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Nonprofit Radio for August 19, 2011: Explaining Earned Income and Leading the Leaders: Motivate Your Board to Fundraise

Big Nonprofit Ideas for the Other 95%

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Tony’s Guests:

Gene Takagi and Emily Chan
Gene Takagi & Emily Chan: Explaining Earned Income

Our legal contributors, Gene Takagi and Emily Chan of the Nonprofit & Exempt Organizations Law Group, break down what earned income is. Why it can be good. Why it can be bad. Why you need to understand it to keep your office out of trouble.



Kerry Kruckel Gibbs
Andy Robinson
Andy Robinson & Kerry Kruckel: Leading the Leaders: Motivate Your Board to Fundraise

From the Fund Raising Day conference in New York City, consultant Andy Robinson and Kerry Kruckel, Vice President for Development and Communications at WNET TV, reveal how to move your board to be the best fundraisers they can be.


Here is the podcast: 055: Explaining Earned Income & Leading the Leaders: Motivate Your Board to Fundraise

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Welcome to tony martignetti non-profit radio. We’re always talking about big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent. I’m your aptly named host. I hope you were with me last week for got women donors from the fund-raising day conference in new york city last june, we talked about successful initiatives to expand your female donor base through targeted and appropriate cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. My guests were michelle walsh from the us fund for unicef and travis fraser from united way of new york city. Then it was linked in for prospect research. Our new regular contributor, maria simple, the prospect finder, was with me to share strategies for using linked in to find people and organizations who could be your board members, volunteers and donors. This week we are explaining earned income. Our legal contributors jean takagi and emily chan breakdown. What earned income is why it can be good. Why it can be bad. Why you need to understand it to protect your non-profit and keep it out of trouble. Then it will be leading the leader’s. Motivate your board to fundraise pre recorded at that fund-raising day conference in june consultant andy robinson and carry kruckel, vice president for development and communications at w any tv public tv in new york city reveal how to move your board to be the best fundraisers they khun b on tony’s, take two from my blog’s, say what’s on your mind. I learned a lesson about better communication from somebody who sat next to me on an airplane this past weekend, and that is tony’s. Take two at roughly thirty two minutes after the hour we’re live, tweeting today, use the hashtag non-profit radio to join the conversation on twitter. We take a break, and when we return, i’ll be joined by jean takagi and emily chan to explain earned income. Stay with me. Dafs you’re listening to the talking alternative network. Are you suffering from aches and pains? Has traditional medicine let you down? Are you tired of taking toxic medications, then come to the double diamond wellness center and learn how our natural methods can help you to hell? Call us now at to one to seven to one eight, one eight three that’s to one to seven to one eight one eight three or find us on the web at www dot double diamond wellness dot com way. Look forward to serving you. Is your marriage in trouble? Are you considering divorce? Hello, i’m lawrence bloom, a family law attorney in new york and new jersey. No one is happier than the day their divorce is final. My firm can help you. We take the nasty out of the divorce process and make people happy. Police call a set to one, two, nine six four three five zero two for a free consultation. That’s lawrence h bloom two, one two, nine, six, four, three five zero two. We make people happy. Bilich hey, are you crazy listeners looking to boost your business? Why not advertise on talking alternative with very reasonable rates? Interested simply email at info at talking alternative dot com lively conversation top trends, sound advice, that’s, tony martignetti non-profit radio and i’m samantha cohen from the american civil liberties union. Welcome back to the show and thank you, samantha cohen. Jean takagi is principal of ennio neo non-profit exempt organizations law group in san francisco. He edits the popular non-profit law blawg, which you’ll find at non-profit law blogged dot com. Emily chan is an attorney at neo-sage principal contributor to the non-profit law blawg. They’re both joining me to talk about earned income. Jean emily, welcome to the show. Thank you, tony. Pleasure to have you back. Jean earned income. It can be good. It can be bad. What are we talking about? Well, when we’re talking about her dinkum, we’re talking about income that said, made by non-profits that’s not true. Donations through grants through charging fees, usually for services. Good. Jean, let me let me interrupt you for a moment. Could you talk a little louder? Jane is better. Yeah, that is better if you can keep up that. Thanks. Great. So earned income is about making income from services or goods or other assets that the non-profit may have to sell. And it’s not just asking for donations or grant on it’s. A way to diversify a non-profits revenue sources. Which is a good thing. Especially in times when other revenue sources from donations and grants maybe somewhat precarious because of the economy ah, and it helped to create a self sustaining program of the non-profit another really good thing in a way for non-profits toe leverage, goodwill and other ass. Yep. Okay, so this is income aside from your fund-raising a cz you said sale of goods or services there, there there there’s a lot of earned income out there, isn’t there? Jane? Absolutely. I believe emily sighted in in a recent block post that about seventy percent of the income reported by non-profits is actually derived from earned income sources and not fund-raising okay, so the majority of the of the income all right, and emily this khun b, that could be a downsides and non-profits too, right? Yes, there are to mean reasons why non-profits should be aware of this concept of unrelated business income because first thurs attacks that the irs imposes on income coming from unrelated business activities and second for public charities there’s a requirement that the organization be operated primarily for exempt purposes. So if there is too much unrelated business activity happening, that can actually jeopardize the status. Of the organization. Okay. Jargon jail have to getyou for unrelated business income. Unrelated to what? Let’s, break this down. Yes, on that really? The key concept here. So within earned income there could be activities that are considered related to the exam purposes for which the organization was formed. And then there can also be activities that are considered unrelated to be exact purpose of the organization. Three irs defines this three part of a trader business that’s regularly carried on that’s not substantially related to furthering the except purpose. So really, it gives the definition for unrelated business and that’s kind of how we see which activities are considered related or whether they’re considered unrelated. Okay, so i think the key phrase there is substantially related. Gene what? How does the organization decide whether it’s earned income is or is not substantially related to its a charitable mission? It’s definitely a fact specific inquiry, tony. The general idea is that related business advances the organization’s charitable mission without considering where the profits go. It’s the activities himself that contribute, importantly toe advancing the mission. So even if there was no money generated from that activity, the