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Nonprofit Radio for January 9, 2023: Gene & Amy’s 2023 Outlook

 

Gene Takagi & Amy Sample WardGene & Amy’s 2023 Outlook

Our esteemed contributors, Gene Takagi and Amy Sample Ward, reveal what they’re thinking about for the New Year. We’re talking about Twitter, donor advised funds, fiscal sponsorship, and illegal activities. Gene comes to us from NEO Law Group, and Amy is CEO of NTEN.

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[00:02:06.02] spk_0:
Hello and welcome to Tony-Martignetti non profit radio big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast, Happy New Year. I hope you enjoyed your time off. I hope you’re looking forward to our New year and I have more on that in in Tony’s take two. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d suffer with sal pendulum fractious if I had to hear that you missed this week’s show, Gene and Amy’s 2023 Outlook, our esteemed contributors, Gene Takagi and Amy sample Ward reveal what they’re thinking about for the new year. We’re talking about twitter donor advised funds fiscal sponsorship and illegal activities. Jean comes to us from neo law group and AMY is ceo of N 10 on Tony’s take to take in this new year. What a genuine pleasure to have both Gene Takagi and Amy sample Ward with me us together. Substantively, it’s not just 1/50 anniversary show. No, this is not the 650th show. This is not july of 2023 Gene and Amy are with us to talk substance together and cross talk as well, you know them, but they are esteemed contributors and they are do their proper introductions, jean is our legal contributor and managing attorney of neo the nonprofit and exempt organizations law group in san Francisco. He edits the wildly popular nonprofit law blog dot com and is a part time lecturer at Columbia University. The firm is at neo law group dot com and he’s at G. Tac. Welcome to the New Year’s show, Gene,

[00:02:13.49] spk_1:
thank you Tony great to be here and great to be here with AMY especially,

[00:02:34.00] spk_0:
absolutely yes, a genuine pleasure with AmY sample Ward, who is Ceo of N 10 and our technology and social media contributor, their most recent co authored book is the tech that comes next about equity and inclusiveness in technology development. They’re at AMy sample Ward dot org and at Amy R. S Ward, Amy, Happy New Year! Welcome to the New Year’s show.

[00:02:42.26] spk_2:
Thanks. It feels like maybe we’ll revisit the intro if you’re saying our twitter handles and then we’re about to talk about what’s happening over at twitter. But you know, that’s all part of what’s to come and

[00:02:54.58] spk_0:
absolutely could end up being uh, mastodon.

[00:02:58.61] spk_2:
We’ll

[00:03:08.98] spk_0:
see about that. Absolutely. All right. We, um, we are going to start with Gene, um, to talk about Gene, you’re concerned about some, some legislative potential changes around donor advised funds.

[00:04:09.26] spk_1:
Yeah, I mean, it’s the donor advised fund area is probably one that most of your listeners are kind of familiar with because they’re the fastest growing area of charitable giving over a trillion dollars now held by donor advised funds. And that is huge, growing much faster than private foundations. And, you know, they make up some of the biggest charity charities in the country, I think, Um, possibly half of the top 10 maybe, um, maybe don’t advise from sponsoring organizations and several of those associated with financial institutions. Um, so like a Fidelity or vanguard flop Goldman Sachs morgan Stanley. Um So, you know, there’s been some heat about, well are these really charities, are they charitable giving? And the answer is yes, they are charities, even though they are associated with financial institutions. But that heat has led up to people going, well, what is the money doing? What is that $1 trillion dollars doing in these donor advised funds? Are the and

[00:04:19.50] spk_0:
this has been percolating for years

[00:04:21.88] spk_1:
and this

[00:04:28.85] spk_0:
began on the Senate, the Senate Finance Committee. Uh It was one of the Senate committees. Uh this has been coming up for years around the money parked in donor advised funds and not getting to 501 C3 charities.

[00:04:40.03] spk_1:
Yeah, I think starting with Senator Grassley at the Senate Finance Committee chuck

[00:04:44.91] spk_0:
Grassley. Right? Yes. So

[00:04:52.91] spk_1:
it’s been people have been talking about it but don’t advise funds continue to go up on this exponential growth or where they just keep getting used more and more often. Oftentimes by, you know, some of the very, very ultra wealthy individuals and there’s some heat about that too, about why do we have so many ultra wealthy individuals who can control, you know what charities are doing, who can control our politics,

[00:05:11.74] spk_0:
but

[00:05:34.10] spk_1:
that’s all part of the same story. But because of that, you know, there’s been some pushback and some legislation suggested and now sponsored and introduced, well I should say introduced into Congress, but it’s not actually been a bit on a bill that has a formal sponsor that’s before anybody other than a committee right now looking at it. And that’s called the accelerating um, charitable efforts act or the Ace Act. And that’s up, uh, in front of some congressional members and a committee right now. And that has all these reforms to donor advised funds to

[00:05:51.98] spk_0:
help

[00:05:53.21] spk_1:
sort of mitigate some of those problems of the warehousing of wealth, um, and, and money not getting out to charities as quickly as some people would like. But there are some, you know, there are pros and cons to what all that involves, but it’s good for people to sort of be aware of it.

