Sunday, December 13, 2009

Regional Funders Perspective on Collaboration: Watch the Video

Colgate University offered the following funders' conversation:

Dunn says that Central New York has a modest foundation community, with only $400 million in assets and $20 million in annual grants. With those funds, how can we have the most impact. He has seen many encouraging conversations about sustainability in not for profit organizations in the community, and discussions about merging, sharing objectives, and regionalization. OShea says that, as the largest funder in their area, several smaller foundations have come under their umbrella as donor advised or designated funds. This enables them to have a conversation about their interests and the impact of their charitable dollars. She also stresses the importance of the indicator study as a way to articulate the needs of the community to themselves and the community. Brown does the same thing by relying on other agencies to give them this information. They are concerned with the power differential and remind themselves to remain sensitive about this. She shares an example of a cultural organization that has systemic issues. They also discuss the definition of philanthropy and the creation of the Center for Philanthropy by the Central New York Community Foundation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Leadership Alliance for a Vital Community

Herkimer & Oneida County Indicators
What is a community indicators study? Community indicator studies are now commonly conducted across the country to provide objective snapshots of an area's quality of life. This is an opportunity to engage in a community-wide conversation about the current state of the Mohawk Valley region and how to respond collectively to issues that we face. The indicator categories are arts and culture, economic self-sufficiency, economy, education, environment, health, housing, public safety, technology and transportation.

Why would a community want an indicators study? A community indicators study is like a check-up with the doctor. The study tells the community what areas are healthy and which areas need work. It is objective and based on facts rather than sentiment. It will help the community establish shared goals toward increasing its economic viability, well-being and sustainability. We believe that with this information, organizations and individuals will form partnerships and take action to build a vital community and improve the overall perception of our community.

Who is responsible for the indicators study? This is the inaugural project of the Leadership Alliance for a Vital Community (LAVC), which is a partnership among The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc., Mohawk Valley EDGE and United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area. The Community Foundation is taking the lead in the data collection phase of this project on behalf of the Alliance.

What is the geographic focus of the indicators study? The focus is on Oneida and Herkimer counties.

When and how are you collecting the information? The data is being collected and processed, and will be released in the first quarter of 2010. We have selected the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) from Rochester, NY as the data collection agency that can best meet our needs. CGR is collecting and analyzing data to develop a report of the findings along with an accompanying web site, which will be unveiled in the spring of 2010.

How will you decide what information to collect? We will invite community members who are experts in the 10 indicator areas for sessions where they will review the potential indicators for each category. Their expertise will help inform the specific areas of study for a focused, independent and objective measurement of key community indicators. Ultimately, these experts and the Alliance will use the data to take action.

The purpose of LAVC is to strengthen a healthy, vibrant community through collaborative leadership that identifies significant community issues, builds regional consensus, creates a shared vision and is a catalyst for change.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A plan not yet realized

The Utica OD reported that the recent $20 million Stanley Center for the Arts renovation ranks high on the list of projects expected to bring about a downtown renaissance.

But since the 1928 theater reopened in spring 2008 to the St. Petersburg Ballet’s performance of “Romeo and Juliet,” the increase in the number of shows has been only one-third of what Stanley officials expected.

The number has risen from 95 pre-renovation to a projected 110 shows in 2009. That’s far fewer than the 140 annual shows expected after the Stanley expanded its stage, added dressing rooms and improved the loading dock.

Yearly attendance is even more off the mark from estimates made by theater leaders in 2005, a time when they were in the midst of raising many hundreds of thousands of dollars for the renovation from governments, local donors and other sources.

Faced with recession-weary patrons, theater officials now find themselves making numerous adjustments.

Among them:
◦Executive Director Ronald Thiele has proposed a wage freeze for the Stanley’s 21 employees. The theater is also tightening spending.
◦The Stanley plans to back off for now from presenting shows itself, an avenue it had pursued as the renovation reached fruition.
◦The theater might offer more “pocketbook-appropriate” events for local residents such as Sunday matinees.
Theater officials say they are still learning how to manage what they’ve created.

“There’s a strong sea-change in the tasking of people’s time and resources,” Thiele said. “It really creates an organizational shift that we are a performing arts center.”

The lack of significant change has disappointed some of the theater’s neighbors.

“I think the Stanley is not utilizing their capabilities to their fullest potential,” said James Loy, who owns Utica’s 257 Steakhouse. “I think they could have newer, better shows in there and bring a lot more to the downtown area than what they’ve been producing.” Read more here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Utica College cuts 14 positions

The CNY Business Journal reported that Utica College had to cut $1.3 million from its 2009-2010 budget, and had to cut 14 jobs to do so.

According to the letter, signed by college President Todd Hutton, the school "encountered a new set of financial circumstances that exacerbate an already difficult financial situation."

As a result, the college eliminated 11 full-time and three part-time positions. The school informed 10 individuals their positions were eliminated or offered them early retirement and reassigned one person to another office.

In other steps to cut costs, the college reduced the base salary for members of the president's cabinet, canceled the search for an in-house attorney, and put some elements of its plan to invest in programs on hold or canceled them altogether. Read more here.

The Genesis Group: Meeting Updates

Join us this Saturday December 5th for the Annual Genesis Holiday Social & Utica College Hockey Game

5:00pm at Hotel Utica, complimentary food, cash bar and complimentary game ticket
7:00pm at Utica Auditorium, Utica College Hockey Game

ALL ARE WELCOME - Genesis friends, supporters, volunteers and their families, kids too.
For Reservations, contact Ray Durso, Jr., by calling 792.7187 or by email,

  • The Genesis Community Connections & Discovery Tours Committee will meet on Wednesday December 2nd - 7:30am at Raspberries Cafe, Genesee St Utica
  • The Genesis Healthcare Committee will meet on Wednesday December 9th - 12:00pm at Prudential Carucci Real Estate
  • The Genesis Technology Committee will meet on Wednesday December 9th - 5:00pm at Tiny's Grill, State Street Utica

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NY State Council on the Arts Announces Important Changes for Fiscal Year 2011

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the holiday season and the end of another year, I want to take a moment to update you on some important changes that are taking place here at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

In Fiscal Year 2011 (calendar year 2010), we will implement a series of changes to NYSCA’s annual application calendar in an effort to further improve our grantmaking process and better serve New York’s cultural community. As a result, a number of important deadlines, including the close of registration, will now shift to earlier points in the calendar year. Given these changes, it is tremendously important that you take careful note of NYSCA’s FY11 calendar, provided below. Please pay particular attention to NYSCA’s registration deadline (January 22, 2010) and first application deadline (February 17, 2010).

I also want to take this opportunity to update you on the latest news regarding NYSCA and the New York State Cultural Data Project (CDP). As you know, NYSCA has been working with a Taskforce of funders and arts organizations throughout the past year to help launch CDP in New York State. Now, NYSCA is prepared to accept CDP Data Profiles as a part of the FY11 grant application process.

The use of CDP will be optional for NYSCA applicants in FY11, but will be required of all applicants in FY12. However, we want to encourage all organizations to begin using this powerful online tool today. To that end, applicants who have completed a CDP Data Profile before NYSCA’s first FY11 application deadline (February 17, 2010) will be able to submit the Data Profile as a substitute for NYSCA’s three-year “Organizational Budget”.

To find out more about CDP, review the information below and visit

If you have any questions about these changes, please do not hesitate to contact a staff person in your funding program so that you can work together to address your concerns.

Heather Hitchens
Executive Director

•December 15, 2009
FY11 Application Guidelines Available
•January 4, 2010
Registration Opens
•January 22, 2010
Registration Closes
•February 17, 2010
1st Application Deadline
•February 17, 2010
CDP Data Profile Completion Deadline (optional in FY11—see below)
•April 12, 2010
2nd Application Deadline

Friday, November 27, 2009

Des Moines nonprofits face $715,000 in budget cuts

Nonprofits across the US are facing major challenges. This article relates twenty Des Moines nonprofit programs that provide housing, food, health care and assistance to domestic violence victims could lose more than $715,000 in combined government aid as part of efforts to relieve stress on the city budget.

