Thursday, April 30, 2009

SAVE THE DATE: June 16th ED Group Meeting

The next SCNY ED Group forum will be on 6/16/09 at 8:30 am hosted by AVRE. The presenter will be Richard Keehle, who is head of Security for UHS. His program will be Safety Planning for Non-Profits

Program Committee Minutes

April 28, 2009

Darrell provided a brief recap of the Steering Committee meeting:
· Membership had one new candidate having trouble reaching her
· Two BU Graduate interns being interviewed one by FEN one by Council of Churches for Special project survey work
· Decision to extend Quarterly Forums to two hours and allow speakers one full hour

Next forum will be on 6/16/09 at 8:30 AM at AVRE
Presenter will be Richard Keehle head of Security for UHS presenting on Safety Planning for Non-Profits

We need to solicit locations for next two forums at this meeting.

Jennifer reported Mr. Keehle wanted some ideas of material we wished covered. The Committee brainstormed the following topics / issues:
· Outline of what should be included in a safety plan as a handout or an outline that could be sent electronically
· Balancing building security and public / parent / client access
· Safety for workers in the field
· Off site safety planning
· Transporting clients
Jennifer will follow-up with him on these topics.

Evaluation form was reviewed – the committee felt it was a good model and captured what we needed.

September Forum:
· Moved to 9/15/09 at 8:30 AM due to original date being day after Labor Day
· Topic still non-monetary motivators for staff
· Jennifer to contact Bob on possibility of adding a second person from STAP to present as they have very low turnover
· Bob to follow up with BAE person
· Meeting site undetermined

December Forum
· December 8, 2009 8:30 AM
· Presentation on foundation Funding – need to refine topic and decide if we wish group presentation perhaps on what they look for???

Next Steering Committee 6/23/09, 8:30 AM, FEN
Next Program Committee 7/14/09, 8:30 AM at ACCORD

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick and easy way to communicate your nonprofit's economic impact

The American Association of Museums has created a online form that will send out an e-mail communicating a museum's economic impact to political officials. The form asks for information, which is then translated into the letter template below. This is a simple and easy way for a nonprofit to get the word out about their economic impact on the region.

The questions are:
  • How many people does your museum/organization employ in your community?
  • What is your museum/organization's annual budget?
  • How many visitors does your museum/organization serves each year?
  • What percent of those are out-of-town visitors? (provide an estimate)
  • How many schoolchildren visit your museum/organization each year?
  • What is your museum/organization's average admission fee?
Does this idea have potential for the SCNY ED Group? Share your thoughts here.

Message Preview
[Your information will be inserted here]
Prefix Firstname Lastname
123 Street Address
MyCity, St 12345

April 28, 2009

[The Official's information will appear here]
The Honorable Firstname Lastname
123 Street Address
Washington, DC 12345

Dear [Official's Title and Name will be inserted here]:

I am writing to express my disappointment about a recent amendment (S. Amendment. No. 309, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn) barring any museums, zoos, and aquariums from receiving any funds through the economic stimulus bill.

Museums employ more than a half-million Americans, spend an estimated $14.5 billion annually, and rank among the top three family vacation destinations. In fact, visitors to cultural and heritage destinations stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists. Unfortunately, the economic downturn has forced museums to struggle just to maintain essential services.

I would like to provide for you a Community and Economic Impact Statement for my institution, the [UserField3]:
- [UserField3] employs [MergeField1] people in our community;
- Each year, [UserField3] spends $[MergeField2] on goods and services in our community;
- [UserField3] serves [MergeField3] visitors each year, including [MergeField4]% from out of town;
- [UserField3] serves [MergeField5] schoolchildren each year through school visits to museums;
- Admission fee: [MergeField6].

Museums are also critical partners to school districts. Many work with school districts to both train educators and help teach the curriculum. Many offer after-school programs for at-risk youth. Zoos and aquariums have tremendous public benefit for environmental education and wildlife conservation.

Please consider the economic impact that museums, zoos, and aquariums have on our community. They are in fact economic engines and a vital part of our nation's educational infrastructure, and will be critical in the economic recovery of cities and localities.I look forward to hearing your views on this issue.

