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The Value of Volunteer Time

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Thursday, February 9, 2017

The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 62.8 million Americans, or 25.3 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $184 billion in 2014. For the latest information, please see volunteeringinamerica.gov.

How the Numbers are Calculated

The value of volunteer time is based on the hourly earnings (approximated from yearly values) of all production and non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls average (based on yearly earnings provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) for the national average. Independent Sector indexes this figure to determine state values and increases it by 12 percent to estimate for fringe benefits.

Charitable organizations most frequently use the value of volunteer time for recognition events or communications to show the amount of community support an organization receives from its volunteers.

According to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the value of volunteer services can also be used on financial statements –- including statements for internal and external purposes, grant proposals, and annual reports –- only if a volunteer is performing a specialized skill for a nonprofit. The general rule to follow when determining if contributed services meet the FASB criteria for financial forms is to determine whether the organization would have purchased the services if they had not been donated. Accounting specialists may visit FASB’s website for regulations on use of the value of volunteer time on financial forms: http://www.fasb.org/pdf/fas116.pdf.

It is very difficult to put a dollar value on volunteer time. Volunteers provide many intangibles that can not be easily quantified. For example, volunteers demonstrate the amount of support an organization has within a community, provide work for short periods of time, and provide support on a wide range of projects.

The value of volunteer time presented here is the average wage of non-management, non-agricultural workers. This is only a tool and only one way to show the immense value volunteers provide to an organization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does have hourly wages by occupation that can be used to determine the value of a specialized skill.

It is important to remember that when a doctor, lawyer, craftsman, or anyone with a specialized skill volunteers, the value of his or her work is based on his or her volunteer work, not his or her earning power. In other words, volunteers must be performing their special skill as volunteer work. If a doctor is painting a fence or a lawyer is sorting groceries, he or she is not performing his or her specialized skill for the nonprofit, and their volunteer hour value would not be higher.


Footnotes

1 Latest figure from 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, indexed by Independent Sector in April 2016.
2 Corporation for National and Community Service: National Data Volunteering and Civic Engagement in the United States (2014).

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Sean Dollard - What do you hope to gain by participating in Rising Leaders?

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016
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Urban Youth Impact Wins Great Charity Challenge, Presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The team of riders Shane Sweetnam, Lindsey Tomeu, and Sedona Chamblee, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack & Nutritionals earned the top prize of $150,000 for their charity, Urban Youth Impact, on Saturday night in the 8th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Palm Beach International Equestrian Center was a packed house on Saturday night as spectators cheered on teams in the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, which has donated more than $10 million to Palm Beach County charities in eight years.
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center was a packed house on Saturday night as spectators cheered on teams in the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, which has donated more than $10 million to Palm Beach County charities in eight years.

The 2017 GCC donated a record $1.5 million to 35 local Palm Beach County charities, bringing the eight-year total up to $10.7 million distributed through the event to date. The winning charity received the top prize of $150,000, with a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to 35th place, which wins $15,000.

The competition is held as a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals. The event also featured a fun theme, as riders (and their horses) dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movies.

Representing Urban Youth Impact, Sweetnam, Tomeu, and Chamblee rode for team sponsor Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack and Nutritionals dressed as characters from The Flintstones. All three riders cleared the course without fault and clocked the fastest combined time of 85.27 seconds for the win. Sweetnam and Tomeu were also part of the winning team in 2016, while Chamblee was competing in the event for the first time.

“It is a fantastic cause, not just for our team, but for a lot of different foundations in the area,” said Sweetnam, who anchored the team as professional rider. “I do not know if there is anything else like it in the country or anywhere really. Every year we try to do our best for whatever cause we are given. Obviously the girls did a great job, and I just finished it off. They were really motoring, so it was great.”

Tomeu (23), who has been competing in the event for the past four years, stated, “Every year we really try hard to win. We put together a good team, and last year we had a great team. We really wanted to step it up and do it again, and we did, which is amazing. We were even faster this year than we were last year, which I did not think was possible. Sedona was fantastic with her switch-off. It was really amazing.”

Chamblee (15) added, “This was my first year doing the Great Charity Challenge, and it was really fun. It was a great experience, and you get to ride for an amazing charity, which is really cool. Like Lindsey said, it was just amazing.”

Representing team sponsor Spy Coast Farm, Lisa Lourie commented on her team’s win for the second year in a row.

“I think it is a great way to involve the community here with our sport, as well as for us to give back to the community,” Lourie stated. “It is a win-win for both the community and for us. When we get to be involved with either educational or urban youth organizations, we are especially happy. We are very happy to be involved with Urban Youth Impact.”

Team sponsor Monica Preston added, “I am so proud to be a part of this group, and it is really wonderful that a small charity can benefit so greatly. I am so proud of the riders, and thank you to Lisa for getting me involved in this event.”

Charity winner Urban Youth Impact’s mission is to love, equip, and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose. Representing the organization, volunteer Sarah Armada detailed, “It is an organization that provides a safe place for kids to go after school. They get reading support; they get the arts. There is African drumming and ballet. There are things that these children would not be otherwise exposed to. They do so much for the community, and I think this is a great way to get their name out there and just provide them with all of the resources that those kids so desperately need. This is going to make a huge difference.”

Armada continued, “It is all about building their capacity and letting the kids feel empowered and equipped so that they can go out and be successful in their community.”