The city of Des Moines has used federal Housing and Urban Development money to partially support the nonprofit programs. But City Manager Rick Clark has recommended that the money be spent on code enforcement, community centers and neighborhood revitalization initiatives beginning in 2011.

In the past, the code enforcement, community center and neighborhood work has been partly financed with city property tax revenues, but general fund shortfalls of roughly $11 million over the next two budget cycles necessitate use of the federal money, Clark said.

The impact on nonprofits will vary, but 14 will lose more than 10 percent of their operating budget, with two nonprofits losing more than 70 percent of their revenue. Read more here.

Many cities and counties across the US are making similiar decisions. How should nonprofits respond? Are there other choices?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nonprofit Comes Under Scrutiny

With the recent articles in the Utica O-D about the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, nonprofits and their boards need to be clearly aware of the impact of their decisions and how they might be perceived by the communtiy and media. Here are a couple of the recent articles, linked below. Have your own feedback or input on this issue? Share it here.

1.FROM THE ARCHIVES: Contracts went to leaders' firms
In a March 29, 2009, article, the O-D detailed how the Central Association for the Blind gave substantial contracts to companies owned by key figures at the nonprofit agency.

2. State seeks records on Association for the Blind's contracts
The state Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, focusing on whether fraudulent practices or illegal acts might have occurred there.

3. Association paid ex-president for consulting services
The Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired continued to do work last year with companies that have ties to key figures at the nonprofit, 2008 federal tax filings show.

Friday, November 20, 2009

December 9th Program Meeting Announced: Register Now

Presented by David Moynihan, President of the NYS Society of CPAs
David Moynihan, president of the New York State Society of CPAs, will offer a program on Wed, December 9th at 1pm on the importance of quality audits and improving the audit process. David’s presentation includes best practices in procuring an auditor, auditor-client communication, and getting the most out of an audit. This is not a highly technical presentation—rather, it focuses on management’s ethical responsibility during the audit process.

David Moynihan, CPA is President of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA). Moynihan is the partner in charge of the audit and attest group at Testone, Marshall & Discenza LLP.

Moynihan has been a NYSSCPA member since 1982 He is chair of the NYSSCPA Peer Review committee, vice chair of its Political Action committee and past president of its Syracuse Chapter.

Moynihan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and received its certificate of achievement in Governmental and Non-Profit Accounting and Auditing. He is also a member of the AICPA Peer Review Board and is on the Central Region Council of the New York State Government Finance Officers Association.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Spanish Action League of Syracuse, finance chair of St. Patrick’s Church and treasurer of Partners for Education and Business.
He is a graduate of LeMoyne College with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.

About the NYSSCPA
Representing 29,000 CPAs, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) is the oldest state accounting organization in the nation, celebrating its 110th anniversary this year.

Incorporated in 1897, the Society is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to establish and maintain high standards of integrity, honor, and character among certified public accountants. Its members are CPAs working in public practice, industry, government and education in a state that serves as the home of Wall Street and major financial institutions.

The New York State Society of CPAs is located at 3 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016. To learn more about the Society call 800-633-6320 or visit the Society’s website at

Date: Wed, Decemember 9th 2009
Time: 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Cost: To be announced (if held at restaurant)
Location: To be announced


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Strategic Management in Tough Times Recap

Almost 30 participants attended Strategic Management in Tough Times offered by NY Council of Nonprofit's CEO Doug Sauer on the November 10th. The discussion centered around how nonprofits can better plan and respond to the current economic challenges faced. There was a group dialogue and Executive Directors shared their feedback about the status of their organization. They discussed how they've been impacted by the downturn; strategic planning concepts in the recessionary environment; and strategies and their implications for developing a Short-Term Strategic Action Plan. There a number of video clips from the program available here. Below you will also find feedback from the evaluations collected.

At the program, an evaluation also asked participants for ideas for future trainings as we look ahead to 2010. Here is the quick list:
  • Managing leadership anxiety- leadership wellness- succession planning- board and executive director leading the agency together.
  • Specifically how to get strategic planning done.
  • Educational session for board members- topic: roles and responsibilities as a board member
  • Perhaps: fiduciary responsibilities for board members. A primer on fundraising for your organization.
  • Opportunities in this area for sharing back office operations.
  • I'd still like to see the creation of a "training swap" service among us- so we can train staff and volunteers together or swap expertise.
  • Communication regarding possible changes, which instill sight of opportunity and decrease fear.
  • More emphasis in Board training and dynamics
  • Managing staff, conflict resolution
  • Collaboration with other similar n/p to save money.
  • Successful entrepreneurial ventures
  • More applied to practical application beyond planning. Hold one on ones instead of doing one on one with 30 others.
  • one specifically on relationship between ED and board- maintaining open, productive communcation
  • Succession planning
  • Sharing services.
  • How to identify and foster possible partnerships- types of contracts, overcoming autonomy issues; board development- duties and responsibilities

Have other ideas, share them here. Other feedback from the program that may be helpful to other directors were the answers to the following two questions below. See a couple of the answers, or share your own.

How have the changing economic conditions impacted your organization this year?
  • Be more clear on mission and core activities right now financially ok. Asking questions on whatever can do for future- set strategies
  • We must now consider trimming staff costs.
  • Some services that both funder and provider agree are needed, not provided
  • Decrease services, elminating services
  • Sense of insecurity regarding funding, although funding is still ok
  • Cuts in funding, lower utilization of fee for service
  • Not everything rosy but not really affecting us
  • We are preparing a new business plan with a 3-5 year look. We are also doing a profit and loss plan.
  • Lay off of staff (1.5 out of 12); cut back on volunteer training, increase energy on fee for service activities.

How do you see the economy and possible cuts in government funding impacting your agency next year?

  • We receive little government funding- fee for service is unclear. Agency ready for growth and there will not be additional funding to seek.
  • If we lose gov't funding, we will need to consider cutting jobs and possibly programming.
    1st step might be reduced or no compensation increases for staff, which exacerbates an already hardy turnover problem. Reduction of services next step.
  • Further service cuts, re-analyze each service line and be more efficient
  • The arts continue to be funded on national level (NEA) which also subsidizes state art, so am continously optimistic
  • We are planning on less government funding and working on 5 new fundraisers.
  • Further staff cuts. It's the only thing left we can cut! This means reduced ability to supervise volunteers, therefore we will serve less people. In doing so, we'll be saved for the "most difficult cases" and our outcomes will look different too.
  • We will need to continue reviewing all expenses and development
  • Possible staff lay-offs; outsourcing some services and consolidating others. Increasing fees for services.
  • We are looking for new grants.
  • When NYS holds grant $ so they can get additional interest, it costs us $. Should be illegal for them to do so.
  • Services have been meticulous reviewed for viability and some positions will need to be cut as we do not even plan on stable fudning in 2010 and 2011.
  • Staff layoff, salary freeze

Have comments or additional thoughts? E-mail us.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Economic Rescue Package Includes Help for Charities

As part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a two-year extension of Charitable IRA legislation, making it easier for Americans to give to causes they care about. The Charitable IRA provision, first enacted for 2006 and 2007, has the power to help local charities weather the current economic crisis. The extension goes through 2009.

In these financially turbulent times, millions of Americans continue to save pre-tax dollars in individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Thanks to regular investments and long-term returns, an estimated $4.7 trillion is invested in IRAs. The new law allows taxpayers 70 ½ and older to give retirement savings directly to charity, bypassing income tax to themselves or to their beneficiaries. The tax benefit expires December 31, 2009.

“It is a win-win—for people who would rather give to charity than pay taxes and for the nonprofit organizations they choose to support,” said Peggy O’Shea, president & CEO of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc.

“For larger estates, a good portion of IRA wealth goes to estate taxes and income taxes of beneficiaries,” O’Shea said. “Experts estimate heirs may receive less than 50% of IRA assets that pass through estates.” Read more here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Health-Insurance Rates Set To Rise In 2010 related that major health-insurance carriers serving Central New York are currently working to determine how much of a rate increase their customers will face in 2010.

