Friday, February 27, 2015

Social Entrepreneurship: Starts with Intent, Followed by Action, Delivers Impact

By Javier.Saade, SBA Official


PhotoAs yet another massive blizzard hit New England on Valentines Day, the jointly hosted Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School gathering focused on social entrepreneurship and impact investing took place.  
The dialogue was inspiring and the energy palpable amongst the 500+ people in attendance.  The Social Enterprise Conference, now in its 16th year, brings together academics, investors, public sector leaders, private sector entrepreneurs, non profit practitioners, and students passionate about all aspects of social enterprise - and this includes impact investing.
This year the theme of last Saturday was the collective opportunity "to reflect on three critical stages of social enterprise: Intent. Action. Impact."
The conference had keynote speakers, including Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka and the acknowledged father of social entrepreneurship globally - as well as topical panels, problem solving labs, and opportunities for interactive discussions and good debates.  One of the aspects of this vibrant and growing sector is the combination of social change with measurable intention married to implementation strategies that take into account the delivery of impact on society as a performance-driven outcome.
That sounds like a mouthful, but the concept is grounded in practice. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Special Health Insurance Sign-Up for Tax Filers Owing Fees

If you learn as you do your taxes that you owe a fee for not having health insurance last year, avoid having to pay this fee next year. Find out if you are eligible to sign up for health insurance for 2015, even though open enrollment has closed. If you are - you’ll avoid bigger penalties next year, and may receive subsidies that make the insurance premiums more affordable. This special enrollment period runs from March 15 to April 30.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nonprots, please note: Security Alert for Form 990 Online and 990-N e-Postcard

From Form990.org:

The Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) recently discovered that an unauthorized party or parties have gained access to the Form 990 Online and e-Postcard filing systems for nonprofit organizations. This unauthorized access affected nonprofits that used IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-N (e-Postcard). It also affected users of Form 8868 extensions and filings for charitable organizations in Hawaii, Michigan, and New York.

Once we discovered the attack, we contacted IRS and made every effort to secure the systems and user accounts. We are working with law enforcement agencies as they conduct an investigation. In addition, we have retained a leading cybersecurity firm to help us analyze the situation and strengthen security. Our investigation is ongoing.

Based on current information, we believe no information from the filings themselves was compromised. These forms do not contain Social Security numbers or individual tax filer information, so such sensitive information was not available to the hackers. Copies of the 990 returns, including the e-Postcard, are public documents that are released by the IRS annually.

If you use these systems on behalf of your nonprofit, we strongly encourage you to change your password immediately. If you use the same password for your organization’s Form 990 Online and e-Postcard that you do for other websites or applications, we strongly encourage you to change it immediately in each of those instances.

To change your password on Form 990 Online, click here.

To change your password for e-Postcard (990-N), click here.

To enhance security, all users accessing the Form 990 and e-Postcard systems are also being required to change their passwords upon logging in, or were when they logged in most recently.

The Urban Institute has a strong commitment to privacy and data security and will continue to work diligently to protect your organization’s data. We apologize for this disruption and any inconvenience this incident may cause our users.

If you have any questions, please consult the FAQ below. You may also contact us at security@form990.org or at 1-800-564-9110.
Sincerely,

Elizabeth T. Boris
Director, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy

FAQ

How will I know if I my nonprofit’s information was accessed?
The intruders gained access to information on all registered users for the nonprofit organizations that have used IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-N (e-Postcard) on these systems. This also affects registered users for IRS Form 8868 extensions and filings for charitable organizations in Hawaii, Michigan, and New York.

If you have used these systems, it is likely that some of your information was accessed. All users were sent an email notification by the Urban Institute.

What information was accessed?
Usernames, first and last names, email addresses, IP addresses, phone numbers, and passwords were accessed. Other publicly available information may have been accessed as well, such as the Employer Identification Number (EIN), name, and address of the nonprofit organization. To our knowledge, the filings themselves (Form 990, 990-EZ, and state registration and renewal information) were not compromised. Our investigation is ongoing.

How do I know if my username and password were compromised?
We have notified all users of the systems by email. If you have accessed any of these systems, you should assume your username and password were compromised, regardless of whether you received an email.

