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Archive for April, 2015

Is Baltimore Hearing from Its Leaders?

From the time of Freddie Gray’s arrest Sunday, April 12 to his death in a Baltimore hospital on Sunday, April 19 it seemed (from the outside looking in) that Baltimore was simmering. Something was brewing, and it started to boil over (according to media reports) on Friday, April 24. Reports in national media linked the treatment of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police as symptomatic of a predominantly white police force handling African American residents they are sworn to protect with excessive force. Not on every occasion. Not every white officer. But it seemed there has been a small segment of the force that abuse their power.
This is not an unusual phenomenon in our USA. How can this be?
So now in recent days we have seen the backlash. The destruction of businesses, of private property, of police vehicles and against police themselves. We know that two wrongs don’t make it right. But we know desperate people commit desperate acts.
So where is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in all this? Religious leaders? Sports heroes of the city? Where are the voices of people who all might listen to? Who will come to the neighborhoods and listen to what folks in the poorest blocks of Baltimore have to say?
Where is the problem-solving attitude?
Where are the nonprofit leaders of Baltimore in all this?
National media are giving us pictures of a burning CVS store. People making mayhem in the streets.
Why is it when I Google Baltimore, one of the first phrases I see is “Baltimore riots”?
Can we see some efforts of peace-makers trying to get the situation back to simmer?
Cities that can’t organize to resolve their problems give off a feeling of a cause that is lost.
If our leaders can’t bring the forces of the city together to resolve our problems they have lost their will to lead.
Who will step up?

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One Fund and Boston Strong

Since April 15, 2013 when explosive devices went off at the Boston Marathon finish line, many New Englanders and others have opened their hearts and wallets in support of those who were damaged by this act of terrorism.
The One Fund was inaugurated by then-Mayor Menino to help victims. The on-scene medical response was one reason more deaths did not occur. Major hospitals in Boston had been doing work in emergency response. And respond they did with great effect.
The millions raised by One Fund, and related funds that were established have helped families recover.
One of the less-told stories of this terrible incident is the ability of an array of nonprofit organizations…including the major Boston hospitals…to react to crisis.
Learn more about One Fund and related funds here: https://secure.onefundboston.org/pages/donations.
There is strength in our urban core cities in the USA that often goes unrecognized.

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Legacy Giving: How to Inform Your Donors

At some point, each nonprofit organization should introduce a Planned Giving Program. The question is, when is the right time?

I think Planned Giving logically builds out from the annual fund. As your annual fund grows, maybe by the fifth year, and you have a newsletter in place, it’s the right time to ask donors to consider your nonprofit as a beneficiary in their will.

It helps to have an estate planner on your board. A person with expertise in writing wills or working with financial institutions in creating trust documents that can protect assets from probate. It’s very important to identify an experienced attorney in this area. Some States have Estate Planning Councils, and some States have persons certified to prepare such documents.

If your donor requests some help in this regard, you can provide some language to recommend for inclusion in the person’s will. I do not recommend that the nonprofit get involved in recommending specific attorneys to write wills. there should be an “arm’s length” relationship between the donor and the nonprofit so there is no conflict of interest that can call the ethics or even the legality of a document into question. Contact your State’s Bar Association and learn how they refer inquiries to competent estate planners. If it’s clear that only qualified, experienced planners make the list, you can feel reasonably confident that referring donors to the Bar Association can be beneficial.

When you look at newsletters of universities, hospitals, and voluntary health organizations you will see ads or articles on this subject with recommendations that the individual follow up with a person in the development office for advice on how to proceed. Your nonprofit may not have a development office. But you can have a volunteer attorney with estate planning experience who can assist you properly and help guide donors in a proper and ethical way.

There are other options to investigate, like charitable remainder trusts or charitable gift annuities that can be beneficial to the donor. Recruit competent volunteers to help you get organized. It might take a year of three to get this properly organized. But it’s worth the effort.

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