Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Nonprofit Spark": A Radio Talk Show for New and Emerging Nonprofits

"Nonprofit Spark" is weekly radio talk show through The Voice America hosted by Renee McGivern, a Minnesota-based nonprofit consultant. This show, launched in September, is focused on spurring dialogue on issues of emerging and new organizations. Check out her show live on Thursdays at 8am EST or catch up on past episodes on her show's webpage.

About the Host: Renee McGivern has 30 years of experience working in nonprofits and trade associations. She’s worn the hats of development, communications and executive director and also spent a great deal of her career designing training seminars for the newspaper industry. McGivern’s passion is to facilitate learning, communication and action so life works for people and organizations. “Nonprofit Spark is the first national radio show devoted to new and emerging nonprofits,” says McGivern. “It’s my dream job - to spark learning and action so leaders are effective at making a huge difference in the world.”

Friday, October 29, 2010

New York Nonprofit Press: Camp Finance

The New York Nonprofit Press reports that over 250 people turned out for this year’s Camp Finance hosted by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) on September 30th and October 1st.

The event, which was held at Mohonk Mountain House, featured a keynote addess by Tim Delaney, Executive Director of the National Council of Nonprofits on “The Future of Our Sector: State and National Trends You Should Know About”.

Elliot Pagliaccio, Assistant Comptroller for Strategic Planning & Program Effectiveness kicked off day two with a discussion on “Strengthening the NYS & Nonprofit Sector Relationship: Reforming Procurement & Prompt Payment in New York State.”

More than 25 workshops were offered in a series of “tracks” on such topics as Basic Nonprofit Accounting, Nonprofit Accountability & Compliance. Fundraising & Marketing, and Grantmaking Today.

Camp Finance also included the recognition of Edward S. Mucenski, CPA of Potsdam, NY as the 2010 recipient of the Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builder’s Award. The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) co-sponsor the seventh annual award. The award recognizes exemplary achievements of a certified public accountant who serves on the board(s) of directors of charitable organizations.

Mucenski has been a Shareholder/Director in the firm of Pinto Mucenski Hooper Van House & Co., P.C. in Potsdam, New York since 1984 and is currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the firm. Prior to that time, he had worked for the firm of Ernst & Ernst in Syracuse, NY. He has served in a variety of board leadership roles over an extended period of time, including Chairman and Vice-Chair of the St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers; Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital; Treasurer of Mater Dei Foundation; and is past Treasurer of the Rotary Club of Potsdam. He also serves as a board member on Community Bank, N.A. and St. Mary’s Church Finance Council.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Steering Committee Minutes: Planning for Dec 6th and 2011

Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group Steering Committee
October 25

Present: Cornelia E. Brown, MAMI Interpreters; Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen , Mid-York Child Care Coordiating Council, Inc; Jeff Owen, USC The Business College; Darby O'Brien, Utica Library; Tim Trent; Kevin Marken, Stanley Center for the Arts

• Recap of the October 6th ED and Board Working Together panel discussion
o Will focus on the topic of ED and Board Partnership on an annual basis
 2011 will offer separate general sessions for EDs and board members and then joint session

• Half day conference approach with breakouts
o Suggestions received for ED focus include
 How do you deal with a board member who continues to want to be involved with day to day activities?
 Board dysfunction as a result of personality conflicts and agendas and what to do?
 Staffing issues
o Suggestions for Board focus include
 What to look for in the financial reports?
 How do you deal with an inappropriate board member?

• Focus for next program meeting, set for December 6
o Social and networking focus
 Will ask EDs to bring 3 ideas or challenges they would like to see the ED Group address

• More specifically, will have easels with notepads around the room listing questions for the participants to address
o Examples: Biggest financial challenge/issue; fund development challenge/issue; board need/challenge; special event challenge/issue; leadership challenge/issue; biggest challenge/issue in general
 Details

• Participants invited to bring materials to share

• Meeting held at Stanley
o 5 to 7pm
o $15 fee
 Light food, soda, coffee, and cash wine and beer bar

• 2011 Planning
o Will have next Steering Committee meeting on Dec 13 to discuss outcomes of Dec 6th meeting and plan for next year
o Ideas
 Recruiting board members
 Leadership

Next Steering Committee Meeting: December 13th at 9am located at Stanley Performing Arts Center

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 6 Program ED and the Board Working Together: Watch the Discussion!

