Non-Profits: Learning from One Another

Non-profits, especially small ones, work hard to make a little go a long way. Little time, little money, and often little training.

Yet the knowledge required to run a nonprofit effectively is significant. According to nonprofit trainer Marge Smith, "a non-profit is more complicated to run than a for-profit. You have to juggle a board, a staff, volunteers, and funders." And, in contrast to a business, a non-profit’s bottom line is its vision, not its income, a quantity much harder to measure. Similarly, the motivators are not salary, but esprit de corps and the opportunity to be on a team with a significant goal.

Another challenge that non-profits face is diversity. "The people you serve and multi-millionaires can be on the same board," she says. Nonprofits must realize their mission while empowering different groups of people to work together toward a common goal.

Despite the complexities of nonprofit management, many participants don’t have enough training, and time out for education seems beyond reach. Staff members are just too busy fighting fires and keeping the basic functions going.

When Smith was the executive director of the Princeton YWCA in the 1990s, she had the opportunity to connect with lots of people and organizations. When she left the YWCA, she understood how little training was available for those involved with nonprofits – staff, volunteers, and boards.

Smith characterizes the problem this way: "Nonprofits are trying to do incredible things – dealing with poverty, building children’s self-esteem in after school programs, addiction – and yet they are trying to run on goodwill alone."

She decided to put together a conference that would enable people to get training inexpensively and conveniently. That conference is nine-year-old Community Works, an evening event that offers nearly 20 workshops (each person takes two) with top quality trainers, a box supper, and a keynote speaker – all for a fee of only $27.

Smith believes the location is important, too. "We hold it at a site that connotes prestige and value," says Smith, and this year’s Community Works will take place at Princeton University’s Frist Campus Center, on Monday, January 30, at 5 p.m. For more information, call 609-466-6636 or 609-924-5071. Register online at www.princetoncommunityworks.org.

Community Works started in 1997, and the planning process has been identical for all of its nine years. The first year Smith recruited people she knew personally, who were involved in non-profits and asked them to bring along friends. They brainstormed about topics and put together workshops. "The process is still the same," says Smith. "On the evaluation forms for the conference we ask what workshops are needed and whether the person wants to help with the planning for the next year."

"People really do bring friends," says Smith. "This year in a committee of 30 people, there are 12-15 I hadn’t seen before." She says the planning process is inclusive, "which makes it fun." Each person makes a unique contribution. Smith is in charge of workshop titles and leaders. Her co-chair, Jeaninne Honstein, handles communication with the volunteer committee. Committee members have designed the logo, created a computer registration system, put together a PowerPoint presentation for the keynote activity, and taken PR photographs.

After selecting topics, committee members search out top-quality leaders who have experience as either a staff member, board member, or volunteer with a non-profit. "They have to have walked in the shoes of people struggling to do things with little money and resources," says Smith. To ensure that the leaders are high quality, at least one committee member attends every workshop, and the committee carefully reviews all the evaluation forms.

The ideas generated by the committee’s inclusive process are often quite creative. Take last year’s use of the Princeton High School orchestra to illustrate management principles in a workshop titled "Orchestrating for Success." Here are some of the experiential take-home lessons the non-profits workers took away from the orchestra exercise:

Figure out the skills of the people you are working with. Students walked into the audience and handed people violins, tubas, and clarinets, and asked them to play. "In real life," says Smith, "we would never give someone a job like this before asking: Do you play the clarinet?"

Deal with people who are out of synch. The orchestra plays, but one person is on the wrong page. "If you don’t deal with this person," says Smith, "it destroys the whole enterprise."

Have a competent leader. The orchestra played with both a competent and an incompetent conductor. "Leaders who don’t know what they are doing create total confusion," she says.

Use positive reinforcement when working with volunteers and staff. The incompetent conductor screamed at the musicians, "You’re doing it all wrong." The conscripted "musicians" learned first-hand how it feels to be handed a job with no preparation, and then berated for doing it poorly.

Delegate. The conductor ran around playing different instruments instead of conducting. "Leaders get it wrong," says Smith. "They think they have to do everything. But they don’t need to be doing, they need to be orchestrating – it’s a totally different role."

