Thursday, July 29, 2010

Focus Group on Reducing Reporting Burdens

HSLC is invited to participate in a

Focus Group Discussion with American Institutes for Research
On Reducing our Reporting Burdens

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
2:00 – 4:00 PM
Rosamond Gifford Room at United Way

Please see the e-mail below for an overview of the project, and e-mail me at if you can attend and/or if you have thoughts on this issue that you would like considered.
Hello Ms. Bregman,

I am a member of the team from the American Institutes for Research that is partnering with Say Yes to Education in Syracuse. I am leading my organization’s technical assistance activities. In June I met with Ann Rooney and two other Onondaga County personnel as well as representatives from United Way, Central New York Community Foundation, and the Gifford Foundation. We discussed ways in which we could work together to streamline our program review processes in order to reduce the reporting burden of Syracuse community-based organizations.

My organization is currently in the process of reviewing the RFPs and program monitoring/review tools used by each of these funding agencies to verify the feasibility of developing a central data collection mechanism and/or program review process that would be mutually beneficial to funders and funding recipients alike. However, we would like a better understanding of current program review processes from the perspective of the CBOs. It was suggested that I contact you because of your involvement with the Human Services Leadership Council.

I am writing to see if you might be willing to help me schedule and/or facilitate a focus group (or phone conference) of CBO personnel. The goal of this focus group would be to discuss: 1) what data and document requests organization’s such as yours receive from funders and monitoring organizations, and 2) which of these are duplicative and/or most burdensome. I would also like to use this focus group as an opportunity to solicit thoughts about CBO capacity building needs. Various funders have suggested that local programs could use assistance in a number of areas including program evaluation, outcome measurement, and data management. My organization would like to provide some of this assistance but would like to hear from the CBOs first to better understand your needs and preferences so that we can design support accordingly.

Please let me know if you are willing and able to provide any assistance. I look forward to hearing from you,

Lauren Banks Amos
Education, Human Development and the Workforce
American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
202.403.5902 Phone
202.403.5917 Direct
202.403.6783 Fax

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2010 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award

Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)

In recognition of the important role, talents and leadership that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State can provide as a board member for community-based charities, NYCON and NYSSCPA are pleased to announce the 7th Annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award.

The award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, CPA, former partner of Urbach, Kahn and Werlin, former NYS Commissioner of Tax and Finance and Chair of the State Employees federated Appeal, and board leader of a number of charities.

Award Criteria & Submission
Candidates must:
  • Be a CPA in good standing and a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants;
  • Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once;
  • Have demonstrated exemplary board leadership resulting in significant and positive organizational impact including, but not limited to, financial turn-around, growth, and/or organizational re-structuring; and
  • Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities.

Deadline - August 30th, 2010
Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be submitted in writing and received by August 30th, 2010. Nominators are strongly encouraged to include letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership.

Send six (6) packets of nomination materials to:
Urbach Community Builder's Award Committee
New York Council of Nonprofits
272 Broadway
Albany NY 12204

Announcement & Presentation
The 2010 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of September 30th at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York.

The Luncheon will take place during CAMP FINANCE, a two-day retreat that provides the very best in knowledge and skill development sessions for fiscal and management staff, as well as board members. New this year, it has expanded to include the popular "Money for Mission" tracks that will focus on fundraising, marketing, social media, grant making (both government and philanthropic) and more!

In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a certified public accountant who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2010 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award three (3) nonprofit executives of their choice Camp Finance scholarships in Hal's name. In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builder's Award in his tribute.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Surplus of Surplus? Excellus reserve fund near $1 billion as consumer rates rise

The Syracuse Post-Standard offered more scrutiny and a follow up to their recent coverage on the reserve fund Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is holding. Read their opinion piece here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Free Training for Nonprofits on Public Benefits

Dear Colleague-

The NYS Community Action Association is pleased to announce the training schedule for FREE training for nonprofits to help raise awareness of the range of public benefits available to struggling New Yorkers. This training series is being done in partnership with the Empire Justice Center, Nutritution Consortium of NYS, Chautauqua Opportunities, and Single Stop USA.
NYSCAA recently received a grant from the NYS Department of State to develop this day-long training to familiarize staff on the range of public benefits available to struggling families as well as the online tool, developed by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The funding for this project comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the Community Services Block Grant.

We are pleased to say the training launched this week and we have 30+ trainings being held statewide over the next 11 weeks. We hope you will pass this along to your staff, partners, members, colleagues and encourage them to attend. We hope to train 1,000 nonprofit staff over the next 2.5 months which is a big target to hit.