charity would think that running that business is a good idea because it helps again further, the mission furthers, uh, the interests of the charitable class of individuals trying trying to help no unrelated business is one where the activities really have nothing to do with advancing the mission, but they’re carried out to generate revenues that will be used later to advance the mission and it’s that’s unrelated business that could be subject to the unrelated business income tax and that can get a charity in trouble if it’s engaged in a substantial amount of of that type of unrelated business activity. Okay? And you you draw and a n’importe distinction. I think, between the activity that creates this earned income and the place to where that money goes once it comes into the organization, we’re interested in the former, right? Exactly. So for this analysis, we don’t get her where the money goes. We’re just looking at the activities himself, okay? Yeah, go ahead. Sometimes very difficult to tell. Tony, for example, does selling clothes or other retail items really further a charitable mission. And, you know, on one side, you might say, well, it looks like a department store. It looks like a boutique, but it can for their mission if, like, goodwill, the operation of the business provides education, job training and work experience for disadvantaged class of individuals so it can be very fact specific, and we’d look at all the facts and circumstances to determine whether it’s related or not. Okay, and we have just a minute before the break. So so the activity that we’re interested in is the activity that generates the revenue the income let’s call keep put consistent generates income, and you’re comparing that to the tax exempt purpose, which would be the charitable mission. And that’s, how you’re determining whether the income is related or unrelated? Why am i explaining this? Right? That’s? Exactly. Right. Okay, cool. All right, so we’ll take a break, and when we come back, emily and jean will stay with us. We’ll talk a little bit more about how to determine where, where this related or versus unrelated income fits. And what happens if it turns out to be unrelated. Which sounds ominous. This is tony martignetti non-profit radio stay with us. E-giving attempting to getting thinking. You’re listening to the talking alternate network. Get him. Good. Duitz are you stuck in your business or career trying to take your business to the next level, and it keeps hitting a wall? This is sam liebowitz, the conscious consultant. I will help you get to the root cause of your abundance issues and help move you forward in your life. Call me now and let’s. Create the future you dream of. 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For more information, contact me at monte m o nt y at r l j media. Dot com talking alternative radio twenty four hours a day. Schnoll welcome back, we’re with jean takagi and emily chan explaining earned income. So, emily, maybe we could talk about a couple of other, maybe just fact situations where i guess the irs has determined or, you know, or some court has determined that that something was definitely related or unrelated income. Can you give another example, besides the one that gene had with the goodwill? Sure, another common example is with museums that generally have this charitable and educational purpose, but they also generate income through activities like a gift shop or having a cafe. So now we’re looking at the specific activities, and the irs doesn’t a kind of a broad stroke with activities it’s going to look at each activity and even within that activity kind of separate parts. So starting first with the gift shop, i’m emily, before you go further, can you can you speak a little louder? Force? Thank you better. Yeah, it is better, thank you within a museum, gift shop, museum, maybe selling items that i’m advanced charitable and educational purposes, for example, their reputations of the art that’s displayed on other items like that, but they also may be selling things like seven years to the city for which is located, which really is not going to be considered substantially related to charitable and educational purpose at the museum. In that case, the irs look att each item, maybe even and determine whether that’s related or unrelated, and so it can get quite nuanced if we done looked to the cafe. Now we’re talking about some of the activities where the irs also make exceptions. So some cafes in a museum may be considered related if they fall under the exception of being there for the convenience of the members and the patrons who come into the museum. But then, if we’re looking at a cafe that open to the public that list, they have the street entrance. Now it’s starting to look like a commercial cafe for-profit cafe, in which case we are arrest may come in and say, this is unrelated income, and now the museum has to be concerned about the two issues we raised earlier of pre-tax or possibly okay, that’s really interesting. So so within this category of earned income, some of it can be related and some of it unrelated, and then the non-profit has to. Account for those separately, like within the same cafe or the same museum store? Yes, on so this is. And another misconception that comes up is not an activity itself, such as running a cafe can actually generate both unrelated and relieving income. I’m so again, and she noted it’s just very fact specific and the na me but they’re not the museum when it reports it’s income in its annual information returned to the irs got toe actually list out every item that generates related versus unrelated business income so it would have to say, well, we we sold some t shirts and mugs of the city city souvenirs. This generated this much income that would be subject attacks. We thought this many art prints and books on art which would be related and not subject to that attack. Yes. Ok, so they do have to account separately for all these different categories of related versus unrelated. Wow. Okay, so is that so it’s fragmented? I mean, they’re the income is fragmented and that’s exactly what the irs calls that they call it the fragmentation rule. Okay. And let’s talk a little more. Jean about the consequence of of unrelated, it earned income. It’s, you and emily both mentioned the unrelated business income tax is that what gets applied to unrelated income? Exactly, and the whole idea be behind the unrelated business income tax was to address the problem of unfair competition with for-profit businesses on dh back in the fifties, when when the law was first created, there were a bunch of large non-profits like universities buying for-profit businesses and not paying taxes when running them within the non-profits can imagine that a small business it could be very upset if this big non-profit competitors came in, didn’t have to pay tax and had this huge competitive advantage over the small business owners, plus the additional advantage of not paying property tax, et cetera, the other the other advantages, aside from not paying tax on the income right, exactly, exactly right. And so you could see how they would be this unfair competition if non-profits weren’t tacked on this unrelated business income, and there is a one thousand dollar general thresholds first, one thousand dollars sort of escape, but beyond that, then it’s considered substantial enoughto require that the non-profit file a special information return or tax return. Reporting it’s, unrelated business income tax and the income tax is a tax on the normal corporate tax rate that a corporation would have to file a for-profit business would have to file, which is generally somewhere between fifteen and thirty five percent rate. Okay, and there’s an additional return to report this beyond the nine, ninety it’s not just a schedule in the nine, ninety