Monday, July 29, 2013

Opportunities for Otsego: OFO Head Elected Chair of NYS Community Services Block Grant Advisory Council

Opportunities For Otsego Logo
The leader in developing innovative solutions that promote healthy lives, thriving families, and caring communities

Daniel Maskin, Chief Executive Officer of Opportunities for Otsego was recently elected chairman to the state Department of State Community Services Block Grant Advisory Council.
The Community Service Block Grant funds 52 community-action agencies in the state. Council members from local government, private nonprofit providers, and the public are appointed by the governor, Senate and Assembly. Maskin was originally appointed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. 

Opportunities for Otsego, Inc.
3 West Broadway • Oneonta, NY 13820
Contact Us

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Policy Update & Call to Action

Policy Update & Call to Action:
Inform Our State's Senators, Charitable Giving Incentives Matter to Nonprofits 
Capitol BuildingOn June 27, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a  letter informing senators that the Committee will start consideration of a tax reform package with a "blank slate," meaning that it contains no deductions or credits, so Senators will have to fight to get their favored tax provisions re-inserted into the bill that is being drafted.

The Committee leaders stressed that the legislation they are drafting on a bi-partisan basis will restore only those deductions, exclusions, credits, and other tax expenditures that:
  • Help grow the economy
  • Make tax laws fairer
  • Effectively promote other policy objectives
They've asked Senators to submit recommendations for provisions that meet these standards by July 26.   
We are hearing that Senators are responding to the request for input with mixed views. Some may be submitting a list of priority tax provisions; others will likely provide a set of guiding principles for the Committee to follow; and still others apparently are refusing to send in anything out of fear that their submission will be made public.

Virtually every lobbyist and interest group is clamoring for the attention of Finance Committee leaders, members, and staff. Some efforts to get their attention include submitting a sign-on letter and sending letters making the case for tax provision that affect their operations.

NYCON has also taken steps in writing a letter to submit to the Senate Finance Committee for this "Blank Slate."

We encourage members and nonprofits statewide to
  • write your own letters to inform the Senate Finance Committee. Please feel free to use our letter as a template to model your own or weigh in as constituentsabout your work and the importance of the charitable giving incentive to your ability to solve problems in their communities
Your stories will help us make clear to federal policy makers that the charitable giving incentive is unique from other tax deductions and credits and must be preserved in tax reform
As always, thank you for your continued involvement with NYCON and for the tremendous work you are doing to make our communities strong and vibrant places to live and work. We truly appreciate your dedication and commitment. If you have any questions about this or any other public policy issue, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to working with you on these important issues.


 Doug's Signature
            Doug Sauer, CEO
            New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

The Charitable Giving Incentive  
Federal tax law currently encourages individuals to give to charitable organizations whose missions they support by providing an itemized deduction. Policymakers in Washington are focusing on how to reduce the federal budget deficit through spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and changes to the tax code.

The President, Senators, Representatives, bi-partisan commissions, and think tanks have all put forward plans to address these issues, and many propose changing the charitable giving incentive in one way or another. No one knows the true impact that any of these proposals will have on the ability of charitable nonprofits to raise the resources needed to provide the programs and services that fulfill their missions.

It is imperative that Congress make no changes to the charitable deduction that threatens the ability of nonprofit organizations to serve those most in need and to continue to strengthen our communities.

Proud Member of
 the National Council of Nonprofits
national council of nonprofits

Thursday, July 18, 2013

NYCON: Program Recap from July 17 Webinar, "Making the Executive Committee Work"

Leatherstocking AEA July 17 Webinar Recap: "Making the Executive Committee Work"

NYCON would like to thank the panelists of our July 17 Webinar, "Making the Executive Committee Work"! 
  • Diane Brown (Community Foundation for South Central New York)
  • Victoria Kappel (Chenango Arts Council)
  • Johna Peachin (Oneonta YMCA)
Some of the takeaways from Wednesday morning's lively discussion:

The executive committee can serve in many roles. Often, the executive committee meetings may be a place to address
  • personnel issues
  • implement strategic planning
  • serving as a finance committee
  • evaluation of the Executive Director
  • development of relationships between the board and Executive Director. 
Additional responsibilities include making board decisions in the event the board cannot meet, or acting if there is no quorum. Executive committee members also prove valuable in setting organizational expectations and facilitating orientation of new members to the board.

These functions outline why the executive committee is worthwhile; but how, exactly, can we "make them work"? Our panelists suggested that, although the executive committee is traditionally made up of officers, it could be beneficial to consider expanding the scope of the committee to include standing board members. When asked how often meetings should occur, the consensus was that there is no one "right" answer. Some meet once monthly, some ad hoc: it is dependent on what works best. In terms of the meetings themselves, Ms. Kappel made the point that executive committees can help streamline meetings, keep agendas moving forward, and address challenges efficiently. One suggestion for using your executive committee was the allocation of time at the end of each board meeting to clarify any issues and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Thanks again to our panelists!

