Representative Betty McCollum is upset that small businesses have the Small Business Administration but nonprofits don’t get a Nonprofit Administration to evaluate, build and monitor the capacity of America’s vital nonprofits. She believes nonprofits are an invisible but vital part to the economy and overlooked by Washington, DC except when it comes to tax issues.
This legislation represents a significant step toward creating a more effective partnership between the federal government and the nonprofit sector. H.R. 5533 establishes a new United States Council on the Nonprofit Sector. The Council will be a forum for leaders of nonprofits, foundations, businesses and government to discuss strategies for strengthening the nonprofit sector. The bill also creates an Inter-agency Working Group on the Nonprofit Sector. This group will ensure that high-level representatives from cabinet agencies and other key agencies coordinate and improve federal policies pertaining to nonprofit organizations. Finally, the legislation directs Federal agencies to collect and publish better data on nonprofits AND to support research that will lead to smarter Federal policy.
The goals of the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act are to build a stronger nonprofit sector, craft smarter federal policy, and create more vibrant communities in every state across the country.
Listen, we love working groups as much as the next cube-dweller but haven’t yet seen a copy of the Bill so can’t say either way at this point. What we do know is that the nonprofit sector is large enough to be in need of some help beyond whatever pestering they get from our friends at the IRS.
According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, nonprofits (mostly charities) make up over 5% of U.S. GDP. Charitable organizations are estimated to employ more than 7% of the U.S. workforce, while the broader nonprofit sector is estimated to employ 10% of the U.S. workforce. In 2009, nonprofits filing form 990s with the IRS reported approximately $1.4 billion in revenue and nearly $2.6 billion in assets.
Those numbers do not include the estimated 215,000 charities who have neglected (or completely blown off) their 990 responsibilities.
The Minneapolis Foundation, the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children and the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association have won $29.9 million from Wells Fargo in a Minnesota case that alleged investment fraud and breach of fiduciary duty based on investments the non-profits made that were deemed safe by Wells Fargo.
While similar cases against banks have mostly been settled out of court, this is the first time one such case has gone to trial.
Though the non-profits lost $14.1 million to these shoddy investments, Wells Fargo attorney Robert Weinstine blamed it on the financial crisis and insisted it was not Wells’ fault that funds were lost. The 10-member jury felt otherwise based on internal memos, e-mails and handwritten notes admitted as evidence in the trial.
The jury determined last Thursday that the bank would not be subject to additional payments for punitive damages. Attorney for the four non-profits Mike Ciresi had requested $100 million. Mathlete and Wells Fargo attorney Larry Hofmann told jurors that “zero is the correct number here” in terms of punies.
The Internal Revenue Service recently released some information to help companies take advantage of a tax credit provided by the health reform law.
The IRS estimates that about 4 million businesses qualify, and is sending out notices to as many as possible advising them of the tax break. If you haven’t received anything but believe your company may qualify, here’s what you should know:
The credit is available to companies with fewer than 25 employees with average wages of $50,000 or less. The full credit goes to companies with 10 or fewer employees and average annual wages of $25,000 or less. It is not available to self-employed individuals.
The credit covers 35 percent of an employer’s contribution to employee health premiums, so long as that doesn’t exceed 35 percent of the average cost of a health plan in the small group market. For a tax-exempt organization, the credit is 25 percent. Once the health exchanges are set up, the credit increases to 50 percent for businesses and 35 percent for nonprofits. At that time, the credit will only be available to companies purchasing insurance through the exchange.
A company can use the credit to reduce income tax owed and can carry the credit forward 20 years or back one year after 2010. Nonprofits can use the credit against withholding and Medicare taxes owed on behalf of their employees.
A key caveat is that employers must pay for half of the premium. For most workers, especially low-wage employees, a company that does not pay for at least half the premium is offering insurance that is essentially unaffordable. Even 50 percent is most likely not enough to do low-wage workers much good, especially at small companies where health care premiums are more expensive.
The amount of the credit is based on the premiums an employer pays for, so the more generous the coverage, the greater the credit. While premiums paid for owners and their families cannot be counted, those paid for seasonal workers can be. And the IRS has defined “premiums” broadly: not only does it cover premiums for standard medical insurance but it also applies to dental, long-term care and vision insurance-though again, an employer must pay 50 percent of each premium to count it toward the credit.
Calculating the credit probably requires any small employer to consult an accountant to see if the benefits are worth the cost of providing insurance. The tax credit is in effect, allowing employers who are already thinking about health insurance for their employees to factor in the savings as they plan ahead.
