Failure to Thrive

While many parts of our sector are about responding to crises—food insecurity, homelessness, the opioid epidemic, global warming, etc. – our sector as a whole is potentially on the verge of its own crisis that threatens its survival. 

On the first night of the first class of the Nonprofit Leadership masters program, a student asked a question that I don’t usually get from students, especially this early on.  In fact, it is a question that I usually ask them at about the halfway point in Read more

Serving the Public Good

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are just under 1.6 million nonprofits in the U.S.   The overwhelming majority of them work very hard to fulfill their tax-exempt purpose:  working on behalf of some portion of the public good.  Not all may succeed, not all are doing the best job, but they are all sincerely trying to do the right thing to the best of their sometimes limited capabilities.  That’s the good news.

Now some bad news.  Since 2014, the IRS has made it Read more

Best Nonprofit Money Can Buy?

We all know the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness.” It’s time that nonprofits understand that money also doesn’t buy doing things right.

In the second half of last year, Marks Paneth, a New York City accounting firm, conducted a survey of 114 leaders—executive directors, board members and CFOs—from nonprofits with budgets between $10 million and $200 million.

In other words, not your average nonprofits.  They are, in fact the 1.5 percenters—those nonprofits with revenue of $10 million or more.*  Nevertheless, we should all take of Read more

3 Cheers for the Little Guys

Let’s hear it for the small foundations—those with assets of less than $50 million, as defined by the Foundation Source and the subject of its Annual Report on Private Foundations 2015.

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These “little guys” are certainly doing right by the charities they fund.  In every category, from the very small (assets under $1 million) to the large small (assets between $10 and $50 million), the 769 small foundations in this study gave more in 2014 than they did in 2013.  Across all categories, Read more

The Most Deserving List

This is the time of year for lists – top 10 movies of the year, top 10 retweets, top 10 pictures of dogs dressed as reindeer. That’s one way of collecting data.

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Every semester, I start off one of my graduate classes by asking the students to explore the various sources of data on nonprofits. I give them starting sources, such as the National Center for Charitable Statistics, Giving USA and the Foundation Center, making it clear that they are by no means Read more

Are We Better Off?

Recently, the IRS published the list of the 279,595 nonprofits which had their nonprofit status revoked for failure to file a Form 990 for at least three consecutive years, a requirement put forth in the Pension Reform Act of 2006. Taken in the larger scheme of things, 280,000 out of a total of approximately 1.6 million nonprofits is about 18%.   Since that release, newspaper headlines around the country have been reporting the local numbers, which vary depending upon whether reporting on a town, county or Read more