Monday, December 31, 2007

Directory of Nonprofits

We have a print directory in our collection that provides contact information for nonprofit organizations around the U.S. It would be an ideal resource if it were only available online somewhere. Its layout makes identifying nonprofits in a given area a very cumbersome task.

There are websites that provide this information, though they have their limitations, too. I recently suggested to an advisor that his client check out what I consider to be the best of this bunch:
http://www.idealist.org/if/as/Org/npo

As you'll see, the search feature gives you the option of searching by state/province, city/town, postal code, and "area of focus". Use of any or all of these fields can be used to create a pretty targeted list of NFPs in a given geographic area. Once you get your results, the name of each NFP is hyperlinked to a page with more complete contact information.

Precision searching is a priority here. For example, I did a search of all NFPs in New York, and found 5,567 organizations. That's a pretty vast undertaking. However, a search of NFPs with "Economic Development" as their "area of focus" drops the results to 369. The search page also has a "keywords" field, which can help narrow things even more.

Again, it's not a perfect system. It's tedious to have to click on the name of every NFP to find the contact information - but if you find yourself facing that situation, then it's probably a sign to narrow your search a bit more. Keep it in mind.

Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney

Not to say it is recommended, but I still like to see sites that help people help themselves, and this one is offered by the US Courts: How to handle your own bankruptcy. Even if an attorney were consulted, at least it offers a clear idea of what needs to happen. Bankruptcy Basics runs through the chapters and what they mean and includes a glossary. There is also a page of Bankruptcy Resources.

FYI:

Bankruptcy Filings Down for Fiscal Year 2007,
Up for Quarter


Bankruptcy 'tweak' could save 600,000 homes
Consumer group pushes for change to bankruptcy law; others worry about negative impact on mortgage-debt markets.
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney.com senior writer
October 1 2007

Changes to Bankruptcy Rules (Effective 12/1/07)
By Brett Weiss, Maryland Bankruptcy Attorney on Dec 15, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Better to give than to receive

Giving:
Its the season of gift giving, including executives and their family foundations. Portfolio.com has created several features about the philanthropic habits of Wall Street family foundations, including Wall Street Family Values : Who's giving—and who's missing? and The Generosity Index .

Receiving:
Want to know how much they are keeping to themselves? The SEC has developed a new online tool, the Executive Compensation Reader, "that enables investors to easily and instantly compare what 500 of the largest American companies are paying their top executives."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tracing Business Acumen to Dyslexia

In the December 6, 2007 New York Times, Brent Bowers writes that a study has concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to excel in oral communication and problem solving and to own two or more businesses.

It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.
...
William J. Dennis Jr., senior research fellow at the Research Foundation of the National Federation of Independent Business, a trade group in Washington, said the study’s results "fit into the pattern of what we know about small-business owners."

"Entrepreneurs are hands-on people who push a minimum of paper, do lots of stuff orally instead of reading and writing, and delegate authority, all of which suggests a high verbal facility," Mr. Dennis said. "Compare that with corporate managers who read, read, read."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Business Credit Scores

If there's one thing you need to hear about during the last days of the holiday buying season, it's your credit score. Sarah O'Connell from the Watertown SBDC forwarded this article to me recently from the LA Times, which reports the "facts" and "myths" associated with business owners & their attendant credit scores. She thought some of y'all would find it interesting.

Much merriness to all!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Directory of Associations

Here's a site that's been around since the mid-1990s, in one form or another. I can't believe that I'd never blogged about it before, but it's been in my bookmark collection since I was in my late 20s - a loooooong time ago, apparently.

You can search for websites for trade associations through a portal provided by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE):

http://www.asaecenter.org/Directories/AssociationSearch.cfm

It's come a long way, as you can now search by numerous methods (like "Association name contains," which is particularly handy). If you need it, you can also search for trade groups based outside of the U.S.

Note that there's also a State field. If you're looking for trade groups with a headquarters in New York State, then this is the field to use. However, I'm assuming that most of these associations will have national or international scope. The National Restaurant Association is based in Virginia, but would still be useful for New York State-based restaurateurs to know about.

So, if you haven't already done so: bookmark this site, no matter what age you are.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Independent Contractors


I reminded myself to check out our shelves and lo, success! A source that I am sure we have described before but here it is again is the Consultant & Independent Contractor Agreements book by Attorney Stephen Fishman for Nolo. It comes with a disk with the sample contracts. The book covers hiring contractors and working a contractor. There is a chapter on negotiating contracts - a sample for the hiring firm and one for the contractor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hot hot menu items

What are the hottest trends in restaurant menu items? The National Restaurant Association’s “2007 What’s Hot & What’s Not Chef Survey” highlights 194 food items, rated as “hot,” “cool/passé” or “perennial favorite” by 1,282 members of the American Culinary Federation in October 2007.

Hottest items? Bite sized desserts. Hottest trend in vegetables? Surprise, surprise- locally grown. This survey offers additional insight into the hottest cooking methods, ethnic cuisines and alcoholic beverages.