Spokespersons for Rochester-based Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Schenectady-based MVP Health Care, and UnitedHealthcare, which has its upstate headquarters in DeWitt, say it's "too early" to provide definitive rate information for their 2010 health plans. Carriers typically file their rates with the New York Insurance Department on Nov. 30.

However, recent survey reports and interviews with employee-benefit consultants shed some light on what businesses can expect to see in rate increases. Figures in the 2009 Small Business Health-Care Reform Survey from the National Small Business, Association indicate 92 percent of respondents are planning for an increase in their premiums in 2010.

The average expected increase is 13 percent, and about 20 percent of small businesses anticipate premium increases of more than 20 percent next year, the survey found.

Consultants and brokers in upstate New York say businesses should expect to see increases of at least 6 percent, ranging into double figures, depending on plan design.Concrete numbers on health-plan rates won't be available until early November, says Christian (Chris) Marshall, executive vice president of brokerage services with Falcone Associates, Inc. of Syracuse.

New state taxes and fees imposed on health-insurance plans earlier this year will likely be reflected in 2010 premiums, says Ross Kraft, president of the Meridian Group of New York, Inc. in Utica and current president of New York State Association of Health Underwriters. Meridian helps clients in New York and neighboring states design employee-benefit programs for-their employees.

Rates for health-maintenance organization (HMO) plans in New York could rise between 15 percent and 20 percent because it's "a dwindling pool," says Kraft, referring to the decline in the number of people who are enrolling in HMO plans.

Another upstate employee-benefit consultant, Thomas Flynn, a Rochester-based principal with the consulting firm Mercer, agrees that HMO plans could see a double-digit rate increase. Flynn also believes health insurers are trying to help employers keep costs down by promoting their consumer-directed health-care plans.

CDHPs are high-deductible plans with an employee-controlled spending account - a health-savings account (HSA) or health-reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

MVP expects CDHPs will attract a larger share of the employer-sponsored health care market because of rising premiums, Gary Hughes, MVP's director of public and community relations, said in an e-mail message. Read more here.

If you are looking for health insurance assistance for your nonprofit, contact NYCON's insurance brokerage, Council Services Plus, for assistance and information. Click here to e-mail for assistance.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NYCON Launches Assistance for Nonprofits Facing Leadership Transition

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

Seventh Annual Best Practices for Nonprofits

November 19, 2009
Holiday Inn Liverpool

9:00 a.m.-9:45 a.m.
Concurrent Session 1
Section A
Panel Discussion
Mission Refinement: Program Prioritization/Program Reduction
Pat Leone, Contact Community Services, Inc.
Linda M. Wright, The Salvation Army of the Syracuse Area
Michael F. Melara, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County

Section B
Defining And Developing Your Organization’s Strategic Plan, Business Plan And Budget
Susan Burgess, MA, MS, True North Group

Section C
Panel Discussion
Forming Strategic Partnerships
Mary Ellen Bloodgood, Jewish Home of Central New York / Menorah Park
Dr. Thomas H. Dennison, Syracuse University’s Maxwell School Health Services Management and Policy
John G. Eberle, Central New York Community Foundation
Michael West, New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Concurrent Session 2
Section D
Panel Discussion
Staff Issues In The Downturn – Compensation And Retention
Peter A. Jones, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
John E. Matson, Syracuse University

Section E
Exploring Funding Streams
Speaker TBD, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Section F
Panel Discussion
Managing Volunteers From Acceptance Through The Volunteer Life Cycle/Creating “Meaningful” Work
Karen Hargrave, Vera House
Craig Collie, United WayNancy Stewart, Crouse Hospital

11:00 a.m.-Noon
Plenary Session
Panel Discussion
Attracting And Engaging The “40 Below” Board Member And Volunteer
Kelly Bayne, United Way of Central New York, Inc., 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force
Sean Becker, 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force
Brian Hoke, 40 Below, Thursday Morning Roundtable Advisory Committee
Kelly Knab, United Way of Central New York, Inc.

7:30 am - 8:00 am
Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
Keynote Address
ePhilanthropy: Using the Web for Fundraising
Erica Campbell, Assistant Vice President, CCS Fundraising

Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool, 411 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool, NY 13088 315-457-1122
November 19, 2009 Liverpool, New York
Registration Fees: $70 – BS&K/ParenteBeard LLC Clients $85 – General PublicRSVP Deadline: November 12, 2009Please indicate which of the Concurrent Sessions you will attend:Session 1: A B C Session 2: D E FRegister online at www.bsk.comor complete and return the registration form below.
Name:_________________________________________________Title:_______________________________________________Organization:________________________________________________________________________________________________Address:___________________________________________________________________________________________________City:___________________________________ State:____________________________ Zip:______________________________E-Mail:_______________________________Telephone:____________________________Fax:____________________________The following people will also attend:Name:____________________________________Title:______________________________ E-Mail:_________________________Name:____________________________________Title:______________________________ E-Mail:_________________________Name:____________________________________Title:______________________________ E-Mail:_________________________Refunds will only be made for cancellations received 5 business days before event.Register online at or complete and return the registration form to:Ms. Toko Moyo, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, One Lincoln Center, Syracuse, NY 13202Fax: 315-218-8100 Questions: 1-800-339-8897 E-mail: tmoyo@bsk.comPlease make checks payable to Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLCIf anyone attending needs any special accommodation, please call Liz Poda at 315-218-8526.This seminar is intended for the invited guests of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, Central New York Community Foundation, Inc.,The Gifford Foundation, ParenteBeard LLC and the United Way of Central New York, who reserve the right to deny admission to any applicant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coalition Undertakes Community Indicators Study

The Onedia County Courier reported that three local community organizations working together to identify and meet the area’s most pressing needs undertook the first step in a Community Indicators study today. The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc., Mohawk Valley EDGE and United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area are working together as initial partners in the Leadership Alliance for a Vital Community (LAVC) on this project, the results of which will inform each organization’s work and be shared with the entire community.

Community indicator studies provide objective snapshots of an area’s quality of life.

This is an opportunity to engage in a community-wide conversation about the current state of the Mohawk Valley region and how to respond collectively to issues and opportunities that we face. The indicator categories are arts and culture, economic self-sufficiency, economy, education, environment, health, housing, public safety, technology and transportation.

The Herkimer and Oneida County Indicators study in particular will help the community develop and focus on shared goals toward increasing its economic viability, well-being and sustainability. LAVC believes that with this information, organizations and individuals will form partnerships and take action to build a vital community. Read the article here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oct 28th Presentation of Oneida County's New Tourism Brand

You are Invited

Join the Genesis Group, Oneida County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Trainor Associates during a Community Presentation of Oneida County’s new tourism brand and marketing campaign initiative…The Getaway Region, Oneida County NY – Get away to it all!

Be a part of the presentation and connect with the community…
Join us on Wednesday October 28, 2009 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the Historic Hotel Utica

This Community Presentation is open to the general public and is being promoted to the following:
· Members of the Genesis Group and those on their email database
· Members of the Convention & Visitors Bureau
· Members of all 10 Chambers of Commerce in Oneida & Herkimer Counties
· Elected Officials in Oneida & Herkimer Counties
· Realtors
· Education Industry
· Health Care Industry
· Newcomers
· Young Professionals
· And of course the MEDIA!

Admission is FREE, with Hors d' oeuvres and a Cash Bar, Raffles & Prizes too!

For Reservations, contact Genesis Executive Director Ray Durso, Jr., by calling 792.7187 or by email,
Thank you for your interest and support of Oneida County's
$ 1 Billion Tourism industry!

Kelly Blazosky Tim Trainor Ray Durso, Jr.
Oneida County CVB Trainor & Associates The Genesis Group

Friday, October 9, 2009

Genesis Group Event Update

Hello Genesis!

The Genesis Group unites Indidviduals and Organizations to Promote and Celebrate
the Mohawk Valley, in order for the Region to continue to Prosper and Grow!

