Religious Organizations and the 990 Exemption: more harm than good?

Penna's Perch
One of the side effects of our American separation of church and state is that churches are neither taxed, nor are they required to file a 990 with the IRS, even though they are generally considered to be “charities.”[1]  But in actual practice over the years, this exemption has spread to religious organizations, so that not only congregations themselves are exempt, but so too are those entities affiliated with a church or religion.  This means that not only congregations and houses of worship are exempt, but so too are religious orders, ministries, missionary organizations, and other similar organized efforts.  But it has to be asked if the blanket exception from both taxation and reporting is necessarily a good thing. Among the historical underpinnings of these exemptions is Chief Justice John…
Read More

Head vs. Heart Based Giving

Penna's Perch
Ken Berger and I respond here to a piece Ruth McCambridge had in the Nonprofit Quarterly.... Ruth McCambridge’s December 5th article on the Nonprofit Quarterly’s Nonprofit Newswire page, “Donors Give LESS When More Analytic Say Researchers,” is certainly provocative; but it misses a serious point and could give donors, both large and small, the wrong impression. Reviewing a recent Boston Globe article, McCambridge reports that certain research supports the notion that “the more individual contributors think about their donation the less they are likely to give.”  This, McCambridge concedes, “of course, flies in the face of logic for those who encourage individuals to give more ‘wisely,’ recommending research about an organization’s financial ratios and outcomes.”   The article ends with the conclusion that “encouraging donors to give to the most efficient,…
Read More

Why?

Penna's Perch
In this inaugural edition of our blog, maybe the first question we ought to answer is Why do this; why launch yet another blog in a space that is already overwhelmed with competing opinions and a lack of consensus on so many basic issues? One reason is precisely because of the multiplicity of opinions regarding outcomes, the need for them in the work of nonprofits (and government, and philanthropy…).  On one side, there are those who suggest that because of the historical lack of a focus on outcomes, there is scant evidence that the work of most nonprofits has made any discernible difference at all on the multiple problems these organizations exist to address. Additionally, there are some who suggest that those pushing for outcomes in the work of nonprofits…
Read More