Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Binghamton mayoral candidates offer different belt-tightening solutions

The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported that Democrat Matthew T. Ryan, Republican Rich David and Independence Party candidate Douglas Walter Drazen all agree on one thing: The city is going to continue to face serious financial issues no matter who is elected mayor.

One reason is costs outside of the city's control, such as the economic recession and rising pension costs. But belt-tightening is needed, they said.
Their approaches differ.

Nonprofits are one area of focus. Douglas Walter Drazen's campaign has stressed the need for nonprofit organizations to pay a greater share of the cost of city government. If elected, his administration would aggressively pursue having nonprofit property owners make voluntary payments in lieu of taxes. Read more about other candidate viewpoints.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Governor Paterson Announces New Economy Job Plans

WBNG reported New York Governor David Paterson is looking to the Southern Tier to help lead the state into a new economy.

He met with local manufacturers and business leaders for an economic forum at Johnson Outdoors in Conklin.

The Governor's "New Economy Jobs Plan" is designed to use technology and innovation to create jobs.

Johnson Outdoors is an example businesses that can lead.
The company is currently contracted to develop and manufacture solar-powered military tents.

Paterson believes the region has the potential to produce similar projects in the future.
"Well, I think you can see from just the assorted different leaders of industry here that the

Southern Tier is prime to help lead this state back into this innovation economy." said Paterson.
Paterson unveiled the "New Economy Jobs Plan" in June.
The plan focuses on science, technology, health care and energy-based jobs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Facing Nonprofit Leadership Transition? An Interim Director may be the answer

Interim Executive Leaders can help manage your Nonprofit's Leadership Transition

In 2006, a study of 2,000 Executive Directors conducted by the Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, noted that 75% of respondents did not plan to be in their current job in five years.

What is the Interim Executive Leadershp (IEL) Program?
The IEL Program is a comprehensive training, placement and support initiative designed to place qualified, experienced nonprofit professional in transitional Executive Director/CEO positions in New York State nonprofits.

The program is designed to help meet the needs of nonprofit agencies as significant numbers of nonprofit executives are expected to retire over the next 5 years.Leaders trained through our program can provide effective transitional leadership to nonprofits in order to strengthen organizational health and effectiveness during a time of transition.Consider hiring an Interim Executive Leader if your organization:
  • Is currently operating without an Executive Director;
  • Has experienced Executive Director/CEO turnover in the last few years and the agency requires stabilization;
  • Is expecting your Executive Director/CEO to retire or resign, and you require sufficient time to conduct a thorough search process;
  • Is seeking an experienced, qualified nonprofit professional trained in transition management to guide the organization through a short-term period of transition
NYCON has developed a pool of highly qualified and experienced Interim Executive Leaders ("IELs") that are available to meet your needs.

For additional information please contact:
Jennifer Lockwood, Program Director
Phone: 845.454.5062 ext. 102
Or click here to submit your inquiry online.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Event on November 5th Seeks to Link Business Professionals with Non-Profits

News Channel 34 reported on the following event from the Vice President, Member Services at the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce:

One of the best ways for companies to get more involved in our community is to encourage their employees to volunteer their time and talents for a local non-profit organization. Maybe they have a passion for a particular group or topic - like the arts, healthcare or our youth; or maybe they have a particular area of expertise that they would like to share with these non-profits.

There is an upcoming event that can help professionals explore the possibilities...We invite our local business professionals to attend our 2nd Annual Community Service Fair on Thursday, November 5, 2009 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Johnson City Senior Center at 30 Brocton Ave in Johnson City.

Sponsored by the Broome Leadership Institute (BLI) Alumni Association, in partnership with The United Way of Broome County, Southern Tier Young Professionals (STYP) and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), this free event will bring together sixty (60) local non-profit charitable agencies looking for high-level volunteers, including attorneys, business executives, CPAs, new employees that have recently moved to our area, or anyone willing to make a commitment to give back to our community.