"Community Pride Luncheon in Herkimer County"
sponsored by Genesis & The Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce

Thursday October 29th - 12:00pm
Herkimer County Community College, Alumni Hall

The following businesses and organizations will be highlighted:
Herkimer ARC - Hummel's Office Plus - Valley Health Services
DeOrio's Quality Dough Products/Vilolet Packing LLC

The Genesis Community Pride Luncheons are designed to bring together Elected Officials, Business and Community Leaders from around the region, to share good news and positive information. The luncheons began about 6 years ago and have attracted more than 4000 guests!

Cost for Luncheon: $ 20.00 pp (tables of 8 are available)
For reservations, contact Genesis Executive Director Raymond J. Durso, Jr. by calling 315.792.7187 or by email,

"Fourth Annual Celebration of Education"

Education is a billion dollar industry in our region. Genesis looks forward to promoting American Education Week in November, when we'll honor outstanding Educators and Programs from pre-school through graduate school.

To nominate an outstanding Educator or Program, visit our website, then download, complete and submit your nomination form.

"Welcome Student Initiative"

More than 20,000 college students are currently studying in our region. Almost 100 businesses are offering discounts and incentives to help these students feel "welcome" and a part of our community!

For more information on how you can get involved, visit our website, Also, click on the College Community Calendar for a list of more than 700 events taking place at area campuses.

“Genesis Technology Committee Meeting”
Tuesday October 20th – 5:00pm
Tiny’s Grill, 1014 State Street, downtown Utica

All are welcome to join us as we’ll be discussing, “Technology in the Mohawk Valley region.”
Committee Co-Chairs are Dr. Gerard Capraro & Frank Przybycien

The Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley Region
PO Box 3050
Utica, New York 13504
315.797.1280 fax

Monday, October 5, 2009

Top 15 Non-profit Board Governance Mistakes

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.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Lara Sepanski as Program Associate.

Sepanski recently returned to the area after spending three years in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps. Peggy O’Shea, president and CEO of The Community Foundation, said, “Not only are we pleased to have such a bright and capable individual join our team, but we are also thrilled that Lara decided to return to this community when she could have gone anywhere in the country.”

Sepanski is a 2001 graduate of Whitesboro Central School and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science cum laude from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. While with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, Sepanski taught English, was a community economic advisor to a women’s artisan group and founded a library. Lara Sepanski resides in Whitesboro with her husband.

The Community Foundation has been a force for improving lives and promoting philanthropy throughout Herkimer and Oneida counties since 1952. The Foundation has made more than 4,200 grants totaling over $29.5 million in support of causes ranging from education to health care, the arts to the environment. Grants are generated by the more than 260 funds that comprise The Foundation’s endowment, established and advanced by area individuals and families.

For more information about The Community Foundation, call 315-735-8212 or visit

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Inaugural Healthcare Hall of Distinction Ceremony"

The Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley Region

Hello Genesis!

Join us for the..........

"Inaugural Healthcare Hall of Distinction Ceremony"
presented by The Medical Societies & Genesis

Tuesday September 22nd - 5:30pm
at The Stanley Center for the Arts

The following individuals will be inducted and honored for a lifetime of service
to their healthcare profession and to our community:

Brian J. Gaffney MD
Louis B. Tehan
Sister Rose Vincent Gleason
Keith A. Fenstemacher
Bernard J. Burke MD
Darlene A. Burns
Murray L. Nusbaum MD

All are welcome to attend - Complimentary Refreshments - Send your RSVP to Ray Durso, Jr.
By calling 792.7187 or by email

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Central Association for the Blind Sees ‘Green’ with Award-Winning Greening the Cleaning® Program

The Paramus Post reported that the Central Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CABVI) is now playing the lead role in servicing clients of the award-winning Greening the Cleaning® institutional products for another non-profit, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology®.

Under the joint agreement, CABVI accepts customer orders, fills jugs on state-of-the-art equipment, and ships cases of the environmentally responsible cleaning products from its warehouses in Utica, N.Y. CABVI personnel also handle customer service, and serves as a master distributor for other organizations seeking to do the same.

CABVI has been a distributor of the Environmental Center's Greening the Cleaning products since 2007 and supplies about 100 government offices, universities and school districts throughout the state. Purchases help employ more than 70 people who are blind and visually impaired in filling, packaging, distribution and customer service operations. Read more here.

United Way Kicks Off 2009 Campaign

The Oneida County Courier reported that the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area kicked-off the 2009 campaign led by Campaign Chair John Hobika, Jr. of M&T Bank. The 2009 goal of $3.25 million was announced at the campaign kickoff held at the Stanley Center for the Arts in Utica.

“I am excited to be given the great opportunity to assist in bringing people together,” says Hobika. “This campaign is everyone’s campaign, and together we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on our community. The dollars raised are directed at our efforts at the key underlying issues of health, economic self-sufficiency and education: the building blocks for a good life.” Read more here.

Unemployment in Utica Held at 7%

The Central NY Business Journal reported that New York's unemployment rate climbed to 9 percent in August, up from 8.6 percent in July, according to new data the state Labor Department released today.

August's rate was the highest since April 1983, according to the department. The state's unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in August 2008.

New York's private-sector job count fell by about 2,200 in August, less than 0.1 percent, to about 7.1 million.

The Utica-Rome region saw its private-sector job total fall by 2,500 jobs, or 2.5 percent between August 2008 and August 2009. The area's unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in August, compared with 7.2 percent in July and 5.2 percent in August 2008.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Genesis Group Offers 2nd Annual Regional Media Forum

The Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley Region

Join us for two upcoming special community events......

Genesis Group General Meeting
(TOMORROW) Wed September 16th - 7:30am at Hotel Utica

Genesis presents the 2nd Annual Regional Media Forum with a focus on the following areas:

Why did they (write/air) that? Three local media executives explain how their news organizations determine what gets covered (and what doesn't), and how their work impacts the commuity and its future.

Why watchdog reporting is important for the community's progress. Digging up questionable actions by government or other entities may seem negative, but in the end critical stories often foster positive change. Three local media executives discuss the dedication their organizations have to watchdog reporting and answer your questions.

Ask the media executives. Here's your chance to question/challenge/grill the top news decisionmakers at three local media outlets. No question is off limits. It's sure to be a lively discussion that you won't want to miss.

Members of the panel will include:
Joseph Kieta, Editor of the Observer Dispatch
Steve McMurray, News Director for WKTV NewsChannel 2
Jeff Monaski, News Director for WIBX Radio

All are welcome to attend - Complimentary Refreshments - Send your RSVP to Ray Durso, Jr.
By calling 792.7187 or by email
Healthcare Hall of Distinction Ceremony
Tuesday September 22nd - 5:30pm
at The Stanley Center for the Arts

The following individuals will be inducted and honored for a lifetime of service to their healthcare profession and to our community:

Brian J. Gaffney MD
Louis B. Tehan
Keith A. Fenstemacher
Sister Rose Vincent Gleason
Bernard J. Burke MD
Darlene A. Burns and
Murray L. Nusbaum MD

All are welcome to attend - Complimentary Refreshments - Send your RSVP to Ray Durso, Jr.
By calling 792.7187 or by email

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Q&A with primary candidates for county legislature

The OD featured questions and answers from Bruce Brodsky and Shannon Scott, who will face off Tuesday in a Democratic primary for the Oneida County Board of Legislators District 22 seat. Howard Welch also is running for the seat in November on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

Of interest is Bruce Brodsky's mention of the lack of cooperation, and he mentions the nonprofit sector. He offers an interesting solution of a community leadership team. This lack of partnerships and collaboration has been a topic of discussion before. Do you think a community leadership team could help the nonprofit sector?

What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position you seek?
I am the proven reform candidate with the professional qualifications to take action and not just talk about it. Playing politics and arguing without a realistic alternative is a waste of time. Real, cost-effective solutions make the difference. I will work with anyone to move my district, city and county forward on key issues, and will be part of the solution. I know the legislative process, will listen to my constituents, ask for advice from experts and continue to learn best practices of other communities. I will insist that results are measurable and public. I have gained experience that comes from family, work, volunteering and public service and have a record of success plus a level of enthusiasm unmatched in this campaign.

