Blogs

April 03, 2020

How to Manage Your Brand During a Global Emergency

While in the midst of a global emergency, the current COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits are challenged with how to successfully continue managing their mission-driven brand. Going the extra mile to prepare your organization for handling such a feat, will help you and your team better tackle any challenges that arise.

This is an opportunity to align your messaging with what your community needs and/or might be seeking during this time. A crisis is temporary and taking the time to show your nonprofit in a new light by providing specific messaging can instill a sense of trust and value that will be long lasting. It’s important to maintain vigilance in protecting your staff and being an example of a model citizen by not participating in unsafe behavior. Above all else, nonprofits must remain diligent of their brand and visible by its community to ensure they come out of this stronger than before. Here are few objectives for your nonprofit to keep in mind:

  • Focus on developing timely content when creating new email campaigns that speak to the crisis at hand
  • Creating webinars that speak to the current crisis—webinars perform well and are sought after by those looking for information from organizations they trust
  • Creating a survey to push out to your membership—people are eager for information and are looking for results and data on their industry
  • Tailoring the tone of your messaging to use more relatable keywords, such as: empathy, community/unity, education, simplicity, reliable, and trustworthy

When it comes to collaboration in times of a crisis, you’ll have to get creative. These strategies shouldn’t complicate your current workflow but rather benefit your organization—having these tools in place will be very beneficial when a crisis is upon us. Taking your staff into consideration and how they’ll continue to operate is vital to prevent interruptions with current business tasks. For example, if your employees are required to work from home for any duration of time, what logistics and tools should you have in place to ensure everything runs smoothly?  Tools such as, GoToMeeting and Slack allow your team to stay connected with one another while still being able to conduct important meetings and to ensure your mission continues to move forward. With the access to technology, it can make it easy to work from anywhere.

In times of a global emergency, having a plan in place to manage your organization, brand and team through the crisis is just as important as the ability to remain flexible and creative.

March 26, 2020

UST Launches COVID-19 Resource Center

Here at UST, we understand the importance for nonprofit leaders to remain informed and prepared as the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to impact the communities you serve. Nonprofit organizations nationwide have had to react quickly to a rapidly evolving crisis and change their standard business practices to maintain critical operations.

Like so many of you, we have transitioned to remote work and are continuously gathering resources to stay on top of the quickly evolving legislative developments designed to mitigate the economic fallout triggered by the public health response. We’ve also been in close contact with our strategic partners nationwide to ensure that the unique needs of nonprofit employers are being prioritized by our elected representatives during this time.

In an effort to help keep nonprofits abreast of evolving information, we’ve created a dedicated COVID Resources Webpage on our website, which we’ll continuously update,  provides:

  • General considerations related to COVID-connected workforce reductions
  • Links to the most current state-specific unemployment regulation assessments available from our claims administration partner, Equifax Workforce Solutions
  • Language you can share with your elected representatives to support nonprofit employer advocacy efforts
  • A continuously updated list of frequently asked questions, driven by our members’ feedback

We’ll continuously be updating this page so please check back regularly and bookmark the page above for easy reference. UST has been supporting nonprofit employers for over 35 years and understand the value of being informed during times of uncertainty and challenge. Please know our thoughts are with all who have been impacted by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and we’re here to answer any questions you may have.

March 19, 2020

Q&A with ThinkHR: Navigating the Coronavirus

With the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, we have taken appropriate precautions here at UST to do our part of social distancing by working remotely as we know many of you have as well. Here in our local communities we see fear and panic everywhere—empty shelves at the grocery store, people standing in line for hours to get paper products, schools scrambling to move to a virtual method of teaching, large department stores closing their doors and citizens pushing for cities to lockdown.

New details pour in every day and our inboxes are flooded with shared information from our partners and members across the states. Yesterday, there was an article shared by our partner, ThinkHR, “When Business Threats are Contagious: 10 Answers for Employers Navigating the Coronavirus” that shares questions they have been receiving from HR professionals across the country. They range from how to handle employees refusing to come to work, creating a telecommuting policy and the appropriateness of asking about symptoms. The answers come from their certified HR advisors and is a benefit of our UST HR Workplace product. If you are an HR professional in a business still considering how to navigate these challenging times, you may find some answers here.

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 today.

