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  • National Service Champion Harris Wofford Dies

    Harris L. Wofford, who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., helped create the Peace Corps and ran the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), died yesterday at the age of 92.

    He was an advisor to President John F. Kennedy on civil rights and a freshman senator named Barack Obama was assigned his old desk on the Senate floor. A 2014 profile about him in The New Republic was headlined “The Man Who Was Everywhere.”

    “Harris was one of a kind; a leader and inspiration for all ages. His humanity, generosity of spirit and humor made him a joy to be near,” said Diana Aviv, former CEO of Independent Sector.

    Wofford served on the boards of America’s Promise Alliance, Youth Service America, Opportunity Nation and the Points of Light Foundation, among other nonprofits. He also was a senior fellow at the Case Foundation in Washington, D.C.

    Points of Light Board Chairman Neil M. Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush, described Wofford as a “hero of the national service movement, a beautiful human being who will be missed, and one who left the world a much better place.”

    Wofford, a liberal Democrat, and Bush, a conservative Republican, became close friends, “united in their commitment to lifting others,” Bush said. “Both men had impressive resumes. But what made them special were deeply rooted values, loving hearts, human qualities that shown through like brilliant points of light,” he said.

    Wofford was recognized in The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 in 2002, the same year he received the John W. Gardner Leadership Award. In 2013, he received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian award in the U.S., behind only the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Harris Llewellyn Wofford, Jr. was born on April 9, 1926. He was married to Clare Lindgren for 48 years, until her death in 1996. Almost three years ago, he penned a New York Times op-ed about remarrying at the age of 90, to a man 50 years his junior.

    Wofford served in the Air Force during World War II and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1948. He was the first white student to enroll in Howard University School of Law, a historically black college in Washington, D.C., in a half-century, ultimately earning his J.D., and another law degree from Yale Law School in 1954.

    Kennedy signed an executive order in March 1961 that created the Peace Corps, with his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, as the organization’s first director. In 1962, Wofford became the Peace Corps’ special representative for Africa and director of its Ethiopia program. He later served as associate director of the Peace Corps.

    Wofford was appointed in 1966 to be the first president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and then went on to serve as president of Bryn Mawr College from 1970 to 1978. After several years in private practice, he was appointed Secretary of Labor and Industry for Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey and served from 1987-91.

    Casey appointed him to the U.S. Senate in April 1991 after the death of Sen. John Heinz. Wofford went on to defeat Dick Thornburgh, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, in a special election later that year for the remainder of the term – the first Democrat to win a Pennsylvania Senate seat in 20 years. He reportedly was a finalist for the vice presidential nomination that ultimately went to Al Gore in 1992. In a bid for a full six-year term in 1994, Wofford narrowly lost to Republican Rick Santorum.

    Norman J. Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), recalled Wofford from his time in the Senate and said that he frequently talked to him about health care and national service – subjects that were near and dear to Wofford. “I saw him some, but less frequently, after he lost to Rick Santorum – a change that embodied the directions the two parties were headed: the Democrats toward a sharp focus on achieving the long-time goal, which had been kickstarted by Harris Wofford, toward universal health coverage and care, the Republicans toward a kind of anti-government mindless nihilism. Harris will be sorely missed.”

    After leaving the Senate, Wofford led CNCS from 1995 to 2001.

    Wofford was the first sitting member of the U.S. Senate to ever visit the offices of the Points of Light Foundation, according to former president and CEO Robert K. Goodwin. “His interest was to learn what we were doing and what he could do to advance the call of service. He also understood the power of partnerships,” he said.

    George Romney, a founding director of Points of Light and father of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), long had the idea of bringing all of the U.S. presidents together on the same stage to advance the cause of volunteering, according to Goodwin. Romney believed that would help “depoliticize” the idea that Points of Light was a ‘Republican’ movement and AmeriCorps was a ‘Democratic’ program. “When George advanced the idea to Harris, his response was ‘You get Bush and I’ll get [Former President Bill] Clinton,”’ Goodwin said. That idea turned into the President’s Summit on Volunteering, which took place in Philadelphia in April 1997.