The training is FREE, would be useful for any staff that works with customers, and will run 9:30-4:30 in most places and in some locations will go 10:00-5:00 with a pizza lunch provided. All participants will receive a training binder that includes the Helping Hands Tool Kit. To download a one-page flyer for the training, go to Advanced topic webinars will be offered as well and we will let you know when they are scheduled.

We do ask folks pre-register; however, if you have a significant # attending, you can send me the list via email to and we can register the group.

The schedule put in place thus far is as follows (click here for more info

Upstate and Long Island (more to come)
· July 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, Utica
· July 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, Rochester
· July 29 Benefits Enrollment Training, Central Islip
· July 29 Benefits Enrollment Training, Dunkirk
· July 30 Benefits Enrollment Training, Fort Edward
· August 2 Benefits Enrollment Training, Syracuse
· August 3 Benefits Enrollment Training, Watertown
· August 4 Benefits Enrollment Training, Corning
· August 4 Benefits Enrollment Training, Patchogue
· August 5 Benefits Enrollment Training, Binghamton
· August 5 Benefits Enrollment Training, Central Islip
· August 13 Benefits Enrollment Training, Fonda
· August 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, Elmsford
· September 2 Benefits Enrollment Training, Batavia
· September 10 Benefits Enrollment Training, Salamanca
· September 13 Benefits Enrollment Training, Newburgh

New York City (more to come)
· July 22 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· July 29 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· July 30 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· August 5 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 8/5/10
· August 6 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC
· August 12 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 8/12/10
· August 13 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC 8/13/10
· August 27 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 8/27/10
· September 2 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/2/10
· September 3 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/3/10
· September 16 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/16/10
· September 17 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/17/10
· September 23 Benefits Enrollment Training, NYC, 9/23/10

The schedule is still not fully in place so keep an eye on for an updated calendar.

Thank you to our partners Empire Justice Center, Chautauqua Opportunities, Nutrition Consortium, and Single Stop (NYC) who have assisted in the development of curriculum and are conducting training across the state!

We hope these sessions appeal to you and your staff. Certificates will be provided to attendees for their records.

Thank you,


Denise Harlow, CEO
New York State Community Action Association, Inc.
2 Charles Blvd.
Guilderland, NY 12084
518-690-0491, ext. 24
FAX 518-690-0498

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Report: Excellus, other health insurers may be putting too much money into surpluses reported that while raising customer rates, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield may be setting aside more money than necessary to protect against potential financial losses, according to a report released today by Consumers Union.

The report said state insurance commissioners looking to curb rate increases should scrutinize the amount of surplus money amassed by nonprofit BlueCross BlueShield plans like Excellus.

Surplus is the excess of an insurance company’s assets over liabilities, which insurers set aside to protect the company and its members from financial losses. Excellus had $965.1 million in surplus at the end of 2009. Its surplus fund grew as high as $1.18 billion in 2007.

The report by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, looked at 10 BlueCross BlueShield plans nationwide and found seven of them held more than three times the amount of minimum surplus recommended by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

“Consumers are struggling to afford health insurance and BlueCross BlueShield plans have been amassing a lot of surplus over the last 10 years as rates have gone up,” said Lauren Sobel, senior attorney with Consumers Union. “The two should be considered together.” Read more here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Birthiversary: An Alcohol Policy Celebration August 4th

You are invited to:
an alcohol policy celebration
Ten years ago this August, the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance was formed in Syracuse, NY. Join us as we celebrate their accomplishments and also kick off our statewide coalition – the New York Alcohol Policy Alliance.

August 4, 2010
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Renaissance Syracuse Hotel
701 East Genesee Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
Free on-site garage parking

Free with registration

6:00 - 6:30
Antipasto/Hors d'Oeuvres Pre-Reception
6:30 - 8:30
Main Program
8:30 - 9:00
Coffee & Cake Post-Reception

Online registration, map, driving directions, etc. are available at event website via:

Guest Speakers:
Derek Rutherford
Chairperson, Global Alcohol Policy Alliance
Chairperson, Institute of Alcohol Studies (London, UK)

David Jernigan
Director, Center on Alcohol Marketing & Youth
Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

T. Michele Caliva
President, New York State Public Health Association

Robert J. Lindsey
President & CEO, National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)

Contact: Robert Pezzolesi  315-263-9522 

Celebrating 20 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

ADA March

9:15 - 9:30 AM—Assemble at ARISE
(635 James Street, Syracuse)

10:00 - 11:00 AM—March to Oncenter
(800 South State Street, Syracuse)

11:15 AM—Proclamation of July as Disabilities Awareness Month by
Congressman Dan Maffei and other local, state, and federal officials.
Entertainment to follow!