[Your name will appear here.]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More nonprofits merging to stay in business

Experts say recession-driven cuts in donations and funding are fueling an acceleration of nonprofit mergers, the Boston Globe reported April 15 (see nonprofit mergers story). The Boston Foundation has been encouraging nonprofits to look at partnering as a strategy for surviving the recession, and some officials say too many nonprofits operate in Massachusetts to survive.

Nonprofits work to avoid layoffs

As nonprofits continue to be squeezed by rising demand and falling revenue, many nonprofit operations executives are hoping cost-cutting measures will forestall layoffs, a new report says.

Most chief financial officers and chief operations officers surveyed by Bridgespan say layoffs are a last resort and worry that losing staff would mean a decrease in services for constituents.

To keep layoffs at bay, many nonprofits are instituting one or more cost-saving measures:
* Redeploying staff and volunteers to other areas, primarily fundraising
* Renegotiating contracts with vendors, many of which would rather alter terms than lose business
* Cutting staff salaries, benefits and bonuses, and mandating furloughs
* Consolidating operations
* Increasing communications and transparency with all stakeholders
* Grooming volunteers to take on jobs formerly handled by staff
* Soliciting help from board members in fundraising, planning and other areas
* Looking for ways to retain their best staffers

Bridgestar is a program of the Bridgespan Group and works boost leadership in the nonprofit sector.

With fewer donations and declining investments, nonprofits are thinking creatively about cutting costs and raising revenue

The Wall Street Journal featured an article by Shelly Banjo about how different nonprofits are responding to the economic crisis.

When your mission is serving the needy, tough times can be doubly difficult: More people need help, but you have fewer resources.

Nonprofit organizations -- facing cuts in government aid, investment losses and a decline in donations -- have been experimenting with new ways to stay afloat. Besides cutting costs and eliminating waste, they're thinking more creatively about how to use volunteers, garner new donations, strengthen ties with existing donors and create projects that generate additional income.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," says Melissa Berman, president of New York-based Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. "As financial resources dry up, people have the impetus they need to be creative about where to get help and how to keep their mission going."
Here's a look at the strategies some charitable organizations are using:

Special Olympics
Looking Beyond Cash
The organizing committee for this year's Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho faced a $33.5 million budget shortfall about 18 months before the February event. It had to "get creative...and ramp up quickly," says Bruce Schrepple, chief financial officer of the U.S. Games Organizing Committee. The key was finding resources other than cash to make ends meet.
The committee began by tackling staff-related costs. It reduced plans for paid staff members to 60 from 120 and made up for that by intensifying its volunteer-recruitment efforts. It tapped volunteers from local nonprofits, the National Guard, the Defense Department and AmeriCorps, a nationwide community-service network.

Nonprofits may be able to rely more on volunteers now because many people who have been laid off, some with lucrative severance packages, "are seeking new opportunities to give back," says Garvester Kelley, a vice president at the Nonprofit Finance Fund, a nonprofit financial-advisory service.

Nonprofits can also reach out to businesses for help in the form of goods and services, rather than cash, Mr. Kelley says. For instance, to train the volunteers for the Special Olympics, the organizing committee was able to replace a costly two-week, on-site program with an online training program designed free of charge by Brainshark Inc. of Waltham, Mass. The committee also found companies and governmental agencies that were willing to provide the Games' information-technology staff, computers, and food and beverages.

Nonprofits looking to employ this strategy "need to be as specific as possible about what they need" from both the companies and the volunteers to "make sure you are getting something you can actually use," says Lucy Bernholz, founder and president of philanthropy consulting firm Blueprint Research & Design Inc. of San Francisco.

Also, processing donations of goods and services and organizing volunteers for the Games took time and training, something nonprofits need to be aware of and prepared to handle, says the organizing committee's Mr. Schrepple. Read more here about other nonprofits and how they are coping.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Growing Opportunities In Tough Times

WBNG featured Broome County Council of Churches in their recent coverage of the 22nd annual Binghamton Business Show, which featured more than 150 local companies. Action News reporter Erik Burling related why businesses say now is the perfect time to position for future success.

Saving money and time is just the strategy companies are looking for to cope with a struggling economy.
Still, many small businesses at the Greater Binghamton Business say now is not the time to cut back on marketing.