Scott: I am more qualified than my opponent because I have been in the legislature for the past two years, helping to reform the way business has been done for too long. My opponent served years ago and has already indicated that he is at odds with the way the minority has challenged the long-standing power brokers in the county. I have sponsored legislation to stop elected officials from receiving mid-term pay raises. I also wrote a local law to prohibit legislators from receiving appointments by the county executive during their term until two years after they left office. I want to protect the public from having their tax dollars wasted as it has been for too long.

What are the 2 main issues facing your community/district, and how would you go about addressing them?
The number one issue is the loss in homeowners in Utica. We must help people living in apartments who want to own their own home, provide incentives for new home development, and encourage owners of multi-family housing to live right in their own buildings. Many buildings are owned by out-of-state landlords. That's very bad for our community and this out-of-state owner trend must be reversed.

The second issue is our inability to work together. In Utica, there are city, county, state and federal elected representatives, a school board, many public authorities and dozens of community service groups and nonprofits whose purpose is community improvement. We must meet as a “community leadership team” several times a year and agree to work together. I propose an “anchor priority.” In an area of new development (i.e. new housing or business) the “community leadership team” could marshal resources of government, utilities and community services to extend the improvement area by at least one block in all directions around the new “anchor.” Read more here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Companies Still Increasing Strategic Spending

Despite the ailing U.S. economy, companies in North America are expected to spend $1.55 billion on cause partnerships during 2009, a 2.2 percent increase from the $1.52 billion invested in those programs during 2008, according to Chicago-based IEG, LLC. The amount spent in 2007 was $1.44 billion, according to IEG.

Cause-related programs still remain popular among corporate marketers due to their ability to support worthwhile organizations while also driving sales.

In fact, some nonprofits that deal with poverty, hunger and other issues directly impacted by the economy have found increased corporate interest. “Recent research has shown that consumers expect corporations to increase their support of causes in this economy,” said Dan Kowitz, vice president of IEG Sponsorship Consulting.

For example, anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength has posted a roughly 15 percent increase in revenue from cause marketing programs during the past year, signing new deals with AT&T, Inc., Hickory Farms, Inc. and others.

Among other recent deals, juice and apple sauce marketer Mott’s LLP this year partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Feeding America to launch national cause-marketing programs. The company is leveraging the Komen partnership with the Pink to the Core campaign, which features limited edition packaging. It is working with Feeding America on the Wake Up with Mott’s and Marcia Cross program, around which consumers can make a donation by sending a pre-recorded telephone message about the need to fight hunger from the actress to family and friends.

For each call, Mott’s donates $1 to the nonprofit, with a cap of $134,000 -- the cost of feeding one million people. Read more here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Name and Mission: Share Your Opinion

The Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group is revisiting its name and mission. Share your feedback here on the following names (or suggest your own) and mission statement.
  • Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Executive Directors
  • Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders
  • Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Directors Action Group
  • Nonprofit Directors of Mohawk Valley
  • Nonprofit Directors Action Group of Mohawk Valley

Suggested the following mission statement for discussion

  • The mission of the (name tbd) is to individually and collectively strengthen and empower nonprofit organizations; and to foster a highly valued recognition of the economic and social benefits of the nonprofit sector.

Steering Committee Minutes

Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group
Steering Committee Meeting Aug 4th

Attended by: C. Sonia Martinez, NIA Group, Inc; Amy Turner, Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, Inc. (MVCAA); Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen, Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council, Inc; Cornelia E. Brown, MAMI Interpreters; Rev. Bill Dodge, Rescue Mission; Cassandra Sheets, Mohawk Valley Council of Alcoholism/Addictions; Darlene Ford, Mid-York Library Council

  • Discussed the ED Group’s purpose and focus
  • Will revisit the ED Group’s name
    o Currently is Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group
    o Other ideas
    § Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Executive Directors
    § Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders
    § Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Directors Action Group
    § Nonprofit Directors of Mohawk Valley
    § Nonprofit Directors Action Group of Mohawk Valley
    · Will revisit mission statement of the Group
    · Suggested the following mission statement for discussion
    o The mission of the (name tbd) is to individually and collectively strengthen and empower nonprofit organizations; and to foster a highly valued recognition of the economic and social benefits of the nonprofit sector.
  • Discussed Economic Impact Meeting
    · Need economic impact statement for own nonprofit
    o Many nonprofits have impact statements internally
    o What is contribution to community
    o What is savings for community
    § For example, what is the community savings for people not sent to jail?
    · Models out there
    o Cornell University model for Child Coordinating Councils
    · Tools and info available (related to childcare)
    · Facilitate discussion for own nonprofit
    · Educate nonprofits about impact
    · What if nonprofits didn’t exist?
    · How can we do what we do better?
    · Speak with Rick Sebastian at HTC about approach
  • Discussed sharing services
    · Really need to investigate and address
    · Partnerships need to be focus
    o Such as Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities working together
  • Other ideas for programs
    · How evaluated personnel structure?
    · Cost analysis internally
    · Will ask for feedback on 2010 priorities and trends in survey
  • Next Steps:
    · Next Program meeting tentatively scheduled for 9/30 from 8am to 11am
    o Strategic Management in Tough Times workshop as program (to be confirmed)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SBA launches YouTube channel

The Central NY Business Journal reported that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced the launch of its channel on YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site.

"With millions of visitors, most of them under 35, YouTube offers a prime opportunity to use current technology and the appeal of a popular online platform to further promote the agency's programs and services," SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a news release.

The SBA hopes to reach this audience with its message of entrepreneurship, the importance of small business to the nation's economy, and information on the agency's programs and services.
The SBA YouTube channel ( debuted with a 60-second introduction to the agency, its programs and services, and a 10-part "Delivering Success" series co-produced with the U.S. Postal Service.

Future content will cover how small businesses can take advantage of the loan programs in the economic-stimulus package, government-contracting opportunities, exporting to increase market share, and counseling and training on how to start and grow a small business, according to the agency.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nonprofit Advocacy: Now is the Time

Dear Nonprofit Leader,

I write to urge you to check out the following blog post. You know I have never done this before, so it must be important. And it is.

As nonprofits across the country have been going to our federal officials to discuss how their health care reform plans affect nonprofits, we keep hearing government officials say things like: "Gee, we hadn't thought about nonprofits as employers."

So, in this blog column, the President of the National Council of Nonprofits points out how nonprofits keep being taken for granted and urges nonprofits to "beat the drum" to "remind government that we exist, and we exist at a scale that should not and cannot be ignored any longer."

In this Great Recession, our nonprofits are being asked to meet increasing community needs with decreasing resources - while also paying escalating costs, such as constantly increasing health insurance premiums. As the blog column warns: that "math just doesn't work."

If you agree that our government officials shouldn't ignore, overlook, or forget about nonprofits, then please join me and the New York Council of Nonprofits by contacting our federal officials to urge them to respect the more than 60,000 nonprofits in New York by including us in health care reform in a meaningful way.

Let's all "pick up a drum" and start making some noise, telling our stories about how New York's nonprofits add real value to local communities and individual lives every single day. Otherwise, we will be forgotten - which would be "unfair and unsafe to those depending on services we deliver and the benefits we provide."

Contact Your Senators:
Gillibrand, Kirsten E. 478 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510(202) 224-4451
Contact Senator Gillibrand Now.
Schumer, Charles E. 313 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510(202) 224-6542
Contact Senator Schumer Now.
Click here for your members of Congress

Thank you again for the work that you do and for raising your voice on behalf of our nonprofit community here in New York.
Sincerely,Doug Sauer, CEO
New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fundraisers’ outlook remains gloomy

The Philanthropy Journal reported on a new study that fundraisers for U.S. nonprofits paint a dark funding picture for their organizations, and the next six months are expected to bring only slight clearing.

The current environment for fundraising worsened over the past six months, with the Present Situation Index falling to 28.9 percent over the past year to 58.0 on a 100-point scale, the lowest since the Index's inception in 1998, says a report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

The Philanthropic Giving Index, which is comprised of the Present Situation Index and the Expectations Index, measures fundraisers' optimism about the current and future climate for fundraising.

The Expectations Index, which measures expectations for the coming six months, is up 10.2 percent over the past six months to 78.2.

