April 21, 2024

Working for the Earth

Working For The Earth - Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard\
I’m sure this speech is making the rounds.  May this posting  provide inspiration and hope to all of you who inspire and serve.  The text speaks for itself!

PAUL HAWKEN’S COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

 Class of 2009, University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009

“Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.”

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.

But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food – but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.
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GuideStar Survey: Hard Times for Charitable Organizations

Hard Times for Charitable Organizations - Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 018

Last November, when we reported on the results of our annual nonprofit economic survey, we warned, “Fasten Your Seatbelts: It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Giving Season.” As 2008 ended and 2009 began, we saw a deluge of news reports about the economy’s impact, including its effect on nonprofits. Given the severity of the downturn and the number of stories about organizations adversely affected by it, we decided to do a follow-up nonprofit economic survey.

We invited Newsletter subscribers associated with 501(c)(3) public charities and private foundations to participate in the survey. Readers representing 2,979 organizations took the survey on-line between March 2 and March 16, 2009. Here’s what they told us.

Bumpy Giving Season and New Year, Indeed

We asked, “Did total contributions to your organization increase, decrease, or stay about the same between October 2008 and February 2009, compared to the same period a year earlier?” Some 52 percent of organizations reported a decrease. That figure was significantly higher than the 35 percent who reported lower contributions for January-September 2008, which was nearly double the 19 percent who reported a decline for January-September 2007

Change in Contributions

Period Covered by SurveyContributions DecreasedContributions Stayed about the SameContributions IncreasedDon’t Know
October 2008-February 200952%27%20%1%
January-September 200835%25%38%2%
January-September 200719%25%52%4%

Some 31 percent of organizations stated that contributions had dropped “modestly,” and 21 percent said that they had fallen “greatly.” An equal number-71 percent-of organizations for which contributions had dropped cited “Gifts from individuals were smaller” and “Fewer individuals gave” as causes of the decrease.

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How The Recession Is Affecting US Volunteering

Hard Times for Charitable Organizations - Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 018
Unemployed people are spending large amounts of their time volunteering. Recent evidence of this includes:

  • NYC Service had 30% more visitors in February 2009 than in February 2008.
  • The Philadelphia Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters had a 25% increase in inquires about mentoring from February 2008.
  • The Taproot Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that places skilled professionals in volunteer positions, had more people sign up on one day earlier this year than in an entire month a year ago.

Benefits of volunteering:

  • Volunteering gives people something to do while job hunting that allows them to feel good about themselves.
  • Volunteering is a way to stay active and stay in touch.
  • Volunteering fills a gap in one’s job history and answers the questions, “What have you been doing?”
  • Volunteering can lead to new job opportunities.
  • Hard economic times give people a renewed sense of compassion and a better understanding of how others are struggling.
  • Volunteering relieves stress from constantly thinking about economic matters.
  • Because of the current economic climate, teens have become more aware of the needs of others and are volunteering.

The impact of increased number of volunteers on nonprofit organizations

  • Smaller organizations without volunteer coordinators are struggling to absorb the influx of volunteers many of whom are highly skilled.
  • Funding cuts can make nonprofits less able to take advantage of volunteer support.

Courtesy of Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Adapted from:

“From Ranks of Jobless, a Flood of Volunteers,” by Julie Bosman, in the New York Times, March 16, 2009

“Some US jobless find hope and solace as volunteers” by Andrew Stern in RUETERS, February 24, 2009.

Related links:

“How Will the Economic Crisis Affect Volunteering”   by Susan Ellis, energizeinc.com, November 2008.

“Turning Down Volunteers”  by MBA Publishing, volunteertoday.com, May 2009.

 

Older Adult Volunteers Bring New Expertise and New Life to Nonprofits

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 104

(ARA) -When Margaret Ross retired from a career in nursing, she had no idea that her new life as a volunteer would lead her right back into healthcare. Neither did Mike Chesnut, whose work building retail partnerships looks a lot like his volunteer service for a group of Denver nonprofits that are fighting homelessness. The same is true for retiree Berlin Hall. Since leaving his accounting executive career, Hall’s desire to help at-risk families led him to volunteer to manage the books for a family services agency.

As they move into roles in service and volunteering, older adults like these are discovering that what they know is just as important as how much time they can give. Their help couldn’t have come at a better time. With demand for nonprofit services skyrocketing, fundraising and revenues are way down. Some experts predict as many as 100,000 nonprofit organizations could run out of money for their programs completely.

The recession has spurred more interest in volunteering among older adults, particularly among boomers, says Jill Friedman Fixler, a nonprofit consultant and co-author of “Boomer Volunteer Engagement.”

“This is a group with abundant skills and profound circles of influence and they believe they can have an impact in their community right now,” she says.

That was the idea for Chesnut. After leaving his job as a retail sales executive with Procter & Gamble, Chesnut, 64, spent several years as a counselor for small business owners. When he moved to Denver a few years ago, he decided to focus on helping nonprofits. As he explored his options, Chesnut was struck by Denver’s homeless problem. Millions of dollars were being spent pulling families out of shelters, but programs that were trying to keep families out of them to begin with were underfunded. After organizing a coalition of local nonprofits, Chesnut began a research project that eventually led to a successful $600,000 grant.

“Coming from the corporate world and working with large retailers, you learn to look for common interest,” he says. “What I did was put numbers to the problem.”

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It’s Tax Season For Nonprofits Too

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

Just because your organization is a nonprofit does not mean that it can sit back and ignore the tax filing season. In particular, it’s very important for small nonprofits to understand that while they may not have had to file anything with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the past, they now may have a new form to file, called the e-Postcard (or Form 990-N).The Pension Protection Act requires small organizations that normally have $25,000 or less in gross receipts to file an annual electronic notice with the IRS. This means that many small organizations — like local sewing leagues, sporting clubs and food pantries — may need to file the e-Postcard to protect their tax-exempt status. There are, however, some exceptions to this filing requirement. For example, an organization that is part of a group return or is a church, its auxiliary or an association of a church is not required to file the e-Postcard.

The first e-Postcard filings were due in 2008. For many organizations that missed this deadline, there are only two years left to start complying with the new rule. It is critical to note that organizations that do not file for three consecutive years will automatically lose their tax-exempt status. If you work with a nonprofit organization — especially a small one that never had to file with the IRS before — check with your leadership team to see if they are aware of this new form. And help spread the word about the e-Postcard to other small nonprofits in your town.

How to File
The e-Postcard can only be filled out and filed online, but you do not need any special software to do so. You just need access to a computer and the Internet. Visit www.irs.gov/charities and click on “Annual Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Exempt Organizations” to learn more about the e-Postcard and to access the form.

It requires a few pieces of identifying information about your organization and should only take a few minutes to fill out. But it is important to take the time to do so in order to protect your organization’s tax-exempt status.

Know Your Deadline
Unlike personal income taxes, the e-Postcard does not have a universal deadline. Instead, it depends on the closing date of each organization’s tax year, so your deadline may be different from another nonprofit in your town.

The rule is that the e-Postcard is due by the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the organization’s tax year. For example, if your tax year closes on Dec. 31, the form is due by the following May 15.

More Information

For the latest information for tax-exempt organizations, sign up for the EO Update, a regular e-newsletter delivered directly to your inbox, at www.irs.gov/charities. To get more information about maintaining tax-exempt status, go to the IRS Web-based training program, www.stayexempt.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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