Cougar Mountain Software: Denali Fund is their complete accounting solution, made for nonprofits. Claim your free 60-day trial.
Board relations. Fundraising. Volunteer management. Prospect research. Legal compliance. Accounting. Finance. Investments. Donor relations. Public relations. Marketing. Technology. Social media.
Every nonprofit struggles with these issues. Big nonprofits hire experts. The other 95% listen to Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. Trusted experts and leading thinkers join me each week to tackle the tough issues. If you have big dreams but a small budget, you have a home at Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio.
Transcript for 470_tony_martignetti_nonprofit_radio_20191220.mp3
Processed on: 2019-12-21T13:49:21.532Z
S3 bucket containing transcription results: transcript.results
Link to bucket: s3.console.aws.amazon.com/s3/buckets/transcript.results
Path to JSON: 2019…12…470_tony_martignetti_nonprofit_radio_20191220.mp3.628627623.json
Path to text: transcripts/2019/12/470_tony_martignetti_nonprofit_radio_20191220.txt
and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio. Big non profit ideas for the love, their 95% under aptly named host. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d turn extra tropic if I saw that you missed today’s show. Impeachment. Say what? What’s your non profit allowed to say about President Trump’s impeachment and potential removal from office? What about the 2020 election? What do your employees allowed to say, where and when? Jean Takagi has the answers.
He’s our legal contributor and principle of neo the non profit and exempt organizations Law Group,
then save dot or GE. There’s a possibility
that management of the dot org’s domain will be privatized. Save dot org’s movement thinks that’s a bad
idea, and 10 is part
of the opposition movement. And Amy Sample Ward explains why she’s our technology and social
media contributor and CEO of 10 on tony Steak, too.
Thank you for 2019 were
sponsored by wegner-C.P.As guiding you beyond the numbers wegner-C.P.As dot com. But Cougar Mountain Software Denali
Fund is there complete accounting solution made for nonprofits tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant Mountain for a free 60 day trial and, by turn to communications, PR and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission. Turn hyphen to dot CEO, and I’m hoping that we’re gonna welcome Jean Takagi back. Do we have him? We’re trying. OK, uh, he’s in. Is he in the conference? Okay, we’re trying to call the conference, so I don’t know. Gene probably cannot hear us. So what we’re gonna be talking about is, um,
some some stuff on, uh, what’s permissible
for 501 See three’s to talk about, um, whether it’s around impeachment or the election election earing things like, Are you allowed to host a candidates forum? Candidates debate. Um, what about promoting issues versus candidates? What do your employees allowed to do? And that’s Ah, that’s what we’ll be covering. We’re gonna
do Jeanne Jeanne! Jeanne! Jeanne! Jeanne! Jeanne de la machine. We got him. Jean Takagi is the managing attorney of Neo,
the non profit and Exempt Organizations Law Group in San Francisco. He edits the wildly popular non profit law block dot com and is the American Bar Association’s 2016 outstanding non
profit lawyer. He’s at G tak. Welcome, Jean Jean. Great. Ah, great to have you. I know you were there, but we were having
trouble getting in. But now we’re now we’re in, You’re in and we’re
in and s so it’s a very communal Wonderful Are you doing out there? Looking forward to holidays? I’m sure
I am. How about you turning
very much? Yeah. I love this
time. Uh, we have a couple of weeks off from the show, and I have nothing scheduled for a couple of weeks. So, uh, it’s
good time, too. I mean, I’ll be working light work light, I guess. And good time.
Yes. Excellent. Good for you. And
good time for reflection.
I think on the new year, I like that you have any, uh, any goals for Ah, 20
20 that you want to share or anything exciting coming up in 2020.
Really excited. My partner, Aaron, Brad, Rick and I are going to be teaching a course at Columbia University starting in January, so we’re really looking forward to that in their non profit a management program.
Wonderful is not gonna bring you to New York or you teaching virtually.
We’re teaching online, but we may make out a trip itude in New York
trip or two. But you gotta let me know. Of course.
I mean, unless you want Oh, yeah. I hope you don’t want to stealth in and stealth out. Not not. Talk to me. I certainly wouldn’t do that if I were visiting San Francisco again.
Um, okay, so let’s start with the most timely.
Um, President Trump was impeached two days ago in the U. S. House of Representatives. Um,
what’s, uh what can we talk about?
If we’re 501 c three around that
Well, it’s a great question and, you know, because they’re different types of 501 see threes and different types of non profit. I should make clear that we’re only talking about public charities here. There’s different rules for different other types of organizations, including private foundations for public charities. There’s quite a lot they can talk about.
we should also differentiate between impeachment, which has already happened, and the removal from office, which is still going to be a matter of legislative action, specifically a supermajority vote by the Senate whenever they get that before them.
I know that’s related issues.