March 12, 2020

The Benefits of Nonprofit Capacity Building

 

Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of your nonprofit organization–does your nonprofit have the ability to deliver according to its mission effectively now and is it prepared to do so in the future? 

Some examples of capacity building projects may include, identifying a new communications strategy, a different approach to volunteer recruitment, ensuring thoughtful leadership succession, and bringing your nonprofit up to speed with the latest technology. Each of these projects can help build a nonprofit’s capacity to deliver its mission. When capacity building is successful, it will strengthen your nonprofit’s ability to fulfill its mission and help to enhance the positive impact your nonprofit has on the lives and communities it serves.

Capacity building can be developed across multiple levels—individual (micro), organization (meso) or sector/network (macro) and often times, these levels are developed at the same time. For instance, at the individual micro level, programs may enhance people’s knowledge and behavior in ways that can strengthen culture, management practices and connections to other organizations (meso level) and then encourage overall participation in collective action networks (macro level). It can be helpful to look at capacity building from the perspective of who (e.g., people, organizations, networks), what (e.g., knowledge, skills, processes), and how (e.g., training, peer learning, technical assistance).

From a time management and impact on bandwidth perspective, capacity building initiatives fall into three categories; short-term planning and training, longer-term organizational effectiveness initiatives and sector-strengthening programs that encourage the exchange of information. Capacity building produces multiple benefits simultaneously, such as learning and peer interaction.

When looking at capacity building and nonprofit work in general, it can be difficult to not view capacity building, especially multiple forms of capital, as an additional task. However, when executing the program mindfully, building capital can occur through service delivery. A multiple-capitals approach to program design can help produce mission fulfillment and increase overall effectiveness of the organization. A multiple-capitals framework integrates planning, service delivery, evaluating, and reporting—in return, offering a smoother, integration of organizational activities and stakeholder accountability.

Capacity building is an important infrastructure that supports and shapes nonprofits success in helping the communities that serve. Capacity building enables nonprofit organizations and their leaders to develop competencies and skills that can make them more effective and sustainable, while increasing the potential for nonprofits to enrich lives and solve society’s most intractable problems.

February 27, 2020

HR Question: An Increase in Employee Complaints

Question: We’ve seen an uptick in complaints from employees. Is this cause for concern?

Answer: The mere fact that you’re getting more complaints than normal isn’t necessarily something to worry about. The increase in complaints could be a sign that there are now more issues that require your attention, or it could be a sign that your employees are—for some reason—feeling safer speaking to you about their concerns.

In and of themselves, complaints can be a good thing because they inform you about matters that may have escaped your notice and they indicate that your employees trust you to resolve those matters. The last thing you want is for employees to keep their concerns to themselves or vent about them to their colleagues (or the entire internet). You can’t solve problems you don’t know about, and unaddressed problems can quickly turn into bigger issues. Knowing what’s troubling your employees is essential for effective risk management.

Listen to what your employees have to say, thank them for bringing the matters to your attention, keep the lines of communication open, and do what you can to resolve the issues. If several complaints relate to a single issue (or person), you may want to give that issue more attention or urgency. And, of course, any complaint that suggests there may be harassment or discrimination should be dealt with promptly and thoroughly.

While dealing with the additional complaints, keep in mind that if you can solve or improve the problems that are being brought to your attention, you’ll have happier—and likely more productive—employees.

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.

February 20, 2020

Five Steps to Achieve Social Media Capital for Your Nonprofit

 

Social media continues to prove to be an essential part of a nonprofit’s marketing strategy. A key benefit of social media is that it offers new forms of communication and the ability to engage with your organization’s stakeholders. Another benefit that can go unnoticed, but is a crucial and valuable resource is social media capital. Social media capital is a particular form of social capital that is accrued through an organization’s social media network. Nonprofits can look at social media capital as being an immediate outcome derived from their social media efforts, and as a resource that can be converted or used toward strategic organizational outcomes.

Social media capital is built around interests or causes rather than institutions, and this is where nonprofits have the upper hand over other types of organizations. Nonprofits have the opportunity to integrate their missions into their social media presence and strategy to take advantage of the capital that comes with advocacy and awareness efforts. Plus, any public events that relate to a nonprofit’s mission will likely be seen in the media and nonprofits can take advantage of this opportunity for exposure—building their online presence.