Don’t miss the exhibit featuring
artists with disabilities!
July 1 - 30, 2010: The Galleries,
Downtown Syracuse
Monday, July 26, 2010

Event sponsored by the ADA Committee/Exceptional Artworks:
ARISE, Enable, Arc of Onondaga, AURORA of CNY, CNYDSO, Disabled in Action, Elmcrest, Exceptional Family Resources, and Transitional Living Services
For Information/accommodations: Sally Johnston at (315) 410-3317

In case of rain, meet at Oncenter: 11AM
Free light refreshments!
Interpreter Provided!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Business Manager for Non-profit, Syracuse, NY

On Point for College, Inc. is searching for an individual driven to help further higher education opportunities for inner-city youth. Individual may be from non-profit or for-profit background. Must be hands on, task oriented. Report directly to the Executive Director.

All financial responsibilities including: Monthly end close, budget, A/R, A/P, deposits, grant reporting (both expenditures & performance reporting), Policy & Procedures Manual, financial analysis, insurance, payroll & human resources, conversion of database.

Bachelor’s degree and at least 3 years of accounting experience required. Accounting degree a plus. Computer skills in Word, Excel and Access a must. Knowledge of accounting software (Quickbooks) or donor software (Giftworks) a plus.

Full time position with excellent benefits.

Send resume with (3) references to:
On Point for College, Inc.
Att: Theresa
1654 W. Onondaga St.
Syracuse, NY 13204
or email

Friday, July 16, 2010

Audit: Onondaga County needs to renegotiate contract with Oncenter reported that unless Onondaga County fixes its convoluted relationship with Oncenter, the convention center complex is likely to remain financially weak and ineffective, Comptroller Robert E. Antonacci II said in an audit released Thursday.

Antonacci’s audit was spurred by a financial crisis last November when the non-profit corporation that runs the Oncenter complex asked the county for a $575,000 bailout — in addition to the county’s regular $2.2 million subsidy.

That crisis stemmed in part from a gap in leadership and sloppy financial management last year — issues that have been addressed by Oncenter’s new managers, Antonacci said. But Oncenter faces ongoing financial hardships and operational distractions from its contract with the county, he said.

Example: Oncenter is required to pay more than $2 million a year for building maintenance and utility costs at the county-owned buildings it manages, principally the county War Memorial and the convention center. Antonacci identified more than $1 million of those costs that the county should absorb, including more than $500,000 in steam charges from the county itself.

Another example: Oncenter loses more than $100,000 a year running a cafeteria for county workers at the Civic Center. The county recently issued a request for proposals seeking another vendor to run the cafeteria, said James Rowley, chief fiscal officer.

Antonacci recommended that the county renegotiate its contract with Oncenter to relieve the corporation of building maintenance and other tasks that detract from its primary mission — bringing visitors to Syracuse from out of town. “Those changes would bring some clarity to the Oncenter’s core mission,” Antonacci said. “We want overnight visitors.” Read more here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meet the Foundations Summer Sessions

The Central New York Community Foundation, the Gifford Foundation, the Gorman Foundation and the Allyn Foundation invite you to another round of
Meet the Foundations!

Attendees will learn about each of the featured funders, acquire a better understanding of each funder’s strategic approach to grantmaking and network with others in the nonprofit community.

tuesday, august 24, 2010
8:00 - 10:00 AM
Rosamond Gifford Zoo
One Conservation Place
Syracuse, NY

thursday, august 19, 2010
8:30 - 10:30 AM
Smithfield Community Center
5255 Pleasant Valley Road
Peterboro, NY

Reserve your spot now!
Register Online
Onondaga Cty:
Madison Cty:
or call David at 315-422-9538

Community Foundation Announces New RFP for Performance Management


The Central New York Community Foundation is pleased to announce that it is accepting proposals in the area of performance management systems related to measuring progress and improving performance towards intended outcomes that lead to community impact.

Through such legislation as the Serve America Act of 2009, the federal government has recently created a series of grant opportunities that are available to nonprofit organizations that are able to demonstrate a significant and meaningful community impact through their programming. This includes such opportunities as the Social Innovation Funds and the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, Promise Neighborhoods, Invest to Innovate (I-3) and some stimulus dollars.