The committee had to think hard to come up with another experiential concept for this year’s conference. They finally settled on a circus, figuring that non-profit managers have to "juggle" a board, staff, volunteers, funders, and the people being served, and sometimes have to "walk a tightrope" between conflicting needs and priorities. Boys from the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart will be the circus performers.

Not only is Community Works about developing skills, but it is also about networking and raising community awareness of existing resources. "People sometimes don’t know who else is dealing with child care, hunger, and so forth," says Smith.

To help people network, the Community Works program lists all organizations represented (about 150), and includes names and contact information. The conference itself opens with a structured networking experience: people are asked to find 10 to 15 people they don’t know who are involved in different nonprofit functions, for example, a board member, a fundraising organizer, and a volunteer who has had a positive experience. At the beginning of every workshop, people introduce themselves. Even the planning committee is a great networking opportunity.

Sometimes the networking at Community Works yields quick results. Once a neighborhood group in Trenton announced that it needed $5,000 for a project with kids, and someone in the same workshop offered to help out.

The basic workshops – like the "Three R’s (recruit, retain, and recognize) of Volunteer Management" and "Effective Fundraising" – don’t change a lot from year to year, because each year new people attend the conference. Usually about half of the workshops are repeats, and half are new. Some new ones this year are: "Dealing with Difficult People," "Increasing Your Effectiveness Through Partnerships," and "Marketing: Cost-Effective Strategies."

As a nonprofit consultant, Smith leads one or more non-profit retreats or trainings a month. But thinking about training possibilities is a way of life for her. Recently, for example, she and Yvonne Chang of Mercer County Community College created a certificate program in nonprofit management the school. "I felt that people should have ongoing possibilities for training," she says. The program offers core courses in fundamentals, finance and accounting, fundraising, management skills, human resource development, and marketing and public relations. Smith will be teaching "Fundamentals of Nonprofit Management," which begins Tuesday, February 7, with a session from 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. At MCCC she also teaches skills training for nonprofits, building self-esteem, and assertiveness.

Besides her professional involvements, Smith has wide-ranging volunteer experience. "I don’t think you have credibility unless you also do it," she says. She is president of the board of the Child Care Connection Board in Trenton, which oversees training for all preschool directors and teachers in Trenton, inspects and certifies home day care facilities, and gives classes in early childhood for both providers and parents. Smith is also chair of the Princeton Human Services Commission.

Smith says she has been trying to make a difference since her years at Smith College, where she graduated with a degree in English in 1962. She ran a student bank and was academic student government president, active in the curriculum area. After getting her master’s degree in education from Columbia Teachers College in 1968, she taught for nearly a decade, first at a professional children’s school in New York.

While teaching in the Atlanta area, she had a formative experience. She was asked to teach Chaucer to a class that could barely read, and, to make things worse, a band was practicing right outside the classroom. She says she cried for the first six weeks, not believing how kids could just be passed on. "They were O.K. kids," she says, "but no one wanted to deal with them." One day, in despair, she said to the kids: "I want to teach; what do you want to learn?" They responded that they did indeed want to learn. They were eager to know how to fill out job application forms and to explore the ramifications of the legal system. She taught them, and the class turned around.

Smith moved around a lot, because her husband was an orthopedic surgeon with the military. When he left for a 13-month stint in Vietnam, Smith had two babies and decided to stop teaching and switch to training and leadership with adults – which fit better with raising a family. About 30 years ago, Smith moved to Princeton. She trained support service personnel for the Department of Personnel in Trenton and Newark, part time, until 1989. Her next job was as executive director of the Princeton YWCA, a position she held for sever or eight years.

Community Works has been popular since its inception, with 150 people at the first conference. Last year a major snowstorm coincided with the conference date, but it took place anyway. The students managed to show up with their instruments even though the high school was closed. Twenty-three workshop leaders made it, and there were 300 participants.

"You see so many negative things in the newspaper," says Smith. "This night is an opportunity to see all the good going on that never gets spotlighted. Everyone walks away exhilarated at being surrounded by people who have such good will and are working to make a difference.

