26 Jan

Nonprofits – Don’t Be Taken In – Another Scam to Learn From

By Elizabeth Reich – Make-A-Wish® Arizona

We recently were targeted by a scam artist, and our bank tells us other non-profits have also been victims, so it seems like we should spread the word.

We were contacted in December by somebody from London who wanted to make a $30,000 donation to us in honor of his “Mum”. We researched the sender and he seemed to be legitimate as did the architectural firm in London that was in his signature block. When the cashier’s check arrived, with no accompanying paperwork, it was for $38,500.

The next day we were contacted by the original e-mail sender with a story about his accountant, who was now on vacation and unreachable, making a horrible mistake and sending us an extra $8,500 that had been promised to a family with a young child on dialysis. We were asked to send the $8,500 to the family. We agreed to send the $8,500 but only to the trust and to the account from which the original funds were drawn. The gentleman called us, very irate, and demanded the funds be sent that day to the family. We said we would be happy to wire the funds to the bank, but we could not send them to a third party. He got even more angry and threatened to take back the entire donation, but we stuck to our guns, and never heard from him again.

Of course we contacted our bank who knew about the scam and we were notified the next day that there was no known account for the cashier’s check. I hope no charities fell victim to this scam.

24 Dec

Understanding the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit

By Tom Egan, President and CEO of the Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) and Board Chair for the Organization of Nonprofit Executives (ONE).

Have you made your Arizona Tax Credit donations yet? If not, there is still time!

If you file AZ taxes, and you have some cash you can do without until April, please remember to make a FULLY REFUNDABLE tax credit donation to up to FOUR organizations before December 31st! You can take advantage of each of the following tax credit categories:

1) up to $200 to a qualified charitable organization (Many of our ONE members qualify).
2) up to $200 to a qualified foster care charitable organization (Several of our ONE members qualify).
3) up to $200 to a public school.
4) up to $1067 to a private school.

The above amounts are per person, so if you are married and file jointly, then you can double the contribution/credit amounts.

When you file your Arizona taxes, you will get ALL of your money back. You DO NOT need to itemize your taxes to take advantage of these credits. But if you do itemize your federal taxes, then you will actually make money because you can also claim these as federal deductions.
Yes! If you itemize your federal income taxes, then these AZ tax credits actually MAKE you money. If you do not itemize, then you still break even while funding organizations that are doing great things for our community!!

Remember, your donation to a ONE member charity helps provides needed services and programs for Arizonans of all ages.
Here’s a link to learn more about Arizona’s Charitable Tax Credit program: https://www.azdor.gov/About/FAQs/CharitableTaxCredit.aspx

And for a list of the qualifying organizations in each category, click here: https://www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits/QualifyingCharitableOrganizations.aspx

01 May

Events from an Executive Director’s Viewpoint – PART II

Author’s Note: Consider the incredible breadth of nonprofits in the state of Arizona and what an event can actually mean to each of them. There are nonprofits who operate on less than $100,000 a year and there are nonprofits who have $10,000,000+ budgets. There are nonprofits who get 90% or more of their operating capital from a single source—usually a government contract for services—and there are nonprofits who rely 100% on charitable donations– and everything in between. What an event means to each of them can vary broadly. Your nonprofit has unique aspects and you need to be sure that whatever event you choose (or is chosen for you), that you don’t attempt it alone, that you tailor it to your specific organization and you stay true to the purpose of the event.

The Six W’s: Or Important Questions to Answer Sooner Than Later (see previous blog post for WHO and WHY) By Cindy Gattorna, A Stepping Stone Foundation

Job ONE-stay organized. Get a three-ring binder with several dividers or the electronic equivalent. I usually keep the following tabs: Contracts, Silent Auction, Reservations and Sponsors, Marketing, Meeting Notes, and Miscellaneous. Each person’s mind is unique, so you create your own system. There are several software packages varying in cost that can help with this if you can afford it.

Important over-arching considerations before you begin with other event choices are: What is your organization’s actual capacity to manage an event—will it be volunteer driven or staff driven? If it is volunteer driven, how will you have regular communication with these volunteers to be sure your organization is represented well and that costs do not get out of hand? If it is staff driven, how will you all keep sane while carrying out your typical daily duties?

Do you have a board approved budget with which to operate the event (recommended)? Can you actually do what the budget says you will do? How will you actually make the money? Through ticket sales? Sponsorships? Auction(s)? Appeal? Raffle? Games? Many Boards will not give you any money at all for an event and expect you to find the operating capital from sponsorships and still turn a profit; if that is the case, be sure you have a well thought out plan.

Will your event center around a meal? If so will it be breakfast, lunch, dinner or reception? Will you have awards? Will there be entertainment? Will you have a novelty event such as a casino night or an event planned with a major sports team? Is this a new event or a legacy event? That is, have you inherited an event that has been around for many years—maybe too many years? Or are you creating a new event? Each comes with its own challenges and rewards.

Thanks to event veteran Pam Betz for reminding me to tell you that whatever you choose as your theme and method of delivery, if you want long-time donors and attendees, they must have FUN! If attendees are bored or have a negative experience they are highly likely to not return the next year. What’s worse they are likely to not support your mission delivery.

There is a season for events—especially in Phoenix. There is spring and fall season. Of course you can get great deals on venues and catering in the “off” season, but can you get people to the event during these off-times? Be sure to check the many social calendars such as Red Book, BlackTieAZ, Frontdoors News, major sporting events schedules, as well as checking in with the one or two key people who you think must be at the event before choosing a date. Even choosing which day of the week and what time of day should be carefully considered.

Arizona has an amazing array of unique venues literally from a-z; arena to zoo! Do you want to be outside or inside? Are you looking for a relaxed or an elegant feeling tone? Most resorts and venues can accommodate both settings if you ask. Do you need your event close to your program or administrative office, or do you want it in the center of your supporter base?