In addition, Southern Tier Young Professionals (STYP) is organizing a social mixer for both attendees and non-profit organizations following the Community Service Fair. Join us at Ground Round at 214 Reynolds Road in Johnson City for a casual get-together and networking opportunity from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2009. The first 50 people that attend the Fair will receive a complimentary drink ticket for the mixer. Drink specials and appetizers can be purchased individually in their private dining area reserved for our group.

So plan on leaving work a little early on November 5th, stop by the Community Service Fair for a few minutes to explore the many diverse volunteering opportunities currently available in our area, and end your night with networking at the Ground Round. Click here for the participating nonprofits.

For more information, contact Amy Shaw, Vice President of Member Services at the Greater Binghamton Chamber, at (607) 772-8863 x313 or

EVENT: 2nd Annual Community Service Fair & Social Mixer Sponsored by the Broome Leadership Institute (BLI) Alumni Association, United Way of Broome County, Southern Tier Young Professionals (STYP) and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

DATE/TIME: Thursday, November 5, 2009 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. (Fair) and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (Mixer)

FAIR LOCATION: Johnson City Senior Center, 30 Brocton Ave., Johnson City

MIXER LOCATION: Ground Round Restaurant, 214 Reynolds Road, Johnson City

Thursday, October 22, 2009

United Way almost half way to its fundraising goal

The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported that at $1.6 million, the United Way of Broome County is clocking in at about 42 percent of its fundraising goal for the year.

United Way Executive Director Alan Hertel gave a mid-campaign update Tuesday at a meeting of Binghamton Rotary Club 64. So far, the nonprofit has $1,614,328 in pledges and donations toward its $3.85 million goal, he said. The campaign runs through Nov. 13.

"We're pretty close to where we were at last year," he said.

County residents have been hit hard by layoffs and financial woes, which had an impact on giving. In 2008, the United Way raised $3.85 million, falling short of its $4.01 million goal. The group also fell short in 2007, raising $4 million of the $4.04 million goal. Read more here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dinosaurs invade Broome County

The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported that roughly 100 B.C.-inspired sculptures will be created and displayed throughout Binghamton.

Patti Pomeroy slung one arm around the lengthy neck of Gronk the dinosaur, then bared her teeth in a broad grin.

"My dad always told me that Gronk's smile was my smile," said Pomeroy, daughter of the late cartoonist Johnny Hart of Nineveh.

The fiberglass sculpture of Gronk, with caveman B.C. on his back, was unveiled Friday in front of Barnes & Noble Booksellers. It's the first of up to 100 such sculptures, which will be decorated by local artists as part of the "hArt of BC" public art exhibition.

Designed by Hart's grandson Mason Mastroianni -- the current cartoonist behind the B.C. comic strip -- and made in Walton, the prototype dinosaur is still gray, awaiting an artist's hand. Artists will decorate Gronk; B.C. is already painted.

"You can tattoo B.C. if you want to -- it's all the rage," joked Mastroianni, who attended the event with his brother Mick.

Individuals, groups or businesses can sponsor a dinosaur, which costs $3,000 if the business has fewer than 100 employees or $5,000 if the company has more than 100 employees.

So far, 15 have signed up as sponsors with 10 more pending, said Alfred Lavker, treasurer of the committee behind the project. Current sponsors include Audio Classics, Behlog & Sons Produce, Lavker Enterprises, Nelson Development Group, Subway Development Co., Piaker & Lyons CPA, United Health Services and Visions Federal Credit Union.

The exhibition will start in May and last through the summer of 2010. The sculptures will be placed near the sponsoring groups, in public spaces and throughout the footprint of the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Binghamton.

At the end of the exhibition, the sculptures will be auctioned off. Proceeds will benefit Binghamton University, Tri-Cities Opera, Broome Community College, the Boys and Girls clubs of Binghamton and Western Broome, Broome County Charities and the Binghamton Philharmonic.