that you that you ah, that you file correct it’s a separate return called the form nine, ninety and just like the nine, ninety, it has to be publicly disclosed. Okay, tea for taxable. Maybe. I don’t know. Okay? Or tea for tony, i think it’s the nine. Ninety tony for i prefer that. Okay, so who should be making this call mean, does this this is definitely require an attorney? If you have this earned income that you know, outside you’re fund-raising income, you’re getting money for goods and or services? Does this have to be an attorney making the call as to whether it’s related or unrelated her candid account into it? Or or who? Offgrid i think it’s a mixture of individuals that really can help make this decision. I’m in one respect there really is a business decision that has to be made by the organization and its leaders, even if the organization is generating related income. I mean there’s questions about whether there’s capacity the resource to support it and weather engaging in these activities might even lead to something like mission creep, where the organization starts to move further and further away from the reason it was organized. I’m certainly having the help of experts can be incredibly useful for an organization as kind of our discussion is highlighting there’s so many nuances to this rule, and unfortunately, the irs doesn’t give kind of a straightforward, bright line threshold to say where you’ve crossed that line and now have based on certain consequences, such as getting your tax exempt status provoked. So i certainly think there are many people who could be useful durney i’m with jean takagi principle of the non-profit and exempt organizations law group in san francisco. Emily chan is an attorney in that firm. So emily, you just mentioned possible revocation of your tax exempt status. What? We haven’t gone that far yet. What? What is that about? So public charities when they first formed one of the requirements under the internal revenue code is not this organisation be primarily operated for the exempt purpose? The issue with unrelated business income is now is there’s too much unrelated business activity? The irs is now saying you’re no longer being primarily operated for related purposes. Unfortunately, though the iris has not said definitively at what point can you say now? We were engaged in substantial on really business activity many people ask for, like percentages or income amounts, but unfortunately, the irs hasn’t spoken on that. Many practitioners fall on the twenty percent rule of thumb of, um, the amount of generated income coming in, but sometimes being office may reap are looking at the amount of resource is the organization is actually dedicating unrelated business activity as opposed to how much income is generating let’s stop for one moment. So on emily, i have to remind you speak a little bit louder, please. So twenty percent you’re saying some practitioners use a twenty percent. What are we taking? Twenty percent of if that’s your if that’s the test, you’re using twenty percent of gross income from unrelated businesses, okay? And and some practitioners think that is a threshold for for what, when you have to report it or or what it’s a good rule of thumb common amount that many practitioners fallen for when the organisation should be concerned now that they may be e-giving into too much unrelated business activity in which consequences could be oh, i see. Ok, so there isn’t a bright line. There isn’t a bright line as to how much is too much. Some practitioners use twenty percent. I don’t there’s some practitioners who think as long as it’s not above forty nine percent that you’re okay, yes, but certainly arrange again because the irs hasn’t said exactly at what point they believe that the line is drawn and partially because the analysis is still back specific, it may just be difficult for the irs to say definitively across the board this is the one amount where every organization must follow-up right, i can jump in turn, please, you know the irs is really looking at all. The resource is being used by the non-profit that’s directed at the unrelated business. So if it’s, using ninety percent of its resource, is not to engage in charitable activities, but to engage in the unrelated business and the unrelated business is only generating ten percent of the total gross income. Well, that’s still probably too much unrelated business activity devoting ninety percent. You know of your resources towards it on dh. That could lead to revocation of exempt status even below that twenty percent rule of thumb. Because we’re really not just looking at the income, really looking out at how the organization is using its research. So on the sort of congress sight, if it was using only five percent of its resources and it was generating eighty percent of the growth income of the non-profit that may be okay really generated so much income is just so little resources are going towards that, and then the other ninety five percent are all going towards furthering its charitable purposes directly. So it’s it’s really more than just the percentages, but anything over twenty percent, i think emily cause that is a good rule of particularly for account that he may not be looking at the activity level, but looking at the numbers and saying, hey, you better talk to an attorney when you get to that level of income from unrelated business. Okay, interesting. So i just want to recap a little where we’re talking about earned income, which is different than your fund-raising income, but so it’s a part of your gross revenue apart from fund-raising income discerned income and then earned income could be either related or unrelated. And we’re talking about now the consequences of having too much of the income unrelated. And jean, you had said the threshold for reporting is a thousand dollars. Is that right? That’s? Right. Ok, so if you have over a thousand dollars of unrelated income that’s, when you have to file the nine ninety tony form nine ninety tony form that that’s, right? And i should add, actually sort of define what growth income means without trying to get into jargon jail here. Okay. Income for this purpose is means the gross receipts, less the cost of good souls. So, for example, if we had t shirts and we sold two thousand dollars worth of t shirts and the t shirts costs us twelve hundred dollars, how then are gross? Income is only eight hundred dollars, so we wouldn’t have to file the nine. Nineteen. Okay. Okay. Ah, are there? Are there exceptions to the so what’s could be unrelated business income, gene? Yeah, they’re they’re exceptions to the whole area, unrelated business income tax and whether it would apply and the common exceptions that that we talk about are the three basic ones. When is the volunteer exception? So if the unrelated business is carried on by all volunteers, that will be an exception, and those activities will not generate income that’s subject to that unrelated business income tax. The other one emily mentioned is when activities unrelated business activities are carried on for the convenience of members or patients or students, and that might be like a hospital, gift store or bookstore in in a and the university or the example that emily brought up a cafe inside a museum that serving just the museum patrons. That’s called the convenience exception and is another exception where you don’t get charged with that unrelated business income tax. And the third exception that’s often cited is the donated good exceptions and that’s when you run an unrelated business like a thrift store. But all of the goods inside the thrift store were donated so similar to again the goodwill model. In some cases and and other thrift stores that are run by non-profits it’s a business and it’s unrelated but it’s all donated goods so they don’t have to