Okay, uh, because there go ahead. Yeah. So Well, why? Why? Why do we
distinguish between those two. This is a big
so because it’s already happened, you know, charity are fairly free to comment on
that action. They’re
also free to comment about how they feel about governmental leaders in doing their jobs. And, you know, it might be really important to do so in the context that it may really impact the charity’s mission. And, you know, for example, I would think that charity to mission is to end hunger, for example, for for American suffering from poverty. They might have a great deal to say about the administration’s rule to end food stands for like about 700,000 people. You know, the 700,000 people are making, on average 2200 and $50 a year. And if you want to comment on that at a charity, that’s okay the same way you can comment on the impeachment whether you think that that was proper or not. But what may not be okay if you’re gonna be talking about the electability of that person for or in any way talking about the upcoming election so you can talk about impeachment in and of itself on dhe. Whether it was, you think it was right or it was improper. But you can’t start to talk about, um, or start to influence the upcoming election. So that’s a little bit of a fine line. Thio. Walk on
okay, and we’ll get to the election and election hearing. What about the coming potential removal from office, The trial in the Senate and, you know, advocating one way or the other for what you think. The Senate, your organization thinks because we’re talking about the organization level, we’ll get. Individual employees will get to that, too. But what your organization thinks about removal from office.
So you know, there’s no absolute guidance from the i. R s on the impeachment of the president. Surprise. But, um, there’s It’s generally thought to be attempting to influence the legislative action inaction by the Senate.
within the tax laws, definition of lobbying and not political campaign intervention. So we know that there’s an absolute bar to, um, you know, endorsing or supporting or opposing candidates for public office. That would be election hearing in that not allowed by any type of 5 23 but public charities are allowed to engage in lobbying so long as it’s considered not substantial, and commenting on a potential legislative action like the removal from office action that will fall before the Senate would be considered lobbying. And to the extent that charity can lobbying and there are some limitations involved, the charity would be free to do so. But again, it has to walk that fine line because we are coming up to an election year on. Dhe has to look like it’s not trying to influence the election itself. So you don’t really want to talk about other candidates for office or on the general overall qualities of Trump as a candidate for another four years. But you want to talk. If you want a charity, you want to talk about the removal from office specifically about what, before the Senate. Why, why would he be removed from from the office? So you’re really took ing taking a look at those two articles of impeachment and commenting on the merits of those articles?
Okay, understand? We need to take our first break when we come back very shortly. We’ll, uh, well, we’ll talk more about lobbying and what’s allowed, not allowed there. And, uh, we’re taking a break for, um, for wegner-C.P.As. Of course, in the new year, might you need a C p. A, whose service is excellent, who provides clear directions and timetables and who’s easy to work
with. That’s not me talking.
That’s from the testimony. Old. That’s not my opinion. That’s, Ah, the opinion of someone who’s worked with not with wegner in the past, a CZ you’ve heard the past few weeks. So if you
to partner, you eat each tomb. He’s a good guy. No pressure wegner-C.P.As dot com And now let’s go back to Jean Takagi and Impeachment. Say what? Okay, we’re
allowed to do some
lobbying, you said, as long as it’s not substantial. Uh, how do we measure substantiality? Substantial ability. Substantiality substantiality. I think it’s I think that’s what This How do we make whatever helps called Republic
charities there Two ways to measure it? Sort of. The default way is just what the law cost backs and circumstances, and that leaves it up to the Iraq to determine whether you’ve engaged in too much lobbying or not. And if you want to challenge it, ultimately, a court and nobody really wants to go down that route. So, you know, professionals typically uses guidelines. You know, there was this old case that said, you know, 5% of your resource is that should be okay that, you know, anything under 5% should be okay. You want to think about your expenditures, your volunteer time? You know the amount of publication space you’re giving all of those things. If it’s about 5% or less of your resource is you’re probably not too worried about exceeding the lobbying threshold under that backs in circumstances.
Okay, Yeah. 55 percents pretty low.
Yeah, it’s pretty low. Um, but, you know,
organization, that’s all they want to do. But you know, the better choice for the vast majority of charities. And I would say, almost the no brain and choice for charities that are not churches who are ineligible to do this but share other charities that are eligible to make the 5018 lobbying election. I’m. And that that is just a basically 1/2 page born where you put name, address and check a box on it. If you make that election of the charity which could do it any time at all. Um, you get thio, measure your lobbying strictly by your lobbying expenditures, and the limits are just so much more generous.
so it’s 20% of your 1st $500,000 of what they call exempt purpose expenditures or mission related expended
20% of that
100 $100,000 right there and it’s it’s deemed non substantial.
Yeah, yeah, And there’s a separate limit for grassroots lobbying, which is lobbying a different type of lobbying, where you’re not going straight to a legislative body or an employee or member of the legislative body. But you’re going to the public and you’re asking them to contact a member of the legislative body and you have a called action included in that. So if it’s grassroots lobbying, it’s 25% of that total lobbing limit.
expenditure limits under Bible one h are much, much more generous than that 5% kind of rule of thumb that we look at the other time again. Um, a big, big tip for any public charity that wants to, um, discuss the removal from from office, um, stay positions on that before it gets to the Senate or wallets in the Senate, the 501 each election could made and be made any time. And it will be effective for the year. And would you make the election? If you decide you don’t want to, you know, continue electing it. Which might be the case for super big charities. Um, where the 5% could actually be, You know, a lot of money you could, you know, revoke your election that anytime after as well by just filing the same form and checking a different box. So a no brainer election for most public charity.
