Perspective matters. Stephen Hawking once encouraged us to "look up at the stars and not down at [y]our feet." Sometimes, we can be so focused on the task in front of us (and who can blame us?) that we don't see how different aspects of our work are interconnected. And how certain things that initially seem outside of our comfort zone can turn into terrific opportunities.
In this month’s Nonprofit Knowledge Matters, we explore four topics that, at first blush, might seem like pure public policy. But they’re not. At the core of each is a different nonprofit operational issue. From higher operating costs due to new taxes due today, to human resources and budgetary issues resulting from proposed changes to overtime rules, to protecting your nonprofit's bottom line by helping secure the best census count possible, to securing more resources by sharing your insights about redesigning a federal grants portal. Each carries potential obstacles or opportunities that can affect nonprofit operations for years to come.
Higher Operating Costs
Today is #NonprofitTaxDay. Did your nonprofit get hit with a new bill?
For nonprofits that operate on a calendar year basis, today marks the usual Form 990 filing day. But this filing day is different from all others, because today thousands of nonprofits across the country also had to pay a tax bill for the first time, due to new provisions in the 2017 federal tax law. New taxes on nonprofits for the transportation benefits they provide to employees, “silo-ing” of separate “trades or businesses,” and less-common excise taxes on highly-compensated employees and higher education endowments are now in place.
Did your nonprofit get hit with a tax bill? Share with us what those dollars could have done to advance your nonprofit’s mission.
Human Resources and Budgetary Issues
Proposed changes to federal overtime rules and your nonprofit's payroll
Stop us if this sounds familiar. Presidential administration issues new proposed rules to increase the threshold for exemption from overtime pay. Nonprofits express a mix of moral support for workers being paid better, but operational anxiety in not knowing how to afford such increases, especially if the nonprofit has government contracts with rates that are set in stone. That’s what happened in 2016, when the Obama Administration proposed new overtime rules that would have more than doubled the threshold. Back then, we surveyed nonprofits on the operational realities of what the rules would mean and published The Nonprofit Overtime Implementation Conundrum. The survey results revealed potential difficulties in affording that proposed increase, and they demonstrated the widespread lack of familiarity with the current overtime laws. Many nonprofits thought they were exempt from the laws, but actually were not. In 2019, the names and numbers are different, with the Trump Administration proposing a smaller, but still significant, increase, yet the realities remain the same. David L. Thompson temporarily takes off his public policy hat to look at the operational implications of the proposed rules.
Restraints on Mission Delivery
Census 2020's effects on your nonprofit's operations
The next U.S. Census is less than a year away. Right now, many of the headlines seem focused on what the Supreme Court might decide in the pending case about whether a citizenship question can be added to the census form. But however the Court decides, nonprofits can be preparing for the important role they will play in ensuring the best count possible. If the census undercounts the people in your state, it could mean (1) you lose quality data you need to make informed decisions on where and how to direct services, and (2) your state could lose billions of dollars in federal funds that are based on funding formulas (states lose anywhere between $533 and $2,309 annually per person who isn’t counted). Even if your nonprofit doesn’t have any local, state, or federal contracts or grants, the huge funding gap resulting from an undercount could spark significantly increased competition for donations. The amicus brief that the National Council of Nonprofits filed in the citizenship case details additional consequences that census undercounts could have on nonprofit operations.
More on the census and how your nonprofit can get involved
Aligning Revenues with Mission
Help improve how to find and apply for federal grants
Did you know that the nonprofit community as a whole earns nearly one-third of its collective revenues by performing services under government grants and contracts? If your nonprofit is one of the thousands that rely on Grants.gov to find and apply for grants that align with your mission, then you’ve been invited by the people at Grants.gov to share your thoughts on how to make a redesigned site more user-friendly. Simplifying the process can save your nonprofit hours of time and might even make it easier to find additional funding opportunities. In-person and virtual focus groups on the redesign will take place throughout the month of June.
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