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Posted By Cindy Bishop, Checkmate Strategies, Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Knowing that there is a tremendous need among nonprofit organizations to create and sustain effective, impactful advocacy programs, Checkmate Strategies is now offering advocacy training to non-profit organizations at their locale.  Imagine how the influence your nonprofit could have, if all of your members had one on one training on how to impact public policy!

The 2017 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature will be here before we know it and now is the perfect time to begin planning a successful legislative campaign.  Along with that, this is a Federal Election Year! With that comes one of the greatest opportunities you have, to be PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE. 

Checkmate Strategies will tailor a half day (3-5 hours) or a full day program,  especially for LANO members.  The following components will be covered in the Advocacy Training Session:

The Importance of Knowing the Players and the Process
Who are the Players?
Overview of the Legislative Process
The Importance of Knowing Your Organizations “Why”
How to Weave Impactful  Stories into your Advocacy Message
The Role of Regulatory Agencies and How they Impact Your Non-Profit
How to Use PACs Effectively

Checkmate Strategies has a long and  rich history of advocating on behalf of non-profit organizations.  High profile bills such as the Smoke Free Air Act, the Primary Seat Belt Law, the Concealed Carry Bill, are all measures that were by battled by Cindy Bishop and her team.

Cindy is a veteran of Louisiana politics and Earl Willis, who is equally passionate about helping nonprofit organizations to thrive and excel, are excited about the opportunity to help non-profits through advocacy training.

To discussion options for advocacy training,  please contact Cindy Bishop at 
(225) 933-5435 or Earl Michael Willis at (225) 454-2209 or by email

Cindy Bishop, President
Checkmate Strategies

225 933-5435

P.O. Box 80053
Baton Rouge, LA 70898-0053

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From Reluctant to Excited: Turn Your Board into Enthusiastic Fundraisers

Posted By Celeste Viator, Hannis T. Bourgeois, LLP, Friday, July 29, 2016

If your not-for-profit organization expects its board members to play a fundraising role, you probably already know how difficult it can be to motivate them. They're busy people, and even when they have excellent connections, they're not always comfortable asking those in their network for money — however noble the cause. Fortunately, there are ways you can help board members overcome their reservations.

Up Front and Personal

Board members are obligated to help your organization implement its revenue strategy, and fundraising is a key factor in the equation. In addition to making personal donations, board members generally should be expected to help identify and reach out to prospective donors. You may ask yours to work behind the scenes or to make face-to-face appeals.

A clear understanding of what your not-for-profit does and the benefits it provides to its constituents can be motivating for board members and help them make effective fundraising appeals. Thoroughly explain your not-for-profit's mission and vision — ideally in a group to ensure consistent messages in individual appeals. Also offer the board first-hand opportunities to observe your organization's work, and regularly communicate challenges and success stories. Staff members can help by being accessible to board members and working collaboratively with them to refine fundraising appeals.

Investing in Success

Even the most accomplished board members may fear rejection or failure as fundraisers. You can enhance the confidence and abilities of your board by bringing in fundraising consultants and tapping into resources such as Foundation Center classes and Association of Fundraising Professionals membership. Any investment in board development can pay for itself in increased donations.

Professional training also will help board members grasp the nuances of fundraising — for example, the process of cultivating donors and the reasons people give. The right mindset is important, and coaching can help board members both internalize and successfully convey the idea that they're not seeking handouts. Instead, they're offering prospective donors an opportunity to be part of something meaningful and exciting. If you can recruit one board member to be the cheerleader for your fundraising efforts, the peer-to-peer support also can be instrumental in developing fundraising skills.

Baby Steps

Starting with personal appeals is a good way for fundraising-wary board members to get their feet wet. Ask your board to first solicit friends and colleagues. It's hard for prospective donors to turn down a request from an individual they know and respect and whose conviction they admire.

If board members are reluctant to approach mere acquaintances face-to-face, they might try a phone call or a letter on their board-member stationery. Once board members experience the powerful impact of such approaches, they'll become increasingly comfortable making in-person appeals to friends and strangers alike.

Encourage Creativity

Training goes a long way toward energizing your board about development but, to keep them fired up, try to involve them in the more creative aspects of fundraising. Ask your board to brainstorm new development strategies, seek their input on marketing programs and encourage them to share their vision for the organization if money were no issue.

Be sure you allow board members to contribute in ways that play to their individual strengths, interests and skills. Some will gravitate to behind-the-scenes work, while others will be comfortable in a more public role.