pay the unrelated business income tax there’s one more modification we call separate from these three basic exceptions that everybody should know about and that’s the passive income modifications. So if you’re generating a lot of income from interest and dividends and red ilsen royalties but it’s passive, you’re not doing any activities, teo, get that that income it was just based on investments that will not be subject to the unrelated business income kapin but it gets so complicated that they’re exceptions on exceptions and exceptions, those exceptions? Yeah, no kidding, especially. I’m sure about the passive income when you start getting two rents and especially ranson and there’s prints on commercial property. Okay, let’s, not go that far. But i am interested in the volunteers that first exception volunteers doing all the work. So? So if you had any employees like in a thrift shop supervising volunteers, then then you wouldn’t qualify for that exception. Is that right, jean? It would be we would look at it from a substantiality points. So it’s substantially, all of the workers were volunteers. Then we’ll get that exception. You may still have a back person sort of supervising all the volunteers, and that could still work out. Ok, ok. And emily, the donated goods that does that exception have to be one hundred percent? Or is that also? Ah, substantiality test there for that exception, we’re looking again at it reality. So with many thrift shops, we see this happening. But certainly, if there’s a combination of exceptions to the unrelated business income roll and then there’s one or i think school that are considered unrelated. Then again, the fragmentation role, as we talked about earlier is going to be triggered on the organization is going to need thio mark each category. Make sure it accounts for that. Okay? Fragmentation, substantiality unrelated business income in the nine ninety tony form jean is there anything we want to wrap up with? We have just a minute left. Anything we haven’t said about earned income that you think small and midsize non-profits should know well, apart from the whole related and unrelated part, that big driving force behind designing to engage and earned income ventures is deciding whether you really got the capacity to do it, and it makes sense it’s compatible with your mission. You’ve got the right assets that are worth selling probably want to pick the low hanging fruit first do stuff that you’re already good at because you don’t want to surprise your staff with managing a totally unknown entity and unknown venture on distracting them from from doing the mission and want to get involved too. As he plan about that, you need to know the laws and risks involved. Whether you’re selling goods, maybe sales tax are involved, you may have new employment issues and intellectual property issues, social media issues, licenses, permits, insurance and all of those things. So getting some experts to help you making sure you have the capacity to do it ahead of time. Those those are my best tips for you jean takagi and emily chan gene is a principle of neo the non-profit exempt organizations law group in san francisco. He edits the non-profit non-profit law blogged at non-profit law blogged dot com emily chan is an attorney at neo-sage principal contributor to that blogged emily gene, thank you very much for being on, we look forward to hearing talking to you again next month. We look forward to it as well, tony. Thank you, real pleasure. Thank you. We take a break, and after the break, tony’s take two and then leading the leader’s motivate your board to fundraise, so stay with me. Dafs you’re listening to the talking alternative network. Are you feeling overwhelmed in the current chaos of our changing times? A deeper understanding of authentic astrology can uncover solutions in every area of life. After all, metaphysics is just quantum physics politically expressed. I am montgomery taylor, and i offer lectures, seminars and private consultations. For more information, contact me at monte m o nt y at r l j media. Dot com are you concerned about the future of your business for career? Would you like it all to just be better? Well, the way to do that is to better communication, and the best way to do that is training from the team at improving communications. This is larry sharp, host of the ivory tower radio program and director at improving communications. Does your office needs better leadership, customer service sales, or maybe better writing, are speaking skills. Could they be better at dealing with confrontation conflicts, touchy subjects all are covered here at improving communications. If you’re in the new york city area, stop by one of our public classes, or get your human resource is in touch with us. Website is improving communications, dot com, that’s, improving communications, dot com, improve your professional environment, be more effective, be happier, and make more money improving communications, that’s the answer. Hey, all you crazy listeners looking to boost your business? Why not advertise on talking alternative with very reasonable rates? Interested simply email at info at talking alternative dot com. I’m leslie goldman with the us fund for unicef, and i’m casey rodder with us fun for unison. You’re listening to tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent. My block this week is, say, what’s on your mind and that’s the topic of tony’s take two on an airplane just this past weekend from chicago to new york. I was with a girl who was just very forward about saying things that that a lot of us would filter. So there was there was she’s, twenty four years old, elisa, and it was clearly, you know, some disorder that just made her say what was on her mind just as i entered the just entering the row to sit down, she asked me what’s your name, how old are you? Are you married? So, you know, that’s got me thinking, you know, she was very charming and sweet and at the same time, you know, unashamed, um and it just got me thinking, you know, they’re there we censor ourselves a lot, and we suppress things that maybe sometimes appropriately suppressed i mean, we can’t all be saying all the things we’re thinking with we’d all be without jobs without friends, but some things i think way sensor maybe should be said and and ah, not avoided just because they might be very sweet or, you know, unmanly. If you’re a guy or maybe because they might be, um, you know, a sign of weakness, so i just raised my consciousness about censoring myself and saying more things that i’m thinking and letting people be more aware of what my thoughts are in the right circumstances. And so i thought that might be a benefit to you because so much of our work is relationships in our inn. Non-profits so that’s say what’s on your mind, it’s on my block, which is that m p g a d v dot com and that is tony’s take two for friday, august nineteenth. We’re now going to move to leading the leader’s motivate your board to fundraise. This was pre recorded at fund-raising day in new york city this past june, and here is that interview. Welcome to tony martignetti non-profit radio coverage of fund-raising day two thousand eleven were in new york city times square at the marriott marquis, and i’m joined now by andy robinson and carry kruckel andy is principal of andy robinson consulting. Carrie kruckel is vice president for development and communications. Wnt channel thirteen here in new york city. Welcome both of you. Thank you. It’s pleasure beings for having us. Our pleasure. Your seminar topic is leading the leaders how to motivate your board to cultivate major gift. I’ll tell you, we’ve done about half a dozen interviews today, and the board has probably come up in four or so of those of those six so far, but now critical the board’s role in fund-raising and how do