To dive deeper into social media capital, highlight its characteristics, and how nonprofits should be intentional when building out their strategy, here are five steps your nonprofit can take to get a better grasp on the benefits of social media capital:

1) Utilize resources and target audience strategy: In order to get your social media up and running you need resources—time, money, and staff. Unfortunately, these commitments are likely to be overlooked by nonprofit managers and passed off to another staff member to handle. Next, is your strategy—what is your organization’s communications role and what audience are you looking to target? The organization needs to develop a plan that shows a clear lay out of desired outcomes, defines the target audience, and communication efforts.

2) Strengthen connections and messaging on social media: To acquire social media capital, you need to utilize two essential tools; making connections and responding to messages in a timely manner. Connections are viewed as relationship building—these connections can be made through organization’s friending and/or following other users. This action shows your nonprofit’s interest in engaging with other users, in turn, creating an online community. Messaging is designed to provide content to your target audience and can be curated to meet the needs of the community you’re looking to reach and engage. And, can be done through any social channel (e.g., YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

3) Gain social media capital: This is the step where your organization should expect to see social media capital—these are the social resources in an organization’s social media network that can be used to achieve organizational outcomes. In order to attain any meaningful organizational outcome through social media activities, your organization must first obtain social media capital.

4) Turn your social media capital into organization resources: This is the step when you turn your followers into customers—converting social media capital into an organizational resource. For example, your organization asks followers to donate to a cause and it results into a success, this is social media capital converting into an organizational/social resource, i.e., financial capital.

5) Incorporate social media capital into your strategy: Nonprofits should look at social media capital the same way they look at financial capital. Financial capital is considered a convertible resource and needs both short-term and long-term planning. Similarly, social media capital is fluid and requires a thoughtful strategy to maximize its support of both short-term and long-term goals.

Social media capital is generated differently and more simply than capital accumulated offline. Social media capital is assembled on messages, connections, and having a trusted role in social networks where you want to start conversations. This can help convert capital into other resources or produce key organizational outcomes.

February 13, 2020

The Do's and Don'ts of Terminating Employees

Terminating an employee is stressful for everyone involved and many managers and human resource professionals consider this responsibility the worst part of their job—whether as a layoff, a bad hire or for cause. With a little planning and preparation, you can make the experience less traumatic for everyone, maintain compliance with state and federal law, ensure your employee feels respected and avoid any bad publicity.

Organizations are under strict protocol when it comes to terminating employees and should therefore have written procedures in place to avoid negative repercussions such as fines and or lawsuits. Get ahead of issues as soon as possible by having open conversations on how to improve performance, attitude, or other matters so as not to blindside employees when the decision is made to let them go. Never take allegations as fact—conduct thorough investigations, secure findings and always document performance and behavioral issues as well as any disciplinary actions taken.

Following are some do’s and don’ts to consider when preparing to terminate an employee.

Tips on how to approach, conduct and communicate a termination:

  • Make sure the termination decision is consistent with the company’s practices and policies
  • Consider protected classes to ensure you have proper documentation before proceeding—these include race, age, gender, religion, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, pregnancy and citizenship
  • Schedule the meeting at an appropriate time for the employee —avoiding birthdays, holidays or the anniversary of their hire date
  • Hold the meeting in a private location where you won’t be interrupted and others can’t observe
  • Plan an early morning meeting on any day other than a Friday to provide the employee the opportunity to move forward rather than facing an entire weekend at a stand still
  • Have a witness present to take notes
  • Start off by telling the employee the purpose of the meeting so they know the decision is final
  • Provide appropriate and detailed information about the termination—even in states that allow “at will” employment, companies should still articulate a reason for termination
  • Have specifics ready on the employee’s final pay and benefit information
  • Treat your employee with dignity and respect by being honest but also sensitive
  • Create a “Separation Package” with relevant materials to be taken home, as often times the stress and emotion involved in being let go interferes with the ability to process all the information provided
  • End on a positive note by offering words of encouragement

Mistakes to avoid when terminating an employee:

  • Making excuses, apologizing for the situation or changing your story
  • Avoiding the issues causing the termination
  • Classifying a disciplinary termination as a layoff
  • Communicating the decision inaccurately
  • Not retrieving company property such as door keys, badges, phones, or laptops
  • Allowing disgruntled employees access to their work area or information systems
  • Assuming the dismissal will remain private and not notifying other employees
  • Dragging out the conversation longer than necessary
  • Arguing with an employee to justify the termination decision
  • Allowing the employee to think that there is an opportunity to change your decision

Termination meetings are uncomfortable and come with risks but you can make the experience more palatable by preparing an effective and supportive approach to a hard conversation. The last 15 minutes you spend terminating an employee will likely be the most important of the employment relationship, so ensure you’ve covered your bases to avoid negative outcomes that could harm your organizations reputation.