Okay. Okay. So and we’ve talked
about this before. I was probably the April 2016 which was the last election year. Um, you and I talked about advocacy generally, and I think the 501 h came up then. So you’re still a five. A one c three. You’re just making this 501 h election for the year.
what do you
of permanently on that until you revoke it. But all it does that 501 age super easy election to make this thing. We don’t want to tell the IRS everything about our lobby. We just want the IRS to measure our lobbying on what was spent. We don’t want to try to estimate volunteer time How much of our office space is dedicated to lobby? We just want to tell them exactly what we spent and recorded on our financial for a lot. So, so much easier to report, so much easier to track. The limits are much easier. And if you violate it, if you go over the lobbying limits without the election, that facts and circumstances test.
you violated in any one year, you can lose your Bible. One secret that
But if you make the election, you have to violate it over a four year period, not just one year, but over a four year rolling calendar. And then you have violated by more than 50%.
Wow. Okay, so that
that’s just so much more advantageous.
It is sort of a no brainer. And for those much generous, much more generous limits. Okay, cool. All right. 501 inch. Thank you, G. Um, what about our our individual employees? What are in terms of what resource is they’re using when they speak, when they when they speak publicly? What? What are the rules around employees?
Well, you know, first thing to recognize is is individual tax First Amendment rights, right? So they have the freedom of speech. They have the freedom to say whatever they want. Charities shouldn’t control what you know their employees or their directors or officers are saying in their individual capacity. But they should control what they’re saying as representative speaking on behalf of the charities. So there’s that distinction to make so again don’t control what you know your your employees and your staff members and volunteers are saying about impeachment or removal or any other wegner slate of action or political endorsement. But make sure that they don’t use any charity. Resource is in doing so, and that’s really important. Don’t let them use their work email address. Don’t let them use the work. Tell a boat. Don’t let them perform those activities. If they’re, they’re, you know, working on campaigns in the office and the charity’s office. And if they should put their name on with the name of their employer, which is a charity on like an endorsement list of a political candidate. Make sure that there’s some sort of Astra’s back says that the name of their employer is only listed there for identification purposes and doesn’t represent an endorsement by the charity itself.
Okay, Okay. Um and so what? What employees do on there personal time and their personal Facebook Twitter email all all, uh, really of no concern to the to the charity.
Yeah, but social media is actually a good point about hitting that gray area, tony, because you probably follow your twitter, tony. So you
probably follow you
individuals who are on Twitter who have both their name and their charity affiliation like listed?
their account, it might be in their Twitter handle, or it might be in their short bio underneath. You know, the Twitter handle. And that’s where it becomes kind of tricky. Who does that Twitter handle belong to? Does it belong to the individual or doesn’t belong to the charity And could the chair to get in trouble if there is a political endorsement or a statement of opposition to a candidate for public office?
Yeah, I always
have presumed. Although I’ve never followed upto see whether my presumption is, uh is accurate that someone who has the charity name in there either in their handle or, as you say in their short Twitter bio, has another account that doesn’t talk about the charity, Asai said. I never have investigated to see whether they do or not. I’m following their charity account. Um, so maybe maybe people don’t. But that would seem like the better the better practice. And especially if, I mean, shouldn’t that be in a, ah charities social media policy that if you’re going to use the charity name, you know, there are prohibitions around what you can do with that and then and we encourage you? Or we insist that you have, ah, private well non A non charity Twitter account for all other all other non work purposes.
Yeah, conservatively. You know, I kind of like that type of policy, tony. But for practical purposes, it’s kind of like our president or or Hillary Clinton when she was running, separating their kind of personal accounts from their work account. Um, there they are co mingled all the time, and not just by charities and their employees, but by four profit in their employees, so disclaimers can work outright prohibitions and requirements that they have a separate, Um, a Twitter account or face social media account may be helpful at times, but often times you know they’re just going to combine the two. So, um, just be careful about that one thing about, you know, sort of the election hearing prohibition that you can’t endorse or oppose the political candidate. One thing did note is that the Republican Party platform and President Trump himself said they really don’t like that Prohibition often referred to as the Johnson
talked about that before.
want to get rid of it, although most the vast majority of charities. And I think the mast majority of churches. I don’t want to get rid of it because I could turn all charities into these election vehicles for where donors say, You know, I’m not gonna give you this donation unless he said a message to all of your members and donors of, you know, in support of a political candidate, and that would suddenly be okay.
Yeah, that’s we’ve been talking. We talked about that. Probably when it around the time it first became a proposal, or at least well, I guess it’s been in the platform. The party platform, you’re saying. But there was some There was more talk about it, I don’t know. A year and 1/2 for two years ago, and we, you and I discussed the Johnson Amendment. Um, it hasn’t happened. Maybe because of the nonprofit community opposition. What what’s your scent? You were you were monitoring that very closely. What’s your sense of where it stands?
Yeah, you know, I think the non profit community’s opposition was very, very helpful in that there were there were others who were opposing it. A CZ well, with a matter of policy. And I think as people got more educated about it, it became less and less popular. Um, it was a way for dark money. T sort of enter into the political system where we didn’t really know where the sources were in. People were getting tax deductions on top of it. So it’s something that be really bad. But the reason why I brought it up here is because if an organization wasn’t quite sure, it was speaking out on impeachment or removal from office, and you know we may be crossing that line. Well, conservatively, I would say, Yeah, the closer we are to election time, you’ve got to be careful even within the bounds that I said that it might be a lobbying activity and not, uh uh, banned political campaign activity. But closer do you are to election that could turn into what looks like a political campaign activity. If you’ve never spoken about the impeachment itself, and you just never it looks like your charity was never interested in the issue until just like, you know, a few months before the election with the
looks like this casted election hearing communication. But overall, I’m not sure that the I. R s and the current executive branch is really that interested in enforcing the political prohibition laws because, you know, doesn’t resonate with what their messaging has been. Maybe a little bit risk. And it would have been for four years ago.
