CASA Ethical Business Considerations
Abstract This paper explores the mission and goals of CASE, a nonprofit organization which provides advocacy for children in court proceedings.CASES mission and goals will be explained and ethical considerations with regard to a nonprofits fundraising strategy will be discussed.An overview of the benefits received from technological advancements will be discussed and applied to CASES fundraising strategy.
CASE’ nonprofit status and Internal Revenue Code section 501 (sys applicability to COCA’S financial and budgetary operations will be addressed and analyzed.
An evaluation of COCA’S budget process and revenue sources will be discussed, along with internal factors which may impact its successful strategic financial planning. COCA’S use of cost-benefit analysis will be discussed and the analysis will conclude with an overview of COCA’S cash management and investment strategies, and an assessment of COCA’S present overall condition.
Keywords: CASE, mission statement, goals, ethical standards for nonprofits, fundraising, technological improvements, IRS section 501 (c) nonprofit status, annual Form 990 filing requirements, budget, revenue, strategic uncial planning, cost-benefit analysis, cash management, Investment strategies, financial assessment CASE for Children Mission and Goals of CASE CASE is a nationwide nonprofit organization that advocates in state and local courts for the best interests of abused and neglected children through the services of specially selected and trained community volunteers.
These volunteers come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The mission of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (NCSA), together with its chartered state and local members, is to support and promote court appointed voluntary advocacy so hat every abused and neglected child can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive (Keeping our promise: National COCA’S strategic objectives). Every court In the united States recognizes that a CASE volunteer Is essential for a successful outcome for children . And [e]very child can thrive In the safe embrace of a loving family. ” (Ibid. ). CASE trains and supports court approved volunteers to advocate for children who need representation in court proceedings in order to ensure that the best interest of these children are met quickly and efficiently. The ultimate goal of CASE is to make sure children affected by the court system secure a safe and permanent home.
Ethical Considerations Related to Finance & Budgeting Within CASE COCA’S receives funding through a variety of sources including grants, local governments, fundraising events, and corporate and private donations. Sometimes 0 good intentions get the best of even the best-intentioned, and all the assumptions about goodness make for some easy marks, In terms of fraud (Jennings, M. , 2012, p. 559). “There’s tremendous pressure on Charles today to Increase their revenues to meet expenses and growing public needs.
Unfortunately, this can Influence some organizations to take financial risks because of potential rewards. ” (Bennett M Bureaus, Ibid. ). Successful fundraising by regional CASE programs sponsored by the national organization is the primary source of its financial resources. Funding sources want assurance that they are being asked to support a carefully researched and well planned program that fills researched local community needs. Often with nonprofits, the problem is not fraud by the organization; it is fraud or misconduct or missteps within the organization Innings, 2012, p. 5). Whether because of inexperience, the need for flexibility in management, or, Just as with companies, the drive for success and results, there have been some ethical issues that have proven costly for nonprofit organizations (Ibid. ). Competition is stiff in raising funds for children’s programs like CASE and founders want to know that they are not throwing money away on a program that will fail because of poor planning, lack of coordination or duplication of the efforts of other human service organizations. Technological Considerations for Improving the Efficiency & Effectiveness
CASE can provide efficient and effective services to children involved in the court system through improved technological fundraising and outreach processes which will increase the sustain the viability of its finance and budgeting systems. “Cloud computing, also known as the cloud,’ refers to applications, services, or software offered over the internet instead of requiring direct connections to a server. ” (Boles, 2013, p. 70). Cloud technologies reduce the costs of services and the time it takes to communicate information among staff members, volunteers and donors via email and collaborative software (Ibid. The useful purpose of social media such as Faceable, Twitter, Linked, and Pinsetters will allow CASE to connect and interact with staffers, volunteers, donors, as well as affected children and their guardians (Ibid. ). Social media networks are increasingly important tools for nonprofits like CASE to raise awareness, conduct outreach and raise funds (Ibid. , up. 70, 71). Innovations such as cloud computing systems, social media and mobile technologies should be incorporated into COCA’S fundraising efforts in order to improve its quality of services and work processes. Applicable Laws, Regulations,
Policies Impacting COCA’S Financial & Budget Operations All state and local CASE organizations formed under the national CASE association must file for exemption status under section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) in order to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions and Form 990 annual tax returns of income and expenses even though they are exempt from income taxation under the Code (Internal Revenue Service, “Requirements for Exemption,” “Application for recognition of exemption,” “Exempt Organizations – Required Filings,” “Form 990 Resources,” and “Tools for Exempt Organizations”).
