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Our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog posts are written by our staff and diverse membership and offer a glimpse into the world of philanthropy, presenting current issues and information relevant to funders, policymakers, members of the media, and those interested in current issues and giving trends.

 

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Top Five Ways Grantmakers are Utilizing the Standards for Excellence® Program

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Tuesday, April 4, 2017

By Amy Coates Madsen, Director, Standards for Excellence Institute®, Maryland Nonprofits

All around the Free State, more and more grantmakers are utilizing the Standards for Excellence program. The Standards for Excellence program helps nonprofits live by the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, a set of 67 standards for good nonprofit governance and management. The Standards for Excellence Institute, a project of Maryland Nonprofits, offers a host of high-quality educational materials and training programs to help nonprofits achieve and embrace these leading standards. Organizations demonstrate to funders (and everyone else!) that they operate in a way consistent with these high standards by participating in the Institute’s accreditation and recognition programs. Nonprofits that earn the Seal of Excellence can display it prominently and it also becomes part of their GuideStar profiles.

In Annapolis, the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County has added a question about Standards for Excellence achievement to its grant applications. Melissa Curtin, Executive Director, stated, " Our confidence in an organization's focus on efficiency, effectiveness, integrity and transparency is increased significantly when an organization has earned the Seal."  

Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (PGDSS) is awarding extra points to organizations that receive the Standards. Additionally, the Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development requests the list of Standards for Excellence accredited and recognized groups when they are undertaking their grants review process.

 

The Horizon Foundation, based in Columbia, Maryland, has eligibility criteria for its Level III funding opportunities that require either Maryland Nonprofits Standards for Excellence, BBB Standards of Accountability (or a similar industry specific standard) by the time of the grant award.

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States is sponsoring a cohort of organizations in Baltimore to strengthen their governance and management capacity and earn the Seal of Excellence, combined with leadership development and peer learning.  T. Rowe Price Foundation is also sponsoring a cohort of organizations West Baltimore to strengthen their capacity, in part, utilizing the Standards for Excellence. 

The Standards for Excellence program is now offered under license by regional, statewide and national partners all around the country. 

The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama (CFNEA) offers training and coaching for organizations interested in being accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute®, and sets aside additional funding available exclusively for Standards accredited organizations.

“It is imperative that not-for-profits of all sizes be effective, efficient, credible and transparent as they strive to meet critical community needs,” says Jennifer S. Maddox, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. “We believe not-for-profit organizations are our partners in achieving the mission of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. The Standards for Excellence® accreditation gives us confidence in the grants we make.” 

Other examples of foundations moving in this direction are plentiful. 

• Seven foundations in Pennsylvania (where the Standards for Excellence program is offered by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations) encourage their grantees and other nonprofits to participate in the Standards for Excellence training and accreditation process (Phoenixville Community Health Foundation; Westmoreland County Community Foundation; Grable Foundation; Philadelphia Foundation; Montgomery County Foundation; Adams County Community Foundation; and the HBE Foundation.)

• Eleven foundations in Ohio (where the Standards for Excellence program is offered by the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations) do the same (Richland County Foundation; Licking County Foundation; Dayton Community Foundation; the Cleveland Foundation; the Columbus Foundation; Toledo Foundation; Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Findlay-Hancock Foundation; Gund Foundation; Gar Foundation; and the Mathile Family Foundation).

• In Oklahoma, numerous foundations ask whether potential grantees have completed Standards for Excellence comprehensive training programs, which are offered through Standards for Excellence replication partner, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.

Funders in Maryland can utilize the Standards for Excellence as a due diligence tool and as a resource for their grantees – and for nonprofits they aren’t able to support.  To learn more about how your foundation or governmental agency can benefit from the Standards for Excellence program, contact Amy Coates Madsen at acmadsen@mdnonprofit.org.  

Based on a blog originally published by the Peak Grantmaking (formerly Grants Managers Network), February 2017.

Top Five Ways Funders are Using Standards for Excellence in Grant Making

1. Providing support to nonprofits interested in Standards for Excellence training or accreditation.
2. Asking if an organization has earned the Seal of Excellence as part of the proposal or grant application process.
3. Awarding extra points or extra credit in the review process for organizations that have earned the Seal of Excellence.
4. Sponsoring cohorts of grantees to get consulting support to meet the Standards.
5. Referring nonprofits to the Standards resources such as the self-assessment, financial policies, or board composition analysis. 