However, over the past 12 months, the Expectations Index has dropped 13.2 percent.

Almost nine in 10 fundraisers say the economy is having a negative or very negative effect on their development operations currently, while six in 10 say they expect that to continue over the next six months.

More than half of fundraisers say their organizations raised more money in 2008 than in 2007, while about four in 10 raised less.

Virtually all fundraising channels, with the exception of Internet, email and direct mail, are at their lowest success levels since the Philanthropic Giving Index was launched.

While major gifts are down 23.1 percent and foundation grants are off 39.2 percent, two in three fundraisers say they are still having success with direct mail.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tanking Contributions May Accompany a "Jobless Recovery"

The Nonprofit Quarterly's Rick Cohen related that a so called "jobless recovery" likely means very bad news for charitable giving. Joblessness that is predicted to extend well into the economic recovery along with increased rates of saving fueled in part by economic insecurity result in less disposable income, and that likely will or is already showing up in declining donations by individuals.

President Barack Obama called it right during his August 1st weekly address to the nation: the recovery won't be a recovery" as long as we keep losing jobs." With increasing prospects of what economists call a "jobless recovery," confirmed by no less than Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the pain suffered by most Americans will be prolonged even after corporate profits and stock market values climb. Some of that pain will be felt as the most generous of Americans, middle class working people, will find themselves hard-strapped to maintain their charitable generosity. Read more here. Rick discusses unemployment and past charitable trends.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

United Way lowers its fundraising expectations

The Utica OD reported that a down economy might lead the United Way to set less lofty fundraising goals this year. But organizers say they’re still committed to raising as much as possible to assist nonprofits in Oneida and Herkimer counties.

Each year, the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area engages a group of local businesses in its Pacesetter Campaign, a month-long prelude to the general fundraising campaign meant to jump-start donations and raise public awareness.

But the 2009 Pacesetter Campaign goal of $360,000 announced at a kick-off event Tuesday is well below the $616,500 target for last year.

Organizers said it’s not exactly an even comparison – only 14 organizations are participating this year, and 19 were involved last year. But some organizers also had concerns about how much people are prepared to give. Read more here.

Is your nonprofit looking at further cutbacks in 2010? How do you plan to respond? Share your feedback here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Area College Initiative, upcoming Discovery Tours

1. The Genesis Group & The Oneida County Convention & Visitors Bureau present:
Genesis Discovery Tour at Sylvan Beach

Thursday August 6th - 6:00pm
Leslie Stewart, of Sunset Cottages, will greet us at the Gazebo (on Main St), and take everyone to the Sylvan Beach Union Chapel (now on the Register of Historic Places) for a walk through. Then were off to Harpoon Eddie’s for complimentary wine and cheese. After that, we're on our own to walk about and enjoy the lake and town including the "Car Show and Historic Midway!"

Send your RSVP by emailing Ray Durso, Jr. -

2. Genesis Discovery Tour - Herkimer Diamond Mines (Herkimer County)
Saturday August 8th - 10:00am
Admission $ 7.50 pp
Lunch (dutch treat) at Crystal Chandelier

For more information, contact: Dawn Pellerin -

3. The Genesis College Community Network presents:
1st Annual Welcome (College) Student's Initiative
Join us for a "KICK-OFF EVENT" on Monday August 10th - 10:00am at the Stanley Center for the Arts

Genesis and Area College Representatives including Students, Administrators and Presidents, Business and Community Leaders, Chambers of Commerce and others, invite you to join them in "kicking-off" this new and exciting region-wide campaign! For more information, visit the Genesis website at

Thank you for your continued interest & support!

Raymond J. Durso, Jr.
Executive Director

The Genesis Group
SUNYIT - PO Box 3050
Utica, NY 13504
(315) 792-7187
(315) 797-1280 fax

Friday, July 31, 2009

Volunteering in America Resources

Through its studies on Volunteering In America, the Corporation for National and Community Service continues to deliver increasingly detailed reports on the trends and habits in volunteering across the country, in order to better understand who is serving in our communities and how, when, and why they serve.

In partnership with HandsOn Network, the Corporation is providing specific resources to support the findings of the Volunteering in Americareports. The resources on this page have been developed to help you increase the capacity of your organization, company, program, or community to effectively engage volunteers of all ages. This page builds on resources developed for previous Volunteering in America reports and includes new and updated resources (as indicated below). Additionally, scroll down the page to learn more about and register for three Ask the Expert webinars facilitated by leading volunteer practitioners and researchers.

Featured Resources
Volunteer Self-Organizing – Resources to help individuals plan and manage projects to bring about positive community change
Recruitment - Strategies to recruit new volunteers, including target populations such as Boomers and students
Retention – Tips for retaining volunteers and plugging “the leaky bucket”
Human Capital Strategies – Innovative techniques for nonprofits during these difficult economic times, including the use of pro bono services, other skilled volunteers, and volunteer leaders
Cost-Effective Volunteering - Practical tips for maximizing resources during an economic downturn
Voluntourism – Resources for understanding the growing trend of combining service and vacations

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Utica nonprofit to add employees

The Central New York Business Journal reported that the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) of Utica expects to add 15 jobs over the next six months after securing four contracts with government agencies worth $5.5 million annually over the next five years.

The new contracts call for CABVI to sell EMS 911 Exam Gloves to the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services, rubber bands to all agencies of the federal government except the United States Postal Service, men's pajamas to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and double-topped file folders to the federal government.

Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration of the Department of Homeland Security extended a contract for CABVI to supply gloves used at 460 airports across the country. The TSA contract amounts to $3 million annually. Read more here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ED Groups Meet to Discuss Economic Impact Study

A joint meeting was held by the Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group Steering Committee and the South Central NY Nonprofit Executive Directors Special Projects Committee to discuss the SCNY Group’s recent efforts around an economic impact study. The meeting, hosted by the Central New York Community Foundation, was attended by representatives from the SCNY ED Group, Oneida and Herkimer ED Group, and the Human Services Leadership Council in Syracuse. The main presenter and chair of the SCNY Special Projects committee was Joe Sellepack, Broome County Council of Churches Executive Director. Also, presenting was Katie McDonald, a Binghamton University master’s student working to help implement the study.

The discussion began with an understanding of why nonprofits were focusing on economic impact. In recent years, taxing nonprofits (whether by PILOT, a snow assessment fee, etc) has become an issue. With the downturn, nonprofits will be facing in more scrutiny and possible tax proposals. In response, the SCNY ED Group saw a need to communicate the economic impact of nonprofits on the local community and region. As Joe related, they also saw a need to make it more than about the numbers, and make a comparison to what the real costs would be if their services weren’t provided. The Special Projects Committee was formed, and is examining how the nonprofit sector in the Broome region shapes the community and environment through social and human services, arts and culture, and environmental services.

The Committee has been spending a great deal of time and effort looking at past studies, not only locally but nationally. Hospitals have been a good source, and two state studies, in Michigan and New Hampshire, have been good models.

The idea for the study will incorporate two streams. The first is the financial information taken from nonprofits’ 990s, while the second will be the “social capital” they contribute. The study will show how nonprofits shape and contribute to the community narrative. The study will incorporate personal interviews to help demonstrate this piece. The study will hopefully subvert the forces that want to tax nonprofits, and show their clout, but also the rest of the story. The message will be much clearer and powerful as a group.

Joe Sellepack related that the Committee under the guidance of Binghamton University and two interns has spent much time developing their study protocol. They have decided to focus on range of nonprofits, which would include only organizations that file 990s and exclude very large nonprofits (hospitals, universities, etc) that would skew the study (and already do their own studies). In a sense, the study will give a voice to the small to medium-sized organizations.

The study is slated to take about 2 years. Much of the work is being driven by Binghamton University’s interns in the Public Administration Master’s Program.

A question was asked by Darlene Ford, ED for the Mid-York Library System, concerning the target audience and overall purpose for this effort. A number of reasons were offered by Joe and other participants: showing return on investment, advocacy, use for collaboration, joint funding projects, etc. The qualitative analysis will help show gaps and overlaps in funding and can figure in ways to help address and form partnerships.

