The ‘Net is the place to go to find just the perfect volunteer opportunity. It is also a good place to look for a job with a non-profit. For those already working, or volunteering, there are scores of sites providing information on how to pull down grants, manage staff and volunteers, draw up board member contracts, raise donations, and move steadily toward fulfilling the organization’s mission.
These sites, some local and some national or international, are a good place to start:
Board Cafe. Located at www.boardcafe.org, this free monthly newsletter is written for board directors and executive directors. One of the features is a sample contract specifically designed for individuals serving on the boards of not-for-profit organizations.
Bobby. Located at www.cast.org/bobby, this tool helps web page authors identify and repair significant barriers to access by individuals with disabilities. It includes a free online evaluation.
Charity Channel. Located at charitychannel.com, this site is best known for its non-profit arena discussion forums. Join more than 45,000 non-profit professionals in discussing such topics as grants and foundations, the law of tax exempt organizations, college and university advancement, health care philanthropy, arts and social organization fund raising, international fund raising, and mentoring.
Chronicle of Philanthropy. Located at www.philanthropy.com, this national magazine on grants and giving has made its articles, a searchable guide to grants, and a host of other information available online.
Community Career Center. Located at www.nonprofitjobs.org, this site is dedicated to the employment needs of individuals and organizations in the non-profit world.
Community Technology Center Network. Located at www.ctcnet.org, this is a national, non-profit membership organization of more than 450 independent community technology centers where people get free or low-cost access to computers and computer-related technology, such as Internet, together with learning opportunities that encourage exploration and discovery.
Council on Foundations. Located at www.cof.org, this watchdog site includes a Philanthropic Advisory Service, with, among other things, reports on most-asked questions about charities and other soliciting organizations.
Eactivist. Located at www.eactivist.org, this portal lists recent online advocacy events such as E-mail and fax campaigns and petitions. A quick look at its subheadings indicates the breadth of causes embraced. Among them are Help Fight Poverty, Help Clear Landmines, Help Earthquake Victims, Fund Free Mammograms, and Save Endangered Animals. There are also sections addressing corporate accountability, human rights, animal rights, and racism. Visitors can sign up for a variety of activities, including eVolunteering.
Dot Org Jobs. Located at www.dotorgjobs.com, this is an online employment source for the non-profit sector.
Energize. Located at www.energizeinc.com, this portal on volunteer management includes books, links, articles, and articles.
Foundation Center. Located at www.fndcenter.org, this is a digest of fund raising news and grant-maker information. It contains an online library and a marketplace of fund raising books, CD-ROMs, and seminars.
Give Voice. Located at www.givevoice.org, this is the place where you can speak directly to elected officials about the issues affecting the non-profit sector. It offers E-mail and fax action alerts.
GuideStar. Located at www.guidestar.org, this is a donor’s guide to the non-profit universe. It provides detailed information on charities, including mission, programs, leadership, and finances. The information comes from the organizations themselves, IRS Form 990s, and the IRS’s master file of non-profit organizations.
It helps potential donors to decide whether they believe in a charity’s mission, agree with the way it is trying to accomplish that mission, like the way it is run, agree with the way it evaluates itself, is willing to share information, is healthy financially, and is likely to respect donors’ rights.
HandsNet. Located at www.handsnet.org, this site promotes information sharing, cross-sector collaboration and advocacy among individuals and organizations working on a broad range of public interest issues.
Hands-On Helpers Clearing House of Greater Mercer County. Located at www.handsonhelpers.org, this website goes into great detail on dozens of specific volunteer opportunities. Well organized, it allows volunteers to customize a search for opportunities to help in central New Jersey.
Separate menus give users choices of the towns in which they would like to volunteer, the days of the week and hours of the day that work best for them, the skills they would like to share, and the type of clients with whom they would like to interact.
After narrowing down their options, volunteers can read complete details on the work they would be doing.
For example, the Trenton Central High School Writer’s Room has a listing that calls for volunteers to be writing coaches in the classroom for Trenton students, grades 9 to 12. The listing goes on to say that there is also a need for math tutors, that volunteers receive extensive training, and that they will be working with "traditional math, nothing fancy."
Helping.org Nonprofit Resources. Located at www.helping.org/nonprofit, this is a collection of resources to help non-profits with day-to-day operations, technology, getting computer help, and building and marketing web sites.
Idealist. Located at www.idealist.org, this is a global directory of nonprofit-related information, including nonprofit organizations, consultants, products, services, publications, and events. It also contains a nationwide listing of jobs and internships.
Iknow. Located at www.Iknow.org, this is a clearinghouse for links to web sites on non-profit information.
Legal Handbook for Volunteers. Located at www.iclesoftware.com/vlh, this is an online edition of the Volunteer’s Legal Handbook.
The first chapter is entitled "Should You Be Worried?" The answer is, oh yes. "There really isn’t any question about it," the handbook goes on, "there are legal risks associated with being a volunteer; you can’t get around them, you can only educate yourself about those risks and ways of managing them.
Examples include what can happen when an auto accident occurs while you are driving Little Leaguers, an employee embezzles funds when you are serving on the board of directors, a volunteer you supervise has to be "fired," or the executive director of your organization is overpaid.