What should I do if my username and password were compromised?
Change your password immediately. If you use the same password on other sites, please change it there as well.

Was my personal information, including Social Security number, accessed?
No. Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, and Form 8868 extensions do not include personal Social Security numbers or individual tax filer information, so such sensitive information was not available to hackers.

Was my credit card information accessed?
No. Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, and Form 8868 extensions do not include credit card information; therefore, such sensitive information was not available to hackers.

If you made a payment for Form 990 Online through PayPal, that information is visible only to PayPal and was never visible to or stored on the affected system.

Do you provide credit monitoring?
No. These forms and systems do not include credit card information or Social Security numbers, so such sensitive information was not available to the hackers.

Were Schedule B forms accessed?
We have not found any evidence that Schedule B (donor lists) forms were accessed. Our investigation is ongoing.

Does this incident affect 1040s and individual filers preparing their tax returns?
No. This system is designed and used only for nonprofit organizations, not for individuals. Individuals cannot file tax returns using these forms and systems.

I need to file my nonprofit organization’s 990, which is due May 15. Is your system secure, and may I proceed with the filing?
Yes. The system has been secured and is fully operational. To eliminate risks, both systems were rebuilt on new, secured servers. You may file your e-Postcard at any time, and the 2014 Form 990 and 990 E-Z will be available at the end of March.

Does this affect other systems or data housed by the Urban Institute or the National Center for Charitable Statistics?
No. We have confirmed that the unauthorized access was limited to this particular system and server. No other servers were compromised.

Who are the unauthorized parties that accessed your system?
Urban Institute is working closely with law enforcement to investigate the attack. The investigation is ongoing. We do not know who is responsible at this time.

What is the Urban Institute’s connection to Form 990 Online and e-Postcard?
Urban Institute is home to the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy (CNP) and the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS). NCCS works with the IRS, state charity officials, policymakers and researchers to collect and analyze data on the nonprofit sector. It also offers assistance and information directly to nonprofits.

In 2000, NCCS began work on electronic filing of state and federal forms and was one of the first organizations to offer electronic filing with the IRS beginning in 2004.

In 2007, NCCS adapted its e-filing technology so that small organizations could complete the e-Postcards that the Congress mandated in the Pension Protection Act of 1996.

NCCS, CNP, and the Urban Institute play no role in evaluating, screening, or assessing nonprofit organizations’ returns. Returns are forwarded directly to the IRS.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why Every Person in Your Company Needs to Be Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn provides an unrivaled branding and visibility opportunity for companies that harness the true power of LinkedIn and engage their staff. It is one of the most valuable branding tools you have—and right now, it's a competitive advantage.

Very few companies have effectively implemented a comprehensive LinkedIn branding plan.

Some companies don't even allow their employees to access LinkedIn. Some 10% of US employees work for a company where access to LinkedIn is blocked (access to other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter is even more restrictive), according to a study by Statista. Those companies are missing out on major opportunities to bolster branding, grow revenue, increase visibility, and turn employees into engaged and committed brand ambassadors.

Here's why your company needs a comprehensive LinkedIn program.



Read more from MarketingProfs.

Monday, February 23, 2015

3 Resources To Help You Crack the Export Market

U.S. businesses are selling more goods and services abroad than ever before, reaching an all-time record of $2.3 trillion in 2013 – and 98 percent of American companies that export are small businesses.
Despite the statistics, many small businesses still face big challenges when it comes to financing and managing their export business. A recent trade seminar, hosted by the Department of Commerce and several other federal agencies, identified three commonly cited financial obstacles small businesses have to going global:
  • Don’t know how to obtain working capital and financing to support export transactions
  • Don’t know where to seek assistance for entering, growing and succeeding in global markets
  • Don’t know how to get paid by foreign buyers overseas
Helping entrepreneurs overcome such challenges are key priorities for the SBA,Business.USA.gov, and the International Trade Administration (which supports the President’s National Export Initiative).
Here’s how they can help:

Friday, February 20, 2015

It’s BusinessUSA's Version of the Oscars ®


Oscars
Every February, movie industry greats from around the world gather in Los Angeles to salute the year’s best films.  In that same tradition, we’d like to offer up our list of some of the best online business films – okay, videos -- culled from our expansive online library of instructional videos.  Sure, our videos weren’t directed by anyone named Scorcese or Spielberg, but our videos can help you with whatever strategic decision is on your plate.
Without further ado, the nominees are:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

SBA Launches Online Matchmaking for Small Business Loans

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator
If there’s broad agreement that small businesses are the engine that powers the American economy, shouldn’t it be easier to fuel the tank?
Access to credit continues to bedevil too many U.S. entrepreneurs. Eighty percent of small business loan applications are rejected, according to some industry estimates, and more applications than we can count are never filed because of the difficulty of getting an appointment with a loan officer.
There’s a hunger among entrepreneurs to find financing to get their business off the ground or take the next big step in their expansion plan. Across the country, thousands of small business owners pound the pavement every day looking for term loans, equipment financing, lines of credit, invoice financing, and real estate loans to help them hire and grow. But too often, they’re wasting time they don’t have cold-calling and door-knocking their way to a lucky break. It shouldn’t be this way.  If you have a bankable business idea backed by good credit and sound financial planning, you shouldn’t have to go begging to borrow.
Technology can help us address this problem. Online matchmaking services pairing lenders with prospective borrowers comprise a multibillion dollar industry. Perhaps you’ve seen the TV commercial in which a creditworthy home buyer goes online and is delighted to find banks competing to finance her house. Small businesses lending is the next frontier for these matchmaking services.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Green Building Tax Incentives for 2015

In addition to 179d, the energy efficient building tax deduction, there are four green building incentives you should know about. These include the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), MACRS — Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System, Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credits and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing.

Read more from Poplar Network.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2012 Statistics of U.S. Businesses — Employment and Payroll Summary Report

From the Census Bureau:

A new report presents industry and geography highlights from the Statistics of U.S. Businesses program. These data allow comparisons between business establishments that do similar work but are part of different-sized enterprises.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Average weekly wages of workers in counties bearing names of U.S. presidents

Washington's Birthday or Presidents' Day honors U.S. presidents, including George Washington, our nation's first president. There are 261 counties that bear the name of a U.S. president, but not all are named in honor of the president whose name they share. Reagan County, Texas, had the highest average weekly wage ($1,201) among all counties bearing the name of a U.S. president in June 2014. This county, near Midland, was not named for President Reagan.

Two counties named in honor of President Washington, one in Oregon and one in Alabama, were the only other counties with presidential names that had average weekly wages greater than $1,000 in June 2014. The average weekly wage was $1,183 in Washington County, Oregon (part of the Portland metropolitan area), and $1,179 in Washington County, Alabama (near Mobile). Average weekly wages in the remaining 29 counties named for Washington ranged from $428 in Washington County, Missouri, to $940 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The average weekly wage in Washington, DC, was $1,432.


More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Should Medical Marijuana be Legalized

The history of cannabis and all its medical uses has varied from appetite stimulants to helping in chronic pain and even treating nausea and vomiting. The most recent researches now say it helps in treating symptoms of AIDS, the disease that kills 1 out of 4 people age 13 to 24.

Looking on medical marijuana now in the United States, it’s been spreading to be now legalized by 23 states for medical use only. In 2015, New York state legalizing medical marijuana use to

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Top Ten State DMV Websites in America

DMV.com has ranked and reviewed every DMV agency website to find the best of class for its 2015 State DMV Website Rankings. All the websites were graded using a comprehensive scorecard that evaluated the design, usability, content and online services. These top ten sites represent the highest standard in government motor vehicle and licensing websites.



  • #2 New York

    DUSCScore
    2016382094
    The NY DMV website has recently received a significant update which significantly improved the usability and aesthetics of the site. With a great dropdown navigation this site is a great example of functional and efficient design. The New York DMV website is very user friendly with a forms search application that is quite handy and a conveniently located "Save time, do it online" button.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February 15th is the Deadline to Get 2015 Health Coverage

It’s time to get health insurance covered for 2015. The final Open Enrollment deadline to sign up for 2015 coverage is February 15. If people miss that deadline, they will likely have to wait to sign up for coverage until the next open enrollment season, with coverage starting in 2016.

