Do You Need Help With Social Media and Your Online Presence?

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» 10 Steps to Developing A Niche Following on Google Plus

Google+ is a fast growing social media platform, that at its current growth rate should surpass Facebook and Twitter within  a couple of years. Google+ has many advantages that can help you position your brand for optimal presence, ahead of your competitors. Google+ will help you get found locally, it will boost your search engine ranking (obviously Google is the leading search engine) and Google+ is a powerful and effective marketing tool.

I came across an article that gives you  10 steps that will help you develop you a niche following on Google+.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

» 10 Steps to Developing A Niche Following on Google Plus.

A simple way for nonprofit organizations to prepare, E-file and print your Form 990 tax return

Filing a Form 990 is very important for a nonprofit organization, you could lose your 501c3 status if you fail to do so. It also helps to keep the trust and confidence of the public, as these two things are the foundation of the nonprofit sector. The Form 990 not only provides financial information it provides information on your programs. This is especially important, since a great portion of a nonprofits income comes from the public, the Government and corporate and community foundations.

The Form 990 is used to measure the performance of your nonprofits. Your Form 990 is a public document and should anyone ask you to review a copy you must provide it. GuideStar and other organizations post your Form 990 online for anyone to view on the internet. Your Form 990 is not only a financial document it also communicates your organizations mission and accomplishments.

The Form 990 is an official document and all of the information on it considered true and accurate. When you apply for any type of grant funding, the majority of the grant makers will require a copy of your Form 990. The data and accuracy of the information you put on your Form 990 can greatly influence whether or not you get the funding you seek. With the internet so prevalent, individual donors are now able to view your Form 990 online and it could make a difference influence their decision to give to you or The Red Cross.

Nonprofits who have used their Form 990 for tax return compliance only have been missing out on an opportunity to market and promote your organization and its mission. You could reap many benefits it you were to see your Form 990 as a tool to promote your organization to potential donors and grant makers. It is very important to prepare and file your Form 990 on time and provide accurate and detailed information that shows that your organization is doing as your mission proposes.

In 2008 the IRS revised the Form 990 and made a more complex form that it had been in years earlier. The new revisions require nonprofits to adopt specific policies and disclosure more transparent. Many nonprofits fail to file their Form 990 for one of two reasons, expensive or they don’t know of a nonprofit tax preparer. It can be a bit expensive to have your taxes prepared, however there are a number of organizations that provide a database of affordable nonprofit tax preparers.

Take a few minutes to do an internet search and you will be surprised at the resources that are available to nonprofits. If you are a person that can do things yourself and can follow directions you could prepare and file your Form 990 at Form 990 Online their website is Form 990 Online allows nonprofits to prepare and file their Form 990 online, and it’s Free if you have gross annual receipts less than $100,000. It is still affordable if your gross annual receipts are more than $100,000 the rates start at $35.

Form 990 Online provides you with tips and instructions as you navigate through the form, they provide error checking to ensure the accuracy of your data and they have a dedicated support staff if you run into a snag. Once you have prepared you form, you have the ability to E=File your return, or you could file an extension if you need one. You also have the ability to save your return in PDF format so you can print, save or forward to grant makers or board members.

The amount of your annual gross receipts is how you can determine with Form 990 you are required to file. Most small tax-exempt organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard, unless they choose to file a complete Form 990 or Form 990-EZ instead. The Form 990-N is the simplest way for small, non-tax savvy nonprofits to file your tax return.

Nonprofits that are required to file a Form 990-EZ, must have gross receipts less than

  • $200,000 (tax year 2010 and later)
  • $500,000 (tax year 2009)
  • $1,000,000 (tax year 2008)
  • $100,000 (tax year 2007 and earlier)

The organization’s Assets must be less than

  • $500,000 (tax year 2010 and later)
  • $1,250,000 (tax year 2009)
  • $2,500,000 (tax year 2008)
  • $250,000 (tax year 2007 and earlier)

The organization’s unrelated business gross income must be less than $1,000 and did not maintain any donor advised funds. Your organization cannot be related to a Controlled Entity, your organization can not be subject to the Lobbying Proxy Tax (section 6033(e) of the IRS Code). 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5) or 501(c)(6) Organizations: Your organization must not be subject to the Lobbying Proxy Tax (section 6033(e) of the IRS Code).

Organizations that are required to file a Form 990 (rather than a Form 990-EZ), have gross receipts greater than or equal to:

  • $200,000 (tax year 2010)
  • $500,000 (tax year 2009)
  • $1,000,000 (tax year 2008)
  • $100,000 (tax year 2007 and earlier)
  • The organization’s assets are greater than or equal to:
  • $500,000 (tax year 2010)
  • $1,250,000 (tax year 2009)
  • $2,500,000 (tax year 2008)
  • $250,000 (tax year 2007 and earlier)

The organization has unrelated business gross income of greater than or equal to $1,000. The organization maintained donor advised funds during the year, your Organization was related to a Controlled Entity. 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5) or 501(c)(6) Organizations: The organization is subject to the Lobbying Proxy Tax (section 6033(e) of the IRS Code)

Form 990 Online

29 Tools to Enhance Your Business Blog

If  your business doesn’t have a blog. I would highly suggest you start one. It is a great way to interact with your clients and potential clients, and it can help you establish yourself as a professional in your industry. WordPress is the most common type of blog, it is easy to use, even if you have no html experience and it offers a ton of widgets, plugins and tools to enhance your blog and your visitors interaction. Here is a list I found of tools you can use to enhance your blog. 29 Tools to Enhance Your Business Blog | Social Media Examiner.