Adopt a Family was the second wildcard draw of the night, and ended up in second place overall, with riders Sydney Shulman, Lilli Hymowitz, and Hannah Patten representing the charity. Team sponsor the Patten family and corporate sponsor H5 Stables supported the riders, dressed as characters from Lilo & Stitch, with a combined time of 94.02 seconds.

Representing the charity Hepzibah House, Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and amateur riders Alexandra Crown and Alexandra Welles, placed third. Dressed as My Little Ponies and riding for team sponsor the Crown family and corporate sponsor Stone Hill Farm, all three ladies jumped their courses without fault and clocked a combined time of 97.47 seconds.

GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo was thrilled with the success of the eighth annual event and praised everyone involved on a fantastic evening of sport and charitable giving.

“It is really special year after year to have so many great riders participating in the event,” Bellissimo stated. “It is amazing that people donate their time to give back. The executive directors of all of the charity organizations are the lifeblood of these communities, and it is just really amazing that we can all come together to support the community and see it grow. I want to thank the riders and the sponsors. Thank you Lisa and Monica for supporting year after year. It is so cool to see the charities and everyone’s unique way of helping. Urban Youth Impact is empowering our youth, and the youth are our future, so thanks go to them for everything they do.”

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Philanthropy Under Trump

Posted By Andrew J. Gray, CPA, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2017

 

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Limits on Political Campaigning for 501(c)(3) Nonprofits

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Monday, February 6, 2017

In order to maintain tax-exempt status, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations cannot engage in political campaigning. Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status should be ever vigilant about this prohibition -- a violation could result in severe consequences.

The federal tax law is very strict on the issue of political campaigning: A 501(c)(3) organization is absolutely forbidden to directly or indirectly participate in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Violation of this prohibition could lead the IRS to completely revoke your organization's tax-exempt status or impose excise taxes on your organization.

In other words, the IRS is serious about this issue, and your board of directors and officers should be equally serious in making sure that your organization complies with federal law in this area.

What Does "Participating in a Political Campaign" Mean?

Organizations with 501(c)(3) status cannot participate in political campaigns.

What is a political campaign? In general, the IRS rule refers to campaigns between people who are running for offices in public elections. These can include: candidates running for president of the U.S.; candidates running for governor; candidates running for mayor; and also candidates for lower elected offices such as school board officials, city supervisors, and county trustees.

What is "participating?" Your organization cannot participate in a campaign, directly or indirectly, on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate. If your organization takes a stand in any campaign, supporting or opposing one or another candidate, this violates the prohibition.

The IRS Rule

The IRS uses what is called a "facts and circumstances" test to help it determine whether an organization has violated the prohibition on political campaigning. This means that the IRS will evaluate any potential misconduct within the context of the organization's other activities and the current political climate. So, an activity might be considered political campaigning two weeks before an election, but not two years before an election.

Some activities that the IRS has found to violate the prohibition on political campaigning include:

  • inviting a political candidate to make a campaign speech at an event hosted by the organization
  • using the organization's funds to publish materials that support (or oppose) a candidate
  • donating money from the organization to a political candidate
  • any statements by the organization's executive director, in his or her official capacity, that support a candidate
  • criticizing or supporting a candidate on the organization's website
  • inviting one candidate to speak at a well-publicized and well-attended event, and inviting the other candidate to speak at a lesser function
  • inviting all candidates to speak at an event, but arranging the speaking event or choosing the questions in such a way that it is obvious that the organization favors one candidate over the others
  • conducting a "get out the vote" telephone drive in a partisan manner by selecting caller responses for further follow-up based on candidate preference, and
  • using the organization's website to link to only one candidate's profile.

What Political Activities Can a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Engage In?

A 501(c)(3) organization can engage in the following activities without violating the IRS rule:

Non-partisan activities. Your organization may engage in non-partisan activities such as non-partisan voter registration drives, non-partisan candidate debates, and non-partisan voter education, as long as these activities fulfill your exempt purposes.

Legislative or issue advocacy. Your organization can engage in legislative advocacy and issue-related advocacy, as long as it follows certain rules and steers clear of political campaigning. (If your organization is contemplating such activities, it's a good idea to get advice from a qualified attorney.) To learn more, see Nolo's article, How Much Lobbying Can a Nonprofit Do?

And don't forget that any individuals associated with a 501(c)(3) organization are entitled to voice their opinions and participate in a political campaign, as long as they are not speaking for the organization.

How Does the IRS Find Out About Violations?

Not surprisingly, in the heated atmosphere that usually accompanies a political campaign, people supporting an opposing candidate are often the ones to report any suspicious activities to the IRS. Your organization should remember that people are watching and they will report your group if you appear to intervene in a political campaign in a partisan manner.

Penalties For Violations

If the IRS believes that your organization may have violated the prohibition, it may send a letter or visit your organization for an on-site examination. Although the IRS has the power to revoke your tax-exempt status, it typically uses this punishment only in the most egregious cases. More likely, the IRS will ask your organization to correct the violation and implement procedures to make sure the violation will not occur again. If the organization's funds were used to engage in the prohibited activity, the IRS may also impose excise taxes.

Getting More Help

The IRS has several helpful publications on 501(c)(3) organizations and political campaigning. The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations provides an overview of the law. In addition, the IRS's Revenue Ruling 2007-41 (found at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/rr2007-41.pdf) provides a series of examples that will give you an idea of what constitutes partisan activities. Both documents can be found on the IRS's website at www.irs.gov.

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