As an observer, I think the key issue is whether the credit is enough to offset the rising cost of health insurance. Those costs have hit small employers the hardest. We’ll see if the tax credit makes a difference in reversing the trend among small employers of dropping health insurance for their employees altogether.
The Head Start Program, under the Department of Health and Human Services, provides child development services to mostly low-income families and their children. Up to 10% of Head Start-enrolled families can be over-income, with an income 130% above the poverty line.
Of course, things don’t always work out as they are supposed to and the GAO has discovered problems with about half of the centers it examined through the investigation, just a small sample of the 1,600 nonprofit centers running 3,000 Head Start programs.
GAO received allegations of fraud and abuse involving two Head Start nonprofit grantees in the Midwest and Texas. Allegations include manipulating recorded income to make over-income applicants appear under-income, encouraging families to report that they were homeless when they were not, enrolling more than 10 percent of over-income children, and counting children as enrolled in more than one center at a time. GAO confirmed that one grantee operated several centers with more than 10 percent over-income students, and the other grantee manipulated enrollment data to over-report the number of children enrolled. GAO is still investigating the other allegations reported. Realizing that these fraud schemes could be perpetrated at other Head Start programs, GAO attempted to register fictitious children as part of 15 undercover test scenarios at centers in six states and the District of Columbia. In 8 instances staff at these centers fraudulently misrepresented information, including disregarding part of the families’ income to register over-income children into under-income slots. The undercover tests revealed that 7 Head Start employees lied about applicants’ employment status or misrepresented their earnings.
GAO managing director for special investigations Gregory Kutz told a House education committee last month that “the system is vulnerable to fraud.” No kidding.
While unable to determine the motivation of Head Start employees to commit fraud by adjusting income levels on applications, Kutz theorized that management of nonprofit agencies receiving Head Start funds pressured staff to fudge, fiddle with, or straight up fake figures on applications in order to keep federal funds coming in.
Head Start has served over 25 million children since 1965 and there are currently over 1 million children enrolled in Head Start programs.
In a show of understanding for nonprofits who may have been completely unaware of the Form 990 requirement in place for the last three years, IRS commissioner Doug Shulman sent out a really sweet letter encouraging smaller NFPs to go ahead and file anyway even though the deadline has come and gone.
Now that the May 17 filing deadline has passed, it appears that many small tax-exempt organizations have not filed the required information return in time. These organizations are vital to communities across the United States, and I understand their concerns about possibly losing their tax-exempt status.
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. I want to reassure these small organizations that the IRS will do what it can to help them avoid losing their tax-exempt status.
The IRS will be providing additional guidance in the near future on how it will help these organizations maintain their important tax-exempt status — even if they missed the May 17 deadline. The guidance will offer relief to these small organizations and provide them with the opportunity to keep their critical tax-exempt status intact.
So I urge these organizations to go ahead and file — even though the May 17 deadline has passed.
The Service assures us that the 990 e-Postcard is simple and easy to fill out, no need to drag your CPA into this mess.
Though the IRS sent friendly reminders to 600,000 charities over the 3 years this new rule has been effect, up to 215,000 charities may have missed the May 17th deadline. Seriously, it isn’t too late. Someone get on that.
There were complaints that the IRS was swamped with last-minute 990 filers (go figure) rushing to meet last week’s deadline so we’re going to guess that when Shulman says it’s okay to send those forms in anyway, he kind of means it. And perhaps that will teach everyone to file on time next year.
In a test run to see if expenses can get covered at the end of the day, Panera Bread has opened a unique new location in Clayton, MO that combines the benefits of nonprofit status with the fundamental principle of the free market system: let the market determine what an item is worth. But it adds a unique qualifier to the traditional concept of the need determining price: human nature.
The menu is exactly the same as other Panera locations (sick foodies can check that out here if they aren’t familiar with Panera’s offerings) but instead of charging a fixed price for each item, this special little spot will ask only what customers can afford. “Take what you need, leave your fair share,” says the sign at their entrance, just in case one is confused by such a foreign transaction model. No prices? Do we even know how to value items independently any more?
Panera is hopeful that the “Cares Cafe” model will thrive and grow to a series of donation-based stores that rely more on empathy than capitalism. “Hopefully we’ll be able to open them across the country, but our original St. Louis location must succeed first!” tweeted the fine folks behind Panera’s official Twitter account.
