November 08, 2018

Exercise Your Nonprofit’s Tax Exemption for 2019

With holidays on the horizon, this is the time for holiday shopping, family gatherings and ringing in the New Year. With so much on our plates, time can get away from us—causing us to miss important deadlines.  As a 501 (c)(3) organization, November is the deadline month to exercise your state unemployment tax exemption for 2019. This means time is running out.

Unlike for-profit organizations, 501(c)(3) nonprofits have the unique opportunity – as allowed by Federal law – to opt-out of the state unemployment tax system and instead only reimburse the state, if and when they have an actual unemployment claim. It can be a savings opportunity for many nonprofits who have lower claims than what they pay in state unemployment taxes—which are often driven up by for-profit organizations and other companies that go out of business, as well as state fund deficits and improper payments made in error.

UST helps nonprofits to better manage their cash flow through proper claims administration and various funding options. With access to e-Filing capabilities, state-specific claims advice and a plethora of on-demand HR services, UST participants are able to streamline operations and reduce back-office paperwork burdens.

Last year alone, UST helped program participants save $26.2 million in unemployment claims costs. That’s millions of dollars more for the nonprofit sector and the communities they serve.

More than 2,200 of your nonprofit peers are already exercising their unique tax alternative with UST. In a time of such uncertainty and ongoing legal changes, shouldn’t you investigate whether UST can help your organization safeguard valuable time and funding?

Submit your FREE Cost Analysis Form no later than November 15th in order to meet the state deadline for 2019 enrollment – which for most states is December 1st. Unfortunately, if a nonprofit misses the state deadline, they have to wait until the following year to exercise their tax exemption and join the UST program.

October 18, 2018

HR Question: Requesting a Fit-for-Duty Certification

Question: If a new hire volunteers information about medical issues, can the employer ask for a doctor's fit-for-duty certification?

Answer:  Exercise caution in requesting medical documentation from applicants or employees, unless the applicant or employee is specifically requesting some form of accommodation in order to do his/her job or the employer has directly observed or has evidence that the employee is having difficulty in the job due to some type of limitation. If the employee discloses the information in the interview and/or onboarding process without a request for accommodation, we recommend the interviewer ask the employee if accommodation is requested. If not, then we recommend moving the conversation on to the bona fide requirements of the job. An employer should consider the following questions before requesting a fitness- for-duty medical certification:

Did the applicant or employee ask for an accommodation? If so, then requesting medical certification and suggestions in order to aid the applicant/employee may be appropriate. Does the employer request this information for all employees/applicants for the same position? If the employer is considering asking for medical certification based upon the new hire's health disclosure AND the new hire is not requesting any form of accommodation in order to do the job, then we recommend NOT asking for that medical certification unless the employer asks for it for all new hires in that position on a routine basis.

From a practical perspective, an employer should gather medical information only if there are concerns about the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job, considering any physical or mental limitations. An employer should request and consider only the information that is "job related and consistent with business necessity". Here are a few scenarios where requesting a medical fitness for duty certification may be appropriate:

  • The employee has admitted that his medical condition may be linked to performance problems and has requested assistance (i.e. his medications are making him forgetful, he is not taking the medications because they make him dizzy and he needs to work in high places, etc);
  • The employer has knowledge that an employee's medical condition may potentially pose a safety or health hazard to himself or others (i.e. an employee with seizures driving a delivery truck);
  • The employer directly observes severe symptoms that indicate that there is a medical condition that impairs performance or could be a threat to the health and safety of the employee or others.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

October 16, 2018

Using the Right Metrics for Your Nonprofit?

While nonprofit marketing metrics such as engagement, social shares, and “likes” offer insight into your campaigns—other metrics like dashboards, strategic plan reports, financial and activity reports can offer a basic yet sophisticated snap shot of your nonprofit’s overall performance. 

As a nonprofit leader, looking beyond the metrics of a simple activity or campaign and focusing on the long-term viability (appealing to users and supporters), relevance and sustainability (access to and use of funds) of your organization as a whole—offers great insight into the performance and longevity of your nonprofit.

Here are some metrics that offer valuable information around the viability and sustainability of your organization:

1) Viability and Engagement:

                a) Following the patterns of your users, such as the increase of benefits and engagement.

                b) An increase of social media followers, leading to a higher number of content shares.

2) Sustainability and Financial Security:

                a) A change in source of funding (i.e., philanthropy, government, fees) followed by observing the strengths and effectiveness of these different funding sources.

                b) A change in seeking of funding (i.e., reserves, endowment), and monitoring the status of each request and how successful the outcome is.

Measurement doesn’t just show progress or results—it shows insights and, perhaps most importantly, shapes behavior. The use of these metrics will reveal if your organization has the relevance and viability to encounter current and future challenges and the ability to make necessary adjustments.

If the leadership associated with a mission-driven organization believes strongly in the mission of their nonprofit, they will endure the struggles to establish the long-term viability and sustainability for the organization—ensuring the mission is the number one priority.

October 12, 2018

Creating a Unique Compensation Package

Different things inspire different people to work for nonprofit organizations—it can be a personal tie to the cause, the desire to make a difference, the work environment, or maybe, it’s the idea of working with really like-minded people. Whatever the reason is, it typically isn’t for stellar compensation.

While some nonprofits have the funds to offer exceptional compensation, many just don’t—there are a lot of reasons why nonprofit organizations struggle with offering competitive compensation packages but the most common are minimal funding and other spending priorities. We know there are many non-monetary rewards of working for a nonprofit, but creating the best compensation package possible can make the difference between attracting and retaining qualified candidates or suffering from high turnover. It’s important to recognize that nonprofit employers compete with for-profit employers all the time when it comes to finding talented job candidates. Equally important to recognize is that compensation isn’t just about salary.