"In a tough economy it's important to do things like this because you need more customers. And in the economy people are looking to shop and find people that are a good value for the dollar they spend," said Jamie Hess of Computer Emergency Room.

Even non-profit organizations are showcasing their services.
The Broome County Council of Churches is connecting with other groups to accomplish similar missions.

"It's very important for connections. Not just for us at the council, but for all people in the community," said Judy Hipes of the Broome County Council of Churches.

"With the national economy in the gutters, many companies say there's a wealth of opportunities for growth in Greater Binghamton," said Action News reporter Erik Burling.
"The community at large wants to support local business. So, I think if they have a chance to do local stuff they will," said Rebecca Mackay of Horizons Federal Credit Union.

Support business and buy local.
It's what people are doing when making their way through the maze at the Business Show.
The business show is organized by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
This year's theme was "Discover Your Business, Right in Your Own Backyard."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Strategic Management in Tough Times Follow Up

Have follow up questions? Here are some questions that have been asked so far:
  • The workshop last week generated some interesting discussion on board responsibility. Did I hear this correctly? Can board members be held personally liable if an organization is dissolved with outstanding debts?

Yes, this is true. Boards of directors can be held financially responsible for outstanding debts of a nonprofit organization ceasing to operate and dissolving. Have questions, let us know.

  • Can you provide specifc info regarding nonprofits not be allowed to vote by e-mail in New York State?

Interested in this answer, e-mail us for information provided by our Legal Accountability & Compliance Services staff. Add your questions here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Strategic Management in Tough Times

Last Friday featured the workshop Strategic Management in Tough Times, hosted at the Broome County Public Library. The workshop was presented by NYCON CEO Doug Sauer and sponsored by The Community Foundation for South Central New York and The Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation, Inc. The resulting participant discussion showed that nonprofits across the Broome County region share the same challenges and concerns about staying in business and operating in the future. There were a number of questions and issues raised during the discussion, ranging from questions about board engagement to challenges with state funding. Organizations were able to share their own challenges and find support amongst their peers. The workshop also helped bring consensus on major issues like board governance and participation, including the perceived need for more resources and information for nonprofit board members. If you attended the workshop, feel free to share your own feedback or send us your follow up questions by e-mail.
As nonprofits work to meet the challenges and manage their organizations during these tough times, the Broome, Chenango, Cortland and Tioga Capacity Building Mini-Grant Program can be a resource. Co-sponsored by The Community Foundation for South Central New York, The Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation, Inc., and Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation, any nonprofit who attended the April 17th training (or after attending the upcoming June 9th Succession Planning for Nonprofits workshop) is invited to can apply. Contact us for more information.

If you would like to register for the second Southern Tier Capacity Building Program workshop, Succession Planning for Your Nonprofit, set for Tuesday, June 9th, you can register here.
If you would like share your input on how you're nonprofit is meeting today's challenges, let us know. Sharing your opinions and advice or challenges is of value.

Appraising Employee Performance in a Downsized Organization

Harvard Business Publishing offered the following article by Tom Krattenmaker. The article addresses the importance of employee performance reviews, even during a period of downsizing or restructuring. As Tom states:
"Done right, performance appraisals can give employees a better understanding of the new and different demands of their jobs in the context of the company's changing needs. Don't duck the tough issues, say the experts, but don't overlook the opportunity to emphasize the future, either. The performance appraisal is a great opportunity to emphasize that employees have a stake in reengineering work processes and helping the company stay competitive in tough times."

He covers the following main points:
  • Performance appraisals strengthen the organization
  • Make the bottom line clear
  • Spend compensation dollars wisely
  • Reshaping after downsizing
  • A problem of skill or will?
Read the article here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Press & Sun Sponsors Writing Project to Raise Money For Victims' Families

Members of the Broome County arts community are seeking poems and personal essays/memoirs reflecting on the April 3 massacre at the American Civic Association. Submissions are welcome from all membersof the community for a collection to be titled "Binghamton Remembers."All proceeds from the collection, which will be available for purchase in June, will benefit the fund set up by Catholic Charities of Broome County to help the families of victims.

