Newsbits December 2014

by: Smith and Howard

December 15, 2014

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Charity Navigator evaluates major philanthropic markets (and we put our two cents worth into the evaluation!)

Charity Navigator has published a report on the performance of the 30 largest U.S. philanthropic marketplaces. The watchdog group considered the financial health, accountability and transparency of these charities. According to its report, regional factors — such as the cost of living, a market’s maturity and a city’s tendency to support one or two specialized causes — greatly influence the ability of charities to raise money, manage costs and adhere to good governance policies and procedures.

St. Louis’s nonprofit sector ranked as the top performer overall. Portland charities had the greatest commitment to ethical best practices, and Miami charities were the most efficient fundraisers. Boston nonprofits proportionately received the most donations.

Outside of the Charity Navigator evaluation, we believe we would be remiss if we didn’t note that in late 2014, the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Atlanta #4 among metro areas and Georgia #5 among states in charitable giving.

New service concession arrangements standard could affect NFP accounting

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has released Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-05, Service Concession Arrangements, its initial guidance on the reporting of these arrangements in financial statements. A service concession arrangement is made between a public-sector entity grantor and an operating entity, such as a nonprofit, under which the operating entity operates or maintains the grantor’s infrastructure, as can be the case with airports, roads, prisons or hospitals. FASB believes these arrangements may become more prevalent as governmental agencies seek alternative ways to provide public services more efficiently.

ASU 2014-05 also addresses the conditions under which the operating entity shouldn’t account for a service concession arrangement as a lease.

Hackers help nonprofits

The Technology Association of Georgia recently hosted its first Mobility Live Hack-Back Invitational, where teams of programmers who identify themselves as “hackers” helped develop mobile apps or websites for participating nonprofits based on submitted challenges.

The nonprofits, including the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Boys and Girls Clubs of America, received new mobile tools, and the hackers received a total of $30,000 in cash prizes. Hackers used open source development models, providing nonprofits with unlimited free use of the apps’ source code. The overall winning team created a mobile application for the ACS that includes an experience tracker and real-time messaging.

Online donation increase is notable

The Blackbaud Index reported that online charitable giving to nonprofits jumped 8% for the first half of 2014 compared with the first half of 2013, while overall charitable giving increased 1.6% for the same period. In addition, for the three months ending June 2014, compared with the same period in 2013, online giving grew 8.7%, and overall charitable giving increased 1.5%. The Blackbaud Index analyzes fundraising data from more than 4,200 U.S. nonprofits. Many believe that giving levels will continue to rise in 2015.

For more information, please contact a member of Smith and Howard’s nonprofit team at 404-874-6244.

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