Additional resources offered: committee charges and board job descriptions

In addition, we've included a list of committee charges:

Typical Responsibilities of the Executive, Finance, Personnel, & Nomination/Board Development Committees

Executive Committee

  Chaired by the Board President and comprised of officers.  Sometimes includes chairs of standing committees, past presidents, and/or board members at-large.  It is important that the committee have the composition of board leaders necessary to legitimatize whatever actions it may need to take.

Typical Responsibilities: 
  • Maintains surveillance of the business and affairs of the corporation
  • Empowered to exercise all of the powers of the board that may lawfully be delegated in the management of the affairs of the corporation as may be necessary between board meetings or as specifically authorized by the board and/or bylaws
  • Reports its actions to the board at the next regularly scheduled or special meeting of the board
  • Evaluates the Executive Director

Personnel Committee

Typically appointed by the board president or his/her recommendations are subject to board approval.

  • Formulates, revises and recommends policies on all matters relating to paid and volunteer human resources, including compensation practices, to the board for approval
  • Maintains familiarity with, and assures that all personnel practices of the board are in accordance with, applicable law and contractual obligations
  • Monitors, on behalf of the board, the implementation of all personnel policies approved by the board of directors
  • Keeps the board informed on the organization's personnel requirements and needs
  • Establishes procedures and processes to hear grievances and to arrange necessary negotiation with any unions involved with the organization
  • Serves as an advisory resource to the Executive Director on personnel matters for which (s)he has assigned responsibilities

Audit & Finance Committee

Typically chaired by the treasurer, although this is not always advisable.  Members are usually appointed by the President or his/her appointments are subject to ratification by the board.  Board president is ex-officio and usually an active committee member.  It is advisable that the chair or liaison connection with other financially focused committees of the board (i.e. investment, fund development and audit) also serves on this committee.  Committee members usually are those board members with some level of expertise or knowledge of fiscal matters. 


  • Develops a proposed budget that advances the organization's purposes and goals for consideration and approval by the board of directors
  • Develops policies, processes and reporting procedures that promote the financial well-being, sound financial budgeting, management and the safeguarding of assets, and regulatory/contractual compliance of the corporation for recommendation to and approval by the board of directors
  • Monitors, on behalf of the board, implementation and compliance of all financial policies approved by the board
  • Reviews the financial implications of new initiatives and changing project revenue
  • Serves in an advisory and resource capacity to the treasurer in ensuring that accurate, complete and timely financial records and reports are developed, maintained and reported
  • Educates the board as to their fiduciary role and responsibilities
  • Assures that appropriate and sufficient insurance coverage is secured
  • Performs the functions of audit and investment committees if either or both of these committees do not exist

Nominations or Board Development Committee

Elected by the board of directors and/or membership of the corporation.  It is not advisable to have this committee appointed, without board ratification, by the board president.  Committee members should not include board members and officers who will be eligible for election during the committee's work.  Some organizations permit non-board members to serve on this committee.

  • Ongoing assessment of the strengths and limitations of the board's composition vis-à-vis achievement of organizational mission and goals
  • Regularly review and propose to the board for revision of board and officer job descriptions, expectations and ethical standards
  • Identify, recruit and nominate officers and directors for board/membership          consideration
  • Develop succession plans for key board leadership positions
  • Design and implement new board orientation
  • Coordinate ongoing development and training for all board members and officers

Board of Directors:
The job of _______________ is to achieve the mission of the organization in a prudent and ethical way.  The job of the Board is to make contributions to achieving the mission that are unique to its public trusteeship role and necessary for proper governance and management of _____________________.  As it relates to fund development, members of the Board shall:

  • Make a financial gift to ___________________ that is personally significant.
  • See that the organization you represent, if eligible, becomes a member of _________________.
  • Understand and support __________________ fund development efforts.
  • Use every opportunity to heighten the profile of _____________________ in the nonprofit sector.
  • Assure staff performance (through control and evaluation of the Executive Director).
  • Assure Board performance (through Executive Limitations and Governance Process Policies).

Fund Development Committee:

The job of the Fund Development Committee is to support the Board's trusteeship role and to make contributions to achieving ___________________'s mission and financial objectives.  As it relates to fund development, the Committee shall:

  • Lead the Board's fund development efforts and, with the Executive Director:
q  Recommend fund development strategies,
q  Assist with the development of fund development plans,
q  Enlist Board support and action to implement fund development plans, and
q  Lead major funding requests/proposals
  • Review ____________________'s operational budget prior to submission to the Board for approval to ensure consistency with fund development plans and activities.
  • Develop and recommend policies and/or guidelines to address how and to what extent fund development, public relations, marketing and related tasks are expected of the Board.
  • Develop and recommend policies and/or guidelines to address how and to what extent fund development, public relations, marketing and related tasks are expected of the Executive Director.
  • Assist the Board in evaluating and monitoring fund development efforts of the Executive Director.