Willing and Able

If, after providing training and encouragement, you still have trouble getting one or two board members to solicit donations, consider whether they should be replaced. If they contribute in other essential ways that make them valuable to your organization, you may want to keep them regardless. But some holdouts simply may not be sufficiently dedicated to your not-for-profit's mission.

When recruiting new board members, it's critical to look for individuals willing and able to make fundraising a priority. Whether you're dealing with new board members or existing ones, make your expectations clear, listen to their concerns and provide training in the art of raising funds.

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The Makeup of Nonprofit Board Influences Economic Growth--Board Data for Southeast Louisiana

Posted By Cory Sparks, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Thursday, July 28, 2016

This morning Allison Plyer of The Data Center was at the White House discussing the use of data in disasters. This afternoon she's sharing research on how the makeup of nonprofit boards influences the trajectory of the economy. It's fascinating and thought-provoking as she applies it to Southeast Louisiana. There's also a link to The Data Center's recently released nonprofit board data.

Did you know that the makeup of nonprofit boards can influence the growth of a region’s economy?

Studies of regional economies in the Rust Belt have shown that when boards in different social sectors had little overlap, there was little collaboration across sectors and little collective action.

On the flip side, when board members in different sectors had excessive overlap, there was an even greater problem – “groupthink” due to a complete lack of new ideas and innovation.

What’s the ideal? Heterogeneous boards that have members who also serve on boards of other sectors, and board members who serve solely within a specific sector.

This sweet spot in social leadership prevents groupthink and promotes innovation while also allowing for the development of shared economic and social goals across leaders.

Heterogeneous boards that brought together disparate groups of people helped cities, such as Allentown, to support emerging industries and spin-off new sectors after the American

manufacturing decline.

Nonprofit Board Overlap

If you are interested in seeing how your board overlaps with others, take a look at The Data Center’s newly releasednonprofit board data. It includes the names of board members of hundreds of Southeast Louisiana nonprofits and important information about these nonprofits, including their locations and sectors. The excel tables also show which nonprofits have overlapping board members.

We scraped this data from hundreds of Form 990s to make it easy for you to act on this important information by just downloading a spreadsheet and making a few phone calls.

The Promise of the Water Management Sector

Our infographic explains why heterogeneous social leadership is so important, and where we stand in Southeast Louisiana.

You may notice that we focused our analysis on the environmental sector and its overlap with other sectors and within itself. This social sector is at the epicenter of the water management economic cluster and thus, incredibly important to New Orleans’ environmental fate and prosperity going forward. As detailed in previous reports, water management is potentially the federally-fueled economic ramp that New Orleans can take toward a more prosperous, sustainable future. 



Tags:  boards  Nonprofit  Nonprofit sector 

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Cox Communications to Award Community Investment Grants

Posted By Cox Communications, Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cox Employees to Award $125,000 to Southeast Region Nonprofits

Agencies can apply for grants up to $10,000; while schools can apply for grants up to $5,000

Cox Communications will award more than $125,000 to nonprofits, teachers and schools in its three-state, Southeast Region through Cox Charities, which is funded by employees. The company is now accepting applications at www.CoxCharitiesSoutheast.comthrough Sunday, August 7, 2016.


Branded under the theme “Give Where You Live,” the unique, employee-giving campaign launched last fall in Cox’s Southeast Region, which includes: Acadiana, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Florida’s Gulf Coast, Central Florida and Middle Georgia. What’s more, the dollars raised in each market stay in the market in which they were generated. Funds raised by local, Acadiana employees will benefit programs in Cox-serviceable areas within Acadia, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes.


“Cox Charities is both funded and guided by employees. A local team of dedicated employees in each of our six markets will decide how every dollar is invested back into the communities we serve. Our company and our employees are passionate about supporting programs that positively impact where we do business,” said Julie Dronet, market vice president for Cox in Acadiana.


Cox Charities was created to strengthen Cox communities by supporting programs in the areas of education, technology, social issues, conservation and the arts. Funds will be distributed in the form of Community Investment Grants and Innovation in Education Grants.


Community Investment Grants are designed to assist 501(c)(3) organizations with programs that benefit the Cox Communications service areas. Agencies can apply for grants up to $10,000.


Innovation in Education Grants are designed to support classroom, school-wide, or collaborative educational programs, in any subject area, to promote students’ ingenuity and imagination. PreK-12 teachers and principals can apply for grants up to $5,000.


In addition to Community Investment Grants and Innovation in Education Grants, a portion of the funds helps Cox employees. The Cox Benevolent Fund is a relief fund to aid Cox employees with short-term financial assistance during unexpected and unavoidable financial hardships and emergencies.


