Tuesday, March 11, 2014

No Break for Idealware Seminars this Spring

Idealware: Helping Nonprofits Make Smart Software Decisions

March 2014

Upcoming Idealware Training

Students around the country are counting the days until spring break--and summer vacation--but not us. At Idealware, we're ramping up our training calendar. Spring break is too crowded and noisy, summer still a long way off. Leave the tropics to the college students, crank up the heat at your office, and join one of our upcoming seminars. (If you truly can't stand this stubborn winter and have already fled south to wait it out, remember that you can participate in our online seminars from anywhere with an internet connection.)
In March, we’re offering all sorts of different training models to match your needs. Mastering Your Mix: A Practical Approach to Integrated Communications is a five-week course designed to make your communications mix powerful and effective, and The Private Foundation’s Grants Management Toolkit will save your foundation time and energy in the system-selection process.
Have a little less time to work with? We’re also offering a 90-minute session on email fundraising, and a two-part course on getting your office infrastructure into shape.
Remember, we always offer recorded seminars atidealware.org/online-training, and all of our live sessions are also recorded, so you can listen to them at your own convenience. Read a little more about what we have to offer below, and make this spring break your most educational yet.

New Course: Mastering Your Mix: A Practical Approach to Integrated Communications

March 19 to April 16Between more traditional channels of communications like direct mail, email, and newsletters, and all the new channels you’ve adopted—like social media, multimedia, and blogs—there’s a lot to think about when it comes to your organization’s messaging. How do you create and maintain a consistent voice across so many channels? How do you coordinate your various communications to work in tandem rather than competing, engaging constituents and inspiring them to take action rather than confusing, overwhelming, or annoying them?
This brand new course is the perfect complement to our popular publication, A Practical Guide to Integrated Communications: A Workbook for Nonprofits. Over five weeks, we will help you to understand your communications. We'llexplore their roles in your messaging, and assess your current state of effectiveness before walking you through the planning, scheduling, and implementation stages of creating a communications plan. Along the way, you’ll learn to measure the response you’re getting to adapt your techniques for better results, and ultimately learn to holistically integrate your communications.
Five Wednesdays, 1:00 - 2:30 PM EST, $200.
Read More or Register>>>

New Course: The Private Foundation's Grants Management Toolkit

April 10 to May 8As a grantmaker, you work most efficiently when you have a comprehensive overview of your applications, reviewers, requirements, and payments. The right grants management system can save you time by pulling all of this tracking together in a single place, but the marketplace has never been more varied and complex.
Researching all of the options, scheduling demos, and identifying your needs can take months. The Private Foundation’s Grants Management Toolkit can expedite the core elements of the process to a few short weeks. In this brand new series, Idealware’s grants management software experts will explore the available options for accepting and reviewing applications and tracking grants throughout their life cycles, take a look at what grants management systems do, and compare the strengths and weakness of the packages available for United States-based foundations. Then we’ll recommend packages that might work for your foundation based on our highly regarded research.
Classes April 10 and May 8 from 1:00 – 2:30 PM EST, and nine system demos on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays fromApril 15 to May 1 at 1:00 – 2:00 EST, $400.

Read More or Register>>>

Single Seminars

Thursday, March 20 - Getting Started with Email FundraisingFundraising via email requires an understanding of a number of different elements--designing an email campaign, writing an email, avoiding spam filters, broadcast email tools, online donation tools, and more. We'll walk through what you'll need to know to design your own email fundraising campaign.
1:00 - 2:30 PM EST, $40.00.
Read More or Register>>>
Thursdays, March 27 & April 3 - Covering Your Bases: Two Part Infrastructure CourseIn this two-part seminar, we'll cover the important pieces that keep your office up and running (and no, we don't mean coffee). In the first session, we'll look at how you can make the most of your hardware infrastructure, including computers, printers, phones, networking, and more. In the second, we'll go through what software you need the most to support your organization, including productivity software, email, scheduling, and collaboration tools. Throughout, we'll discuss how you can keep all this infrastructure secure, share and backup files, and save money and time.
Two Thursdays, 1:00 - 2:30 PM EST, $65.00.