Can someone confirm Missouri rules on sales taxes related to the sale of food? And is it a sale if the exchange is really a donation? I’m really confused.
Anyway, not everyone is thrilled about this concept. Though it is obviously well-intentioned, the donation model may not necessarily transfer outside of St Louis. Trends consultant Marian Salzman reality-checked USAToday saying “while young people are very much attuned to helping out and making a difference, if they find themselves sitting next to other customers with whom they don’t feel comfortable, they’re not coming back.” You know, as in the possibility of homeless and otherwise destitute individuals (of which our country has plenty nowadays) lounging around with the nerve to eat a cheap meal.
Hedging against operating losses, this particular location has one slight difference from other Panera stores: its bread (except for sandwich bread) is really day old product from other locations around the St Louis metro. Hey, nothing wrong with getting the most out of inventory with a horrible turnover rate.
In the end, it’s hard to say whether this nonprofit experiment will float but if it does, Panera wants to open two more within six months. Good luck with that.
“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
Nonprofits don’t need the reminder but we’re going to remind them anyway: May 17th is the new deadline to file your Form 990s (it would have been the 15th but that happens to fall on a weekend, consider yourselves fortunate, procrastinators).
The Boys and Girls Clubs and Goodwills of America have probably already filed their 990s but what about the tiny, grassroots organizations that didn’t get the memo when Service rules changed to require even small non profits under $25,000 to file 990s?
The guess is that up to 1/4 of all non profits could inadvertently lose their tax exempt status by missing the May 17th deadline without even realizing they were supposed to file anything at all. It costs $750 to refile after losing said status, so blowing it could be a costly alternative to hiring a professional to get the 990 in order for a small, simple nonprofit.
This isn’t merely busywork presented to nonprofits for shits and giggles, as we all know the Service would never EVER waste anyone’s time with bureaucracy and paperwork just for kicks. The IRS is seeking to clean up tax exempt status claims to exclude agencies that exist in name only or simply for the tax break. In its view, leaving NFP organizations that take in less than $25,000 a year largely unchecked left the fraud door swinging wide open. And as we all know, the Service has a duty to the taxpayer to collect everyone’s fair share.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandates that all nonprofits must file a 990 for three consecutive years, making 2009 (and thus May 17th) the 3rd year. Orgs that have not filed 990s will automatically lose federal tax exempt status.
The good news is that if you are trying to claim a tax deduction for a donation to one of these little bitty nonprofits that will be losing their exemption, you can still do so up until the date the Service notifies the charity that it can no longer claim tax exempt status.
All is not lost, of course, as those familiar with IRS tactics presume that “offenders” will be offered a chance to redeem themselves (after steep penalties and late fees, of course).
More on the 990 Filing Deadline:
When a Tax Time Bomb Goes Off: Repurcussions Await Some Small Nonprofits
Using a foundation to fuel your for-profit business is never nice, especially when there is an extensive collection of BDSM memorabilia involved.
New York’s Museum of Sex does not claim to be a non-profit but it has obtained over 1,000 items donated through its tax-exempt Muse Foundation for tax deductions. Well? You wouldn’t donate your old brushed-steel bondage machine to Goodwill for the deduction now would you?
Want to help by bequeathing your great-grandma’s old pasties? There’s a handy donation link on their website that explains this bizarre relationship between for-profit museum and non-profit foundation:
The Muse Foundation of New York is a fully registered private foundation affiliated with The Museum of Sex. Its mission is to work with The Museum of Sex to preserve and make available a comprehensive collection of materials relating to the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality.
That’s awesome but does the Treasury realize taxpayers can get fat deductions for contributing to this effort?
Museum founder Daniel Gluck claims that his lawyers allowed this relationship (plenty of for-profit companies have non-profit foundations that share their name) and the Museum would love for its Foundation to be, erm, profitable enough to serve its stated goal of providing underwriting art grants but that plan just hasn’t quite worked out. Yet. After more than a decade of operation. “The Muse Foundation is completely its own separate entity,” he said. “We can’t take money from the foundation and we don’t plan to. We aim to build it up into a foundation whose interests are aligned with the museum.”
Gluck told the NYT that the museum earns 70% of its income from admissions fees – nearly $17 a pop – and the remainder by selling cute Sex Museum tchotchkes in the gift shop (perhaps your dog is sexually frustrated and desperately needs a modern and arty $650 toy to hump?)