you want to start the start? The topic? What? What? What is their responsibility? Well, where i would start this topic is i’d say we have to define fund-raising so it’s not just asking for money. It is the whole cycle of behavior. It’s identifying prospects, it’s cultivating it’s asking it’s, thanking it’s, recognizing its involving and so all that stuff. And if we define fund-raising is asking for money. There are a certain number of people, including a certain number of board members who will never get there. Okay. On the other hand, if we define fund-raising as this larger piece of work that we all have to do, then i would argue pretty strenuously they that there’s a place for everybody in that cycle, even the board members who hate to ask for money. There’s just the old fund-raising or something they can do? Absolutely there friendraising there. Friendraising yeah, we call it friendraising fund-raising atar side, which is the same thing. And it’s absolutely critical because actually, my feeling is that you don’t want every boardmember asking for money. Let’s, let’s try to go through a little life cycle of a boardmember how do we make sure we recruit board members who want to participate in this in his willingly? So, andy out recognizing that there may always be some that will will object strenuously and never maybe we’ll get to the difficult cases, maybe, but in the light in the opening lifecycle, how do we how do we recruit correctly? Andy? Well, the first thing is transparency mean, let people know when they’re joining your board that this is one of the expectations and i’m a believer and job descriptions, i think you specify what expected. Boardmember and i think the job description has to be reciprocal, meaning we’re gonna expect you to raise money on one side on the other side, we’re going to train you how to do it, we’re going to support you or give you some options and how you participate. Oh, so there actually is organization responsibility. It’s reciprocal? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, where a lot of lorts fail and be interested to hear your take on this carry. A lot of boards fail is they bring people on and they say, go raise money and they kick him in the butt and they supposed about the door do it there’s not training, but on the morning there’s not support. I mean, there’s, this sort of fantasy that they’re all they all come in as skilled and willing fundraisers. And that is rare. Carrie, how about you? For the recruiting side on the recruiting side were very strategic. And w n e t we have a committee that’s, just a people. So of my board of forty, only eight are formally asked by the chairman to be active solicitors for deb unity. And they partner with me. I trained them on. We have a whole business plan that they stick, teo, that we establish the beginning of the year. Now, just as important to that group a zach repairs to the organization is all trustees do. We asked him to give when they joined the board, we have a give and get yes expectation it’s very clear it’s not give or get you have to give not all of our trustees khun give it the same level, but they all have the ability to additionally get one of the criteria for recruiting a boardmember sir, is what is the network that they’re in what’s their orbit in sphere of influence and that’s we played too. We played to that strength rather than to a place that they may not be familiar. So that’s really key. So everybody comes in with a certain capacity said, but only a handful of people work with me on act, actually soliciting gifts, large gifts, the rest friendraising yeah, just once just one fifth of your board, but the andes to the point that andy made there is a role for everybody, so rule for only one fifth of your board is actively soliciting, right? But i would say another two to three fifths of our board are actively friendraising calling me all the time with great leads, contacts, ideas, and then the development committee is a very tight, working operation that, you know, we activate when we’re ready yeah, god, those eight people self selected or you hand picking the ones you want to turn into solicitor’s i’m in the process of handpicking because i just joined the organisation fifteen months ago, so i inherited a wonderful development committee, but some on that committee still are not comfortable soliciting. They’re more comfortable, say, leading a major gala that raises three million for the organization so that’s that’s significant in a different way, but know, as i handpick in this new new year, we have two new co chairs and they they go about fund-raising from a different very different points of view. One is a seven figure donor and annual basis, and one is a six figure donor, and so we tackle it different ways. One is very entrepreneurial and, you know, a tremendous seller, great talker, the other one is very focused wants to close five gifts at a million or more. So you create this this dynamic of what’s a business plan for each of them that kind of gets the whole committee where they want, and that also suggests the support that the organization has to provide in terms of a business plan, you’re talking about a business. Plan for each of them that’s i’m sure developed in collaboration with them, but your staffing that plan on dh you’re proposing the plan to them, right? Staffing that committee is probably fifty to sixty percent of my work. It’s a big part of my job and you say an interesting word, it’s, a business fund-raising is totally a business, and until trustees see how that business is an operation, they don’t really trust the process. I kind of think they might be asked out there on a whim, asking for money, but there are three major categories of running a very solid development shop, whether your staff of three or staff of seventy like we are, but you have to have those principles in place and regularly talk about them so that the trustees feel like there was a very strong foundation that’s pushing this for them and supporting them and support them now. And he talked earlier about proper training of a new boardmember what? What is training look like wnt for a new boardmember around fund-raising around fund-raising? Yeah, um, it’s pretty informal. I mean, we have formal orientation for all of our board members when they join and then every year all the board members get a mini kind of refresher, but when it comes to fund-raising, we sit down and we establish our goals and objectives together, i usually come in with a set of recommendations that i review with the chair and the co chair, but i really trained them as they get ready and go out. I equip them with basically the case for support, so anytime they’re out socially or if they’re setting that i’ve set them up for they know the elevator pitch, but until they’re actually going out on a call, i don’t train them until they’re going on a call. So that’s basically a really sell that briefing, and then you know, half an hour on the phone or sit down where we kind of go through that solicitation. Every solicitation is different, all right? But i don’t formally trained them. I don’t bring in outside consultants to train them. I’ve been doing this for twenty two years. Why generally, you know i might this year will be my first let’s see will be my second year kicking off the committee for the fall can i probably will have three new committee members, so i’ll probably take forty five minutes to kind of go through the rules of the game and how they’re set up tio have a great experience and a win win for the organisation, right? And then i’ll do one on one training and what kind of feedback do you like to see from a boardmember after they’ve been in the kind of meeting that carries talking about preparing them for afterwards, how do they feed back what they’ve learned in that meeting to the