"CHARITIES ON TRIAL": Do Nonprofit Boards Need More Government Oversight or Is Self-Regulation Sufficient?

NYU Heyman Center Conference Will Focus on Accountability and Transparency in the Nonprofit Sector, February 17, 2010

NEW YORK, February 3, 2010 - The George Heyman, Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, within the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS), announced today that it has called upon preeminent thought leaders in fundraising and philanthropy to come together to address one of the most compelling issues in the nonprofit sector today:  Given the mismanagement of donated funds, excess compensation and even criminal behavior in some instances, can the nonprofit world effectively regulate itself or is outside intervention required to protect the rights of donors?

The day-long panel titled “Charities on Trial: Do We Need More Regulation?,” will be held at NYU’s Kimmel Center on Wednesday, February 17, 2010, from 9 am to 6 pm. 

Can Nonprofits be Trusted to Self-Regulate?
“Bernie Madoff is the poster child for wrongdoing in the investment world, but where is the accountability for nonprofit boards that entrusted their endowments to Bernie Madoff and others like him?” says Naomi Levine, chair and executive director of the George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising. 

“The Madoff scandal, the recent New Jersey case involving Stevens Institute of Technology, and numerous other examples have assuredly impacted the willingness of some donors to entrust their funds to nonprofit organizations  And, given the importance of the U.S. nonprofit sector—consisting of about 1.8 million organizations that raise $309 billion annually to deliver healthcare, education, social welfare, and other critical services—leading members of Congress say that charities must take seriously the issues of better governance and accountability, or the government will do it for them.  This Heyman Center conference will explore whether self-regulation of nonprofits is sufficient, whether we need more regulations, and what forms they should take,” Levine continues.

Eliot Spitzer and Diana Aviv Are Featured Speakers
A highlight of the conference will be “point-counterpoint” presentations on the issue of greater governmental oversight.  First, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer—who gained fame as the country’s top charity fraud activists during his tenure as that state’s attorney general from 1998 to 2006—will make the argument for greater, tougher regulations. Then, Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector—the nation’s leading organization of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and corporations—will argue against government restrictions and in favor of self regulation. 

Additional speakers slated for the invite-only session include Doug White, author of Charity on Trial and a adjunct professor of ethics and fundraising at the Heyman Center; Neil Grabois, Heyman Center senior fellow and former Colgate University president; Bill Josephson, former head of the New York State charities bureau; and Stephanie Strom of the New York Times.  Panels will cover ethics, foundation governance, the role of the IRS, and the responsibilities of charity boards.

Charities on Trial” will be the first in a series of conferences to be held annually in conjunction with the Heyman Center, the nation’s preeminent educator of fundraisers and grantmakers.  Future conferences will cover key issues in the governance, management and activities of worldwide charitable organizations.

About the NYU School of Professional Studies

Established in 1934, the NYU School of Professional Studies (sps.nyu.edu) is one of NYU's several degree-granting schools and colleges, each with a unique academic profile. The reputation of the School of Professional Studies arises from its place as the NYU home for study and applied research related to key knowledge-based industries where the New York region leads globally. This is manifest in the School's diverse graduate, undergraduate, and Professional Pathways programs in fields such as Accounting, Finance, and Law; Applied Health; Arts, Design, and Film; Creative Cities and Economic Development; English-Language Learning; Entrepreneurship; Fundraising and Grantmaking; Global Affairs; Hospitality and Tourism Management; Human Resource Management and Development; Languages and Humanities; Management and Systems; Marketing; Project Management; Public Relations and Corporate Communication; Publishing; Real Estate, Real Estate Development, and Construction Management; Sports Management, Media, and Business; Translation; and Writing.

More than 100 distinguished full-time faculty members collaborate with an exceptional cadre of practitioner/adjunct faculty members and lecturers to create a vibrant professional and academic environment that educates over 5,000 degree-seeking students from around the globe each year. In addition, the School fulfills the recurrent professional education needs of local, national, and international economies, as evidenced by nearly 28,000 Professional Pathways enrollments in Career Advancement Courses and Diploma Programs. The School's community is enriched by more than 31,000 degree-holding alumni worldwide, many of whom serve as mentors, guest speakers, and advisory board members. For more information about the NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu.