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Nonprofit Knowledge Matters


Welcome to summer: Vacation time for some, and “catch-up” time for others! Perhaps, like us, you are feeling that there is never enough “slack time” to check all the projects off your list. That’s why we’re excited to share some time-saving assessment tools with you, as well as distillations of data that capture important trends. Whether you are using this summer to focus on fundraising, board-building, transparency, or finances, we hope you’ll find useful resources in this issue. Happy Summer!

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Fundraising Goals: Check-up time!

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

With almost half the year in the rearview mirror, what can you do to ensure your nonprofit meets its fundraising goals in this first year under the new federal tax code? Like Goldilocks, you have three options. You can sit back and relax, trusting the politicians who promised that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will put lots more money in Americans’ pockets, with some of that extra money being donated to charity. Or, you can believe the economists who continue to predict that charitable giving will plummet by between $16 - 28 billion due to various tax code changes. Or, looking at your nonprofit’s experience thus far this year, you may discover that you honestly don’t know yet how the new tax code will impact donations to your nonprofit! Regardless of your hopes and fears, now is a good time to check the status of your annual fundraising goals, while also taking a hard look at external forces that may impact your final results this year.  


We believe that being familiar with macro-level projections and trends can be valuable in conjunction with fundraising plans, which is why our new article, Charitable Giving: Learning Lessons from Einstein, Prometheus, and CEP Research, published by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, highlights data from several new research reports released in May. Some of those reports forecast how much charitable giving will shrink overall; others document the increasing public needs which are creating more demands on nonprofits. All are worth reading, but one report deserves special attention because, in its own way, it reminds us that whether macro dollars go up or down, it all comes back to where actual donations get allocated. In The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption (which we highly recommend), the researchers found that “donors who will still itemize (in the top 5 percent of income) ‘tend to focus their giving on large institutions like universities and hospitals,’” while community-based organizations meeting local needs, the “smaller social-service and safety-net nonprofits, [will be hit] harder than larger endowed institutions.”


At the end of the day, nonprofit leaders should use this half-year mark to perform a fundraising check-up: consider external projections and trends – federal, state, AND local – and then look at your nonprofit’s specific realities. Do you need to adjust your fundraising plans based on results to date? Whatever the answer, keep working on your nonprofit’s relationships with donors, and keep working your plan.  It’s as simple – and hard – as that.


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Tune Up Your Nonprofit’s Profile


Before leaving on a summer vacation drive, many people get their car tuned up. Summertime is also a good time to tune up your nonprofit’s online presence to get more mileage for your good work. A prime place to start is a new online tool the IRS released in May. Designed to provide faster, easier access to publicly available information about exempt organizations, the new Tax Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) replaces “EO Select Check.” Like Select Check, this tool can be used to verify that an organization is eligible to receive deductible contributions, but TEOS offers a lot more. The new tool allows users to search by name or employer identification number, and offers information on an organization’s tax-exempt status, with a link to the revocation list. In the future, TEOS will provide images of IRS Determination Letters and recently-filed Form 990s, including those of organizations that filed the 990-N (postcard). The TEOS tool is mobile-friendly, too. Because the tool likely will be used most often by donors who are seeking to confirm the deductibility of their contributions, we strongly recommend that each nonprofit tap into the tool to view the profile for its own organization. We did and discovered some incorrect information that the IRS subsequently corrected. (If you see incorrect information, you can call the IRS designated phone line for questions about exempt organizations, EO Customer Account Services at 877-829-5500, and explain what you believe is incorrect about your nonprofit’s listing.)


While you’re in tune-up mode, why not take a look at your nonprofit’s profile on GuideStar, too? (If you don’t update that profile at least once a year your nonprofit could lose its seal of transparency.) Follow these easy tips on how to maximize your nonprofit’s profile on GuideStar. And if you’re not the person who last updated your nonprofit’s profile, here’s how to add/remove managers for the GuideStar profile. There are now many other places on the internet where your nonprofit’s “profile” may reside. But, most importantly: What does your nonprofit’s own website tell the world about your nonprofit? Is it accurate? Is it up-to-date? Are the nonprofit’s financial reports to the IRS (Form 990) accessible? Is there a list of board and staff members? Is there an easy way to contact the nonprofit from the website? Here are more ideas about how to show up as a transparent, trustworthy nonprofit.

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Summer – Time for Sunscreen and a Wellness Check!


It’s summer. Are you planning a vacation? (Sunscreen!) Swimming? (Lifeguards!) Hiking? (Water bottles!) Are you sensing the theme? Summer is wellness check time. Just as you wouldn’t head up the mountain without a water bottle, now’s a good time to take inventory of your figurative “knapsack” to prepare your nonprofit for the adventures ahead. Many nonprofits are drafting their budgets for the next calendar year right now; others are rallying to tune up organizational policies. The good news is: you don’t have to start a wellness check from scratch because we’ve got resources for you! From board member self-assessments, to organizational self-assessments, to a checklist for financial sustainability, and more. We are mindful that the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s recent State of the Sector survey results underscore how the majority of charitable nonprofits are concerned about meeting the increasing demands to serve more people. If this rings true for your nonprofit, we encourage you to take a look at the health factors of sustainable nonprofits through the lens of a financial check-up. If applicable to your nonprofit, have you taken government contracting challenges into consideration? We hope you don’t need this, but the Foraker Group offers a tool to measure indicators of a financial crisis. More financial management resources are posted on our website. Happy summer – and don’t forget your sunscreen!

Thank you to our 2018 Network Learning Confab Sponsors!

Each year, the National Council of Nonprofits convenes leaders of state associations of nonprofits from all over the country for a “Network Learning Confab.” These leaders freely share their support and wisdom with each other, learn from inspiring speakers, and head over to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of their nonprofits back home. This year, the Confab focused on “Nonprofit Power, Purpose, and Influence.” Key themes included the importance of organizational culture, the value of inclusive conversations, and the necessity of advancing the values of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. We also welcomed representatives from the US Census Bureau as state association leaders exchanged information about how our network is already taking steps to ensure that the 2020 Census produces a fair, accurate, and complete count in their states. We thank everyone who attended, presented, and contributed to the success of the Confab’s experiences that accelerate capacity building and develop advocacy muscle that helps nonprofits across the country. We are especially thankful for the sponsors that made our learning programs possible. We encourage readers to contact your state association of nonprofits about the conferences, convenings, and learning opportunities they offer that advance the power, purpose, and influence of charitable nonprofits.

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    Cureo      First Nonprofit     

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