Thursday, July 25, 2013

Policy Update & Call to Action

Policy Update & Call to Action:
Inform Our State's Senators, Charitable Giving Incentives Matter to Nonprofits 
Capitol BuildingOn June 27, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a  letter informing senators that the Committee will start consideration of a tax reform package with a "blank slate," meaning that it contains no deductions or credits, so Senators will have to fight to get their favored tax provisions re-inserted into the bill that is being drafted.

The Committee leaders stressed that the legislation they are drafting on a bi-partisan basis will restore only those deductions, exclusions, credits, and other tax expenditures that:
  • Help grow the economy
  • Make tax laws fairer
  • Effectively promote other policy objectives
They've asked Senators to submit recommendations for provisions that meet these standards by July 26.   
We are hearing that Senators are responding to the request for input with mixed views. Some may be submitting a list of priority tax provisions; others will likely provide a set of guiding principles for the Committee to follow; and still others apparently are refusing to send in anything out of fear that their submission will be made public.

Virtually every lobbyist and interest group is clamoring for the attention of Finance Committee leaders, members, and staff. Some efforts to get their attention include submitting a sign-on letter and sending letters making the case for tax provision that affect their operations.

NYCON has also taken steps in writing a letter to submit to the Senate Finance Committee for this "Blank Slate."

We encourage members and nonprofits statewide to
  • write your own letters to inform the Senate Finance Committee. Please feel free to use our letter as a template to model your own or weigh in as constituentsabout your work and the importance of the charitable giving incentive to your ability to solve problems in their communities
Your stories will help us make clear to federal policy makers that the charitable giving incentive is unique from other tax deductions and credits and must be preserved in tax reform
As always, thank you for your continued involvement with NYCON and for the tremendous work you are doing to make our communities strong and vibrant places to live and work. We truly appreciate your dedication and commitment. If you have any questions about this or any other public policy issue, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to working with you on these important issues.


 Doug's Signature
            Doug Sauer, CEO
            New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

The Charitable Giving Incentive  
Federal tax law currently encourages individuals to give to charitable organizations whose missions they support by providing an itemized deduction. Policymakers in Washington are focusing on how to reduce the federal budget deficit through spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and changes to the tax code.

The President, Senators, Representatives, bi-partisan commissions, and think tanks have all put forward plans to address these issues, and many propose changing the charitable giving incentive in one way or another. No one knows the true impact that any of these proposals will have on the ability of charitable nonprofits to raise the resources needed to provide the programs and services that fulfill their missions.

It is imperative that Congress make no changes to the charitable deduction that threatens the ability of nonprofit organizations to serve those most in need and to continue to strengthen our communities.

Proud Member of
 the National Council of Nonprofits
national council of nonprofits

Monday, July 22, 2013 N.Y. Health Benefit Exchange, Part of Obamacare, Will Dramatically Change How We Buy Health Insurance

N.Y. Health Benefit Exchange, part of Obamacare, will dramatically change how we buy health insurance