Expected changes in auditing standards and Form 990 reporting for nonprofit organizations may require increased data gathering and raise the cost of audits. These changes are expected to have an impact on some CASE programs [and] National CASE recommends that member programs contact a tax professional or auditor for more information (whom. IRS. Org). Among these changes is the new Suite of Risk Assessment Audit Standards, CPA Statement on Auditing Standards Nose.
National CASE regularly seeks ways to reduce costs for local chapters so that they can increase the number of children they serve and one of the areas CASE focuses n is insurance (NCSA). Pursuant to CASE standards, it is extremely important to have a well thought out risk management plan, including adequate insurance coverage to protect CASE staff, agency and the board (Ibid. ). Annual financial reviews are required of CASE programs with budgets of $50,000 or greater and annual audits are required for programs with budgets of over $200,000 (Ibid. . Searching for and purchasing cost-saving insurance coverage is an ongoing practice the CASE uses to keep expenses within its organization’s budget. COCA’S policy in contractual practices stresses that unwritten contracts must be in rating. “Putting an agreement in writing serves several goals. First a written contract provides an indisputable, although not necessarily unambiguous, record of the agreement. The law gives great weight to written, signed documents …
Second, the process of committing an agreement to writing forces both parties to be [clear] about the [terms] of the agreement. ” (NCSA). Key elements for CASE service contracts terms should include scope of work, deadlines and duration, money, record keeping and reporting, rights to work products, liability protections, dispute resolution, legal implicate and contracting process (Ibid. ). COCA’S internal policy covering essential terms to be included in written contracts it enters into saves the organization costs that would otherwise be expended to enforce service agreements.
Evaluation of COCA’S Budget Process & Revenue Sources One of the great challenges facing CASE is to obtain the money required to launch the program and maintain its operations (NCSA). Who is going to pay for the CASE program implemented and used by the courts and the community leaders? (Ibid. ). COCA’S guidelines are found in its Manual, Section 1 – Planning a Quality Program, Chapter 6: Funding the Program, and includes how to develop the first budget, develop the right approach to fundraising, locating possible funding sources, locating federal funding, and locating National CASE resource development protocols (Ibid. . The first hurdle is to develop an expense budget by comparing what the actual costs of goods and services presently is for similar nonprofit organizations within in the chosen community the CASE chapter is to be located (Ibid). Budget expenses include personnel, equipment, volunteer support, facility, supplies, travel, telephone ND Internet service, administrative costs, staff training, and dues and publications (Ibid). After the type and amount of budget expenses are identified and estimated, an approach to fundraising must be established.
Funding sources want assurance that they are being asked to support a carefully researched and well planned program that fits the community’s needs (NCSA). Keys to successful fundraising are to “know who you are asking, know what you are asking for, and ask and ask again. ” (Ibid. ) Common funding sources are “in-kind contributions” in the form of support such as he court, community service organizations, state bar associations, and law firms (Ibid. ).
Examples of federal funding are available in the form of grants authorized by Congress specifically for the expansion of CASE advocacy for abused and neglected children such as the National CASE Association of Grants Program, the Children’s Act (Ibid. ). As with all nonprofit organizations, CASE strives to obtain and sustain an optimal funding mix of public and private support to secure its future (Ibid. ). In today’s fragile economic climate, there is intense competition for both public and riveter funding support because of increased costs of doing business combined with recent curtailments in government funds.
Therefore, to enhance its fundraising efforts, CASE uses several data collection surveys and evaluations to document and justify its performance. Internal Factors Impacting COCA’S Successful Strategic Financial Planning CASE has developed and implemented several internally generated data collection and evaluations of the quantity and quality of its services provided to children in order to assess its efforts and to ultimately improve its services (NCSA).
COCA’S racketing and communications department collects, analyzes and publishes surveys such as yearly Recent Local Program Survey Reports, Performance Measurement, State Organization Survey Reports, and additional surveys such as Caliber Evaluation of CASE Representation Report, and Judges and Attorney Survey of Volunteer CASE/ GALS (Ibid. ). Another internal tool used by CASE is its CASE Effectiveness Manual (Manual) (Ibid. . The purpose of the Manual is to provide CASE programs with an easy to use system for tracking information necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of its state and local chapters’ programs (Ibid. “Emphasis is placed on how to write and measure goals related to child-outcomes. The Manual includes easy to follow definitions, instructions, tracking forms and sample surveys. ” (Ibid. ).
