I WILL: Part One

It is hard to believe, but on September 11, 2011, it will have been ten years since the attacks.

I remember the events like it was yesterday… It was my senior year in high school, and I was in Mr. Christner’s Amercia in the World Today class. In the middle of our lesson someone popped their head into the classroom, said what had happened (at that time only one plane that had crashed into one of the towers), and left. Mr. Christner quickly turned the television on and we watched as events unfolded for the rest of class.

Now, I am sure many of you are gawking at the fact my teacher let us watch what was happening, but I was (and still am) thankful he did. I am also thankful that I was taking that exact class, that exact year, at that exact time because the next day Mr. Christner dived into teaching about the different religions, countries, thoughts, perspectives and how they brought us to where America was at that time; it truly was America in the World Today. He provided information that was enlightening and he helped us fully grasp what had happened. His curriculum around September 11 also taught us not to stereotype, judge, or discriminate people who were Muslim or of Middle Eastern decent. The teachings and insight he provided were a steady ship amongst the unknown and panic that was happening around us. He taught us to be informed, knowledgeable citizens.

Now, ten years later September 11 is the National Day of Service and Remembrance. The website, 911day.org, is providing a way for people to pledge what they will do this year on September 11, whether it be a good deed, charitable activity, or other plans, to honor the 9/11 victims, survivors, and those that rose in service.

After thinking of all the different activities I could put into action for my 9/11 pledge, it all came back to Mr. Christner’s class. I will: continue to learn from those around me, seek the truth, and keep myself and others educated to help dispel stereotypes and prejudice.

As you think to the past and the future, what will you do on 9/11 in Tribute? Visit www.911day.org to post your commitment.

For more information: 911day.org, michigan.gov/volunteer

Submitted by Ashley Branoff, Communications Coordinator for Michigan Nonprofit Association.


Small Steps

Many advocates wonder if their efforts are making a difference. Those of us in the engagement business often measure success by the number of individuals who take action or by the various laws or policies that are changed as a result of our mobilization efforts. Then there are times when success is measured by what doesn’t happen or by extremely small, but extremely important, steps.

Making changes to Michigan’s redistricting process is one of those difficult mobilization efforts for which successful actions may be difficult to realize. The Michigan Redistricting Collaborative has been working hard to ensure that lawmakers seek the input of the public as the lines for voting districts are redrawn. A decade ago, lawmakers were working in private conference rooms to cut deals and draw maps to secretly preserve incumbencies among both Republicans and Democrats. Once finished, the maps were hastily passed through both chambers of the Michigan Legislature, quickly signed into law, and even debated in court filings before the entire process and map formulas became public.

Ten years later the overall process remains the same. The Legislature gets to draw its own maps provided it remains within the general rules laid forth by the Michigan Constitution, Michigan Supreme Court cases and those requirements provided for by the Voting Rights Act. Within these boundaries, demographers are helping politicians privately pick their constituents. Members of both parties are working behind the scenes to ensure they are not drawn out of their own district or pitted against a challenger in their own party.

And yet, we know this prior to the final decisions on the district lines, albeit barely before the critical votes. Many of my colleagues involved in the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative are frustrated by the lack of change in the system, the haste with which the Legislature and the Governor are moving to dispense this “insider’s game,” and the general lack of interest by the public in the dysfunctional nature of our Redistricting process in Michigan. So you ask, what did all our work accomplish? We accomplished what we asked our lawmakers to do: we increased the transparency of one of the most covert, public processes in Michigan.

At www.DrawtheLineMichigan.org you can see the media traffic over the past two months as lawmakers were asked how the maps would be drawn, what input the public would have on the process, which lawmakers would be making the decisions, and what the impact would be on vulnerable populations. Read the quotes from the leadership in the House and Senate where Senate Majority Leader Richardville and House Speaker Bolger were asked to explain how public comment would be sought and how this time, the process would be different. Look at the work that individual citizens did to draw their own maps using the common electronic media and public information tools available to anyone.

This week we will see quick passage of the legislation that will define the voting boundaries for Michiganders for the next ten years. While many may not like either the outcome or the process used, we can take solace in knowing that we brought the process into the light and injected the important principles of transparency, citizen engagement, competitive districts, and fairness into the debate over redistricting. These small victories may not be what many had hoped for in helping to form our more perfect union, but it’s an important start.

Submitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Rising Health Insurance Premiums

If you are a MNA member taking advantage of insurance options through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Priority Health, you’ll want to pay attention to this blog. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS) and Priority Health have both introduced new products to help employers deal with rising health insurance premiums. If BCBS is your provider, you may have recently received a renewal rate notice with premium increased of 20 – 37%. Now is a good time for your organization to take a look at the new products that are being offered.

Simply Blue is the new platform for BCBS. They have PPO, HRA and HSA options. All options have a variety of copays and deductibles.

Priority Health recently updated their Rx copays to deal with costly specialty drugs. Their platform offers PPO, POS and HMO products along with HSA qualified plans and an option for HRAs.

With all the changes to health insurance, it is important to make sure you are investigating the latest products and cost saving strategies. If you are a MNA member interested in our Healthy Nonprofits benefit, please contact me at bgesaman@mnaonline.org.

Submitted by Bill Gesaman, Membership Manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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One-Time Special Filing Relief Program for Small Nonprofits at Risk of Losing Tax-Exempt Status

The Internal Revenue Service released this press release and video today, announcing that small nonprofits that have failed to file returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing before October 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program. There are two types of relief available for small exempt organizations:

1. A filing extension for the smallest organizations required to file Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard)
2. A voluntary compliance program (VCP) for small organizations eligible to file Form 990-EZ, Short Form Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax

The IRS has also published a list of organizations that have return due dates between May 17 and October 15, 2010, but the IRS has no record that the organization filed the required returns for any of the past three years. Check out the list at www.IRS.gov to ensure your organization is in compliance.

Don’t risk losing your tax-exempt status. File today!

Submitted by Kari Sederburg, director of public policy for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Don’t Lose Your Tax Exempt Status!


Time is Running Out!

As a nonprofit organization, you know the importance of your tax-exempt status. Be sure not to risk losing that status by submitting your annual return by May 15, 2010!

Whether your organization has a budget in the millions or in the thousands, you are required to submit an annual 990 form to the IRS. Please note – nonprofits with annual revenue of less than $25,000 are now also required to file. This requirement has changed in order to help our government better understand how many 501(c)3 organizations exist.

Beware – this is the first year (2010) the IRS will automatically revoke the tax-exempt status of organizations that have failed for three consecutive years to file the required Form 990 with the IRS. These forms must be filed by May 15th, otherwise your organization may have to submit its application for tax-exemption with the IRS all over again.

The Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics has developed a simple tool to find out if you need to file. Here’s how in 3 easy steps:

(1) Go to this website

(2) Select the name of your state and then enter your nonprofit’s name. If there is an alert “FILE NOW” by your nonprofit’s name,

(3) File a 990 or your nonprofit’s tax-exempt status will be revoked on May 16th.

Filing by May 15th will prevent your organization from having to pay $750 and submit an application for tax-exemption with the IRS all over again!

Smaller organizations can fill out the IRS Form 990-N, known as the ePostcard (http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=169250,00.html). The ePostcard is easy to complete, and only takes a few minutes to answer eight simple questions. Larger nonprofits simply need to file their tax returns.

For more information about filing annual returns, please visit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/filingrequirementsfactsheet_012010.pdf

Submitted by Kari Sederburg, director of public policy for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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2010 Census: There’s still time!

It’s not too late! You have four days left to fill out and mail back your 2010 Census form. Fill it out TODAY! Michigan is currently one of the top 5 states with a mail back participation rate of 72%.

If you have questions about the form or have not received your form, here is how you can find help.

• If you have not received a census form in the mail, or think you were left off your household’s census form, you can pick up a Be Counted form to ensure you are counted.

• Be Counted forms, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian, can be picked up in nearly 39,000 community locations nationwide and mailed back in the attached postage-paid envelope.

• To find a Be Counted site near you, go to 2010census.gov (see “Need Help with Your Form”) or click here <http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/>.

• Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Numbers: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/contact/index.php After April 12, you can request a form from the telephone questionnaire assistance phone line. English: 1-866-872-6868, Spanish: 1-866-928-2010, Chinese: 1-866-935-2010, Korean: 1-866-955-2010, Russian: 1-866-965-2010, Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010, TDD (hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010.

• Be Counted Site Map: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/

The Census Bureau estimates that if every household completed and mailed back their census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census by $1.5 billion.

Submitted by Sam Singh, Census Consultant for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Resource Friday: Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual

New MNA Nonprofit Management Manual Now Available

The 5th edition of the Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual builds on the informative chapters found in previous editions, with many new features and updates, including: a new chapter on Risk Management, alignment with MNA’s Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Michigan, updates on laws, regulations and filing requirements, expanded chapters on the use of technology, connections to other resources with many website references and a revised format to help locate information quickly. MNA members can take advantage of the reduced member price of $75.00. The non-member price is $95.00. Order your copy today at MNA’s online bookstore: www.mnaonline.org/bookstore.asp.

Submitted by Kelley Kuhn, Director of Management Support and Capacity Building Services for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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April 1 is National Census Day…but then what?

Thursday, April 1, 2010 is National Census Day, and many communities are planning ‘Walk to the Mailbox‘ ceremonies. Michigan Nonprofit Association will be participating at the State Capitol. If you have not yet mailed your Census form and are in the Lansing region, please bring it with you to ‘Walk to the Mailbox’ with Governor Jennifer Granholm and Mayor Virg Bernero.

But many are asking, “What happens after April1?” Those who don’t respond by early April will get a replacement questionnaire delivered to their mailbox. In late April and early May, census workers will visit the homes of those who have not responded as many as three times. Census workers will also visit group living quarters and shelters through July. As trusted members in the community, we can help minimize confusion and fear, putting residents at ease by addressing their concerns and answering their questions.

Remind your community to look for the Census form and “Take 10 for 10″ – Take 10 minutes to complete 10 easy questions to ensure your community receives its fair share of resources. Let them know a Census worker will be coming to homes that have not returned the Census form and not to be alarmed. Remind them participating in the Census is quick, easy and confidential. it benefits them, their families, neighbors and their community.

Day After Census Day – What’s Next? – Webinar
Friday, April 2nd at 2:00pm Eastern
MNA staff will lead a discussion about the next steps that nonprofits can do to help insure a successful final Census Count. Though the official Census Day will have come and gone, there are a number of things that nonprofits can do to ensure that everyone is counted. The work we do in the next two months could be worth millions of dollars to Michigan communities and nonprofit organizations. Let’s not leave a single dollar on the table.
Sign up for “Day After Census Day – What’s Next? ” now!

Click here for Key Census Dates.

Click here for a Census Road Tour map of upcoming Road Tour stops in Michigan.

Click here for a complete list of National Census Day Events.

For more information about the 2010 Census and how nonprofits can help ensure a complete and accurate count, visit www.MNAonline.org/census.asp.

Submitted by Sam Singh, Census Consultant for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Threatened loss of major nonprofit – what does it mean for nonprofit sector?

Michigan is not known for earthquakes. But the earth moved last week in Detroit when the nonprofit Detroit Medical Center (DMC) announced a deal with for-profit Vanguard. This possible deal to take over one of our region’s largest nonprofit employers shifted the ground.

On the surface, this proposed deal seems to be good for the Metro Detroit region. The large debt load of the DMC can be reduced. Plus, an infusion of cash can fund the needed upgrades the facility has been struggling for years to implement. But when the earth moves as violently as it is from this potential deal, those living in an area need to look beneath the surface to identify possible fissures. So what do we make of the threatened loss of a major nonprofit for our region?

Looking specifically at the DMC, some are concerned that the focus on charity care may not be the same under a for-profit regime. Fortunately, at this time Vanguard seems to be sensitive to DMC’s nonprofit origins as it tries to provide venues to preserve some of the intent of the many donors who have invested in this Detroit institution. Vanguard also has proposed maintaining the current management. However, in this time of increasing needs and diminishing resources, we know that charity care will likely increase, at least in the short term as we work to understand the impact of recent national legislation. Unfortunately, however, some studies have shown that there is little change in the amount of charity care delivered by nonprofit hospitals that have been acquired by for-profits.

