Blog

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Does your nonprofit’s board understand its fiduciary duties?

Interest in not-for-profits’ governance practices from lawmakers, watchdog groups and the general public has been growing in recent years. If your board hasn’t reviewed its roles and responsibilities recently, now is a good time.

3 primary responsibilities

Nonprofit board members — whether compensated or not — have a fiduciary duty to the organization. Some states have laws governing the responsibilities of nonprofit boards and other fiduciaries. But, in general, a fiduciary has three primary duties:

  1. Duty of care. Board members must exercise reasonable care in overseeing the organization’s financial and operational activities. Although disengaged from day-to-day affairs, they should understand its mission, programs and structure, make informed decisions, and consult others — including outside experts — when appropriate.
  2. Duty of loyalty. Board members must act solely in the best interests of the organization and its constituents, and not for personal gain.
  3. Duty of obedience. Board members must act in accordance with the organization’s mission, charter and bylaws, and any applicable state or federal laws.

Board members who violate these duties may be held personally liable for any financial harm the organization suffers as a result.

Conflicts of interest

One of the most challenging components of fiduciary duty is the obligation to avoid conflicts of interest. In general, a conflict of interest exists when an organization does business with:

  • A board member,
  • An entity in which a board member has a financial interest, or
  • Another company or organization for which a board member serves as a director or trustee.

To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, your nonprofit should also treat a transaction as a conflict of interest if it involves a board member’s spouse or other family member, or an entity in which a spouse or family member has a financial interest.

The key to dealing with conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived, is disclosure. The board member involved should disclose the relevant facts to the board and abstain from any discussion or vote on the issue — unless the board determines that he or she may participate.

Meet obligations

The rules concerning the liability of fiduciaries are complex. But your board members can meet their obligations by acting in good faith, putting the organization’s best interests first, making informed decisions and disclosing any potential conflicts of interest. Contact us for more information.

© 2017


Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Turning next year’s tax refund into cash in your pocket now

Each year, millions of taxpayers claim an income tax refund. To be sure, receiving a payment from the IRS for a few thousand dollars can be a pleasant influx of cash. But it means you were essentially giving the government an interest-free loan for close to a year, which isn’t the best use of your money.

Fortunately, there is a way to begin collecting your 2017 refund now: You can review the amounts you’re having withheld and/or what estimated tax payments you’re making, and adjust them to keep more money in your pocket during the year.

Reasons to modify amounts

It’s particularly important to check your withholding and/or estimated tax payments if:

  • You received an especially large 2016 refund,
  • You’ve gotten married or divorced or added a dependent,
  • You’ve purchased a home,
  • You’ve started or lost a job, or
  • Your investment income has changed significantly.

Even if you haven’t encountered any major life changes during the past year, changes in the tax law may affect withholding levels, making it worthwhile to double-check your withholding or estimated tax payments.

Making a change

You can modify your withholding at any time during the year, or even several times within a year. To do so, you simply submit a new Form W-4 to your employer. Changes typically will go into effect several weeks after the new Form W-4 is submitted. For estimated tax payments, you can make adjustments each time quarterly payments are due.

While reducing withholdings or estimated tax payments will, indeed, put more money in your pocket now, you also need to be careful that you don’t reduce them too much. If you don’t pay enough tax during the year, you could end up owing interest and penalties when you file your return, even if you pay your outstanding tax liability by the April 2018 deadline.

If you’d like help determining what your withholding or estimated tax payments should be for the rest of the year, please contact us.

© 2017


Monday, May 1st, 2017

Adopt a duck, help a girl!

You could win $6000 CASH or a 2 year car lease…and you do NOT have to be present to win!

Now that we have your attention…

Bradenton Partner Brian Carter is on the Board of the Manatee County PACE Center for girls. Each spring, PACE conducts a big fundraiser with a “duck” theme.  Why ducks? Because of the NFP’s mascot, Quacky the duck, of course!

ENTER TO WIN:

Purchase your flock of ducks from Brian’s team website, “B&B’s Bunch of Ducks” http://www.duckrace.com/manatee/teams/1653 OR stop by Brian’s office for an entry form.

  • $5 for 1 duck
  • $20 for 5 ducks
  • $100 for 30 ducks
  • $350 for 100 ducks

Each duck you purchase will be entered into the “Lucky Duck Race” being held on May 13th at Caddy’s on the Point.

You do NOT have to be present to win, so we look forward to seeing adoption of ducks firm-wide and among family and friends.