Carl Clark has been unemployed since he lost his job at the New Process Gear plant in DeWitt, which closed in August. He hopes to find coverage through the state's new Health Benefit Exchange. (Dennis Nett |
James T. Mulder | jmulder@syracuse.comBy James T. Mulder | 
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on July 21, 2013 at 2:00 AM, updated July 21, 2013 at 9:02 AM
Syracuse, N.Y. - State officials are about to dramatically change the way individuals and small businesses get health insurance in New York by launching a new health benefit exchange that will start enrolling people Oct. 1.
The exchange, operated by the state Health Department, will be a marketplace where consumers can comparison-shop for health insurance, sort of like shopping online for a hotel room or airline ticket.
Consumers will be able to shop and enroll online, over the phone, in-person or by mail. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies that will lower their premiums.
The exchange is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance by Jan. 1 or face a financial penalty.
New York has about 2.7 million uninsured residents. It expects about 1.1 million people to get insurance through the exchange.
» Confused about Obamacare? Send us your questions
About three of every four New Yorkers who get coverage through their employers or the government will not use the exchange.
Nearly 65,700 Central New Yorkers are uninsured.
Carl Clark is one of them who hopes to find affordable coverage through the exchange.
The Syracuse man has been uninsured since losing his job at the former New Process Gear plant in DeWitt, which shut down in August. Clark, 51, is pastor of Open Arms International Ministries, a congregation planning to open a new church on Syracuse's North Side.
"I believe every American should be entitled to good health, not just a few," he said. "Check-ups at my age are important. It doesn't seem like there are many resources out there for uninsured men."
The state announced premium rates for health plans participating in the exchange last week. There are eight insurers participating in Central New York.
The state said on average rates are 53 percent lower than premiums New Yorkers now pay for individual coverage. The average monthly cost for an individual health insurance policy is now about $1,300.
Danielle Holihan, deputy director of the exchange, said premium rates will be further reduced by federal tax credits.
Individuals and families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for federal tax credits that will offset the cost of health insurance premiums in the exchange. This income level is equivalent to $45,960 for an individual and $94,200 for a family of four.
A report issued earlier this year by Families USA, a national consumer group, estimated 57,000 Central New Yorkers will be eligible for the tax credits. Dollars from the tax credits will flow directly to the health plan in which an individual or family enrolls, offsetting the total cost of health insurance premiums for the plan. The credit will be available to pay the premium at the time the person enrolls in a plan.
Leslie Moran of the New York Health Plan Association, an industry trade group, said some individuals may have to pay more if they buy a policy with more generous benefits than the policy they have now. There is also no savings for individuals who are buying insurance for the first time.
"They are suddenly putting money out for something they've never spent money on before," she said.
A recent Gallup poll found nearly half of uninsured Americans are unaware they must get health insurance to comply with the federal law.
To get the word out, the New York exchange will kick off an advertising blitz in September. It has hired DDB, a Madison Avenue advertising agency, to help develop the campaign. The federal government is paying the $40.7 million cost over two years.
It's also enlisting nonprofit organizations to tell their constituents about the exchange. The exchange will activate a call center Sept. 1 to handle questions, Holihan said. It also will hire hundreds of navigators throughout the state to help enroll people.
"As we approach Oct. 1, people will start paying a lot more attention," she said.
New York is one of 17 states setting up exchanges. The federal government will operate exchanges in the remaining states which opted not to set up their own.
New York's effort to start an exchange was blocked for more than a year by the Republican-controlled state Senate. So Gov. Andrew Cuomo established the exchange by issuing an executive order in April 2012.
The delay left New York with little breathing room to meet the timetable for its exchange.
"It's a large task to accomplish in a short amount of time," Holihan said. But the exchange is meeting all its deadlines and will be open by Oct. 1, she said.
The Obama administration recently announced it is delaying by one year a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires large employers to offer health insurance to employees. That sparked calls from Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., who oppose Obamacare, to also delay the mandate requiring individuals to have insurance by Jan. 1. The Obama administration said it has no intention to do that.
Holihan said that national decision will not affect the rollout of New York's exchange.
New York has received $370 million from the federal government to start the exchange. The exchange must become financially self-sustaining in 2015.
The New York exchange will offer standardized plans in four tiers that cover either 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent or 90 percent of a consumer's out-of-pocket health costs.The higher the percentage, the higher the premium.
By offering standardized plans, the exchange will make it easy to compare policies, Holihan said. Insurers also will have the option of offering up to three non-standardized plans in each tier.
The exchange also will offer a low-cost, high-deductible catastrophic plan for people under age 30.
People also will be able to enroll in Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income people and the disabled, through the exchange. The state is expanding Medicaid eligibility for single, adults with no children. The eligibility income limit for them now is $11,490. That will increase to $15,282.
"We are building a fully integrated enrollment system," Holihan said. "Anyone can come to us. It's a 'no wrong door' approach."
New York's enrollment period will run Oct. 1 through March 31. Uninsured people who don't get coverage by Jan. 1 will have a three-month grace period to buy insurance before they are subjected to a penalty.