    “I loved traveling with Harris, except anyone who did knew they might be responsible for being sure he didn’t leave a coat or briefcase on the plane. And for any meeting that might last over a half hour, you had to be prepared for him to take his shoes off,” Goodwin said. “He was relaxed but totally focused on the topic at hand, exuding a level of commitment and dedication, seldom witnessed,” he said.

    “No one did more to advance the cause of National Service than Harris Wofford. His life is a testimony to the power of connection,” Goodwin said. “May his commitment to human empowerment inspire a new generation to lead lives of courage and selflessness in the face of isolation, apathy, and negativity, so evident now in our communal life,” he said.

    “Harris was truly a legend who influenced greatly my own career at the Points of Light Foundation. His considerable breadth of experience and historic contributions to society cast a shadow of epic proportion,” said John Schneider, former vice president of marketing at Points of Light. “I was blessed to have known him and to work with him. He will forever be in my memories.”

    Scott Beale called Wofford as an inspiring personal hero and founder of the “reverse Peace Corps.” He explained that when Wofford and Shriver were traveling the world to set up the Peace Corps, they met with the president of Niger who suggested their college-educated youth volunteer in America. That led to a program where you men and women from Africa, Asia and Latin America volunteered in the U.S. until Congress cut funding for the program two years later. The idea was dormant until 2006 when Beale launched Atlas Corps.

    “While ‘founder of the reverse Peace Corps’ and ‘mentor to Scott Beale’ might not make his tombstone or Wikipedia page, I am personally so grateful to have had him in my life and for the example he set for us all,” he said.

    “This is a sad day for the country,” said Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post and political commentator. “Years before he put the health care crisis on the map in his 1991 Senate win, and inspired yet another generation, Harris Wofford had been a lifelong civil rights activist and courageous and passionate campaigner to expand the promise of America to everybody,” she said. “At a time when so many want to narrow that vision, his spirit will be missed. Given his early support for Martin Luther King, whom he marched with in Selma, it’s fitting that he died yesterday.”

    Wofford’s tireless commitment to improving the world through acts of service inspired millions, said Natalye Paquin, Points of Light President and CEO. “He was one of the earliest and most steadfast supporters of Points of Light, and we have always been privileged to call him a valued advisor and a friend,” she said. “He believed in service as a uniting force for good, and showed us that every individual has the power to create change. Few individuals in American history have made a greater contribution to the service movement in our country and the world.”

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  • Federal Shutdown Has Nonprofits Opening Services

    The partial federal government shutdown became the longest in history over the weekend with hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal employees furloughed. Nonprofits have responded in various ways, including setting up food pantries for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, who are working without pay.

    The biggest impact is likely felt in the Washington, D.C. area. Other regions that have a large per-capita federal workforce or military, such as Alaska, also will feel effects of the shutdown, according to David Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Interior has a big impact in areas with Indian tribes, like in Oklahoma. “It affects large parts of the West. With a lot of tribes, there’s a lot of human services — areas that most politicians in D.C. don’t pay attention to — that could have real harsh impacts,” Thompson said.

    Charities large and small have diverted their attention to address needs of furloughed employees and others affected by the shutdown.

    The Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst, outside Chicago, Ill., has pledged to cover lunch expenses for kids of any family feeling the pinch of the shutdown. The club started the Food for Thought program after the Great Recession 10 years ago when learning that children who didn’t have lunch money were going without lunch, according to Rich Rosenberg, a long time member of the club.

    The club’s annual pancake breakfast raises $9,000 to $12,000 annually to cover the lunch project and other projects that help kids. The project costs $1,500 to $2,000 yearly.

    Rosenberg said the school’s social workers help identify children who could benefit from the free lunch. “This in no way replaces federal support or food stamps,” he said. “We just serve kids whose mom or dad may be short for one reason or another.”

    Some charities are aiming to help those of the canine and feline varieties affected by the shutdown. San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) will this week offer two bags of pet food to families of federal employees affected by the shutdown. PAWS San Diego, a program of SDHS, will have temporary distribution centers set up at three campuses, in Escondido, Oceanside and San Diego. Pet food will be available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last for each family who can show proof of federal employment.

