In a Year of Intimidating Voters, It’s Never Been More Urgent for Nonprofits to Get Out the Vote

Tim Delaneyby Tim Delaney

Because of the frightening steps taken by some to exclude certain groups of Americans — minorities and the poor — from voting this election, it’s never been more essential for the leaders of the nation’s nonprofits to urge all Americans to go to the polls.

On November 8 voters across the country get to decide who fills 5,920 state legislative seats along with 93 statewide offices such as governor (12 to be elected), attorney general (10), and secretary of state (eight). Each officeholder can make a significant difference to nonprofits, as can the thousands of local city, county, judicial, school district, and special district officials up for election in November.

Those races are especially important to nonprofits, given the dysfunctional gridlock in Congress. The main policy action affecting the work of nonprofits and foundations will continue to be at the state and local levels. Nonetheless, the mainstream news media will continue to focus on the presidential election and races for 34 U.S. Senate slots and 435 Congressional seats.

What’s at stake for the future of our communities?

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Why New Jersey Needs a Charitable Giving Deduction

By Linda M. Czipo

It’s no secret that the slow economic recovery continues to take its toll on the ability of New Jersey’s non-profits to provide essential services for our communities in the face of a stagnant funding environment.

One important way to address the problem is to make it easier for people to give to charity by providing a state-level tax deduction for charitable donations. Several bills now pending in the New Jersey Legislature would allow taxpayers to deduct their charitable gifts from their state income taxes.

A New Jersey charitable deduction would be good for our state’s charities and everyone that relies on them. Here’s why:

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Ten Things Non-Profits Should Know When Choosing Office Space

  By Cheri Hennessy Durst

Photos courtesy CollaborationCore
(Photos courtesy CollaborationCore)

Is your organization growing out of a home office or considering moving your established set-up to a new facility? Before getting into the details of searching, your board should discuss the big picture issues such as:

  • Will a new location help our mission and the community we serve?
  • Should we rent, or is it time to own?
  • Should we do the searching or hire a realtor specializing in office rentals?

Build with a Purpose, a New Jersey-based non-profit, can help you start the conversation with their Helpful Guides to Facility Development.

Even though change can be exciting, for some moving your office from one location to another can be a daunting task. Many of the things you, your staff and volunteers are accustomed to may now turn into expenses for your organization. To make the process a bit easier, below are ten key questions to ask when searching for your new location.

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Chronic Under-Funding of Non-Profits: An Unacceptable Risk

By Linda M. Czipo

New Jesey Non-Profits 2016: Trends and Outlook - Cover The Center for Non-Profits has just released its New Jersey Non-Profits 2016: Trends and Outlook report, highlighting the findings from our 2016 annual non-profit survey.

The full report lays out in detail the ups and downs experienced by non-profits during the previous year, and their outlook for 2016. Here are the major highlights, based on the 311 New Jersey non-profit respondents from late January/early February 2016:

  • Nearly three-quarters of responding organizations reported that demand for services had increased during the past year.
  • Nearly four-fifths expected demand to continue rising in 2016.
  • Only two-fifths reported receiving more total funding in 2015 than in 2014, but nearly two-thirds reported that their expenses had increased during the same period.
  • Over one-third (35%) reported that expenses exceeded support and revenue during their most recently completed fiscal year; the proportion was even higher (44%) among larger organizations, those with annual budgets of $1.5 million or more.
  • Seventy percent expected their total expenses to increase in 2016, but fewer than half (47%) expected total 2016 funding to increase.

If you’ve seen our previous surveys or if you work regularly with non-profits, these findings may sound like variations of a familiar theme. You may even think that they’re better than during the worst of the recession – and that’s true. But if you care about the well-being of the non-profit community and non-profits’ ability to provide vital programs and services, these numbers should generate deep concern.

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Can You Double Online Giving in Six Months?

Darian Rodriguez Heymanby Darian Rodriguez Heyman

More and more nonprofit donations take place in today’s digital landscape, but how can causes of all sizes ensure their online storefront is not only open for business, but optimized?