PRIZES:

  • Grand Prize: 2 year lease on a 2016 Chevy Cruze or $6000 cash (Sponsored by Cox Chevrolet/Mazda)
  • 2nd Prize: Dinner for two every week for one year at Anna Maria Oyster Bar.

For Contest rules and regulations, click here

“Your support is greatly appreciated” – Brian Carter, Partner

Adopt a duck, help a girl!


Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Atlanta’s “Biggest Loser”

biggest loser trophy

Some of our employees in the Atlanta office avoided the temptation of indulging in too many busy season treats and managed to lose weight…a great accomplishment any time of the year, but more so impressive during the spring.

“What started as a couple of guys looking to not pack on the extra tax season pounds grew to a total of 16 folks who participated in the competition, which started from the first of the year through April 20th. The total challenge was about 16 weeks and by the end we were all feeling it and ready for it to be over!” – Brian Champ, Manager

 

How it worked:

At the start, everyone weighed in, threw $50 into a pot, came up with a goal weight for the end of the end of busy season, and let the fun begin! Each participant checked in weekly using a scale in the break room, for consistency.

Employees stayed motivated as 1/4 of the pot prize ($200) would be awarded to the winner at the mid-way point weigh-in, with a final pot prize of $600 awarded to the winner at the end. Brooke Graham took home the $200 mid-way point prize money.

STATS:

Collectively the group lost 165.7 lbs. for an average loss of .94 lbs. per week. Seven employees lost more than 10 lbs., while six got within 10 lbs. of their goal weight.  One person even exceeded their goal weight.

“That all being said, once the final tax forms had been submitted and with an empty, gargling stomach on weigh-in day, it came down to three people! Like a scene out of the show, “Biggest Loser”, the three climbed on the scale for the final weigh in.” – Brian Champ

Biggest “Losers”

  1. Greg Morgan (27.3 lbs. lost – 13.32%) was declared the winner!
  2. Tommy Forrestal followed very close behind in 2nd (27.3 lbs. lost – 13.06%)
  3. Brooke Graham came in 3rd (19.9 lbs. lost – 12.95%).

A big “way to go” to Greg, Tommy and Brooke for securing the top spots and to everyone who worked so hard. Congratulations to Greg for beating out his competition.

And, thanks to Brian Champ for providing such a detailed update on our “biggest losers.”

 


Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Get more from your association’s program budget

Is your not-for-profit association offering enough (or the right) programs to keep members active and engaged? New programs require time, effort and money. So when you commit to developing one, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Here are some simple dos and don’ts:

DO consult your members. Through focus groups, surveys and informal conversations, gather information about issues your membership is facing. Note gaps between your current program offerings and members’ wants and needs.

DON’T support foregone conclusions. Spinning member feedback to match what you think your organization needs is a big mistake.

DO target specific outcomes. Identify the intended outcomes of proposed programs and attach to them strategic, realistic and timely goals.

DON’T lose focus. Consider only program ideas that will directly contribute to your association’s mission, vision and overall goals.

DO protect your creation. If your new program is unique, protect it with appropriate trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and patents.

DON’T go it alone. Whenever possible, share expenses and resources by partnering with other organizations. Alliances can lend depth, breadth and impact to programs.

DO keep your promises. Deliver new programs on time and on target for the greatest impact.

DON’T overspend. Come up with a reasonable budget and stick to it. Make adjustments only when absolutely necessary.

DO start small. Launch new programs slowly and thoughtfully — and then build on initial success.

DON’T worry about perfection. Take chances and try new strategies. The best ideas often are those most different from what you’ve done in the past.

For more tips on making the most of your association’s budget, please contact us.

© 2017


Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Now’s a great time to purge old tax records

Whether you filed your 2016 tax return by the April 18 deadline or you filed for an extension, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of documentation involved. While you need to hold on to all of your 2016 tax records for now, it’s a great time to take a look at your records for previous tax years to see what you can purge.

Consider the statute of limitations

At minimum, keep tax records for as long as the IRS has the ability to audit your return or assess additional taxes, which generally is three years after you file your return. This means you likely can shred and toss — or electronically purge — most records related to tax returns for 2013 and earlier years (2012 and earlier if you filed for an extension for 2013).

In some cases, the statute of limitations extends beyond three years. If you understate your adjusted gross income by more than 25%, for example, the limitations period jumps to six years. And there is no statute of limitations if you fail to file a tax return or file a fraudulent one.

