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Perspective on Senator Tim Scott's Opportunity Agenda

Posted By Naomi Torfin, Senior Director of Public Policy, United Way of SC, Monday, June 19, 2017

Senator Tim Scott’s Opportunity Agenda represents key conservative efforts to tackle difficult barriers many Americans and South Carolinian’s face while struggling to move out of poverty.

Through avenues of empowerment and investment for individuals, communities, and employment, the Senator’s Agenda is an important opportunity for nonprofits across SC to become “Allies for Good” in key areas.

Senator Scott’s visit with nonprofit leaders from across the state served to build understanding for both the intention of the Opportunity Agenda, and how nonprofit leadership can align their efforts with the Senator’s national efforts to forge pathways out of poverty for millions of Americans. The vital work of the Opportunity Agenda also needs those of us who work with individuals in the community every day to make it a success on the ground. 

As SC continues to see growth in skill manufacturing and similar jobs in the state, the opportunity for nonprofits from all areas to partner and utilize these avenues to lift individuals and communities out of poverty will only continue to grow. 

The Opportunity Agenda is precisely toward that end, as Senator Scott articulated to nonprofit leaders, to lift families and communities out of poverty through training, apprenticeship, and education. It has already seen success through the passage of the SKILLS Act and hopes to see even more success with the Investing in Opportunity Act, currently in the Senate.   

More and more, those of us working in education and job training see the gaps between employee skills and employer needs. The SKILLS Act focused on modernizing programs to ensure education and training focuses on today’s in-demand jobs, supports young job seekers by reducing the age limitation from 18 to 16. It recognizes that not all graduates will move on to college, and seeks to ensure that our youngest workers find opportunities through alternative skills and don’t fall into poverty because of it. Nonprofits working in K-12 education and workforce development are most closely aligned with the work of this bill. In short, the SKILLS Act works to assure opportunities for financial stability for all. 

The LEAP Act seeks to empower Apprenticeship programs to assure individuals can receive income while they work. Many of SC’s workforce and basic needs programs serve people every day for whom these programs could transform their lives.  

The Investing in Opportunity Act focuses on developing communities – a effort many nonprofits across the state are invested in. It is similar to a tax credit, but uses capital gains as investment rather than individual donations, SC nonprofits working in community development can look at ways to partner on this effort that guide and support investments reflect the needs of community members and expand upon the great efforts of existing development and community finance work. 

The Opportunity Agenda is part of a growing conservative effort to become a greater participant in the poverty solution. Senator Scott’s leadership is an important part of this effort, as he understands the difficult road many trudge to break out. It is now up to us to recognize and align where we can to inform and act in our neighborhoods and cities – with our neighbors, clients, and partners to see how we can truly become Allies for Good. 

Naomi Torfin

Senior Director of Public Policy

United Way of SC

 

Tags:  Opportunity Agenda  Public Policy  Senator Tim Scott  United Way of SC 

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Carolina Business Solutions Shares Top Five Actions For Protecting PCs

Posted By John Morelock, Carolina Business Equipment, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Six days a week, I manage an IT team that supports thousands of users and hundreds of servers. We see a lot and I read two to four articles a day trying to stay ahead of the curve. I’ve been asked to share the top things a nonprofit organization can do to protect its PCs from hackers, infections, and Malware.

There’s a lot to this question and most people are starting from different places, so this answer varies depending on where you are today. That said, here are the things I would tell most people who asked me.

1) There could be several #1’s so here’s 1A, 1B, and 1C:

a. Keep you operating system and drivers up to date!
Companies like Microsoft and Apple work hard to release updates to protect your PC from vulnerabilities used to penetrate your system. The manufacturer of your hardware also has software to allow your PC to function, called drivers. Make sure your drivers are current, too.

b. Use firewalls.
Turn on the software firewall in the operating system and invest in a firewall router, rather than using the cheap router your ISP provides. Firewalls help control I/O traffic and help keep you safe from unauthorized access.

c. Keep your AV (AntiVirus) updated.
Most AV relies on updated lists to ID Malware. Some free AV is worth less than you pay for it, because it instills a false sense of safety. Get an AV package you know is good and keep it up to date.