Read More or Register>>>
Thursday, April 17 - Measuring Your Mission: Using Data to Track Organizational Health and SuccessAs a leader of your organization, you'd probably like to see clear metrics to track your programs, outreach efforts, and the financial health of your organization. It can be daunting to define the right measures though -- where do you even start?  Based on NTEN's and Idealware's research into what's actually working for nonprofits, we'll talk through what you should think about to define your own data-based metrics strategy, and hear from organizations who have successfully implemented their own strategies.
1:00 - 2:30 PM EST, $40.00.
Read More or Register>>>
Check out our website for even more great online training:www.idealware.org/online-training

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Special Webinar Series on Medicaid Compliance

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Medicaid Compliance...But Were Afraid to Ask
[Special Lunch & Learn Webinar Series] 
Various Dates - April through June 2014
Free to NYCON Members; $75 for Nonmembers
Register Today
Medicaid Compliance... Medicaid Compliance Plans ... Medicaid Self Auditing...Medicaid Self-Disclosures... Medicaid Audits ... Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse...Office of the Medicaid Inspector General ... OMIG...If these words and phrases are part of a typical day at your nonprofit, we have designed the perfect series of webinars for you. In four 90-minute sessions we will be covering:
  1. Medicaid Compliance 101 & the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG)
  2. Knowing Thy (Compliant) Self: How to Conduct a Medicaid Self Audit
  3. Self-Disclosure is Not a Four Letter Word!: Protocols & Procedures of Medicaid Self Disclosure
  4. Preparing For, and Surviving, an OMIG Medicaid Audit
Participants will hear directly from experts in the field (including David R. Ross, former Acting Medicaid Inspector General for the State of New York, and David Rottkamp, CPA and leader of Grassi & Co.'s not-for-profit practice area) and get the practical information they need to provide appropriate oversight and management of Medicaid-funded programs, understand the role of the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, and much more. See detailed session descriptions below.

April 9th, 2014     11:00am to 12:30pm
Medicaid Compliance 101 and the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG)
Changes to the oversight of the Medicaid program led to the creation of the OMIG. Learn about the OMIG's powers and duties, as well as its requirements for compliance plans and annual compliance certification for certain types of providers. Also learn about the importance of compliance and other compliance-related issues. Join our experts to hear about reducing Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse before the Medicaid program is billed, and how to have systems that will identify when errors are made so that corrections can be initiated and made by providers. Provider misconduct, also known as "unacceptable practices," will be illustrated along with the various sanctions available to the OMIG, including exclusion from the Medicaid program and enrollment termination. A question and answer period will be provided.

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  

May 15th, 2014     11:00am to 12:30pm
Know Thy (Compliant) Self: How to Conduct
a Medicaid Self Audit
Part of any provider's compliance program is their compliance plan, and the key part of any compliance plan is the concept of risk assessment and self auditing. This means identifying where errors are most likely to be made, and then reviewing your Medicaid claims and documentation for compliance with applicable requirements. Hypotheticals for risk assessment and self audit will be discussed. As participants will hear, self auditing can be the best preventative medicine. A question and answer period will be provided.

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  

June 5th, 2014    11:00am to 12:30pm
Self-Disclosure is Not a Four Letter Word!
Protocols & Procedures of Medicaid Self Disclosure
Under Obamacare, providers are required to report, repay and explain all Medicaid overpayments received. Learn what "overpayments" are, the sixty day rule, and the federal False Claims Act, which imposes potentially severe civil liability on providers for failing to self-report, repay and explain overpayments received. Learn how to handle routine overpayment situations and also when to seek advice on non-routine matters. A question and answer period will be provided.

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  

June 19th, 2014    11:00am to 12:30pm
Preparing for and Surviving an OMIG Medicaid Audit
This workshop will provide you with an overview of how an OMIG Medicaid audit is conducted and how the audit process works. Learn how to prepare for the audit, how to interact with the auditors when they arrive, and when to seek counsel. Potential defenses to audit findings will also be briefly covered. A question and answer period will be provided. 

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  


Nonprofit Advocacy Matters | March 10, 2014

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters banner

Budget Season Opens in Earnest
President Obama kicked off the official annual budget and spending season with the release of his fiscal year 2015 budget proposals and House and Senate committees are now getting busy attending to spending priorities. The President’s budget, released on March 4, mostly follows the spending limits that Congress approved in December. It once again calls for limiting the value of itemized deductions (including the charitable deduction) for higher-income taxpayers. It also includes increased spending on some programs that are of interest to nonprofits. Congress is not expected to act on the President's budget blueprint, but it could factor into appropriation discussions. The budget deal reached in December answered the question of how much the federal government will spend in FY 2015, an issue that has frustrated recent appropriations decisions. With that question resolved, the spending committees are pursuing “regular order,” the process of picking which programs to fund and by how much. While optimistic by past experience, the chairs of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate are pushing their colleagues to move the 12 spending bills out of committee by June and approved by either chamber of Congress by early August.

