Friday, June 30, 2006

Notes on Tax-Exempt Organizations

I went to Bruce R. Hopkin's seminar on "The Law of Tax Exempt Organizations," which used his text of the same name. It was last week in Arlington. The guy is a nonprofit law rockstar and, where I found applications to what he was saying, the content was fairly interesting. When he got off on charities and museums and all that stuff, I kind of glazed. Most of the people there were CPAs or tax lawyers, so it was quite a high level of discourse.

My big takeaways were this:

1) The tax code is very complicated, and it's okay to have even fairly basic questions. People who are afraid to act dumb and ask the questions are sorry later when they're asking even dumber questions.

2) The tax code sucks. Why should it be so complicated and why should an entire industry have to exist to keep people from losing their shirts to the government? And UBI is a minefield.

3) The IRS is riding nonprofits really hard right now, and congress could tighten up on them. I have mixed feelings about this, especially viz points 1 and 2. Nonprofits are often staffed by volunteers and the aforementioned volunteers can be clueless about how to file their taxes, etc. Of course there are fly-by-nights taking advantage of the code but there is a high ignorance factor that makes me scared for all the clueless out there.

He gave us a few copies of his newsletter, which you can find here. And his website, which has interesting discussions of current cases, is here.

UPDATE: I forgot I wanted to make mention that I finally figured out what the difference between the terms "nonprofit" and "not-for-profit" is. I quote:
The word nonprofit should not be confused with the term not-for-profit (although it often is). The former describes a type of organization; the latter describes a type of activity. For example, in the federal tax setting, expenses associated with a not-for-profit activity (namely, one conducted without the requisite profit motive) are not deductible as business expenses.
From The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, p. 4

Associations in Space

The space people won an ASAE award. Now, everyone was doing something for Katrina relief but I'm not convinced how useful classroom grants are in the face of widespread devastation. It seemed to me that what would have been useful is folks going down there and actually rolling up their sleeves and shoveling muck. But I am not the fount of all wisdom, alas.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

So I'm back in reading mode just a little. I've started reading the books we have here in my new office, which are pretty good! I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and since this was my first experience with Lencioni, I didn't have this reaction (from Slacker Manager) to the narrative portion of the book. The narrative part has a CEO walking her dysfunctional team thru the five dysfunctions, which are shown as a pyramid in this order:

Inattention to results
Avoidance of accountability
Lack of commitment
Fear of conflict
Absense of trust

Basically, it all starts with there not being trust and the others sort of flow from that. The narrative piece is useful because it walks you thru what this could actually look like in real life. And the exposition of the model in the back is useful as well.

The narrative story ends up fixing the company, but the CEO had to fire someone, and someone had to quit. I guess that if those things hadn't happened the fictive company would have failed.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Back with the living

Well, I quit posting quite precipitously there for awhile, and now I'm back. I hope you didn't miss me too much. Here's the deal: I came back from a trip to Michigan one fine Monday in May morning and decided to make a change on the work front. I put out a resume the next day and by Friday I had a new job at a highly respectable allied health care association. YAY!

So I ate bonbons for a couple of weeks and started work on Monday, June 19th. (Although I did attend my new gig's conference in San Francisco over Memorial Day weekend, and had a blast.) In between there, I was really actively trying to sort of "fast" from the internet, professional stuff, etc. I did read a lot, but you know, I read things like The Scarlet Letter and gardening books. I also got caught up with some "administrivia" around the house.

I also went to my spousal unit's conference in San Antonio, which was great. Our hotel was right on the River Walk and I spent some time at the pool and I went to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which was good but you basically run across burning silica from one plant to the next.

I noticed that ASAE has a blog called Acronym and that's great. I also have been moving around on different computers, etc., and so I've been having a hard time keeping up with my RSS feeds so I'm a little out of the loop. I'm starting to get the feeling that I don't have anything else to say blogwise. I'll snap out of it though, but I may have to refocus. Stay tuned.

Oh, I wanted to mention, my brother Paul now has a blog. He programs X-Box games for Electronic Arts in Orlando, Florida.

Oh, and my article in Associations Now came out. Hope you liked it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Some links for your delectation and delight

Actually, these are for my delectation and delight. I'm doing this to follow Julie Morgenstern's "Keep the Source, Lose the Paper" mantra. These are two articles I marked up from the October 2004's issue of Association Management.

Linking strategy, budget and outcomes... (Lang and Tecker)

Essentials of project management... (Rebecca Moore)

More later, I'm back in the land of the living :)