[00:06:09.19] spk_0:
Okay. Be paying attention to this. Um, now, when at least when I was in 6th and 7th grade, we used to learn that an act becomes a bill and a bill becomes law after it’s signed. But so thank you for making the distinction. Uh, all right. So, so this doesn’t have any sponsors yet there, it’s proposed like it’s, is it in a committee?

[00:07:51.29] spk_1:
It’s it’s in a committee right now. The chances are while I’m not a great prognosticator of what happens on Capitol Hill and I’m not, I’m not based in Washington. I will say what I’m hearing from people who are, is that it probably doesn’t have a good chance of passing right now. So it’s unlikely to see changes now, but this is a growing issue as you mentioned, tony that’s been percolating for, for years and just getting more and more attention. So provisions of the act, which is probably the overall is pretty complicated and we won’t go into the technicalities here that would bore your listeners, but it’s complicated. And for part of that reason there’s not sort of universal, like the nonprofit sector, all wants this to be passed? No, there’s like people on both sides of this issue. And because of that, I think, you know, um, prognosticators who are more informed to suggest that this probably won’t pass as is, are probably right, but there are aspects of it that could find their way in other bills. Um, so that’s sometimes how laws are passed. They don’t advise when laws passed through the pension protection act, not necessarily think those are related, but they can slip their way in. So just sort of pay attention to all of these, you know, movements around wealth and power and what that means to our, um, our charitable sector and how donor advised funds are being used. Something just to, to look at. And there are several organizations who are advocating on either side of this.

[00:08:38.91] spk_0:
Okay, cool, alright. We’ll pay attention to donor advised funds, uh, in terms of wealth and, uh, you know, 88 individuals, uh, controlling, or certainly heavily influencing the charitable priorities. That that’s for, uh, we’ll have to do that on another show. Um, fiscal sponsorship is uh is something else you want us to look out for? Just just define it you know in in its basics so that everybody has the common understanding that we’re starting with.

[00:09:32.42] spk_1:
So the issue with fiscal sponsorship while it is also growing very very quickly. Um And the nonprofit sector might be aware of it but sort of the outside world might not really know what that means. And generally what it means is that there are people who have a charitable project but don’t have a charity entity with 501 C. Three status to run it. They look for another group to either how’s it um or to give grants to their group which might be considered a taxable for profit Um If they don’t have five oh one C. Three status for some period of time and that’s how fiscal sponsorship can arise it can arise in different forms but because it’s not defined by law it’s done wrong all the time. So while it’s growing.

[00:09:57.32] spk_0:
What about new charities that don’t yet have their five oh one C. Three. Maybe they’ve applied so they’ve submitted their 10 23 to the I. R. S. But the process may take a long time can they also sometimes benefiting from fiscal sponsors. So they’ll they’ll get an established five oh one C. Three to make grants to them until they get their own 501 C. Three determination. Is that is that okay?

[00:10:53.65] spk_1:
Yeah, that’s a perfect use of a fiscal sponsor and fiscal sponsors can act as incubators, even if they’re not applying for five oh one C three status right away, even if it’s something they’d like to test out and say, is this a viable charitable idea? Um, So yes, fiscal sponsorship can absolutely run that way, but if it’s not structured properly, even if that is the well intended sort of purposes of everybody involved, if it’s not structured properly, you can get into trouble both as an organization, you can end up having a donor who gets denied a deduction. Um, you can get a foundation into trouble who finds it. So structuring these things properly is really important. So as this field advances and evolves and it’s been around in informal ways for, you know, many, many decades, um, as this field advances, we want, we would like to see sort of more sort of consistency in operating it in a lawful manner that doesn’t endanger anybody and really it helps everybody accomplish what they want to do charitably.

[00:11:58.73] spk_0:
What about the idea, I mean, if you are incubating an organization, let’s say it’s it’s a few people, it doesn’t really matter, but I’m just trying to take it out of the realm of just one person, I suppose you’re incubating uh an idea and you, the Community Foundation because they’ll often act as communities as fiscal sponsors. Community foundations. You think it’s a, it’s a bonafide non profit idea, but and you make grants to it, but it turns out not to be so they don’t get their five oh one C three determination positive. What what what happens then is is the is the Community Foundation liable at all? And what happens to the deductions that were granted to the to this nascent now, not now, not Uh not a 501 C3 entity.

[00:12:51.99] spk_1:
Yeah. So I don’t want to dive too deep into the weeds. But yes, if the Community Foundation is housing and incubating the project, it’s not the same project that is housed in this new entity that is applying for five oh one C three status, that’s going to be transferred over into the new entity once it gets its five oh one C three status. So the Community Foundation is running an illegal activity, which is maybe another two We can talk about, well then the community foundation would of course get into trouble. But if it’s a small part of what the community foundation does, which it probably would be right, it would be maybe like 1% or maybe even less than 1% of the foundation’s overall activities, that’s not gonna usually result in anything terrible unless they were doing very terrible things. Which is unlikely. Um But you know, it would be different. An incubator definitely has less risks and they’ve got all their insurance and you know, legal support and accounting support to make sure that it’s not running afoul while it’s housed in the Community Foundation,

[00:13:07.79] spk_0:
if

[00:13:44.00] spk_2:
I can say something, Gene, I think as I’m listening to this conversation and from Anton has been a fiscal sponsor for many different groups, um you know, you also don’t have to be pursuing C three status, it might the whole purpose of what you’re doing could be done, you know, like we’ve been a fiscal sponsor for a group that was going to hold an event once the event was over, they were all done, they weren’t there was nothing to pursue a C three registration for, you know, So just naming that there’s a few nuances in that in the in the timeline to that, it may not be that there’s ever AC three application and something shady happened, but also the thing is over, you know, there’s a lot of moving

[00:14:00.81] spk_0:
pieces we have and what did you look for uh if you do in deciding to sponsor?