Okay? Yeah. You still
want to err on the side of caution, right? I mean, I, you know, because they there could be some exception to their enforcement activity or priorities or something. So but
you’re you’re the
conservative conservative guy, at least in terms of legal legal advice of the legal advice side. You know, um, least that’s Yeah,
that’s always been your You. You’ve always been cautious
about advice you give. Yeah,
Yeah, I think when we have a lot of smaller to medium sized organizations amongst the client, there’s just less risk capital, you know, private foundation with, you know, $10 billion might have a little bit Arjun for taking a risk and maybe fighting it in court if they felt like the I r s sir. Uh, neutrino general not correct in their interpretation of whether a lot was violated. But for most small and medium sized charities, they can’t afford to have that battle.
talking mostly about candidates. You mentioned a little bit about issues, but let’s make issues issues clearer versus candidates. Are you saying that if you’re non profit now, as an organization has has been following an issue for a long time and not just doesn’t just start commenting, you know, 60 or 90 days before an election, then eyes that part of the facts and circumstances test for people who don’t for organizations that don’t take the 501 h election. Is that Is that one factor?
Well, just commenting on issues themselves, it was If it isn’t stating a position on a piece of legislation, you’re free to do that all you want. So if you’re educating the public about a particular issue, whether it be climate change or, um, you know, immigration, um, you couldn’t talk about broader issues and educate the public. You know, if you’re giving material facts and you’re doing it in a non part of objective and fair manner, that that should be sort of a fundamental thing of what you do if it’s gonna help further your mission. But when you start to comment on a particular piece of law or legislation and say, you know, this is either a good piece of legislation or this is a bad piece of legislation
new legislation that we need now you’re entering into the realm of lobbying and subject to those limits that we just discussed the 501 h limits or the the facts and circumstances with
Okay. Okay. Um,
you still there, June? I am okay. Yeah. You
Ah ah, word or a syllable at a time seems to pop out, and then it got quiet. So I I, uh I got concerned. Okay, You’re still with us. All right. Good. Um, thank you for flushing that out.
What else? What else
do you think listeners need to know?
Well, there are all sorts of other things that public charities do around election time. Um, you know, they can’t endorsers support any candidates for public office, But the concert, we engage in voter registration and get out the boat drives. You see that all over the place, and you’re gonna continue to see it over the next year. So a CZ longer again there, you know, conducted in the neutral, non partisan matter without reference to, you know, any of the specific candidates or political parties, you can host a candidate debate or forum. I think many of you have seen those, uh, you know, hosted by a public charity. And again, the purpose of the, uh, debates reform should be for educating the public. So you have to be very careful about not doing it in a partisan man is not with leading questions or a selective choice of topics that that might influence the public one way or the other. Be careful about your selection of moderators and how you comment on the candidate’s response. Yes, I want to be careful about the time allotted to each candidate. You know, it would be very wrong if you allowed just one candidate. If there is, it just came down to the presidential race, for example, and you let one party’s candidates speak for 90% of the time and the other candidates to be 10% of the time. It will be pretty clear where that charity is leaning.
Okay, So to borrow the old Fox News motto, you need to be fair and balanced, but not fair and balanced like they were where a court ruled that they were de facto, not fair and balanced. Need to be really fair and balance. I think
that’s that’s right,
obviously a charity will have its own mission statement to think about. But they’ve got a sort of put it in their back pocket a little bit when they’re designing those type of debates. Reformed Also, voter guides, Kennedy questionnaires, um, also permissible and even candidate appearances. If you’re providing equal opportunity for all candidates, you see that on television is Wow.
Okay. Okay. Um well, we have just about a minute or so left. Uh, what? Ah, what do you want to leave us with for the for the year on this topic?
Well, I think I’ll just say I think people should be really active in their advocacy. In furtherance of their mission. There are a few resources that are out there. Board sources stand for your mission. Campaign has some excellent resource is on the Alliance for Justice gives you more than mechanics of what I’ve been talking about. What type of advocacy, What type of lobbying, what type of political activities public charities could do on. There’s some nuances to all of this. There’s another layer of election law that may be on top of all of the tax law we’ve been talking about. So those resources are good places to go and go ahead and advocate as much as you can for your mission.
Junior. So modest. Another very good source is non profit law blawg, which is at non profit law blogged dot com. And Jeanne, I wish you lots of
let’s of enjoyment, lots of good time.
hope you enjoy your holidays and the New Year
Happy holidays to you and your family. Tony,
thank you very much, Gene. It’s a pleasure. And thank you so much for what you’ve done for 2019 and what we’re looking forward to. In 2020 he’s Jean Takagi, my pleasure, managing attorney of Neo, the non profit and Exempt Organizations Law group. He edits that non profit log log, and he’s at G Tak. Now it’s time for a
break. Cougar Mountain software designed from the bottom up for nonprofits The same nonprofits we’ve been talking about, the ones, the ones we all know. Non profit radio, for God’s sake. What does that mean For you?
