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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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2017 SC Award for Nonprofit Excellence

Posted By Derek Lewis - Award for Excellence Selection Committee Chair, Thursday, June 2, 2016
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2016

Is Your Nonprofit Excellent? Do You Wish It Were?

Since 2004, SCANPO has been recognizing organizations that embody excellence within our sector. Using the Guiding Principles & Best Practices as a framework, the Award for Nonprofit Excellence singles out two organizations that  embody this continued pursuit of excellence

Don’t Stop Believin’: Excellence is a Journey, not a Destination

SCANPO believes that excellence isn’t the completion of a checklist, it is a fundamentally transformative pursuit of the highest standards and practices.  We hope each SCANPO member organization uses the Guiding Principles & Best Practices as a living document, allowing us the opportunity to re-evaluate our practices and priorities.

With a Little Help From Your Friends: Learn From Your peers

SCANPO has assembled a core group of  leaders from 10+ winning organizations from across the state who are willing to share the steps each took to lead their staff and volunteers through their own Pursuit of Excellence.  Some are multi-million dollar agencies with multiple layers of staff; others are one or two person shops who rely on volunteers for day to day operations.  Our previous award recipients are as diverse as our state.

Glory Days: The Benefits of the Award for Excellence

I have the privilege of not only serving as the SCANPO Award for Excellence Committee Chair, but also the honor of being one of the award recipients.  The award carries with it a $1,000 credit for SCANPO summit expenses and some great publicity- as well as a snazzy award.  But, more importantly are the intangible benefits. We have had funders, donors, and future board members who CONTACTED US after hearing we won, asked us how they could get involved, and were excited to have us come and share our path to excellence with others. It was some of the most meaningful recognition our organization has ever received.  Here are some of the benefits the award brings:

  • A $1,000 credit to use for the Nonprofit Summit and other trainings or publications.
  • Recognition at the 2017 Nonprofit Summit including the presentation of a distinguished plaque to display in your organization’s office
  • Participation in Guiding Principles & Best Practices peer learning session at the Nonprofit Summit and at regional gatherings.
  • Mentor future award applicants as they articulate their journeys toward excellence.
  • Recognition through SCANPO communications, social media, and local and statewide media
  • A SC Award for Nonprofit Excellence decal to display on your website and other social media.

 

Step By Step: Ready To Get Started?

We have built a series of webinars and online resources to help you on your journey. First, visit the SCANPO Award for Excellence webpage. Here we have provided a video that provides more information about the award and the benefits of applying, and a link to the online application and instructions. Also, consider attending the July 7 Journey To Excellence Webinar: How to Apply for the Award for Nonprofit Excellence

We also have a great calendar of online trainings. Whether you are ready to apply or whether you just want more information on the Guiding Principles & Best Practices, consider attending these free online forums (Click on the links below to register):


July 7, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m
. Journey To Excellence Webinar – How to Apply for the Award for Nonprofit Excellence

Aug 11, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m. Journey To Excellence Webinar – Pursuing Excellence I:  Learn How Previous NPE Award Recipients Pursued and Attained Excellence – Guiding Principles 1 – 4

Sep 8, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m. Journey To Excellence Webinar – Pursuing Excellence II:  Learn How Previous NPE Award Recipients Pursued and Attained Excellence – Guiding Principles 5 – 9

Oct 6, 2016 @ 1:00 p.m. Journey To Excellence Teleconference – Final opportunity to ask and have your questions answered before draft deadline.


Finally, I encourage you to reach out to Sharon Thomas, SCANPO Member Services Manager. She is an incredible resource, and has done some remarkable work in helping nonprofits in their pursuit of excellence. 




Derek Lewis

Executive Director, Greenville First Steps
Chair, SCANPO Award for Excellence Selection Committee
SCANPO Board of Directors

Tags:  award  excellence  Governance  Guiding Principles & Best Practices  nonprofits 

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