Articles

Student sponsorship deal raises money, criticism

The Indianapolis office of Zurich-based UBS Financial Services Inc. is experimenting with “adopting” the freshman class at Herron High School as the UBS Scholars of 2010. Its foundation made a $100,000 gift to the startup charter school, and local employees made a commitment to tutor, mentor and otherwise support its first 92 students.

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Create-a-job program serving disabled threatened: Federal funding cuts could mean early end for options available through customized employment initiative

Bryan Ballard and Cody Feldman never dreamed they’d end up here, soaking up the sun along Indianapolis’ downtown canal, peddling frozen treats from their very own ice cream cart. They certainly never planned to become business partners when they met as adolescents playing Special Olympics basketball. But it happened anyway, thanks to a federally funded program intended to help significantly disabled individuals find work that fits their interests and skills. What makes the so-called customizedemployment effort unusual is its emphasis…

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E-tailers playing their cards right: CPAs-turned-entrepreneurs launch Web sites to cash in on poker craze

Talk about irony. Buoyed by success playing online poker, local accountant Jeff Smith quit his day job three years ago to sell poker chips and playing cards for live games. Now he and business partner Knute Lentz are too busy filling orders to deal themselves in. Once colleagues at national accounting firm BKD LLC, the men, both 33, said they saw the game’s potential long before amateur Chris Moneymaker’s victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker made it a…

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FINDING the RIGHT FIT: Program to put execs in board seats, but will firms be willing to pay for it?

Ruth Purcell Jones knows the statistics well. Nearly 1.8 million board seats at not-forprofit organizations turn over every year, presenting a challenge for charities already trying to fill the 1.2 million positions open at any given time. And anecdotal evidence backs up the national research. “If there’s one thing I hear over and over, it’s, ‘We can’t find board members,'” said Jones, president of Indianapolis-based governance consultant Trustee Leadership Development. “It’s really a ‘Who do you know?’ kind of thing….

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Opera in fight to avoid finale: Organization embraces co-productions as a way to keep the Fat Lady at bay

It might be facing a $350,000 deficit, a round of staff cuts and a scaled-back production schedule, but the Indianapolis Opera isn’t ready to cue the Fat Lady quite yet. Instead, the not-for-profit arts organization is employing a series of cost-saving measures intended to keep her off the stage indefinitely-including a greater emphasis on sharing production expenses with other opera companies. Co-producing is an increasingly popular strategy among performing arts groups looking to make the most of their limited resources….

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Paid boards spur not-for-profit debate: Critics: If directors won’t give time, who will?

Indianapolis-based USA Funds is a large, complex organization, and members of its governing board are busy people. Same goes for the NCAA, another local not-for-profit with a national reach, a nine-figure budget and directors who are anything but professional volunteers. The two organizations have one key difference, though: USA Funds pays its board members. The NCAA does not. “It’s simply the nature of the world,” said Norm Lefstein, an Indiana University law professor who chairs the compensation committee at student-loan…

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Tax forms not dependable as only source of NFP data:

Not-for-profit organizations’ tax filings can provide a wealth of information, from big-picture data like annual revenue and expenses to nitty-gritty details, including the CEO’s salary. But drawing conclusions-or trying to compare organizations-based only on the IRS Form 990 is difficult at best. First off, not all tax-exempt organizations are required to file tax returns. Groups with less than $25,000 in annual revenue are exempt from filing, as are all churches and many other religious institutions. And among those that do…

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COMPEN$ATION CLASH: Complexity boosts not-for-profit pay, but should work be its own reward?

At least two large Indianapolis not-for-profits have been investigated-and cleared-as part of an Internal Revenue Service examination of compensation practices at tax-exempt organizations. Preliminary results of the nationwide inquiry aren’t expected until fall, but the scrutiny already has increased the volume in an ongoing debate over how not-for-profit executives should be paid. Some observers have called for setting limits on not-for-profit compensation, citing the charitable nature of the work. Others insist sixor seven-figure pay packages are not out of line…

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Conner Prairie set free; will control own destiny:

The once-fierce battle over Conner Prairie came to a peaceful end in 2005 when Earlham College agreed to relinquish control of the living history museum and about $125 million in assets. Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter brokered the cease-fire, negotiating a settlement to the years-long dispute that has taken a toll on the Hamilton County institution. Carter entered the fray in mid-2003, following Earlham’s ouster of the museum president and 27 of its 30 board members. As the state’s not-for-profit…

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Public broadcasters seek big bucks to feed Big Bird: WFYI capital campaign has ambitious $15.3M goal

Public broadcasters usually aren’t shy about asking for money. Indeed, their telethon-style fund-raising drives likely are as recognizable to audiences as Big Bird and Garrison Keillor. But when it comes to big money, they haven’t had much practice. Until now. For more than a year, Indianapolis broadcaster WFYI quietly has been lining up support for its largest-ever capital campaign-a $15.3 million effort to upgrade equipment, expand its Meridian Street building, and more than double the not-for-profit’s endowment. Station leaders were…

