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Nonprofit Knowledge Matters


Summer often gives us some breathing space to ponder and plan as we continuously scan the horizon for the “Next Big Thing.” We’re always grateful when our network of more than 25,000 charitable nonprofits – the largest network of nonprofits in the country – spots issues and shares them with us. Perhaps you’re also scanning the horizon to help your nonprofit’s team, board, and donors? When there is so much information coming at you fast: What matters? What’s significant? We hope that this month’s e-newsletter sharing ideas about fundraising, FASB accounting standards, and nonprofit talent ignites your creativity in discovering some of the Next Big Things in your nonprofit’s world. Let us know what Big Things your nonprofit is grappling with.

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Is your nonprofit ready for the “next big things” in fundraising? 

Money Tree

Now that we’re halfway through the calendar year, it’s wise to consider whether new fundraising strategies might be needed for the rest of the year … and beyond! Need extra motivation? Consider this sobering trend: while overall giving has increased over the last decade, fewer households are donating to the work of charitable nonprofits (a 10 percent decline over 14 years). The net effect is that the primary base of support for charitable giving is shifting towards the wealthy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that just one percent of households accounted for almost half (49 percent) of all contributions in 2015 and concludes that “nonprofits are increasingly counting on the wealthy to raise the money they need.” That trend is likely to be amplified by the new federal tax law. While no one knows precisely how much charitable giving will change as a result of the new law, economists with views spanning from conservative to progressive forecast that between 21 - 27 million fewer taxpayers will have a financial incentive to itemize and thus will take the standard deduction. Yet the wealthy will still have an incentive to itemize, so the specific organizations they support will benefit. What if your nonprofit doesn’t have a list of wealthy major donor prospects, or a board of directors stacked with millionaires? Our blog post, “The Next Big Things in Fundraising,” highlights trends in fundraising and shares some ideas that may spark a new era in fundraising for your nonprofit!

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The latest FASB Accounting Standards: “How do I characterize thee? Let me count the ways.”

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For many of us, our minds instantaneously make these rapid-fire translations when we see the word “accounting”: accounting involves counting involves numbers. But as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) just reminded us when it issued updated accounting standards last month, words matter, too. In simplest terms, the most recent Accounting Standards Update (ASU) gives guidance on what revenue gets counted in which bucket. More broadly, the most recent ASU attempts to clarify how to classify revenue from grants and contracts as exchanges or contributions, and then separated by whether the contributions are conditional or unconditional. To help nonprofit board and staff members get an overview of FASB’s latest ASU, and a brief reminder of the other two recent updates, we prepared this numbers-free blog post about nonprofit revenues: “How do I characterize thee? Let me count the ways: Fish or fowl; reciprocal or nonreciprocal; conditional or unconditional?

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Nonprofit talent: Empowering staff for high impact 

Empowered Staff

The work – and workplaces – of charitable nonprofits are complex. While nonprofits are navigating multifaceted environments, increasingly they also are being asked to demonstrate their “impact” – sometimes referred to as “outcomes.” For many nonprofits, the path to high performance outcomes will involve strengthening organizational culture or focusing on ethics and accountability. Others may focus on shoring up their financial transparency, embracing assessments to measure progress,  or elevating core values such as diversity, inclusion, and equity. Whatever path a nonprofit takes to high performance, it will be the nonprofits’ staff – the talented employees and volunteers – who ultimately make the difference in highly-effective organizations. We’re pleased to share a real-life testament to how empowering employees can lead to higher impact in this guest post, "Building a Culture of Empowerment for High Impact," by Jamie Bearse, President and CEO of ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. For those interested in diving deeper into his ideas about empowering staff for high impact, you may also enjoy this recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, "Complexity Demands New Approaches to Work."


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