2) Be vigilant about the emails you open and read.
Like the legend of the vampire, some evil wants to be invited in. Most email hacks are old and weak, but if you open that email and click that link, you’ve just become a victim. Do not open unexpected email, even from your mom or pastor. Someone you know may have an infected PC and that PC is accessing their list and emailing you to look just like it came from them; asking you to “Click this funny link,” but the joke is on you…and you may not even know it. Clicking a simple link could give the hacker access to your private data, allow them to use your PC as a software “bot,” to even encrypt your files and demand a ransom. Simple rule, “Don’t click it unless you know it.” Go old school and call to verify those emails. It’s a hassle but not as much as being a pawn in a worldwide hack scheme.

3) Don’t go to dicey websites
Thousands of websites are used to spread malware and the list is growing and changes. How are you to know what sites are safe? You can use a free tool called Open DNS.
You can learn how to use this tool by going to: https://www.opendns.com/setupguide/ This is the gold standard for safe sites. You can also block unwanted sites like terrorist sites etc.
Be wary of web based ads on the Internet offering free downloads.

4) Power off your PC when you are not using it.
Your PC can’t get infected when it is off. In today’s fast paced world, hackers are constantly looking for any vulnerable system. If the website you have up in your browser on gets infected your PC could get attacked too.

5) Get offsite automatic cloud-based backup.
Without a team of IT professionals to cover every issue, you may miss something. Don’t panic or grow paranoid, there is no need to be anxious if everything is backed up. Turn on Carbonite or a similar service and if your files get locked or lost or your system is hit or even lost, the real importance is your files. It’s a hassle, but in the worst case, you can wipe your system, set it to new and reinstall everything.

There’s a lot more to good IT and there are more things that you can do to be safe, like: close unused ports, use better passwords and don’t take candy from strangers. BUT the 5 points listed above are the big ones for protecting your PC from hackers, virus, malware and Kryptolocker attacks.

CBE does all this and much more for our clients. So, in closing if you’re the DIY type, this list will get you started. If you are ready to step up to the big leagues get an outsourced IT provider to make this happen for you.

John Morelock 
Director IT Solutions & Services 
Carolina Business Equipment 
http://www.cbesc.com/

Tags:  Carolina Business Equipment  IT 

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Riggs Partners to host 2017 CreateAthon for SC Nonprofits

Posted By Together SC, Friday, June 2, 2017
CreateAthon season is upon us! 

For the past 20 years, Riggs Partners has hosted CreateAthon, a 24-hour marathon where marketing professionals provide services to nonprofit organizations on a pro bono basis. In total, Riggs Partners have served upwards of 200 nonprofits in South Carolina and have helped more than 100 marketing organizations across the country host in their communities. 

Riggs Partners will accept applications from nonprofit organizations in the Midlands and Upstate until July 15. Applications are available on the Riggs Partners website. Midlands and Upstate-area nonprofits selected for participation will be notified in August. 

Trio Solutions, a marketing firm located in Mount Pleasant, has helped host CreateAthon for several years in the Lowcountry. If you are a Lowcountry nonprofit interested in participating, Trio Solutions will be accepting applications starting July 10. 

CreateAthon began as Riggs Partners’ local community service program in 1998 and is now a national 501(c) 3 organization that recruits marketing and communications agencies, universities, professional organizations and corporate marketing teams as CreateAthon partners. In total, the program has served more than 1,300 nonprofit organizations in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, delivering pro bono marketing projects valued at more than $24 million. 
 

Tags:  CreateAthon  Riggs Partners  SC Nonprofits 

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Revisions to Beverage Law

Posted By Brook Bristow, Thursday, May 25, 2017
Hello, Together SC members!

