Telling Florida Philanthropy’s Story With Bigger, Better Data

FC_AllianceFlorida Philanthropic Network is excited to be part of a new national strategic partnership that aims to achieve a dramatic improvement in the collection and sharing of data on philanthropy.

Last week the Foundation Center and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers announced this new alliance. The partnership will result in the collection of more comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date data on grantmaking in our country. These data will be used in new regional research reports and new regional data visualization tools that will help us do a better job of telling the story of philanthropy in our region and help inform funding decisions and track giving trends. Continue reading

FPN Urges Senators to Pass the “America Gives More Act”

When senators return to Washington next week after their August recess, they have an opportunity to help charitable organizations with their critical work in communities. By passing the America Gives More Act (H.R. 4719), the Senate can help grow philanthropy at a time when the charitable sector is being asked to do more to help those in need. Continue reading

FPN Expresses Concerns About Proposed IRS Form 1023-EZ

Florida Philanthropic Network has contacted key members of Florida’s congressional delegation to express concerns about a proposed Form 1023-EZ from the IRS and to request an opportunity for input from the nonprofit and foundation communities, while also expressing our general support for efforts to simplify tax forms and streamline the application process.

The Form 1023 is filed at the start of a new nonprofit organization. FPN agrees that the existing Form 1023 is cumbersome and is in need of some improvement, so we understand the good intentions of the IRS to simplify the form and manage a backlog of applications by developing a streamlined application process for smaller organizations. But we are concerned that the 1023-EZ’s two-page checklist could increase opportunity for fraud and exacerbate the proliferation of ill-prepared nonprofits.

For example, the current Form 1023 application process requires an applicant to submit its organizing documents, but the Form 1023-EZ just requires the applicant to check off boxes to indicate that its organizing documents contain various critical provisions. While this change will certainly speed up the application process, it also eliminates key evidence that the IRS uses today to perform its appropriate due diligence. Continue reading

At FPN Event, Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan Voices His Support for Philanthropy

This week Florida Philanthropic Network hosted a reception in Washington, DC with special guest of honor Congressman Vern Buchanan, who voiced his support for philanthropy and shared his views about the important role that philanthropy plays in our communities. The event was held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Council on Foundations, and was co-hosted by FPN members the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Florida Blue Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and The Patterson Foundation.

Congressman Buchanan is the only Florida member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight of federal tax issues that can be critical in ensuring that philanthropy remains strong in Florida and across the country. So it’s good to know that he is a true friend of philanthropy, particularly as discussions about tax reform continue to take place in Congress. Continue reading

Florida Governor and Cabinet Honor Florida Community Foundations

Yesterday I was honored to accept a resolution passed by Florida’s Governor and Cabinet honoring Florida’s community foundations for “their service to communities all across the state.” The resolution was introduced by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at the April 22 Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee, and approved by Governor Rick Scott, Commissioner Putnam and the other members of the Florida Cabinet, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

The resolution also congratulated the community foundation field on its centennial anniversary. The first community foundation was created in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914. Continue reading

The Power of Grantee Feedback

Almost all grantmakers struggle with figuring out the most effective ways to gather feedback from their grantees. And for those that have mastered the data-gathering piece, understanding how to successfully take that feedback and make changes internally is an even steeper uphill battle.

More than 35 grants managers from around Florida came together online and in person on Thursday, April 17 for a webinar on this topic. The webinar was presented as a joint partnership between the Florida Chapter of the Grants Managers Network (GMN) and the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN). Three presenters took the stage to explain best practices around gathering feedback and how the responses they have been able to gather through both formal and informal survey methods have had significant impacts on how they operate. Continue reading

Legislation That Nonprofits and Funders Can Endorse

Note: The following column written by David Biemesderfer, President & CEO of Florida Philanthropic Network, and Rena Coughlin, Board Member of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat on March 23, 2014:

David Biemesderfer, President and CEO, Florida Philanthropic Network:

In January, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced his legislative proposal to revise Florida’s laws regulating charities and charitable solicitations. His proposal is in response to the Tampa Bay Times’ “America’s Worst Charities” investigative report from last year, which highlighted the unscrupulous practices of for-profit telemarketers used by some charities to solicit donations. Eleven of the charities on the Times’ list of the country’s 50 Worst Charities are in Florida, more than any other state.

Although the vast majority of charities in Florida operate in a proper and responsible manner when seeking contributions, the Times report revealed a handful of organizations that preyed on vulnerable citizens with deceptive and fraudulent practices; spent as much as 90 cents of every dollar raised to generate more donations; and claimed to raise money for worthy causes but actually funneled most of the funds to charity founders themselves and the for-profit telemarketing companies they hired.

Continue reading