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Maryland Nonprofits  nonprofits  philanthropy 

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ABAG and Maryland Nonprofits Partner on "Connecting for Impact - Justice for All"

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015

By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

Recognizing the critical partnership between nonprofits and funders in affecting the change we seek in our communities, ABAG has joined with its strategic partner Maryland Nonprofits to present the 2015 Annual Conference: CONNECTING FOR IMPACT - JUSTICE FOR ALL November 12-13, 2015.

The strategic partnership between ABAG and Maryland Nonprofits is an important one, secured by our shared interest in promoting a healthy, vibrant nonprofit sector. Our goal in partnering on this year’s Annual Conference is to increase the impact of our members by sharing our expertise, influencing good governance, and increase opportunities for dialogue and collaboration.

ABAG staff and funder members will participate in a number of sessions, including the United Way of Central Maryland and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region.

ABAG Members should contact us to get a coupon code for a discounted member rate.

Registration closes on November 8th.

ABAG will continue its partnership with Maryland Nonprofits and invites all nonprofits to connect with us by:

  • Visiting the resource section for nonprofits on our website www.abagrantmakers.org
  • Using the updated guides on preparing grants for funders, which recently replaced the "common grant application"
  • Downloading our Member Directory featuring more than 100 grant opportunities
  • Taking advantage of our monthly grantseeker workshops and webinars to learn about grant research and writing, and to meet with Funders
  • Connecting with us on our Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages
  • Subscribing to our monthly Philanthropy News Online eNewsletter
  • And, by joining Maryland Nonprofits and ABAG for future shared opportunities to promote our sector together.

See you on the November 12th!

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is the network, the resource and the voice for the philanthropic community in Maryland.

Tags:  Maryland Nonprofits  Nonprofits  November 2015 Members' Memo 

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The 4-Week #GivingTuesday Gameplan

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

nOVEMBER 3, 2015

From Maryland Nonprofits:

Whether you've been planning all year, or you're just getting started, there is still time to launch the giving season with a great #GivingTuesday fundraiser!

Today we're pulling together 12 strategies that represent our best thinking about the keys to a great campaign.

Each strategy has a checklist that your team can follow step by step to be sure you don't miss an opportunity to kickoff the giving season with momentum and excitement.

These are a few of the topics covered:
  • Setting goal
  • Creating a campaign theme and stories
  • Building an ambassador corps
  • Creating clear calls-to-action
  • Planning a day-of campaign party room

Click here for the 12 step plan.

Tags:  #givingtuesday  Maryland nonprofits 

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Thank You on My Last Day - Adam Donaldson

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Monday, August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015
 
By Adam Donaldson

After more than six years, my last day as Member Services Director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers was last Friday, August 28, 2015.
 
My wife and I have packed up the kids and the dog to return to the state where we grew up. If you are reading this then you likely have a role in a Baltimore or regional nonprofit organization and I want to say thank you. Thank you for your hard work. It does have an impact.

The nonprofit sector in Baltimore has directly impacted my family. My family learned to swim and trained for half-marathons at the Orokawa and Weinberg Family Center Ys. Almost weekly for five years, we have benefitted from the quality care at Kennedy Krieger Institute. In the middle of the night, I have taken my unconscious child to the ER of Sinai Hospital (and I am still uncertain why everyone at Sinai is obsessed with Sponge Bob).

Artscape, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and the National Aquarium are among the cultural institutions that have entertained and educated our family. While Civic Works, Health Care for the Homeless, Marian House, Our Daily Bread, Paul’s Place, Reading Partners and Strong City Baltimore connected us with people and engaged us deeper in the city through volunteer service and giving. The UMBC Shriver Center gave us a family of friends and a moral rubric for pursuing justice and peace in the world.

Now I have to ask one more thing of you. The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers’ 2015-2020 Strategic Plan commits to a goal to impact the community through several strategies, including:

Support our primary partner constituency, the nonprofit community, to build capacity, knowledge and best practices around resource development and funder relationships.

What I would ask you to do is hold the Association accountable in my absence. They published it in the Strategic Plan, so now go ahead and share your ideas on the tactics or activities needed. In the past few years, the Association improved the Member Directory, which presents information about our members’ funding interests, by changing the format to a searchable, printable PDF that includes a topic index. The grant format was redesigned to provide more free instruction on writing a proposal to a funder. The grantseeker programs (more TBA this fall) expanded from philanthropy 101 to include grant writing workshops and more opportunities to meet with funders directly. The Association dedicates staff time to Maryland Gives More, and the Association’s many partnerships with Maryland Nonprofits continue to multiply.