Thinking of Starting a Nonprofit Questions to Ask Yourself

Before You Start a Nonprofit Ask Yourself These Questions

Are you thinking of starting a nonprofit, well you are not alone. With more than 1.6 million nonprofits in the United States, there is a chance that someone else has the same ides. I would first research to see if there are any other nonprofits that already provide the service your nonprofit will provide. After researching if you still decide that you are plan to go forward with starting your nonprofit, then ask yourself the following questions.

Do you have what it takes to start a new business?

Starting a nonprofit is starting a business, however, with a nonprofit you will need to find donors, and investor/supporters that have an interest in your cause and making a difference in the community. The other difference in a nonprofit is the tax status, as a 501c3 you are expected to put your profits back into your organization to sustain your organization for years to come. A small business if can put their profits back into their business (this is the smart thing to do), but if they decide not too, the have that option as well.

You need a business plan, just as a small business and you will put in long hours, without pay and you will probably have to invest some of your own money to help get your new organization off the ground. It is not uncommon to keep your full-time job, or work a part-time, especially during the start up phase and it is not uncommon for organizations to be ran 100% by volunteers.

Do you have the skills to start a nonprofit? Running any business requires management and administrative skills, and a nonprofit is no exception. You might be driven by your passion for your cause, but that is no substitute for the skills and experience you will need. If you don’t have the necessary skills, you should find volunteers and supporters that have the experience and the skills you lack. These people usually become your board and/or staff.


Do you have the ability to inspire others?

You have to be able to inspire and sell others on why they should support or be involved with your organization and its cause. You’ll need to convince donors to support your organization, as well as inspiring volunteer and staff to work hard, for sometimes little or no pay and sometimes difficult circumstances.


Is your idea for your nonprofit original?

With 1.6 million nonprofits in existence, chances are there is one, or more, that already provide the service your nonprofit plans to provide. As I advised you earlier, be sure to do your research and locate other organizations that are similar to yours. If there are other organizations out there that have the same mission and they do a good job, attracting donors, grants, or any other support. If you find organizations that do not provide a good job, then you may be able to come in and champion your cause. You may be passionate about your cause, but the nonprofit but redundancy doesn’t go far in the nonprofit world.


Is it necessary to start a nonprofit to support your cause?

You can make a difference without starting a nonprofit. You could work with an existing organization and help bring new focus and direction for the organization. You could seek a position on the board, or you could volunteer in areas where the help is needed most.  You should perform a needs assessment prior to starting your nonprofit to ensure there really is needed not being served.


Does my organization quality as a 501c3?

To qualify as a 501(c)(3) charity status, your organization must serve the community and provide a service that is free or below cost to enable the services to be affordable to those that may not be able to otherwise afford to pay.


Is your mission clearly defined?

To many times nonprofit founders have vague mission statements. You nonprofit should have a clear and defined mission statement. Your mission statement should answer the following questions:

    • Why?
    • What is the purpose?
    • What change you expect to happen?
    • What?
    • What are the services you will provide
    • Who will be helped or receive the services
    • How will the services be delivered the methods will be used
    • Can you identify individuals to support your nonprofit?

So many people plant to or start a nonprofit and have no clue on how they plan to fund the nonprofit. Finding startup funds for nonprofits are rare and hard to come by. Normally the founders end of financing from their personal money. To take some of the financial burden off of your, it would behoove you to find as many individuals that believe in your cause. Research and find out who would be good prospective supporters of your cause.


Have you considered forming a partnership with an existing nonprofit?

If you’ve done your research as I advised earlier, you should already know whether or not there are other nonprofits that work on the cause in your geographic area. Ask yourself do these nonprofit adequately addressing the needs? Don’t downplay the efforts just because they might not be addressing that cause in the same way that you would, or if they are doing it in a slightly different way.

Consider the possibility that it might be better to join forces with another nonprofit. Maybe you could serve your cause better by becoming a staff or board member or even a volunteer or a donor. You could even bring your proposed project to the attention of that organization to see if yours can be incorporated into its activities and maybe be a supporter to see that the activity is successful.

If you answered yes to all these questions and If you do decide that you have to start your own nonprofit, you want to be sure you can make a compelling case to funders and donors to fund your organization and divert funds away from any existing organizations providing the same or similar purpose. Nonprofit funding is a tough competitive environment, be sure you have done your research and are convinced that your idea needs to find life as a new nonprofit. Just, make sure you are prepared for the tough road ahead, have the energy, and the passion to get you through the tough times.