organization? Yeah, it’s a good question. First of all, the classic way we do this, i don’t know if this is true it w n e t the classic way we do this, we go out hairs, it’s a boardmember with a staff member and sometimes boardmember zehr skilled enough to go out alone and do asks and that’s fabulous, but i think that’s the exception rather than the rule. So usually what this looks like is thie carries of the world are sitting down with the boardmember after the meeting’s over, and sometimes you’re doing this in the car, you know, when you’re sitting in somebody’s driveway and what did? We learn how excited is this person? Are there other next steps that we need to take who’s goingto leave who’s going to take that next step? Who’s going to lead on that? How do we follow up with that person? It’s not a bad idea to produce some sort of scratchy where you actually have a standard set of questions you’re asking each other to debrief the meeting. So you actually have something you can then put in the database and use that to manage the relationship? What do you like to see andy in terms of the other relationship? Sorry, the other board dishpan ce abilities, aside from soliciting let’s say we have boardmember is that our? We’ve agreed, mutually, either i don’t solicit or you’re not comfortable listening, and we understand it. What are the other roles? Well, this could be an entire phone call baizman entire interview unto itself, but just off the top of my head, one is identifying prospects, even if they’re not willing to approach those people individually. Another one is creating opportunities to educate people, so if you’re at a radio station, you could bring him in and give mature if you’re a land trust you could take him out on a hike. If you’re working with children, you could bring them in to see the kids doing what they’re doing. It’s a cultivation piece on the back end? I’m a great believer in boardmember is picking up the phone and thanking donors, even people they don’t know and saying, hi, my name is andy robinson, i’m a volunteer boardmember with name of organization, i am not calling this evening to ask you for money, pause, you know, they collapsed on the other end of the phone, right? I’m just calling to say thank you, and these phone calls are revelatory because a lot of board members expect they’re going to get grief and people. Wow, i love your organization is so great it’s a privilege to give and it’s a really good way to ease people into fund-raising without the ask part that’s just half a dozen things they could do what i liked about that that last ideas having boardmember calls that ghetto learned the exuberance that’s out there, even if they’re calling fifty dollar donors, you could have boardmember calling fifty or hundred dollar don’t love that, yeah, i would love that. And then they learned that. There’s, this, this is base of support. It doesn’t only exist among the six and seven figure donors, and the variation on this and i’ve done this several times is tohave. Donors come to a board meeting and do a little donorsearch. Because a lot of board members think donors air from mars don’t know when they’re different species. And actually, they’re just like everybody else. Except they love your organization more than most people know. Talking alternative radio twenty four hours a day. Are you stuck in your business or career trying to take your business to the next level, and it keeps hitting a wall? This is sam liebowitz, the conscious consultant. I will help you get to the root cause of your abundance issues and help move you forward in your life. Call me now and let’s. Create the future you dream of. Two, one, two, seven, two, one, eight, one, eight, three, that’s to one to seven to one, eight one eight three. The conscious consultant helping hunters. People be better business people. Buy-in this is tony martignetti aptly named host of tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent technology fund-raising compliance, social media, small and medium non-profits have needs in all these areas. My guests are expert in all these areas and mohr. 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And i’m travis frazier from united way of new york city, and i’m michelle walls from the us fund for unicef. No. Durney carrie, how are how are you using boardmember sze who the ones that are not soliciting the other, the other four fifth what are some ways that they are directly involved in fund-raising they are every board member’s assigned to a committee wnt so we have seven committees, so they’re all engaged in some aspect of the mission of the non-profit my job, as i see it is the chief fundraiser is, too connect the fund-raising relevance to other parts of the opposition they may be working on, so if they’re working on programing, or if they’re working on investments or finance is what is the value of that work to the role we do and fund-raising so making the connections is really in part because a cz you pointed out they all have thinking about fund-raising they may not all be actively engaged, so the challenge is is how do you how are they experiencing the kind of the mission in a way that they’re feeling connected that keeps them kind of, in a sense, cultivated as prospects themselves and that’s a really big challenge? Because if you’re on the audit committee, that is not really a very inspiring everybody wanted wnt everybody want to be on the education committee because that’s where the programs that work with kids, mostly and that’s what they want to do because that’s exciting, but there are other fiduciary responsibilities, so it’s a challenge? So what we do is the ceo, the chairman, and i actually spent a lot of one on one time with our trustees, we take them out to lunch, we try to meet every trustee twice a year, just one on one intimately because board meetings, you really can’t connect on an intimate level. You really getting business done that’s a really valuable idea, i think connecting the leadership with the ceo with the with the boardmember include maintaining that relationship, you created friendship and trust there, but then we also i’m a big believer in events as a way to keep the trustees kind of socially connected. They don’t have to come to all the events, but they come to one or two a year in the months that you’re not doing boardmember ings w n e t we do a lot of screenings for new shows that we’re airing and that’s when we have trustees president, we give him a role, we ask himto welcome the guests, we ask him to go meet three or four people, so they always have a role in friendraising on the external side when they’re not doing the work of the board. I’m with carrie kruckel, vice president for development and communications, wnt thirteen and i see, um and anne robinson principle of anne robinson consulting their topic at fund-raising day two thousand eleven is leading the leaders how to motivate your board to cultivate major gifts, and this is tony martignetti non-profit coverage of fund-raising day two thousand eleven in new york city. Andy, what do you like to see in terms of the relations, the working relationship that carry started tow talk about between the ceo and the board around? Fund-raising well, i think the first thing is that there are ceos, executive directors who embraced fund-raising get it who are excited about it, and there are those who don’t and i have been development staff, it organizations where we had one and where we’ve had the other and this was was work is a whole lot easier if the ceo gets it and embraces it and understands it. So i’m going to start with the assumption you have one of those if you do the answer, the question, i think, is to have shared expectations that air clear about who’s going to do what and to find ways to engage people at the board level who will lead on this and the way i think