[00:15:21.47] spk_2:
Well, folks approach us, we haven’t, you know, gone out saying we would love to be a fiscal sponsor, it’s because it’s not, you know, intent isn’t set up, there are organizations of course, so that’s like their mission is to fiscally sponsored organizations, um but when we have been approached and folks have asked if we can essentially like extend our organizational privilege to enable their work, um the things that we look for are if there’s any sort of document or organizing agreement for the people involved on the other side again because they might not be, they might not be trying to be an organization but we want there to be accountability that that we can come back to um that they understand how much money they’re likely to bring in and how they’re going to spend it and that and tens books aren’t going to end up with some $10,000. We can’t do something you know um That there’s really a plan for what’s coming in and what’s going out and that they understand the options that exist for either becoming on payroll with us not being on paper roll being a short term contractor because N 10 already has staff and eight different states. But what does that look like if we were bringing someone on for a longer term and they needed to be on payroll in a state we’re not in. So we just have those conversations with them. But we have a standard agreement for fiscal sponsorship that we send to folks when we’re having those relationships and you know, separate bank accounts separate P. And L. Like all of

[00:15:42.21] spk_0:
that.

[00:16:12.33] spk_1:
Let me add just one more thing that some sometimes it’s all about creating um what when some people would call a commons. So these projects never wanted to leave but they find the efficiency of centralizing kind of administrative and back office resources and fiscal sponsor takes care of your legal filings and your tax filings, your insurance. Um and multiple projects just want to stay there forever. Um, So that that’s a use of the fiscal sponsor, a perfectly acceptable use of the fiscal sponsor as well. As long as it’s structured properly, structuring properly would be maybe my main point in this is that oftentimes people think, oh, I’ve seen somebody else do it, let’s do it the same way that may not work that they may be using the wrong example. So the national network of fiscal sponsor. Um, and then they’ve got a good sort of model of how this can be done properly.

[00:16:42.00] spk_0:
They have a book too, don’t they? Gene

[00:16:44.17] spk_1:
the book is actually from Greg Colvin and Stephanie Pettitt called fiscal sponsorship. Six ways to do it. Right. And it’s, I believe the only book out there, um, and it’s really good and not terribly expensive. So if you’re a fiscal sponsor and you’re not quite sure about what you’re doing by that

[00:17:06.18] spk_0:
Book. Okay, fiscal sponsorship six ways to do it. Right. Very aptly named book like it. Okay. Um, yeah. And there are also implications for the donors, right? If this is if it’s not created and implemented correctly. Gene the can the donors get like their charitable deduction clawed back or something like that.

[00:17:22.18] spk_1:
Yeah, they could get it denied by the I. R. S. Because if the donor directs their donation to an entity that’s not a charity. So if they’re telling the fiscal sponsor you must give this money to this project that’s a separate

[00:17:36.40] spk_0:
entity, well

[00:17:38.20] spk_1:
with a different bank account, the donor doesn’t get a deduction. Fiscal sponsor may have been aiding and abetting tax fraud. So problems there. So they’ve got to be careful

[00:17:56.72] spk_0:
okay for your donors too. All right. And on the on the illegal activity side. What what what what’s your what are your concerns there?

[00:18:00.97] spk_1:
So um as a lawyer, of course any illegal activities are concerned. But well

[00:18:06.94] spk_0:
there’s illegal and there’s there’s illegal

[00:18:15.82] spk_1:
actually that’s a really good point. So one of the things that the I. R. S. Looks at is like are you a 51 C. Three organization if you’re conducting illegal activities And they use the question that you asked basically tony There’s illegal and there’s illegal. So if you are engaging in you know civil disobedience to a small extent to advocate, you’re perfectly appropriate charitable purpose and mission. You’re probably not gonna expose your Five oh one C. Three status to to being revoked for that reason. If you’re committing a little bit of bank robbery. Well

[00:18:45.27] spk_0:
that’s

[00:18:45.62] spk_1:
probably gonna get you out of the 501 C. Three status. Right,

[00:18:49.64] spk_0:
Do it right. I mean why why do anything financially fraudulent for like $1,500.

[00:18:55.49] spk_2:
Right? There’s not a little bit of bank robbery like I want the whole safe or not. You know

[00:19:07.22] spk_0:
I mean if I’m gonna if I’m gonna compromise our reputation and risk myself being in prison. I mean, I’m doing this for at least a million and a half or something. You know, I mean, let’s make some decent money out of it, for Pete’s sake. I’m not risking everything for 50,000

[00:19:14.25] spk_2:
dollars. I want the gold bars while I want everything. You know,

[00:19:18.41] spk_0:
right, here’s

[00:19:19.60] spk_1:
how about this?

[00:19:22.79] spk_0:
Let’s go all in. I mean,

[00:19:31.21] spk_1:
The lawyer will say we are all in terms of how much money we’re gonna steal, but 99% of our staff time is spent on real stuff.