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Utility fund-raising effort takes heat for opt-out strategy: Critics say customers should be asked if they want to contribute to Operation Round Up-or any charity

The concept is a noble one: By rounding their bills up to the nearest dollar, utility customers can turn pennies into a philanthropic windfall for a worthy cause. Indeed, Operation Round Up programs at nearly 250 electric cooperatives nationwide-including 22 in Indiana-have collected more than $50 million for charity since the fund-raising effort began in 1989. But some observers question the method most participating utilities use to get their members involved. Rather than being asked to give, residential and commercial…

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United Way campaign facing dual challenges this year: Onetime gifts, charitable response to Katrina devastation complicates already-complex fund drive

It’s never easy for United Way of Central Indiana-raising money seldom is. But this year, organizers went into the annual fund-raising drive with an additional challenge: replacing $1.5 million in one-time donations that helped get the 2004 campaign to its $36.6 million goal. Their task is complicated by the fact that this year’s effort started just as the philanthropic response to Hurricane Katrina kicked into high gear. Americans have given nearly $1 billion to disaster relief already, and the impact…

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Indianapolis responds to Katrina devastation:

Local philanthropic response to the epic disaster was almost immediate. Television and radio stations alike urged central Indiana audiences to make donations at dozens of collection sites, and the Salvation Army’s Indiana Division broke out its red kettles to help. The corporate community also responded. Gifts made by IBJ’s deadline include: Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. said it will contribute $1 million to the American Red Cross and match all contributions made by its U.S. employees. Lilly also will give…

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Humane Society makes progress, but has room to improve: Lilly Endowment grant to boost shelter’s fund-raising

Revenue continues to rise. Expenses are holding steady. And the shelter hasn’t borrowed as much money as expected. The road ahead may be littered with potential pitfalls, but those leading the charge believe they’re on the right path. “It’s been a good year, learning what we can do and how far we can stretch ourselves …,” Executive Director Martha Boden said. I have a tremendous amount of confidence we’ll get there.” Others agree. Local philanthropic heavyweight Lilly Endowment Inc., for…

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Quiet approach drawing criticism: President’s lack of visibility hurts IU, some complain

Never mind the Herculean task of leading the state’s largest college system in a difficult economic climate; he knew that would be hard. But after two years of long weeks and late nights, he’s facing a more surprising challenge-defending himself from critics who question his ability to get the job done. IU seems to be adrift, naysayers argue, and so far Herbert doesn’t seem to be doing much to get it back on course. “It is with great regret that…

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More not-for-profits try for-profit ventures ______: Mission, not money, should be motivation, observers say

Finding money for the agency’s burgeoning hunger-relief and job-training programs was difficult, and additional growth would only add to the challenge. So leaders asked themselves an increasingly common question: “What else can we do?” And like a growing number of its not-forprofit peers in Indianapolis and elsewhere, Second Helpings thinks it has the answer in a for-profit venture. Using part of a $250,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the expertise developed in seven years of preparing and delivering meals…

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Scammer targets local trust: E-mail scheme seeks data from Pulliam grant recipients

An Internet scammer borrowed the identity of a high-profile local foundation this month, blasting out an error-riddled e-mail message that solicited personal information from former grant recipients. Leaders of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust responded by sending its own e-mail to all 2,400 individuals on its electronic contact list, instructing them to disregard the fake missive that promised a $2.5 million grant. Fallout from the so-called phishing attack appears to be minimal so far, trust CEO Harriet M. Ivey…

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Music events seeking rhythm: Midwest Music Summit picks up the beat for industry convention expected to draw 23,000

The Midwest Music Summit is approaching its fifth year bigger than ever as organizers fine-tune an event they hope will find harmony with a massive convention planned for the same weekend. More than 400 artists are slated to perform at 35 venues throughout the city during the July 21-23 summit-scheduled this year to coincide with International Music Products Association’s NAMM Summer Session, an annual gathering expected to draw 23,000 music aficionados for its first stop in Indianapolis. The timing is…

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Historic battle settled: Prairie pact lays out plans without judging past practices

But whatever Earlham College puts in the 41-year history of credits and debits, it will have no bearing on the resolution of a decades-long dispute over control of the Hamilton County attraction. That deal is largely done. Carter and Earlham board Chairman Mark B. Myers ended nearly two years of negotiation July 5, putting quill-topped ballpoint to paper in front of a cheering crowd in the museum’s Welcome Center. The agreement-which frees Conner Prairie from Earlham’s control and calls for…

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State plays wait, see: Indiana likely to follow federal lead regarding oversight of charities

As the national conversation about improving not-for-profit oversight gains volume, Indiana’s top charity watchdog is tuning in-while he considers whether to join the cacophony. Attorney General Steve Carter convened an informal group of advisers to weigh in on the topic last year, ultimately pushing for changes in state law that give him more ways to deal with abuses in the sector. Now he’s content to let federal efforts play out before determining what more can be done to keep the…

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