CASE utilizes a system of fund accounting which measures accountability instead of profitability with the purpose of stewardship of financial resources received and expended in compliance with certain legal requirements (NCSA). Financial reporting by CASE is directed at the public instead of investors and funds are established in order to ensure accountability and expenditure for designated purposes: restricted et assets versus unrestricted net assets (Ibid. ).
Restricted assets can be classified as either temporary or permanently restricted assets (Ibid. ). A temporarily restricted net asset’s use is restricted by the donor until a future event occurs (for example, CASE may have received a grant which terms are restricted to hiring a new volunteer supervisor), while a permanently restricted net asset includes assets that are controlled by outside parties as opposed to COCA’S control over the asset (for example, property donated to CASE as long as it is used in accordance with COCA’S mission and goals (Ibid. . Unrestricted net assets are funds whose assets have no external restriction as to use or purpose and can be expended for any purpose as long as they are spent in accordance with COCA’S mission and goals (Ibid. ). These internal tools assist CASE in its fundraising success by Justifying its costs in return for its effective performance of children’s advocacy services.
COCA’S Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis The National CASE Association surveys both the state organization and local programs to get an accurate reflection of the structure and operation of children advocacy programs across the country and, in 2013, the CASE network consisted of 51 organizations and local programs (The National CASE Association, 2013, p. 4). “The findings illustrated by these survey results are critically important to track the funding from diverse sources, and help The National CASE Association to better serve state and local organizations. (Ibid. ). Overview of COCA’S Cash Management and Investment Strategies As of December 31, 2013, COCA’S median total revenue was $134,790 and its median total expenses were $136,570 (“Annual Local Program Survey Report”, 2013, p. 11). The Annual Local Program Survey Report does not address COCA’S short and long term investment strategies. In total, CASE programs nationwide reported more than $300 million in revenue, more than half of which were received from public sources (Ibid. ).
The median revenue and expenses of CASE tended to be fairly equal for the year ending 2013, with the median cost per volunteer being $3,170 and the median cost per child being $1 ,090 (Ibid. ). COCA’S expenses did not vary significantly from 2012 depending on the area served or the age of the program (Ibid. ). In 2013, over 80 percent of COCA’S programs reported a change in revenue with changes being fairly consistent across programs serving urban, rural and suburban mixed areas (Ibid. 13). Compared to COCA’S 2012 revenue, 34 percent of its programs reported a decrease in revenue, 49 percent reported an increase in revenue, and 17 percent of its programs reported no change in revenue (Ibid. P. 13). CASE experienced an increase of children served from 234,098 in 2012 to 238,527 in 2013, while at the same time seeing its number of volunteers fall below 2011 and 2012 levels, from over 77,000 to less than 75,000 (Ibid. ).
The decrease in COCA’S volunteer staff is problematic in that CASE can anticipate not being able to provide the quantity and quality of services in order to accomplish its mission and goals. Assessment of COCA’S Overall Financial Condition Despite a 34 percent decrease in program revenues in 2013, CASE remains to have short term cash liquidity from the 49 percent reported increase in other programs’ revenue, and a status quo of 17 percent of its programs who reported no change in revenue.
CASE also appears to have the capacity to generate adequate revenues over sass’s fiscal year budgetary period in order to satisfy expenditures without incurring a deficit. COCA’S service level has declined to a capacity that does not provide the laity and quantity of services rendered in years ending 2011 and 2012 due to the decrease in the number of its volunteers by 2,000. COCA’S Annual Local Program Survey Report 2013 does not address its short and long term investment strategy or outcome for the year ending 2013.
The decrease in COCA’S volunteer staff is resulting adversely on the quantity and quality of its mission and goals. CASE should reallocate its short term fundraising resources into its long term efforts toward volunteer recruiting and training programs. This adjustment in short term goal funding will promote and advance the umber of volunteers required to sustain the longevity of the service provided by CASE 2011 and 2012. References Boles, B. (2013). Technology role in the nonprofit sector: increasing organizational effectiveness and efficiency through technology innovations.