Friday, September 14, 2007

990 in transition

As most readers probably know, the form nearly all nonprofits in the US have to fill out annually for the Internal Revenue Service is undergoing its first major revision in over 25 years.

The IRS 990 has become a much more important tool of late, since it is the major data point that many online nonprofit watchdogs such as GuideStar use as they rate the management effectiveness of an organization. With the added transparency requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, more and more nonprofits are putting more and more time and effort into their 990's including, sadly, efforts to game the form, particularly when it comes to accounting for administrative costs.

Enter the US Senate and their hearings on nonprofit management and accountability. Of the many recommendations made last year, the one that I believe will have the most long-term impact is the change in this form: pretty much everyone will be affected.

The IRS says that one of its goals in the redesign is "to the extent practicable, to minimize the burden on the filing organizations". Good idea. We'll see.

New is a requirement that all nonprofits who have over $25,000 in revenue file the 990 every year. Less burden? And, all nonprofits have to prove that they have a variety of governance policies in place for their board. Again, a good idea in the abstract. But necessary for a small nonprofit like a soccer team booster club? I dunno

If you haven't already, you should take a look at the draft form, and the IRS has taken the very unusual step of posting the draft of the redesign online for people to see and comment. Take a look at the form, and other information on the 990 from the IRS here.

For some perspective and insight, here is an article on the new 990 from Joanne Fritz.

Death, taxes and the IRS 990. All inevitable, so get prepared -- at least for the 990 -- now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting online where the younger generation is....

My first lecture(s) of the fall marathon were fun and rewarding. I met with a group of Easter Seals staff in Cincinnati. Great folks doing great things. We discussed generation change in two ways: first generally for the organization as a whole, and second around HR--hiring, recruitment, retention issues.

In between, I spent a lot of time talking to participants about what their organizations are doing (and not doing) in this arena, and their responses synched perfectly with the early results from a mixed group of nonprofits I'm researching for the Foellinger Foundation in Fort Wayne.

To wit: the vasts majority of nonprofits are not going after younger people where they live and communicate---and for high school and college kids, that's on MySpace and Facebook. I've posted before ("Let 'em in and Prosper", "Using Web 2.0") about the value and benefits of using social networking, either through the big portals, or sites like Ning, where you can create your own network. But if you want to go after the younger set, MySpace and Facebook are de riguer.

Of course, TechSoup has a number of articles on how to get on with Facebook and how to benefit
from that interaction.
Check out: A Beginner's Guide to Facebook, and Promote Your Cause on Facebook in Six Easy Steps

Check them out....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not so bad, not so good.

Lester Salamon and Stephanie Geller at the Listening Post at Johns Hopkins have published Communique #8, entitled "The Nonprofit Workforce Crisis: Real or Imagined?".

This piece (like everything from Salamon) is definately worth the read. It details the latest "sounding" of nonprofits, in this case regarding their ease/difficulty of recruiting and retaining qualified staff. The results are both unsurprising and very surprising depending on the issue.

-87% of nonprofits find recruitment "somewhat or extremely challenging".
-Of various kinds of staff being recruited, qualified fundraisers were the most "challenging" to find.
-People of color are also "significantly more challenging" to recruit. This is a huge issue for nonprofits working to increase their staff diversity.
-87% of nonprofits feel that the "inability to offer competitive salaries" is a key barrier to recruitment.

Very Surprising:
-A very high percentage of nonprofits are happy with their recruits' qualifications (86%), and commitment to mission (83%). This is terrific, but not what I have heard from execs. Hence my surprise.
-The negative effect of turnover is very limited. A variety of indicators were asked regarding the effect of staff turnover. Responses were very positive, with less than 40% across the board, saying that the turnover was harmful to mission. This is really good news.

The authors also talk about strategies for successful recruitment.

Overall, this is good news, I think.

Read it and post your opinion here!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Generation Change and Technology

As recent posts suggest, different generations are using technology differently. There are tons of great resources online and in print for nonprofits, but not so many on the interface of technology, nonprofits, and different generations.

Thus, this month's Mission-Based Management Newsletter, which is on just that topic. It borrows a lot of its content from the chapter by the same name from my new book "Generations: The Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit".

While you're reading the newsletter, remember to scroll down to see a director of past issues by topic. And, you can subscribe (for free) by emailing me at