January 30, 2020

UST Debuts New Animated Video - HR & Unemployment Workforce Solutions for Nonprofits

 

For over three decades, UST has been providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that help manage unemployment funding, ensure compliance, and maximize employee bandwidth. By offering cost-effective services, reliable protection and significant savings, UST allows nonprofits nationwide to save valuable time and money.

As part of UST’s ongoing efforts to educate nonprofits we recently released our newest animated short video designed to provide a holistic overview of UST. About a minute long, this video reveals how nonprofit employers can streamline their day-to-day processes with simplified programs and dedicated support—including HR consultants, on-demand training modules, unemployment claims representatives, and career transition services.

UST already helps more than 2,200 participating nonprofits make the most of their resources to achieve their mission-driven initiatives. And, just last year, identified $2,707,750 in potential unemployment cost savings for 103 eligible nonprofit organizations. Watch the video today to discover how UST can benefit your nonprofit, your employees and the communities you serve.

For access to nonprofit specific how-to-guides, checklists and resources, sign up for UST’s monthly eNews today!

January 29, 2020

Five Obstacles Marketers Encounter in the Nonprofit Sector

When marketing in the nonprofit sector, it can be a difficult road to navigate. With more than a million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., it can be challenging to earn the trust and support needed from donors to run a successful nonprofit. From grassroots groups to national organizations, local nonprofit marketing brings its own unique set of challenges. Even national nonprofits often struggle to implement cohesive campaigns across their many locations.

Here are five of the biggest obstacles nonprofit markers have to face on a daily basis:

1) Consistent Messaging: More often than not, nonprofits are faced with bandwidth restraints making it difficult to develop specific messaging that speaks to different marketing channels and constituents.

2) Communicating on a Personal Level: Since most nonprofits suffer from having a small team or budget restraints, marketers rely heavily on the success of email communications to their membership and supporters. While this form of communication can result in a positive response, it lacks personalization. The use of social media can be a great way to connect with your donors on a more personal level—allowing for more one-to-one communication.

3) Using Key Performance Indicators: Measuring success of marketing efforts is an area some nonprofit marketers lack expertise in or the time to devote to capturing this data. Marketing teams that have been able to incorporate the task of measuring their efforts, have more insight into performance and the ability to make data-driven decisions when creating an annual marketing plan.

4) Communication Across all Teams: In order for nonprofit marketers to gather accurate data and segment prospect lists, they have to collaborate with other departments and this can be a difficult task for some organizations. Passing information around the organization can lead to some restrictions or even tension amongst departments–competing for budget increases and donor attribution.

5) Dealing with Budget Restrictions: Nonprofit marketers deal with challenges from all directions, especially when it comes to budget restraints.  Many nonprofits face challenges in reaching their marketing and engagement goals and this is primarily due to budgetary constraints. This is a consistent theme across most organizations, regardless of size or type of nonprofit.

With the needs of nonprofit communities constantly changing, we have to remember that the marketing strategies should change with them. To gain continual support, nonprofits need to keep consistent communication with donors, volunteers, and employees. They should attend council meetings, fundraisers, and other events to gain exposure and one-on-one face time with those they hope to serve.

January 16, 2020

HR Question: Employee Engagement Surveys

Question: Can you provide some tips for developing and conducting an employee engagement survey?

Answer: An employee engagement survey can be a great tool to check the temperature of your culture. When done right, the survey can help you understand the needs of your employees, which in turn benefits productivity, job satisfaction, and supports employee retention. It is also an excellent tool to help you calibrate the quality of your leadership as well as your employee relations and talent management programs.