The penalty in 2014 will be $95 per adults, $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family) or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. The penalty will increase in subsequent years.
One of the biggest challenges for the exchange will be getting young healthy adults to enroll, according to Moran of the New York Health Plan Association.
Young healthy adults use relatively little health care and help offset the cost of insuring older adults, the biggest users of health services. Insurance costs could soar if there is a disproportionate share of older people in the insurance pool.
"If you are 27 years old and in the third year on the job and you are working to pay rent and a car payment and suddenly you are told you have to buy health insurance, do you spend $75 on that or $75 on your cell phone?" Moran said.
A young adult in that situation might opt to pay the $95 annual penalty, she said.
Holihan said the health benefit exchange will use social media to target this population, which she called "the young invincibles."
Making health insurance more affordable will help persuade many young adults to buy it, she said.
"It's not that people don't want coverage, they can't afford it," Holihan said.
Contact health writer James T. Mulder at or (315) 470-2245.

Community Foundation Awards Grant to Oswego Museum

July 22, 2013 (Oswego, NY) - The Central New York Community Foundation and the Richard S. Shineman Foundation partnered to award a $20,000 Strategic Partnership Grant to the H. Lee White Marine Museum. The Marine Museum will utilize the grant to assist with strategic planning, legal, accounting and promotional costs associated with the organization’s formal merger with the Oswego Maritime Foundation and the Oswego Maritime Alliance. 

“This grant will not only help the Museum continue through a formal merge process, but it will also help us develop our organization’s newly expanded mission to develop, enhance, interpret and highlight educational activities and programs focused on Oswego’s waterfront,” said Mercedes Niess, Executive Director of the H. Lee White Marine Museum. “The most exciting part about this merger is its opportunity to improve programming in size, quality and scope.”

The newly merged organization plans to develop and expand its existing programs, which include junior sailing, floating classrooms, lecture series, and boat and model building. In addition, it plans to develop new programs that highlight the history, preservation and recreational use of the region’s waterfront for the benefit of the Greater Oswego community.

For example, the three organizations' combined volunteers, staff and members will develop a full set of programs focused on a new schooner - the Ontario - which joins the Museum this summer. In addition, the Museum plans to partner with other community organizations to bring a number of tall ships to the harbor next year when Oswego celebrates its participation in the War of 1812. It anticipates that the newly combined resources of the three organizations will enhance the efficiency, planning and development of these celebration activities.

“This merger will create a more effective structure for managing Oswego’s rich maritime history and delivering a broad spectrum of waterfront programs and services to the community,” said John Eberle, Vice President of Grantmaking and Community Initiatives at the Community Foundation. “Through this Strategic Partnership Grant, we hope to enable long-range plans and strategies for an all-encompassing maritime center in this region that has future expansion potential, both physically and organizationally.” 

About the Strategic Partnership Fund
The Strategic Partnership Fund, formed by the Community Foundation, supports projects that reduce nonprofit operational expenses while working to enhance program delivery in the community. Funded projects involve administrative consolidation or affiliations, joint programming, regionalizations, forming a subsidiary or a full-scale merger among two or more nonprofits. Since the fund’s inception in 2009, more than $285,000 has been granted to help organizations streamline their operations. As of January, 2013, a total of $4.8 million was reported to have been activated or saved as a result of those awarded partnerships. Additional information about the Fund, including how to apply for a grant, can be found at

About the Central New York Community Foundation
Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of a permanent charitable endowment for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $143 million. It awarded $8.3 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested more than $120 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of more than 600 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen nonprofits that address the region’s most pressing challenges. The Community Foundation, of 431 East Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13202, can be reached at (315) 422-9538 or

About the Richard S. Shineman Foundation
The Richard S. Shineman Foundation is a private foundation established in 2012 by the bequest of Richard S. Shineman, a tenured professor of chemistry at SUNY Oswego.  Its vision is to become a “Catalyst for Change” across Central New York and, in particular, Oswego County.  The Foundation uses its financial resources to work towards this vision by building the capacity of not-for-profit organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.  Contact or visit for more information.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Honor an Outstanding Board Member

2013 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builders Award Now Accepting Nominations
Submission Accepted through August 23rd, 2013 Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)
Berardi Award 2012
Left to right: Doug Sauer, NYCON CEO; Allen Fetterman, CPA; William F. Berardi, CPA, 2012 Urbach Award Recipient; Ellen Kotlow, NYCON Board President
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) are pleased to announce this call for nominations.
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. This award is 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.  