New Jersey Self Help Group Clearinghouse. Located at www.njgroups.org, this site is funded through the Division of Mental Health Services. While it offers some information on forming and joining self-help groups of all kinds, its focus is on mental health self-help groups.
NJServes. Located at www.njserves.rutgers.edu, this site, created and maintained by Rutgers University students in the Citzenship and Service Education program, has a mission of linking all New Jersey residents in a virtual community. It connects individuals, government, civic organizations, elected officials, and corporations in an effort to improve life for every citizen of the Garden State.
The site was developed with the support of PSE&G and of the office of the Secretary of State.
It uses a calendar format through which those who want to volunteer can find opportunities occurring at a particular time of year. Among the choices for mid-December through the beginning of the year are the Coastal Habitat for Humanity, Market Street Mission, St. Peter’s Hospital coffee shop, Shelter Our Sisters, and the Boys and Girls Club. Each opportunity listed comes with a link to the organization’s website, where additional information can be found.
The site also has a "Give an Hour" feature through which individuals can make a difference in small increments of time. Categories included are youth, seniors, housing, health, and the environment. After choosing one of these categories, potential volunteers can narrow their search by county before registering to help out.
Nonportal. Located at www.nonportal.com, this site provides a place where non-profit resource providers can share their information.
Nonprofit Express. Located at www.npxpress.com, this is a gateway to news about philanthropy and the non-profit sector.
Nonprofit Genie. Located at www.genie.org, this is a collection of FAQs on topics such as board development, consultants, databases, DSL, entrepreneurism, Federal Form 990, financial management, fiscal sponsorship, fundraising insurance, Internet and telephone systems, strategic planning, technology planning, and volunteer management.
Nonprofit Online News. Located at www.gilbert.org/news/, this is the closest thing the non-profit sector has to its own technology wire service. Editor Michael Gilbert serves up one-line summaries of the latest news, interviews, links, and tech trends.
Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Located at www.nonprofitrisk.org, this site helps minimize risks for non-profit staff and volunteers. It also offers publications, a newsletter, a library, consulting, and audits. The issues it covers range from a drop in donations due to the economic downturn to the risks of transporting clients via van (one serious accident occurs every other week).
Philanthropy News Network. Located at pnnonline.org, this site keeps track of goings on in the world of charitable giving. A search feature allows users to track new developments in their own geographical area, or in their areas of interest.
Proposal Writing Internet Resources. Located at www.library.wisc.edu/libraries/grants/proposal, this site focuses on the all important proposal writing process. It provides hints, guides, and sample proposals to help first time grant seekers of all kinds to pull in funds for their organizations.
Visionaries. Located at www.visionaries.org, this is the site of a non-profit that produces a public television series nationally broadcast and now in its seventh season. It uses the media to highlight the work of non-profit organizations across the globe.
Volunteer Match. Located at www.volunteermatch.org, this is one of the most comprehensive resources volunteers can use to find a good match for their interests and talents within their geographic area.
Volunteer Today. Located at www.volunteertoday.org, this monthly web magazine focuses on volunteer program management, recruitment, and recognition, as well as the latest news affecting volunteers and the organizations to which they give their time.
As the end of the year quickly approaches, the IRS reminds you that you may be able to use your gifts to qualified tax-exempt organizations to reduce your taxes. To make sure you get the appropriate benefit from your generous donations, note the important guidelines for donating used cars and other property.
The tax benefit from charitable contributions is only available for the one-third of the taxpayers who itemize deductions. Those who take a standard deduction receive no additional tax benefit for their contributions. For 2001, nearly 39.4 million taxpayers deducted charitable contributions totaling over $139.2 billion.
Only contributions actually made during the tax year are deductible. For example, if you pledged $500 in September but paid the charity only $200 by December 31, your 2003 deduction would be $200. However, you include credit card charges and payments by check in the year they are given to the charity, even though you may not pay the credit card bill or have your bank account debited until the next year.
Those itemizing deductions reduce their taxable income by the total contributed to qualified tax-exempt organizations, with some limits. The tax saving usually equals the deduction times the marginal tax rate This is the top rate for the person’s income level. For example, an individual with a taxable income of $60,000 donates $2,000 to his or her church. The tax savings from this generosity will be $500, that’s $2,000 times the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate of 25 percent.
The deduction for a donation of property is usually the property’s fair market value. For ordinary income property and for property held one year or less, the deduction is generally the lesser of the fair market value or the taxpayer’s basis in the property.
For stocks and bonds with an active market, the fair market value is the average of the highest and lowest selling prices on the contribution date.
Figuring the value of personal property can be more complicated. For example, determining the value of a donated used car requires weighing several factors. Some car donation program operators have mistakenly suggested that donors can take as a deduction the full value listed in an established used car pricing guide.
The tax law, however, allows a deduction for only the fair market value of the car. Fair market value takes into account not only the year, the model and the mileage of the car, but also the local market and the vehicle’s condition. As a result, the fair market value of the taxpayer’s car may be different than the average price listed in an established used car guide.
Keep appropriate records to substantiate the value of your gifts. For any single gift of $250 or more, you must have a written acknowledgement from the charity by the earlier of the date you file your tax return or the filing deadline, including extensions. If you donated an item or group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 (other than money or publicly traded securities), you must get a qualified written appraisal from a qualified appraiser.