    In Ogden, Utah — home to thousands of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Forest Service workers — Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah waived income requirements to access its food pantry so that federal workers could use it twice a month during the shutdown. In Huntington, W.V., employees of the Ashland Federal Corrections Institution have turned to a local food bank for help while Coast Guard employees in Key West, Fla., have accessed charitable food for the first time, according to Hunger Free America, a national organization based in New York City.

    While charities respond to needs of federal employees who are furloughed, the organizations also could eventually be squeezed financially by the shutdown. Domestic violence shelters receive grants via the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Crime Act Fund, both administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is still issuing checks but funding could be exhausted within the next several weeks. Payment of rental housing assistance and other programs continue to operate but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) informed landlords that its ability to continue payment depends on how much budget authority the agency has, raising the potential that housing assistance could run out. HUD could be unable to renew contracts with local entities that provide housing if the shutdown continues.

    Food is the area of greatest concern because SNAP funding could eventually dry up. The Department of Agriculture has told states they can carry funding through February, Thompson said. “Will it [the shutdown] last until March? I can’t imagine that it would but I’m surprised by the current status; there is no rulebook anymore,” he said.

    State associations have dealt with state government shutdowns in recent years, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Minnesota, Thompson said.

    The state association in California, CalNonprofits, put out a three-question survey last week asking about the impact of the shutdown on organizations and communities and what steps nonprofits have taken, or will take, to manage such impact.

    Some nonprofits are hearing that grants won’t be issued until the shutdown is over, Thompson said, and contractors, whether they are nonprofit or for-profit, are not expected to be paid until after the shutdown, if at all. Furloughed employees are likely to be reimbursed after a shutdown but “that doesn’t help you when your mortgage is due,” he said.

    The National Parks Foundation is stepping in to clean up national parks but Thompson warned that could be detrimental in the long run. “Yes, you want clean parks. Cleanup is a public necessity,” he said, but the after-effects and loss of trust can be lasting. “When nonprofits step in to do what they do — solve problems — they end up paying staff but they’re treated as volunteers,” he said. In the past, some governments have not paid for those services and get used to volunteers doing the work. “Nonprofits have to divert from their mission for government not doing its job; those are downstream effects. I’m guessing that nonprofits burned by governments in the past probably are less likely to step in,” Thompson said.

    Hunger Free America announced a new “Fed Food” toll-free 800 line and web portal to help anyone affected to locate free food and/or to volunteer their time to fight hunger.

    Any employee of the federal government or a federal contractor — or any family member of such an employee — who is struggling financially as a result of the government shutdown, can call the toll free number 855-859-4647 or go to www.HungerFreeAmerica.org/FedFood to find food resources near them, such as government food programs and private food pantries, and/or to be connected with anti-hunger volunteer activities so they can productively use their time off work.

    The toll-free line will have live operators answering calls Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) and will take messages at other times. The hotline and web portal will be active as long as the shutdown lasts.

    “We want to make sure that anyone harmed by the shutdown can get and/or give help,” Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said in a press release announcing the hotline. “Last Friday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees affected by the shutdown missed their first paycheck,” he said, adding that the lowest paid federal employees (GS 3 pay level) have starting salaries of about $23,000.

    “Given that one in five Americans overall have either zero savings or have debt larger than their savings, it’s clear that low-income federal employees could quickly run out of food after being denied even one paycheck,” Berg said. “This shutdown vividly demonstrates just how many Americans are only one missed paycheck away from hunger,” he said.

    United Way Worldwide on Friday announced that it will lead the formation of the United for U.S. coalition, a joint effort by corporate partners, organized labor, the United Way network and nonprofits to assist furloughed federal workers and others impacted by the ongoing government shutdown.

    United Way and its community partners are preparing for an expected uptick in calls to 2-1-1 from those seeking assistance with rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and groceries.

    United Way of Northwest Arkansas in Lowell, Ark., closed its 2-1-1 on Dec. 31, citing a decline in workplace giving, according to a recent report. It would be the only state in the nation without the 2-1-1 non-emergency service. The service anchors United Way’s community support by providing information about local social services, including the availability of public benefits and corporate assistance programs. The 2-1-1 network, 211.org, connects callers to resources and aid for monthly living expenses.