Small business owners who want to purchase coverage for their employees through the SHOP Marketplace can continue to enroll beyond the February 15 deadline since enrollment in SHOP is year-round. Both the individual and SHOP Marketplaces can be found at HeathCare.gov.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Calculating Costs for Starting Your Small Business?

Gain insights about how to estimate your start-up costs, which will help you determine what financing you may need to get off the ground, what it will take to reach your break-even point and manage cash flow once you’re up and running!
How much will it take to start that new business you’re thinking of? Use these simple steps to develop a good estimate. You don’t get to know for sure, but if you have the discipline to break things into meaningful pieces, and then research each of the pieces, you’ll have a good idea.
 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Capital Spending by US Businesses Increased 4.5 Percent in 2013

U.S. business spending on new and used structures and equipment rose 4.5 percent, from $1,423.6 billion in 2012 to $1,488.2 billion in 2013, according to the latest economic data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
These findings come from the 2013 Annual Capital Expenditures Survey, which provides statistics on capital spending for new and used structures and equipment by U.S. nonfarm businesses with and without paid employees. This survey, conducted annually since 1994, is an integral part of the federal government’s effort to improve and supplement ongoing statistical economic programs.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

How Do I Find an EIN?

No doubt, there are probably quite a few regulatory and administrative items on your new business checklist – getting a permit, registering your business name and more (check out these 10 steps to starting a business for a useful reference point).

One of the key requirements for most new businesses (or businesses that are restructuring) is obtaining an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, from the IRS.

Here’s what you need to know about EINs and how to go about getting one for your business.

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that identifies your business for tax purposes. Think of it as the business equivalent of a social security number (although it shouldn’t be used in place of it).

As a business owner, you’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, apply for business licenses and file your tax returns. It’s a good idea to apply for one as soon as you start planning your business. This will ensure there are no delays in getting the appropriate licenses or financing that you need to operate.

An EIN is needed by any business that retains employees. However, non-employers are also required to obtain one if they operate as a corporation or partnership.


More from SBA

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Tech Trends For Small Business in 2015

From SmallBusinessNewz:

No matter how small or "old fashioned" a small business is, it is vital that the owners stay informed of technology advancements because it impacts consumer behavior. A few of the technology trends to keep track of in the coming year

Internet of Things. Wi-Fi technology will soon take everyday items like appliances, TV sets, and more through the next wave in connectedness: The Internet of Things, or IoT. The general concept is that all of these IoT-enabled will create a "smart" network all on their own by pinging off of each other.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories released by Office of Advocacy

The Office of Advocacy released Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories, the annual snapshots of state-level small business activity. The profiles report on the number of small firms, employment, and owner demographics. They also list each state’s top small business industries by number of firms and number of employees. The profiles cover the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States. They also provide limited information on the U.S. territories.
In addition to the profiles, detailed state data is available on Advocacy’s website.
To access the book of all small business profiles or any of the individual states, visit www.sba.gov/advocacy/small-business-profiles-states-and-territories-2014.
For more information about the Office of Advocacy, visit our website at www.sba.gov/advocacy or telephone (202) 205-6533. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Affordable Care Act Legal Guidance and Other Resources.

Find MANY informational links to ACA program, including:

Affordable Care Act Legal Guidance and Other Resources
Health Care Tax Tips, Flyers, Publications, Trifolds and Additional Materials
YouTube Videos, Podcasts and Webinars
Social Media
News Releases
Fact Sheets
Legal Guidance – Announcements
Legal Guidance – Regulations and Treasury Decisions
Legal Guidance – Notices, Revenue Procedures and Revenue Rulings

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

US Labor Dept proposes updates to sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors

 The U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposal to clarify federal contractors' requirements to prohibit sex discrimination. The recommended changes would revise the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' guidelines to align with laws, court decisions and societal changes since they were originally issued in 1970.
"Our sex discrimination guidelines are woefully out of date and don't reflect established law or the reality of modern workplaces," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. "We owe it to the working women of America — and their families — to fix this regulatory anachronism so there is no confusion about how federal contractors must comply with their equal opportunity obligations."