As people who live in Michigan, we also need to look more broadly at how this earthquake of a deal will ripple through the ground beneath us but also the integrity of our social safety net. For example, we cannot overlook the invaluable role that DMC has played as one of our region’s – and indeed, one of our nation’s – largest teaching hospitals. The doctors trained here did not all stay in Detroit; many settled elsewhere in Michigan providing quality health care across our state. We need to ask ourselves what in this deal could undermine that vital educational role of this essential institution. The same research referred to earlier showed that of all the hospital transfers studied, the teaching institutions were the least likely to maintain their nonprofit missions of education.

Looking even more broadly at the social safety net nonprofits hold, for more than three decades, society has been calling more on nonprofits to fill a role previously served by government: caring for those in need. Governments, trying to save taxpayers billions of dollars, have turned to nonprofits to deliver services government used to deliver, but providing the same or better service with greater efficiency—doing more with less.

Unfortunately, governments seem to forget that they rely on nonprofits as silent partners in providing public services. As a just released national report reveals, state and local governments across the country have been slashing funds for programs they expect nonprofits to deliver, withholding payments from nonprofits for contracted services already delivered on behalf of government, and seeking revenue from nonprofits through new fees and taxes. These short-sighted actions hurt the community at large.

Equally unfortunate is that local, state and even federal units of government seem to be taking these actions without recognizing that nonprofits are major contributors to our state’s economy. The nonprofit sector is the state’s third largest employer. One of every ten workers in Michigan is hired by a nonprofit organization, and nonprofits generate an additional 161,000 jobs as a result of spending by the organizations. Undercutting nonprofits directly undercuts our economy.

So before we celebrate the proposed transfer of the DMC from one of our region’s most valuable charitable nonprofits into a for-profit entity, we all need to take a deep breath and thoughtfully examine the potential consequences. While this may remove the financial burden of the DMC in the short term, we cannot be certain that its larger philanthropic mission will endure.

We may look back in ten years to the earthquake that moved the ground in Detroit and across Michigan last week and see two things. First, that charity care is expanded or at least maintained in the region. Second, hopefully it wakes us as citizens and the policymakers we elect to the real threat: that we are in danger of losing something of great importance – not only DMC, but also the nonprofits upon which we all rely for Michigan’s quality of life.

Recent articles about the Detroit Medical Center and Vanguard announcement:
+DMC-Vanguard deal likely to receive close scrutiny (Crain’s Detroit Business)
+Vanguard Health plans to buy DMC (WDIV 4)
+ DMC and Vanguard Health Systems release rundown of the partnership (Detroit Free Press)
+ Vanguard, DMC announce sale (Detroit News)

Kyle CaldwellSubmitted by Kyle Caldwell, President and CEO for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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President Signs New National Health Care Law – What does this mean for your nonprofit?

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) with a corresponding manager’s amendment package. This nationwide health care reform package extends access to coverage for the uninsured and prevents denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions. Some of the more general provisions of the act include the elimination of the proposed government-run public insurance option in favor of multi-state insurance exchanges; the increase of the Medicare payroll tax for high-income filers; and the institution of tax credits to qualifying individuals and small businesses, including nonprofits, for purchasing health insurance.

MNA wants to know what the new law and amendment package means to your organization and those you serve. We encourage you to provide feedback on this blog or email us at mnaweb@mnaonline.org.

Small Employer Health Credit

The National Council of Nonprofits has developed some “how to” information on the small employer health credit. This page explains how it works, what you need to know as a small employer, current status and additional resources.

Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act
The Senate has already begun action on a reconciliation measure, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HR 4872), designed to “fix” or “reconcile” some of the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a timely manner through set Congressional procedures. The Reconciliation bill’s main priorities include changing some of the funding and benefits provisions of the newly signed health care law. The House has already passed the Health Care and Education Act, and the Senate could complete its work as early as today.

For more more information on these bills and a number of useful nonprofit resources, visit MNA’s web page on health care reform: www.MNAonline.org/healthcare.asp.

Kyle CaldwellSubmitted by Kyle Caldwell, President and CEO for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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