July 11, 2014

Financial Management

A Common Picture: Two Philadelphia Arts Organizations Struggle with Debt Come Due

DebtNPQ has been chronicling the struggles of too many arts organizations which were affected by the recession in a very particular way. Here is what the pattern we have seen looks looks like.

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St. Paul Library Finds New Life as Home for “People’s History”

AHLWhen a former Carnegie library moved its collection to a larger facility earlier this year, two professors—one a labor historian, one a theater artist—saw just the opening they had been looking for to encourage local residents to share and celebrate the popular history of their neighborhood through a new nonprofit, the East Side Freedom Library.

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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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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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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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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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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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Charlotte Set to Lose a Nonprofit Theater with Strong Area Ties

CharlotteAfter a bold move to a new home and securing local and national sources of support as part of the process, a nonprofit theater in Charlotte opts to shut down.

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San Jose Rep Theater Goes Under; Latest Down in Recent Arts Upheavals

SJRAs onlookers, it appears to us to be a very dangerous time for performing arts organizations, and this week the San Jose Repertory Theatre declared itself out of business. Reportedly, the move will immediately precede a bankruptcy filing.

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Homeless Social Enterprise in Brooklyn May Need New Location

CannersSure We Can appears to be an admirable organization, operating New York City’s only nonprofit redemption center to which homeless persons can bring empty cans and bottles. Given the expensive Brooklyn real estate market, Sure We Can might need to find a new redemption center location, and that is going to be difficult for a small, not highly capitalized nonprofit.

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Eight Sobering Thoughts for Social Impact Bond Supporters

8Among some promoters of social impact bonds, one might find a tendency toward irrational exuberance. They’ll slip into language that suggests the market discipline purportedly inserted into social programming by private capital is much more broadly applicable to a range of social problems than experience so far bears out. We have some enthusiasm-tempering considerations that SIB advocates and critics might reflect upon.

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A Town Cuts Senior Programs; A Community Foundation Steps In

PuzzleHenderson, Nevada is cutting back on funding for senior programs—and the pressure is on philanthropy to make up the difference.

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After Growth Plan Fails, a YMCA Files for Bankruptcy

MoneyThe YMCA in Milwaukee has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to allow for restructuring of the organization. According to the bankruptcy petition, the organization has amassed $29 million in debt and has deemed operations to be unsustainable.

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Is Debt Collection the Next Frontier for Nonprofits?

InvoiceTulsa debt collector Bill Bartmann thinks that debt collection is a business line that nonprofits should pursue, with an upside to their bottom lines. Good idea?

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