Sunday, November 28, 2010

Roberson Museum and Science Center expanding its exhibits, attracting new visitors

The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin featured a recent article on the Roberson Museum and recent efforts there:

The Roberson has an unrivaled collection, inspired exhibits and a long pedigree as a museum.

Still, Roberson Museum and Science Center leaders say all that means nothing without one crucial element: visitors.

"The greatest measure of success is through-the-door traffic," said Terry McDonald, Roberson's executive director. "It's a measure of whether we're doing what we need to do for the community."

The museum staff and its board must be doing something right. Countering years of stagnating attendance and decreased funding, museum attendance is up 23 percent from last year

This year, 6,069 patrons have visited the 30 Front St. landmark, compared to 4,919 last year, said Jason Fiume, the museum's marking manager.

The 2010 attendance number doesn't include the more than 4,000 people who came to the museum's newly resurrected two-day arts and crafts festival in September, Fiume said.

Nor does it include the number of students who pass through the museum on group visits. That number is also up, museum officials said. During the 2009-2010 school year, 7,753 students visited. The previous school year, 7,730 students came.
Numbers are also up for school outreach initiatives, from 9,775 in 2008-2009 to 12,450 in 2009-2010.

"This is a significant increase from the previous year," Fiume said.
But there's more work to be done.

Tradition, innovation
Museum leaders must essentially serve two masters: tradition and innovation.

Friday, the museum's venerable Home for the Holidays exhibit formally opens. As it has for decades, the exhibit features holiday trees decorated in the traditions of other countries, along with trees decorated by local nonprofits and other organizations.

The Roberson mansion part of the museum is lushly decorated for Christmas -- and visited every year through Jan. 2 -- in what has become a Binghamton tradition for local families. The museum's planetarium will offer its decades-old shows featuring the Christmas star on equipment dating from the 1960s.

Updating the planetarium is one of three initiatives planned for next year.
Read more here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

MHAST Holiday Open House

The Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier invites you to their

Holiday Open House
153 Court St. Binghamton, NY
Thursday, December 2, 2010
4pm to 6 pm

Refreshments, Wreath Raffle, Art Show, and Live music by Lily Drennon and Aaron Bennett

If you are unable to attend, please consider a contribution of a wreath to the MHAST. For more information about donating a wreath, you may call our agency at (607)771-8888. All proceeds from our wreath raffle and donations will benefit the programs and services of MHAST, and have a positive impact on the quality of lives in our community.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Doug's Fish Fry Fundraiser for ACCORD

When: Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Where: GHS Federal Credit Union
910 Upper Front Street
Binghamton, NY
Time: 11:00 am-5: 00pm
Fish and Seafood Sandwiches and Dinners!
Fresh Cut French Fries!
Come support ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nonprofits Have Big Role in State

As Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo and legislators shape their plans for New York next year, they should pay close attention to the state's vibrant not-for-profit sector, as it is the standard-bearer for innovation and service to the state and its people. The 80,000 not-for-profit organizations in the state play crucial roles: leading efforts to prevent or cure disease, alleviate poverty, advance education, address environmental and social concerns, and ennoble through culture.

New York's robust charitable sector, including such powerhouses as Columbia University, Sloan-Kettering, the Red Cross, the Ford Foundation and Lincoln Center, as well as community-based organizations, such as local drug-prevention programs, small community theaters and religion-based charities, help fuel the state's economy, generating over $150 billion in revenue annually and employing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Second in size only to the government as an employer in the city, the nonprofit sector provides more jobs than the financial and insurance industries combined.

Working together, state government and nonprofits can help maintain our state's primacy as innovator, incubator and magnet for investment. Here's how.

* Adjust taxes to encourage more giving. For example, reward taxpayers for increases in year-over-year charitable giving and incentivize artists to donate their work to charity auctions in support of good causes.

* Promote regulatory, administrative and legislative reforms that make it easier to start and operate nonprofits, especially in high-tech, medical research and green industries.

* Encourage and facilitate partnering among nonprofits and between them and for-profit businesses. For instance, provide a clearinghouse so that environmental groups can pair up with green-tech businesses or so arts-in-education organizations can collaborate with founders of charter schools.