That means fund accounting. No more spreadsheets to manage your restricted grant funds. Also fraud prevention and exceptional customer service. You’ve heard all that in the testimonials. Cougar Mountain has a free 60 day trial on the listener landing page at tony-dot-M.A.-slash-Pursuant. Now let’s transition,
subtly, but ah, but smoothly, uh, suddenly and
smoothly to tony stick to and my thanks for you. Our listener. Listeners in 2019 were the number one podcast for nonprofits. Most listened to, uh, most longest running, most consistently produced, most sponsored just generically. Overall, you can say Number one podcast for nonprofits. And
that’s because we have so many listeners. So I am grateful
to you. Thank you for your listening If you have shared the show. I appreciate that as well. Thank you for that. That’s how we grow the audiences by listeners sharing what? What
they believe is good content. So thank you with you. Listen, live or archive.
makes no difference. Thank you very much for listening. If you want to see my thank you wishes from the Chesapeake Bay, then you can view the video at my thank you video. Thank you so much. We
have a B sample ward. We do not have
any sample word. She hasn’t called into the conference line yet. Okay, well, uh, when when we do connect with her, um, we will be talking about save dot org’s. The issue is that the dot org’s domain that we all use I don’t use you all use. I actually don’t use I’m dot com for my for my business. Um, but you all use it. You know how important it is. There’s the potential that it will be managed by, ah company ethos, which is the water, you know, you may know ethos water. Um, that’s the company that may gain control of the dot or domain. And Amy and I will talk about how these things are all managed. Um, we
have Amy as Amy called in yet
means not. Okay, So what we’re gonna do is, um Let’s do the live listener. Love will do that. And if you will give me a nen dull Jin ce for a few seconds, I’m gonna get my phone and share with Emily. Amy sample Ward’s contact info so that Emily can text and call Amy. So hang on while I get my phone. Okay? The dreaded dead airtime.
But I told
you was coming. So, uh, you had you had time to prepare, so it should not have been dreadful. Uh, for you, So I’m getting her in my pulling up in my contacts. Okay, Emily, Here you go. There’s the ways to contact Amy. Sample word. Please Do use my phone actually, or whatever you want to use. All right, so we’ll be talking about dot Organ. There’s a movement. Does The hashtag is saved dot or Ge? Well, I’m only works
on that. Let’s do the lifeless in love and it is extensive. My gosh, Um let’s go abroad first. Tokyo, Japan! Oh, konnichi wa Ramat Gone Israel! Welcome, Live! Listen, love to Israel as well as Japan. Gwangju, South Korea. You’ve
been with us before. Gwangju. Thank you so much. Seoul, South Korea as well. Um
Brazil. Mina Mina Gerais meant Minas Gerais. Jakarta, Indonesia,
Capital of Indonesia, of
course. Live! Listen, love Thio. Each of our foreign listeners and they continue coaching men city in Vietnam. And, uh, well, we see Vietnam from time to time. Thank you. Live low about to Vietnam and touch skin sherry in Uzbekistan. Yeah, it was Pakistan. Not too often, but we’ve heard from you before. So very glad. Very glad you’re with us. Who’s Becca? Stan? Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, South Korea, Israel, Japan.
Multiple. South Korea, of course. Want credit that live? Listen, love. After each of those, uh, countries and coming abroad, we’ve got, um Brooklyn, New
York, Cheyney State Park, Kansas. That’s interesting. Cheyney State Park. Are you actually in the state park? You can, uh that’s interesting. You listening from the State Park. Wonderful. I’m a very
big advocate of state parks. Public lands. You got it. You gotta have park. That used to be the motto in New York City, but it applies throughout the country. Doesn’t matter. Of course you gotta have park green space. Um,
Ashburn, Virginia. San Francisco, California, Tampa, Florida, Fairfield, Connecticut. Live love everywhere. We’ve got her. Okay, well, on the heels of the live love Let’s see now we got to make her wait,
because there’s no way that I’m doing a lot of love without the podcast pleasantry. So now she’s gonna
have to wait. She called in late. It’s our own fault. Um, the podcast pleasantries are over 13,000 listeners.
You heard me say it on Tony’s Take Two. But
I’m grateful. Thank you so
much for being a part of our listener audience. The podcast listeners. Thank you.
Any sample Ward. She’s our social media and technology contributor and the CEO of N 10. Her most recent co authored book is social change Anytime, everywhere
about online multi channel engagement. She’s
that amy sample ward dot org’s oh dot org’s. This is considered a potential personal personal threat dot ord and she’s at a me RS ward. Any sample ward. Welcome back.
Thank you. I’m not sure what happened. I’ve been trying since, like, 10 20 to get in. And I assume I always assume user error trying to re dial, and it never let me in.
Okay, Well, we had the same trouble
here, actually trying to connect with Jean Takagi. We saw that he was in the conference system, but we couldn’t get in ourselves to connect with him so on. And so it’s probably not user error times, too. There’s something flunky.
And the reason we’re using
this conference system and rather than having you call the studio directly, which we almost always do, is because there’s some problem with the with
the phone line. Four lines? Yeah.
So we’re using the conference line. Of course, we need the phone line to get the company line, But
anyway, well, you’re a technology technologist, our technology contributor. It’s wonderful until it fails. I mean, I’m almost I’m almost sorry for saying this. I do apologizing. That was gratified that you have trouble with technology too.