about this and someone taught me this term is to have a successful fund-raising board, you need someone who is the spark plugs on the board when it comes to fund-raising because usually the way this works is staff are saying to the board, you need to raise money, you need raise money, we need help, and this is basically going to your supervisors and saying to them, you’re not doing your job well, which is tricky, she’s ill should that sparkplug be the chair of the development committee? Well, that works for me, but i’m less about the title, and i’m more about the personality, the attitude i mean, if you don’t like sparkplug, we can work with the word coach, we can work with the word cheerleader. I like the word enforcer, okay, but one spark plug, good to spark plugs. Better threespot plugs you have a really good fund-raising board, and if you can invest this person with a title like chair of the development committee that’s great, but i have seen it work really well when the chair of the development committee was more about the details and logistics, but they weren’t the one who did training and inspiring and enforcing. So i’m good either way, but somebody at a board level has to has to be that person, and the role of the ceo is to make sure you have that person to support them and doing that, make sure that they can do their job at a peer to peer level on the board. Okay, carry it sounded like you had something to say around around that relation that ceo board relationship, i would add that your board chair and your president, ceo and fundraiser have to compliment each other, so if you know what you have going into the mix and you don’t have the right balance of strengths, then you need to recruit very actively. Having a strong ceo who likes to solicit as well as the chairman can often be very problematic if they’re both looking for, you know, the chance to close on a gift and you have a donor who’s got two very aggressive people at the table that’s pretty tough, so i, like i’ve always looked to find a nice balance if the current ceo i work for is somebody who’s ah, wonderful articulator, but not necessarily was comfortable with making the ask or the clothes i’m looking for a chairman or a trustee to support him. Who has that complement the personality i generally find they’re just going backto. One point is, is that it’s really the rule the fundraiser to fill that gap? Knowing what your strength or as a professional fundraiser and playing those up, i probably can wear twenty different hats a w entity at any given time to support the trustee or their ceo or the chairman in an ask or a cultivation, because i’d have so much experience and see where the gap is in terms of how they’re going to relate to a potential donor. And i think that’s a number something non-profits can’t overlook is hiring the right fundraiser who has that kind of experience and working in a lot of different settings. On gonna frame this slightly differently. And i think this is complimentary. Really? Good development directors are good at getting other people to ask for money. Yeah, and, you know, doing it themselves? Absolutely. But the good ones are empowers. And trainers and supporters and that’s another way of what you just said. It’s a good point. Can i raise a second point, please? We’re talking, quote unquote. Major gifts and carry rolled out the six figure gift in the seven figure gift. And there are plenty people listening to this who will find those numbers to be frightening. Yeah, a thousand dollars is some organizations of thousand buckle is a major gift. The principles are the same. It’s. Not about the amount of money. It’s people who we consider major donor prospects, they get treated differently. They get more attention, we get more face time with, and we’re trying to find a way to engage their interests in a personal way. And that is really irrelevant about the amount of money we’re talking about. Okay. Excellent point. Thank you. And i agree. It’s. Very good. Carrie. What do you like to see around the the organization’s support of board? Members who are who are actively engaged in fund-raising what what kind of role is the organization playing toe to support those boards? Boardmember well, what i love to see that i don’t see much is an entire organization that understands the rule of the board and threw their department say their area of expertise, whether it’s, a on the mission delivery side or the education cider, the outreach side is that the leaders of those departments are justice. Capel is a fundraiser and communicating the progress of the mission of the non-profit to that board tends to fall into the lap of the fundraiser of the chief fund-raising almost every time you’re managing all aspects of the board, so but that’s, what i like to see, even an organization that doesn’t have it is a readiness and an understanding that we all are cultivating our board on the ceo or i’m the vice president, this department, i have a role in that, so i do spend time with my colleagues training, preparing them, helping them understand their role each year in terms of how they would interface with their committees that they’re managing, but i think that’s a really key part because it can’t just fall in the hands of the chief fundraiser at any size organization because it’s, very time consuming fund-raising really has to be out there also asking for gifts of other donors, not just working with the trustee’s. It was kind of building that pipeline, and so if you’re internally managing all components of the board, it’s very challenging, so i look for that but it’s really hard for non-profits to achieve that, you know, andy would have about thirty seconds left. What do you like to see you? So you have to be a little brief in terms of the organization supporting its member, its board members well, love, um, show appreciation, even if they don’t do absolutely everything you want them to do, reinforce anything that’s a positive behavior in this direction because these people are volunteers, they’re doing this on their own time with their own love, and we need to show appreciation even if they don’t do it perfectly if they do it pretty good. That’s a step forward, so i would honor that. Andy robinson is principal of andy robinson consulting carry kruckel is vice president for development and communications. W n e t thirteen there seminar topic is leading the leaders how to motivate your board to cultivate major gifts and this is tony martignetti non-profit radio coverage of fund-raising day two thousand eleven in new york city in times square. Carrie andy, thank you very much for being guests. It was a real pleasure. Thank you, thank you for having us. That was my pre recorded interview from this past june the fund-raising day new york conference next week. Google plus for your non-profit our tech contributor and the editor of non-profit technology news, scott koegler is with me to size up the newest big splash in social networking and also break down the silos, integrating communications, pr and fund-raising for better results from the fund-raising day conference in june, my guest will be meghan galbraith, managing director at changing our world for this week. I want to thank jean takagi and emily chan of the non-profit exempt organizations law firm and andy robinson and carry kruckel as well as the organizer’s of fund-raising day two thousand eleven for their hospitality from week to week, you can keep up with what’s coming up. Sign up for our insider. Email alerts on the facebook page. While you’re there like us and become a fan of the show, you know where facebook is. Just go to tony martignetti non-profit radio. When you’re in there, you can listen live or you can listen. Archive. The archive is at itunes. 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I’m on TV Tonight With Asa Aarons