Tax Reform Draft Made Public
Like the President’s FY2015 budget blueprint (see above article), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a draft tax reform plan that is full of interesting details and ideas, but by all accounts has no chance of becoming law this year. The proposal calls for lowering top tax rates for individuals and corporations and modifying or eliminating thousands of existing tax provisions. It proposes changes to standard and itemized deductions that Camp projects will reduce itemizing to only five percent of taxpayers. It would also levy an excise tax on some nonprofit salaries that exceed $1 million, impose pay-out requirements for Donor Advised Funds, alter how unrelated business income taxes are calculated, and eliminate most forms of supporting organizations. Go to the National Council of Nonprofits website to see our statement and asummary of the Camp tax reform proposal.

Proposal to Regulate Social Welfare Nonprofits Draws Record Response
A record-setting 143,730 respondents submitted comments to the Internal Revenue Service on proposed regulations relating to political activities of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. By most analyses, the comments are predominantly negative, whether submitted by conservatively or progressively leaning individuals and organizations. The draft proposals seek to define the types of political activities that 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations can engage in without running the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. They do not ban any such activities, provide a spending limit, or remove donor confidentiality for partisan spending that would otherwise be made public by entities organized under different sections of the Tax Code. Comments submitted by the National Council of Nonprofits focus on the unintended and harmful impact that the proposed regulations would have on the legitimate and essential nonpartisan advocacy activities of 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits such as nonprofit lobbying, work on ballot measures (initiatives, referenda, and bond measures), and nonpartisan election-related activities such as voter guides, candidate forums, and voter registration activities.

Cities Seek to Tax Employers, Employees
Across the country, cities are looking to expand their revenues beyond property tax receipts by imposing new taxes and fees on individuals and businesses, including nonprofits. Cities ranging from New York City to Johnstown, Pennsylvania reportedly are considering implementing commuter taxes. The Adjustment Planto address the debts of bankrupt Detroit confides that the “City is considering the enactment of a local ordinance that would require employers to withhold City income taxes of reverse commuters.” Washington, DC, which is prohibited by Congress from levying a commuter tax, is considering a recommendation from a recent Tax Revision Commission to impose a “local service fee” on non-governmental employers, including nonprofits, of $100 per employee. The Commission reportedly opted for the fee approach as a better alternative to seeking payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) from nonprofits.

Taxes, Fees, PILOTs
  • Fees: The Honolulu City Council voted to reject a proposed ordinance to extend a trash collection fee to charitable nonprofits. Lisa Maruyama, president of theHawai`i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, voiced the concerns of the nonprofit community: "It's a slippery slope of fees that actually contribute to nonprofit overhead and increased business costs. This type of overhead expense is very hard to recoup in fundraising initiatives."
  • PILOTs: The Speaker of the Connecticut House is threatening to turn up the pressure on nonprofit hospitals and universities to provide more money to their local governments. He is describing a plan to alter the State’s revenue sharing plan to reduce payments that go to communities to cover revenues lost from property tax exemptions by those institutions. Although no legislation has yet been introduced, the Speaker claims to have bi-partisan support for a proposal that could require universities and hospitals to pay property taxes and then submit a request to the State for reimbursement for all or some of the amount.
  • PILOTs: Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, has effectively agreed to all of the town’s terms – payment of $200,000 annually to cover the costs of emergency police and fire services it receives – and the Town Council members apparently are having difficulty taking “yes” for an answer. Bryant and Smithfield have been locked in heated negotiations for years, culminating in a controversial law enacted last year by the General Assembly empowering the town to charge fees if Bryant doesn’t capitulate.
Government-Nonprofit Contracting Update
Maryland Nonprofits Excluded from Applying for Contracts
Smaller nonprofits that historically have performed services on behalf of governments may be excluded from competing for state contracts if small-business legislation is enacted. The measure would mandate that contracts valued between $15,000 and $100,000 must be set aside in a Small Business Reserve (SBR) by all state agencies and only awarded to those certified as small businesses. Nonprofits would not be eligible for the preferential treatment because they are not independently owned and operated. We would like to hear from any other states that have – or that have rejected – similar programs that prevent nonprofits from competing for state contracts to serve their local communities.

