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Some agencies getting through tough economy while others suffer
Aug 17, 2009; Enid News and Eagle | An interesting story today in the Enid News and Eagle in Oklahoma provides a more nuanced view than we generally get from mainstream media about which types of nonprofits may actually be winners in this environment and which will suffer from a double whammy of reduced resources and increased demand. In the issue of the Quarterly just going to press we discuss the largely publicly ignored resource stream of direct pay fees for service – a very large part of the nonprofit economy overall.  —Ruth McCambridge

RECEIPTS REQUESTED: YMCA won’t release data on spending. Executives’ travel expense, credit-card records sought
Aug 14, 2009; Toledo Blade | These are stories that make one think that nonprofits are too quick to cite the wall of confidentiality afforded by 501(c)(3) tax status in fending off investigative inquiries.  The YMCA in Toledo has Ohio’s highest paid YMCA CEO (and the highest paid social service CEO in the Toledo area), got $4.8 million in government contracts and $4.4 in private contributions in 2008, ran expenses of $437,000 in travel and $180,000 in conference-related expenses, and decided to shut down its South Toledo facility and hand the building over to a church gratis. The Toledo Blade thought the travel and conference expenses, given the unpopular shutdown of the South Toledo Y, merited an investigation.  The Y’s response was to stiff the newspaper because as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it doesn’t have to disclose the details of those expenses.  Something to hide?  No, according to the Y, it simply doesn’t have to, because it files whatever it has to file on its 990 with the government (and answers to the government for its government contract funds), and that’s that.  Sorry, but that doesn’t wash.  Too many nonprofits are using their 501(c)(3) confidentiality barrier to refuse to answer the public’s legitimate questions calling for financial transparency in areas where the expenditure should be transparent. One suspects that the Blade will figure out how to access the filings of the organization with the state (through right to know laws) or the federal government (through FOIA) and determine whether the government used its investigative powers to question some pretty hefty travel and conference expenditures on the part of the YMCA serving economically struggling Toledo, Ohio.  —Rick Cohen

Plano children’s clinic refuses county funds because of reporting requirements
Aug 12, 2009; Dallas Morning News | In the Dallas Morning News this morning is a fascinating article about nonprofits turning down money because of extensive “reporting requirements”. The crux of the matter seems to be the fact that Collin County wishes to restrict the health related nonprofits from providing services to undocumented people. This story is important for any number of reasons and it coincides with our release of a Special NPQ issue on Nonprofits and Immigration. Legal Aid clinics have struggled with this restriction nationwide for decades by the way which some federal legislators are trying to lift within this budget process.  —Ruth McCambridge

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