Following are some sample officer descriptions:

Sample Position Description: Board President
The President of the Corporation is the chairperson for the board of directors who:
  • Serves as the chief volunteer officer of the organization
  • Is the only person authorized to speak for the board except for the executive director, other than in specifically authorized materials
  • Ensures that the board behaves consistently with legal and contractual obligations and the bylaws
  • Provides leadership to the board of directors, who set policy and to whom the executive director is accountable
  • Acts as a liaison between the board and executive director
  • Chairs meetings of the board with all the commonly accepted powers of the position
  • Encourages board participation in strategic planning
  • Appoints directors to committees and chairpersons of committees in consultation with the executive director,
  • Delegates responsibility to other board members such as committee chairs
  • Serves ex-officio as member of all governance committees and attends their meetings when possible
  • Discusses issues confronting the organization with the executive director
  • Reviews with the executive director any issues of concern to the board
  • Monitors financial planning and financial reports
  • Helps guide and mediate board actions with respect to organizational priorities and governance concerns
  • Participants in the evaluation of the performance of the executive director and informally evaluates the effectiveness of board members
  • Recognizes good performance of board members
  • Recognizes performance of the executive director, evaluates the board's effectiveness (objectivity in making decisions, willingness to take action, and influence to carry out the mission.)
  • Evaluates the board informally by observing what is happening in the organization, assessing the committee chairs, monitoring relations with other organizations, sounding out public opinion
  • Self-evaluates his/her own performance and shares with Executive Committee
  • Addresses performance and/or conflict of interest problems with board directors
  • Accepts other appropriate board leadership duties as directed by the board

Desirable Qualifications:

1.       Vision - broad, overall image of the agency's operations
2.       Generalist approach to the organization
3.       Impartial attitude
4.       Caring nature
5.       Strong leadership skills
6.       Ability to facilitate
7.       Working knowledge of Robert's Rules of Order

Sample Position Description: Board Vice-President

  • Shall have all of the powers and functions of the president in the absence of the chief volunteer officer.
  • Be a "President-Elect" and shall succeed the chairperson of the board when appropriate.
  • Shall have signatory authority for cash transactions or other official agency reports.
  • Perform other appropriate duties as requested by the board or chairperson of the board.
  • Sometimes helps to support committee functioning and leadership.

Sample Position Description: Secretary

  • Perform or oversee documentation for activities of the board.
  • Assure that all documentation of corporate activities is managed in an appropriate manner.
  • Have custody of all records and reports of the corporation.
  • Perform or delegate to staff and assure the following:
  • Creating and mailing agendas for all meetings of the board
  • Keeping and reporting of complete and accurate minutes of all meetings of the board and all unanimous written consents executed by board members
  • Knowing and advising the board on Roberts Rules of Order
    • Serves on the Executive Committee.
    • Perform such other duties as pertain to the office or as may be prescribed by the board.

Desirable Qualifications:

1.                Good Communication skills, especially written
2.                Experience with minutes (ability to participate in a meeting & record at the same time)
3.                Strong filing and organization skills


Sample Position Description: Treasurer

  • Oversee all financial activities of the corporation and act as the chairperson of the Finance Committee that reviews all financial matters.
  • Assure that all financial matters are managed in an appropriate manner.
  • Have custody of all funds and securities of the corporation.
  • Perform or delegate to staff the preparation of the following:
    • Maintaining full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements in the corporate books.  Records of financial transactions shall be retained for eight years from the date of transaction.
    • Depositing all money and other valuables in the name and to the credit of the corporation in such depositories as may be designated by the board.
    • Disbursing the funds of the Corporation as may be ordered or authorized by board and preserve proper vouchers for such disbursements.
    • Rendering to the chairperson and the board at the regular meetings of the board, or whenever they require it, an account of his/her transactions as Treasurer and of the financial condition of the Corporation.
    • Rendering a full financial report at the annual meeting of the board.
    • Being furnished by all corporate officers and agents at his/her request with such reports and statements as s/he may require regarding the financial transactions of the corporation.
    • Acting with the Finance Committee, see that a true and accurate accounting of the financial transactions of the corporation is made, that reports of such transactions are presented to the board, and that all expenditures are made to the best possible advantage, and
    • Performing other duties as are given to him/her by these Bylaws or as from time to time are assigned to him/her by the board or chairperson.
  • Serves on the Executive Committee and all other finance related committees as determined appropriate.

Desirable Qualifications:
1.       Accounting knowledge
2.       Skill in assessing financial position
3.       Ability to separate the overall financial picture from detail oriented day-to-day operational issues and to focus on the overall financial picture.

