Sarbanes-Oxley Affecting U.S. Not-for-Profits
Awareness of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 surged in the not-for-profit industry in 2004, according to the second annual Grant Thornton LLP Board Governance Survey for Not-for-Profit Organizations. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said they are “very” or “somewhat” familiar with the act, compared to 56 percent in the 2003. The survey, which includes responses from more than 700 not-for-profit entities, also found that almost half (48 percent) have made changes to their corporate governance policies as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley. The number of not-for-profit organizations with an audit committee is also on the rise; 84 percent of survey respondents cite having an audit committee within their organization, compared to 77 percent in 2003. Internal controls have come under higher scrutiny post-Sarbanes-Oxley at 81 percent of responding organizations. Of the 19 percent who have not evaluated their internal controls, 61 percent are planning to review them in the future. Not-for profit organizations are confident about the level of documentation they maintain for their internal controls.
Other findings include:
Conflict-of-interest policies seem to be standard operating procedure at 83 percent of organizations surveyed.
Of those with a conflict-of-interest policy, 85 percent have their board members sign it, 49 percent have executive management sign, and 39 percent have all employees sign the policy.
More than three-quarters (76 percent) of responding not-for-profits have a records-retention policy.
Today’s Immigrant Woman Entrepreneur
A report from the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) shows that immigrant women entrepreneurs are rapidly making their mark in every region of the country and across a large range of industries. Immigrant women comprise one of the fastest-growing groups of business owners in the U.S. The study examines the rise of immigrant women entrepreneurs and profiles them as a group using data from the 2000 Decennial Census and other sources. In 2000, immigrant and native-born men were self-employed in their own businesses at roughly the same rates: 11.3 percent of employed immigrant men and 11 percent of employed native-born men. However, immigrant women were business owners at a rate of 8.3 percent, compared to 6.2 percent among native-born women.
Among the findings in the report:
- The number of immigrant women business owners increased nearly 190 percent between 1990 and 2000.
- The largest group of immigrant women entrepreneurs in the United States – 234,454 or 41.6 percent of the total – comes from Latin America and the Caribbean.
- The second largest group – 165,483 or 29.4 percent of the total – comes from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
- The most popular destination for immigrant women entrepreneurs is the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County metropolitan area, which hosts 13 percent of all immigrant women entrepreneurs in the nation.
According to the report, every decennial census taken in the United States since 1880 has reported a higher level of self-employment among immigrants than among the native-born. “Among the many reasons for this entrepreneurial spirit is that the immigrant is likely to have many of the same qualities as the entrepreneur, such as a willingness to take risks,” the report’s authors note.
U. S. State Budgets Show Revenue Gaps
According to a recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, half the states are facing budget gaps for fiscal year 2006. Because of the rosier economic picture nationwide, state revenues from sources such as sales taxes and personal income taxes are surpassing estimates, but the expenditure side of the budget is increasing faster than revenues’ ability to keep up. According to the report, “State lawmakers predominately cut spending to keep their budgets balanced when state revenues plummeted. These cuts have generated enormous pressures from elementary-secondary education and other state programs for restoration funding. On top of this, lawmakers are facing rapid increases in Medicaid and other healthcare spending currently outpacing revenue growth rates.” In a survey taken in February, 22 states projected FY 2006 shortages totaling $24.7 billion. In 17 states, the gaps are above 5 percent of general fund spending. Alaska predicted the highest deficit at 15 percent, followed by Maine at 12.4 percent and California and New York, each at 10 percent. The complete report may be downloaded from www.ncsl.org.