    Wells Fargo will waive fees for customers who have direct deposit from the federal government, or at the customer’s request, will offer short- and long-term assistance for those who need extra time to make payments. Bank of America is offering personalized financial assistance through its Client Assistance Program.

    Local United Ways also are providing services in areas with federal workers, including financial services and counseling, and where available, emergency housing and assistance funds for food, rent and other assistance, including:

    • United Way of the National Capital Area in Washington D.C. established a $50,000 Emergency Assistance Fund to area nonprofits to meet people’s basic needs;
    • United Way of Genesee County in Flint, Mich. launched a fund to help federal workers with emergency needs, specifically food, transportation and current utility payments;
    • Mile High United Way in Denver, Colo. has a variety of resources for federal workers through 2-1-1 to connect people to health care services, food pantries, mental health resources, childcare, and utility and eviction prevention assistance;
    • United Way for Southeastern Michigan in Detroit, Mich. is directing federal employees who call 2-1-1 to available resources, and coordinating food box distribution with local food pantries;
    • United Way of Bay County in Bay City, Mich. established a Community Services Emergency Fund to provide cash payments to furloughed government workers for household bills, groceries and other basics; and,
    • Seattle, Wash.-based United Way of King County is participating in local resource fairs for federal workers organized by the Port of Seattle.
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  • Postal Report Pitches Eliminating Nonprofit Price Caps

    A presidential task force has recommended doing away with price caps on mail products, among a number of suggestions included in a report to put the United States Postal Service (USPS) on better financial footing.

    The USPS has lost $69 billion over the past decade as mail volume and revenues continued to decline. Currently, the USPS must submit rate change requests to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Rates hikes generally have been limited to the rate of inflation thanks to the last time postal reform was enacted in 2006 with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA).

    President Donald Trump issued an executive order in April to establish a Task Force on the U.S. Postal System, chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and included the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

    The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Dec. 4 released “United States Postal System: A Sustainable Path Forward.” The 74-page report makes a variety of recommendations, including:

    • Define the Universal Service Obligation (USO) with greater specificity, distinguishing between types of mail and packages for which strong “rationale exists for government protection in the form of price caps and mandated delivery standards versus those that are commercial and would not have a basis for government protection.”
    • Eliminate collective bargaining over compensation;
    • Reform employee wages to be consistent with program reforms pertaining to the broader federal workforce;
    • Explore new business opportunities that allow USPS to ‘extract value from its existing assets and business lines;” and
    • Strengthen the role of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), providing it with expanded controls.

    Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers (ANM), called the report a disappointment, superficial and full of errors.

    “We are very concerned that unsubstantiated recommendations to raise rates well above inflation will destroy the nonprofit sector, commercial mailers and the Postal Service,” he said. “The idea that mail should be divided into essential and nonessential categories is completely unworkable.”

    Kearney urged the PRC not to take items in the report as any sort of mandate to “bust the price cap” on mail. Many items on the cost side would require legislation that will not happen while “many revenue enhancements are said to be administrative.”

    USPS delivers 146 billion pieces of mail and packages to more than 159 million households and businesses each year. The number of employees is about 634,000, down from a high of 905,000 in 1999 but still accounting for three-quarters of its operating costs. There are more than 35,000 retail locations and 370 mail processing facilities.

    As mail volume and revenue has declined over the past decade, package revenue specifically has grown, from $10 billion in 2010 to $21.5 billion last year, while package volume has doubled over the same time, from 3.1 billion to 6.2 billion.

    Packages have not been prices with profitability in mind, according to the recommendations. The USPS “should have the authority to charge market-based prices for both mail and package items that are not deemed ‘essential services.’ This will allow the USPS to optimize its income in order to fund its operations, capital expenditures, and long-term liabilities.”

    The Postal Service projects it will need to increase its average annual capital spending by approximately 70 percent over the next 10 years, according to the report.

