Monthly Archives: March 2011

Fun Facts About US Nonprofits, 1971-present

Here’s what the “third sector” has been up to:

  • As of the year 1971, the number of U.S. nonprofits had only recently surpassed 200,000 in number. Today, there are approximately 1.5 million nonprofits (tax-exempt organizations). [1]
  • Only a few years before Nolo’s founding, in 1969, the steady increase in the number of nonprofits had led the U.S. government to sit up, take notice, and pass significant tax regulation of nonprofit activities, including requiring them to file detailed annual reports.
  • Greenpeace, one of the world’s best-known nonprofits, was founded in 1971, under the name the Don’t Make a Wave Committee. Its first act was to send a chartered ship to Alaska to oppose U.S. nuclear testing.
  • In 1971, Americans’ gifts  to charity totaled around $125 billion. Today, the total is approximately $300 billion.[2]
  • The year 2011 is the 410th anniversary of the passage of the Statute of Charitable Uses, an Elizabethan British law that’s considered the grandparent of U.S. nonprofit laws, and was in force in the original U.S. colonies.[3]
  • The largest public charity in the U.S. is the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.[4]
  • President Barack Obama donated the $1.4 million from his Nobel Peace Prize to various charities, including ones helping students, veterans’ families, and survivors of Haiti’s earthquake.[5]

Small business ownership is within anyone’s reach

My first real experience with a small business start-up was in 1991. I had recently graduated from college and my boyfriend at the time was starting a weekly newspaper. I helped him out with about two other folks—a key person being our tech guy, who put the whole paper together on a Mac Quadra (if memory serves me right) which had something like 4 MB RAM and 25 MHz processing speed.

The things we could do with this computer were mind-blowing for us. Our ability to format text, manipulate photos and create graphic artwork on the computer made it possible to start an actual newspaper on a shoestring. Just a short 10 or so years prior to that, the equipment, specialized labor and time necessary to start a publication of any sort would have required major start-up capital and significantly more risk. In the 1980s and 1990s, technology was having the same effect in an increasing number of businesses, fields and industries—and within a short decade or so, every industry and business had been radically transformed by technology.

Perhaps the biggest and broadest transformation that we’ve seen across the whole spectrum of small business is that technology has made it significantly cheaper and thus easier for just about anyone to start a business. In business-speak, this is called lowering the barriers to entry. Barriers were knocked way down by personal computers that allowed regular folk to do things like manage business finances with simple software, or produce professional marketing materials at a tenth of what it used to cost. Then the Internet came along with a slew of new possibilities and business models that just smashed the barriers to bits.

Now, let me say that I do believe some barriers can be a good thing. Some of those “new business models” brought about by the Internet were, shall we say, less than financially sound. Sometimes I think the bar is now set so low that it’s a real challenge to rise above the mud. As a consultant, coach and small business educator, I see plenty of would-be entrepreneurs who really should keep their day jobs: either their business ideas are wack, or they just don’t have the skills or temperament for self-employment.

The reality is that while it’s easier to start a business, the elements necessary for success haven’t changed that much. While there’s a ton of great information and resources out there (like Nolo books and software, and government agencies and nonprofits that teach entrepreneurship skills), too many overeager entrepreneurs don’t take advantage of them, and suffer the consequences of watching their ventures go down in flames.

But with those warnings in mind, I am absolutely in love with how technology has brought self-employment within reach for just about anyone. I myself am one of the many free-spirited folk who are self-employed less for the financial rewards and more for the flexibility, creativity and freedom it affords us in our personal lives. And when my students and clients are able to take the leap and actually launch an idea that will help them find personal and/or professional fulfillment—well, it just makes my heart swell.

Fresh Off the Press: The Essential HR Desk Reference

Free Webinar: Lead Generation Strategies for Attorneys

Do you struggle to find quality leads? Does it seem equally hard to convert your prospects into paid
clients? Then you’ll benefit from our free webinar, Lead Generation Strategies for Attorneys. In this
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This webinar is ideal for:

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nationwide have benefited from learning and implementing the proven marketing and lead conversion
strategies taught by The Rainmaker Institute. In addition, Stephen is a nationally recognized law firm
marketing expert and international best-selling author.

Meet the Organizer
Nolo is passionate about making the law accessible to everyone. Since 1971, our high-quality books,
software, legal forms, and online lawyer directory have helped millions of people find answers to their
everyday legal and business questions. Nolo’s online lawyer directory is a unique tool for attorneys to
demonstrate their expertise online and grow their business. To learn more about being listed in Nolo’s
Lawyer Directory, visit Nolo.com.

Webinar Details
When: March 30, 2011, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time)
Where: Via computer and/or phone
Cost: Free

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There will be a 10-minute question and answer opportunity at the end of the webinar.
Please note that CLE credit is not available for this webinar.

Landlord-Tenant Law Evolution

Nolo Landlord & Tenant titlesLandlord-tenant law has evolved mightily over the past 40 years. Here are some of the more dramatic developments.

Your right to a decent place to live — and what to do if you don’t get it

Do you think 1,500 serious housing code violations in an apartment building should excuse your obligation to pay rent? If you lived in Washington, DC more than 40 years ago, the answer would be, “No!” Fortunately for tenants, in 1970 the federal appellate court, in Javins v. First Nat. Realty Corp. (428 F.2d 1071 (C.A.D.C. 1790) declared that housing code requirements formed the basis of an implied warranty of habitability, and their serious breach would excuse the duty to pay rent. Although Javins wasn’t the first case, it was the most influential; over the next decade, most states followed suit (today, only Arkansas has not joined the modern world).

Discrimination

Tenants’ rights to fit and habitable housing — and their powerful remedy when it is not honored — was perhaps the biggest event in landlord-tenant history in the past 40 years. Close on its heels are surely fair housing rights, announced in the Fair Housing Act (1968) and strengthened and expanded in the Fair Housing Amendments Act (1988). The original law prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in housing sales, rentals or financing. The amendments extended this protection to persons with a disability and families with children. No longer can persons with a disability be summarily turned away, and “No Children Allowed” is as illegal as are bans based on race and religion.

Be a landlord, be a cop?

Not only have landlords become responsible for providing housing that is structurally safe and sound, they now must take reasonable efforts to ensure their tenants’ safety from criminal intrusions. Starting in the 1990s, juries began finding landlords partially responsible for home invasions and assaults when the criminal gained access due to the landlord’s failure to provide sturdy door and window locks. Increasingly, anticrime measures like these were added to the list of a rental’s required features, as important as a functioning hot water heater.

Be a landlord, clean it up

As housing codes addressed the need for decent living conditions, landlords were charged with removing mess and vermin — the old-fashioned nasties that no one wants to live with. Then came lead-based paint, asbestos, carbon monoxide, radon, mold, and bedbugs. To varying degrees, landlords are now charged with finding and removing these man-made and environmental hazards.