As I explored this critical issue in my new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, I interviewed Roderick Campbell, the CEO of nonprofit fundraising platform CommitChange. He shared a few takeaways from their efforts to maximize digital donations for Mercy House, a $3.8M nonprofit that has provided housing and support to California’s homeless since 1989. We also talked about a range of resources to help smaller, grassroots organizations in the early stages of embracing online fundraising, including Network for Good, NTEN, and Beth Kanter’s blog.

This simple formula helped Mercy House double online giving in just six months, and I believe it can do the same for your nonprofit, too.

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Cybersecurity is NOT just an IT problem

By June NotoNJAMHAA IT Project

The recent announcement by a Hollywood, California, hospital that it paid $17,000 to computer hackers for the return of its computer data is yet another reminder that cybersecurity is everyone’s problem.

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Funding from the Grantor’s Perspective

by Susan Merrill O’Connor

Funder Panel: Lenora Green, Marion O'Neill, Jeffrey Vega, Kelly Ingram
(l-r) Lenora Green, Marion O’Neill, Jeffrey Vega, Kelly Ingram

What do you get when you put four savvy grantmakers in front of a room of willing and passionate non-profits? No, not something resembling ABC’s reality TV show Shark Tank, but a friendly and supportive exchange of useful and honest insight.

Last month, staff and volunteers from New Jersey non-profits attended Grant Giving from the Grantor’s Perspective, a breakout session at the Princeton Community Works conference. The impressive panel was a balance of corporate and community foundation funders:

The session was moderated by Linda Czipo, Executive Director of the Center for Non-Profits.

Here are just a few highlights from this engaging conversation:

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Branding Your Non-Profit: The Value of Your Mission

by Sally Glick

Sally_Glick_Final_744-resizedThere is a good deal of discussion in both the for-profit and non-profit communities about the importance of an organization’s brand. When you have a well-established name you are able to effectively and efficiently differentiate your group and build a loyal following. Think about some well-known brands, like Ben & Jerry’s (community commitment); Disney (extraordinary family fun); Peace Corps (global support for the world’s vulnerable); or America Reads (volunteers for literacy). In each instance, the organization has promoted a brand that resonates with its audience and generates an immediate emotional reaction.

You can do that!

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Top 5 Takeaways from the 2015 Annual Conference

OConnor_Susan_175x175By Susan Merrill O’Connor

  • Nametags recycled – check.
  • Evaluations tallied – check.
  • Bill received from venue – check.
  • Wedding dress sent to cleaners – oops, wrong post-event checklist … although the Center staff still has a warm glow after the love we non-profits all shared less than a month ago at our annual conference, Power, Purpose, Performance: Non-Profits Growing a Thriving Garden State, on December 2, 2015.

2015 NJ Non-profit Conference LogoDid we see you there along with over 400 of your closest non-profit friends and family? If so, we hope we got a chance to tell you how much we appreciate all you do for New Jersey. But, often like being in the wedding party, we only had fragmented conversations, waves from afar and quick handshakes or hugs.

The conference, as we all know, isn’t a party (though there was plenty of good food and enjoyment to be had). It’s a chance to connect with allies old and new, foster a collective spirit, and gain valuable insight and tools for the good work you do every day.

The 2015 conference was also the start of some wonderful relationships and important dialogues — including these Top 5 Takeaways many of you shared with us:

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Tips for Making Informed Giving Decisions

by Linda M. Czipo

Every day, our lives are touched in some way by the work of charitable organizations. Charities play an essential social and economic role in making our communities attractive places to live, work and grow.

While a slow economic recovery and rising demand for charitable services mean that charities need donor support more than ever, donors may become overwhelmed by the various requests for contributions. For donors trying to sort through these appeals, wise giving choices have never been more crucial.

You don’t need to have an elaborate plan to “do good,” but you can take steps that will help you to be confident in the decisions you make.

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