As you’ll recall, since last summer, nonprofits across South Carolina have had to deal with the fallout from the new DOR and SLED crackdown on special events, which has included donated alcohol from breweries, wineries, and distilleries to your organizations. If you need a refresher, you can revisit a blog I wrote last year.

You can also go back to some of the discussion had on the Together SC blog about the issue. The bottom line was that after the crackdown, producers were not longer allowed to donate product to nonprofit organizations. The only donations that could occur were from wholesalers, and even then, nonprofit special events had to meet several criteria in order to receive such a donation.

Well, we have good news! This year, the South Carolina General Assembly heard those concerns and passed S. 114, which will fix many of the issues experienced over the last year. The bill is expected to be signed by the Governor this week. So, what is being fixed and what will the procedure be going forward? Here is a quick rundown:

How will licensing work? 
In order to receive any donation, you’ll need to apply to DOR for a nonprofit special event permit. Most nonprofits have undoubtedly done this before and are aware of the process which is staying pretty much the same. You’ll be limited to four of these permits each year and each event cannot last more than 72 hours.

Who can donate? 
You can solicit and receive donations from both producers and wholesalers of alcohol. For whomever you’re approaching, they need to be licensed in South Carolina, even if you’re talking to an out-of-state entity. This means that breweries, wineries, importers, and distilleries may donate. It also means that for the first time, brewpubs may donate as well.

What can be donated? 
For alcohol, you can have beer, wine, and spirits. It would also include other malt beverages or fermented beverages. No matter what is being donated, it must be something registered with DOR. Unfortunately, products produced at home by non-professionals such as beer and wine are not allowed.

How will a donation work? 
No matter if a producer or wholesaler is donating to you, the donation will need to be transferred from a wholesaler. You can either pickup the donation at the wholesaler’s place of business or have it delivered to the event site, which you will need to be in control of - meaning, your license will need to have that date on it in addition to the event date if it is earlier. You'll need to have your license in hand from DOR under either circumstance. The wholesaler will also provide you with an invoice. You’ll need to have this along with your license at the event.

Can we get help at the event? 
Yes, a producer will be able to provide employees or agents to assist in pouring and may also provide equipment to pour. Whomever they provide will need to have received the appropriate alcohol training, of course. A wholesaler may not provide employees or agents to pour. However, it may provide you with equipment to pour.

So, that’s all of the good news. The bad news is that unfortunately, this new law won’t take place until 6 months from now - meaning, we’re looking at November for when things can get back to normal. In the meantime, you’ll have to continue to operate how you have been for the last year. 

If you need any assistance, feel free to reach out.

Brook Bristow

Owner, Bristow Beverage Law

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Tags:  beverage law  Legal  Legislative  Together SC 

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The President's Budget

Posted By Benjamin Bullock, Together SC, Thursday, May 25, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017

The National Council of Nonprofits released an detailed analysis of President Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. Together SC encourages members to take time to understand the breadth and scope of the proposals for cuts to important services, many delivered by nonprofits. While these cuts give an important view into what the Trump Administration believes is important for the U.S., we remind everyone that the proposals are only a part of the process and the final budget will come from the legislative branch. 

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) put yesterday's release in perspective: "I hope that people don't panic over the President's - any President's - budget. They're just suggestions.

We also suggest that SC nonprofits not panic, but be vigilant and reach out to your legislative representatives to express your thoughts on the importance of programs that have been suggested for cuts. Be sure to get your voices heard!

Tags:  Budget  DC  Federal Government  National Council of Nonprofits 

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Leading Forward

Posted By Mike Riordan, Monday, May 1, 2017
I had the opportunity recently to attend the Together SC Upstate Board Leadership Summit and
 this event provided perspective for me as both a CEO and a board member. There are some great takeaways from Charles Weathers and the breakout sessions that I would like to share:

 