For more information about Cox Charities and to access the grant application, visit

Tags:  grant  nonprofit 

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UPDATE: Nonprofit Sales Tax Legislation

Posted By Faulk & Winkler, LLC, Tuesday, July 26, 2016




Sales Tax Effects onNonprofits


In early May, we sent out an article discussing the effect of sales tax legislation passed during the Louisiana First Extraordinary Legislative Session with a promise to update our nonprofit clients after any changes were made. During the legislature's Second Extraordinary Session, several laws were passed for the purpose of fixing some unintended consequences from the first session. One of those - Act 12 - focused on reinstating certain sales tax exemptions. However, because of the complexities of the sales tax laws and the manner in which they were repealed in the first session, several exemptions are still subject to tax that many assumed the legislature would exempt. We should point out that the Louisiana Department of Revenue has yet to release any official policy documents regarding these items. If any are interpreted differently by the Department, then we will update you as soon as possible.


Legislation that repealed many sales tax exemptions in the First Extraordinary Session also set those same exemptions to phase back in over time. The date they were set to change was July 1, 2016. For most exemptions reinstated in the Second Extraordinary Session, the new laws only apply to sales beginning on July 1, 2016, and are not retroactive to sales between April 1 and June 30. The following are not all-inclusive of a nonprofit's activities and available exemptions and does not cover local sales tax liabilities from cities or parishes.


New Annual Reporting Requirement:


Before diving into sales tax exemptions, we would like to note a new annual reporting requirement is being placed on nonprofits to report the amounts and types of sales that are exempt from tax. The report period is the state's fiscal year: July 1 - June 30. It will be due Sept. 30 of each year. Organizations exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code will not be subject to this requirement. Organizations that meet the legal definition of a church are considered to be automatically exempt under section 501(c)(3). If your organization is exempt under a different section - such as (c)(4) civic and social welfare organizations, (c)(6) business leagues and chambers of commerce, or (c)(7) social clubs - then you should continue tracking the amounts of exempt transactions for reporting later. If you are unsure of your designation, you can refer to the 1st page of your most recent Form 990.


Membership Dues:


The exemption for membership dues paid to gain admission to exclusive facilities, such as the YMCA and YWCA, has been fully reinstated as of July 1, 2016. Dues paid after June 30 are no longer subject to the tax. The tax rate is based on when the financial transaction occurs. Earlier in the year the Department clarified that only dues which grant admission to exclusive facilities that would meet the definition of a taxable service became taxable. Dues that merely grant membership in an organization without getting you "admission" into anything, such as a Rotary Club, were never taxable.


Fundraising Events:


Exemptions for fundraising events by qualifying nonprofits have been fully reinstated and are no longer subject to sales tax after June 30 as long as the organization has an approved exemption certificate from the state. Sales at these events had been subject to a 5% tax between April 1 and June 30. In April, the state declared they had invalidated all previously submitted applications for exemption to events occurring after April 1, 2016 and would no longer be accepting applications while the events were subject to tax. While no official word has come from the state, we assume that they will require these applications for exemption going forward.


Entertainment Event Admissions:


This one didn't completely go away. Nonprofits (other than schools) that had previously relied on exemptions for sponsored entertainment events, such as theater, dance, and others are left with a 1% sales tax on event admissions. The tax was 5% on those tickets between April 1 and June 30. As above, the tax rate for tickets (unlike property) is based on the date the cash changes hands. If a Little Theater organization has a performance on July 10, then tickets pre-sold in June are subject to 5% tax and tickets sold at the door on July 10 are only subject to 1% tax.


Art and History Museums, Aquariums and Zoos:


Sales tax on tickets to these types of facilities remain subject to the same 3% rate they would have based on the First Extraordinary Session. They were subject to a 5% tax for tickets sold between April 1 and June 30.


Fairs and Festivals:


The exemption for admission and parking fees at fairs and festivals sponsored by nonprofit organizations has been partially reinstated. These transactions are still subject to a 1% sales tax if they occur after June 30. The tax had been 5% on transactions between April 1 and June 30. Rental of booth space (including rental of related items like tables and chairs in the booth) were determined by the Department not to be subject to tax. These events, like fundraisers, have historically required an exemption certificate from the state. Also, like fundraisers, the state declared they had invalidated previously submitted applications and would no longer be accepting them. If we learn otherwise, we will send an update.