Used Soccer Equipment Saves Lives: Beth Jarvie

Beth Jarvie, West Trenton resident and self-described soccer mom, worked at a variety of part-time jobs when her kids were little. She waitressed and tended bar, and she also taught for a brief time at the Learning Studio, a small private school in Titusville. It was at that school that she met Susan Belfiore and her husband, Bill Belfiore. The Belfiores live in Rocky Hill, where Susan cares for the family and is an active volunteer, and Bill commutes to New York City, where he is a bond trader.

The Belfiores, who will be profiled on the television show Prime Time later this week, had adopted four HIV positive Romanian children. The four youngsters, along with the Belfiores’ one biological child, wanted to attend regular public schools. A few years earlier, unfounded concerns about the spread of HIV might have barred them, or made the experience miserable. But times had changed, and the only barrier the children faced was a little lag in learning skills. The Belfiores asked Jarvie, who was home-schooling her children, to add some of theirs to her "class." She readily agreed, and soon became close to the whole family.

Jarvie’s chance meeting with the Belfiores has given birth to a new non-profit. One year ago Jarvie began Global Outreach Athletic League (GOAL). GOAL’s mission is to collect and ship soccer equipment to KwaZulu-Natal, a remote area of South Africa. There the spikes and balls will provide recreational opportunities – especially for girls, who sit on the sidelines for lack of a pair of shoes – and are also, in a round-about way, contributing to AIDS awareness.

Jarvie, a lively, humble woman, is absolutely amazed that she has been able to get GOAL rolling, and is resolutely taking on the challenges it presents.

The idea for the outreach began in 2002 when the Belfiores persuaded her to go on the annual Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (www.pedaids.org) AIDS walk in Africa. "It was surreal," she says. A stay-at-home mom, it never occurred to her that she would ever be spending five days walking 50 miles in Africa. One thing about the experience registered more than Jarvie, who had logged countless hours driving her kids to soccer practices, than it might have with others. "Everywhere we went, even in the most remote areas, kids were playing soccer," she says.

Some of the games featured fully suited up players, but in many other instances the ball was just a bunch of tied-together rags. In a match put together by a school for the benefit of the AIDS walkers, she saw barefoot kids chasing the ball along with kids wearing spikes. Asking the school principal why some kids had no shoes, she found out that footwear of any kind, let alone spikes, was way beyond the economic reach of many families.

"I have a garage full of soccer equipment," she recalls thinking, "and so does everyone else in suburbia." She collected and shipped some to a remote African village the next year, and has learned that some of girls who got the equipment have gone on to play on the South African national team. While this accomplishment is enormous, it perhaps comes in second to a benefit the young soccer players received when they picked up their equipment.

So many African communities are consumed with caring for those who are ill with AIDS, says Jarvie, that little or no effort is going into educating young people about ways of preventing the disease. So, she and her South African partners have arranged to have much of the soccer equipment handed out through health clinics. Brochures outside invite youngsters in to claim a free ball or pair of spikes. Once there, they are given information on how to prevent AIDS, which affects fully one in three people in their country.

Expanding the scope of the equipment transfer – and AIDS education outreach – Jarvie founded GOAL. With zero non-profit experience, she was worried about getting donations and raising funds. But soon her garage began filling up with spikes, and her first-ever fundraiser, a September wine tasting, was a success.

She does have one substantial problem, however. "I can get the equipment to South Africa, but I haven’t yet found a way to get it to remote villages," she says. Big shippers want something like $16,000 to carry a single shipment from port to village. She is quite sure that if she could go to South Africa, she could find reliable local shippers and set up a pathway.

If she could spend a week, she says, she could even have her husband, Craig Confoy, a Johnson & Johnson information architect, ship the donations while she was there. Then she could see the first shipment through to its location.

She needs money for this trip, or alternatively, she needs a reputable shipper to volunteer to carry the goods over land or to offer a deep discount. She says she does not want to take the money for a shipper-scouting trip from donations that GOAL has already raised. "It doesn’t seem right to spend it on a trip for myself," she says. "That money could buy five boxes of spikes."

Neither did it seem right to her to take money from donations to hire someone to file for 501 (c)(3) tax exempt status. She filled out the paperwork without expensive professional help, and says it will take months for it to come through. Meanwhile, she says, GOAL is a New Jersey-registered non-profit.