    The USPS has more than $126 billion in unfunded worker liabilities stemming from pensions ($43.5 billion), retiree health benefits ($66.5 billion), and federal workers’ compensation program ($16.4 billion). Future liability for retiree health benefits is only 44 percent funded despite contributions of $21 billion from 2007 thorough 2010. To maintain sufficient cash balances needed to continue day-to-day postal operations, USPS has not made required annual contributions since 2010.

    U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the USPS, took issue with the task force’s transparency, saying it crafted recommendations in secret that only were made public last month.

    “I am always glad to have more people involved and working to solve this imminently fixable problem, and presidential leadership could help us finally enact meaningful legislation to bolster the Postal Service,” he said in a statement in response to the recommendations. “But I believe we need to be working together in a transparent way and building off legislation that is the result of years of hard work and scrutiny to address the Postal Services’ immediate challenges.

    “We know that the Postal Service’s financial situation is in a downward spiral. We know we need to act now, and I would like to get to work putting much needed reforms, like those that have bipartisan support in the House and Senate, into place,” he said.

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  • Disabled Vet Launches Border Wall Nonprofit

    A combat-disabled U.S. Air Force veteran who started a GoFundMe page to help fund building the border wall now the center of a partial government shutdown wants to shift that cash to a nonprofit with the same purpose.

    The new nonprofit is called We Build The Wall Inc. Information on whether paperwork has been filed for the charity was not immediately available.

    The GoFundMe effort raised about $20 million. Brian Kolfage, 37, told various media outlets that he hopes to raise $1 billion. Via a statement released on Business Wire, he said, “We are grateful for the president’s steadfast commitment to border security, the single most important issue plaguing our country. Rather than subsidizing the federal government, which has betrayed the American people by obstructing President Donald Trump’s agenda, ‘We Build the Wall’ is taking the president’s signature campaign promise into our own hands. I personally will not take a penny of compensation from these donations incurred in the furtherance of this mission.”

    The initial glitch in funding the potential new 501(c)(4) is the GoFundMe donations from 300,000 people can’t simply be transferred to the nonprofit. The $1 billion goal on GoFundMe was not met so the money must be refunded to those donors.

    Donors will automatically receive a refund unless they manually redirect their donation to go to Kolfage’s nonprofit, according to a GoFundMe spokesperson. They will also be contacted via email about the change.

    According to the Business Wire release, a board of directors is being formed “to provide critical guidance on the project’s legal, engineering, contracting, environmental, accounting, maintenance, and real estate issues and serve on the advisory board and or the construction, finance and or audit committees.” One of those listed as a potential board member is Kris Kobach, the former Secretary of State of the State of Kansas from 2011-2019.

    The plan is for, segments of the wall to be constructed via private entities through negotiations with landowners along the border. The goal is identifying finding areas that are frequently crossed and methods of erecting barriers.

    The organization has established a website at https://webuildthewall.us/

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  • Loose Nonprofit Network Feeds Hungry, Testing Business Models

    On-the-job training is a standard in the restaurant business. The challenge for Jeff Williams at the Taste Project, a nonprofit restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, is that 80 percent of those working on a day-to-day basis are volunteers.

    Chuck Briant has volunteered 266 hours at the Taste Project in Fort Worth, Texas, a pay-what-you-can restaurant.

    The gauntlet is “retraining 30 to 40 percent of the staff every day,” he said. Taste Project is a pay-what-you-can operation. The first meals were served on Thanksgiving Day 2017 with an official opening a few weeks later on Dec. 5. The restaurant serves roughly 85 meals a day, having topped out at 166.

    There are three levels of patrons: those in need who pay $5 or $6, the standard rate of between $15 and $16 per meal and those who “pay it forward” and spend between $22 and $25, subsidizing those who can’t pay a market rate, Williams explained.

    There’s also competition. The Taste Project is just south of downtown Fort Worth in the hospital district, home to 20 other restaurants. Yes, there is snooping to see what the others charge for a meal. “If we’re not competitive for the people to come in and pay $25, it would be hard to do what we do,” said Williams.

    Taste Project is one of between 60 and 70 other restaurants that are part of a network of such food establishments and in many cases succeeding where for-profit restaurants have failed at the concept. The One World Everybody Eats network is a loose amalgam of these restaurants, which range from sit-down restaurants with menus, to those open a few days a week with a limited offering, to food trucks.

