

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A “Classic Case” Merger: What Tends to Make Them Work

crossing tracksTwo sheltering programs in the Greater Atlanta metropolitan area are merging and their situation provides a “classic case” of the factors that often underlie a successful merger.

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American Opera, Rising

OperaSan Diego Opera is on the rebound from its near-death experience. The Metropolitan Opera labor dispute is still simmering, with contracts that will expire in another month. As opera companies across the United States continue to explore new business models and ways of remaining relevant to 21st-century audiences, there’s been a discernible shift toward contemporary American works.

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Anti-Abortion Protestors Move In on Clinics after SCOTUS Buffer Zones Decision

BarrierOn Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that provided for a 35-foot “buffer zone” around clinics providing abortions. The Saturday after, protestors showed up in greater numbers in Boston and Worcester, pushing beyond that previously established line.

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Major Nonprofit Merger Develops Organically with a Little Push from the Recession

BirdsIn a deal that will result in the 13th largest public garden in the United States, the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Holden Arboretum, established within one year of each other in 1930 and 1931, have agreed to merge.

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Seeking What Makes Us Valid as People and as Organizations

ShellAuthenticity sometimes seems like a rare commodity – yet it is valuable beyond words in the work we do. Here we reprint a moving speech by Paul Hogan to the Buffalo Society of Artists about art, mental health and personal and organizational purpose.

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Color Guard at the NYC Pride March Will Be Boy Scouts

ScoutHow long will the BSA hold out on its regressive exclusionary policy excluding openly gay scout leaders? Parts of their operation are beginning to peel off, as is exemplified by the color guard for the 44th Annual NYC Pride March, scheduled for this coming Sunday, which will be made up of contingent of openly gay and allied Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts, and volunteers.

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Parody Website Challenges Detroit Bankruptcy Plan

Free speech is often exceptionally uncomfortable for those who find themselves on the receiving end of scathing public criticism. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has come to the defense of a parody website, KevynOrr.com, that lampoons Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr and criticizes the plan to pull Detroit out of bankruptcy in response to a charge of trademark infringement by Orr’s former employer, the Jones Day law firm.

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Low-Interest Bond Program for Nonprofits May Continue, Says Maine Gov

NewsThe 20-year-old program has saved charities millions, but that alone did not convince the governor to continue the public-private partnership; now, that’s changed.

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Using Loans: A 101 Guide To Borrowing For Nonprofit Organizations

MoneyIf anyone would know the rules for using loans as a nonprofit, it would be the Nonprofit Assistance Fund. This piece is good to share with board members as a base of commonly understood information that will help them to better manage the blips and delays and growth tracks in nonprofit finance.

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Fundraising Costs Queried Down Under

appcoA fundraising company is being investigated by a state government regulatory agency in Australia.

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Occupy Activists Pitch Lessons for Future Movement Building

125In the continuing flow of articles about the future of the Occupy movement, two Occupy activists think that the future is something like the Tea Party’s role in the Republican Party.

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What Can We Learn from New York’s Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013?

NYCAs the Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 takes effect in New York, is there anything we can learn from it, or are there any trends we should watch out for?

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Operating Above Its Financial Skill Level Not Good for This Nonprofit

NewsNPQ has a lot of empathy for new organizations that misunderstand the level of skill they need to do decent financial management, but it is important to learn your lesson the first time you realize that you may not have the hands on deck necessary to manage to the requirements of a nonprofit.

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Governance Gone Awry in North Miami Museum

MOCAMany nonprofit cultural institutions operate in facilities owned by municipal governments, but generally with board and staff leadership independent from the city itself. At North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the lines between board governance and city management have become blurred—really blurred—to the point where an article in the New York Times described the situation as being almost surreal.

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California Nonprofit Hospital Exec Salary Cap Fails to Make the Ballot

WalletA ballot initiative that would have limited the compensation of executives at nonprofit hospitals has failed to qualify for the November ballot. It’s an issue that has garnered attention recently with public disclosure of some of the huge compensation packages given CEOs of large medical centers.

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The Pentagon’s Retrograde View of Nonprofits and Civil Society

Anti-WarThe Pentagon is supporting research on the causes of and solutions to domestic unrest; it views social protest—which nonprofits see as essential to healthy civil society—as destabilizing.

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Looking for Signs of the U.S. Antiwar Movement

Anti-war signIraq has become a locus of sectarian strife in the Middle East that demands a response—a decision one way or the other—from the U.S. government that bears responsibility for this broken country. After years of quiescence in response to the Obama administration’s bombing campaign in Libya, surge in Afghanistan, and drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, is the nonprofit antiwar movement going to revive around options for U.S. action in rapidly disintegrating Iraq?

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