News from Ohio Citizens for the Arts

The gift that keeps giving…to the arts
OCA memberships make memorable tokens for the arts supporters on your list

By Julius C. Dorsey, Jr.
Board Member, Ohio Citizens for the Arts

What do you give the arts lover in your life who has everything?

Why, the gift of all the arts news and updates they can handle, of course! The loyal arts supporters on your holiday list will certainly remember your gift of a one-year membership to Ohio Citizens for the Arts – probably because it will require no more space in their homes.

An OCA membership gift is just as beautiful, however. That’s because the recipient receives the kinds of benefits that a true arts supporter can truly enjoy, including:

  • The scoop – in News from Ohio Citizens for the Arts, a monthly electronic newsletter with all the latest developments in the arts locally, statewide, and nationally
  • An artful heads-up – early notice about networking opportunities at events like the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio
  • Calls to arms for the arts – Up-to-date information and action alerts regarding legislation that impacts the arts and arts education in Ohio
  • Access to influencers – Link to our E-advocacy center to find your legislators with ease and write to them for their support of the arts
  • OK, one piece of art – A beautiful commemorative membership card depicting the Ohio Statehouse amidst a serene winter scene by Columbus water color artist and OCA board member Jim Siemer
  • All of the above are neatly packaged and ‘delivered’ to your friends in their names with your purchase of a one-year Ohio Citizens for the Arts membership at any level. Individual membership levels range from $30 to $600.

To purchase a gift membership, call Janelle Hallett, OCA Membership Coordinator at (614) 221-4064, or purchase online by clicking the “Membership” tab at www.OhioCitizensForTheArts.org.

Americans for the Arts Releases Statement on 2012 Elections

Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund President and CEO Robert L. Lynch gave the following statement on the Election Day results:

“On behalf of Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund, I wish to congratulate President Barack Obama and all of the national, state, and local elected leaders across the country who won their elections last night.

White House

President Obama will now have the opportunity to fully realize his vision for the arts and culture as he originally laid out four years ago. By successfully securing healthcare for artists, economic recovery funds that saved artists’ jobs through the National Endowment for the Arts, and ongoing support for appropriations that fund federal cultural agencies, the president has taken many steps in supporting the nonprofit arts sector.

We hope to encourage President Obama and his administration over the course of the next four years to remain focused on maintaining arts education in every classroom; allocating a larger budget for the arts as an economic generator for American jobs, products, and communities; and protecting charitable giving incentives that are the lifeblood of the nonprofit arts sector.

We are proud that the nonprofit arts sector has already played an important role in our nation’s economic recovery by generating $135 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.1 million jobs, and returning $22 billion in tax revenue back to federal, state, and local coffers.

Congress

The make up of the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate, with a few races still to be called, is poised to remain relatively the same with modest gains by Democrats in both chambers. In the House of Representatives, we are happy to report that Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) won re-election in a hard-fought campaign made difficult by New York’s congressional redistricting plan. Also, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) will continue to chair the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, ensuring a friend of the arts remains at the head of that very important panel.

With the retirements of former Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and Interior Subcommittee member Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and the losses of moderate Republican Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Charlie Bass (R-NH), the number of Republicans that formed a crucial pro-arts voting bloc in the House has taken a hit.

Their defeats mean we have to re-double our education of new members to ensure a firewall against possible future congressional attacks on arts funding. We look forward to working with newly elected Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) who bring their stellar House arts voting records to the Senate.”

To read the full statement, including more about Congress and state/local elections, visit ARTSblog.

Public Policy Alert: Preserve the Charitable Deduction

As Congress reconvenes for the year-end lame duck session to address a number of looming priorities, including the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, reinstatement of the tax provisions commonly known as extenders (including the IRA charitable rollover and other giving incentives), sequestration, further deficit reduction, and setting the stage for comprehensive tax reform, there are reports that suggest limits to the charitable deduction may be under consideration to help pay for any number of these issues.

Proposals to limit or cap the charitable deduction are nothing new – in fact in the past few years we’ve seen:

  • President Obama propose capping the charitable deduction at 28% for taxpayers earning above $250,000;
  • Governor Romney propose an aggregate cap as low as $17,000 on deductions for all taxpayers, which would effectively eliminate the charitable deduction for most taxpayers (There have also been other proposals to place an aggregate cap on deductions, including one that would place a cap of 2% of AGI on deductions for all taxpayers); and
  • A proposal from the Simpson-Bowles Commission to eliminate the charitable deduction and replace it with a 12% flat credit for donations above a 2% floor of AGI.

Contact your members of Congress and the President and urge them not to limit the charitable deduction in the lame duck session and to avoid deficit reduction and tax reform solutions that would increase poverty and widen income inequality. As nonprofits continue to see increasing demand for programs and services, our elected officials should support policies that encourage all Americans to give more to charitable organizations and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

OANO is a member of Independent Sector, a national coalition of nonprofit organizations. Independent Sector has a VERY EASY tool for nonprofit organizations to obtain sample language as well as assist organizations in identifying and contacting their elected officials. Click here for details.

If you would like to use Ohio specific language as part of your messaging, please feel free to use economic data from OANO’s Sector Report found here.

Source: Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations

50 Top Community-Minded Corporations Unveiled

IBM and AT&T headlined the 50 corporations that were the most active in their communities, according to a list released by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), Points of Light (PoL), and Bloomberg LP.

The inaugural edition of The Civic 50, which will be posted in full on Bloomberg’s Business Week website, represents a comprehensive ranking of S&P 500 companies that best use their time to help communities. The list ranks companies on seven specific metrics: Leadership, measurement and strategy, design, employee civic growth, community partnerships, cause alignment, and transparency.

“NCoC is proud to be part of The Civic 50 launch,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of NCoC, via a press release. “The Civic 50 demonstrates that the best companies in America are deeply committed to strengthening their respective communities. Leaders of these companies are aligning the expertise of their companies and people with the needs of their communities, and then measuring the impact of their programs. NCoC hopes The Civic 50 will spur companies throughout our country to do the same.”

More than two-thirds of the top 50 companies “frequently” or “always” used the professional skills of their workforce to address social issues and real community challenges. In addition, 66 percent of the corporations had “mission-level” alignment with community partners, working with them not just on individual programs or events, but also on the highest strategic level.

With the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy still looming large, Jackie Norris, executive director of the PoL Corporate Institute, it’s even more important to see businesses pitching in to help their communities. “In times of disaster and in relative calm, The Civic 50’s work is transformative, innovative and critically important,” she said in a statement.

The top five companies in The Civic 50 – IBM, Citigroup, AT&T, Aetna, and Capital One Financial Corporation – contributed $1.5 billion in grant support to community organizations, 17.5 million volunteer hours valued at more than $375 million, and $150 million in matching donations.

View the full Civic 50 list.

STEM Promotes Science Instruction at the Expense of Humanities

We need more engineers and scientists. That has become the mantra of promoters of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in education. There is nothing wrong with such a rallying cry, except that investment in STEM education usually comes at the expense of HAS (humanities, arts, and social sciences).

There is no arguing that inadequate science and mathematics education threatens the economic competitiveness of the United States.

It is no less true, however, that the neglect and systematic defunding of education in fields such as history, sociology and art history can have even more damaging repercussions. Damages include the creation of an uninformed citizenry and a concomitant erosion of democracy, and of a workforce unable to understand, communicate, and collaborate with people of different cultures in an increasingly diverse America and globalized world.

This, too, threatens America’s economic competitiveness.
The investment in science and technology, the desire for higher mathematical proficiency among school children, and implementation of programs to increase the number of graduating engineers are important goals but they are not a panacea.

Botanists and geneticists have succeeded at developing pest-resistant, high-yielding food crops but they have not been able to eradicate famine – world hunger is actually on the rise.

The so-called defense industry has created futuristic weaponry that can virtually guarantee victory in the battlefields, but its scientists cannot guarantee the preservation of peace once the smoke and stench of war have dissipated.