Like all other employers, tax-exempt charitable nonprofits are required to follow federal and state wage and hour laws that include minimum wage requirements. To maintain their tax-exempt status, nonprofit organizations need to ensure that compensation is reasonable and not in excess. Performing your own data research to find out what the “going rate” is for a given position can be extremely helpful in ensuring that you’re aligned with other nonprofits in the same geographic area with a similar budget and mission.

Here are some things to consider when creating a desirable compensation package:

1. Incentive Bonuses – Ensure expectations are clear surrounding any bonus through corporate communications that explain how bonuses are recognized as a discretionary gift to a regular salary--dependent upon budget limitations, and provided in recognition of an employee’s extra-efforts or exceptional performance.   

2. Work from Home Opportunities - Provide employees the option to telecommute in an effort to save time and money on commuting back and forth from work. Make sure that you have a clear policy surrounding a telecommuting program to avoid any possible issues in the future.

3. Recognition AwardsRecognize employee’s successes on a quarterly basis by rewarding them with an additional perk such as a gift card to a local hot spot or perhaps a paid day off. This type of recognition carries extra meaning in building trust and loyalty.

4. Additional Time off Offering additional time off options such as a floating holiday or a paid birthday can go a long way in making employees feel valued and cared for.

5. Perks and MembershipsMore and more companies are providing their associates free memberships to discounted programs and offering special offers.

6. Increase Training Spending - Consider paying for certification programs,  learning materials and conferences. Create more budget space for investing in employees.

Being creative with your compensation package at a budget restricted nonprofit can be less expensive and often better received than a raise, so put on your thinking caps and leave no stone unturned. Remember, money alone will not keep employees engaged so make sure you show them some appreciation.

October 10, 2018

Job Growth in September Despite Natural Disaster

September resulted in positive job growth with employers adding an additional 134,000 jobs—resulting in an average monthly gain of 201,000 over the past 12 months. These jobs were added across a variety of sectors including professional and business services, health care, transportation and warehousing.

The unemployment rate dropped by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.7% in September, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 270,000 to 6.0 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.5 percentage point and 795,000. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) showed slight change at 1.4 million in September and accounted for 22.9 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of people employed part time for economic reasons increased by 263,000 to 4.6 million

Job gains occurred in professional and business services (54,000), healthcare (26,000), transportation and warehousing (8,000), construction (+23,000), manufacturing (+18,000), and mining (6,000) while leisure and hospitality showed little change (-17,000). Prior to September, employment had shown an upward trend, however Hurricane Florence might have had an impact on the number of jobs for this industry. Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade information, financial activities and government, showed little to no change over the month.

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents to $27.24. Over the course of the year, average hourly earnings had risen by 73 cents or 2.8 percent.

With the impact of Hurricane Florence affecting parts of the East Coast during the reference periods in September for the establishment and household surveys, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be releasing the state estimates of employment and unemployment on October 19, 2018 at 10:00am (EDT).  

October 04, 2018

Work Addiction and Stress

People get addicted to all sorts of things that aren’t good for them: smoking, drinking, drugs, food. You don’t even need to like something to form an addiction to it—you just need to experience it consistently enough that it becomes your “normal”. We all stress at some point or another and that’s never going to change—it’s just a part of life.

Work related stress somehow makes us feel accomplished and successful. Without the daily rush of adrenaline created by stress, we don’t quite feel like we’ve done enough. This work style has reached epidemic proportions and we don’t need a study to see that. Just listen to the conversations that are happening in your day-to-day surroundings.

If you can answer yes to more than one of the following questions, you are likely addicted to stress and in need of some thoughtful change:

  1. Do you thrive better under pressure?
  2. Is all your time consumed with tasks?
  3. Do you find yourself complaining a lot?
  4. Do you move on autopilot from one activity to another?
  5. Do you find it difficult to turn your brain off when it’s time for bed?

While you are likely doing a fabulous job at getting all the things done that need to be done, the long-term side-effects that unmanaged stress can have on your health can be quite dangerous. The body reacts similarly to stress as it does to drugs and have been shown to have such side effects as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, migraines, depression and even loss of brain cells. Unmanaged stress has also been linked to a higher risk of cancer and heart disease—ultimately taking years off our lives. Whatever we experience in our minds eventually manifests itself in the body so it’s important to recognize when you are feeling stressed and make positive changes to ensure you don’t cause yourself long-term health issues.  

As with any addiction, the first step in recovery is recognizing that you are addicted. Most addicts know the consequences of their behaviors but simply can’t bring themselves to come down from the adrenaline rush. Many of us thrive on stress—the crunch of a deadline, the nonstop emails that hit our inbox, the countless meetings to prepare for, the list goes on and on. We convince ourselves that with such busy schedules and extreme workloads that there’s no way we can succeed if we slow down. One of the challenges in stress management is fighting our tendency to be pulled back into the adrenaline rush but the good news is that there are ways to break this unhealthy cycle once and for all. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, taking a walk, yoga and massage have all been shown to be quiet effective when done regularly.

Work addiction, often called workaholism, is a real problem and like any other addiction hard to break but if you commit to breaking your addiction to stress at work and take the time to appreciate what you’re working so hard to accomplish, you’ll be more focused, more creative and more productive.

October 02, 2018

Investigations in the Nonprofit Workplace

As a nonprofit leader, you have an obligation to approach “harassment” with three key factors in mind— prevention, investigation and willingness to address. Investigations of harassment in the workplace can come in many shapes and sizes, meaning they can originate from a wide variety of topics—such as discrimination, substance abuse, harassment or workplace safety. While each investigation can be different and may have different formalities attached to it—standards should be in place to ensure a thorough investigation is applied to each incident.