    There are many more such sites not part of the network and data on the sector is scarce. The restaurants tend to be small and not required to file the federal Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. A search by Guide-Star.org of its database found that just 15 food services filed a Form 990 EZ and 12 filed a Form 990 N.

    The daily menu at SAME Café in Denver.

    The restaurant that started the network, in Salt Lake City in 2003, closed in 2012. One World Everybody Eats network was launched by the founder of that restaurant, Denise Cerreta. She received the 2017 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award. Cerreta referred questions about the network to board members.

    For-profits have tried and mostly failed at the concept. Panera at one point had five such restaurants and the lone one left standing is in Boston. The $799 billion spent on dining out each year, as reported by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), seems like a lot of money. Yet, 70 percent of the lucky ones that make it past the first year are gone by age five. According to the organization Restaurant Brokers, 90 percent of independent eateries close during their first year.

    Unlike the for-profits, the pay-what-you-can nonprofits have not really quantified successes and failures. Tommy Brown, a board member of One World Everybody Eats, is the volunteer coordinator at F.A.R.M. Café (Feed All Regardless of Means) in Boone, N.C., where he’s also an adjunct instructor for sustainable development and recreation management at Appalachian State University.

    In Boone, the suggested price is $10 for a lunch of soup, entrée, side dish, dessert and drink. There are also suggested levels of $15 and $20. At least 80 percent of patrons pay the suggested rate or more with 20 percent volunteering time to pay for the meal, said Brown.

    While some programs around the country are tied to religious organizations, F.A.R.M. Café is not, although Brown is also an ordained Presbyterian minister. “This is a university town conscious of not taking down a barrier and putting up another,” he said.

    Brown said the network is just starting to develop data. “It’s a goal. We’ve not been at that point yet. It’s a loose affiliation of cafes networked together. We know we need to do this,” he said.

    One starting point is the annual conference, to be held this month in New Orleans, La., where 100 attendees are expected, Brown said. One of the speakers, in a return engagement, is Robert Egger, who started nonprofit kitchen operations in Washington, D.C. and in Los Angeles. The D.C. Central Kitchen remains open.

    Even those statistics are scarce. Egger said that the pay-what-you-can organizations that succeed do so because of “deeply loyal people into the experience.” While there are sites in larger cities such as Philadelphia, Phoenix and Louisville, those making it are in smaller communities. For example, in New York, the three network restaurants are in Beacon, Troy and Patchogue, not Manhattan.

    Some pay-what-you-can operations come and go quickly, such as college students in New Jersey running a food truck but have since graduated and moved on.

    Volunteers Julie Kramer and Diane Nguyen has donated a combined 540 hours at the Taste project.

    “There have to be just enough people, educated and employed who get the broader mission,” said Egger. While a such an operation might not work in Beverly Hills, the town does need resources. There are some locations that are just too small or poor to sustain pay what you can, he said.

    All of the restaurants attack food insecurity and food sovereignty but do it with a twist. It’s not as if you are walking into a chain restaurant and seeing the same menu in Des Moines, Idaho, as in Portland, Ore. Some are strictly feed the needy. Some restaurants are also training organizations and others are being developed into central points in communities. Few can do it without help from foundations and direct fundraising.

    That puts the SAME Café in Denver, Colo., in an enviable position. SAME Café is the oldest member of the One World Everybody Eats network. It opened in 2006 and never puts a price on a menu.

    “It’s an amazing nonprofit model not an amazing business mode,” said Brad Allen Reubendale, executive director of SAME Café. He’s been with the organization about 18 months, taking over from the founders. At that point 40 percent of revenue was from food sales and the rest from fundraising, he explained. It seems as if it was operating at a loss. “You’re marketing on two different levels, people’s needs and mission,” he said.

    The menu includes two choices of a soup, salad entrée and dessert. “Dignity often is about choice that comes with money,” said Reubendale. “Everyone is treated exactly the same. It’s building community and using the restaurant to do that,” he said. The idea is to have a “warm community space” that seats bankers next to those in need.