* Incentivize nonprofits to hire recent college graduates to fill needed roles while they learn important lessons about professional development and social responsibility.

* Rearrange state budgets with existing charitable resources in mind. For example, recalibrate school aid and Medicaid expenditures so that public spending on students, the elderly and the disabled complements and stimulates private nonprofit resources and support.

* Safeguard against encroachments on sales- or property-tax -exemptions, which would hurt already-stretched hospitals, elder-care facilities and YMCAs.

* Promote visibility for worthy nonprofits by providing voluntary check-offs on state tax forms.

* Include nonprofit destinations in the state's promotion of tourism and convention activity.

* Make nonprofits part of New York's federal lobbying strategy.

The public's trust in state government may be at a low ebb, but public support for nonprofits endures. By recommitting himself to the well-being of our valuable nonprofit institutions, Mr. Cuomo can take important steps toward reclaiming the state's role as a national beacon and perpetuate its highest ideals.

by Lesley Freidman Rosenthal, for original article click here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Funding Available for Park and Trail Groups: Only One Week Left to Apply

Parks & Trails New York is offering a new round of Capacity Building Grants for park and trail groups in New York State. The grants, of up to $3,000, can be used to assist with activities associated with organizational start-up and development, training, communications, and volunteer recruitment and management. The deadline for submitting applications is November 22, 2010.

For more information email Parks & Trails New York or call 518-434-1583.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Paperwork problems jeopardize nonprofit status of several Broome organizations

Like hundreds of other area nonprofits, Union Volunteer Emergency Squad was in jeopardy of losing its nonprofit status.

The reason? Failing to file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service.

"I honestly don't know why it wasn't sent in," said UVES Executive Director Matthew Fellows.

UVES is joined by hundreds of nonprofits in the Southern Tier who were flagged by the IRS as organizations that haven't filed their 990 forms -- paperwork required for nonprofits -- by an Oct. 15 deadline, meaning they could lose their nonprofit

If that happens, the agencies could be required to pay taxes -- and perhaps more significantly, donors would find their generosity was no longer tax deductible.

The 990 forms verify to the IRS that the nonprofits are still in operation.

In 2008, the IRS established a new form -- the 990 -- to be filed annually by nonprofits. For those with an income of less than $25,000, the form was a 990N, said Kevin Stadelmaier, legal advisor for the New York Council of Nonprofits Inc.'s Buffalo office.

Over the decades, as groups were added to the IRS's nonprofit database, there was no mechanism to remove those that were no longer active. The 990N was established as a device to recognize which small nonprofits were still operating and which had
ceased to exist.

"The real reason why the law was enacted was to kind of cull out these nonprofits ... that were no longer conducting tax-exempt activities," Stadelmaier said.

For smaller organizations -- those with incomes of less than $25,000 -- filing with the IRS isn't a typical function, which is why they might have missed the new requirement, Stadelmaier said.

"They didn't realize they were required," he said. "They might have gone years and years without filing anything."

At UVES, the error was noticed recently, Fellows said. Actually, it was the IRS that noticed. Since then, the organization sent in its missing 990 forms.

"We had some internal issues that we self-reported," Fellows said. "Everything has already been sent in."

Each year, UVES has an independent audit performed by its accounting firm. The audits showed the bills were paid and the forms were filled out, but no red
flags went up about the missing 990s because UVES paid to have them completed and assumed they had been filed properly, said Fellows, who has been with UVES for the past year.

When contacted by the IRS, the first thought was the federal agency was at fault.

"We thought it was an error at first," Fellows said.

UVES is not alone. The Broome County Sheriffs Benevolent Association, Boys & Girls of Western Broome Foundation Inc., New York State Electric & Gas Foundation Inc., several American Legion posts from Bainbridge to Owego, various union branches and a host of other organizations and associations failed to file by the Oct. 15 deadline, according to the IRS.