Oh, don’t worry. People are always so happy when an 10
says that something
that happened because it’s so validating.
know, it happens to all of us, because at the end of the day, all these tools, they’re just tools, right? They’re not perfect systems. Humans built all of them and humans that themselves. They’re not perfect. So things are bound to happen. But I think it’s really interesting the way folks respond when something, you know, technological is happening. That is not what they want. You know, the folks who get really frustrated and upset, and it’s like, Well, sure, But you know, how far is that getting
or the folks who are like, Oh, I’m gonna you know, like MacGyver my way around, just like you all did. So good. Good for you for having a productive response,
Thank you very much. And for you as well.
You kept trying. And, uh, I could I could imagine that your frustration was growing as 10 30 Pacific time came and went, which is the time I I was expecting your call. I can imagine your heart rate was rising blood pressure as well. But you
mean I mean,
what could you know? I usually like to dial in early and listen.
And so I tried. But
you know, to know about it
anyway, here I am.
Indeed, let’s talk about save dot or ge I While we were waiting
for you, I was introducing the topic. I explained the listeners that there’s the potential that the dot org’s domain could be managed by a private company
ethos My saying that right? Or they are ethos right ethos. Okay, which is the water that they’re also there? I think
they’re best known for water. At least that’s the way I know them. Their social.
brand new, so I don’t think they’re best known for anything.
Oh, listen to the oh, we’re
already getting. They’re already getting some attitude about this subject. All right there, Brandon. E. Hear it? I heard the tone. I know you. I heard that tone. All right, so this is not the ethos water company,
Okay. Oh, brand new
private equity firm. Okay. I didn’t know it was brand new. I just kept seeing equity from All right. So
let’s introduce, I think to get our way into this, we need to understand how
this domain the dot org’s domain is managed. I mean, and I know you’ll be right. I know you’ll be judicious about acronyms because you don’t want to end up in jargon jail S o, I
think. But I think it helps to understand how this
thing this dot org’s is managed.
Right. Okay, so I’m going to try and explain in some somewhat basic terms.
Okay, But then
I will rely on you to interject questions or fast forward or pause, you know, as I go.
Okay. So the internet, everyone listening has used it. I’s probably using it to listen even And we know that website, You know, we don’t just write non profit radio. We write non profit radio dot whatever, and the part of the website that comes at the dot whatever follows is called a top level domain. So there cannot. We can’t just go make one up. Those top level domains are managed, and there’s only so many of them. And I can they use the acronym I can as their name, which stands for Internet Corporation for assigned names and numbers. There you can kind of think about them is like the body that’s mento. Organize the Internet, So they’re the ones that say OK, you know, we’re allowed to use dot com and dot or GE and dot I owe and dot. Whatever else, they’re kind of the keepers of the order. So they are involved in olive ist as those keepers of the order. Okay, The next group we need to talk about is the Internet society that is a nonprofit organization, and their mission is essentially to promote a globally connected and trustworthy Internet.
Okay, listeners may see the acronym I s O. C, right. Let’s
have the night knock Internet society yet.
So, almost 20 years ago there, when I can waas working to continue their their work and managing those top level domains, uh, they bid tohave the contract for the dot org’s domain. And there was a lot of conversation about the value of a non profit managing the top level domain that’s essentially four non profit right instead of a four profit domain registrar.
So I can I can is itself a non profit. Yes, okay.
And Internet society is non profit, and they they won the dot or contract, and in the process of that, created another non profit called public interest registry PR, which would be the organization that owned the contract and operationally managed it. But P I. R. Was connected to Internet society, so Internet Society was choosing the board for P i. R. And revenue kickbacks went to Internet society, that kind of thing. So there very closely related as organizations. You No one is like the owner of the other. And for the last, like 18 years or so, PR has managed the dot or domain, and their work has included managing that. Making sure that there’s, um, resource is for non profit. They have they have, you know, everything from sponsoring events to funding training programs, Thio investing in research about, you know, the way non prophecies, the Internet. They’ve done lots of things to kind of re invest the money they make into the use of the Internet by non profit, and everyone kind of thought things were fine. Who write things are moving along just fine, and last month’s just over a month ago from today. All of a sudden, there was an announcement from Andrewsullivan, the executive director of the Internet Society, that they we’re going to sell P. I r to a private equity firm and that it was essentially great news because Internet society would get so much money from the sale that they would create an endowment for themselves. That was kind of position is the only the good news about this was because it would just be so much money for them.
Okay, that was that. That was obviously early day.
That was early day, because I in my research, I didn’t find I didn’t even find that anymore. So that that
must have been that their first position. I’ll tell you what. We got to take our
break, Theo. Only one we need to take. And then you and I can continue to invest the show. Okay. Thank you. Um,
have you ever wondered why some nonprofits
are always mentioned in the news? It’s because they work to build relationships with journalists who matter to them. Turn to communications can help you do just that. They are themselves former journalists. They specialize in helping nonprofits build meaningful media relationships that lead to great coverage.
It’s all about the relationships almost in life. What isn’t There are turn hyphen
to dot ceo, all right. And we have but loads more time for Amy Sample Ward and save dot org’s. Okay, So the initial justification for this well, it’s not really much of a initial rationale. It’s not even it didn’t even didn’t even bother with justification. Just initial rationale was this will be good for I sock will make a lot of money by selling P I R.
which of course, uh, raise a lot of questions.