  • Charles Weathers reminded me there is a difference between a diverse board and an inclusive board. This is more than just optics; the opinions and experiences that an inclusive board brings allows an organization to provide better services to their community.
  •  “Take the best and leave the rest,” or as I think about it, taking 100% responsibility. While people like to be a hero, this requires there also be a victim and a villain. By being responsible only for yourself, you transform those roles from hero to coach, villains to challengers and victims to creators.
  • Similar to responsibility, Charles reminded us to serve on boards that we have the time and passion to commit to. Being able to say “No” is very powerful because it allows us to take responsibility for our lives and benefits the organizations we do decide to work with.  
  • A positive relationship between a CEO and board chair is crucial. Several years ago, I had a conversation with my board chair about a family matter. In a loving and supportive way, my board chair was able to ask about my personal needs while making sure the organization would continue to be successful. Having a comfort level that allows a good working relationship between CEO and board chair contributes to organizational success. 

 

About the Author

Michael Riordan serves as CEO of the Strategic Coordinating Organization (SCO) for Greenville Health System (GHS). GHS is one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in the Southeast with eight medical campuses, over 150 physician practice sites, more than 15,000 employees, including almost 2,000 physicians and providers, and operating revenues of approximately $2.2 billion.

 

Prior to joining GHS he served as president and CEO of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System and as senior associate hospital administrator for Emory University Hospital and Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He also served three years in the United States Marine Corps as a lieutenant.

 

Riordan currently serves on the governing boards of the Association of American Medical Colleges Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems, and Health Sciences South Carolina. He is Chairman of the Furman University Board of Trustees and serves on the board of Liberty Fellowship, an incubator for leadership in South Carolina.

 

Riordan earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts/English and a master’s degree in education/psychology from Columbia University in New York, as well as a master’s degree in health systems from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Tags:  Leading Forward  Together SC 

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Together SC issues RFP for Accounting Services

Posted By Benjamin Bullock, Together SC, Friday, April 28, 2017


Request for Proposals

Date: April 28, 2017

To: All Interested Parties

From: Benjamin D. Bullock, Director of Operations, Together SC

Subject: RFP for Accounting/Bookkeeping Services

 

Together SC is currently seeking proposals from external accounting / bookkeeping organizations to provide such services to Together SC. 

 

Together SC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership association (with over 800 members) based in Columbia, South Carolina, whose purpose is “to unite, strengthen, and advance our state’s nonprofit community, so we may enrich the quality of life for all.” Its annual budget is approximately $600,000, with a staff of 3 employees and 7+ contractors. Its revenue is earned through member dues, training fees, contracts, sponsorships, and grants. Together SC operates on a Fiscal Year ending June 30.

 

SCOPE OF SERVICES

We are looking for a detail-oriented, highly-knowledgeable, and reliable firm with an excellent reputation in nonprofit accounting, that is committed to serving South Carolina’s Nonprofit sector, to provide:

 

1) Bookkeeping Services

  • Record semi-monthly payroll, benefits, and PTO information received from Together SC’s contracted Professional Employer Organization (PEO), as well as year-end functional expense allocations.
  • Record vendor invoices and pay bills. A cloud-based, mobile-friendly system for reviewing and approving bills is preferred.
  • Record A/R, payments, and bank deposits.
  • Reconcile bank statements.
  • Record deferred revenue on an annual basis.
  • Maintain the chart of accounts and an orderly accounting filing system.

 

2) Financial Reporting

  • Prepare quarterly statements of Income & Expense, Balance Sheet, and other reports as necessary for Finance Committee meetings.
  • Provide other financial reports as necessary.


3) Audit

  • Develop and post end-of-year journal entries.
  • Prepare year-end balance sheet and revenue and expenditure reports for auditor.
  • Provide audit process and 990 support. Audits are typically conducted from July through August.

 

4) Information Technology

  • Provide accurate and up-to-date online access through a secure web portal to financial information.
  • Ability to synch with Together SC’s YourMembership database through Quickbooks plug-in is preferred. 

 

5) Support  

  • Provide assistance, guidance, and reccomendations to improve internal control procedures and efficiency.
  • Provide as-needed consultation on financial policies and procedures.
  • Provide timely assistance on an as-needed basis.

