THE NEW YORK COUNCIL OF NONPROFITS: SERVICES AND RESOURCES TO BOOST YOUR BOTTOM LINE

By James D’Ambrosio

JamesProfile1TwitterThroughout my career, I’ve sought information and presented new ideas to management and colleagues to help organizations move forward. In the charitable sector, The New York Council of Nonprofits is a resource I believe can benefit agencies. NYCON, a 501 (C)(3) statewide association whose mission is to increase the capacity of nonprofits and enhance the quality of life in New York State, has 3,200+ members and offers many professional services and programs agencies can draw on. This is of particular importance for start-ups and nonprofits with limited resources. Headquartered in Albany, there are regional offices in New York City, Poughkeepsie, Oneonta and Rochester.

PROGRAMS AND MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION

The following is a sampling of offerings available from NYCON:

♦ CONSULT WITH EXPERTS: Get advice and assistance from nonprofit experts in the areas of finance, governance, legal, marketing, human resources, benefits, risk management, etc., by phone or e-mail. Services are free with a corporate membership.

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: Access to quality, affordable technical assistance. NYCON works with agencies on issues such as board governance, fiscal procedures, budgeting, personnel policies, bylaws, compliance issues, collaborations, and more. Tailored to individual needs, most services begin at $95 an hour.

♦ EMPLOYEE BENEFITS: Through Council Services Plus, an insurance subsidiary, NYCON provides information and products and services helping nonprofits develop an affordable benefits program for employees.

TRAINING, EDUCATION & CONFERENCES: A recent NYCON survey indicated that workshops, trainings and events were rated as one of the top benefits. Members receive significant discounts and can apply for scholarships to attend conferences.

AFFORDABLE MEMBERSHIP: Membership fees are scaled to operating budgets: Organizations under $50,000 pay $60 per year; those with budgets from $1,000,000 – $1,999,999 pay $160; and agencies with budgets exceeding $10,000,000 pay $460 (there’s additional brackets in-between). According to the Council, the average nonprofit member pays $110. In addition, individuals can join as a Citizen Member for $75 (I’m a Citizen Member.) Benefits for individuals include a bi-monthly e-mail newsletter, discounted rates for trainings and workshops, free copies of select publications, voting privileges at the Annual Meeting, networking opportunities and more. (Note: membership follows the calendar year, January-December.)

GROUP PURCHASING PROGRAMS: Group purchasing programs are available for office supplies, payroll, conference calling, fund-raising software, technology assistance and more, with potential significant cost savings. Click here to see a comprehensive listing.

A FINAL WORD

While NYCON can work with all nonprofits in New York State, only members receive discounted rates and benefits. Given the many challenges facing nonprofits today, I present this information for those who may not be aware of this resource. For organizations outside New York, the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NONPROFITS provides contact information for 36 state associations throughout the U.S. VIEW THE LIST HERE.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NYCON

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QUESTIONS TO READERS:

A) If you’re a NYCON member, how has your agency benefitted?

B) If you’re not a member, would you consider joining?

 

THE FISCAL CLIFF AND NONPROFITS: CHARITABLE GIVING INCENTIVE IN JEOPARDY

By James D’AmbrosioJamesProfile1Twitter

As negotiations continue in Washington about the fiscal cliff — automatic spending cuts (nearly $55 billion) and across-the-board tax increases scheduled to take effect January 2, 2013 if Congress can’t reach an agreement — a key item for nonprofits is the charitable giving incentive.

ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS AT ISSUE

Currently federal tax law encourages charitable giving through itemized deductions. However, the National Council on Nonprofits, a resource and advocate for nonprofits, notes that bipartisan commissions, Senators, Representatives and the President have all proposed deficit reduction plans that include changing the charitable giving incentive in some way. The Council strongly opposes any change(s) negatively impacting agencies’ ability to serve communities. 

The Web site www.givevoice.org — a collaborative effort of U.S. nonprofits —urges agencies to TAKE ACTION. They report lawmakers are considering a proposal to cap all itemized deductions at specific levels — $15,000, $17,000 or $25,000 per individual. They cite a Nov. 18 Wall Street Journal article indicating the national average for all deductions is $26,000 — health care, mortgage interest, state/local taxes and charitable giving  — effectively eliminating any tax incentive for charitable donations. Ouch!

STATISTICS & INFORMATION

The National Council of Nonprofits reports these findings:

 ♦ 30 PERCENT OF AMERICANS indicated they would reduce giving if tax incentives were removed. 

OF THOSE 30 PERCENT, 62 percent said they would decrease giving by a “significant amount.” 

OVER 20 PERCENT OF YEARLY ONLINE GIVING takes place on December 30 and 31, clearly indicating donors consider tax consequences when making charitable donations.

♦ GIVING INCENTIVES SAVE GOVERNMENT MONEY. Since nonprofits employ 10 percent of American workers, every agency closing creates more unemployment and fewer people served. Moreover, nonprofit programs for children, seniors and people with disabilities help family members continue working full-time, resulting in less reliance on government programs. Peter Orszag, former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is quoted as saying: “The charitable sector… has the most to lose from a limitation on itemized deductions.” View detailed infographic.

NEW YORK COUNCIL WEIGHS IN

The New York Council of Nonprofits, a statewide association of nonprofits with 3,000+ members, notes that charities in high-tax states such as New York are at greater risk. They point out that charitable deductions benefit THE PUBLIC, not the INDIVIDUAL taxpayer, unlike deductions for mortgage interest, gambling losses, etc. (Visit www.nycon.org).   

PERSPECTIVE & OUTLOOK 

Clearly, nonprofits have much to lose from a cap on itemized deductions. It is imperative agencies closely monitor negotiations and do what they can to voice their opposition. Many agencies, still feeling the impacts of a deep recession and funding cuts, can’t afford another setback.

Even should an agreement be reached sparing the charitable giving incentive, the fact that it was in jeopardy is significant. Given our country’s long-term fiscal challenges, this issue could surface again. Nonprofits need to continually monitor political happenings and be ready to act. 

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QUESTIONS TO READERS

A) What is your perspective on this issue?

B) Is your agency involved in opposing a cap?

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