A lot of black people.
And now the second piece that we need to talk about happened months before this announcement. So back in the early spring, the contract details for the dot or contract were up for renegotiation with I can and a few things happened in that renegotiation that already have the community kind of in critical response. Those things included some changes to what had, for a long time been part of the contract. One of those was taking away the price cats, so prices could be set at whatever was desired.
The price for
a dot org’s domain is very low, right?
It’s about $10
$10 for the year. Okay,
Okay, you’re more acquainted
with this and I am because I don’t use dot org’s I love Dot or GQ. You know, I make my living at dot org’s, but I don’t I don’t use it personally, All right? So, yeah, it’s $10 a year. Okay, so they’re So the initial conversation about a contract renewal was take away those takeaway a price cap,
take away the price cap, and then some other pieces that essentially made folks feel that it could be organizations with these domains. There’s some vulnerabilities around censorship and that kind of thing.
Okay, So a
number of organizations
people had responded to those changes back in the summer and spring saying, you know, Hey, wait a second. This is not right. This does not feel right. This is, you know, longstanding components of the contract. Why’re these Chicken Jane? And despite overwhelming over 3000 responses saying don’t do this, I can. And public interest registry went ahead and the contract gotta prove that way.
Ok, wasn’t I? Sock, actually, isn’t I Sock?
I can. Okay, but I stock
owns public interest registry, right?
Sure. But public interest registry is kind of the manager there. The owner of the contract.
Ok, ok, and they’re the ones who managed the managed. OK, all right, So now
and what is kind of an added so we can think about it as there’s all of these changes happening? And then, isn’t it so convenient that now a private equity firm is willing to pay over a $1,000,000,000 for this contract that no longer includes price caps and includes some vulnerabilities around?
Wait. Oh, I hold on. I didn’t see that. The price tag is over a $1,000,000,000.
Wow. Okay, I did not see that. I was I was wondering, but I hope she’s okay. So All right, so the question All right, So let’s let’s fast forward now. You aren’t
even following who don’t. Maybe you don’t even work in a non profit that has a doubt or domain. You can already see from, like a, you know, business magazine perspective. What? What seems questionable about the situation?
How the hell are they? How the hell is going to make all that money back, right? Yes. On the backs of
America’s 1.3 million charities.
Well, and keep in mind, this is for the entire globe. this is non profit over the entire
world way. Talk
about wanting to have a human rights lens on reviewing this transaction. When we talk about vulnerabilities for censorship, we’re thinking about non profit, not necessarily in the U. S. We’re thinking about non profit in parts of the world where they rely on a dot or domain so that people here in the U. S. No. Oh, this must be a new organization doing good work. I’m willing to donate to them. I’m willing to support them. They’re likely doing work in a geographic region where their government is not in support of what they’re doing right. And having vulnerabilities for censorship means their government could just turn their website off. Right?
uh, there’s a lot happening that is sure maybe not happening in this moment, but very, very likely could happen, right, because these changes have happened. So, um, what has also been challenging is that in a few of these public forums and 10 held a community call and invited the folks from Internet society and PR to come. And John Nevins said that he asked for those changes to be added into the contract, which kind of further creates this web of questioning about who knew this was happening. And how long was this plan, right? If those changes to the contract are what made the contract worth apparently over a $1,000,000,000 how did all of this happen?
Did you have someone from ethos on the call?
We did Eric Brooks, That Theo.
Okay. And he has, uh, yes, I wanna be. I wanna be balanced here because he has a block post that from December 16th where he answers some of the answers, all the questions that a Mozilla Block post had had asked
Answer some of those questions and I would say responded to them. Did not answer them,
You would say responded. Okay, okay. So, like, for instance, on the pricing, um, what assurances gonna dot Or community have that ethos and p i r will keep their promises regarding price increases. We’re committed to limit increases for dot, or domain registrations prices to no more than 10% per year on average, based on domain prices today, that would equate to an additional $1 per year. We plan to embed these pricing commitments in our public benefit LLC or other corporate governing documents that that doesn’t care. Is that not satisfactory?
No, I mean on average. So that could say, over the next 20 years, the average has been 10%. We all understand that Average doesn’t mean every year has to be.
Yes. Okay. Okay. Now Eric says that they are Ah, they’re going to create a P I R. Stewardship Council. Right now, The Stewardship Council, um, concept behind our proposal is to put in place a dot org’s community advisory board body. The council will seek input from the daughter of community and convey the needs of the data or community to P i R. Management provide advice to p ay, our leadership on key matters impacting the daughter of community. And the leading voice in recommending new service is capabilities to be offered through the dot org’s platform to serve the mission driven community.
okay. What? You know,
they had a, uh webinar. I guess you’d call it yesterday. So did and spoke at more length. It wasn’t a discussion or, you know, they didn’t take live questions or anything like that. But they spoke at more length about the same topics. And what we can understand about this advisory council is that the P. I. R. Board and the folks already working there working within this deal will choose who the council is. The council has no actual authority. Oh, our mechanisms for accountability. And, you know, it’s like a group that they have chosen that they say is able to give be back. So I don’t see how it addresses any of the kind of concerns that rest of the dot or community has for riel accountability.