You can begin by encouraging qualified candidates to apply to be the next Member Services Director. This position includes responsibility for external relationships with nonprofit organizations.
 
Maybe it’s you.

So now I have edited out the quote from Maya Angelou about contributing to the psychic force of good in the world and edited out commentary on the institutions and families whose generous donations and volunteer time champion nonprofit organizations and I am just typing because when I stop my time is up. I will miss working with you. It does have an impact.

Thank you,

Adam

Tags:  Maryland Nonprofits  Member Services Director  Nonprofits  September 2015 Members' Memo 

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ABAG is Proud to Partner in #MDGivesMore on #GivingTuesday

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22, 2015

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, ABAG Communications Director

#GivingTuesday takes place on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 and it's time to start planning to launch the giving season with this exciting day of generosity! #GivingTuesday is the largest international giving day, having grown to millions of donors in countries around the world, in just the three years since the movement launched.

To celebrate a new tradition of generosity during the holiday season, Maryland is setting a goal to be the Most Generous State in America on 12.1.15, #GivingTuesday. Our partners at Maryland Nonprofits are again spearheading the #MDGivesMore campaign in 2015,

Individuals, nonprofits, foundations and corporations can participate in various ways.

Nonprofits: Gear up for #GivingTuesday 2015 by participating in a free webinar - July 14 at noon - register here

#MarylandGivesMore is supported by a committed group of partners, including:

  • The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore
  • The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG)
  • The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Maryland Chapter
  • The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Western Maryland Chapter
  • The Center for Community Technology Services (CCTS)
  • The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore
  • Connelly & Assoc. Fundraising, LLC
  • CrowdRise
  • What Works Studio

To join the campaign or learn more, visit #MDGivesMore.

Questions? Contact:Allison Albert, Maryland Nonprofits, 443.438.2346, aalbert@mdnonprofit.org

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  #GivingTuesday  #MDGivesMore  Giving Tuesday  July/August 2015 Members' Memo  Maryland Gives More  Maryland Nonprofits 

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Partnering With Maryland Nonprofits

Posted By Celeste Amato, Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 17, 2015

By Celeste Amato, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Last week, members of our association, along with the Board and Staff of Maryland Nonprofits, gathered at the offices of the Blaustein Philanthropic Group to welcome Heather Iliff in her new role as President of Maryland Nonprofits.

The gathering reinforced our commitment to the strategic partnership between our two organizations. ABAG has long recognized this partnership as critical to meeting our own mission of maximizing the impact of philanthropic giving on community life.

Our shared interest in promoting a healthy and vibrant nonprofit sector make us essential partners committed to increasing the impact of our collective membership by sharing our expertise, influencing good governance, and increasing opportunities for dialogue and collaboration.

"I’m honored by the show of support from ABAG, the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, and the funding community in Maryland” said Heather Iliff. "Going forward, Maryland Nonprofits is focused on facilitating connections between nonprofits in an effort to improve quality of life in our state. Strengthening ties between the funding community and nonprofit organizations is critical to this effort.”

Heather and I will be looking for ways to increase our partnership opportunities and support our shared mission goals in the months ahead and welcome members to share their thoughts and join in that effort.

Welcome, Heather!

Tags:  March 2015 Members' Memo  Maryland Nonprofits 

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Maryland Nonprofits 2015 Legislative Preview

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Monday, January 5, 2015
January 5, 2015
 
By Adam Donaldson, ABAG Member Services Director
 
 
Whether you can commit to the whole day or not, this annual event is the best opportunity to demonstrate our collective commitment to the charitable sector and to learn about key issues for nonprofit organizations in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly.
 
During the special afternoon dialogue on Public Health Equity, I am excited to announce the participation of the Maryland Environmental Health Network, a project housed here at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

Here's a first-hand look at the highlights for the 2015 Legislative Preview on January 12th at the Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock, MD.
 
Space is limited, You can register here

Tags:  Legislative  Maryland Nonprofits  MdeHN  Public Policy 

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Calling all Marylanders on #GivingTuesday!