Among the first artists to decorate the "dinosculptures" will be Vestal resident Nancy Ryan.
"I'm an instructor at BCC, so I give assignments all the time," she said. "So it's fun when people give me one."

Drazen plans to 'aggressively pursue' voluntary nonprofit payments

The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported that mayoral candidate Douglas Walter Drazen plans to use to generate revenue from nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.

"Additionally, unlike the current administration, and its predecessor, which made a half-hearted effort in 2004 known as the 'Fair Share Program,' my administration will aggressively pursue voluntary payments from 'nonprofit' property owners," said Drazen, who also proposes selling Ely Park golf course. "Metro-Interfaith, which operates elderly housing in Binghamton, makes such a payment every year, and would be a good model to follow."

Drazen said he will hold weekly press conferences praising groups such as Metro-Interfaith and shaming those who don't pay.

He also proposed stopping garbage pickup for nonprofits and asking city council to enact a local law, pursuant to New York State Real Property Tax Law 420-b, which allows local taxation of certain "nonprofits."

Republican candidate Rich David also embraces the idea of reinstituting the "Fair Share Program" started by former mayor Richard A. Bucci, for whom David worked.

David said the Bucci administration set the ground work, but current Mayor Matthew Ryan didn't continue pursuing the program.

Ryan, a Democrat, said he doesn't think "Fair Share Program" is a good idea.
"I find that hard to believe he really believes he is going to shame people into giving money," said Ryan. "These groups don't deserve shame. If it wasn't for these not-for-profits some of the most vulnerable would be even more vulnerable."

In 2008, Ryan's office identified $58.2 million in tax-exempt property. Of those properties: 44.2 percent are government and 17 percent are religious organizations. Altogether, the city determined 31.6 percent of its properties in 2008 were tax exempt.

"Even if you are going to tax some of these groups the money is minimal," said Ryan.

Have your own thoughts on this topic? Is your community having similiar conversations? We want to hear from you. Post here or e-mail us.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Binghamton Mayoral Candidates Talk Plans to Lower Taxes

WBNG reported on mayoral candidates ideas about addressing taxes. Nonprofits are definitely drawing attention regarding this issue. As the article relates:

An Independent candidate for Binghamton mayor vows to reduce taxes in 4 years, or not seek re-election.
But as Action News reporter Gabe Osterhout tells us, his opponents say his plan won't work as well as he thinks it will.
Douglas Drazen has several ideas to lower taxes in the City of Binghamton, which could keep people from moving out.
He says that can only be accomplished by getting the city's priorities straight by putting necessity before luxury.
"We will lower taxes. We will lower taxes more than once and if at the end of my first term in office, taxes are not lower than they are now, I won't seek a second term in office. That's my pledge to the beleaguered tax payers," Drazen says.
Mayor Matt Ryan says Drazen's ideas won't have a big impact on the budget.
Including Drazen's plan to eliminate garbage services to non-profit agencies, who don't pay for it through taxes.
Drazen says it would save money on fuel, man hours and wear and tear on city vehicles.
Ryan says it could end up costing the city.
"Everyone of them I called has private garbage collection already and if they don't that means they contribute to the revenue, as our garbage men go by their properties anyway, by putting it out in green bags which covers our tipping fees," says Ryan.
Another plan would be to eliminate most of the clerical staff in city hall, including in the mayor's office.
Drazen feels by putting a receptionist on each floor instead of each office, city hall would run more efficiently.
Republican candidate Rich David disagrees.
"Not only would it not save money, it wouldn't be efficient or effective. Somebody who has no idea how city hall runs on a daily basis has no idea the volume of calls that might come into the mayor's office, or public works when it snows, or engineering," David says.
This November, it'll be up to the voters to decide what plan to try, and which will one will be put out to the curb.
In Binghamton, Gabe Osterhout, WBNG-TV Action News.
David says Drazen's non-profit plan sounds similar to his Fair Share Program.
It asks non-profits to pay a part of the services businesses pay full price for via taxes.
Ryan says Drazen doesn't understand the city's financial troubles and is only tinkering around the edges.

