In this article from 2011, Buzz Schmidt, founder of GuideStar, chair of the board of the F.B. Heron Foundation, and former chair of the NPQ board, argues that all enterprises need to be held to account for their contribution to—or depletion of—those things that are necessary to sustain a healthy society. He calls these “elements of community capital.” This article contains ideas that are core to NPQ’s views.
Various groupings of stakeholders—including donors, members, staff, and constituents—have staged revolts against decisions made by nonprofit leadership. Although social media may have aided the revolts, we think they have emerged from a changing attitude toward the accountability of institutions, including nonprofits.
While nonprofits are, generally, tax-exempt, they must pay income tax when operating outside the scope of their exempt purposes. But determining what are an organization’s exempt purposes is not always as clear as one might think, and distinguishing between related and unrelated activities can be tricky. There are clear rules, as well as several exceptions to those rules, that can help guide an organization in the right direction. But, as Kupfer underscores, while this article outlines key concepts of UBIT, “specific advice should always be sought from a competent tax counsel.”
When implemented wisely, social innovation is a positive approach to nonprofit growth; but most current practice falling under that rubric tends to invest primarily in one organization or program. Wouldn’t investment in infrastructure be far more valuable to development of the sector overall?
Practitioners agree that regulatory support is essential to Philanthropic Equity’s survival, but even if common standards and IRS guidance are put into play, PE is not for everyone. As the author explains, “Philanthropic Equity is about making sizable bets on plans and teams whose success is uncertain.” But he continues: “If only 1 percent of the funds currently flowing to U.S. nonprofit organizations were in the form of Philanthropic Equity, it would be sufficient to radically alter the growth trajectories of many of the highest-potential organizations in the social sector.” What do you think?
When a new employee asks for help handling the office gossip, Dr. Conflict advises first against upping the conflict by putting said gossip on the defensive, and second to check out the office culture before leaping into the fray. Perhaps surprising to some, he also reminds the frustrated employee that while one should not pay attention to every detail of what goes on in the workplace, it is never a good idea to stay disconnected, either, as “today’s gossip may be tomorrow’s fact.”
AN NPQ CLASSIC:
If your brand substantively lies in the intersection between your nonprofit and its publics, your website is a critical communicator. But if it is a one-way kind of experience, the dynamism that should be there is lost.
Why do so many of us insist upon learning from our own mistakes rather than those of other poor souls? Here we give you one more chance. Take heed of these tales of nonprofit organizations—large and small—that wander down the wrong path and embarrass themselves.
This past year marked the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, which is emblematic of a rising tide of citizen action unconnected to formal institutions. Disturbing to some and exciting to others, the ability of people to self-organize—and their evident preference for it—is the overriding meaning we take from this past year into the next. What does it mean for institutions even in this sector. Do we need to change, too?
According to our trusty Nonprofit Ethicist, “when it comes to ethics, if it looks bad, it is bad.” Does it look okay for the director of a social services organization to raise funds for other organizations through a side business? How about if a board chair puts himself in the running for the executive director position but doesn’t step down as chair? It looks, in the Ethicist’s words—“Bad. Bad. Bad.”
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