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, ABAG Communications Director

Maryland is often referred to as "America in Miniature" for its varied geography, but what if we could enjoy that moniker for something more meaningful?

According to the 2014 World Giving Index, recently released by the Charities Aid Foundation, the United States is tied for first place for the honorable designation of the "nation that gives the most.” On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, aka #GivingTuesday, we Marylanders have the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and make a huge statement about who we really are: the most generous state in the country – and by extension, the world!

#GivingTuesday is a movement to create an international day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, as a counterpoint to the shopping focus of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. 2014 marks the third annual #GivingTuesday initiative.

The #MarylandGivesMore campaign’s goal is to make Maryland the most generous state in the country on #GivingTuesday 2014, and we need your help. Together we can demonstrate our generous spirit while providing food, shelter, education, research, advocacy, and more for fellow citizens in need. And, we have competition: Illinois, Arkansas, and Utah have also thrown their hats into the ring.

Maryland has the advantage as we have already set impressive records on the two previous #GivingTuesdays. In 2012, the first year of #GivingTuesday, our colleagues at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore led the country as the biggest fundraiser that day, raising $1 million. In 2013, the initiative’s second year, Baltimore held the second largest #GivingTuesday campaign ever, raising $5.7 million for nonprofit organizations in the city in just one day.

Now Maryland can truly live up to its nickname and make this big vision a reality. And, with every Marylander’s help, it won’t be hard to get there. Give $5, $15, $50 or $500 – whatever you can – to your favorite charity, and we'll do it.

We believe that success is about so much more than dollars. Our #MarylandGivesMore campaign is also an organized day of volunteering, creative community initiatives and celebration. For example, passionate individuals are getting together in teams to fundraise for their favorite organizations, and Constellation Energy is sponsoring a day of volunteering for its employees.

These efforts are a huge part of building excitement for the day. Because, while the national effort offers a platform to raise awareness of the importance of giving back to our communities, it's really a means to celebrate what happens in Maryland every day, in a big way.

We can do this, Maryland! We're doers and donors who work in thousands of small ways every day to make the state a better place for our families and for our neighbors' families. Give, volunteer, take a casserole to a neighbor...whatever you can do to contribute on December 2nd. Let’s truly embody "America in Miniature” on a global scale. Join us.

You can find your inspiration at marylandgivesmore.com.

The #MarylandGivesMore campaign is led by the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations (Maryland Nonprofits) and supported by a committed group of partners including:


Tags:  Giving Tuesday  Maryland Gives More  Maryland Nonprofits 

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Constellation Supports Maryland Gives More on Giving Tuesday, 12/2

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, November 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20, 2014

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, ABAG Communications Director

Giving Tuesday has become a national day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. December 2, 2014 will mark the third national Giving Tuesday.

This year a new statewide effort called Maryland Gives More will promote giving in an effort to make Maryland the "Most Generous State in America," Maryland Gives More is building off last year's very successful Giving Tuesday effort called B'More Gives More, where Baltimore organized the second biggest fundraiser in the nation recognizing over $5 million in giving in just one day.

ABAG is again partnering with Maryland Nonprofits, and others - including ABAG members, like Constellation - to spread the word and help fund hundreds of nonprofits raising dollars and awareness for their cause. 

We had a chance to talk to Carrie Stockwell, Principal, Community Stewardship at Constellation, about their participation in Maryland Gives More.

Why is Constellation a partner this year in Maryland Gives More?

At Constellation, giving back is a part of who we are and something our employees do year round. We’re proud to be a part of the #GivingTuesday and #MarylandGivesMore campaigns, to kick off the holiday season with a spotlight on charitable giving.

How is Constellation engaging employees?

We are engaging employees through our giving campaign and volunteerism. Teams within constellation have been competing against each other for the most volunteer hours and highest participation through our constellation community challenge, and we’ll be announcing the top teams on #GivingTuesday.

The company also provides a match for employee donations, which acts as a multiplier effect ultimately providing additional dollars to many important causes and support to those in our community with the greatest need.

How is Constellation involved this year?

We’ll will announce grants for our Constellation Community Champions awardees, as well as have a team of volunteering locally with Art With a Heart on #GivingTuesday.