Obviously of interest to anyone in the restaurant biz, but perhaps also valuable to specialty food producers, ready for the next “hot” thing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Employers must use new I-9 form; 'no-match' rule to be revised

According to the Bizjournals.com website and the Business Review newsweekly, employers must begin using a revised I-9 work eligibility verification form for new employees by December 26, 2007. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service revised it to update the types of documents that can be used.

"The new form also instructs employees that they don't have to include their Social Security number on the form unless they used their Social Security card as evidence of their work eligibility or unless their employer participates in the E-Verify program. Employers in this voluntary program electronically check a new worker's Social Security or visa number against government databases."

In other employer news from the US government, the Department of Homeland Security plans to revise its new regulation that would require employers to fire employees if they can't resolve discrepancies between the Social Security numbers submitted by workers and government records. "The Justice Department asked a federal court in San Francisco to put a lawsuit challenging the regulation on hold until next March, after DHS issues a revised regulation.

"The revised rule will include an analysis of its impact on small businesses. DHS initially contended the analysis was not needed because the rule would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses. Business groups, backed by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, disagreed. They cited the government's failure to conduct a small business impact study when they joined a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the AFL-CIO challenging the regulation."

For more information about the new I-9 form, see http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis; use the Search feature and type in I-9, since there seems to be no specific link to this location. For more information about the matching Social Security numbers lawsuit, see http://www.aclu.org/immigrants/workplace/31643res20070829.html.

Monday, December 10, 2007

DDC 920

In the midst of the holiday bustle, let's take time to give a birthday shout-out to a landmark figure in library history. Today is the birthday of Melvil Dewey, a former State Librarian in New York (as well as the creator of the library classification system that bears his name). He would have been 156 years old today if he, well, hadn't died in 1931.

Dewey was born in Adams Center, just southwest of Watertown (where our own Mary Hoffman once lived). He was 26 when he conjured up the Dewey Decimal System. This was a means of dividing all human knowledge into 10 broad categories, which could be divvied up further still depending on the subject (like biography, which begins with "920"). Before then, librarians were expected to arrange books on the shelves by either size or color, and memorize the placement of each one.

While we've never used DDC at this library (shoehorning some of the subjects in our collection into the rigid ten categories results in some astronomically long classification numbers), it is something that's found in most public and school libraries.

You've all heard of it. To this day, I get to hear cracks about whether I arrange my clothes per the Dewey system (no . . . I use the Library of Congress method). That's not Melvil's fault, though. Happy birthday, old man.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Story of Stuff



Already getting swept up in the Christmas blitz of stuff, this morning I opened my email to find a message from a friend with this link to a short film that I thought was very relevent. I thought I would share it here. This is from the Story of Stuff website describing their intentions:
"The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns, with a special focus on the United States. All the stuff in our lives, beginning from the extraction of the resources to make it, through its production, sale, use and disposal, affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues and calls for all of us to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something. It'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever."

There is a definite trend in small business to try to lighten the carbon footprint, through the use of recycled products and materials, and in supporting local businesses generally. In a way, it is still pro-small business, pro-local business. The site also includes the section Another Way which is a list of actual steps we can all take to start to make a larger shift. What I enjoyed best is the explanation of planned obsolescence as an economic decision and how we can make a new decision now.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ethnic Events

We receive quite a few questions related to marketing to specific ethnic groups. Here’s a resource that can help find those markets:

Ethnic Events provides a “comprehensive online directory of more than 1,000 ethnic events in the United States” as well as information on ethnic markets within this country.” It’s searchable by ethnic group, date or location.

And don’t forget that we can help you find ethnicity and ancestry demographic information too!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Presidential Campaign 2008 — Candidates and News Sources

Since primary voting will begin less than a month (Iowa, January 3), and New Yorkers will be voting on February 5, I thought I'd share The 51st State: The State of Online from Searcher magazine. The info was compiled a couple months ago, and a few of the candidates have already dropped out of the race. Here's a list of the current contenders.

"As Laura Gordon-Murnane illustrates in this in-depth article, the Internet is no longer like a third-party candidate, but is breathing down the proverbial necks of the mainstream media, threatening to usurp broadcast and print sources as the primary way people follow the election. Five extensive tables look at the Web sites of each of the 17 presidential candidates, as well as mainstream media sites, blogs, and aggregator tools, and show just how much the Internet is impacting the 2008 election. This is a key reference tool for anyone following the election or helping voters."

Monday, December 03, 2007

You Are What You (Don't) Eat

Here's an article that Roger forwarded around the office, and it's created quite a stir. It's astonishing to see the nutritional content in some of the meals offered at restaurants around the country, and raises a lot of questions as to just what goes on behind the kitchen doors. For instance, check out #15. What does the Macaroni Grill put in their macaroni & cheese dish that results in a 1,200-calorie meal?)

(If you want to check out the nutrition facts for other restaurants, go to DietFacts.com.)

Sadly, some of these "Worst Foods" are familiar to my palate. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat a carrot.