 

Before you start, however, ensure that the management team is ready to act on the critical feedback you’ll get. Then decide what it is you need to know. Do you want to better understand how your employees view their relationship with management, understand and support the company’s strategic direction, or learn what aspects of their work environment, compensation and benefits, work assignments, and opportunities for learning and advancement are working (or not working)?

Next, determine how you will create, disseminate, tabulate, and communicate the survey process and results. If you’re creating your own survey, consider gathering employees from different areas of the company to formulate the survey questions and include them in the employee communications process to encourage participation. This team can also be instrumental in reviewing the survey results and providing feedback about how those results should be communicated and acted upon.

Another option is to use one of the many online engagement survey tools available in the marketplace. While the questions may not be as personalized to your company issues, you can get the surveys, along with the tabulated results, done quickly.

If you do create the survey in-house, consider these best practice tips:

  • First, determine whether the survey identifies the respondents. Confidential surveys typically yield higher response rates and include more candid feedback. With these surveys, be sure to include department or other group data to assist you later in analyzing feedback and specific action items that may be tied to one group. The decision to include identifying information is generally tied to the level of openness and trust in an organization’s culture.
  • Ask relevant questions. Ask questions that employees can — and want to — answer about their employment relationship with the company.
  • Make it simple and easy to complete. Keep the survey short. Employees may not take the time to complete a lengthy survey with in-depth questions. Save those types of questions for the follow-up action planning.
  • Provide an open comment area. Give employees an opportunity to comment at the end of the survey and add any additional information not covered by the questions.
  • Make the results actionable. Follow up on survey results so employees know they are heard and appreciated.

Encourage participation by using incentives or contests. With more feedback, you’ll have a better picture of your employees’ engagement level. Train your leaders so that they are prepared to use the survey feedback as a gift to improve performance and have productive feedback and performance improvement planning sessions.

Most importantly, don’t ask for employee feedback unless you are willing to do something with the results. Your employees will expect you to implement changes and take action. Let them know how much you value and respect them by listening and acting on their opinions and ideas.

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.

December 18, 2019

The Importance of Understanding Your Nonprofit's Cash Flow

Understanding the concept of the “business model” for your nonprofit has become a more integral component to maintaining organization sustainability within the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit leaders, grant makers and stakeholders want more insight behind the business and financial foundation of how a nonprofit organization is able to deliver according to their mission drive initiatives.

When discussing the nonprofit business model, often times it will include topics such as, cost to deliver services, mix of sources of funding, and key drives of financial results. Discussions around the financial stability and sustainability, more times than not, focus on the overall health of the balance sheet and operating results of a nonprofit. While each of these are essential components to have a better understanding of an organization’s finances and business model, these types of conversations can lose sight of a critical part of any business—the day-to-day operations. For example, the way a nonprofit organization does business can have a major impact on cash flow.

Cash flow is the net amount of cash and cash-equivalents being transferred into and out of a business. At the most fundamental level, a nonprofit’s ability to create value for shareholders in determined by its ability to generate positive cash flows, or more specifically, maximize long-term free cash flow. Managing cash flow is primarily consisted of questions: when will we pay our staff; when is this bill due and when will this grant payment come in? While there are variety of nonprofit business models, each one has a particular bearing on these types of questions.

A nonprofit business model has two main components: what kinds of programs and services nonprofits deliver, and how they are funded. Each of these components have implications on organizational cash flow that should be understood in order to have effective financial planning.

Below are a few helpful strategies to use when addressing cash flow issues:

1) Understand where funding is coming from: Each type of income stream can have certain implications and challenges for cash flow, so if a business model is built primarily around one type of funding, you will need to understand and plan for those implications and challenges.

2) How to balance cash going in and out: In order to meet operating cash needs in the absence of adequate cash reserves, a nonprofit can turn to a line of credit to meet the temporary imbalance between available cash and expenses due. Credit lines, when used responsibility, can be a useful and vital tool for cash flow management.

3) How to manage cash across your organization: While it may be impossible to ensure that cash is coming into the organization exactly on time and on target to keep things on autopilot, it is possible to plan for those times when it isn’t, and make decisions to be sure that bills and staff are paid on time.

Being informed, strategic, and collaborative in cash flow management can help to ensure that a nonprofit’s long-term strategy isn’t hindered by avoidable and short-term obstacles.  