Carrie can be reached at: Carrie.Stockwell@constellation.com

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Constellation  Corporate Philanthropy  Maryland Gives More  Maryland Nonprofits 

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Connecting for Impact

Posted By Celeste Amato, Thursday, November 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 6, 2014

November 6, 2014

By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

Recognizing the critical partnership between nonprofits and funders in affecting the change we seek in our communities, we were pleased to join our strategic partner, Maryland Nonprofits, to present the 2014 Annual Conference: Connecting for Impact on November 5.

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is the network, the resource and the voice for the philanthropic community in Maryland. We represent about 80% of the giving assets in Maryland including more than 140 foundations, funds, public charities and corporate giving programs. Our mission is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life.

But without the nonprofit sector, we cannot achieve that mission. Nonprofits are the partners who deliver the service and the impact.

The strategic partnership between ABAG and Maryland Nonprofits is an important one, secured by our shared interest in promoting a healthy, vibrant nonprofit sector. Our goal in partnering on this year’s Annual Conference was to increase the impact of our members by sharing our expertise, influencing good governance, and increase opportunities for dialogue and collaboration.

In fact, ABAG staff and funder members participated in two panel sessions, "Building Strong Relationships With Grantmakers" and "How to Tell Your Story Effectively to Funders and Beyond." Staff from the Blaustein Philanthropic Funds, Hoffberger Foundation, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation shared information, tips and resources to an engaged room of nonprofits. And, ABAG Member The Family League of Baltimore, was awarded the Maryland Nonprofits Standards of Excellence.

We will continue to partner with Maryland Nonprofits on a variety of efforts, and our hope is that Maryland’s nonprofits will continue to connect with ABAG and take advantage of opportunities we have to offer by:

We look forward to continuing our important partnership with the nonprofit sector.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Maryland Nonprofits  November 2014 Members' Memo 

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Standards for Excellence

Posted By Greg Cantori, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 14, 2014
Updated: July 7, 2014

July 1, 2014

By Greg Cantori

Executive Director, Maryland Nonprofits

As a former foundation leader, I've been thinking a lot recently about the role trust plays in grantmaking. Once a funder considers making an investment in you and your organization, something interesting happens. If the funder feels 100% confident in you and your organization's abilities, you are much more likely to receive a general operating grant ... an unrestricted grant. On the other hand, if some questions remain about your operations, stability, governance, or your effectiveness, you may receive a program or project grant. ... a restricted grant.

Unrestricted grants implicitly say: We trust you. We trust that you know best, and we are here to support you.

Restricted grants implicitly point to the need for you to account and report back on a regular basis on your progress. It's more of an incremental "trust but verify" approach to grantmaking. It means more work for your funder, your bookkeeper, CFO, and your staff.

So how do you go about receiving the holy grail of general operating funding? Much of it is based on the excellence of your operations, ethics, and accountability. How might you avoid making the grantmaker go through a lot of work to demonstrate that you've reached operational excellence?

Welcome to the newly updated Standards for Excellence!

There are 11 new bulletins with tons of useful tools free for members. And don't forget you can become a licensed consultant yourself, too!
 
I want to hear from you, how have you created trust in your work?

I did hear from colleague and partner Celeste Amato, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, who said this: "Funders appreciate building partnerships with grantees in order to best leverage resources for greater impact. We applaud Maryland Nonprofits on the newly updated Standards for Excellence, which is a great tool for both the nonprofit and funding communities.”

Send me your response!

Tags:  July/August 2014 Members' Memo  Maryland Nonprofits  Standards for Excellence 

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Raising Concerns about Form 1023-EZ

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

By Adam Donaldson, Member Services Director

On June 19, 2014, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers joined a growing chorus of concern about the Internal Revenue Service proposed Form 1023-EZ, a shorter application to earn nonprofit status.  On behalf of our members and the nonprofit community, we sent a joint letter with Maryland Nonprofits to Members of Congress asking them to stop the IRS from implementing Form 1023-EZ.

We understand the good intentions of the IRS to manage a backlog of applications by developing a streamlined process for smaller organizations.  The Form 1023-EZ, however, provides just a two-page checklist instead of the traditional proven protocols of requiring applicants to submit materials showing they are prepared for the responsibilities of tax-exempt status.  ABAG is concerned that Form 1023-EZ would increase opportunity for fraud and exacerbate the proliferation of nonprofit organizations. We believe the IRS should slow down and restart a public and transparent conversation about improvements to the current Form 1023.

Members interested in learning more about this issue can read from several recent articles:

Tags:  IRS  Maryland Nonprofits  nonprofits 

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