Final selections will be determined by Andrei Gurianu, Broome Countypoet laureate and editor of The Broome Review; collection editor Kristen Cox Roby; and other members of the Boome County arts community. The work is being sponsored by the Press & Sun-Bulletin. Creative pieces of no more than 1,000 words will be considered.Submissions must be sent via e-mail to Please include your full name and phone number. The deadline is 5 p.m.April 26.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ACA director vows facility will reopen

The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported that the American Civic Association board members have decided "overwhelmingly" to reopen the building that nearly two weeks ago was the site of mass murder.

"Our return is not a question of if, but when," said the organization's executive director, Andrew Baranoski.

Thirteen people - 11 immigrants taking an English class, their teacher and a caseworker - were gunned down April 3 at the American Civic Association building at 131 Front St. The gunman, Jiverly A. Wong, 41, walked into the brick structure around 10:30 a.m., wounding four others and killing himself before police arrived.

The offices are closed to the public while repairs and modifications are made to the building, Baranoski said. Security upgrades will be among the changes considered, though details are still being discussed, he said.

The gunman sprayed 98 shots in the building's lobby and a classroom in just over one minute, according to police. At least one bullet hole in a front window is still visible from the outside.
There is no timeframe for the ACA to reopen. The organization hopes this week to select an alternative site to house client services until the building is ready to reopen. Read more here.

Job losses continue in Binghamton

The Central NY Business Journal reported that New York and Upstate continued to lose jobs in March, with the Syracuse, Utica, and Binghamton areas all posting declines in private-sector jobs last month.

New York lost 33,000 private-sector jobs in March. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, the same as February after seasonal adjustments. Unemployment was 4.8 percent in March 2008.

In the Binghamton region, the unemployment rate decreased from 9 percent in February to 8.6 percent in March. The rate was 5.7 percent a year ago. The number of private-sector jobs decreased by 2,100.

Syracuse's unemployment rate also dropped from 8.9 percent in February to 8.5 percent in March, compared to 5.7 percent a year ago. The number of private-sector jobs decreased by 3,000.

The unemployment rate in the Utica-Rome area was 8.3 percent in March, down from 8.8 percent in February and up from 5.9 percent a year ago. The number of private-sector jobs dropped by 600.

Unemployment rates declined in all three regions after seasonal adjustments.

"Although New York State's unemployment rate held steady in March 2009, current evidence suggests that the national economic downturn will likely continue to negatively affect the state's labor market in the coming months," Peter Neenan, director of the Division of Research and Statistics with the State Labor Department, said in a news release.

The nation's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in March, up from 8.1 percent in February, and 5.1 percent a year ago.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SeeThroughNY tax spending website is new resource for nonprofits

SeeThroughNY gives New Yorkers a clearer view of how their state and local tax dollars are spent. This site is sponsored by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, part of the non-partisan and non-profit Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

SeeThroughNY is a web portal designed to become the hub of a statewide network through which taxpayers can share, analyze and compare data from counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts and public authorities throughout New York. You can search government payrolls, contracts, expenditures, and links to additional information and supporting material on other websites. For example, search your village or city to see what member items were awarded or benchmark your village, city or county against others. This is a great resource for nonprofits, and could be helpful in articulating region-specific needs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The New York Council of Nonprofits wishes to extend its sincerest sympathies to the victims and families of the recent tragedy in Binghamton, NY. We commend the Binghamton nonprofit community for their immediate and compassionate response to this event. To learn more about the nonprofit and community response in Binghamton and how you can help, please click here.

Nonprofit Support for Victims of Binghamton Tragedy

Nonprofits are offering a number of responses to the recent tragedy at the American Civic Association.

Catholic Charities
In response to the tragedy at the American Civic Association on April 3rd, Catholic Charities was asked to provide a safe haven for family members, friends and colleagues of those involved where they would have access to information from the police, food and counselors. Many of the people released from the Civic Association were later brought to Catholic Charities to be reunited with their families and friends.

Catholic Charities will be offering a hospitality center for persons who would like to connect with each other after Friday’s tragedy at the American Civic Association. We understand that teachers, students and others who have a relationship with the Civic Association may be seeking a place to share their thoughts and feelings and we would like to offer a place for comfort and support. Individuals seeking immediate counseling should continue to contact the hotline at 778-3911.The Hospitality Center at 232 Main Street in Binghamton will be open on Monday, April 6th & Tuesday, April 7th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are not necessary. Please call 607-729-9166 for additional information.