Before you ask, no the $300 bunny bondage hood is not tax deductible. But hold onto it long enough and you might just be able to get one for donating it back to the museum if Treasury still hasn’t caught on to this unique foundation/corporation relationship.
Tax Break for Erotica? A Museum Favors It [NY Times]
At the end of the day on Monday, May 17, hundreds of thousands of little tax-exempt organizations will to turn into taxable little pumpkins. Under a provision of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, tax-exempt organizations that had been small enough to fall below IRS filing thresholds were required to start filing information reports. The law automatically revokes the exempt status of organizations that fail to file for three straight years. The deadline for that third year is May 17 for calendar-year filers.
Of course many of these organizations are inactive or defunct, but many aren’t. That means thousands of volunteer garden club, school parent organization and social club volunteer treasurers will unwittingly find themselves in charge of filing tax returns for their newly-taxable little corporations.
If you are an exempt organization treasurer or board member, you should find out right now whether your organization has filed. If your organization normally takes in less than $25,000 per year, the filing is a very simple on-line process, mostly just asking for identifying information. Bigger outfits will have to file a version of Form 990. If you need extra time, you can get a three-month extension on Form 8868. Some organizations, mostly governments and religious entities, are exempt from the filing and revocation rules.
But what will happen when these outfits lose their exempt status? They can ask for it back retroactively by filing Form 1023 or Form 1024 and paying a fee from $250 to $800. But many of these outfits will have no idea that they have lost their exempt status. What happens to them?
Most will become taxable C corporations or, in some cases, a taxable trust – depending on how they are set up. They will have income – for example, from contributions or dues – and they will be subject to normal Form 1120 filing requirements. If they fail to file, the normal kind and gentle penalties will accrue. Nobody really knows what the IRS will do about all of these little unwitting scofflaws.
And for what? Senator Charles Grassley explained back when the bill was passed in 2006:
The pension bill includes a good package of charitable giving incentives and loophole closers. It makes sense to tighten areas of abuse while increasing incentives for charitable giving. Americans are very generous with their donations. They deserve to know that their money helps the needy, not the greedy. Some individuals are creative about exploiting non-profits’ tax-exempt status for personal gain, and Congress has to be just as smart about shutting down abuse.
So take that, you greedy, abusive volunteer booster club treasurers! @ChuckGrassley has your number.
In the largest nonprofit fraud case we’ve ever seen, State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr is getting it from NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for perpetrating a $14 million scam using his non-profit as an ATM. Ouch.
Soundview Comprehensive Community Development Corp., a Bronx-based health care non-profit, appears to be little more than a vehicle for Espada’s extravagant lifestyle and Cuomo doesn’t find any of it to be entertainment.
“Siphoning money from a charity would be egregious under any circumstances, but the fact that this was orchestrated by the State Senate Majority Leader makes it especially reprehensible,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Espada’s charity allegedly paid $100,000 for campaign literature, $80,000 on meals for Espada (including $20,000 for sushi – one of JDA’s weaknesses but hey, at least I pay for my own), vacations for the family and $2,500 a month for a co-op rental in the Bronx in which Espada supposedly lives. Double ouch.
If you’re into that sort of thing, you can check out the summons from the AG’s office here.
To date, Cuomo’s complaint is merely a civil one but he has left the door wide open for criminal charges against Espada and 19 others, including family members installed on the charity’s board. Taking a page from the Crazy Eddie fraud handbook, I see.
Espada also allegedly used the nonprofit’s corporate credit card to cover up to $450,000 in expenses that he’s now admitted may have been personal. Snicker snicker, everyone knows the corporate card should only be used for personal expenses if one is trying to fund an affair and hoping the wife doesn’t find out. Duh.
Because being a nonprofit looting Senate majority leader is hard work, Espada took the first 14 weeks of the year off and charged the paid leave to – you guessed it – Soundview. Since its board is packed with friends and family, they approved a $75,000 payout for personal expenses associated with this respite in a lump-sum payment at the beginning of the year.
Espada has responded by claiming Cuomo’s accusations amount to little more than a “witch hunt” meant to advance the AG’s political career. Whatevs.
Meanwhile, Espada’s Senate homies are praying for him. For $14 million bucks, he needs all the Hail Marys he can get, especially since the FBI and IRS raided the clinic this morning. Good luck with that.
As you probably already know, the only place to work these days is in the cloud. Even the AICPA has gotten in on the fun, evangelizing cloud computing for small to midsize companies and accounting firms.