Photo courtesy of IRS EIN on Flickr

I was interviewed today by Asa Aarons for tonight’s Consumer Watch segment of the evening news on the Time Warner cable network.

We talked about the IRS’s automatic revocation of tax-exempt status list, and what it means for donors and charities.

If you missed it, here you go. I’d love feedback and comments either here or on YouTube!

Thanks for taking a couple of minutes to watch!

IRS Tells Us What ‘Good Governance’ Means, Part Uno

Photo courtesy of alykat on Flickr.

We hear this language all the time in charity circles:


  • governance
  • accountability
  • transparency
  • board responsibilities
  • conflict of interest
  • whistleblower protection
  • executive compensation
  • document retention

… and other words and phrases in the nonprofit lexicon. What do they mean to the federal agency that reviews public charities when they apply for tax-exempt designation and again every year when most file an information return?

The most comprehensive (read “burdensome”) of the returns, form 990, asks lots of questions about whether policies are in place, but doesn’t (and shouldn’t) provide any detail as to what the expectations are around these arcane concepts.

If only we could agree on what the practices mean.

I found this gem on the IRS website, “Governance and Related Topics – 501(c)(3) Organizations,” that makes it pretty clear what the agency is looking for. (It’s from February 2008, but these definitions don’t change much.) The Internal Revenue Code does not require documentation or detailed policies in these areas.

But–big but–IRS believes, “A charity that has . . .a knowledgeable and committed governing body and management team, and sound management practices is more likely to operate effectively and consistent with tax law requirements.”(page 1)

That explains the Service’s opinion of the relationship between good governance and tax code compliance, and their interest in the former. So what do these things mean?

Good Governance. This is the broad category. It means having in place “policies relating to executive compensation, conflicts of interest, investments, fundraising, documenting governance decisions, document retention and destruction, and whistleblower claims.” (page 3)

Executive Compensation. You pay reasonable compensation for services rendered. Pay is determined by people knowledgeable about compensation practices and financially uninterested in the levels set. (page 3)

Conflicts of Interest. The Service “encourages a charity’s board of directors to adopt and regularly evaluate a written conflict of interest policy that requires directors and staff to act solely in the interests of the charity without regard for personal interests . . .” You set up the policy and monitor compliance. (page 4)

There is considerably more detail at the page references I’ve given you. Read the document and consult your legal counsel. Do not construe this post as legal advice. It isn’t.

Over the next few weeks I’ll take on additional governance topics from this informative IRS paper.

There are expert attorneys much more knowledgeable than me in the legal requirements for running your nonprofit. I suggest you pay attention to Carter Ellis and Gene Takagi. Gene and his colleague Emily Chan will be regular legal contributors to Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio starting in July. I’m sure we’ll talk a lot about governance.

The IRS List Is Out, And You Want to Get Off It

Please Pay Here by stevendepolo from Flickr
The Internal Revenue Service released its list of 275,000 organizations that have lost federal tax-exempt status because they failed to file with the Service for three consecutive years.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported it yesterday. The New York Times reports it today.

I’d like to go deeper. What do you do to get tax-exempt status back if you’re listed and still operating?

Start on the IRS website.

Small Organizations
You’ll get preferential treatment if your organization “normally has annual gross receipts of not more than $50,000 in its most recently completed taxable year.” That’s from Notice 2011-43 which will guide you through the reinstatement process. If you fit that criteria, you’re a “small organization” for purposes of reinstating tax-exempt status.

If a small organization submits an application for reinstatement (Form 1023 for 501(c)(3) charities; Form 1024 for others) by December 31 of next year, and meets the criteria on page 3 of Notice 2011-43, IRS will reinstate tax-exempt status retroactive to the date of revocation.

As if that weren’t enough. Small organizations get a substantially reduced fee of $100, down from $850 for others. That’s an 88% discount. Where you gonna find that kind of bargain?

Plus, there are three phone numbers at the bottom of the notice for “further information.” I wonder how many calls Ms. Rosenbaum and Messrs. Quesenberry and Giuliano will get this week. (It’s nice to see an italian in the bunch.)

Be sure to write “Notice 2011-43” on top of your application and on your envelope.

Non-small Organizations
Your guidance is in Notice 2011-44 and the news isn’t as good as the small folks’.

You submit Form 1023 or 1024, but the standard for award of retroactive reinstatement is more stringent. It includes “a detailed description of all the facts and circumstances that led to each failure and the continuous failure [to file annually], the discovery of the failures, and the steps taken to avoid or mitigate the failures” along with evidence to substantiate.

I love this, too. Government can be burdensome when it puts a mind to it: “. . . showing reasonable cause for failing to file a required return or notice for the first of the three years by the date it was due would be insufficient; an organization also would have to show reasonable cause for not filing that return or notice at any later time during the three-year period, and for not filing required returns or notices for the second and third years . . .” (Notice 2011-44, page 8). Again, that’s the standard for retroactive reinstatement, not for regaining current tax-exempt status.

As if that weren’t enough: you’ll pay the full $850 application fee.

But, you get the same three nice people to call.

This post is not legal advice. Do not construe it as legal advice. Seek the counsel of an attorney. This is my interpretation of IRS methodology without the benefit of technical explanations, court opinions, revenue procedures and other official guidance.

IRS “Dirty 320,000” List Coming

GuideStar advised in an email yesterday that IRS will soon release its “Nonfiler Revocation List.”  The Service says the same in a February article.

According to GuideStar, the list contains “as many as 321,000 nonprofits.”  That’s one-quarter of all the public charities in the United States.  The New York Times had the same estimate in coverage last April, ahead of the May 15 filing deadline that caused the loss of tax-exempt status for so many.  Failure to file form 990 with IRS for three consecutive years lands you on the list.

From the IRS article: “Loss of exempt status means an organization must file income tax returns and pay income tax, and its contributors will not be able to deduct their donations.”

And from a July, 2010 IRS press release: “If an organization loses its exemption, it will have to reapply with the IRS to regain its tax-exempt status. Any income received between the revocation date and renewed exemption may be taxable.”

You know I’m big on compliance issues.  CEOs and boards have got to step-up to their fiduciary duties to the charity and stop ignoring legal requirements.

The regulatory environment is only going to get more hostile to scofflaw nonprofits.  This applies to tax code requirements, governance issues, and state laws, like charity solicitation registration filings.  The days of mom-and-pop boards “doing good” are long over.

This filing requirement was heavily publicized by IRS last year ahead of the deadline, and the agency extended the deadline to October for small charities.  It was covered by mass media.  There’s just no excuse if your charity is an active organization.  File your delinquent returns.  If the organization has terminated activity–or merged with another nonprofit–you need to disclose that to IRS on a final form 990.