[00:19:33.03] spk_0:
It’s only one

[00:19:33.82] spk_1:
of our time I had spent on. It

[00:19:55.44] spk_0:
was, it was a tiny percentage of my time. I mean, it was just a few phone calls, a couple of texts. I mean, some some signal messages. I mean, you know, it was like a half an hour and you know, and then we executed. So it’s such a small percentage of my time. Really, why are we even bothering with this? All

[00:21:07.47] spk_1:
right. Exactly. So that’s the, there’s illegal and there’s illegal, exactly. As you framed it. Um, but I think now, why, why the illegality doctrine, as lawyers like to call it, is trending a little bit, is because we have some things that are considered illegal. That’s something that some states or jurisdictions are saying, well, no, that’s not illegal. And just sort of an example is cannabis, cannabis could be legal in some states, it could be legal for medical purposes in some states? It’s illegal for recreational purposes in other states, it’s illegal and federally it’s illegal, right? So that creates just all these weird dynamics, Can we have a five oh one C three organization where we’re cannabis dispensary for medical purposes, we’re doing it for charitable purposes. Can we do that? And the answer there is kind of know right now, if it breaks federal law, if that is the purpose of the organization and so now we’re not talking about activities now, but if that’s the purpose of the organization is to break federal law, then you can’t get five oh one C. Three status and you can’t if you have five oh one C. Three status and you change your mission, you can’t keep it. So something to look at in terms of cannabis organizations,

[00:21:12.39] spk_0:
even if it’s legal, even if it’s legal in your state,

[00:21:15.23] spk_1:
Right? Because 501 C3 status is a federal tax exempt status. So

[00:21:21.42] spk_0:
that could change

[00:21:53.07] spk_2:
and that’s for the mission of the organization. But what about or a national organization based in D. C. Because they’re a big HQ, they have their annual event in Oregon and the gala where in Oregon, cannabis is is completely legalized for recreation etcetera. And, you know, the silent auction table has like a cannabis care package is they’re they’re registered in D. C. The event is in Oregon. What’s what are the layers there?

[00:23:57.52] spk_1:
So the activities may be judged by what particular state they’re in. Although the sale of cannabis would always be sort of FDA sort of under FDA rules as well. Right? So you could always get charged with a federal crime on that, which is always the tough part. But just from The federal tax exemption standpoint, it’s kind of again fits activities if it’s doing it as an activity, that’s one thing where is it illegal? You know, little bit illegal maybe, and probably not going to really enforce or try to take away 51C3 status because of one event in Oregon where it’s legal under state law. But if that’s your purpose is to to say, hey, we don’t care what the federal law is. This is what our purposes which is contrary to federal law that can get you in trouble. So that’s the cannabis thing. But the study of cannabis or the study of psychedelics, certain psychedelics that might become approved federally and tony as you were saying cannabis could change as well. Um the study of it or the policy around it, that might be a perfect vibe. One C three purpose, either in the scientific realm or the charitable or educational realm, but a little bit of gray area in all of this. But I did wanna introduce one more area of illegality. Um and that is regarding abortion because that is another really hot topic since the jobs decision by the Supreme Court, right? So that allows basically the states to decide whether abortion is legal or not. And some states are really um strict about what they think would be illegal around abortion. So funding people to get an abortion, which what a charity might do, they might not perform the abortion, but they might provide funding and sometimes it’s just funding to their own employees to be able to access abortion in a state that allows it Um that can be illegal under state law as well. So now how does the fight, you know, that affect the 501 status

[00:24:09.39] spk_0:
even just funding an employee making an employee benefit? I

[00:24:39.22] spk_1:
think a law firm in texas, this varies amongst different states. tony so texas is one that’s been um pretty tough and in my opinion just terrible about um the laws that they’ve used and some of these laws go back decades. They’re they’re old laws that they were ruled unconstitutional before, but now after the Dobbs decision there sprung back into life. Um and so yeah, even funding employees to be able to access abortion clinics in other states could be illegal under those states. And

[00:25:50.42] spk_2:
yeah, after jobs, you know, there was like this wave of companies, especially for profit companies, but I’m sure nonprofits did it too, you know, saying like trying to I think in the spirit of of making clear their values, but clearly not thinking about the practicalities, You know, making these announcements, we will always fund our staff having access to this health care. You know, even if you have to travel or whatever. But like to to jean’s point the that isn’t very straightforward. It could if it’s known explicitly that that’s what you’re funding. It could be illegal if you’re an organization in texas, but also it requires disclosure that’s already making vulnerable a vulnerable staff person write a reimbursement which a number of folks we’ve seen say policies for reimbursement of travel. Well now there’s like a paper trail of where you went and and how much it cost and you know, like instead thinking about policies that say there may be harder things happening. We’re increasing your health benefit by this, you know, percentage of dollars just in, you know, like we have to think about the actual users here and not just the value statement where we think we’re making as an organization, you know,