Sage Nonprofit Solutions seeks to provide easier fundraising and tracking of donors to nonprofits of all sizes who may otherwise be priced out of technology through Sage Fundraising Online, a pay-as-you-go solution without the large software pricetag.
The breakthrough allows nonprofits to respect their bottom lines without sacrificing the benefits of technology; easier “client” tracking, fundraising through social media, and monitoring the conversation, to name a few. The application will also allow for specific marketing campaigns, integration with existing cloud options like Salesforce.com and even promises ease of use and cooperation with an organization’s existing software.
“We’re offering Sage Fundraising Online in a way that allows even smaller, more resource-strapped organizations to take advantage of the service, because we’re keeping the cost to entry low with a ‘pay as you go’ model,” said Sage senior vice president and general manager for nonprofit solutions Krista Endsley. “Likewise, development professionals and nonprofit executives expect software vendors to supply tools and services that are flexible, dynamic, and provide great value. Sage Fundraising Online helps to meet these needs for nonprofits and their constituents.”
Relationship management, “client” retention and reporting requirements are slightly different in the non-profit sector but not at all different fundamentally. Clients still need to be retained, relationships cared for and reports pristine – in the case of non-profits, it’s the donors that need answers, not shareholders. It goes without saying that an efficient non-profit can provide comprehensive answers without burning excessive manpower hours and precious funding to do so; Sage’s latest application promises to give non-profits that very efficiency minus the large upfront cost associated with most cloud computing options.
Announced at AFP’s 47th International Conference on Fundraising, the product does not appear to be live on Sage’s website as yet. We know at least one technology professional who might be foaming at the mouth just thinking about its release but we don’t name names and for now, we are somewhat but not excessively excited to see what Sage Fundraising Online can do for NFPs in the future.
Presented by Serenic Software. Download our free whitepaper – “5 Key Reasons Why Great Financial Management is So Important for Your Nonprofit Now”
Just because you’re a church doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a remedial understanding of payroll, GAAP, taxable income, and right/wrong.
Anthony and Harriet Jinwright, husband and wife pastors from Charlotte-based Greater Salem City of Good church, were warned repeatedly that their lazy accounting could get them in trouble, including by a former consultant in 2001.
Some issues brought up by the consultant include (but a ited to and are, of course, alleged violations at this point):
• Church donations going directly to Pastor Jinwright but not subsequently appearing on his tax forms
• Blatant violation of the sanctity of GAAP.
• Expense reimbursements to Pastor Jinwright without benefit of receipts nor an expense plan at the church.
• Mismatched deposit envelopes that did not contain the actual amounts reflected on the outside when deposited.
For the love of sweet baby Jesus, what sort of operation were they running over there?!
It appears to be one part run-of-the-mill scam, one part complicated church theft, although Jinwright refused to acknowledge that any of this could be considered suspicious or, worse, fraudulent. The couple deposited $7 million into their bank account from 2002 to 2007 while only reporting $3.3 million for the tax returns for those years.
The US District Court thinks otherwise and “can I get a witness?” has just taken on a whole new meaning as Jinwright’s former assistant and business administrator – as well as the former consultant – have appeared on the witness stand to discuss Greater Salem’s, uh, holier-than-thou accounting tricks:
Anthony Jinwright was not only pastor of Greater Salem Church but also chairman of the church’s board or directors, with sway over the “business and financial dealings of the church.”
Although the church paid the bishop a regular salary, which it reported on his regular W-2 form, Greater Salem also cut checks directly to the bishop and his wife for: vehicle and housing allowances, retirement income, “tax liabilities,” personal vacation and travel, their daughter’s college tuition and at least two types of bonuses – a bonus at Christmas and a “pastoral anniversary” every February.
Both the Jinwrights also collected separate fees for speaking at other churches around the country.
Now listen, I’m sure Jesus wanted little baby Jinwright to go to college but the problem is that the meeting minutes that supposedly contain an authorization from church board members to pay for said college education have, um, disappeared. Funny, didn’t that happen at Arthur Andersen when Enron blew up?
What’s the lesson here? Churches are no less responsible for their financial affairs than publicly-traded companies and in many ways should operate with greater transparency as they are not only partially-funded by members of the congregation but supposedly on some sort of divine mission.
Do you really want to have to explain to the Almighty why you faked his financials at the pearly gates? Didn’t think so.