Okay, so your concern is that it would just be like an advisory board on sort of perfunctory and not not without really thought without authority. The authority would
still be may not
be folks who would have divers or critical views because their hand selected.
Okay, well, hey, did say
again Eric Brooks in his block post. He said that there would be standards for qualifications for membership on the stewardship Council. So
they would think
that’s a pretty like white, dominant view of saying I’m gonna choose my friends.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah, because, Well, yeah, The question is whether the dot or community would have input into, I guess I guess we’re talking about. Enter the terms of this disagreement between ethos and I saw. Right,
Right. So we’re moving from a world where the dot or contract is managed by a non profit organization who would also managed by a non profit er organization and into a world where the dot or contract is held by a for profit entity owned by a private equity firm.
Do it right. Just the principles
of those organizational set up completely changes the context in which the dot or contract is maintained. Right? We’re going from a non profit entity reinvesting any additional funds back into the sector to two organizations that are really meant to maximize profit. Right?
I understand. I do understand. And this falls into the category of I I’ve noticed this more in the past 10 years or so. We
have to I feel like I have to fight Maur for what I did to keep status quo.
So this is something that all
right, let alone progress.
But yeah, I’m just I’m just Internet
society. Didn’t feel that it was sustainable to manage PR PR didn’t feel like it was manageable. Thio sustain the dot or contract there’s a different solution to that than completely, you know, throwing it out.
I understand. All right. I’m
gonna let us go
a little longer. We are. Typically, we would end right about now, but let’s let’s go another few minutes. Not not not 10 minutes. Because listeners are pretty much counting on on our but, you know, really go another 45 minutes.
Do we know how much
revenue P I R earns? I don’t know. Over the
past years, Annual 19 nineties
and that kind of thing.
Okay, what do you know?
It’s like 90 year.
90 year? Okay. And you’re saying that the contract price is 1.1 billion?
Okay. It takes a long time at night at the rate of 90 year to earn back 1.1 billion. And then it’s a venture profit. It’s a venture capital firm. Well, Fletcher, profit venture capital firm, which is a which is a profit profit firm,
that it would be a long
time if you had price caps.
Yes, but there may be other methods, you know, we’re not, you know, we’re not venture capitalists, so I guess you know it comes with a healthy dose of suspicion, not just skepticism,
but I mean challenge. There’s
so little information that’s been shared and so
many questions way.
We have asked, you know how in the community Call it and 10 held. We directly asked Capital if they could confirm how long they plan to own the new version of public interest registry, whatever the new or profit is, how long they plan, tone and invest in that company. And they their answer was a really long time in terms of this work. Okay, well, in terms of private equity, I mean, a year could be a long
time, you know,
Right on his block post. Eric Brooks says Ethos has stated on multiple occasions that we are committed to investing. P I R for the long haul. Are investors include families and not profit acquisitions with long term investment horizons. Um, okay, now, but
your concern is that they could resell it and then and then and then we And then it’s then it’s
between 22 Private. Well, even if their public to four profit entities contracting and the outside community has no input into what contracts are between two companies any more than you know any more than we can comment on intends contracts with vendors for NTC, it becomes a matter of private contract in the case of every sale. Okay. All right. What should, uh, what your listeners do. What should we be doing? We gotta we gotta
move on What you’ll do, you really
love? You can
to save dot org’s dot org’s s a V e D o t org dot or GE where we have posted the recording of the community call, for example, if you want to be able to hear what the folks from these companies have said, uh, you can see the letter that we’ve sent to them that outlined some of the issues in the contract and what is really important right now. As for organizations to sign on and endorse our request that the sale stop or if you can’t sign on behalf of your organization, sign as a person as an individual. Right now there’s almost 550 organizations who have signed on, and we have almost 19,000 people who signed on those numbers really matter and help demonstrate that this isn’t you know, just in 10 and e f f who have a problem, right? This is a lot of organizations diverse people who understand that this is not in the best interest of a non profit, you know, four good world of the internet.
Okay, Andi, uh, some of the other organizations involved Association of junior leagues. I’m just sampling from from a list of crisis text line do something dot org’s listeners know Aria finger Do something dot or GE ff Electronic Frontier Foundation Girl Scouts of us A Independent Sector Meals on Wheels America, National Council of Nonprofits and 10 Techsoup Volunteer Match Volunteers of America Wicked Media Y M C A of the U. S. A Y W c A U s A. All right, Amy Sample Ward. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much. Tony. I really appreciate you kind of diving into this when I know it can feel a little acronym heavy, but it really will impact every single non profit
Amy Sample word social media and technology contributor and CEO of in 10. You’ll find her at Amy sample ward dot or ge and at a M. E. R. S
board and Aimee. Simple word. Lots of good wishes for your holidays. And for 2020. That’s a good wishes. Radio,
I hope 2020 means we get to see each other in person.
Well, we will it ntc
But we need to go beyond that. Hopefully.
Thank you so much, Amy.
Next week and the week after, there are no shows. I hope you enjoy. Enjoy the hell
out of your holidays. Take time for yourself. Disconnect off grid. You know what all that means? I don’t need to flush it out. I hope you do it. I hope you do it for yourself. Friends, Family. Do it. Take the time you need. You need to take time for yourself because you’re in a giving profession. So no show for two weeks. If you missed any part of today’s show, I beseech you, find it on tony-martignetti dot com