And likewise, modern medicine and biotechnology have prolonged people’s lives but cannot assure that those who live longer lead fuller and spiritually richer lives.

No! Scientists and their formulas and machines cannot solve the world’s problems!
We also need the knowledge of social and political scientists to help us figure out how to distribute those high-yielding crops in war-torn Africa.

We need the wisdom of historians to win the peace after winning the war or to prevent wars altogether.

And we need poets, painters, musicians, ballet dancers and clergy to nurture the spirit of those who now lead longer and healthier lives.

STEM without flowers is just a bare stem.
Indeed, we need more humanists and social scientists as canaries in the mines, to warn us about looming dangers of an increasingly technocratic, market-driven and authoritarian system.

And we may soon need them to play the role that a few thousand Irish monks played during the Middle Ages, helping to preserve the knowledge and artistic sensitivities of classical Greece and Rome in the face of barbarism.

The systematic neglect of HAS is far more complex than a simple transfer of education funds during tough economic times from those fields to STEM.

It is partially the result of the growing dominance of corporations which, on the one hand, demand highly-trained scientists, managers and technicians, and on the other, benefit from the existence of a vast pool of workers and consumers educated only to the point of basic functionality. Trends in our education system respond to such corporate demands.

Public school education, particularly in poor districts, has suffered from marginalization of the social sciences and the elimination of arts programs.

In many states, Florida among them, governments are neglecting, if not willingly dismantling, humanities and social science programs while expanding STEM fields.

Public schools in affluent districts, exclusive private schools and elite private colleges, while not immune to the increasing dominance of STEM, have successfully preserved holistic curricula with adequate support for the arts, humanities and social sciences.

These disparities between public and private institutions point to a dreadful scenario. One in which those who can afford it will enjoy the luxury of a well-rounded quality education, while those who cannot, will be limited to increasingly narrow vocational and technical opportunities.
Luis Martínez-Fernández is a history professor at the University of Central Florida and trustee of the College Board.

Source: Miami Herald

Flat or Declining Donations Mark the First Half of 2012

The slow economy continued to cause fundraising challenges for most charities in the first half of this year, according to a study released today by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, a coalition of five organizations that collect and study information on giving and fundraising.

Giving dropped at 29 percent of the 781 groups in the study when compared to the first half of 2011 and was flat for another 25 percent. About 46 percent chalked up increases.
Small groups did far less well than the big ones, a finding that mirrored the results of last year’s study.

The sluggish giving rates seem to be a direct result of the economy, the researchers said. Gross domestic product grew by only 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year, while spending by consumers stagnated.

Lapsed Donors
Charities that increased donations were more likely than others to reach out to supporters in multiple ways such as e-mail or in-person events, to show donors results of their contributions, and to publicly acknowledge donors by listing their names or taking other steps.

The study also examined whether charities are doing a good job of keeping donors year after year. Nearly half said that 60 percent or more of donors who gave to their organizations in 2011 have made one or more gifts in 2012.

While charities often stop making special efforts to reach out to people who haven’t given for a while, that strategy may be a mistake, the researchers said. Charities that focused attention on people who had stopped giving tended to fare better with their overall fundraising returns and in their donor-loyalty rates than other groups, the study found.

In addition, “a well-developed communications plan seems to be a critical step in both retention and in increased charitable receipts,” the researchers wrote. “This includes providing donor recognition through thank-you letters and special activities; reporting your organization’s work and showing the impact achieved with donor gifts; and using multiple channels of distribution to get your message out: online, print, e-mail, magazines, and so on.”

Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy

Cultivating the Next Generation of Arts Donors

The names Paul and Rose Carter don’t stick out in the Playbill acknowledgments. On paper, the husband and wife seem like typical arts patrons. Paul serves on the board of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Rose sits on the board of the National Symphony Orchestra. They serve side by side on the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts, giving their time and money.

But the Carters are outliers within philanthropic circles. In their 40s, with four children younger than 13, they are younger than the typical arts patron. Indeed, they are half the age of many National Symphony Orchestra board members, 11 of whom have each served 35 years.

When asked why he gives well before his twilight years, Paul Carter, chief executive of software developer MapHook Inc., gives a simple response: “At the Kennedy Center, you become like a family…it’s not just about the shows. It’s the whole concierge-level experience they provide.”

And that explanation – one that prioritizes the donor experience – is a hopeful sign for arts centers, galleries, museums and theaters, which are competing for donations from coveted younger patrons. “Hook them young and they’ll stick around” is the conventional wisdom. And Washington arts institutions are catering to the tastes of younger donors, just as they’re becoming more important to arts giving.

It’s unclear whether economic factors and shifts in wealth will affect how younger people give. “From what I’ve seen, younger generations have less of a financial commitment to the arts,” said Maria Di Mento, a staff writer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “They go to the theater, they like it, but they don’t necessarily view it as something that is crucial to the well-being of society, and if they do, they’re not giving [large] gifts.”

But young philanthropists do give widely to education and community development programs; experts are finding that they donate to arts institutions that champion education.

Arts institutions are also examining how generations X and Y give of their money and time. Since the late 1990s, experts have examined how nonprofit groups are affected by venture philanthropy, a term that describes how technology and business executives make long-term financial commitments to charities and then work with them to meet quantifiable goals.

“The good news is that there always seems to be a subset of people who understand the value of the arts,” Marie Mattson said. “The arts have always brought people together in ways that nothing else can. Every culture on the planet has dance and music and theater; the arts are clearly holding their own.”
Read the full story at the Washington Post

Suggested Reading

Nonprofit Voters Increase from 2008: Claim a Higher Share of the Electorate in 2012: The benchmark National Election Exit Poll showed that the lower income, younger, and diverse populations typically served by nonprofits accounted for a greater share of voter turnout than ever before. While some of this can be attributed to population increases, it was also aided by unprecedented voter education and engagement efforts from the nonprofit and civic sector. Although the total number of ballots cast will fall short of the record in 20082 it will still top pre-election expectations.

Election Done, Focus Is On Budget Cuts, Tax Deduction: President Barack Obama won re-election to a second, four-year term but he likely won’t have too much time to bask in the glory, as critical issues that impact the nonprofit sector will need to be dealt with before his inauguration in 10 weeks – if not sooner. The primary issues – namely the federal government’s financial difficulties, often termed the “fiscal cliff” – were determined long before the election, according to Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C.

Technology News You Can Use

Rounding up Volunteers via New Apps: George Shank, an interactive software developer who works with Mr. Sims, helped build a service called Sprout Help that relays information about where to send supplies and how to volunteer effectively. “A lot of it stemmed from wanting to help but not being sure how to do it,” Mr. Shank said. “We heard stories of people going to fire stations to volunteer and being turned away.” Although voice and data connections often succumb to power failures, many people can still send text messages over cellphone networks. Sprout takes advantage of that loophole. Volunteers could post fliers with information about how to send a text to Sprout to join the service, which doubles as a real-time alert system that fires off messages with information about where volunteers should go. Those in need can also send messages through Sprout outlining their location, and detailing the area’s needs, like fresh water or medical help. Read more about recruiting volunteers through new apps.

Congresswoman Turns to Reddit for Legislative Advice: Typically when policy makers brainstorm ideas on new legislation, they’ll talk to their colleagues or constituents. But California Rep. Zoe Lofgren is trying something different — she’s turning to Reddit. Lofgren will be tuning into Reddit to ask people for ideas on how to best protect Web sites accused of copyright infringement, according to political news site The Hill. The congresswoman is working on new legislation that would notify Web site owners blamed for copyright violations. The law would also halt the government from shutting down Web sites until the owners were able to defend themselves. Find out what other Congressional leaders have used Reddit to hear from users.

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One Response to News from Ohio Citizens for the Arts

  1. I love it whenever people get together and share opinions.

    Great blog, continue the good work!

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