Jinwrights: Did they hide millions? Or miss details? [Carolina Weekly]
Other Holy Men:
Former Pastor Figures Eighth Commandment Is Overrated, Steals from Nonprofit
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If you’re a non-profit leader and free on April 12th, why not head to Washington and listen to Mike Oxley (yes, that Oxley, without whom SOX would still be the property of a certain Chicago baseball team and not the bane of accounting’s existence) speak about transparency and accountability for non-profits?
The ironic part, of course, is that non-profits don’t really have to suffer with the legislation named after Oxley but he’d like to see a little more, well, Oxley in NFP, even if it isn’t necessarily required by law.
[Oxley] will speak about the importance for nonprofit organizations to be transparent and ensure greater accountability with their financial standards to build on and preserve donor trust, strengthen the reputations of nonprofit organizations and associations, and enhance the overall nonprofit sector.
Attendees will include thought leaders from foremost nonprofits, trade associations and key congressional staff members. Both the House and Senate Ethics committee’s staff have deemed this a “widely attended event.”
My feelings on Sarbanes-Oxley have been expressed more than once here on Going Concern but I can sum them up thusly: more useful things could be done to “protect” the investor interest besides arcane SOX compliance and the PCAOB including but not limited to random auditor cavity searches, TSA-style interrogation of management, and waterboarding the internal audit team. Is Oxley trying to imply that non-profits should follow suit but only voluntarily and out of obligation to donors instead of investors?
Surely his plan is not that sinister.
Only because non-profits already have their own version of SOX in the Form 990 (which I have complained about before as well) that has all of their bases covered. The only SOX carry-overs are strengthened whistleblower protection and retention of documents in lawsuits, perhaps because non-profits may have been where Mike Oxley got his ideas.
SOX compliance costs averaged $2.9 million during fiscal year 2006, actually down 23% from the fiscal year previous according to FEI. Do you know many nonprofits who have that sort of cash lying around?
I think it might be better to get some advice from the guy who wrote the bill and start tightening up the ship just in case.
Recommended reading by April 11th if you’re checking out Oxley’s “I just want to be helpful” presentation: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Implications for Nonprofit Organizations (last updated January 2006). Bring a notepad.
Former Congressman Mike Oxley to Speak at Nonprofit Summit [Council for Non-Profit Accountability]
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What is in the water up in America’s Dairyland? We’ve been going on and on about the internal control failures at Koss in Milwaukee but now there’s more of it at a non-profit organization just up the road. Let’s hope everyone at UW Madison is taking notes.
The latest tale of non-profit fraud stars 56 year-old Leonard V. Lauth of Beaver Dam.
Wings Over Wisconsin bills itself as a conservation organization dedicated to natural resource preservation and education through youth and community involvement. Spelling errors and obvious lack of updates since 2006 on its website aside, WOW manages nearly 1,300 acres of land and provides mostly young hunter education to the future gun-toting blue-stater babes in Wisconsin.
While it prides preservation of Wisconsin’s precious wetlands, internal controls do not appear to be high on WOW’s priority list. Hopefully this changes that.
It’s a textbook fraud case, starting with the mounting medical bills and the poor internal controls that allowed its Treasurer to lift $16,875 since 2005. Lauth’s advanced methods of fraud include writing checks to himself labeled “office supplies” in the books and taking home banquet funds after the event insisting he’d deposit them at the bank in the morning.
While typically WOW practice to require two signatures, Lauth had been with the organization for 24 years, leaving the “trust” issue totally taken care of. Opportunity, motive, what else do we need?
Rationalization, of course! Lauth told Beaver Dam Police Lt. Joel Kiesow he thought he’d taken $788 from the organization in the four year period in which he executed his fraud. When informed it was more like $17,000, Lauth was shocked. I guess he didn’t realize how expensive “office supplies” can be these days.
“Maybe I was robbing Peter to pay Paul on different things,” said Lauth in regards to using WOW funds to pay off family medical bills. Actually, he was robbing the little Dustins and Bobbys with their baby shotguns and wildlife of Wisconsin who counted on the funds to which he so sloppily helped himself. Shame shame.
Let this be a lesson to all you non-profits: cash management and financial literacy (including fraud prevention measures) are not only best practices for public companies and private industry. If anything, non-profits need sharper internal controls – without shareholders to answer to, money can easily slip into the fraud vacuum undetected for years, as in the case of Mr Lauth and WOW.
Calls to WOW left after business hours were not returned.
Man accused of taking funds from non profit [Beaver Dam Daily Citizen]
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.”