Missed the Mohawk Valley Nonprofit Leaders Group October 6th Program? Watch the panel discussion on the ED and the Board Working Together: Keys to Success.

Here's more video from the panel on NYCON's YouTube Channel.

The panel featured:
Facilitator: Kevin Marken, Stanley Center for the Arts

Jan Forte, Homeownership Center
Kelly Blazosky, Oneida County Tourism
Peggy O'Shea, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc.
Larry Gilroy, Board Member
Jim Stewart, Stewart Consulting

Questions Discussed:
o What is EDs responsibility for board development?
o What is/how do you define the relationship between the board and ED?
o What are the ethics and issues regarding developing a board focused on mission or community politics?
o How do you keep reinforcing mission and focus of board?
o How do you (and who) set board expectations, get commitment, and monitor/facilitate them?
o How do you communicate and convey obligations and other related info to the board and make them understand?
o How do you clarify and emphasize the importance of conflict of interests and priority issues for the board?
o How much involvement should board members have in daily activities?
o What is the nomination process and what works and what doesn't?

Lawsuits: GroWest's leaders responsible for improprieties

Imagine a dysfunctional nonprofit agency, filled with corruption and negligence at every level.

That’s the picture of GroWest Inc. painted in five state Supreme Court lawsuits obtained Wednesday by the O-D.

Some of the most egregious allegations are made against John Denelsbeck, the agency’s former executive director. One complaint filed by GroWest claimed Denelsbeck orchestrated bid rigging and masked the nonprofit’s financial problems from the board of directors.

“Denelsbeck used inside program information, such as project cost estimates to manipulate the bidding process to ensure that preferred contractors got particular jobs,” the complaint states.

Those contractors then called for bogus emergency repairs and other project changes to raise costs, according to the complaint. In some cases, the contractors used construction materials obtained through GroWest funds for personal use, according to the court documents.

The four separate legal actions filed by GroWest against its former officials and contractors claim various monetary damages ranging from $439,003 to more than $7.4 million. A fifth complaint filed by the city against GroWest and its former leaders also claims damages of more than $7.4 million.

Attorney Mark Wolber, who is representing Denelsbeck, said the former executive director did nothing wrong. Wolber took issue with how the allegations were compiled and questioned why Denelsbeck never was interviewed during a city investigation into the nonprofit.

“I find it a bit difficult to understand how anyone attempting to investigate can get a fair picture of the situation without explanation from both sides,” Wolber said.

Read more of the OD's article here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NYS Society of CPAs Discusses Family Foundations: Oct 20 Program


Date: Wednesday October 20, 2010
Place: Radisson Hotel
200 Genesee Street
Utica, New York

Schedule: Registration/Breakfast Buffet: 7:30 - 8:00
Seminar: 8:00 - 10:00

Please join the Utica Chapter of NYSSCPA for this exciting discussion on family foundations. Our speaker, Bryan Clontz, will discuss the attributes of private foundations, community foundations, and supporting organizations and review the advantages and drawbacks of each. Mr. Clontz is the president and co-founder of Charitable Solutions, LLC, and specializes in non-cash asset receipt and liquidation, gift annuity reinsurance brokerage, gift annuity risk management consulting, life insurance appraisals and CRT/CGA investment management. His company’s website is: He also serves as a Senior Consultant for Ekstrom & Associates – a Connecticut-based community foundation consulting firm.

This seminar is graciously co-sponsored by The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties and their generous Corporate Partners: Bank of America, Bank of Utica, Carbone Auto Group, Cathedral Corporation, Fastrac Markets, JAY-K Independent Lumber, M. Griffith Investment Services, NBT Bank, Pacemaker Steel & Piping Company, Strategic Financial Services and Staffworks.

Discussion Leader: Bryan Clontz
Course code: 29101101.
The cost for the meeting will be $15 per person.

Please mail your reservation and payment by check to Scott Hosler, c/o Gruver, Zweifel & Scott, LLP, 7936 Seneca Turnpike, Clinton, NY 13323 by Wednesday October 13, 2010. Reservations may also be faxed to 797-0305 or e-mailed to Checks should be made payable to NYSSCPA – Utica.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How Much Does Your Program Really Cost?

From the National Council of Nonprofits' Nonprofit Knowledge Matters October Newsletter:

Your Mission: What Does it Really Cost?

Too often the grant or contract a nonprofit receives to deliver a program or service, whether from a foundation or the government, simply does not cover the full cost of delivering that program or service. This problem is highlighted in the National Council's recent Special Report: Costs, Complexification, and Crisis: Government’s Human Services Contracting "System" Hurts Everyone. The report illustrates how government contracts that do not cover the full cost of services cut into the muscle of the nonprofit providing the services, and ultimately weaken our communities.
In fact, failure to cover the full cost of services and programs was the #1 problem uncovered by the first-ever national survey documenting the serious and widespread problems experienced by nonprofit human service providers under contract with local, state and federal governments. View the findings from the survey conducted by the Urban Insitute.

The "full cost recovery" problem is echoed by the experience of nonprofits receiving funding from private philanthropy. Foundation grants frequently fall short of covering the actual cost to the nonprofit of delivering programs and services covered by the grant. For instance, a survey by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) found that only 20 percent of foundations say that their grants "often or always" include the appropriate overhead to cover the amount of time grantees spend reporting on their grants. Read a national study by GEO.
In order for nonprofits to be sustainable this paradigm has to change.

Whether from the perspective of capacity builders, or nonprofits that are striving to build their own capacity, we should recognize that part of the problem – and a big step towards a solution – lies with nonprofits themselves. Here are three things you can do:
  1. Know how to calculate the full cost of delivering programs and services – not the "budgeted" costs (often a euphemism for anticipated or projected costs) but the actual costs of service delivery.
  2. Advocate for your organization by communicating the actual costs of program delivery to funding sources.
  3. Communicate to funders that shortchanging nonprofits by not paying the full cost of service delivery is a barrier to the sustainability of individual nonprofits.
The bottom line is that without knowing how much to ask for, and without receiving full cost recovery, nonprofits will never be able to build their capacity or provide sustainable services to our communities.

Wondering where to start? The National Council's Capacity Building Hub shares resources to help nonprofits understand and calculate the full cost of delivering their mission, and to help grantmakers understand the importance of full cost recovery.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Website Trains Volunteers; RSVP site offers information, accessibility

The Oneida Dispatch reported that RSVP, a program that matches adults 55 and over with community service organizations, has launched a new website set to aid volunteer recruitment.

“This website will help us move into the 21st century,” says Mary Bartlett, RSVP’s director. She says she expects this website to help recruit volunteers because it makes the organization more accessible.

The website offers an application RSVP uses to place applicants at an organization based upon their skills and interests.

The site as launched earlier this month.
The organization has been working since the beginning of the year to recruit volunteers because of increased needs at local community organizations and charities.

Some of the programs available are a tax counseling program, adult literacy tutors, defensive driving instructors, resident advocate, citizen corp and habitat for humanity.

A grant from the Central New York Community Foundation has made the RSVP recruitment drive possible.

For more information call RSVP at 684-3001 or visit:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MVLA General Membership October Meeting Notice

Who: The Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc. (MVLA)

What: Junta General de Miembros/ General Membership Meeting ~ 2010

Where: El Canelo Restaurant, 1909 Genesee Street (Price Chopper Plaza), Utica, NY

When: Sabado, 23 de Octubre / Saturday, October 23, 2010

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

We encourage your attendance and participation. Please feel free to bring a friend or family member along. Our meetings are informational, full of energy, ideas, and most importantly very beneficial to the Latino community.

Contact Information:
Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc.
309 Genesee Street (Park Ave. Entrance) 3rd Floor, Utica, NY
(315)738-1083 ext. 121 or 147
RSVP by: Friday, October 22, 2010

MVLA, Inc. Mission Statement:
To improve the standard of living for all residents of the Mohawk Valley through various services that will educate, empower, achieve awareness among

Different cultures, help shape young minds, and demonstrate the great opportunities available within the Mohawk Valley.

2009-2012 Executive Board
Sonia Martinez, Chairman / President
Kay Lanaux, Interim Treasurer
Marabella Colón, Executive Secretary
Open Position, Member-At-Large
Cira Foster, Member-At-Large
LaToya Richardson, Member-At-Large
Tim Trent, Board Advisor

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Mapping Tool Fosters Strategic Grantmaking in Education

New York, NY — October 12, 2010. The Foundation Center has launched Philanthropy In/Sight®: Education, an innovative data visualization tool that helps grantmakers maximize their investments in education. The tool is available through the organization's Foundations for Education Excellence web portal, a knowledge hub for funders researching best practices and funding opportunities in the field. Through support from the C.S. Mott and JPMorgan Chase foundations, education funders can register to use the tool free of charge at the project web site.

"Foundations are driving fundamental change in our system of education," said Foundation Center president, Bradford Smith. "Now more than ever, they are looking to be more strategic and to increase the impact of their grantmaking. Philanthropy In/Sight: Education, gives them a virtual GPS for tracking the flow of education funds, whether it's across the country, around the world, or in their own backyards."

Philanthropy In/Sight: Education, a customized version of the Foundation Center's Philanthropy In/Sight® mapping tool, is the only resource of its kind to offer comprehensive data on who is giving and who is getting grants across all areas of education, from pre-K learning to preparation for college and career. More than 1,100 grant subject terms can be chosen to hone in on programmatic areas. In addition, a menu of geo-targeting tools allows grantmakers to map the locations of organizations and determine funding gaps in countries, states, cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and ZIP codes — as well as in school and congressional districts. By combining the Center's data with Google maps, grantmakers can quickly view information on funding relationships and giving trends in engaging visual formats.

According to product manager, Dave Clark, "Philanthropy In/Sight: Education is a powerful tool that can help grantmakers better target their programs. The ability to overlay dynamic grants information with a wide array of demographic, socio-economic, and other data will help shine a light on areas of greatest need." The data — including population, income, housing, and education-focused statistics — are drawn from authoritative sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Education, and the American Human Development Index.

Videos guide funders through real-world scenarios that show how to use Philanthropy In/Sight: Education to best advantage, including how to identify potential funding partners and grantees. "A key benefit of the tool," said Clark, "is its ability to foster collaborations between individuals and like-minded organizations. It's an effective way to connect the dots for a more vivid picture of the funding landscape in education."

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

National Study Shows Government's Unfair Business Practices Hurt New York State Charities

Albany, N.Y. – October 6th, 2010 – The Urban Institute will be releasing a ground breaking national study this morning regarding government contracting and payment practices with human service nonprofits. The report, Human Service Nonprofits and Government Collaboration: Findings from the 2010 National Survey of Nonprofit Government Contracts and Grants, provides essential national and New York State data on contracting practices.

The study is based on survey data for 2009. It ranks late government payments to nonprofits in New York State as being the 9th worst in the country. Payments were commonly late 90 days or more despite the fact that New York is the only state in the country with a “Prompt Contracting” law designed to protect nonprofits from late contracts and payments. This finding reinforces data produced by the State Comptroller that shows that 90% of all state payments are late. The study also revealed that the processes of applying for and reporting on state contracts is seen as problematically complex and time consuming by over 70% of the nonprofits.

Other rankings specific to New York State include:

· Ranked 11th in the list of worst offenders with respect to
mid-term changes to contracts.

· Ranked 20th in having contracts that do not cover the full cost of the services being performed. Related findings include that 47% of the nonprofits report contracts requiring them to share the cost of full service and over 60% reporting limitations on reimbursement for administrative or overhead expenses incurred.

Our state’s nonprofits have, historically, been resilient when it comes to putting mission and people first, often absorbing the financial loses and risks associated with doing business with government,” states Doug Sauer, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON). He further observes, “These are very difficult times for all. Community-based nonprofits are on the front lines of the crisis in human needs that people across the state are facing. Sadly, the inability of our government leaders to responsibly manage their budgets and be fair in their contractual commitments, are now pushing many charities to the financial breaking point. In essence, government appears to be expecting charitable donors, who are also taxpayers, to subsidize its cash flow. ”

The problem has worsened. A recent survey conducted by NYCON shows that the over 80% of nonprofits report that the contracting and payment problems with the State of New York have worsened in 2010 over 2009. To cope with the state´s business practices, over 60% of charities have reduced services or eliminated programs. Most have had to draw on their charitable reserves and/or borrow money.

To help strengthen the partnership between government and nonprofits NYCON, working closely with the Comptroller’s Office and other State agencies, launched an “Ombudsman Program” to help nonprofits navigate the New York State contracting and payments process as well as, over time, improve the efficiency and timeliness of the State’s processing of nonprofit business.

“Not-for-profits are struggling to provide crucial services to New York families,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "When state agencies fail to approve contracts and make payments on deadline, they make the problem worse. Many not-for-profits already face significant challenges, and when contracts are delayed and payments aren’t made, the situation gets even tougher."

We need to fix this system,” stated Doug Sauer. “We call on all parties, including candidates for office, to commit to working together for responsible solutions.”

Complete study available now at