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Nonprofit Knowledge Matters

There’s a thread we’ve noticed weaving together nonprofits of all missions more tightly than ever. Perhaps you’ve noticed it too. Trust. It’s so precious right now with all of the chaos spilling out of the political realm into everyday life. What does this have to do with nonprofits? Everything. Nonprofits are where individuals gather peacefully and intentionally to address – and solve – the most challenging issues facing our world. We need the public’s trust to do our work. We need to continue to be a safe space where “civic engagement” happens. In this issue we tackle trust head on by explaining the power of nonpartisanship, the risks of fake charities, and finally, how managing anxiety and stress, caused in part by the erosion of trust in our worlds, needs to take a much higher priority for each nonprofit’s sustainability. Trust us. These are important issues you’ll want to share with your staff and board members. Thanks for being part of our network.  



Why is remaining nonpartisan so important…and so at risk now?

What if powerful interests started pressuring your nonprofit to endorse certain candidates running for public office? What if a donor or a foundation told you they expected your nonprofit to support the funder’s preferred candidates for public office? What if a legislative body or the government agency awarding contracts/grants to your nonprofit signaled that it expected your nonprofit to toe the line and stay on one particular “side of the aisle”? And what if your nonprofit had to constantly deal with requests for candidate endorsements, campaign contributions, and support for political fundraisers… Can you imagine the challenge of having some board members expect your nonprofit to endorse or give money to Candidate A, while other board members strongly want the nonprofit to support Candidate B? Does any of this sound like a good environment for your nonprofit to be trusted as independent in solving your community’s most pressing problems? Isn’t it likely – given how deeply divided our country is into partisan factions – that supporting a common mission would fall apart in the face of bitter partisanship?


Fortunately, today you can cite protective language in Section 501(c)(3) that shields nonprofits from such corrosive partisanship. However, the President recently declared that he wants to "get rid of and totally destroy" that protection, and legislation has been introduced to remove and weaken that protective language, which has been in Section 501(c)(3) for more than 60 years. If that passes, we are deeply concerned that the public will no longer trust nonprofits as neutral and safe places for civic engagement. That’s why the National Council of Nonprofits opposes current attempts to repeal or weaken existing law that requires nonprofits to remain nonpartisan; so do a growing number of other charitable nonprofits, religious congregations, and foundation groups.


We encourage you to learn more about the current threats to politicize trusted nonprofits to benefit politicians and paid political operatives in ways that would turn nonprofit nonpartisanship on its head.


Thank you for sharing this information and staying connected with your state association of nonprofits for timely information on this, and many other policy developments that affect how your nonprofit advances its mission. An easy way to make sure your nonprofit’s board members and others know about this threat is to forward this newsletter. As this issue develops, stay tuned to @NatlCouncilNPs and also consider subscribing to Nonprofit Advocacy Mattersour free, bi-weekly newsletter on public policy issues affecting nonprofits.

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IRS Warns of Phishing Scams & Fake Charities

The IRS is warning nonprofits about a new email phishing scam involving IRS Form W-2s. Fraudsters are sending emails to nonprofit managers, requesting a list of employees, their earnings amounts, and a copy of their IRS Form W’2s, followed by a request for a wire transfer of a certain amount. This is a reminder that the IRS will never send an email requesting personal information or copies of tax forms. If you receive an email that you believe is part of this scam, forward it to and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. You can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI.


Another perennial scam that unfortunately contributes to mistrust by donors is when someone pretends to represent a legitimate charity, but is actually masquerading with the intent to defraud donors. Typically, such scams are designed to confuse donors (by using a name that is similar to an existing, legitimate charitable nonprofit). That is why it is a good idea periodically to conduct an internet search for your own nonprofit’s name. Also, it is good to help educate and encourage donors to make donations to organizations they know well, and not over the phone or in response to an email solicitation from a nonprofit they are not familiar with. The IRS suggests that nonprofits educate all donors about Select Check, which is a website that lists all charitable nonprofits that are recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) and up-to-date with their annual IRS filings. Anyone can use the free searchable database to confirm that donations to nonprofits on the list may be eligible as tax deductions. You can also search for nonprofits on Select Check using a nonprofit’s Employer Identification Number (EIN). The IRS created a multilingual video that covers this and related guidance about charitable contributions: Charitable ContributionsEnglish | Spanish | ASL


happy healthy nonprofit


It’s stressful out there: Take care of yourself – and your nonprofit!

Usually a new year opens with hopeful attitudes, but as we’ve checked-in recently with nonprofit leaders, family members, and friends across the country to ask how they are doing, instead of positive optimism, we’ve been hearing the words “fear,” “uncertainty,” and “paralysis.” We understand why. There is so much chaos happening in the political sphere, generating so much turmoil and uncertainty, that anxiety is running rampant. It may be your responsibility to make strategic decisions, but the future is so uncertain that the only thing many are able to be strategic about is finding time to keep up with the news. It seems as if the proverbial “scarcity mindset” has become the scared mindset.


We know it’s bad because we’ve heard story after story about nonprofit leaders who say they have trouble focusing. In trying to make sense of the rapidly changing environment, they toggle constantly to their cell phones so they won’t miss the latest Tweet or news feed. Some report being unable to sleep, or feeling whiplashed by events whether on Capitol Hill, or in their own statehouses, that will affect the people their nonprofit serves. They are extremely worried - not just about funding, but about an unknown future that feels like it will be different in fundamental ways.


What’s happening, and what can nonprofit leaders do about it?


Just in time, there’s a new book that we recommend for every executive director’s reading list. For your nonprofit, and for those your nonprofit serves, and for your own well-being - make time to read this book! Here’s why you need to read The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit now!


In addition to reading The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, we hope you will be part of a very special webinar program on April 25, 2017 with Beth Kanter, who will both (1) share her personal journey towards a happy, healthy culture of wellbeing, and (2) pass along lots of tips that you won’t want to miss. This webinar will be a terrific way to share the wisdom of a happy, healthy workplace with your team and board members. Stay tuned for registration information coming your way directly from your state association of nonprofits. Meanwhile you can get a preview of the authors’ advice on our blog





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