 

Together SC currently uses Quickbooks, and would prefer to stay on that platform but will entertain other options. The chosen firm would be working closely with Together SC’s Director of Operations, and we expect clear and timely communication and a team effort to complete the work needed. We would need this firm in place at the start of our next fiscal year, July 1, 2017.

 

PROPOSAL

Please use the following format when preparing your response. Please limit the proposal to five pages (excluding attachments).

 

Section 1: Proposer Information: Company name, primary contact, email, phone, etc.

Section 2: Scope of work/description of services and approach to bookkeeping, accounting, and reporting services, particularly as it relates nonprofits and membership organizations.

 Section 3: Firm’s qualifications: Summary of previous similar work for nonprofit organizations; proficiency with Quickbooks and YourMembership or similar Customer Relations Management software. Please include at least three nonprofit or association clients for which proposer has performed similar work as references, with current contact information for each.

 Section 4: Description of cost structure that include rates for bookkeeping and CPA services, as well as a description of how fees will be charged for questions on technical matters that may arise throughout the engagement.

 Attachments: Resumes and bios for the firm’s principal(s), as well as the account manager who would be assigned to this engagement. Any other materials to demonstrate capabilities and/or commitment to nonprofit organizations in South Carolina, and summary of prior involvement with Together SC.

 

DEADLINE

Complete proposals are due by 5:00 pm EDT on Monday, May 15, 2017. Completed proposals should be submitted via email to Benjamin Bullock, Director of Operations at benjamin@togethersc.org

 

SELECTION

Proposals will be reviewed for completeness, experience with previous similar work, quality of references, and reasonableness of cost structure, and a strength of support of South Carolina’s Nonprofit sector, generally, and Together SC in particular. Interviews may be requested with select proposers. Selected bidder will be notified in writing by May 29, 2017. Transition work will begin on June 19, 2017.

Tags:  accounting  bookkeeping  RFP 

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The Scoop on this Nonprofit Transparency Bill

Posted By Benjamin Bullock, Together SC, Monday, April 3, 2017

I can hear it now… “Not another report to file! We’ve already got so many! For-profit companies don’t have to jump through all of these hoops!”

But don’t fear! This bill is good for everyone, nonprofits and taxpayers, alike.

H. 3931 was introduced in the SC House of Representatives earlier this month, and has been making its way through the legislative process.

The bill, as originally written, would require any nonprofit organization that receives “public funds to submit a quarterly expenditure report to the awarding jurisdiction.” This applies to funds granted by state and local governments.

While this may sound like yet another burdensome report to file, there’s more to it than that. These reports would have to be made public by the public funder, not the nonprofit. In exchange, as long as the nonprofit files its reports correctly, it is exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Act. What that means is, when an individual comes to your organization with a FOIA request, rather than drop everything you and your organization are doing, you may politely direct them to the public entity that granted the funds.

This is good news for nonprofits. South Carolina’s FOIA law is very ambiguous, and leaves nonprofits vulnerable to those who would stretch its application beyond the law’s original intent. Nonprofits are left uncertain about which FOIA requests are legitimate and which are not, when they receive requests for their private grant reports and donor lists. This bill would end that ambiguity by requiring a report of public funds only, and putting the burden of disclosure on the real public body.

This is also great news for taxpayers! As it currently stands, the ambiguity of FOIA means that interested members of the public don’t know to whom to direct their questions. Nonprofits and Governments can point at each other, and make it very difficult to determine who is responsible for disclosure. FOIA requests can tangle up for weeks and more, and this law would clear that away, but putting the burden where it belongs: on public agencies, not on private organizations.

This is great for accountability! When a nonprofit seeks a grant from a foundation, a responsible funder requires reporting, not just on financials, but on impact. Government should do no less, and Nonprofits should expect no less.  In Guiding Principles & Best Practices for South Carolina Nonprofits we ask you to ask yourselves, “Do we openly and honestly communicate with stakeholders and the public about our mission, activities, finances and decision-making?” This bill will help give clarity on how to be more accountable for taxpayer dollars.