Our performance management systems RFP is intended to help local organizations build their capacity to compete for federal and other funding opportunities that require scientific evidence with respect to program outcomes and community impact. In addition to reporting on progress, awardees should anticipate participating in a learning community of grant recipients.

Projects should:
· Build capacity to demonstrate both outcomes (i.e. measureable impact on community needs) and outputs (i.e. number of people served)
· Support a program or group of programs that address an identifiable community need, use a logical approach, emphasize assessment, and have long term sustainability

Projects may:
· Involve one or more organizations collaborating together
· Involve hiring and working with consultants and or external evaluators
· Involve installing a data system or creating a new process for data collection
· Range from $20-50,000 for a single or multi-year project

· In addition to Meet the Foundations sessions on August 19th and 24th, we will be hosting lunchtime workshops with featured experts in the area of performance management from 12 noon to 2pm on Monday, July 26th (Nonprofit Works), Tuesday, August 3rd (New York Council on Nonprofits) and Monday, August 23rd (Associates for International Management Services). To attend, please RSVP 3 business days in advance to

Central New York Community Foundation
500 South Salina, Suite 428
Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 422-9538
Fax: (315)471-6031
Where the smart money gives.

Friday, July 9, 2010

NYCON Joins in Call for Action on Deducation Change

NYCON has added it's voice to those of other nonprofit leaders taking a stand against the proposed change to charitable deductions for high income individuals in New York State.

The proposal would result in a 50% decrease in the deductibility of charitable gifts from higher income donors. Already, earners of $1 million or more can only claim 50% of their contribution as a deduction. This proposal would allow donors earning $10 million or more to claim just 25% of their contribution. NYCON is also concerned that this may potentially be the start of eroding charitable deductions in general.

We are urging our members to learn more about this proposal by reading the following articles by the New York Nonprofit Press, The Daily News, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Then, please join us in adding your voice to the memo of opposition by contacting us via email or calling Doug Sauer, CEO at (800) 515-5012 ext. 103.

Contact NYCON and sign onto the Memo of Opposition.
Contact your Senator. Click here for a searchable database of representatives.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Call for opposition to limit the deductibility of charitable contributions in order to balance the state budget

The NYS Senate and Assembly are considering some significant changes to the cap on charitable deductions, but have not finalized them yet…


The New York State Catholic Conference, United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and United Way of New York State urge state lawmakers to oppose a new proposal to limit the deductibility of charitable contributions in order to balance the state budget.

The proposal would result in a 50% decrease in the deductibility of charitable gifts from higher income donors. Already, earners of $1 million or more can only claim 50% of their contribution as a deduction. This proposal would allow donors earning $10 million or more to claim just 25% of their contribution.

While on the surface this may seem like an attractive idea to raise revenue, the reality is it is exactly the wrong approach. The tax penalty in this case is not being felt so much by the wealthy taxpayer, but by the charities that are the beneficiaries of his or her philanthropy.

Government has asked those with means to increase their contributions to charity to help make up for funds that government can no longer afford to provide to help the poor and vulnerable. This proposal makes it ever more difficult for individuals of means to respond to government’s clarion call to step forward and assist those in need.

Charitable agencies have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for their services by New Yorkers as a result of downturn in the economy, declines in charitable giving, government funding cuts through multiple rounds of deficit reduction, and lengthy delays in state action on contracts and payments.

This cap would reduce charitable giving and undermine our ability to help ensure that individuals and families have access to food, utilities and housing, and assistance in finding a job or an education during these challenging economic times.

America has long been defined by an endearing and powerful characteristic — its charitable spirit. Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th-century French philosopher, described America as unique among nations for its care and compassion — part of the very fabric of our society. This core belief is embodied in our tax laws:
Basically, if you give some of your income to charity, the government doesn’t tax that income. No matter how much you earn, you are not taxed on income that you donate to those in need.

Any cap on charitable deductions means some people will be taxed on income they are contributing to advance the common good. Disconnecting the charitable deduction from the tax rate is a step toward abandoning who we are as a nation — one that lifts up and supports those in need. More importantly, as a result of a cap, some people will give less, and those who most need the help will be hurt.

We do appreciate the urgency of coming to closure on the budget and of the need to address the state’s deficit.