In looking at why the Oneida and Herkimer ED Group should undertake such an effort, the Steering Committee members related a number of reasons. One was the conflicting messages in the Oneida and Herkimer communities coming from nonprofits. There needs to be a clear message and story around how nonprofits help and impact the community. Also, a study would show what would happen if nonprofits disappeared.

A part of the discussion was spent on recent efforts of the Human Services Leadership Council (HSLC) on an economic impact study. Susan Horn, the ED from Hiscock Legal Aid Society, offered some of the lessons they learned in a group study. A discussion continued about the different data involved with nonprofits, including how things are reported (outcome vs outputs). Joe offered that using personal stories will help illuminate some of the challenges of data that won’t mesh. Katie McDonald added that being clear about the data collection and analysis is key. She has been developing the study’s introduction and methodology. She also is gathering social and cultural impact pieces (social network and social capital). She related that the study will include the history of nonprofits in the Broome County region (for example, what happened when IBM left), and how they’ve developed.
Overall, there was agreement that the study could be a template for other nonprofits, and the Oneida and Herkimer ED Group plans to follow up with Joe in the fall about the protocol and info they develop.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Unemployment in Utica Region Increases

The Central NY Business Journal reported that the state's June unemployment rate increased to its highest level since October 1992, according to figures released today by the New York State Labor Department.

June's unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, up from 8.2 percent in May and 5.3 percent a year ago. For the month, the number of unemployed state residents jumped to more than 854,000, the largest number on records dating back to 1976.

After seasonal adjustment, New York State's private-sector job count decreased over the month by nearly 18,000, or 0.2 percent, to about 7.08 million. The job total has now dropped for 10 consecutive months.

Since the state's private-sector job count peaked in August 2008, New York has lost nearly 236,000 private-sector jobs, erasing more than half of the 400,000 jobs added during the last economic expansion from 2003 to 2008, according to the Labor Department.

Since June 2008, the number of nonfarm jobs fell 1,900, or 1.4 percent, and the number of private-sector jobs dipped 1,800, or 1.8 percent, in the Utica-Rome region. The area's unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in June 2009, compared with 7.2 percent in May and 5.2 percent in June 2008.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Utica bubbles over for Boilermaker

The Washington Times reported on that when it comes to throwing an after-race party, Utica's Boilermaker is second to none.

Some 40,000 runners and spectators cram the expansive parking lot behind the local F.X. Matt Brewery, known for its famous Saranac and Utica Club beers, and celebrate one of America's legendary distance runs, the Boilermaker 15K.

Situated just off the New York State Thruway between Albany and Buffalo, the Boilermaker is not really a destination race. Downtown Utica is a run-down former mill town decades past its peak.

Fortunately, the 9.3-mile race spares its runners any exposure to downtown. Rather, it is run through pretty, tree-lined neighborhoods, a gorgeous but hilly golf course and a quaint section of town heading to the finish at the brewery.

The people of Utica have tremendous pride in this race, with last week featuring its 32nd running. You can feel their pride while you run. A lot of local volunteers spend nearly all year working on this race, and it is the one day of the year when the city shines. Read more here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Genesis Group Forwards Invitation to a Major Announcement

To: Genesis Members and Regional Partners
Fr: Raymond J. Durso, Jr., Executive Director

The Genesis Group, at the request of Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, is forwarding you an invitation to a press conference on Wednesday July 15th - 10:30am at SUNYIT. We hope your schedule will allow you to attend this very important announcement.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, joined by Governor David Paterson are pleased to invite you to an exciting announcement of significant technological and economic significance to Utica –Rome and the entire Upstate region. The event will be attended by Congressman Michael Arcuri, leaders from across the academic, business, technology, corporate and economic outreach communities.

The announcement will be made July 15, 2009 at 10:30 AM at State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT) Utica- Rome, in the Peter Cayan Library.

Please contact my office at 732-1055 or at to let us know that you can attend. Join us and show your support for this innovative partnership that will create new jobs and additional high technology opportunities for our community.

RoAnn M. Destito
Member of Assembly

Monday, July 13, 2009

NYCON launches Interim Executive Leadership Program

Are You Looking for an Exciting Opportunity to Lead a Nonprofit Organization?
Consider becoming an Interim Executive Director!

What is the Interim Executive Director Leadership (IEL) Program? The Interim Executive Director Leadership (IEL) 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. The Interim Executive Director Leadership (IEL) Program is a comprehensive training, placement and support initiative designed for qualified, experienced nonprofit professionals in transitional nonprofit Executive Director/CEO positions in New York State. Interim Executive Directors trained through our program will provide effective transitional leadership to nonprofits in order to strengthen organizational health and effectiveness during a time of transition.

Consider Becoming an Interim Executive Director if you are a:
Current and/or former executive director with successful experience in nonprofit executive management;
Nonprofit professional who is currently or have already served as an Interim Executive Leader who would like to be involved with this initiative and receive specialized training to augment and build upon their current skills;
Nonprofit Professional or consultant who clearly demonstrates executive leadership knowledge, abilities, maturity and effectiveness.

Program Dates & Locations: Please note that space in the training sessions listed below is limited. Registrants must complete an application process that includes submission of a writing sample and at least one reference. Candidates who successfully complete the training and secondary evaluation process may be placed into Interim Executive Director positions through this program.

August 18th, 2009 - Albany, NY NYCON Main Office, 272 Broadway, Albany, NYTime: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Cost: $150, Training Materials & Lunch Provided

August 20th, 2009 - Rochester, NY United Way of Greater Rochester, 75 College Avenue, Rochester, NY Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Cost: $150, Training Materials & Lunch Provided

For more information click here or please contact: Jennifer Lockwood, Program Director 454-5062 x. 102

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Strategic Planning Request

I received this request from Jennifer Collins at The Good News Center:

Hi Andrew,
I am currently planning our annual Strategic Planning session to be held with our board and staff this September. This would be a revisit to the plan we have had in place since 2007. I remember that a while back you coordinated some type of survey where people indicated areas of skills / expertise - and one area indicated was Strategic Planning. Do you have names of people who may have designated that as an area of expertise? Might you have suggestions of people who could serve as a facilitator for this session? Thanks for any help you can offer.

Jennifer Collins
Associate Director
The Good News Center
10475 Cosby Manor Road
Utica, NY 13502

Interested in the skills inventory? Click here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Colgate, five other upstate colleges team up to explore cost savings

The Central New York Business Journal reported that six private liberal-arts colleges across upstate New York have joined forces to share ideas about how to work together to reduce costs amid the difficult economic climate.

Colgate University in Hamilton, Hamilton College in Clinton, St. Lawrence University in Canton, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, and Union College in Schenectady are exploring various cost-saving measures such as joint purchasing. The group calls itself the New York Six consortium.

In addition, the colleges hope to collaborate in areas such as educational support, student-life activities, and sustainability initiatives.

"We are actively looking to address ways to contain costs while continuing to maximize the academic experience we provide our students," Lyle Roelofs, interim president at Colgate, said in a news release announcing the consortium on Colgate's Web site.

A one-year $100,000 planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund the consortium's efforts.

The group hired a project manager, Amy Doonan Cronin, based at Hamilton College, who will work in consultation with administrators and others on each campus.

Areas of focus for the New York Six include harnessing technology to allow for greater collaboration, acquiring goods and services through joint purchasing and other options, maximizing student engagement, shaping work forces including faculty development, and fostering intercultural literacy. Read the article here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Make Marketing a Board Priority

Marketing is often an afterthought for many nonprofits, and convincing a board of directors of its importance can be a challenging task.

Ann, an executive director from a Central New York nonprofit relates just how challenging this can be.

"My Board is never very supportive of our marketing efforts and they don't see how important this can be to our success," she says. "It's a challenge to approve the budget to create materials and the website we so desperately need. I'm frustrated because at each board meeting it's discussed how we need to secure more donors, the big-time donors, and have better turn out at our events. My Board just doesn't make the connection that without marketing ourselves, people don't really know who we are or our impact on the community."