Jarvie’s children, 11-year-old Desmond, who is now appearing as young Scrooge in McCarter’s presentation of "A Christmas Carol," and 15-year-old Claudia, a student at Villa Victoria Academy, have moved beyond soccer – to, respectively, fencing and golf, and softball and tennis. That would probably make Jarvie unique in having 500 pairs of soccer spikes, but no soccer players, in her home. No longer driving to matches, she is more involved in soccer than ever, and also more involved in working to end AIDS. She does substantial volunteer work for the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation, and is preparing to go on her third AIDS walk, this time to Tanzania.

Every AIDS walker must raise at least $10,000 to participate. She raised just about that amount the first time, and upped it to $12,000 the second time. Most of the money came from family and friends, but Jarvie, displaying a skill every founder of a tiny non-profit must have, says she is not at all shy about asking folks she meets in the supermarket to chip in.

Anyone who would like to be able to say "I already gave" should they encounter Jarvie on a check-out line, can E-mail her at GoalAfrica@aol.com. Donations of soccer gear, cash, and African shipping expertise are all welcome.

NJ Doctor Attests to Starvation in Darfur:

What makes a pediatrician with a comfortable practice decide to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders (DWB), an international humanitarian organization that provides emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries? In the case of Dr. Jerry Ehrlich, a pediatrician in Cherry Hill, it was an article he read while skiing with his children in Colorado about DWB’s activities in Kurdistan during the first Gulf War. His reaction to the piece was "this is something I’d like to be part of my lifetime or pediatric experience," and a week later he called DWB’s small office in New York.

After completing a small database information sheet in March, 1991, that August Ehrlich received a call from Paris asking him to go to Sri Lanka, where he spent four and a half months during an "ugly civil war." He hired another pediatrician to cover his practice and keep his staff in business while he was away. Although not all of his patients were happy with the arrangement and he lost a large number, he says "it was worth every nickel of it." He returned twice to Sri Lanka, spending a total of a year there, and then in the summer of 2004 spent two months in Darfur.

On a typical day in Darfur, where a population of 45,000 people has been displaced by the government-sponsored militias known as the Janjaweed, he would get up from his dorm room at about 7 a.m. and head over to the camp by Land Rover. The word "camp" is perhaps too kind for the huge piece of desert covered with dome-shaped thatch huts, mostly without water, food, electricity, or latrines.

"The main health problem was malnutrition and all its ramifications," says Ehrlich. "In severe malnutrition a patient is very compromised. His immune system, cardiac, pulmonary, kidneys, and GI are at risk – it’s almost like treating a patient with HIV."

The people in the camp were farmers, who had their own villages where they farmed and were appropriately nourished. Because of the conflict, they were driven from their homes and had to wander across the harsh desert landscape for weeks. Although an adult can get by for a couple of weeks with minimal intake, children, and particularly small ones, are very vulnerable to starvation.

The patients lined up in the morning – a huge line – and came into the medical center, which was a big covered tent; they also had several tents that served as "wards." Luckily, their center had sufficient medical supplies and medications shipped in by DWB.

Among the 30 to 60 children who might be waiting each morning, "the first thing that my translator and I would do," says Ehrlich, "was to crawl through the sea of children and eyeball everyone and make a quick visual diagnosis of who was critical." These kids would go into the "ICU" and start treatment: an IV to get rehydrated, a feeding tube, and shot of heavy-duty antibiotics. But often he was too late. "There were times when I examined a child, started treatment, went to another child, and 15 minutes later came back and found the patient dead." Once the seriously ill were taken care of, he would see the other children.

To bring these children back to normal weight requires special feeding procedures, beginning with small amounts of special formulas to get their gastrointestinal systems back in line. It took a little while even to get to the stage where they really fed them for purposes of weight gain. "Depending on the degree of malnutrition, it might take a couple of weeks to a couple of months – if they survive – to get back into the normal weight range," says Ehrlich. They lost a lot of children due to pneumonia, gastroenteritis, and measles. "There is an art to feeding kids appropriately and being very much on guard for all the complications," he adds.