Legislatures Continue to Tweak Solicitation Regulation
State legislatures continue to tweak their solicitation laws in an effort to increase accountability, and occasionally, to reduce burdens on nonprofits. A bill pushed by the Maine Attorney General would eliminate registration and disclosure requirementsfor charitable nonprofits and professional fundraising counsel, leaving only professional third-party solicitors still required to register and report. Maryland appears likely to adopt a rewrite of the state’s solicitation registration law to increase the Attorney General/Secretary of State’s oversight of nonprofits and raise certain fees for charities. Maryland Nonprofits, the State Association in Maryland, supports the bill on the grounds that it would “provide resources and authority to address glaring shortcomings in the state’s ability to protect charitable donors from fraud, effectively monitor compliance with state rules on charitable solicitations, and when necessary intervene to prevent the misuse of charitable assets.” In Oregon, both the House and Senate have passed the bill authorizing the Attorney General to impose increased penalties, including fees, on nonprofits that fail to comply with reporting and other regulatory requirements. The measure, which was expressly amended to restrict the creation of additional and burdensome reporting requirements, now goes to the Governor for his signature. See the recent Nonprofit Advocacy Matters for more background on these and other proposals.

Additional State and Local Issues

Here’s Why
We’ve all heard the declaration: Your nonprofit can/should/must engage in advocacy! The typical reasons given are that you serve a population that doesn’t have a voice or the public needs your good sense. Rarely does the speaker of the opening declaration explain “why” in terms that matter to the mission and day-to-day responsibilities of the busy nonprofit professional. Until now.

Dennis McMillian, President of the Foraker Group, opened his March message to members of the state association of nonprofits in Alaska with a message worth sharing. In The Case to Engage in Public Policy, Dennis used facts to make his point clear for residents of his state: “Nationally 31% of charitable nonprofit revenue comes from government grants. Alaska gets twice that much! That fact alone should make it clear that public policy is not just a good thing to do, many organizations must engage in it to survive.”

He went on to explain: “Even nonprofits that depend on earned revenue or charitable giving are not immune to today's policy challenges. Never have stakes been so high. Individually and collectively we must act – we must do a better job of advocating for ourselves.”

And then there is this universal truth that all nonprofits should acknowledge: “Some elected officials don't understand why nonprofits are important, others lack respect for what we do. For example, recently some of our legislators were heard making statements that nonprofits are "not effective,” that "salaries are too high,” we "waste money,” we "don't know how to run our businesses,” and that we need to be "taught" to do more for less. Unfortunately, these officials don't know what they don't know. If we don't speak for ourselves, they may assume their perceptions are true.”

In other words – for Alaskans and nonprofits throughout the United States – advocating on behalf of your nonprofit is an essential tool for advancing mission.

Federal Issues
  • Budget and Spending
  • Tax Reform Draft
  • IRS Proposed Regulations
State Issues
  • Local Taxes: DC, MI, NY, PA
  • Taxes, Fees, PILOTs: CT, HI, RI
  • Government-Nonprofit Contracting: MD
  • Solicitation Laws: ME, MD, OR
  • Hunger Aid: CT, NY, PA
  • Nonprofit Independence: CT
  • Telemarketing: NY
  • Contracting Solutions: FL
Advocacy in Action
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Worth Reading
Foundations Can Rewrite History by Focusing on the States, Tim Delaney, Nonprofit Quarterly, March 5, 2014, demonstrating that while much attention is focused on federal proposals in Washington, DC that often are dead on arrival, “the real action is in the states” when it comes to legislating: last year Congress passed fewer than 80 laws, while state legislatures adopted 40,000.

Worth Quoting
Respect from Washington
“Representing 10 percent of the nation’s adult workforce and contributing more than $800 billion to US GDP, nonprofits also serve as an economic engine for job creation in communities across America.”
Strengthening and Supporting the Social Sector to Grow the Middle Class, White House Budget Fact Sheet accompanying the President’s FY 2015 Budget, March 4, 2014.

Worth Quoting
"Nonprofit leaders are the best business people in the state. They are able to deliver world-class services, balance the books, and run a marketing campaign -- usually all on a shoe-string budget."
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaking to an audience of 200+ nonprofits at Washington Nonprofits' Legislative Reception, February 12, 2014.

Worth Studying
25 Maps and Charts That Explain America Today,Washington Post, February 24, 2015, offering a fascinating pictorial collection of demographic information ranging from the economic and digital divides to tax and social policies across the country.

Nonprofit Events

Help Us Tell the Nonprofit Story
The Advocacy in Actionsegment of this newsletter is dedicating to highlighting the many innovative and effective ways that charitable nonprofits advance their missions through advocacy. Nominate a nonprofitfor inclusion in a future newsletter.

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