[00:27:23.63] spk_0:
interesting point too about the paper trail because uh, texas again is one state where people who aid in a bet abortion can be can be sued, I think right? Or it could be right, It could be sued. So, so if there’s that paper trail that Amy’s talking about that mentions where the person went and maybe what relative may have helped them or you know that those those documents that that evidence could all be used when if if somebody nefarious inside the organization wants to wants to get some people in trouble. You know that that evidence could all be used against them. Yeah. All right. Well yeah I know well intentioned but maybe not so well thought out. But it’s it’s hard when when something so so disastrous happens. You know people want to rush to the aid like you know just like individuals who give to tsunami victims and hurricanes. You know like employers and C. E. O. S. Want to rush to the aid of their employees when they feel that there’s a uh something grievous happening to them potentially. It’s hard

[00:29:12.60] spk_1:
and I want to say we haven’t heard the last on this. These laws are going to be changed and challenged for years but right now we’re not in a very good place but wrapping it back into a five oh one C. Three package um Can the I. R. S. Take away your tax exemption because you do some of these things and then we get back to your, well is it an activity that’s illegal or is it really illegal? And um my feeling is that the I. R. S. Is not going to judge on the violation of state law unless the state has actually made that determination by a court ruling. So you can’t you might be able to pursue somebody and say well you know they violated the state law but if there’s no court ruling that says that the I. R. S. Is not an arbitrary of whether somebody has broken state law or not. So they will not take away five oh one C. Three status for just a complaint that somebody is violating these rules even though actually that might be the case. Um And nobody is not you know admitting that that’s not true. But the I. R. S. Is probably gonna want to lay low on the whole abortion topic is my feeling about it. But the illegality doctrine and there’s a similar doctrine called the public policy doctrine which was first introduced for racially discrimination which was federally allowed right And bob jones University used that as you know admission criteria or other sort of policy criteria. The I. R. S. Said no we’re going to take away your tax exemption for that even though it wasn’t inconsistent with law but it broke federal public policy. So there’s a related doctrine illegality that’s a sort of violation of public policy. But these are all things that charities just start to need to know and think about because one day it may pop up right in their neighborhood and they’ll be thinking about maybe we should have advocated a little bit harder in advance of that and try to make a difference,

[00:32:10.21] spk_0:
interesting. Um Contrast between the two examples we’re talking about cannabis having been illegal all along and now slowly becoming legal and abortion. Having been legal for the past 50 years now slowly becoming illegal. All right jean. Thank you very much. Love it. It’s time for Tony’s take to taking your new year. Welcome to your new year. I am always optimistic at the beginning of a new year. I cannot help it. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a pandemic or an economic recession in 2009. I’m always optimistic at the beginning of a new year. It’s in my d. n. a. So it’s a year of opportunity. If 2023 was terrific for you and I’m talking personally and professionally, if it was a bountiful year, it was a successful year for you. However, you define that. Congratulations. I’m very happy for you. I’m glad that your 2022 was what you wanted it to be outstanding. If you’re 2022 wasn’t if it was something less than you would have liked again, personally and professionally, Don’t let that hold you back for the new year. Your past doesn’t define your future. Your 2022 doesn’t constrain what you can do in 2023, literally each day, week month, you’ve got the whole year of opportunities, new chances to excel. So don’t let the past hold you back. If your last year wasn’t up to what you would like it to have been. You’ve got a whole new year of opportunities. Welcome to your 2023. Take it in embrace it. That is Tony’s take two. We’ve got boo koo, but loads more time for gene and Amy’s 2023 outlook with Gene and Amy Amy twitter. What the hell?

[00:32:12.79] spk_2:
What

[00:32:32.70] spk_0:
the hell? Yeah. Well immoral, immoral and unethical. To begin with the new ceo Elon musk. But uh, what the hell do we do with our, with our twitter accounts and we all three of us here have won. Nearly every nonprofit let’s assume has won. What we, we sort of have a sense of the landscape. What what, what’s your advice?

[00:33:24.47] spk_2:
I think to, to sum up my feelings. I would say like down with twitter and long live the internet. But what that means to me is a lot longer. You know, I think The decision about whether your organization should use Twitter or not is the same today as it has been every day since 2007 or whatever when I launched right? Like there’s always been, I think the need to consider if a tool you’re using that is not yours, you don’t get to own it. It is always permanently gonna be someone else’s tool, right? You’re just a visitor there. If it’s values match your expectations. If the community is there like all those same questions that we’ve talked about for years

[00:33:28.67] spk_0:
are still the same

[00:35:56.59] spk_2:
questions, you know, But I think what happens is organizations hopefully do ask those questions when they join something and then it’s like a closed discussion. And what I would love to see is that organizations re ask those questions every day on these platforms, right? Um, I would love to say the conversation isn’t about Elon musk because I would like to never have a conversation about. However, he’s really making the conversation about him by taking up a lot of the space and making the decisions right? Um, even today suspending the account that was like a bot that just posted when his jet went places and now that’s been suspended. You know, it’s like, okay, there’s just so much going on there. The issue to me isn’t, what has Elon tweeted or what has he done and more? Is it a platform that has the capacity to be safe for your users in your organization? Well not if every single member of those safety teams has been fired. Right. Um, is it a platform that’s going to be reliable because maybe you’re using it to communicate in real time situations, updates, et cetera? Maybe not When the again teams that support the reliability and uptime of the tool have been fired. So if it is meeting your needs, if your community is still really active there, if it feels like it’s a good fit, I’m not gonna say empirically, there’s only one answer to using any tool. Is it a tool that intent is using anymore? No, it doesn’t meet either the reliability or the values piece that we expect. We’ve seen tons of community members. Um, board members organizations, you know, post their last tweet and some of them, it’s like a very sad goodbye. And for others, it’s find me on linkedin, here’s, here’s my profile, right? Um, and for others, the last tweet didn’t even know that it was the last tweet. It just was the last tweet and then there weren’t, weren’t anymore, You know, it wasn’t a sign off, it just kind of ended. Um, but I’ll say all that and pause and then and and hear your thoughts.