Ehrlich attended Clifton High School in Clifton, New Jersey, and did his undergraduate work at Rutgers, Newark, where he earned a degree in pharmacy. After working for a couple of years, he went to medical school at the University of Amsterdam in Holland and then came back to do his internship and residency at Cooper Medical Center in Camden. He entered private practice in 1966 and has taught medical students at Robert Wood, Hahneman, UMDNJ, and Jefferson.

Almost from the day of his return, Ehrlich has been doing what he can to raise awareness about the consequences of the conflict in Darfur:

Talking to groups. Ehrlich has spoken to colleges – including a September appearance at the Conference Center at Mercer – high schools, middle schools, medical societies, senior citizen groups, churches, and synagogues. He encourages people to ask our government to pressure the Sudanese government. He also shows his "illegal" slides – the Sudanese government does not allow photography unless a person has a government permit and someone monitoring the pictures being taken. "I had a camera hidden in my backpack," he says, "and I would take pictures when no one was looking."

Displaying pictures on websites and in museums. Ehrlich had also brought with him crayons and 400 pieces of construction paper, which he would give to children at random, asking them to "draw what your life in Darfur is all about." Forty to fifty pictures are up for six weeks at the African American Museum in Philadelphia and more appear on www.genocideinterventionfund.org.

Despite the exhaustion and the seven-day-a-week, dawn-to-dusk schedule, he says, "when I left, it was difficult to leave. I even have regrets today that I left. If conflict doesn’t end, I will go back."

In Sri Lanka, Ehrlich always wore his New York City Marathon tee-shirt while he saw patients, but when he left for Darfur, his wife warned him against wearing anything that indicated he was an American. But in time, the local people would ask his translator where he was from. "When people found out I was an American," he says, "they lit up." Why? Because they believed that someone from America would know what is going on in Darfur and would go back and tell others about it.

"In these downtrodden parts of the world, we have the reputation of being humanitarians, people with moral values," says Ehrlich. "Another reason that I have been eager to create public awareness about what’s going on in Darfur is that I’m trying to do what they wanted me to do."

Launching a Non-Profit: Gordon Price

The big problem for many non-profits is a lack of business acumen. Deeply concerned about their causes, founders of non-profits tend to concentrate all of their energy on helping, but often lack the savvy necessary to build a high profile and get money flowing in.

That is not the case with Citizen Soldier Family Support Foundation, a non-profit that is starting the other way around – by quickly building a business foundation. It was founded by Molly Johnson of Austin, Texas, wife of a National Guardsman, and Gordon Price, a central New Jersey businessman.

The two met while they were working at a virtual Internet company and founded the non-profit in March. Based in Austin, it was formed with a mission of providing re-entry assistance, vocational training, and bridge money to replace stolen or delayed military paychecks. After Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast, Citizen Soldier added the mission of helping affected Guardsmen rebuild their homes.

Johnson is executive director of Citizen Soldier and Price is a full-time consultant to the foundation, which has six employees, who, says Price, are involved in fundraising activities.

Price, a Newark native and graduate of Butler University (Class of 1971), holds a master’s degree in health administration from Indiana University. He did not serve in the military, he says, because he pulled number 237 in the draft lottery held in his sophomore year in college. That year only those holding numbers up to 212 were drafted, he recalls. Two of his roommates were not so lucky, and had their college years disputed by the military draft – or the threat of same. One, at number 12, joined the Navy Reserves, and another, at number 14, served in Vietnam. Price was able to continue on to graduation. He chose not to sign up for service, but, he says, "did not run away to Canada."

Free from the need to serve in the military in an era when the Vietnam war shaped the lives of so many of his contemporaries, he began his career in sales and product management for E.R. Squibb and then worked for Transmedia, a medical marketing arm of the CBS corporation. Later on, with Dragon Medical and Scientific, he pioneered the use of software for laptop computers to be used in training of pharmaceutical sales representatives.

In the early 1990s Price started his own business, Health Care Solutions. The company worked almost entirely with one client, pharmaceutical giant Glaxo. Its job was to put together all aspects of product presentation for meetings of doctors it organized around the country. "I was away from home 48 weekends out of 52," says Price. "It was very labor intensive."