It is important to respond immediately when an allegation of harassment surfaces. This can help prevent any new acts from taking place and will help with maintaining the trust of your employees. At the same point, you should be reaching out for professional guidance to ensure that all aspects of a harassment claim is carried out appropriately—reaching out to your insurance carrier to provide a “notice of a potential claim.” This is a common move for nonprofits since the insurance company can offer resources and the expertise of legal counsel. Another option is hiring a third-party human resource firm that has experience with handling harassment investigations. Lastly, a nonprofit may decide to handle the investigation in house utilizing its’ own staff with guidance from various legal resources.

Each investigation should be handled promptly, documented, thorough and remain confidential. Your nonprofit should always aim for consistency and consider how to best provide “due process.” This also includes, informing those involved with the outcome of the investigation once it has concluded. Being transparent about the outcome, actions or steps being taken to address a situation, will give your nonprofit the opportunity to demonstrate follow through of its own policies, while remaining confidential and maintaining privacy for those involved.

As a nonprofit, you are required to maintain the safety of your employees by creating a safe working environment—and with that comes the responsibility of acting promptly when approached with a harassment claim. Whether it’s the CEO or an associate being investigated, it should be carried out in the same manner and properly conducted. This will determine that the appropriate policies are in place and encourage fair outcomes for all employees involved.  

September 28, 2018

Better Together – A Partner Spotlight on the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers

A UST partner since 2000, the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers is a statewide trade and advocacy association that represents 150 private organizations that provide alcohol and other drug addiction, mental health, and family services. 

Established in 1979, the Ohio Council is funded through member dues as well as various products and services and membership training events. Committed to improving the health of Ohio’s communities and the well-being of its families, the Ohio Council offers four core sets of services that include:

  • Policy and legislative advocacy
  • Member support and technical assistance
  • Product and service development
  • Educational opportunities

The Ohio Council also has an active committee structure to ensure every aspect of their service offerings are receiving the full attention they need and include committees such as Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services Policy, Employment Services Policy, Housing Policy, Human Resources/Membership Services, Mental Health Policy, Nominating, and Youth & Family Services. Members also receive benefit programs such as legal consultation, organizational insurance, online learning and drug screening—just to name a few.

For nearly 40 years, the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers has been the go-to resource for improving the health of Ohio’s communities by promoting effective, efficient, and sufficient behavioral health and family services through member excellence and family advocacy. To learn more about the Ohio Behavioral Council visit https://www.theohiocouncil.org/.

September 27, 2018

3 Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Communication Strategies

One of the most important concepts to understand when running a nonprofit is being able to see the bigger picture, such as key trends in corporate philanthropy. This allows your nonprofit to differentiate and grow it’s business while benefiting the community at the same time. Giving to others leads to growth and the more strategic you are, the more you, your company and your community will grow and thrive.

As a nonprofit leader, you run into many challenges, ranging from low funding to a limited number of employees that you’re able to keep on staff. Regardless of these daily hurdles, there are a number of ways to capitalize on the use of your current resources from a more creative yet strategic perspective to enhance your communication strategies. 

Let’s dive into a few different approaches that your nonprofit can take to branch out on communications and other marketing efforts:

1) Utilize a variety of resources to nurture relationships with your partners. The most important resource any nonprofit has is their contacts. Ensuring that you’re using the organization’s lists of contacts (partners, media contacts, members etc.) and nurturing them through each marketing channel is key and one of the most important resources for any nonprofit.  This creates more of an awareness and community around your mission and allows for continual growth with these relationships.

2) Be authentic and create original content. Since you are the biggest advocate of your organization and the mission behind it, use your knowledge and passion to create content that will allow others to connect with your brand. The use of owned media is a great way to communicate with your audience using existing channels—a monthly blog, testimonials or case studies about your members. You can also create original content to offer other shared channels—such as a guest blog article and creating this content will only require your time and will be no expense to you.

3) Gather insight from your sponsors to create relatable content. Sponsors can offer great insight when it comes to your marketing efforts and in turn can help to keep your messaging authentic—allowing you to connect with the audience you want to engage. Creating a consistent message across all marketing materials is important for your brand, your mission and to help you stand out amongst all the noise.

Nonprofits offer a sense of community for their many volunteers, donors, and members. These are the individuals that are the passion behind an organization and want to see your nonprofit succeed. The use of your resources will help you ensure that your current marketing efforts and communications are providing optimal return and are reaching the audiences you want to connect with.

September 21, 2018

Strategies for Building Donor Relationships

Customer loyalty is a given no matter what type of business you’re running and for nonprofits who need loyal donors to survive and flourish, how you nurture your donor relationships can make or break your business.

Remember donors don’t just stop giving. They just stop giving to you. More so than your typical customer, donors want to know that their business is appreciated—let’s face it they’re not buying materials from you that can be used in their day-to-day life— they’re giving away their hard-earned cash. Never assume that they will continue investing in your cause—even if it is something they deeply believe in—if they don’t feel appreciated or at minimum acknowledged. Whether you’re talking about an online donation of $30, a married couple that donates $200 or a Fortune 500 company that gives millions, it’s your responsibility to make sure they know that their donation is making a difference in your work.

Human beings are hard-wired for connecting with others. Even when we don’t try, we can’t help but to seek relationships and form bonds. Donors want to see, feel, and experience the impact their gifts have on your organization so they believe that their continued support will keep making a difference.

 

Always consider the person behind the donation and not just the donation itself. Some strategies nonprofits can use to create dynamic donor acknowledgment and retention programs are:

 

  • Inspire an emotional connection to your mission and make donors feel like  they are a part of your cause
  • Celebrate your donors as partners - Have a board member call to thank them for their initial contribution and welcome them to the cause while providing highlights of some past initiatives that were successful due to donor investments
  • Get creative with how you communicate with your donors -Use social media, personal letters, interactive emails, video story-telling, etc.
  • Give appropriate recognition and appreciation - Develop a stewardship section on your website, send a welcome package after they make their first donation, profile donors in your annual report, award plaques for large donors, send anniversary cards, etc.
  • Highlight success stories, progress, results, challenges and even failures in a quarterly donor specific newsletter that updates donors on how their contribution is impacting your cause
  • Offer some extraordinary experiences that allow the donor to get closer to the cause – Invite them to your facility for a tour or extend an invitation to one of your events
  • Remove donors from mass communications where you’re trying to solicit new donors – There is nothing worse than being a regular donor and receiving solicitation emails as if the organization has no idea who you are

To maintain an engaged donor base and a high retention rate year-over-year, focus your attention on donors over donations. The people giving to your organization are more important and when donors invest, it creates a bond between them and your nonprofit—keep building on that with a comprehensive relationship building program.

September 18, 2018

Webinar Recording Unveils Unemployment & HR Risk Management Tips for Nonprofits

UST offers their highest attended webinar- learn more about the unique tax alternative provided to 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents a short on-demand webinar to showcase some of the most common unemployment & HR risks that are costing nonprofits thousands of dollars annually.

UST shares insights into their many service offerings as well as best practices that can help reduce costs and streamline workforce processes.

This educational webinar also teaches nonprofits about:

  • Reducing unemployment tax liability as a 501(c)(3)
  • Self-funded reserves and insurance options
  • Ensuring compliance with state and federal law
  • Efficiently managing unemployment claims, protests, and hearings
  • Avoiding costly HR mistakes
  • Importance of onboarding and professional training
  • Enhancing goodwill by utilizing outplacement services

"Whether your primary focus to protect your assets, ensure compliance, reduce unemployment costs or to simply allocate more time and money to your mission-driven initiatives, this webinar can provide invaluable insight that can help you to refocus your funding and employee bandwidth on the communities you serve,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST.

This webinar will also explore UST's holistic program, which is already helping more than 2,200 participating nonprofits lower their unemployment and HR liability. If you work for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 10 or more full time employees, be sure to watch this webinar today!

September 13, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Exclusive Ways for Nonprofits to Fund Health and Unemployment Insurance

[Webinar Recording] Exclusive Ways for Nonprofits to Fund Health and Unemployment Insurance

UST has partnered with mission-driven health insurance broker Nonstop Administration & Insurance Services, Inc. (Nonstop) to offer an educational webinar recording that is designed to showcase insights and proven solutions aimed at lowering costs, mitigating risk and improving health equity for staff. 

UST and Nonstop know that the traditional models of health and unemployment insurance are cost-prohibitive for many nonprofits. That’s why their co-created webinar recording addresses these challenges by providing the following key takeaways:

  • Exposure to different funding models for two budget line items that impact your bottom line and your HR team
  • How to look beyond traditional insurance funding models to find alternative solutions
  • What you can do to increase employee retention and recruitment while also keeping organizational costs down

If you're responsible for the financial management of a nonprofit with 10 or more employees, watch the webinar recording here: bit.ly/2p5UhvC

The largest nonprofit unemployment trust in the nation, UST helps 501(c)(3) organizations nationwide save time and money through a host of workfroce management solutions that include - unemployment claims management, cash flow protection, HR Workplace assistance, outplacement services and more. The company services nonprodits from all sectors with 10 or more full-time employees. UST encourafes nonprofits that are currently tax-rated or direct reimbursing on their own to review their options as they may be over-paying.

Headquarted in the San Francisxo Bay Area, Nonstop Administration & Insurance Services, Inc. is proudly changing the way nonprofits and their employees access healthcare with a partially self-funded health insurance program called Nonstop Wellness. The Nonstop Wellness program decreases the annual costs of healthcare for nonprofits while reducing or eliminating copays, deductibles and coinsurance. Nonstop's mission is to ensure nonprofit;s growht and statinabilitystarting with health wellbeing of others.

September 10, 2018

Meet UST(s) Mondays - Andrea

Andrea joined the UST team just a few months ago as our newest Customer Service Representative. After working as an intern with several nonprofits while in college she said she was inspired by the work and knew she was destined to continue helping in some way - working with UST has given her that opportunity! 

Andrea grew up in the local area and graduated from Cal State Channel Islands with a degree in Communication and an emphasis in Organizational Business. She continues to have a love for learning which often takes her on adventures to museums and historical landmarks in her free time. She shared that she recently took a fascination to astronomy and currently enjoys spending time at the Griffith Observatory submerging herself in the educational components offered there. She hopes to one day visit Europe, where she can create an experience where she can immerse herself in history by visiting such landmarks as the Colosseum, Brandenburg Gate, Acropolis and The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Her favorite place to be is Disneyland which also happens to be one of her best childhood memories. You can’t replace time spent with family—making memories and there’s no better combination than a place with food, fun and laughter. She also loves watching sports, football in particular and is a Green Bay Packers fan.

Help us in welcoming Andrea to the team via Twitter @USTTrust or Facebook @ChooseUST with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!

September 07, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Fundraising Registration 101

Thousands of nonprofits have registered to solicit donations but don’t always understand state requirements and whether or not they apply to their organization. This nonprofit-exclusive webinar will explain the essentials of fundraising registration as well as review valuable information meant to help ensure that you’re registered before filing your next Form 990.

 

Presented by Affinity Fundraising Registration and hosted by Maia Lee, this on-demand webinar highlights crucial details you need to know to raise funds legally in any state with information not found in any book or website. Maia is the Director of Sales & Marketing for Affinity Fundraising with more than 10 years of nonprofit marketing and development experience.

 

This educational webinar will help you:

 

  • Understand whether you need to get registered and in what states
  • Get key information about possible exemptions
  • Learn how to get started, what it will take, and what pitfalls to avoid
  • Discover where you may be subject to fines and penalties
  • Find out if your website donate button triggers registration requirements
  • Learn how to explain registration requirements to your board
  • And more!

For access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

September 05, 2018

Nonprofits Experience $26.2 Million in Unemployment Claims Savings with UST Program

Utilizing State-Specific Unemployment Claims Administration, UST Participants Save More than $26.2 Million on Unemployment Claim Costs.

Founded by nonprofits for nonprofits—UST, a program dedicated to helping nonprofits reduce paperwork burdens and protect assets, today announced it has identified $24,950,103 in unemployment cost savings plus an additional $1,259,711 in errors that are refunded to UST participants.

For 35 years, UST has been helping 501(c)(3) organizations exercise their exclusive nonprofit tax alternative, as allowed by Federal law, to pay only for their own unemployment claims which can save them thousands annually. Because they are no longer subsidizing for-profit companies in the state tax system, and are receiving expert claims guidance, UST members can efficiently manage their unemployment claims while mitigating liability.

UST participants are able to efficiently combat improper unemployment claims, meet important deadlines and prepare for claims hearings by utilizing their state-specific claims representative—helping them to avoid costly penalties while offsetting the administrative headache. UST’s claims administrator equips more than 2,200 participating nonprofits with the guidance and resources they need to confidently manage their claims process.

“Being in the nonprofit sector, employee bandwidth and funding can often be stretched thin and UST is able to provide its members with significant funds in these times of need,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “Helping to filter this money goes right back into the nonprofit community—strengthening the missions’ of nonprofits—is what the UST program is all about.”

Whether you’re a tax-rated or reimbursing employer, UST can help protect your funding and simplify your claims management processes. If you’re a 501(c)(3) looking for ways to help your nonprofit save money for 2019, benchmark your unemployment costs by filling out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form by November 15.

August 22, 2018

[Webinar Recording] The Role of the Nonprofit Board

Board members are the driving force of any nonprofit and lead the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical and legal governance – ensuring the nonprofit is able to advance its mission. One of the fundamental challenges that board members face is the lack of understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

 

​​​​​Join Barbara O'Reilly, CFRE, Principal of Windmill Hill Consulting, to learn how to strengthen your leadership team and determine the roles every board member can—and should—play in creating a strong culture within your organization.

 

This webinar will teach you how to:

 

  • Use a board matrix to identify potential talent
  • Understand essential steps in formalizing a board recruitment process
  • Create a board orientation process that helps new leaders fully contribute to the governing work of the board
  • Understand the various roles board members can play in fundraising
  • Tactics for working with underperforming board members

Want access to more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly eNews today!

August 17, 2018

Nonprofit eBook Uncovers Six Strategies to Develop and Maintain a Thriving Workforce

UST releases a new eBook, focused on helping nonprofit organizations create a workforce to stand apart in a competitive job market.

Founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, UST publishes an eBook that reveals the latest best practices that can help nonprofits find and retain employees that fit their organization’s culture, mission and values. This resourceful eBook provides ideal strategies nonprofits can utilize when tackling a competitive market and juggling the many organizational challenges that comes with maintaining a dynamic workforce.

The eBook, “Competitive Hiring Practices That Empower Nonprofits,” reveals that “56 percent believe their current job is only a temporary stepping stone to something better.” However, with the right tools in place nonprofits will be able to offer their employee’s professional development while creating a nurturing base where talented people can grow, feel challenged and valued.

“Hiring the best-fit personnel can be demanding of your time, energy and resources”, explains Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “This eBook offers the critical tools organizations need to draw in and maintain best-fit professionals that can help carry out mission-driven initiatives.”

With recent survey data and nonprofit employment trends, UST is able to provide nonprofits with six proven strategies to develop and maintain a thriving workforce.

The eBook, now available for free download, also offers:

  • New statistics from the sector
  • Onboarding and coaching tactics
  • Key ways to create a stand-out culture
  • Critical employee engagement tips

Be sure to download your complimentary copy today!

August 13, 2018

Decrease in Unemployment Rate means Gradual Employment Growth

Employers added 157,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate went down to 3.9 percent making the number of unemployed people decline by 284,000. At the end of July, the total number of people unemployed is now at $6.3 million.

In July, the number of long-term unemployed was unchanged at 1.4 million, which accounts for 22.7 percent of the unemployed. In addition, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons—also referred to as involuntary part-time workers—changed slightly in July, at 4.6 million, but has been down by 669,000 over the course of the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because of their hours being reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.

America increased employment in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care and social assistance sectors. In professional and business services, there was an increase of 51,000 jobs in July making an overall increase of 518,000 over the course of the year. In the manufacturing sector, there was 37,000 jobs added with most of the gain in durable goods. There was a rise in transportation equipment (+13,000), machinery (+6,000) and electronic instruments (+2,000). Over the past 12 months, manufacturing has added 327,000 jobs in total. Lastly, employment in health care and social assistance rose by 34,000 and with an upward trend of +17,000  jobs in health care employment this past month, the number of jobs has totaled 286,000 since the beginning of the year. Hospitals and social assistance added 23,000 jobs during the month of July.

The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $27.05. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $22.65 in July.

Each year, the establishment survey estimates are benchmarked to comprehensive counts of employment from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for the month of March. These counts are derived from state unemployment insurance (UI) tax records that nearly all employers are required to file. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release this preliminary estimate of the upcoming annual benchmark revision on August 22 at 10am.

August 01, 2018

Nonprofit Toolkit Offers the Top Guides for Managing Unemployment

UST releases 2018 UI toolkit to help nonprofit organizations better understand unemployment insurance options and claims management best practices.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that reduce costs and strengthen their missions, announces the release of their 2018 UI Toolkit– comprised of UST’s top unemployment guides for managing unemployment. These tools provide valuable information that can help nonprofit organizations better understand the ins and outs of unemployment from the employer's perspective.

The 2018 UI Toolkit provides exclusive access to unemployment claims management tips, how-to-guides and an informative webinar recording. Plus, it showcases the top 5 things nonprofits must know about unemployment insurance, as well as best practices for protesting claims.

For a limited time, the toolkit is available for a free download, and here are some of the highlights:

  • 5 Things Your Nonprofit Must Know About Unemployment Insurance
  • 10 Ways to Minimize Unemployment Costs
  • 4 Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Retaliation Claims
  • Case Study: Council of Community Clinics

“Here at UST, we want to provide nonprofits with the top resources to better manage their unemployment needs,” explains Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “This UI Toolkit provides the insight nonprofit organizations need to know when it comes to managing claims and avoiding costly liability.”

Be sure to download your free UI Toolkit today!

Want access to more nonprofit toolkits, checklists and tips? Sign up for UST’s Monthly eNews.

July 26, 2018

Tips for Adding New Technology to Your Nonprofit

Over the years, nonprofits have become more willing to incorporate different elements of technology into their organization—encouraging growth, utilizing the strengths of a smaller bandwidth and increasing brand awareness across multiple channels. Technology has opened many doors for nonprofits along with offering new approaches to communication with their target audience and encouraging more community-driven efforts. However, nonprofits tend to have a difficult time with incorporating an innovation with the technology element—the two don’t always see eye to eye.

An effective innovation may not always require your organization to spend a large sum of money in order to make it work. To find success in your innovation, nonprofit leaders need to realize innovation can be a risk, however knowing some of the issues that your organization may face can better prepare you when applying a new technology. And because of budget restraints, innovation tends to happen less creating certain limitations on what can be done.

Often times, nonprofits receive free or discounted software, however some hesitate to take the time or to make an investment into the initial set-up, continual maintenance or the training of staff on how to use the tool. This tends to cause more problems than offering any actual benefit to the organization. Incorporating new forms of technology can offer some economical approaches for organizations that can help them avoid major setbacks and offer effective implementation for certain tech tools.

While bringing on new forms of technology has it’s challenges, there are some ways to combat these issues and make it worth your time and money. First, having an actual plan in place can help you better understand the needs you want to meet and meet deadlines within your timeline. Second, while a tool may be free, it may not be the best fit for what your organization needs. Finding a tool with a better value will be more beneficial in the long run, even if it costs a little more money. Lastly, be sure to set aside time to train your staff on how to properly use the tool—expecting your staff to just figure it out can lead to frustration or the possibility for future errors.

July 23, 2018

Meet US(T) Mondays - Josh

Josh joined UST in the Spring as an Enrollment Specialist with our sales team and was intrigued by the idea of how our efforts could so greatly impact the nonprofit communities we serve through our day to day business.  Josh himself, has done his fair share of working with the nonprofit community by mentoring youth, cleaning beaches, helping out at animal rescues and working in food shelters and that’s just to name a few.

Josh is a native to the area and enjoys getting lost in the surrounding hills which happens to be his favorite place to be. He explains, “I like the feeling of not being entirely sure of where I am or where I’m going when on a hike, and then feeling excited to find out.” In addition to working full-time, he’s working on completing his Master of Business Administration, occasionally teaches indoor cycling, enjoys yoga, Pilates and abstract expressionist painting. With a firm belief in personal development, he would also like to earn a PhD in Business Administration or Art history.

Having studied art history and philosophy in college, Josh hopes to one day travel to some of the places he studied, such as the Alhambra in Spain, Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Great Mosque of Mecca and Bodh Gaya in India. Not your average travel destinations but certainly amazing places to visit. 

In addition to the many activities he enjoys in his spare time, he also enjoys spending time with the love of his life, Zima, his 3-year old Siberian husky. Like so many of his fellow co-workers, Josh always has a good story to share about his beloved pet which makes him a perfect addition to the UST team.

Help us in welcoming Josh to the team via Twitter @USTTrust or Facebook @ChooseUST with the hastag #MeetUSTMondays!

 

July 20, 2018

Generating a Diverse Workforce for Your Nonprofit

What makes a workforce diverse? According to Merriam-Webster, diversity is defined as “an instance of being composed of different elements or qualities.” As a nonprofit organization, expanding diversity in the workplace can be a good way to propose fresh ideas into an otherwise stale environment, and incorporating new perspectives can help employees tackle problems from a number of different angles.

When building a diverse workplace, it’s important to implement policies that encourages employees to feel supported, protected and valued. Creating an environment where your employees can feel at ease to be themselves, regardless of their ethnicity, should be a priority when diversifying a workforce.

Adopting a new approach can be overwhelming or can even cause confusion of where to begin. Here’s a few helpful tips and resources for introducing diversity and inclusion into the workforce at your nonprofit.

  1. Provide your employees with a list of key terms around diversity—this could help spark up conversations and the asking of questions.
  2. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with each employee to find out what diversity and inclusion means to him or her personally.
  3. This Diversity Toolkit created by USC's MSW program outlines a discussion of identity, power and privilege. It offers ideas on how to facilitate these conversations and how to instill a productive learning process.
  4. Consider implementing a “zero tolerance policy” to prevent any form of bullying or harassment and in the workplace.
  5. Bringing more awareness to the Americans with Disabilities Act can help to educate your staff on the importance of being mindful to those with disabilities. The Corporation for National and Community Service offers some extensive information on disability inclusion that can be very helpful.
  6. Learning from fellow nonprofits is always a perk. Consulting with other nonprofits on their approach to diversity in the workplace can be a great resource.
July 13, 2018

Nonprofits Receive Over $3.8 Million in Cash Back Through UST’s Claims Management Services

UST is giving 532 nonprofits $3,869,249 in cash back for their ability to reduce their anticpiated unemployment claims within the year.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that help reduce costs so that they can focus more on their missions, announces that it will be dispersing $3,869,249.80 in cash back to more than 532 of their program participants. After accruing all of their claims savings, audited state returns and cash back throughout the last year, UST members will have $30.1 million filtered back into their nonprofits’ pockets.

UST aims to provide 501(c)(3) nonprofits with the latest HR training, outplacement resources and unemployment claims management tools they need to stay compliant with the state and federal laws, while also helping to reduce paperwork burdens.

One of UST’s most popular programs, UST Trust, helps reimbursing employers build a reserve—protecting their money on the front end—so they don’t experience the steep ups and downs in their cash flow due to unexpected unemployment claims. Unlike their for-profit counterparts, UST Trust participants can receive cash back through UST when their organization is able to reduce their unemployment claims and still maintain a healthy reserve balance for future claims.

“The $3.8 million we are returning to UST participants can offer their organizations the flexibility they need to execute additional mission-driven initiatives,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “Here at UST, we are pleased to be able to continue returning funds to our members and further supporting the communities in which they serve.” 

These refunds are just part of how UST serves its mission of “Providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that reduce costs and strengthen their missions.”

To learn more about the UST program for 501(c)(3) employers, visit www.ChooseUST.org. If you’re a reimbursing or tax-rated nonprofit, and looking for innovative ways to save money, fill out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form.

July 11, 2018

Legalities Surrounding Arbitration Clauses

Question: May we add an arbitration clause prohibiting class action lawsuits to our employment contracts?

Answer: Yes. Until recently, courts were split on the issue and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that “it is a violation of federal labor law to require employees to sign arbitration agreements that prevent them from joining together to pursue employment-related legal claims in any forum, whether in arbitration or in court.”

However, in its May 2018 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ended the split, overruled the NLRB, and held that arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings (thus banning class actions) are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and neither the FAA’s saving clause nor the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) suggest otherwise.

As a result of SCOTUS’s decision, an employer may add an arbitration clause waiving class and collective actions to its employment contracts without fear of violating federal law due to the mere presence of the clause. However, it is essential that any employment contract — with or without an arbitration clause — comply with all applicable laws. Therefore, as always, we recommend seeking counsel to properly draft your arbitration agreement and for further guidance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

July 05, 2018

How to Get Nonprofits Back on the Social Media Map

With Facebook implementing a new algorithm to bring it back to its original purpose—an interactive platform that allows you to share memorable life moments—nonprofits are now put in a position that requires them to work that much harder to be noticed amongst all the noise. Nonprofits have utilized Facebook as an outlet to tell and share stories to better reach their audience, however this new algorithm poses a challenge to be able to reach those individuals that would interact or benefit from their content. On the bright side, implementing appropriate strategies can help maintain and improve your content’s performance.

To get the most out of the current changes with Facebook’s algorithm and to better your chances of being seen by your audience, here are five steps that can help put your nonprofit in a good position to be visible to your social community:

1) Identify Important Content: In order to find success on any channel, you have to develop content that will do well within the parameters of that particular channel. This is where the latest algorithm can make this difficult; however prioritizing what you’re posting will make all the difference. Posting content that will connect with your audience on a more emotional level will help grow relationships with your followers.

2) Analytics are Your Friend: Don’t be afraid of Facebook’s update until you see how it effects the performance of your content. However, if you see your results slowly dropping, start comparing the results of other posts and ask yourself “why one post worked better than the other?” Be willing to question your work and make adjustments accordingly.

3) Design Shareable Content: This is no secret to anyone that the top-rated posts are those that are designed to be shared. Whether the post is a simple image or a clever video, shareable content continues to be proven the most effective type of content to share with your audience.

4) Ask Questions: To really know and understand your audience, ask them questions. Simply posting a question and encouraging them to answer below will increase the number of interactions that benefit your organization and in-turn relay positive feedback to Facebook’s algorithm.

5) Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New: Every nonprofit has a different approach when it comes to figuring out how often they should post and what the response rate will be. The update to Facebook’s algorithm has the potential to be very impactful and is likely to have an effect on your current digital strategy. If you notice a change in your performance, try something new—you never know if that one change will make all the difference.

June 26, 2018

UST Nonprofit Members Utilized Over $1.1 Million in Cloud-Based HR Resources

UST helps 501(c)(3)s lower their unemployment costs & maintain HR compliance, providing resources to help refocus on mission objectives.

 

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with workforce solutions to help reduce costs and focus on their missions, today announced that their 2,200+ participating nonprofits saved more than $1.1 million dollars in human resource expenses within the last year through its value-added UST HR Workplace program.

 

UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR, provides nonprofit professionals with the guidance they need to streamline HR procedures, maintain best practices, and ensure compliance with state laws. By providing expert HR advice, thousands of HR templates, hundreds of training courses and an award-winning online library for all workplace concerns, UST HR Workplace gives nonprofits the knowledge they need to avoid costly risks and liability issues.

 

“Regardless of the size of a nonprofit’s HR department, UST HR Workplace provides an invaluable sense of security—helping nonprofits save both time and money,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “This on-demand HR service helps nonprofit HR professionals avoid costly litigation and stay up-to-date on evolving HR best practices and legal changes.”

 

Staying on top of the latest HR laws and educating employees on organizational policies can help mitigate volatile unemployment claims and reduce costs long-term. Last year, UST members took over 5,900 online training courses and submitted close to 1,200 HR questions. The most popular resources included Sexual Harassment Prevention for Employees training, hotline inquiries regarding compliance and compensation, the Employee Handbook Builder and downloadable HR forms and policies.

 

UST HR Workplace has been a go-to resource for UST’s participating nonprofit employers since its launch in 2014 and is a robust support system that helps to save time and money—offered at no additional cost to UST members.

 

To learn more about how nonprofits can get a free 30-day trial of UST HR Workplace, click here.

June 22, 2018

A Nonprofit Financial Check-Up

Nonprofits play a vital role in society by indirectly boosting the economy. Just like their for-profit counterparts, they have payroll, pay mortgages and utilities and have overhead costs. Unlike for-profits, they rely primarily on grants, donors and the community for financial support – making it all the more important that they understand the financial risks they face.

Earlier this year, the findings from a study put out by SeaChange Capital  Partners, Oliver Wyman and GuideStar, “The Financial Health of the United States Nonprofit Sector:  Facts and Observations,” were released and the results signaled an urgency for improved risk management to reduce the likelihood of financial distress within the sector.  

 

Some key takeaways from this report include:

  • Overview of the size and scale of the US nonprofit sector
  • Key financial metrics segmented by size, sub-sector and geography
  • Learn how you can strengthen your nonprofits financial position
  • Ideas for reducing financial distress within your organization
  • Key financial health indicators

 

If you missed it, download your copy today and learn how you can either put a holistic risk management framework in place or enhance your current risk management practices!

June 20, 2018

UST Uncovers $2.8 Million in Potential Unemployment Claims Savings for 135 Nonprofits

UST helps 501(c)(3)s lower their unemployment costs & maintain HR compliance, providing resources to help refocus on mission objectives.

UST, a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announces it has identified $2,839,940 in potential unemployment liability savings for 135 eligible nonprofits.

 

For 35 years, UST has been helping 501(c)(3) organizations exercise their exclusive nonprofit tax alternative, as allowed by Federal law, to pay only for their own unemployment claims which can save them thousands annually. Because they are no longer subsidizing for-profit companies in the state tax system, and are receiving expert claims guidance, UST members can efficiently manage their unemployment claims while mitigating liability.

 

“UST has continued to identify potential unemployment claims savings for multiple nonprofits across the United States,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the UST program continues to provide financial relief to such hard-working nonprofits and the communities they serve.”

 

UST offers exclusive access to a variety of resources, ranging from a live HR hotline and job description builder to e-filing capabilities and claims hearing support. By utilizing their dedicated claims representatives, cloud-based HR resources, and outplacement services, these nonprofits can refocus their saved time and money on what matters most—achieving mission objectives.

 

If you’re a 501(c)(3) looking for ways to help your nonprofit save money, benchmark your unemployment costs by filling out a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form today.

June 15, 2018

HR Question: Employer Rights Surrounding Medical Marijuana

Question: Can we maintain a zero-tolerance marijuana use policy in our workplace if medical marijuana use is legal in the state?

Answer: Yes, you can. Employers have an absolute right to maintain a drug-free workplace and do not have to allow or tolerate drug use or intoxication in the workplace. Although some states permit the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, most state laws provide exemptions for employers to prohibit the use of marijuana in the workplace. If you maintain a drug-free workplace, then your employees may be subject to discipline and/or termination when working under the influence of marijuana (i.e., on-the-job intoxication). In states where marijuana use has been legalized for medical or recreational purposes, employers may elect to establish intoxication standards for marijuana metabolites, rather than imposing discipline for any presence of the drug. However, this standard must be applied consistently and regularly to all employees.

As of February 2016, marijuana continues to be an illegal drug under federal law (which trumps state laws), and employers are not required to permit on-the-job use of or marijuana intoxication by employees or applicants. You may discipline employees who are legally using marijuana under state law but who are in violation of your workplace policy, because under the law, employees are not protected from being fired for failing a drug test.

Alternatively, you may elect to accommodate your employee’s medical marijuana use, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require you to reasonably accommodate current unlawful drug use. Employees who claim disability discrimination for their medical marijuana use may attempt to file under the ADA. However, the ADA excludes current illegal drug users from protection; therefore, employers are free to conduct drug tests on employees, subject to certain limitations, to detect the presence of illegal drug use.

Refer to your state’s laws on employer rights and medical marijuana law. Additionally, you may want to update your policies to ensure you are clear about whether you will accommodate marijuana use in the workplace and the subsequent action should an employee be found using marijuana.

Finally, keep in mind that this issue can be complicated. When in doubt, seek legal counsel to ensure compliance.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial here.

June 13, 2018

Understanding Nonprofit Tax Cuts for Transportation Benefits

Transportation benefits can be a great employer-incentive to offer employees. Whether it be for public transit or public parking—these benefits can be paid to a 3rd party transit or parking company or directly to employees. However, due to the latest federal legislation known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employers may no longer deduct transportation fringe benefits as their own deductible business expenses. When it comes to nonprofit employers that provide this benefit, they are required to report and pay the tax on the value provided as taxable “unrelated business income.”

So what specific impact does this act have on nonprofit employers? This Act requires an unrelated business income tax “UBIT” on nonprofit organizations for providing transportation fringe benefits. If a nonprofit employer uses some of its revenues to pay for employees’ transportation benefits, then such revenues will be taxed to the employer. In addition, these nonprofit revenues would not otherwise be taxable, given the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. This change is meant to level out the employer tax—providing more of a unity between taxable and non-taxable employers in terms of taxable income to the employer. 

A UBIT is the income a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization can generate from a trade or business that is commonly carried on by the organization and is not related to the organization’s exempt purposes.  Prior to the Act, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization’s unrelated business income was subject to a tax rate determined under a marginal rate structure in which the lowest tax rate was 15% and the highest tax rate was 35%. This Act removes this marginal rate structure and offers a flat rate of 21% on unrelated business income. With that being said, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization’s expenses related to the provision of qualified transportation benefits will now be subject to the flat UBIT rate of 21%.  

For the nonprofit sector, treating transportation fringe benefits as unrelated business income will likely result in new reporting and potential tax liability implications.  Also, the IRS has not provided any specific instructions on the estimated payment requirements for taxes associated with transportation fringes. Until additional information is given, it would be in the organizations best interest to follow current standard procedures for tax payments that are associated with Form 990-T.