For more information on this topic, please reference this article: https://www.propelnonprofits.org/resources/managing-cash-flow/

December 10, 2019

Winter is Upon Us - Prepare your Nonprofit Now

It’s that time of year again when we can expect to experience some inclement weather conditions across the states. When severe weather interferes with the day-to-day operations of your nonprofit, having a plan in place for unexpected barriers to your workflow can help to keep your organization productive and or reestablish business operations sooner than later if you are forced to shut down.

Severe weather increases the risk of power outages—knocking out heat, power and communication services—and often for extended periods. Many employers find themselves dealing with a number of weather related inconveniences they hadn’t even considered until it happens to them. While there are no federal or state laws that define how a company should handle such things as notifying employees of office closures or how to handle pay for missed workdays, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority.

By taking a proactive approach now, you can avoid the headache later—scrambling to figure out what to do and where even to begin. You can start by creating a plan that includes policies for what to do before, during and after emergencies—ensuring that everyone in the organization has a role and understanding of the policies once finalized.

Below are some tips to help ensure your nonprofit and its employees are prepared:

  • Outline an emergency communication plan
  • Update your evacuation plan and practice it
  • Where possible set up remote access to desktops for use during forced office closures
  • Sign up for local notifications and updates from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Understand what disasters could possibly affect your area
  • Learn how to help before help arrives
  • Create an emergency supply cabinet with first-aid kits and non-perishable food
  • Work with other organizations in your community to strengthen preparedness
  • Hold a preparedness discussion with your employees to ensure everyone understands the procedures and how to stay informed

Regardless of what weather incident you may experience, having a solid preparedness plan in place will help ensure your employees know what to expect and aid in keeping everyone informed. There are dozens of websites dedicated to helping businesses create successful preparedness plans so just remember—a little preparation now will go a long way should your nonprofit come face-to-face with Mother Nature.

November 15, 2019

How to Create Your Nonprofit's Story

In our world of online communication, nonprofits and charities are able to share and show how their organization is making a significant impact on the communities they serve through inspiring stories. This can be a challenging and overwhelming task for nonprofit professionals—they feel the pressure to create inspiring, unique and emotional stories that will set them apart from other nonprofits.

In the beginning stages of telling your nonprofit’s story, you should start by telling your organization’s “origin story.” This gives you an opportunity to explain how your nonprofit came to exist. Where and when did the idea of your nonprofit begin? How did you get to where you are today? Being able to emphatically and confidently tell your origin story will make a significant impact when connecting with your donors and volunteers.

Great storytelling is the best way to capture the attention, as well as the hearts and minds, of your supporters. While providing data on how a charity has impacted a community can be beneficial, people tend to give more when presented with a heartfelt story rather than data. Stories will help you express your mission to people who may know nothing about you or your cause. Statistics may offer some shock value, but statistics rarely get people to take action and donate to your cause.

If you and your nonprofit organization are doing things no one else is doing, it’s your job to make people aware by sharing your story. Tell your story in such a way that people won’t be able to forget it. Start by sharing how the community looked before your organization started and what the world looked like at the time. Then, touch on how the world looks now after you started this nonprofit journey. Maybe even share an example of how your nonprofit has positively impacted the community to help build your story. Using these types of examples makes your nonprofit more relatable—it allows for a more real connection and even empathy.

Empathy is also incredibly important when telling your organization’s story—there should be a moment when people see themselves or someone they know within your story. The more people can relate to your mission and your story to their own lives, the more likely they will be willing to engage and offer support to your organization.

November 14, 2019

[Webinar Recording] Accounting for Nonprofit Grants and Contributions

Last year, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2018-08, which clarifies the accounting guidelines for contributions received and contributions made—focusing on the grants and contracts awarded by the government and other entities to nonprofit organizations.

You can now listen to the webinar on-demand to learn how to determine if an asset received should be accounting as a contribution or as revenue from customers.

This on-demand webinar will explore how to:

  • Distinguish between reciprocal (exchange) versus nonreciprocal (contribution) transactions.
  • Determine whether a contribution is conditional.
  • Dictate when these amendments should be applied.
  • Decipher the three scenarios that illustrate the possible differences that may affect how the standard will impact your organization.

This webinar is part of UST’s efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. For more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly e-News today!