Here are some steps to help a board of directors make marketing a priority:

Hold board training
Utilize a communications consultant to train the board to understand the benefits of developing marketing strategies to promote the impact and message of the organization. Sometimes an outside perspective is necessary for the board to understand the value of marketing and for added support of the CEO or executive director's ideas.

Diversify the board of directors
Seek out new board members from the private sector that either have a marketing and communications background or that utilize marketing effectively in their businesses. Diversifying the board can help with marketing, fund development, finance and many other challenges that nonprofits face.

Develop a marketing plan
Work with the board to develop a marketing plan for the organization to lay the foundation for marketing efforts. Don't forget to include marketing in the overall organizational strategic plan.

Include communications in grant proposals
Always include a communications piece in all grant proposals to help build a marketing budget. Also, seek local business support to help underwrite marketing efforts.

Show concrete results
Relate the impact of marketing efforts in a language boards can understand. Instead of stating a goal to increase the awareness of XYZ nonprofit, state the goal in a measurable way. Through marketing efforts, as determined in the marketing plan, XYZ nonprofit will develop 4 new media contacts this year, increase foundation support by 20 percent and have 150 attendees at an event.

Keep the Board updated on the progress and evaluate whether the marketing strategies utilized are effective. Most importantly, show the return on investment of marketing efforts.

Stacy Jones is a nonprofit marketing consultant based in Troy, N.Y. and a Shoestring Creative Group Network Affiliate. She can be reached at

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summit Focuses on Economy and Partnerships

The annual Summit onPhilanthropy conference, which is a gathering in New York of 200 top execs from a cross section of nonprofits, corporate social engagement, grantmaking foundations and philanthropists, was held recently.

Some highlights: Ali Velshi gave the keynote address offering his own take (not CNN’s, he made clear) that the Obama administration’s aggressive stimulus response to the economic downturn was being effective, and improvement in the economy was on the horizon, perhaps by late summer.

Taking questions from the audience, Velshi stressed that the focus of the media should still be on the people who need jobs and homes, or need help keeping them. Despite the attention paid to exorbitant executive pay packages, he declared them a “distraction,” that deserved to be visited and fixed, but that current human needs were a priority. Among his observations of particular relevance to this audience: workers laid off from auto manufacturing and other industries should be retrained to fill growing needs in healthcare, especially, and other social sector jobs.

The themes for the day were sounded by Mike Hoffman, Chairman of Changing Our World, Inc. who declared that by coming together and sharing ideas, Summit attendees could explore opportunities for collaboration and innovation, which should emerge from the nonprofit sector in the current economic crisis. Citing a meeting convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Davos, he said philanthropists will increasingly seek to leverage their giving by engaging partners to multiply the effect of their resources.

The program’s focus on the economic state of the nonprofit sector was further developed in the plenary address by Clara Miller, President of the Nonprofit Finance Fund. She warned against accumulating illiquid assets - real estate, restricted endowment - and made the interesting point that fundraising is not the biggest revenue slice in the nonprofit pie - it's actually earned income. She urged the audience to think creatively and strategically (she cited an example of the dance troupe that posts their performances on YouTube, tracks in which city it has the most hits/views, and travels to that city to perform for a live audience as an example of an arts group using a new, free medium to gain exposure).

The Summit program also included three panel discussions. Read more here about the outcomes of the conference.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oneida and Herkimer Steering Committee Meeting

Monday, June 15th at 4pm

Amy Turner, Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, Inc. (MVCAA)
Cornelia E. Brown, MAMI Interpreters
Rev. Bill Dodge, Rescue Mission
Cassandra Sheets, Mohawk Valley Council of Alcoholism/Addictions

The participants discussed what the next steps should be regarding the ED Group, especially after the recent economic impact panel discussion. After hearing updates on other ED Group efforts around nonprofit economic impact in Binghamton and Syracuse, the Committee decided to set a follow up meeting to further discuss undertaking an economic impact study and to hear from other directors in Binghamton and possibly Syracuse.

The Committee also discussed the need to gather and communicate nonprofit impact information to the community, elected officials, and other audiences. They specifically discussed visiting the Utica Common Council, and presenting a joint presentation about local nonprofits.

Next steps:
  • Set a follow up Steering Committee meeting to discuss economic impact
  • Discuss possible ideas for September’s program meeting

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lack of jobs for teens opportunity for nonprofits

WKTV featured a story on teens trying to find employment this summer and the difficulty in doing so. The story below highlights a great opportunity for nonprofits to offer unique experiences to teens looking for summer work or learning experiences.

As WKTV relates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year olds is now at 21.7%. That's up 15.8% from this time last year.

Teens also have another hurdle to cross; competing for low-paying jobs with people who have been recently laid off.

"(Teens) don't have the work experience, they don't have the work maturity and they don't have the work ethic an adult would bring to the job," said David Mathis, the director of Oneida County Workforce Development.

Teens who start looking for a summer job now might have a tougher time then teens who started the search months ago, he said.

But there are ways to make your teen more marketable. Mathis said to make sure your teen networks with potential employers and other teens. He said talking with peers helps teens learn how to find jobs best suited for them.

Mathis also suggested teens practice their interviewing skills, and continue to work and build their resume.

If your teen still can't find a job, Mathis said look to volunteering.

"Work for a non-profit or community agency. What you want to do is build your resume, you want to have something that's positive," he said.

"I know you want to make a paycheck, I know you want to have some money, but more than likely the experience will help you next year or the year after."

Numbers to Know:
Working Solutions:Oneida County- (315) 793-2229 Herkimer County- (315) 867-1400 Madison County- (315)
Herkimer County Youth Bureau: (315) 867-1213

State often late in getting funds to local nonprofits

The Utica OD reported on a recent report released by the state's Comptroller's Office that highlights the lengthy waiting time nonprofits face for state funds.

Nonprofits can wait months or even years, depending on the state agency that is responsible for the funding, officials said.

Examples in the report include:
  • The state was 1,624 days late -- or nearly 4 ½ years – in getting $75,000 in funds for general operating support and multicultural outreach to the Utica Symphony.
  • The state delayed getting $140,000 in contracts to the Herkimer Area Resource Center for 597 days.
  • Utica College had to wait 709 days for $675,000 in funds for a new building.
  • And the delay in getting $200,000 to Mohawk Valley EDGE to fight the New York Regional Interconnect power line? Nearly 1,200 days, or more than three years.

“There is a lot of time from commitment to contract,” said Steve DiMeo, executive director of Mohawk Valley EDGE, an economic development agency. “It’s a difficult way to do business when various bureaucracies take different amounts of time to distribute funds.”

DiMeo said the way the state processes paper is part of the problem. “In the interest of transparency, more and more departments have to sign off on contracts,” DiMeo said. “It’s gotten a lot worse. The state can do a far better job in terms of streamlining things.”

State agencies report that state contracts with nonprofit organizations were approved late 63 percent of the time. The new audit by the Comptroller’s Office, however, shows the rate of late contracts might reach 87 percent.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is proposing regulations to ensure nonprofits are paid interest required by law when their contracts are processed late.

“Not-for-profits operate on very thin margins,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Those margins can disappear completely when contracts for services are held up. New York has an implicit compact with these organizations. They provide vital services for vulnerable New Yorkers and the state should ensure they get their funding on time. It’s time for the state to live up to its end of the bargain.”

The Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York had to wait 377 days for $75,000 worth of funds to assist and represent indigent persons in civil matters.

“The high numbers are not surprising,” said Executive Director Paul Lupia said. “It makes it very difficult to plan financially, and for us to have a balanced budget.”

“Even though you know the money is coming, you still have to pay staff and all of your bills,” Lupia said. “The delay does affect our cash flow severely.”

William Holicky is executive director of The House of the Good Shepherd, which had to wait 272 days for $150,000 worth of funding.

“This is nothing new for nonprofits,” Holicky said. “When we have to wait a long time, we might have to borrow money, and interest adds up”

Nonprofits provide services through grant contracts, such as health care clinics, work force development and mortgage foreclosure programs. The state currently has 30,764 active contracts with nonprofits totaling $14.6 billion. Read more here.