However, we believe that it is unconscionable that NYS would consider a proposal that could jeopardize philanthropic giving at any level, at the same time that state funding for most human services programs has been reduced over and over again, and continues to be cut in the current budget.

The three organizations urge state policymakers to reject this proposal, or to sunset it after one year, as they have done with other revenue measures.

Here are some recommendations for action for those that want oppose this:

· Faxes to Albany and district offices of state legislators and to the Governor and his team using on the joint memo of opposition (updated version attached). Ask the legislators to tell their colleagues in conference that they cannot support this proposal.

· Speak directly with your local Senator or Assembly representative about this issue

· Phone calls from major gift donors to their legislators, who they may also support with campaign contributions.

· Letters to the editor submitted electronically (for faster publication) such as the one attached to this email from the United Way of New York State.

Frank Lazarski
United Way of Central New York
518 James Street
P.O. Box 2129
Syracuse, NY 13220-2129
P: 315.428.2201
F: 315.428.2227

Why Community General Hospital may need to merge with Upstate Medical University

The Syracuse Post-Standard reported a merger with Upstate Medical University may be just what the doctor ordered for Community General Hospital, given its weak financial health, health experts said.

Over the last four years, the 306-bed nonprofit hospital on Onondaga Hill has lost more than $7 million and seen patient volume drop nearly 15 percent.

The hospital’s cash flow was so low at the end of last year it was in danger of defaulting on its bonds, according to a report by Moody’s Investors Service.

Community officials say the hospital is doing better and has operated profitably for the first four months of the year. But credit rating agencies that keep a close eye on its finances remain pessimistic.

Standard & Poor’s Rating Services on Thursday reaffirmed its BB- rating on the hospital’s bonds, which means it considers them below investment grade or risky. It also issued a “negative outlook,” which means it may lower the rating again over the next 18 to 24 months.

Community and Upstate are talking about merging. Last week Upstate got the go-ahead from the SUNY board of trustees to explore an acquisition of Community. Upstate is a Syracuse academic medical center that operates a medical school and three other colleges and the 409-bed Upstate University Hospital.

Community broke off merger talks with Crouse Hospital in May.

Hospital officials say it’s too early in the process to explain how such an acquisition would work.

But Tom Dennison, a Syracuse University professor and health care expert, speculated that in such a deal Upstate might get Community’s assets in exchange for assuming or paying off its liabilities, agreeing to invest in upgrades at Community and maintaining its nonprofit mission.

Upstate and Community are on different trajectories. Upstate’s hospital is full, its market share is growing rapidly and it wants more beds so it can expand enrollment in its schools and provide more clinical training sites for students. It finished 2009 with a surplus of more than $38 million.

Community, which lost $2.03 million last year, is the smallest of Syracuse’s four acute care hospitals. It has been struggling to fill its beds, especially on its maternity ward, where patient volume plummeted more than 30 percent over the last three years.

In a report issued in December, Moody’s called Community’s balance sheet, the summary of its financial condition, “anemic.” The report said the hospital’s cash available to make payments on its bonds was in danger of dropping to a level that could trigger a default, possibly prompting bondholders to demand the hospital immediately pay off its outstanding debt.

That never happened, said Tom Quinn, Community’s president and CEO. He said the hospital’s financial performance has improved this year.

For the first four months of this year, Community made an operating profit of $765,000, better than expected, according to Standard & Poor’s.

The hospital is trying to bounce back from several setbacks. It lost money when the state forced it in 2007 to close a 50-bed nursing home on the hospital’s sixth floor. Its maternity unit volume plummeted after two obstetricians left the hospital. Read more here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

United Way of Central New York's 2011 - 2014 Community Program Fund application is now available online

Funding occurs through an open and competitive two-phase process that first evaluates agencies and later programs. Agencies that wish to receive funding must pass the first phase: Fiscal & Management Review. The Fiscal & Management Review application materials are due by 4:00 p.m. on August 20, 2010.

Agency Fiscal & Management Technical Assistance Sessions: These sessions are open only to Executive Directors, Chief Financial Officers, or finance personnel. Each agency must send at least one staff member to attend one of the technical assistance sessions. Agency Fiscal &
Management applications will not be considered from agencies that do not
attend one of these sessions. Please contact Doug Mouncey ( to register for one of the below training sessions:
Thursday, July 15, 2010 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Friday, July 23, 2010 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, August 5, 2010 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Click the following link to download the 2011-2014 Community Program Fund Request for Proposal and its accompanying Monitoring Manual: Send information requests to or call 315-428-2211.