    A life can financially go off the rails pretty quickly. The mix in Denver right now is 75 percent in need and 25 percent giving back to the mission of SAME Café, according to Reubendale.

    Getting the food is “a kind of a loose network of partnerships,” Reubendale said. They locally source been 80 to 90 of food from local farms and gardens and 15 major partnerships. For example, when tomato season is in full swing, there are more tomatoes than anyone can use. The organization takes the abundance, stabilizes it for the winter, and has product year-round.

    In Fort Worth, the food is locally sourced when available. The organization also contracts with a large food distribution firm. Both the Taste Project and SAME Café also plan food trucks and in the case of SAME Café, a potential additional location.

    Getting good data is important going forward, said Brown. “How do we learn from this? We are in the experimentation phase with this movement,” he said. Outcomes need to be quantified.

    Business models and community are what will keep the restaurants running. But, the food and respect for others is the draw. “People have gotten to know what to expect when they come in here,” said Williams.

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  • Nonprofit Comp Target Of New IRS Interim Guidance

    The partial federal government shutdown, which includes the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), did not stop the IRS from issuing interim guidance on compensation of nonprofit employees and when an organization can get hit with penalties.

    The interim guidance targets Section 4960(a) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. The IRS will accept comments on the guidance through April 2, 2019. The 92-page guidance can be found at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-19-09.pdf

    The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee is adjusted for inflation. For 2019, the limitation is $125,000, according to the interim guidance. For each covered employee, excess remuneration is the excess for a taxable year it is paid, including remuneration paid by a related organization, of more than $1 million for the taxable year.

    A payment to the employer’s employee from a third-party payor (including a payroll agent, common paymaster, statutory employer, or certified professional employer organization) or from an unrelated management company, is considered a payment to the employee from the employer. Also, a payment to the employee from a related entity, including one that is an applicable tax-exempt organization (ATEO), for services rendered to the employer, is considered a payment to the employee for calculating remuneration and determining liability for the excise tax.

    An ATEO that does not pay compensation of $125,000 or more to any employee in 2018 and 2019 is not subject to excise tax under Section 4960 for 2019. However, there is no minimum dollar threshold for an employee to be a covered employee.

    The tax code defines a covered employee as “any employee who is one of an ATEO’s five highest-compensated employees for the current taxable year or who was a covered employee of the ATEO (or any predecessor) for any preceding taxable year beginning after December 31, 2016.” Therefore, once an employee is a covered employee, the person continues to be a covered employee for all subsequent taxable years.

    There is no minimum dollar threshold for an employee to be a covered employee. An employee need not be paid excess remuneration or an excess parachute payment nor be a highly compensated employee to be a covered employee for a taxable year and all future years.

    The tax code describes a parachute payment as “an amount equal to the excess of any parachute payment over the portion of the base amount allocated to such payment.” It also describes a situation where a “parachute payment” means any payment of compensation to (or for the benefit of) a covered employee if the payment is contingent on the employee’s separation from the employer, and the aggregate present value of the payments in the nature of compensation to (or for the benefit of) such individual which are contingent on such separation equals or exceeds an amount equal to three times the base amount.

    The IRS provides guidance on parachute payments in a separate publication found at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/goldenparachuteatg.pdf Public comments will be accepted until April 2, 2019.

    Comments may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Submissions can also be sent to CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2018-XX), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20044. Submissions also may be hand delivered Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2018-88), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20044. All recommendations for guidance submitted by the public in response to the notice will be available for public inspection and copying in their entirety.

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  • Members Of Congress Opening Wallets During Closed Government

    The ongoing partial federal government shutdown could be a boon to some charities. Several members of Congress have pledged their salaries to charities during the shutdown. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate typically earns $174,000 per year (which works out to about $725 per day, based on a five-day work week, not counting holidays).

    The shutdown affects about one-fourth of the federal government and began on Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump refused to sign a spending bill that did not include $5 billion for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. About 420,000 federal employees are working without pay while another 380,000 have been furloughed. It doesn’t include employees of vendors contracted to work for the federal government.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is exploring a 2020 presidential run, pledged her salary to HIAS, a nonprofit that assists refugees. She tweeted on Jan. 1 that more than 7,000 people in her state are currently at home or working without any salary.

    Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) also tweeted last month that she would donate her salary to a Nevada charity for each day the shutdown lasts but did not specify a particular organization.

    Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced she would donate her salary to food banks in her state’s four counties: Hawaii Food Bank, Maui Food Bank, and Hawaii Food Basket on Hawaii Island. Hirano said she donated her salary to her state’s 14 federally-qualified community health centers during the January 2018 shutdown. During the shutdown in 2013, she donated her salary to Lanakila Pacific, Hawaii Meals on Wheels, Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, Kauai Economic Opportunity, and Hale Mahaolu.

    Both of North Dakota’s senators have specified charities that will receive their donations. According to the Bismarck Tribune, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) likely will donate to the North Dakota National Guard Foundation and outgoing Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) pledged to Youthworks. At least one member of Congress called the moves a gimmick.

    In a Tweet, Congressman-elect Max Rose (D-N.Y.) said, “…it’s time for us to do our jobs, and until we do I will donate any pay” but did not specify a charity. SILive.com reported that Rose will donate his salary to a New York-based nonprofit that helps individuals dealing with opioid addiction.


    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was the latest to pledge his salary, with a statement today that he would give to the Homes for the Brave, a Bridgeport, Conn.-based charity that provides housing and services to people experiencing homelessness, particularly veterans.

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  • Blackbaud Buys YourCause For $157 Million

    Blackbaud has purchased corporate social responsibility and employee engagement software YourCause for approximately $157 million. The acquisition closed yesterday.

    Charleston, S.C.-based Blackbaud will continue to offer YourCause as a stand-alone solution and its 155 employees will transition to Blackbaud, including Founder and CEO Matthew Combs.

    The Plano, Texas-based Software as a Service (SaaS) provider of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement software was founded in 2007 and has estimated annual revenue of more than $12 million. Eight million people can currently engage with YourCause solutions, which “process more than $245,000 in donations every business hour,” according to the purchase announcement.

    Blackbaud has almost 3,200 employees and annual revenue of roughly $844 million. Its share price closed at $63.29 on NASDAQ yesterday, up 39 cents per share.

    YourCause acquired several of its peers in the employee giving, volunteering and grants management space in recent years. San Diego, Calif.-based Profits4Purpose was purchased in April 2018; Charleston, S.C.-based Good Done Great was bought in August 2017, and Orange Leap in Dallas, Texas was acquired in February 2016.

    Providence Strategic Growth (PSG), the growth equity affiliate of Providence Equity Partners, is the majority shareholder of YourCause. The Providence, R.I.-based affiliate, established in 2014, focuses on growth equity investments in lower middle market software and technology-enabled service companies primarily in North America.

    The deal brings Blackbaud’s acquisitions to more than $750 million in the past five years. YourCause is the eighth acquisition since Mike Gianoni became CEO in January 2014 and the largest in three years. The cloud software firm has purchased seven companies for a cumulative $600 million:

    Customers of YourCause will benefit from Blackbaud’s investments in research and development” of YourCause solutions, according to the announcement. Blackbaud customers will advance from a “marked expansion and acceleration of workplace giving and volunteering” while building a source of new donors, volunteers and advocates.

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  • TechSoup Lands $4 Million Loan, Launches Public Offering

    TechSoup, a leading nonprofit facilitator of technology solutions to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) globally, has secured a $4-million loan from Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) to support expansion of its global distribution network to bring software, hardware, services, and content to civil society organizations.

    The organization is also launching a Direct Public Offering (DPO) where investors can inject as little as $50 into the DPO. It is the first time the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has qualified a nonprofit to raise funds nationally through a Regulation A+ / Tier 2 offering.

    This is the second time NFF has invested in the San Francisco, Calif.-based TechSoup. The nonprofit established a line of credit with NFF in 2004 to scale its then-two-year-old NGO Tech Marketplace, moving the organization from a local to a national level. Double-digit growth of customers and revenue helped TechSoup pay back those funds ahead of schedule.

    TechSoup connected more than 1 million nonprofits worldwide during 2017, distributing $1.995 billion in donated and discounted technology, knowledge, and other critica