Avoid these traps in your fall fundraising

by Linda M. Czipo

September is here, and for many nonprofits, that can only mean one thing two things: the return of everything pumpkin spice, and the high-gear kickoff of fall and year-end fundraising campaigns. It’s also a great time to make sure that your fundraising strategies and appeals are in compliance with state, federal, and local laws and regulations.

Noncompliance can result in delays, lost funding, or even fines or criminal penalties. With a reminder to always consult knowledgeable legal counsel, here are a few common fundraising traps you’ll want to avoid.

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Taking Action Against Racism: A Non-Profit Imperative

“If my life doesn’t matter, then my voice certainly doesn’t.”

That gut-wrenching statement came from a non-profit executive, a woman of color who is a titan in her field and one of the most effective leaders I know. We were on a call with colleagues, discussing the widespread outrage against systemic racism, and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, another senseless killing of an unarmed Black person.  Urging us all to speak up and take stronger action in this fight, she noted that her voice is being dismissed by some as suspect or “self-serving.”

As non-profits, our entire reason for being is to make society better by our missions and deeds. As part of that promise, we have a responsibility to advance an equitable society, to shine a bright light on the harsh reality of systemic racism and injustice and to actively work against it. If we are avoiding or sidestepping those realities, we are not living up to that promise.

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Coronavirus, Non-Profits, and General Health

Last reviewed/updated 4/24/2020

For the latest Coronavirus information from the State of New Jersey, visit covid19.nj.gov.

For more information and resources for non-profits, visit the Center’s COVID-19 resource page.

Our deep thanks to all who responded to our surveys with the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers about how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting your organization.
March survey results April survey results
Our message to Governor Murphy, legislative leaders:
Include non-profits in your
COVID-19 relief
measures
Read our statement

NJ Non-Profit Community Letter to Congress:
non-profit relief in the next CARES Act
Read the letter
March 25: Governor Murphy has issued an executive order directing all child care centers that are not serving essential workers to close down by April 1, 2020.
March 21: Governor Murphy has ordered the physical closure of all non-essential retail businesses, and has directed all New Jerseyans to stay at home wherever possible. The order further directs that employers, including non-profits, must, wherever practicable, accommodate tele-work or work from home arrangements. “To the extent a business or non-profit has employees that cannot perform their functions via telework or work-from-home arrangements, the business or non-profit should make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.” Read more here: https://covid19.nj.gov/faqs/nj-information/general-public/governor-murphy-announces-statewide-stay-at-home-order-closure-of-all-non-essential-retail-businesses

With the news changing rapidly and the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New Jersey growing, non-profits may have questions about the potential impact and what actions can be taken.

Photograph of hand washing. Hands are covered with soapy lather.
Frequent, thorough handwashing is still one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of contagious disease.

The virus is being watched closely around the globe, but depending on how the outbreak spreads, non-profits may potentially face a wide range of impacts, such as:

  • increased and sustained staff and volunteer absences,
  • disruption of services to your clients and communities,
  • disruption of supplies or services provided by your partners,
  • cancellation of programs or events (and corresponding reduced revenue),
  • increased demand for services/support from your clients and communities,
  • budgetary implications related to strains on the economy or possible changes in funders’ priorities or financial portfolios.

As is the case with so many situations, accurate information, preparedness, good planning, prevention, and communications are paramount.  Bearing in mind that we are not health professionals and that information can change rapidly, following are general suggestions for your consideration.

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Why Everyone Must Count in 2020

by Peter Chen

Although April 2020 seems far away, communities need to start planning now for the 2020 Census. Communities that are not fully counted in 2020 will miss out for the next ten years. This is the time to get involved.

United States Census 2020 logo, 2020census.gov

New Jersey stands to lose billions in federal funding, including support for critical programs such as children’s health insurance, school funding, school lunch and breakfast programs, Head Start, highway funding, college scholarships, and housing programs. For a list of programs affected by Census counts, see here

As one of the nation’s most diverse states, New Jersey is at particular risk for an undercount. Residents who are part of a racial or ethnic minority, who rent their home, who are immigrants, or who are children under 5 are at high risk of being missed.