Keep some documents longer

You’ll need to hang on to certain records beyond the statute of limitations:

Tax returns. Keep them forever, so you can prove to the IRS that you actually filed.

W-2 forms. Consider holding them until you begin receiving Social Security benefits. Why? In case a question arises regarding your work record or earnings for a particular year.

Records related to real estate or investments. Keep these as long as you own the asset, plus three years after you sell it and report the sale on your tax return (or six years if you’re concerned about the six-year statute of limitations).

This is only a sampling of retention guidelines for tax-related documents. If you have questions about other documents, please contact us.

© 2017


Monday, April 24th, 2017

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Dorothy Grace Goodwin on receiving the M&J Scholarship at the UGA Accounting Awards Banquet!


Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Engage your nonprofit’s supporters with social listening

Many not-for-profits are adopting a marketing tactic that has been used successfully by for-profit companies. Social listening costs relatively little and can give you valuable insight into issues that resonate with your supporters. This allows you to tailor communications to better reach them.

Identify and engage

Social listening starts with monitoring social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for mentions of your organization and related keywords. But to take full advantage of this strategy, you also must identify and engage with topics that interest your supporters and interact with “influencers,” who can extend your message by sharing it with their audiences.

Influencers don’t have to be celebrities with millions of followers. Connecting with a group of influencers who each have only several hundred followers can expand your reach exponentially. For example, a conservation organization might follow and interact with a popular rock climber or other outdoor enthusiast to reach that person’s followers.

Listen in

To use social listening, develop a list of key terms related to your organization and its mission, programs and campaigns. You’ll want to treat this as a “living document,” updating it as you launch new initiatives. Then “listen” for these terms on social media. Several free online tools are available to perform this monitoring, including Google Alerts, Twazzup and Social Mention.

When your supporters or influencers use the terms, you can send them a targeted email with a call to action, such as a petition, donation solicitation or event announcement. Your call to action could be as simple as asking them to share your content.

You can also use trending hashtags (a keyword or phrase that’s currently popular on social media, such as #BostonMarathon or #PrinceHarry) to keep your communications relevant and leverage current events on a real-time basis. You might be able to find creative ways to join the conversation while promoting your organization or campaign.

Be savvy

Savvy nonprofits know they need to embrace and make the most of social media. By pursuing social listening, you can cost-effectively improve your engagement efforts. Contact us for more information on growing your supporter base.

© 2017


Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Individual tax calendar: Key deadlines for the remainder of 2017

While April 15 (April 18 this year) is the main tax deadline on most individual taxpayers’ minds, there are others through the rest of the year that are important to be aware of. To help you make sure you don’t miss any important 2017 deadlines, here’s a look at when some key tax-related forms, payments and other actions are due. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you.

Please review the calendar and let us know if you have any questions about the deadlines or would like assistance in meeting them.

June 15

  • File a 2016 individual income tax return (Form 1040) or file for a four-month extension (Form 4868), and pay any tax and interest due, if you live outside the United States.
  • Pay the second installment of 2017 estimated taxes, if not paying income tax through withholding (Form 1040-ES).

September 15

  • Pay the third installment of 2017 estimated taxes, if not paying income tax through withholding (Form 1040-ES).

October 2

  • If you’re the trustee of a trust or the executor of an estate, file an income tax return for the 2016 calendar year (Form 1041) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic five-and-a-half month extension was filed.

October 16

  • File a 2016 income tax return (Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic six-month extension was filed (or if an automatic four-month extension was filed by a taxpayer living outside the United States).
  • Make contributions for 2016 to certain retirement plans or establish a SEP for 2016, if an automatic six-month extension was filed.
  • File a 2016 gift tax return (Form 709) and pay any tax, interest and penalties due, if an automatic six-month extension was filed.

December 31

  • Make 2017 contributions to certain employer-sponsored retirement plans.
  • Make 2017 annual exclusion gifts (up to $14,000 per recipient).
  • Incur various expenses that potentially can be claimed as itemized deductions on your 2017 tax return. Examples include charitable donations, medical expenses, property tax payments and expenses eligible for the miscellaneous itemized deduction.

© 2017


Monday, April 17th, 2017

Excitedly Welcoming Our New Neighbors!!

M&J Atlanta is thrilled to welcome the Braves to their new home in Cobb County! The Atlanta office enjoyed good old fashioned hot dogs and hamburgers to kick off the weekend, and many M&J folks attended the opening weekend with their friends and families! With the 3-win weekend and Blue Angels flyover, we would definitely say it was a successful opener! Go Braves!