[00:36:38.40] spk_0:
So what, you know, the concerns about safety reliability, these teams having been fired. Um, what about just taking a wait and see what might replace them? I mean, it’s still, we still are now january while we’re like two months into his 2.5 months or so into his ownership. Um, Should we, should we wait? Well, and I should say we’re recording in mid december. So it may not even, it may emerge by the time this comes out in early january. Um, should we, should we wait and see what

[00:37:59.71] spk_2:
was, I think something to think about is that there is no clear timeline for what wait and see means there, there has not been a, we’ve fired all of these teams that provide the reliability of the tool and the safety of the tool or at least the illusion of safety of the tool. Um, and we’ll be hiring for those teams on x date, that’s not been the process, right? So, um, that’s not to say posting your last tweet includes deactivating your account and leaving and everything right. It could just be Maybe you stop using it. Um it could be like in 10 has done, we don’t put money into the tool so we don’t buy ads, we don’t promote things right? So we’re not investing in what it is and the accounts open, we still have a notification set so that if a community member chooses to like tweet at us and say hey how come I can’t find this about the conference, we still see it and could provide that customer service, right? Um but it’s not a place that we are spending our time spending our dollars spending our energy even if you could still find the antenna count right? Um And I think that’s a place that for us feels like we haven’t walked away from the community or whatever parts of the community are still on the platform but we have made clear our stance is that this is not a place that feels worthy of that investment right?

[00:38:20.11] spk_0:
What have you done personally with at Amy R. S. Ward?

[00:40:22.50] spk_2:
I already used twitter so inconsistently like there’s one day where I just see five things and I’m like like in everybody’s tweets and replying to people and then I like accidentally go five weeks without tweeting just because I you know I wasn’t I wasn’t logged in or I wasn’t looking at things. Um I don’t know that I have tweeted recently, I don’t have, I don’t have even in my tab purgatory of my two screens, I do not have twitter open anywhere um I think the place, it’s really interesting. The place that twitter started out for me is kind of where it has returned to of very hyperlocal like there’s so many Portland’s folks that I don’t otherwise see because I never leave my house or you know they don’t work in nonprofit text so I wouldn’t otherwise connect with them but there I could still see them on twitter, I think that’s a place where it started out and I still want to know what the replacement is. Of course I’ve had lots of calm conversations with folks who are like well where should we go and we can talk about that but I also would encourage organizations to remember that you probably are already in more places than just twitter. You know, you probably do already have a linkedin page or if not pretty easy because your employees probably have linkedin profiles and you know, set up some space there um and most importantly, out of all of this again, you and I have talked about this but I really want to make clear in the midst of this kind of twitter, what is social media anymore conversation that you never owned any of that data, you never owned those pages, you never own those profiles, you never got to control them, you do control your website, you do control your email list, make sure that you are building up that list. That you are communicating with people directly in channels that you can directly um, message to because that’s no matter what happens, twitter returns and is a place of Utopia, you still won’t own it, right. And you will own your list and you will own your website and making sure that you’re, you’re really thinking about spending your time and money and staff time in those places. That’s

[00:40:52.33] spk_0:
really valuable. Basic but valuable reminder to cherish and build on what, what you do own your your site, your list. Yeah,

[00:41:01.38] spk_1:
I think there’s, you know, some difficult equity considerations in in twitter’s value um as well. So beyond what the owner who is also the only board member, uh,

[00:41:09.93] spk_2:
that’s the best practice, Right?

[00:42:24.32] spk_1:
Uh, so beyond beyond him, uh, there’s the consideration of, well, where are the folks you are serving? Where are they at? Is there a virtual town square where they’re at? Because many, maybe on twitter and they may still be there and for you to give them messaging, that might still be important. So I’m not, I’m still on twitter and conflicted about it, but I don’t want to be judgmental about charities that decide to stay on twitter because that may be still a really important way for them to reach out to their audiences. Um and for the audiences, I don’t want to be judgmental of them either because there are a lot of people who are not privileged to be able to access a lot of other technology and other platforms. They might, you know, find twitter super easy and you know that’s what they have and I’m not yet willing to say we’re just going to leave twitter to become this, you know, white heterosexual male dominated platform and Ellen and his bros can do whatever they want with that without any pushback from other perspectives there,