Contacting nonprofits on the list was nearly impossible for this newspaper. Telephone calls were not returned, while others couldn't be contacted because they didn't have listed phone numbers and had only Post Office box addresses. Some of the
nonprofits on the IRS list include:
* Maine-Endwell Booster Club Inc.
* Endicott Rotary Foundation Inc.
* International Association of Fire Fighters in Johnson City
* Tioga County Industrial Development Corp.
* Vestal Lions Club
* Broome County Sheriff's Foundation
* Vestal Youth Football League Inc.
* Dress for Success - Binghamton
* City Rescue Mission Inc. in Binghamton

Also on the list is Binghamton Crime Stoppers, which is a participating member of Crime Stoppers International. The organization had invalid e-mail addresses on its web site regarding fundraising, publicity and general information. An e-mail and
telephone message sent to the website's administrator was not answered.

Crime Stoppers, which offers rewards to help solve area crimes and works alongside area police departments, failed to file with the IRS for the past three years, meaning the do-good organization might not be able to stay in operation as a nonprofit.

Not being able to contact nonprofits, some of which have addresses filed decades ago with the IRS, is another reason why some missed the deadline to file, said Kelly Mathews, chief operating officer and senior vice president of financial, accountability and compliant services with New York Council of
Nonprofits Inc.

"Getting the word out to a lot of those very small organizations -- it was probably difficult to find some of them," she said.

Though the IRS and groups like NYCON had extensive educational promotions regarding the new procedures, many smaller nonprofits, including those no longer in existence, weren't kept in the loop, Mathews said.

"I think a lot of organization, particularly the smaller guys, weren't aware of the filing requirements," she said. "Historically, there was nothing for those little
guys to report with." Read more here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nonprofit Knowledge Matters: Advocacy as a Core Capacity

When we think of "capacity building," we most often think of training staff and board members - perhaps to be more effective fundraisers or to leverage technology to improve program delivery.

How often do we think of advocacy as a core capacity?

A nonprofit needs a clear voice that rises above the din to be effective at accomplishing its mission. Nonprofits need the capacity to communicate:
  • how their work results in positive change
  • why donors should support them, and
  • who is helped by their work.
Often, nonprofits also need to communicate what action they hope their stakeholders will take in support of the nonprofit’s mission. These are examples of how nonprofits engage in advocacy!

Advocacy requires communications capacity: Does the nonprofit have the right technology to update its website and effortlessly send out attractive email blasts? Can the nonprofit maintain and easily update a database so that its communications are reaching the right audiences? Does the nonprofit employ staff or engage volunteers who are trained in media relations so that when the local radio calls and asks for a comment on a breaking story the nonprofit is prepared?
Advocacy may also require courage. How so? There are still many who do not think that advocacy is an appropriate role for nonprofits. The National Council is working every day to change that perception, and thankfully, more and more nonprofits, as well as those that support them, are aware that advocacy is a core capacity for any nonprofit.

The Capacity Building Hub on the National Council's website features resources that address building capacity for advocacy, including links to reports illustrating why advocacy is one of the best investments that a foundation can make in a nonprofit.
Read a recent study by the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy that found that of the 20 nonprofits studied, "These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $150 return for every dollar invested in their policy engagement efforts."

Measuring the impact of advocacy activities can be difficult.
We like the approach taken by the Innovation Network in its Practical Guide to Advocacy Evaluation that urges nonprofits not to measure the hoped-for-end-result of an advocacy effort such as ending hunger in our state (that could take decades to attain) but rather to focus on the contribution the nonprofit is making to the goal.
Nonprofits that shine a light on those contributions, even incremental ones, such as bringing local nonprofits to the same table with government officials, will capitalize on the momentum they create, and provide their stakeholders with a concrete example of the positive effects of advocacy in a community.

Does someone you know still think that nonprofits can't be advocates? Or that nonprofits, "can't lobby?"

Help them understand why advocacy is legal, needed, and easy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Keeping Your Board Engaged

From As 2010 winds down, I wanted to answer a question that came up several times in response to my GuideStar Newsletter articles this year:

How do I keep my board engaged? Particularly if it's a statewide or national board?
This is a question I get all the time. Everyone wants their board to be engaged, but ...

What do you really mean when you say an "engaged board?" Do you want your board members to be just paying attention? Or do you want something more?