Recession delivers a double blow to many charities

The Associated Press reported that for many social-service charities across America, the recession has delivered a staggering one-two punch. Sharp drops in donations and investment income have been coupled by soaring demand for their services.

The casualties so far include countless needy clients losing assistance and thousands of nonprofit workers who've been laid off. Some local charities have shut down; even many of the largest nationwide operations have made painful cutbacks in staff, spending and programs.

"Nonprofits are generally at the whim of the economy ... but we've never seen anything like this," says the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "Increasing numbers of our own volunteers and employees have been forced to become clients of our services."

The cutbacks are forcing charities to rethink how they operate and make changes that are likely to outlive the recession. Nonprofits, like regular businesses, are learning to do more with less. Those that survive will emerge more efficient. Read more here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Poverty Data

The following editorial from YWCA Executive Director Carole Coppens appeared in The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin:

As an Executive Director at a nonprofit organization in the Broome County community I am saddened by the new Census Bureau data which paints a deeply disturbing picture of growing poverty in this country and in our state. Nationally, the number of people living in poverty grew by 2.6 million in 2008 to 13.2 percent. The State of New York continues to suffer from a poverty rate of 10.3%. Unfortunately, Broome County is keeping up with that pace at a 10.4% poverty rate.

As troubling as the 2008 data is, the reality today is almost certainly worse. The recession started last year, but its impact has been far greater in 2009. The YWCA Binghamton/Broome County has seen the impact of the recession with a growing number of homeless women and children on the waiting list for our Emergency Shelter. This could be a result of unemployment averaging 5.8 percent last year compared with an average so far this year of just fewer than 9 percent, and climbing. Our county economy mirrors the national trend unemployment is up from 7.1% percent in December 2008 to 8.3 percent in July 2009. Past trends show that when unemployment rises, poverty also goes up.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that assuming an average unemployment rate of 9.3 percent for 2009, poverty would increase this year to 14.7 percent. Higher unemployment will hit children disproportionately hard. Their poverty is expected to rise from 19 percent in 2008 to 25 percent this year, which translates into one in four children living in poverty. Here in Broome County, it will mean that families on the edge will need assistance to ensure they do not fall further into the downward spiral of poverty. Evidence has shown that in hard economic times all types of families struggle. Domestic violence increases, depression takes over and alcohol abuse increases. In turn, placing demands on communities' service providers often financially strapped themselves.

We must not allow poverty to deepen unchecked. On a daily basis the YWCA sees the impact of poverty on families. For children, the consequences of poverty can be long-lasting, leading to poor nutrition, poor health and poor prospects for success in school. Read more here.

Governance Mistakes to Keep in Mind

The Charity Lawyer blog has a great post about governance mistakes, which has been mentioned by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Nonprofit Quarterly, and numerous others. The list was also expanded by San Francisco tax-exempt organizations lawyer and publisher of the Nonprofit Law Blog, Gene Takagi.Here is excerpt. We would encourage you to view the entire list and details here.

1. Failing to Understand Fiduciary Duties. When you volunteer to serve as a director or officer of a non-profit, you accept the responsibility to act with the duties of good faith, due care and loyalty. You also accept the potential liability for failing to fulfill those duties. Increased scrutiny from the I.R.S., Congress, state attorneys general, the Department of Justice, donors and the media require vigilance at every step. It is no longer sufficient to rubber stamp committee or staff recommendations or to simply “abstain” from dicey decisions. Today, board service comes with real responsibilities and real consequences for those that fail to live up to them.
Read about the next two points and more.
2. Failing to Provide Effective Oversight.
3. Deference to the Executive Committee, Board Chair or the Organization’s Founder.