That work ended when Glaxo merged with Smith-Kline Beecham and the company decided to cut way back on the substantial vendor network upon which Glaxo had relied. Shortly thereafter, Price began to work for Citizen Soldier. He is changing the name of his company slightly, to Health Solutions Group (gordonmprice@yahoo.com), to reflect his new direction. Citizen Soldier is his only client. He works from a home office at 16 Bennington Drive in Lawrence. His wife, a former teacher in the North Brunswick school district, also works for the foundation.

Price knows that it is important to get Citizen Soldier off to a fast start while the National Guard is so much in the news for its role in Iraq and in aiding hurricane victims. Here is what he has done, and is doing, to accomplish that goal:

Get non-profit status quickly. Price says that it can take three or four months – or more – to obtain the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Don’t try to do this yourself, he counsels, but rather hire an expert. "We used a California firm that does 200 a month," he says. This enabled Citizen Soldier to obtain a 501(c)(3) in just four weeks. "The IRS had just one or two questions," he says, "and the firm was able to answer them right away." Individuals trying to deal with the IRS on their own typically spend months going back and forth filling in the blanks, he says.

Spend freely for the best grant writers. Price says that every dollar spent on a great grant writer will be tremendously amplified. If money is tight early on, the best use for it lies in hiring grant writers. Spending to solicit donations is fine, but is likely to yield far less than working to bring in grants. "One government grant can bring in $2.5 million," says Price, who has 19 grant applications in at the local, state, and federal levels of government, as well as with foundations and corporations. "There is just so much money out there," he says.

The grant process is a long one, and all of the grant writing has produced little cash for Citizen Soldier as yet, but Price says he is confident that large sums are forthcoming.

Work the Internet. Some Internet donation sites want money upfront. Citizen Soldier does not yet have money to spend on them, but has worked deals with more flexible sites. There are sites, GOPUSA.com, for example, which will take a percent of donations as a fee. GOPUSA took 30 percent of donations made to Citizen Soldier as a result of solicitations sent to people on its mailing list.

After the cut, the amount of cash raised on the Internet is modest, says Price. But there is another reason to have a presence there. The exposure that the Internet provides can lead to free PR. Two weeks ago, for example, a radio station, which learned about Citizen Soldier on the Internet, invited Johnson to speak for one-half of its two-hour time slot.

Round up a stellar board. When Citizen Soldier was formed, Price was on the board. But he has since resigned, realizing, he says, that he could not charge substantial fees for his services while serving on the board. He is now trying to persuade high-profile generals and corporate executives to join the board.

Target your audience. Price says that those most likely to give to Citizen Soldier are conservative Christian Republicans. His reasoning is that people in this demographic are patriotic, and that patriotic individuals are more likely to want to help National Guardsmen than are people in other groups. He is not targeting liberal Democrats, he says, but is enthusiastic about courting Nascar fans.

Price says that groups like GOPUSA, a website that states its mission as "bringing the conservative message to America," are natural places for Citizen Soldier to place its message. GOPUSA’s website banner indicates that it is strongly in favor of small government. In keeping with this philosophy, Price says that his group has no plans to spend any of the money it raises on lobbying the government for better pay, emergency assistance, or improved re-entry training for members of the National Guard.

Hire a connected PR firm. Price has hired Phoenix Ventures, the firm founded by former Mercer County Executive Robert Prunetti, to get Citizen Soldier’s name on the map. He says that Prunetti’s connections in Washington, D.C., were a major reason that he made the choice.

Perhaps it is natural that Citizen Soldier, a non-profit targeting conservative Republicans, a group often associated with big business, is so business savvy. Price makes it clear that his non-profit client is no mom-and-pop operation.

IRS 2006 Standard Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service has issued the 2006 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes.

Beginning on January 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

44.5 cents per mile for business miles driven.

18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes.

14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, other than activities related to Hurricane Katrina relief.

The new rate for business miles compares to a rate of 40.5 cents per mile for the first eight months of 2005. In September the IRS made a special one-time adjustment for the last four months of 2005, raising the rate for business miles to 48.5 cents per mile in response to a sharp increase in gas prices, which topped $3 a gallon.

"The IRS took the extraordinary step of temporarily increasing the standard mileage rates in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in a prepared statement. "We promised to continue closely monitoring the situation. The 2006 mileage rates reflect that gas prices have dropped."

