“The IRS has conducted an unprecedented outreach effort in the tax-exempt sector on the 2006 law’s new filing requirements, but many of these smaller organizations are just now learning of the May 17 deadline.”
~ Doug Shulman, IRS Commissioner
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Not to be the harbinger of doom but the Non-profit Finance Fund released a survey Monday that reflects the less-than-optimistic hopes of non-profit leaders for the year ahead. Though it’s far more depressing than Financial Armageddon, it shows that non-profits are far more prepared for the worst (and more deft at handling adversity) than their for-profit counterparts. For-profit CFOs still seem preoccupied with the credit crunch while non-profits are merely trying to meet increased demand with less to provide.
America’s nonprofits expect that 2010 will be financially more difficult or as difficult as 2009, according to a survey released today by Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF). The survey of more than 1,300 nonprofit leaders in markets nationwide also found strong evidence of the dramatic and creative steps that organizations are taking in order to maintain and even expand service delivery to meet increased demand during this time of continued economic uncertainty.
• Nearly 90% expect 2010 to be as difficult or more difficult than 2009; only 12% expect 2010 to be financially easier for their organizations.
• 80% of nonprofits anticipate an increase in demand for services in 2010; 49% expect to be able to fully meet this demand level.
• Only 18% of organizations expect to end 2010 above break-even; 35% of organizations ended 2009 with an operating surplus.
• The majority — 61% — have less than three months of cash available; 12% have none.
“We expect 2010 to be another treacherous year for many nonprofits that routinely take heroic measures to meet demand for services,” said Clara Miller, President and CEO of NFF. “The economic ‘recovery’ has not yet reached people in need, or the organizations that serve them. We must do more to repair the tattered social safety net.”
Interestingly, only 46% of non-profits surveyed said they believed they would not be able to replace government stimulus money from other sources when the money is gone. Also curious, non-profits appear to be having an easier time of getting loans. Only 30% of survey respondents said they’d applied for a loan in the last 12 months but incredibly 74% of those secured the loan. Oh and 26% said they only applied for a loan because they were waiting for late government payments.
There were quite a few memorable responses from survey participants but I think this one sums up the theme of NFF’s results pretty well: “WE DIDN’T GIVE UP.”
Prostitution in the industry is nothing new, you have to take what you can get even if that means devouring struggling non-profits or whoring yourself out for otherwise wholly un-big-business-like busywork (I’m staring directly at you, Big 4).
Daniel Golden of Bloomberg reported yesterday that “ITT Educational Services Inc. paid $20.8 million for debt-ridden Daniel Webster College in June. In return, the company obtained an academic credential that may generate a taxpayer-funded bonanza worth as much as $1 billion.”
With education little more than a vague directive to “teach” at this point (except for the chosen few professors who put their hearts into it, of course), schools are being encouraged to “convert a school to a charter school or a similar education management organization, a for-profit or nonprofit organization that provides ‘whole school operation’ services” (via firedoglake) in California districts where schools have fallen way short of federal education “guidelines”. Hint: that’s when you know it is bad. Firedoglake implies that recent protests and riots by California state university students facing severe class cuts and hikes in tuition are directly related to the push to privatize education.
In the case of small but favored not-for-profit educational institutions, they don’t have much of a choice but to end up recycled into the ITTs and the DeVrys if they can’t make it. For-profit education is the way to go, ask DeVry. They didn’t make $369 million last year for nothing.
Said Karen Pletz in the Kansas City Star, “the not-for-profit mission, whether it be in education, health care, or other human services, is really about values and is intrinsically focused in bettering lives and community.” Not to carelessly go name-calling but what can a for-profit, publicly-traded institution possibly know about that mandate or education for that matter? Its first loyalty is to the shareholders, not the students.
Perhaps not coincidentally, in December of 2009 WSJ pointed to a Department of Education report revealing a 21% default rate in the first three years for those coming from for-profit institutions like ITT over there gobbling up broke Daniel Webster College. For-profit education institutions are accused of aggressive loan procedures to get students through their programs; meanwhile non-profit private education remains picky about who they’ll take and for good reason. It’s a sweeping generalization to say default rates somehow correlate with the quality of instruction but one can assume loans are easier to pay off when the debtor is not just gainfully employed but paid well.
Company’s purchase of N.H. college could earn it $1 billion [Bloomberg via Boston Globe]
Are you paying attention Fortune? After last week’s controversy around the finances of Yele Haiti, RSM McGladrey has been appointed to administer the donations pledged to Wyclef Jean’s foundation.
Yele Haiti has also retained Grant Thornton, who filed the three years of tax returns for the foundation just last August.
All the hubbub was over the foundation less than timely filing of its tax returns and paying expenses on the behalf WJ’s production company.
Not filing tax returns is one thing but there is some debate over whether the payment of expenses is actually anything to worked up over:
John Colombo, a University of Illinois law professor specializing in tax-exempt organizations, said tax laws permit such fees.
“If you told me the organization raised $1 million and it all went to him, then I would have some issues,” Colombo said. “Paying him an arm’s length salary for services he actually performed just isn’t a problem.”
But Alvin Brown, a tax lawyer who runs the site IRSTaxAttorney.com, said such transactions were “scary” and “could be viewed as fraud.”
“Viewed as fraud” isn’t the same as “is a fraud” but we after the last week, Yele Haiti has heard worse.
Wyclef’s Haiti Charity Gets New Accountants [AP]
We Knew Accounting Firms Were Helping Haiti