Room Rentals:


Rental of real property (rooms, buildings, land) is not subject to sales tax while rental of personal property (machines, equipment, tools) is subject to sales tax. However, short-term rentals (30 days or less) of residential space that could be considered hotel stays are subject to tax. The state has historically exempted nonprofit camp and retreat facilities, but removed that exemption in the First Extraordinary Session. Room rentals at camp and retreat facilities owned by nonprofit organizations were subject to a 5% sales tax between April 1 and June 30 unless the customer was participating in the programs of the nonprofit and the lodging was part of that participation. The exemption from tax on these has been fully reinstated, so they are not subject to tax beginning on July 1, 2016.


Volunteer Fire Departments:


The use tax exemption for purchases of equipment by volunteer fire departments is fully reinstated. These transactions are not taxable after June 30, 2016. Purchases were subject to the 5% use tax between April 1 and June 30.


Nonprofit Private Elementary and Secondary Schools:


Nonprofit private elementary and secondary schools benefit from several sales tax exemptions, several of which had been suspended beginning April 1. Exemptions for the sale of tangible personal property (including food sold to students and teachers) by the schools, leases of educational materials to students, athletic event admissions, and entertainment event admissions at the school are reinstated. The use tax exemption for purchases of classroom instruction materials by the school are also fully reinstated. Louisiana has a list of items it considers to be instructional materials for the purposes of this exemption. It does not include basic supplies, like pens and desks. Those transactions enjoy the same exemptions they had prior to April 1 beginning on July 1. They had been subject to a variety of rates between April 1 and June 30.


The Louisiana Department of Revenue should provide additional policy documents regarding their interpretations of recently passed legislation and how they will apply the law to specific transactions. We will provide additional updates as any information changes. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact one of our Faulk & Winkler tax professionals at 225-927-6811.



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Free webinar: Pressure reduction: the key to better performance and helping your staff

Posted By Kris H. Rutledge, CausePlanet, Saturday, July 23, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 23, 2016

“Nobody performs better under pressure. Regardless of the task, pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision making, attention, dexterity and performance in every professional and personal arena.

How do you reduce your pressure? How do you alleviate your staff’s pressure so they can focus and perform?

Nonprofit pressure

Leaders in the nonprofit sector are no strangers to feeling the pressure of furthering a mission with lean resources and limited staff. After learning more about Hank Weisinger’s, author of Performing Under Pressure, conclusive research, you can’t help but realize that pressure management should be a baseline competency for every leader.


Webinar with Hank Weisinger, PhD.


Join CausePlanet founder Denise McMahan and Hank Weisinger Thursday, September 29, at 11:00 Central Time at a webinar interview at your desk.


Weisinger will touch on the following topics:


  • How is pressure different than stress?
  • What are some myths about pressure?
  • What are some pressure traps?
  • What are some short-term and long-term strategies to alleviate pressure?




Register now for this FREE interview for all LANO members. (The link requires LANO network sign-in to register.)


See more


See more with the Page to Practice™ summary of Weisinger’s book:


·      Simply log in at the top right corner of CausePlanet’s home page ( and fill in your registered email with LANO and “Password1”.

·      Click on “Summary Library” to see Performing Under Pressure and more titles.


Tags:  author webinars  CausePlanet  Page to Practice 

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Nonprofits with Government Grants/Contracts See Challenges, Seek Solutions for Coping with New Overtime Rule, Nationwide Survey Finds

Posted By Tasha L. Cooper, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Thursday, July 21, 2016


The new federal overtime rules are generating moral support, operational anxiety, and concern for the public among nonprofit organizations providing services on behalf of governments, according to survey responses from more than a thousand nonprofits from all 50 states.


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Overtime Final Rule, published in late May and effective December 1, will require most for-profit, government, and nonprofit employers to pay overtime to full-time employees earning less than $913 per week (47,476/yearly) regardless of whether they are otherwise classified as white collar workers. In a new report, The Nonprofit Overtime Implementation Conundrum, the National Council of Nonprofits presents the findings from a national survey it conducted of nonprofits with government grants and contracts.


The survey found that a third of respondents (34 percent) reported they will likely reduce staff and a third (33 percent) expect to be forced to cut back on the services offered to the public. While many expressed support for the concept of the new rule, nonprofits with government grants and contracts expressed frustration at being caught between a rock and a hard place:  bound by written agreements requiring them to do a certain amount of work at a fixed reimbursement rate when changes in federal wage and hour policy will impose operating expenses to levels that were not anticipated when the agreements were signed. One solution identified in the report is for governments to agree to reopen or renegotiate the existing grants and contracts.


Read the executive summary, full report, and infographic.