Your Together SC staff has been hard at work at the State House these last few weeks. We’ve been working with other interested parties and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bill Herkerbsman (R-Bluffton) to amend the bill to make the reporting annual, rather than quarterly, to acknowledge that contracts for goods and services already have reporting requirements under procurement rules, and other changes to improve organizations’ ability to comply.

The bill currently rests in the House Ways & Means Committee. We encourage you to please contact your House Member, especially if they are on the Ways and Means Committee, and encourage them to support H. 3931.

 

For the Greater Good,

Benjamin Bullock,

Director of Operations,

Together SC

Tags:  accountability  Guiding Principles & Best Practices  H. 3931  public policy  transparency 

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Together SC's new lobbyist: Ann Timberlake

Posted By Benjamin Bullock, Together SC, Monday, April 3, 2017

Advocacy is vital to the work of the Nonprofit sector. We all know this to be true, yet it is some of the work that is most difficult for us to engage in. It’s so easy to throw up our hands and say “Who has the time?” Your state Nonprofit Network, Together SC, is not immune to that feeling. A big part of our strategic planning, which led us to transform SCANPO into Together SC, was the recognition that we need to do more to advocate for the 25,000+ nonprofit organizations that do great work across South Carolina. We’ve just taken a big step to do that.

Together SC has hired a lobbyist. 

Ann Timberlake has been advocating for environmental conservation her entire life. She honed her advocacy skills in her early years volunteering in conservation campaigns to protect iconic places in South Carolina like the Congaree Swamp and the Chattooga River. She gained her first political experience in 1978 as a county coordinator for Dick Riley’s gubernatorial campaign.

After working as a sales representative for the Pillsbury Company, Ann opened a full service, neighborhood grocery, The Purple Cow, in downtown Columbia. In 2003, she returned to conservation and political work as the founding executive director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina.

Over thirteen years, Ann worked with Board members and donors to grow CVSC from an initial budget of $60,000 to a fully staffed, thriving organization with a budget over $600,000. She made bi-partisanship a trademark for conservation in South Carolina, elevated CVSC as a force in state electoral politics and helped the conservation community unite in support of “common agenda” priorities at the State House.

She is a lifelong resident of South Carolina and a graduate of Newcomb College of Tulane University. She and her husband, Ben Gregg, have two adult children. 

 

Tags:  Advocacy  Collective Voice  Public Policy 

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Public Trust in Nonprofits at Risk - Take 2 Minutes to Help Keep Politics Out of Nonprofits

Posted By Madeleine McGee Together SC, Friday, March 24, 2017

Last month, President Trump announced his plan to "get rid of and totally destroy" the federal tax law provision requiring 501(c)(3) nonprofits to be nonpartisan (which has been called the Johnson Amendment). Following up on the President's statement, Congress is seriously considering legislation that would politicize charitable nonprofits and foundations. The National Council of Nonprofits, Together SC and many other charitable nonprofits strongly oppose efforts to politicize charitable nonprofits. These proposals would harm nonprofits by:

  1. Subjecting charitable nonprofits and foundations to demands for campaign contributions (and thereby diverting donors' money away from mission-related work to benefit politicians); and 
  2. Damaging the public trust in the work of nonprofits. 

Furthermore, the repeal or revision of the Johnson Amendment isn't necessary to protect the free speech of nonprofits, foundations, and churches. Nonprofits - and their individual staff, board members, and volunteers - already have many legal avenues to freely express their views on a wide range of policy issues.

Together SC proudly joins the National Council of Nonprofits, our national network, and nonprofits and foundations across the country, in signing onto a special Nonprofit Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship

Here's what you can do today: Join other South Carolina nonprofits in signing your organization onto the Nonprofit Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship

Thank you if your nonprofit has already signed on to the letter.

Madeleine McGee | President

Tags:  Advocacy  National Council of Nonprofits 

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