[00:44:15.41] spk_2:
I hope Tony Let’s make a 2023 resolution that gene and I get to do more shows together um because it brings up such a good just hearing you share that Gina and I agree with everything. Um as always let the record reflect, I always agree with Jean and I am always doing legal activity. Um is, is the version of this from a few years ago about facebook, right. And there’s some really unique and important differences between the twitter options available just like because of how the platform works versus facebook, you know, twitter is public by default. You don’t have to have a twitter account to go see what an organization had been tweeting about. Here’s some information right versus facebook which is very like within the world of facebook um the data trail that that creates is very different right? Organizations could say despite the hellscape we’re staying in twitter and we are to loop back to the previous conversation, um, an abortion fund and we are going to make sure that we are sharing information. No one has to interact. No one has to like ask us for it. But we’re putting this information out right in a place where people maybe find it in a search on facebook doing that or saying here’s our upcoming fundraiser to raise funds for abortion funds. Everyone who RSVPs for that event and has a texas address, has just created a data trail that is likely very problematic for them, Right? And the organization maybe didn’t even understand that’s what is happening, Right? So they are very different platforms, very different ethical dilemmas for sure. Um, but but what they mean for you as an organization staying there and what kinds of compromises you might be creating for already vulnerable communities are very different because they are just very different platforms, right? That operate differently.

[00:45:09.04] spk_0:
If we if we should decide to go elsewhere. Uh, let’s let’s talk about And you well, you mentioned, you may want to put on twitter that you can now find us on, we’re gonna talk about mastodon and uh, there’s another one post. Um, but you may want to just alert folks that your activity has moved, you know, over or or like you said, find us on linkedin or you know, we’re very we’re still very active on facebook. You know, instagram maybe, you know, maybe our channel. You know, whatever you want to I think you want to let folks know what you’ve decided without just disappearing. Mm

[00:45:14.16] spk_2:
hmm

[00:45:14.93] spk_0:
And

[00:45:16.37] spk_2:
like you probably should have those links on your website. So have updating your bio to say,

[00:45:22.54] spk_0:
you

[00:45:54.15] spk_2:
know, visit our website and find the channel that works for you or something. You know, you don’t have to um, you don’t have to write that farewell letter As in last tweet with every link to every site. Right? But making sure that you do think about what a user is going to see if they do try to look you up and have the bio be updated or whatever. Um there there are a lot of folks talking about mastered on host, these other platforms. I’m, I have accounts on them. You are welcome to find me. I’m not posting a bunch there or anything but you know me, I like to just see how tools developed. So I’ve had accounts on both of those and um,

[00:46:06.02] spk_0:
you’re more, you’re more altruistic than I am. You like to see how the, how the, how the platform develops. I just want to grab the name tony-martignetti

[00:46:15.28] spk_2:
before for

[00:46:22.96] spk_0:
somebody else who’s been on my show. I’ve had tony-martignetti other, another tony-martignetti on my show. Um, he never had me on his show come to think of it.

[00:46:25.18] spk_2:
Well there is as of today no other amy sample ward. So there’s only 1 20

[00:46:31.88] spk_0:
but but I’m not posting, but I wanted to grab the grab the real estate but I did it for more selfish reasons you

[00:46:38.05] spk_2:
did altruistic.

[00:46:39.81] spk_0:
I

[00:49:20.47] spk_2:
mean I think that um as is true with a lot of social media platforms that have been uh financed by and developed by the privileged communities of tech development, that’s who’s mostly on those platforms already right? Even though they’re very different mastodon is, you know, kind of like what’s the open source values, whatever. I haven’t seen a lot of that and and post trying to be more about like what are you really thinking and like content focused mostly screenshots of tweets so it feels a little um, a little, a little bit of whiplash but I wouldn’t say that it’s bad if you are like tony and you were like, but there’s so many organizations with our acronym like we want the the handle go for it but don’t go fill the account with content as if you are present there, just just sit on the handle, you know, because once you have a complete profile, Well now it looks like you are trying to post there and people don’t know how to interact right, just hold, it reserve it in your name, put the password in last past, you know, but but don’t, don’t um like I’ve always said and 10 doesn’t have an account on these platforms even though I just said that I do and a number of staff do because you aren’t going to use individual first platform as an organization. Well, if you haven’t been an individual first um, to actually know how it works. What’s the ins and outs of this tool? What are the norms? Um, mastodon works a little bit differently than folks may have experienced um, where you are in order to even create an account, you have to pick kind of what, what server you want to be associated with that changes what name it changes your default kind of news feed. Um, so there are a lot of things that you aren’t going to know out of the box for your organizational profile, you’re gonna need to play with it. And they’re, all these tools are developing a lot faster as they see hundreds of thousands of new users, you know. Um and I think again, back to the values point, they are also experiencing the challenges of lots of users write posts. Said that it only took six days before they had to take swastikas down. So what is it, what are the, what are the platforms doing, what are the values there? How are they moderating or managing content safety users before you say, oh yeah, let’s have our organization profile there.

