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I. OVERVIEW OF NONPROFIT OVERHEAD

The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle
First published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, this groundbreaking article by Ann Goggins Gregory and Don Howard (now president of the James Irvine Foundation) addresses the long-term negative effects of "underfed overhead."

A Board Member's Guide to Nonprofit Overhead
Focus groups run by the Nonprofit Overhead Project revealed that overhead is seldom discussed on nonprofit boards...but when it is, there is often a striking disconnect between how staff and board members think about it. This article by Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman CPA was simultaneously published by the California Association of Nonprofits and Blue Avocado.

The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong
This popular TED talk by controversial activist Dan Pallotta addresses nonprofit overhead and executive compensation . . . and has been seen by more than 3 million viewers. Also see his book Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, 2010, which expands on the same points.

You Won't Believe the Overhead Costs at These Twenty-five Nonprofits
This article in The Street by Lindsay Ingram is a good example of stories about egregious nonprofit overhead.

This Simple Strategy Tripled Charity Donations
This thought-provoking article in Vox by Susannah Locke reports on research that shows how donors choose -- or don't choose -- nonprofits based on what is said about their overhead.

Nonprofit Overhead Costs: Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Misleading Reporting, Unrealistic Expectations, and Pressure to Conform
The title says a lot, but this comprehensive article also includes comparison of overhead rates in various industries and researches the differences between "reported" and "real" overhead rates. Written by William Bedsworth, Ann Goggins Gregory and Don Howard of the Bridgespan Group. See also this Bridgespan piece, which asks "Do We Have a Nonprofit Overhead Movement?"

May 2010 Government & Accountability Office Report
“Nonprofit Sector: Treatment and Reimbursement of Indirect Costs Vary among Grants, and Depend Significantly on Federal, State, and Local Government Practices“ provides a great description of the language confusion that makes assertions about appropriate levels overhead and indirect costs meaningless -- includes discussion of the importance of nonprofit sustainability to state, local, and federal governmental agencies and the negative impact of current practices of restricting funding for administrative and other indirect costs. If We Want Our Funding to Change the World -- a video about overhead
Produced by the Donors Forum of Illinois, this short cartoon video speaks to foundations and individual donors.
II. ARTICLES ABOUT ONLINE CHARITY RATERS

Charity Raters Part I: Charting the Bad and the Bad
Charity Raters Part II: Managing Your Rating
This pair of articles by CalNonprofits CEO Jan Masaoka analyzes the metrics used by online charity raters (such as Charity Navigator) and offers suggestions on how nonprofits can manage the ratings given to them.

An Open Letter to Charity Navigator
As Charity Navigator seeks a new CEO, CalNonprofits took the opportunity to suggest changes to the Charity Navigator Board of Directors.

The Ratings Game
This Stanford Social Innovation Review article by Stephanie Lowell, Brian Trelstad and Bill Mehan evaluates three online nonprofit raters.

III. NONPROFIT-GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING AND THE OMB UNIFORM GUIDANCE

OMB Uniform Guidelines: the regulations
The whole thing.

Frequently Asked Questions about the OMB Uniform Guidance
A good set of FAQs about the OMB Guidance from the Council On Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR). They will issue additional FAQs as well; their full site is at https://cfo.gov/cofar/

"OMB Uniform Guidance" from the National Council of Nonprofits
This page does a good job of summarizing implications for nonprofits of the Guidance, and is updated with relevant informational pieces from the National Council.

Lessons for Boards from the Nonprofit Overhead Cost Project
This article from the Urban Institute and Indiana University (2004) recaps highlights from this study of Federal Form 990 and discusses problems with functional expense reporting in addition to overhead.

CAPLAW Indirect Cost Webinar Series Q and A
CAPLAW is a national legal technical assistance provider that supports the work of community action anti-poverty agencies. They’ve provided clear answers to questions regarding OMB’s Uniform Guidance focusing on cost allocation, the use of the de Minimis Indirect rate, Negotiated Indirect Cost Rates, Administrative Cost limitations, and Pass-through entities.

September 2015 Technical Corrections to the Uniform Guidance
OMB published technical corrections to the Uniform Guidance in the Federal Register on September 10, 2015. The corrections included a provision which allows nonprofits to defer implementation of Uniform Guidance procurement requires for two full fiscal years.

Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Proposal Preparation Guide
The US Department of Labor was the first federal agency to update its indirect rate proposal guide to reflect the Uniform Guidance. The revised guide provides clear instructions for preparation and submission of indirect cost rate proposals, including clear discussion of cost allocation methods that may be used in combination with a federally negotiated indirect cost rate.

Department of Health and Human Services Guidance on Negotiated Indirect Cost Rates
HHS uses the Program Support Center to handle negotiation of indirect cost rates for nonprofits receiving funding through HHS. The Program Support Center has not yet updated its materials in relation to the Uniform Guidance, but the basic requirements have not changed. The PSC website includes contact info for the regional offices of field offices that handle indirect cost rate negotiations.

Department of Education Sample Cost Policy Statement
Useful template for developing a cost allocation plan.

IV. OTHER NONPROFIT OVERHEAD RESOURCE SITES

The Real Cost Project: Foundations and Overhead
The Real Cost Project is a collaboration of Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers, and Southern California Grantmakers to explore how foundation leaders understand nonprofit overhead and what changes might be appropriate. See their latest report "Barriers to Change" here.

Nonprofit Costs Resource Center
This site from the Bridgespan Group is a collection of articles and resources to help nonprofits continue the conversations on overhead.

Real Talk About Real Costs
This site from the Donors Forum of Illinois is intended to be a collection of resources for nonprofits and funders on overhead and finances.

Overhead Myth site
This site is a collaborative project of Charity Navigator, GuideStar and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. In it these three heavyweights encourage donors to think about many factors in addition to overhead when assessing nonprofits.

V. ACCOUNTING

Is Your Organization Healthy? Cost Allocation, Invoices, and Personnel (Payroll and Timesheets)
This article by Marissa Tirona, CompassPoint, is a good overview of basic cost allocation and budgeting strategies.

True Program Costs: Program Budgets and Allocation Template and Resource
A site with a written guide, webinar, and downloadable templates from the Nonprofit Assistance Fund in Minneapolis.

Management Accounting and Control
A free online course from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) including lectures, notes, and exams. A grounding in the core accounting principles of cost allocations and how they affect reporting and behavior.

StrongNonprofits.org
This site is an effort by the Wallace Foundation and Fiscal Management Associates to provide a comprehensive resource clearinghouse on nonprofit finance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NONPROFIT OVERHEAD UPCOMING EVENTS
OVERHEAD WEBINAR SERIES
Missed these webinars? Register here for recordings


May 11 - Thursday, Session 1
Real Costs – Realistic Strategies: Understanding, Communicating, and Funding the Full Cost of Your Services

June 1 - Thursday, Session 2
Recovering Overhead Costs in Government Contracts: New Opportunities

June 15 - Thursday, Session 3
Negotiating a Federal Indirect Cost Rate: Step by Step Guide to Preparing Your Indirect Cost Rate Proposal
Also now available:
"Getting Your Full Costs Funded"
3 Webinar series
Order your recordings here.
"Don't Say That, Say This: New Research on Talking to Funders about Overhead" Webinar
Order your recording here.