How can you help?

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Trends for New Jersey Non-Profits to Watch in 2019

by Linda M. Czipo

Roller Coaster

Congratulations, New Jersey non-profits! We made it through another year. For many of us, 2018 was marked by ups and downs, a mix of significant impact and accomplishment amid a dizzying array of relentless challenges.

A new year brings anticipation, trepidation, optimism and resolve – and the irresistible temptation to predict what lies ahead for the next 12 months. Here are just a few of the trends and issues we’re watching for the coming year. I hope you’ll chime in with yours.

With uncertainty now the norm on many levels, another wild roller coaster ride is in the offing, so buckle up.

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FIVE Reasons to Embrace Non-Profit News Media

by Susan Merrill O’Connor

Where do you get your news? Or should I ask, how do you avoid all the noise these days but still stay informed?

While we may not agree on the origin of the word newsNews

The one thing we can agree on is that when it comes to non-profit news outlets, we should all want them to stick around.

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The New Federal Tax Law and New Jersey Non-Profits

by Linda M. Czipo

IRS Form 1040 2017The new tax law, the measure formerly known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” represents the most comprehensive overhaul of the federal tax system in decades. Although the full impact of the law is still unfolding, most of the law’s provisions are effective as of January 1, 2018, so non-profits need to take steps now to understand and adapt to the changes. Following is a discussion of some of the key elements of the law affecting 501(c)(3) organizations, as well as some elements that did not make it into the final statute.

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2017 NJ Non-Profit Survey: Rising Demand, Resource Gaps, and Opportunities

by Linda M. Czipo

TNJ Non-Profits 2017: Trends and Outlook Cover Thumbnailhe Center for Non-Profits has been surveying the New Jersey non-profit community at least annually since 2001 to gauge the effects of the economy, funding and programmatic trends, and other issues in our field. This year’s report, New Jersey Non-Profits 2017: Trends and Outlook, based on the responses from 300 organizations, reveals familiar themes as well as some new concerns and opportunities.

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President’s “Free Speech and Religious Liberty” Executive Order is a Lose-Lose for Everyone

by Linda M Czipo

The White House - Photo © Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons
Photo © Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

On May 4, President Trump signed an Executive Order declaring the executive branch’s goal to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” Of particular interest to the broad-based charitable community is a provision that purports to make it easier for religious institutions to engage in partisan political speech and electioneering – activities that are prohibited for 501(c)(3) organizations under the “Johnson Amendment.” (Another provision concerns whether insurance companies must cover contraception for individuals if their employers opt out for religious reasons.)

The Center for Non-Profits, the National Council of Nonprofits, hundreds of other national non-profit and faith leaders, and nearly 4500 organizations across the country (including 174 in New Jersey) have come out strongly and repeatedly against weakening the Johnson Amendment, which the President vowed on the campaign trail and in his first weeks in office to “totally destroy.”

The President’s Executive Order is likely to face legal challenges from a variety of organizations, some of which reportedly are already in the process of preparing their legal filings. But in the meantime, what does it actually say, and what does it mean for 501(c)(3) organizations? Arguably, it says and means both nothing and everything simultaneously.

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Don’t Weaken the Existing Ban on Electioneering by 501(c)(3) Organizations

Proposed “Johnson Amendment” repeal would harm 501(c)(3)s 

U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

by Linda M. Czipo

Since 1954, tax law has contained a provision prohibiting 501(c)(3) organizations from directly or indirectly attempting to influence the election or defeat of any candidate for public office. This ban, also known as the Johnson Amendment for its sponsor, then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, applies not only to churches, but to all 501(c)(3) organizations.

During the February 2, 2017, National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump renewed his call for a repeal of the 62-year-old ban, and several different bills have been introduced in Congress to weaken or completely repeal it. The Center for Non-Profits strongly opposes repeal and supports preserving the current law.

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