[00:50:14.09] spk_0:
I did see uh a nonprofit power user and and very popular person, of course Beth Kanter, uh she’s active on mastodon. She didn’t just, she didn’t just take an account, but she’s actively moved there. Um, posting lists of other nonprofit folks to to follow that, you know, that she follows, so that another, another drop another name, J Frost, I see he’s there. Um so I mean that’s just, that’s just two people uh but beth in particular happens to have many hundreds of thousands of followers or had on on twitter. Um so it’s, it’s pretty monumental decision to believe that kind of um that kind of largeness and, and go to something where you know, you’re now, you now you now have zero followers on on day on day one. So that’s a significant decision. Um so I’ve seen and there’s some other folks too, but those, those, those are the ones that come to mind that, that have made the move there and and are active and actively encouraging others to

[00:50:38.88] spk_2:
come,

[00:50:41.86] spk_0:
you

[00:50:42.71] spk_2:
know, and I, and I think not to put Gene on the spot, I know this isn’t what you were prepared to talk about, but

[00:50:49.29] spk_0:
I

[00:51:51.18] spk_2:
think we saw this with facebook and you know, facebook had its own rules about how they would kind of pursue this. But these new, these new platforms will have to have their rules too. And that is organizations who don’t necessarily have a registered trademark but are very clearly like the United Way of Portland or something, you know, and then somebody went on there and created that account already, right? And is trying to sit on it, twitter has experienced, you know, people sitting on the accounts and then um people needing to have access to them and saying that’s actually my name or my organization’s name or you know people that sit on the U. R. L. S. Of like World War three. Oh now there is one, we need that U. R. L. You know whatever um so that that will there there will have to be a course whatever that course maybe for resolution on that. I also I just don’t want people leaving the conversation feeling like they need to spend the next two hours finding these platforms requesting an account and trying to sit on their organization’s name themselves. Like if you want to you can but don’t feel that’s not the takeaway here.

[00:51:56.72] spk_0:
Yeah, don’t do it, don’t do what tony-martignetti did or

[00:51:59.98] spk_2:
just don’t feel obligated that you have

[00:52:01.69] spk_0:
to,

[00:52:03.61] spk_1:
I’m sitting on a post account tony and I’m active on mastodon uh as well. So yeah I I think it’s going to be a tricky thing but for organizations, if you do find somebody using your name, you may want to bring it up and challenge that you talk to a lawyer about that, especially if they’re putting anything in that misrepresents your organization, if they’re acting like they’re spoofing your organization and putting out some content that’s not true or bad for you, make sure you put a stop to that

[00:52:34.39] spk_0:
I guess there are people who would do that and just hope to make some money at it Like

[00:52:40.35] spk_2:
there’s definitely money to be made. You

[00:52:44.04] spk_0:
know, if I get the ford motor company or Tesla or something, you know, I’ll be happy to sell it to you for $150,000 or well a million and a half seems to be my price. So

[00:53:08.96] spk_2:
I mean we see that with U. R. L. S already right. People just buy lots of U. R. L. S. Waiting for somebody to create a product called like the or uh, the oreo slushy. Great. Now we invented it. We need to buy that U. R. L. From you, you know? All

[00:53:09.20] spk_0:
right.

[00:53:10.19] spk_2:
We’re all in the wrong business. Let’s just go buy a bunch of

[00:53:29.93] spk_0:
alright, um, amy anything more? We should talk about mastodon. Oh, I did want to just clarify for folks because you mentioned mastodon, you have to select a server. It’s really just to me it’s a community. sure, but there are only about 10 of them. It’s not like there’s a knitting community and a and a rock climbing and a soccer, you know, it’s not like that. Not yet. But I don’t

[00:53:39.52] spk_2:
want to use the word community and have folks get to that first page and see the word server and have no idea where the word, you know, But yes, you’re right. You are, you’re kind of choosing the space. That’s your entry point into the world of mastodon

[00:53:57.09] spk_0:
And there is one with a social good label to it. So Beth Kanter is at Beth Kanter dot Social Good something.

[00:54:03.76] spk_2:
It’s

[00:54:04.20] spk_0:
like you said it it affects your

[00:54:06.10] spk_2:
your name

[00:54:06.92] spk_0:
affects your screen name, your your handle your I. D. Yeah.

[00:54:57.74] spk_2:
Um I the only last thing that I’ll add in our final minutes here is a very long time ago, people have been like O G listeners um you know, we used to say, well how would you know what social channels your users are on And you know, we’ve talked about having in your own website for your user profiles or in donation uh forms wherever you might be getting feedback from folks now that they have to put their U R. L. In, but just a checkbox like Oh yeah, we do. You I have a facebook account, an instagram account and whatever, you know, whatever it might be. Um make this is an opportunity to go check those lists and say maybe we should add mastodon on or maybe we should add post or we should update what options were actually providing. So so that you could notice, oh, there are a lot more people now here. Maybe it’s worth us looking at that platform. Right. So if you’re doing some year end data cleaning, look at your at your profile forms or your feedback forms where you might say, what tool, you know, what are their channels are you on and add some more of these newer tools.

[00:55:20.84] spk_0:
Amy sample ward Ceo of N 10 for the time being. She’s at

[00:55:26.18] spk_2:
they

[00:55:45.50] spk_0:
are at amy R. S Ward and Gene Takagi, principal attorney at the neo nonprofit and exempt organizations law group for the time being at g tech, but also you’ll find him on mastodon and post amy. Thank you jean, thank you very much.

[00:55:47.74] spk_2:
Thanks so much. tony I really do want to do shows together with jean.

[00:55:51.47] spk_0:
No, I concur yes, that’s uh that’s a good idea. Well let’s make sure we do another couple of these this year.

[00:55:57.73] spk_2:
Perfect,

[00:56:27.95] spk_0:
alright and again, happy new year. Next week. Erica mills Barnhart on common communications conundrums. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff shows social media, is by Susan Chavez. Marc Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott stein, Thank you for that. Affirmation Scotty B with me next week for nonprofit radio big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. Go out and be great.