Tags:  grants  nonprofit  non-profits 

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Last chance to register for webinar on developing your Asking Rights

Posted By Kris H. Rutledge, CausePlanet, Friday, July 8, 2016

Don't miss your chance to register for our FREE author webinar on Wednesday, July 13.


How can you attract investors to your nonprofit? How can you appeal to donors with more than emotional appeals?


Join CausePlanet founder Denise McMahan and Tom Ralser Wednesday, July 13, at 11:00 Central Time at a webinar interview at your desk.


Ralser will touch on the following topics:

  • How is an investor different in his approach to your organization?
  • How can you appeal both to higher-level investors and smaller donors?
  • How do you establish your Asking Rights?
  • How do you use your Asking Rights to attract investors?



Register now for this FREE interview for all LANO members. (The link requires LANO network sign-in to register.)


See more


See more with the Page to Practice™ summary of Ralser’s book:


·      Simply log in at the top right corner of CausePlanet’s home page ( and fill in your registered email with LANO and “Password1”.

·      Click on “Summary Library” to see Asking Rights and more titles.


Tags:  author webinars  CausePlanet  Page to Practice 

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Don’t Let Bad Behavior Wreck Your Culture

Posted By Unemployment Services Trust (UST), Friday, July 1, 2016

It may be easier to avoid addressing poor behavior in an employee that is a good performer until tensions get so high that senior management or human resources gets involved, often at the request of frustrated co-workers. Take, for example, the employee who does not live the company values, is negative in the workplace, complains about his co-workers, throws tantrums in his cubicle, and uses unprofessional language in the office. The caustic behavior is difficult to work around, and his co-workers tend to avoid him and show signs of stress while he is in the office. The atmosphere is charged with negativity, but he is a top producer and an expert in his field. As his immediate manager, you’re running out of excuses to keep him on board, even with his excellent performance. Keeping him may no longer be worth the strain he is causing in the workplace.

To what extent do his positives justify his inappropriate behavior in the workplace? Employees are probably wondering why management would permit this behavior to continue. There can be several factors, including avoidance and fear of confrontation, worry over the “what if’s” if he quits, and hopes that it will get better all on its own.

It very seldom gets better without targeted coaching and feedback, and addressing bad behavior in the workplace sooner rather than later will likely have greater results on the individual’s overall performance and that of others around him. Employees that witness such behavior without correction or consequences may lose faith and trust in the management team and company. The best solutions incorporate the following:

  • Face the employee and address the observations and concerns, and then outline expectations for moving forward along with disciplinary procedures if expectations or goals are not met.
  • After initial focused coaching discussions, if behavior reoccurs, continue the process of addressing the observations, concerns, and expectations in accordance with your progressive discipline process.
  • Use all tools available, including anger management training, emotional intelligence resources or training, or a mentorship program that provides the individual an outlet to address his frustrations and refocus in a private, safe environment.

Behavior of this nature can be cancer-like in the workplace. When leaders fail to hold management and employees responsible for addressing such issues, the impact is rarely apparent until the final decision to remove the employee occurs. At that point, the damage to the workplace and co-worker relationships is apparent. Addressing poor behavior in the workplace head on can create a lighter atmosphere and more productive workplace that resonates like ripples in a pond across your culture. Take on the storm. Your company culture is worth it.



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LANO members: Don't miss FREE webinar on how to raise more money with Asking Rights

Posted By Kris H. Rutledge, CausePlanet, Monday, June 27, 2016

How can you sustain your nonprofit through more than emotional appeals? 

Higher-level donors (investors) are more interested in outcomes and investing over time in nonprofits. Tom Ralser, author of Asking Rights: Why Some Nonprofits Get Funded (and Some Don't), shows you how using emotional appeals exclusively is no longer enough. He guides you through the process of developing your Asking Rights to convince investors to fund you for a more sustainable future.

Webinar with Tom Ralser

Join CausePlanet founder Denise McMahan and Tom Ralser Wednesday, July 13, at 11:00 Central Time at a webinar interview at your desk.


Ralser will touch on the following topics:

  • How is an investor different in his approach to your organization?
  • How can you appeal both to higher-level investors and smaller donors?
  • How do you establish your Asking Rights?
  • How do you use your Asking Rights to attract investors?



Register now for this FREE interview for all LANO members. (The link requires LANO network sign-in to register.)


See more


See more with the Page to Practice™ summary of Ralser’s book:


·      Simply log in at the top right corner of CausePlanet’s home page ( and fill in your registered email with LANO and “Password1”.

·      Click on “Summary Library” to see Asking Rights and more titles.


Tags:  author webinar  CausePlanet  Page to Practice 

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