How's this for a definition: "Engagement is inspiring passion in someone so they will want to take action." (This definition of engagement comes directly from a terrific new book, The Dragonfly Effect, by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, which I highly recommend.)

So let's reframe the question:

"How do I inspire passion in my board members—whether they are local or far flung—so they will want to take action?"

In order to do accomplish this larger goal, your board members need to know what your organization is trying to accomplish and what their role is to make it happen. This is a big shift for many boards. I find that organizations don't have a clear set of goals each year and don't know what they want their board members to do.

You need to be able to express your goals in terms of how many people you want to help, such as: "If we raise $250,000, we can help 1,400 families."

Instead, organizations often say, "We want to help as many people as possible." If your board members know exactly what your goals are for the year, then they can rally around them. Clear goals help define your organization's effort for the year. And clear goals give people something to strive for.

Here's a plan for you if you want to keep your board members fully engaged.

1.Be sure your board members know what you are aiming to accomplish this year.
Put it in real numbers. For example:
* How many kids will we send to camp?
* How many meals do we want to serve?
* How many scholarships will we award to bright young students?

2.Be sure they know what the impact will be if you can make your plan happen.
Put it in real-people terms and talk about the ultimate benefit. For example:
* We'll help kids who go to camp be healthier, have better self-esteem, and do better in school.
* We will help hungry people get nutritious meals right here in our community.
* We'll help our brightest minds so they can help solve tomorrow's problems.

3.Be sure every board member knows what his or her job is to make the plan happen.
If you want to keep them engaged, you've got to give them clear actions. Everybody gets to have a role in implementing your plan. For example:
* Some board members are in charge of phoning donors to say thank you.
* Others are seeking sponsors for your annual gala.
* Others are in charge of enlisting more volunteers.
* Others are serving on a task force to identify VIP prospective donors.
* Others may be serving on a governmental relations committee to strengthen your relationships with elected officials.

The deal is this: EVERYBODY on the board has a job and is in action for the cause.

Keep in close touch with your board members each week or month, letting them know of your successes.
* Success breeds success.
* Good news stimulates momentum and makes everybody happy.
* It encourages action.
* Peer pressure will also encourage everyone to step up and do their job, too.

Also ask for help frequently from board members if you need it. But ask for specific things.

Try these strategies, and see if your board doesn't get fired up!

Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE

Nonprofit Times TV

Nonprofit Times TV has a collection of webcasts and other videos directed specifically to nonprofits and their needs and interests. Videos cover not just current news, but issues such as fundraising, volunteer management, legal issues, and finance. Most videos are less than three minutes, giving necessary information without taking too much time. Users can also submit their own videos to share ideas with others in the sector.

Their current webcast discusses the loss of revenue of national nonprofit organizations and the Jerry Lewis telethon. Check out Nonprofit Times TV here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fred Pryor Training, Wednesday Novemeber 8th

Family Enrichment has scheduled another FRED PRYOR Training to be held Wednesday, December 8th. To be held at Family Enrichment Network, 24 Cherry Street, Johnson City.

Learn effective leadership skills to maximize employee performance.

This one-day seminar will give you the spark to ignite a positive, productive day ... every day.

You'll be able to:

  • Slash employee turnover costs and prevent hassles by using the best hiring and interviewing techniques.
  • Unify employees into a smooth-running, productive team, despite differences in personality, background, and age.
  • Find the delicate balance necessary to effectively supervise friends and former peers.
  • Establish supervisor-subordinate relationship boundaries that will be understood and respected.
  • Identify difficult employees and handle them easily, appropriately, and swiftly.
  • Give constructive criticism that won't be taken personally — by even the most sensitive employee.
  • Originate project plans and set goals that your team will support.
  • Control absenteeism and tardiness.
  • Develop a keen sense of timing for taking corrective action or firing an employee — and know the legal implications of your decisions.
  • Best of all, gain confidence and win the respect of your boss, peers, and team members!
Cost: $50/per person ($99 regular price)
Limited number of spaces available.

If you are interested in registering for this training, please contact Diane Kunzman at: or
(607) 723-8313 ext. 834.