Award Criteria & Submission 
Candidates must:

  1. Be a CPA in good standing and a member of NYSSCPA
  1. Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501c(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once
  1. 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
  1. Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities
 Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be received by August 23rd, 2013.  Nominators are strongly encouraged to address the qualifications related to the four (4) criteria mentioned above and to include at least three (3) letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership. 

To Nominate a CPA: 
Email your submission to Melissa Currado at or mail two (2) packets of nomination materials to: Urbach Community Builders Award Committee, NYCON, 272 Broadway, Albany NY 12204.

For more information, visit NYCON on the web at or contact us via phone at (800) 515-5012.

Announcement & Presentation 
Craig Sickler, CPA receives the Urbach Community Builder Award
Craig Sickler, CPA receives the Urbach Community Builders Award at the 2006 Annual Meeting
The 2013 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of October 10th, 2013at 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, skill and strategy sessions for nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders. 
In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a CPA who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2013 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award one (1) nonprofit executive of their choice a Camp Finance scholarship in Hal's name.  In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award in his honor.
Thank You to Our Supporters!

NYCON and NYSSCPA would like to recognize The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Regionfor their grant contribution towards the Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award.

Past Urbach Award Honorees
Lewis Kramer, Urbach Award Recipient and Doug Sauer, CEO, NYCON
Lew Kramer, CPA and Doug Sauer, 
William F. Berardi, CPA

Thomas D. Weddell, CPA; Newburgh

Edward S. Mucenski, CPA; Potsdam   


Lewis "Lew" Kramer, CPA; Chappaqua   


Mel Zachter, CPA; Staten Island      
Eugene H. Fleishman, CPA; Poughkeepsie

Craig Sickler, CPA

Paul Battaglia
CPA, Batavia

Co-sponsored by
The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants  


Skaneateles Journal: Nonprofits may apply for grants by Aug. 9

Nonprofits may apply for grants by Aug. 9

July 12, 2013 3:00 am  •  
Part of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s mission to improve the health and health care of the residents of the communities it serves, the company makes Community Health Awards adding up to a total of $25,000 available to help fund health and wellness programs in Central New York.
Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s eight-county CNY region are invited to apply for an award of up to $4,000 each, which can be used for a program that has clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population in the community.
“The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to support local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Arthur Vercillo, M.D., regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “These awards complement our existing grants and sponsorships with agencies that work to enhance quality of life, including health status, in Central New York.”
In granting the awards, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield considers organizations which offer programs that focus on:
Activities that improve the health status of the community or that reduce the incidence of specific diseases.
Communitywide health education.
Group-specific health education.
To be eligible, the organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and located in Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Onondaga, Oswego, St. Lawrence or Tompkins County.
Awards will be made based on:
Scope of need.
Goals of program.
Overall number of persons to benefit from the program.
Positive impact on the community’s health status.
“In the 75 years that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has been serving residents of upstate New York, the company has supported hundreds of programs that are aimed at improving the health status of area residents,” said Vercillo. “We’re pleased to continue that effort by offering Community Health Awards to nonprofits in Central New York.”
The deadline for organizations to submit an application to be considered for an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Community Health Award is August 9, 2013. Applications and additional information are available online at Community Health Awards or by emailing Applications received after the August 9 deadline will not be considered. Awards will distributed in October.
Via the Skaneateles Journal (link)

Community Grant Opportunity

Please note the following community grant opportunity, and please forgive cross postings!

Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s eight county CNY region are invited to apply for an award of up to $4,000 each, which can be used for a program that has clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population in the community.   In granting the awards, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield considers organizations which offer programs that focus on:
· Activities that improve the health status of the community or that reduce the incidence of specific diseases.
· Community wide health education.
· Group-specific health education.
· Wellness.

To be eligible, the organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and located in Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Onondaga, Oswego, St. Lawrence or Tompkins County.

Awards will be made based on:
· Scope of need.
· Goals of program.
· Overall number of persons to benefit from the program.
· Positive impact on the community’s health status.
The deadline for organizations to submit an application to be considered for a Community Health Award is August 9, 2013.   Applications and additional information are available online at by clicking on 'News and Information' (at the bottom of the page), then on 'News Releases,' then click on the 'Central New York' tab.    The Community Health Award application is a link from the first news release.    Or, to request a copy, email Applications received after the August 9 deadline will not be considered. Awards will be distributed in October.
# # #
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association