Catholic Charities also has set up a special fund for the victims. Visit the website for information.

American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has set up a 24 hour hotline for the families as well as the community. The number is: 607-778-3911. The Family Crisis Assistance Center has been moved to the Holiday Inn-Arena on Hawley Street in downtown Binghamton.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Serve America Act Update

The New York Council of Nonprofits (formerly the Council of Community Services of NYS, Inc.) is bringing you this Nonprofit Action Update, in partnership with the National Council of Nonprofits.

The ServeAmerica Act is on President Obama's Desk Because of You!

Thanks to your many calls to the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the White House, when President Obama returns from his European visit to the G-20 he will find the Serve America Act (HR 1388) on his desk awaiting his signature.

On March 26 the Senate passed (79-19) this historic expansion of national service programs, renaming it the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Then Tuesday afternoon the House voted (275-149) to accept the Senate's amendments, including the addition of the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program that the National Council of Nonprofits and their extensive network (including the New York Council of Nonprofits) has been seeking for several years. You can learn how our state's congressional delegation voted by checking the House and Senate roll call votes.

We are proud to have been an active supporter of the ServeAmerica coalition and delighted to have helped insert the important Baucus-Grassley Nonprofit Capacity Building Program Amendment into the bill. Neither would have been possible without Americans speaking to their government officials through our nonprofits.

Nonprofits have a proud tradition of being the safe place for people to come together to share their concerns, develop solutions, and amplify their voices for the common good. Your recent actions of making the all-important calls to your elected officials put you in the footprints of others from America's past and shoulder-to-shoulder with your nonprofit colleagues from across the country today. By stepping forward, you have helped redefine the way our sector will look and function in the future.

Please take a moment to savor this mighty accomplishment that you helped to achieve. You did it. You helped make history. Congratulations! This victory now serves as Exhibit A proving this simple yet powerful fact: "Together, we can."

Doug Sauer, CEONew York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tier nonprofit agencies buck economic downturn

A week ago, The Press & Sun-Bulletin examined how local nonprofits are doing compared to organizations nationally, especailly in light of a Finance Fund survey that showed only 12 percent of nonprofits expect to break even this year and 31 percent don't have enough cash to cover more than one month's expenses. The article relates that nonprofit organizations in Broome County that depend on donations to pay for programs are doing well this year, despite a sagging economy beset by layoffs and job losses. Read more here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The South Central NY Executive Directors Group announced its formation

The Press & Sun-Bulletin announced the SCNY Group:
The group is made up of more than 40 executive directors and meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to the nonprofit sector. There are no dues to join.

The organization's mission is to strengthen and empower nonprofit groups, as well as foster recognition of the economic and social benefits of the nonprofit sector in the Southern Tier.

For more details, call Keith Leahey, executive director of the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier, at 771-8888, or go to On the right side of the Web page, there's an orange tab for the local group.

Vandalized agency gets help, could use more

The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported recently on the smashing of windows and a glass door at the Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network office. The article relates:

You have to wonder what would prompt someone to smash the windows and glass door at, well, anywhere. But why the Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network in Binghamton?

The thought nagged at me as I read about a recent rash of vandalism at the agency, which provides free or low-cost services to pregnant women and new families. It's been nagging at the agency's workers, too, who told the newspaper they feel confused and frustrated by the vandalism.

According to the agency's Web site, www.mothersand, its mission is to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes and support the health and development of individuals and families. It's one of 16 New York State Perinatal Networks originally developed with funding from the state Department of Health.

Among other things, the agency does regional planning for maternal and child health programs, plus education and referral services for individuals and families in Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga and Tompkins counties.

Not exactly controversial stuff.

So why did vandals shatter a window and, in the process, send shards of glass spilling over donated baby clothes, which had to be sent out for cleaning?

"It just kind of shakes you," Sharon Chesna, executive director of the nonprofit agency, told the newspaper. "Who knows who would do it?" Read more here. If you are interested in helping, visit to make a donation online. Donations also can be made by check and sent to Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network 457 State St., Binghamton, N.Y. 13901.