October 29, 2019

[Webinar Recording] Trends and Forecasts for Charitable Giving

Giving in the U.S. in 2020 will be different in many ways than previously—mainly because of campaigns, economic conditions, and tax law implications. Don't miss this deep dive into the trends and forecasts of giving in the United States presented by Melissa S. Brown, Principal of Melissa S. Brown & Associates.

This on-demand webinar shares insights into how tracking these trends can help identify future opportunities as well as insights into:

  • 2018 "Giving Pie"
  • Multi-Year trends to help identify what donor types give and where
  • Methods to identify donors using DAFs or Foundations for Giving
  • Tools to inspire more gifts from donor-advised funds, required minimum distributions, and other tax-advantaged giving

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

October 23, 2019

HR Question: Requiring Vacation Usage on Furlough Days

Question: Can an employer require its employees to use their accrued paid time off during an employer-required furlough? And, if salaried exempt employees work during the furlough, how is pay calculated for these employees?

Answer: Yes, an employer can require employees to use their accrued paid time off, for example vacation, for time not worked during a furlough. If an employee has no accrued time off, the employer can even put the employee into a negative paid leave balance.

Even while furloughed, however, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to employees. The FLSA mandates compliance with the salary basis requirements for salaried exempt personnel. Accordingly, if such an employee performs any work during that week, the employer may not dock the employee’s pay for the absence. When a furlough is for one or more full weeks, federal law generally does not require payment to an employee.

Employers must be mindful that employees on furlough continue to accrue vacation days, sick days, and personal days, and continue to receive other benefits such as health insurance.

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, 2019

How to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence

Violence in the workplace was virtually unheard of until the 1970s but today, it is a national epidemic that affects everyone involved both physically and psychologically, and often, long term. Workplace violence as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace. OSHA estimates that nearly two million U.S. workers report being victims to workplace violence every year. Workplace Violence takes many forms, including homicide, assault, stalking and bullying. Because this growing issue not only has a profound effect on employee morale, company reputation and overall productivity but also leaves employers to bear the burden of lost wages due to employee absences and increased benefit payments, damage repairs, liability lawsuits and higher insurance rates, employers need to be as prepared as possible.

Taking a proactive approach in implementing procedures that address potential incidents allows employees a work environment that provides protection from harassment, threats and violence. There are many ways to implement safety measures in the workplace that can help to eliminate the risk of workplace violence—ranging from criminal record checks, substance abuse testing, reference checks, secure entrances, security assessments and employee training. The most important, however, is having an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Since these incidents are nearly impossible to predict, the primary components should educate your staff on the early warning signs of potential violence as well as how to respond when a situation does arise. Your plan might also include internal and external communication procedures, exit routes, evacuation plans, training drill procedures and a media relations plan.

Some additional protections that align with an Emergency Preparedness Plan:

  • Identifying your organizations strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Assigning key personnel to act as emergency coordinators
  • Creating Emergency Safety Kits
  • Conducting drills on a regular basis

As a nonprofit leader, it’s your responsibility to provide a workplace free from harassment and bullying. Providing open and safe communication channels for discussing suspicious behavior, concerns and problems will go a long way in helping to prevent the unthinkable. Your main goal should be to reduce the probability of risk and ensure that any complaints that fall under the OSHA definition of workplace violence are handled promptly

For more information how to handle this growing epidemic, sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial to ThinkHR, powered by UST HR Workplace.

October 08, 2019

How an Executive Director Becomes a Financial Leader

What is an executive director? An executive director is “responsible for overseeing the administration, the program and the strategic plan of a nonprofit organization. Other key duties may include fundraising, marketing, community outreach, and this position reports directly to the board of directors.” As we all know, an executive director is required to wear many hats and needs to wear them all equally. Leadership styles have a huge impact on how well an executive director can carry out their duties—committed executive directors can set themselves apart when they’re able to evaluate their own leadership styles and seek input from others.

In this role, you’re tasked with the responsibility of both leadership and management and each duty requires a distinct skill level in order to be fulfilled properly. Leaders offer visionary qualities that can provide an overall scope to the organization’s specific problems and future planning. They tend to be a charismatic communicator and have the ability to motivate the team in anticipation of achieving future goals for the organization.  Managers are very hands on—they make sure things get done. Not only do they manage people but they also manage property and assets helping to fulfill the goals that management and the board of directors have set before them. They are the busy bees of the organization, who control, organize and monitor day-to-day activities of the operation. Think of an executive director of a nonprofit organization as being the “jack of all trades”.  

