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State to give $3.5M to nonprofit group that is hiring in Charlotte
Aug 26, 2009; Charlotte Observer | It is hard to think of a nonprofit that has been more hard-nosed and creative than the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America run by the indefatigable Bruce Marks.  NACA is one truly entrepreneurial nonprofit success story, but it is never mentioned in those puffy social enterprise terms, maybe because Marks is a tough, in-your-face advocate as well as a top notch deliver of anti-foreclosure counseling services.  NACA has grown from an operating budget of less than $7 million in 2007 to $45 million now.  This story describes NACA’s accessing funds from the One North Carolina Fund to hire and train staff for housing counseling.  About half of the Boston-based NACA’s staff will be in Charlotte, anticipating as many as 1,000 staff in the banking capital by the end of 2010, though they’ll work nationally on NACA foreclosure and home financing campaigns and programs.  Someone should tell the puffy, self-indulgent social entrepreneurs to look at NACA as a model of social innovation, but then they’d have to realize that the NACA model also means good old-fashioned advocacy.   —Rick Cohen

Waiting nonprofits take hit
Aug 30, 2009; AJC|
The United Way of Pennsylvania is estimating that between 50 and 100 nonprofits will close their doors in September if the state budget does not pass soon, according to this article which talks about two relatively small programs dealing with former prisoners and homeless people as being severely impacted. We are wondering if this crisis will disproportionately effect smaller organizations first, as Paul Light had suggested in his Four Futures article in NPQ. Pennsylvania and Connecticut are the only two states that have still not passed their budgets as of this date but even those states that have working budgets may, according to the following article, have to revisit budgets already passed to adjust to significantly lower revenues than projected.  —Ruth McCambridge

Rep. Rush Builds Church with Campaign Cash
Aug 27, 2009; CQ Politics | It’s all legal, everything Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) has done to funnel $152,000 (in grants and forgiven loans from his campaign contributions) to the church where he serves as senior pastor and $2.5 million in earmarks and stimulus funds (including $688,000 in Fy2008 earmarks and $409,000 in stimulus funds in this fiscal year) to two nonprofits he created from the church (and which he and his wife have served on the governing boards) is legal, violating no campaign finance or federal budget rules.  But this is a bad practice.  It doesn’t matter that Congressman Rush and his wife aren’t personally benefitting from the moneys.  Members of Congress in control of their own nonprofit or religious entities eligible for charitable contributions know that donors will look to make contributions to these entities in order to buy favor and face time with the legislators.  Moreover, other nonprofits that weren’t created by members of congress and don’t have them on their boards or staff know that they are at a competitive disadvantage for appropriated funds like stimulus moneys, not to mention earmarks.  This isn’t a level playing field for the nonprofit sector.  —Rick Cohen


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