Board Committee Chair- Job Descriptions

The bylaws define the functions of standing committees, how committees are formed and their composition.  Committee chairs are either denoted by position and responsibility in the bylaws (i.e. the treasurer shall chair the Finance Committee) or the process of appointment is stated.  Generally, the board president or chair appoints chairs of board committees.  Some bylaws may call for such appointments to be ratified by the board. 

Committee chairs are an important and critical part of the board leadership team.  Their responsibilities and duties generally include the following:

  • Recommending to the president and/or board, who (s)he would like to see serving on the committee. 
  • Calling meetings & setting the agenda
  • Ensuring meetings are properly recorded
  • Managing the committee or group process, as customary for the position of a chair
  • Coordinating communication and staffing services with the Executive Director (and/or assigned staff)
  • Regularly report to the board all committee recommendations, progress and any other significant issues or concerns that warrant the committee's attention. 
  • Keep the board president appraised on an ongoing basis of committee work and progress, and notify the president of the committee's report to the board in advance of the board meeting
  • Ensure that the committee stays within its governance charge and is accountable to the board of directors as appropriate. 
  • When the committee provides advice to the Executive Director and/or staff, clearly distinguishes and articulates to all concerned that such advice is not a directive or supervisory in any way. 

Nominate An 
Outstanding CPA
Board Member for the Urbach Community Builders Award!
Lewis Kramer, Urbach Award Recipient and Doug Sauer, CEO, NYCON 
Do you know a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State that has demonstrated exemplary leadership to community-based charities? Nominate him/her now for the 10th annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award. 

Check Out Our Recorded Webinars!
Thanks to the support of CS Plus, NYCON's popular Lunch & Learn Webinars are now being recorded and will be available for members for up to six months! 

Regional NYCON  Events:

Nonprofit News & Public Policy Updates 
Capitol Building
Summaries from various sources of the NP Revitalization Act. If signed by the Governor, this act goes into effect onJuly 1st, 2014.

Other Events & Webinars of Interest to NYCON Members:

July 25, 1:00 pm -2:30 pm 
August 8, 1:00 pm -2:30 pm 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Honor an Outstanding Board Member

2013 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builders Award Now Accepting Nominations
Submission Accepted through August 23rd, 2013 Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)
Berardi Award 2012
Left to right: Doug Sauer, NYCON CEO; Allen Fetterman, CPA; William F. Berardi, CPA, 2012 Urbach Award Recipient; Ellen Kotlow, NYCON Board President
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) are pleased to announce this call for nominations.
The award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, CPA, former partner of Urbach, Kahn and Werlin, former NYS Commissioner of Tax and Finance and Chair of the State Employees federated Appeal, and board leader of a number of charities. This award is in recognition of the important role, talents and leadership that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State can provide as a board member for community-based charities.  

Award Criteria & Submission 
Candidates must:

  1. Be a CPA in good standing and a member of NYSSCPA
  1. Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501c(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once
  1. Have demonstrated exemplary board leadership resulting in significant and positive organizational impact including, but not limited to, financial turn-around, growth, and/or organizational re-structuring; and
  1. Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities
 Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be received by August 23rd, 2013.  Nominators are strongly encouraged to address the qualifications related to the four (4) criteria mentioned above and to include at least three (3) letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership. 

To Nominate a CPA: 
Email your submission to Melissa Currado at or mail two (2) packets of nomination materials to: Urbach Community Builders Award Committee, NYCON, 272 Broadway, Albany NY 12204.

For more information, visit NYCON on the web at or contact us via phone at (800) 515-5012.

Announcement & Presentation 
Craig Sickler, CPA receives the Urbach Community Builder Award
Craig Sickler, CPA receives the Urbach Community Builders Award at the 2006 Annual Meeting
The 2013 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of October 10th, 2013at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York. 

The Luncheon will take place during CAMP FINANCE, a two-day retreat that provides the very best in knowledge, skill and strategy sessions for nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders. 
In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a CPA who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2013 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award one (1) nonprofit executive of their choice a Camp Finance scholarship in Hal's name.  In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award in his honor.
Thank You to Our Supporters!

NYCON and NYSSCPA would like to recognize The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Regionfor their grant contribution towards the Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award.

Past Urbach Award Honorees
Lewis Kramer, Urbach Award Recipient and Doug Sauer, CEO, NYCON
Lew Kramer, CPA and Doug Sauer, 
William F. Berardi, CPA

Thomas D. Weddell, CPA; Newburgh

Edward S. Mucenski, CPA; Potsdam   


Lewis "Lew" Kramer, CPA; Chappaqua   


Mel Zachter, CPA; Staten Island      
Eugene H. Fleishman, CPA; Poughkeepsie

Craig Sickler, CPA

Paul Battaglia
CPA, Batavia

Co-sponsored by
The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants