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June 2012 (2 posts)

Legal Issues for New Nonprofits
June 21, 2012

Good stuff from the Philanthropy Front and Center - New York blog today on navigating the particular legal issues facing new nonprofits. How do you decide how to incorporate? What do you need to do before filing for tax-exemption? How much lobbying and what sorts of political activity can you get involved in, and what must you avoid?

Here's an excerpt: 

Forming a nonprofit involves more than just a strong mission and innovative programs. It also entails investing a significant amount of time and effort into the initial formation process, which can seem daunting at first. How do you prepare to apply for incorporation and tax-exempt status?

To help address some of the legal background in setting up a nonprofit, the Foundation Center, in collaboration with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, offered a workshop [...] led by Laura E. Butzel and Jean L. Tom from the Tax-Exempt Organizations Group at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, who offered a wealth of information on the legal issues you should understand before diving into the application process.

Read the full post to get all the details. 


New in FDO Professional: Corporate Social Responsibility Data
June 05, 2012

(This piece is reposted in full from PhilanTopic. Andrew Grabois is manager for corporate philanthropy at the Foundation Center.)

When Deep Throat advised Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward to "follow the money" in that underground garage back in the '70s, he could just as well have been dispensing advice to a corporate grantseeker. That is, until recently.

For many years, individuals and organizations looking for funding from companies or their foundations were only concerned about the availability of funds and meeting a company's grant requirements, not whether a grantmaker was a "good corporate citizen" (with the exception, perhaps, of anti-apartheid activists). And while notions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been around for decades, CSR only recently has gained traction with the general public.

According to a 2010 CSR Perception Survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, 55 percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a product with an added social benefit; 70 percent said they would be willing to pay a premium for a product from a "socially responsible" company (and 28 percent said they would pay up to $10 more); and, perhaps most surprisingly, 34 percent said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work at a socially responsible firm. It would appear the CSR train is leaving the station. Indeed, in the last month alone, Morgan Stanley announced the launch of a new "impact investing" platform to "help clients align their financial goals and personal values," while Bloomberg LP, which already provides more than one hundred CSR indicators through its Bloomberg terminals at no extra cost, announced that it will publish the results ofThe Civic 100 survey conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Points of Light in the November issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.

Recognizing the importance of corporate social responsibility information to today's grantseekers, the Foundation Center has been busy collecting over forty separate CSR data points, including carbon emissions and energy usage metrics as reported to and analyzed by folks at the Carbon Disclosure Project, employee volunteer hours, workforce diversity percentages, and recognition by eleven "green" or "best practices" lists, including those compiled by Boston College,Corporate Responsibility magazine, DiversityIncHuman Rights CampaignNewsweek, and Working Mother. We're also collecting corporate CSR pledges tracked by the Global Reporting Initiative, theUnited Nations Global Compact, and A Billion + Change. And, starting tomorrow, we'll be making all that data available in Foundation Directory Online. Appearing as a separate tab on individual company profiles, more than fourteen hundred companies will have at least one CSR measure that users of FDO can incorporate into their prospect research.

We think the addition of corporate social responsibility data to FDO is the most significant enhancement to our company information in years, and we know it will provide FDO users with the most complete profiles of corporate citizenship and transparency in any single database around. For today's corporate grantseeker, just following the money is no longer enough.

-- Andrew Grabois