The standard mileage rates for business, medical, and moving purposes are based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. Runzheimer International, an independent contractor, conducted the study for the IRS.

The mileage rate for charitable miles is set by statute.

For the first eight months of 2005, the standard rate for miles driven for medical or moving purposes was 15 cents per mile, and, except for special Hurricane with miles driven in service of charities providing Hurricane Katrina relief. For the period of August 25 to August 31, 2005, the rate for miles driven for charities providing Hurricane Katrina relief is 29 cents, for deduction purposes, and 40.5 cents for reimbursement purposes. For the months of September through December 2005, the special Katrina-related rates are 34 cents for deductions and 48.5 cents for reimbursements.

For 2006 these Katrina-related charitable rates will be 32 cents per mile for deduction purposes and 44.5 cents per mile for reimbursement purposes.

For more information, visit www.irs.gov, and refer specifically to Revenue Procedure 2005-78, which contains additional information and limitations on the use of the standard mileage rates.

New SBIR Grant Training

Early-stage technology firms may be eligible for up to $50,000 through the new NJCST Small Business Innovation Research Bridge Grant program. The New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology has created a new grant program to help entrepreneurs "bridge" the gap between receipt of a federal Phase I SBIR grant recognizing their promising research and their expected award of a Phase II grant for commercialization.

To qualify for an SBIR Bridge Grant, a company must have New Jersey as its principal place of business and 75 percent of its employees must live in New Jersey. Total revenue must be less than $4 million and a minimum of three employees must be employed at least 25 hours a week. The next application deadline is Wednesday, December 28. Applications are available online at www.state.nj.us/scitech and are accepted quarterly. For more information, call the Commission at 609 984-1984 or email njcst@state.nj.us.

Legal Claus

Now in its sixth year, the YWCA Princeton’s St. Nicholas Project provides holiday presents to help families in need. It was organized by Jill Jachera, an attorney with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.Gifts are donated by community members – individuals, families, and businesses alike. Participants were matched with a family and asked to contribute presents for each child, often the only gifts these children receive. In addition, supermarket gift certificates for a

family holiday dinner were donated as were small gifts for the parents.

The donations were assembled and donated on December 20.

Gifts in Kind

Two picture-perfect ficus trees, one eight feet tall, one nearly that tall, and each is worth $700 or $800. These 20-year-old trees needed a home because their owner, electrician Mike Honyak, was moving. Honyak donated them to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital at Hamilton, and Alan Brody of Interior Plants (www.interiorplantsinc.com) redesigned the four-foot planter and contributed new plants to go with the gift trees. These "gifts in kind" now enhance the new cancer center.

Grants for Charities Benefitting Women

The Fund for Women and Girls of the Princeton Area Community Foundation recently announced its 2005 grant awards to five Mercer County organizations totaling $40,000. The fund, which supports activities that benefit girls and the women who raise them in greater Mercer County, made the following grants to help area girls attain success in their personal, academic, family, and community lives:

Institute for Arts and Humanities Education. Funding to help middle school girls develop creative talents and communication skills, reinforce positive self-image, and build stronger relationships. The girls will use digital video technology to make movies with significant women in their lives, who will be the subjects in the girls’ documentary films.

LifeTies. Funding to enhance self-esteem and self-sufficiency in girls infected or affected with HIV/AIDS through workshops, counseling and events.

Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area. Funding for a support group style mentoring program for Trenton Central High School girls to educate them about taking care of themselves physically and emotionally; and to build trust to foster better communication and increase use of school and health services.

Princeton Deliverance Center. Support for a program that builds stronger bonds between mothers and daughters to improve life skills, sex education and job readiness.

Princeton Young Achievers/HiTOPS. Support for a collaborative project to educate mothers and daughters age 5 through 12 about health and sexuality to improve their knowledge, communication, health, and decision-making skills.

The Fund for Women and Girls, a fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, supports programs that work with girls to build character and self-esteem, hone special talent, train for leadership, respect their bodies, stay in school, and be proud of who they are and what they can do. The Fund also promotes projects that help women be positive role models, advocates for themselves, good mothers, and to transition from welfare to work, and adopt healthy behaviors.

For more information call the Princeton Area Community Foundation at 609-219-1800 or visit www.pacf.org.

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