Along with managing and overseeing everyday tasks, an executive director is responsible for monitoring the finances for an organization—they oversee the development and on-going maintenance of the business model. This ensures the organization produces exceptional mission impact and sustains financial health. To make sure this is done successfully, the executive director has to be aware of the necessary business concepts.

Here are a few key business principles that could help guide financial leadership practice for your nonprofit:

1) Remain high-level and thoughtful with your board.

2) Make sure you’re managing your risks the right way.

3) Be sure to plan for your nonprofit’s reserves.

Executive directors learn that leading a nonprofit requires a constant balancing of current needs, external demands, and planning for the future. Financial leadership is crucial to the role and can not be fully delegated. Certain principles can help executive directors become accustom to the demands of the changing environment and maintain the balance needed for the organization.

September 27, 2019

[Webinar Recording] Fundraising Registration 101

Thousands of nonprofits have registered with their states in order to legally solicit donations... do you know what state requirements extend to your organization?

Presented by Affinity Fundraising Registration and hosted by Maia Lee, President of Relations, this on-demand webinar explains the essentials of fundraising registration and what you must do to ensure that you’re registered before filing your next Form 990. With over a decade in nonprofit marketing and development experience, Maia understands the challenges nonprofits face in fulfilling their missions with limited resources and is committed to educating nonprofits about charitable solicitation registration requirements.

 

You’ll learn crucial details needed to raise funds legally in any state with key information surrounding possible exemptions and how you may be subject to fines and penalties.  

Watch the webinar recording today!    

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

September 24, 2019

Getting Ahead of Form 990

Nobody likes filing taxes or paying them for that matter but don’t let that put your nonprofit at risk. While your organization may be federally tax-exempt, you are still required to file Form 990 with the IRS. This is the only way the federal government can ensure exempt organizations are conducting business in a way that is consistent with their public responsibilities. It also ensures your compliance and evaluates how your nonprofit is doing financially while  allowing the public to see information about a nonprofit mission and programs.

The 990 provides a transparent glance into the organization and its accomplishments. Allowing the public to see, not only, the gross revenue generated but where the revenue came from. When individuals, donors or job seekers are trying to find out as much as possible about a nonprofit through their own research efforts, this is an excellent source of information since it serves as a tool to evaluate the best charities to support.

It’s important that you file and file on time. Your 990 is due by the 15th of the 5th month after your accounting period ends. For example, if your fiscal year ends on December 31st, your 990 would be due by May 15th of the following year. Which form you file depends on your gross receipts—you can determine which 990 form to file by visiting the IRS website to see which form category your nonprofit falls under. Take the time to complete this form and avoid losing your exempt status with the IRS—there is no appeal process. If you’re unsure of your status, check the IRS website and get back on track, you will thank yourself later.

Understanding the journey, planning ahead and being proactive, will save you time and make the filing process much easier.  Following the below guidelines can help with that preparation:

  • Review the audit requirements for your state. Be aware of requirements BEFORE you begin 990 prep.
  • Determine ahead of time if you will need to file an extension. If you know you have an upcoming audit, keep in mind that the earliest most audits are schedules is in March or April and can last up to six weeks or longer. If this timeframe falls outside of your Form 990 due date, file an extension with the IRS as early as possible.
  • Close your books. Your nonprofit has been doing this for some time now, regardless of whether or not you’ve been filing Form 990, so you undoubtedly already have a process in place for year-end accounting activities.
  • Gather your documentation. Review your 990 from the previous year to get an idea of what you will need for the current year, including any schedules. You can check the IRS website to confirm which schedules you will need to file.
  • Update any outdated non-financial information. Double check that your organization’s name, address, telephone number and board of directors list (names, titles and compensation) are current.
  • Maintain a timeline. Provide ample time for completing the required paperwork as well as time for your board to review and provide feedback. While a board review is not required, it is strongly encouraged.

Since 990 forms are public documents and widely available, nonprofits should be diligent about filing them out correctly and filing them on time. Remember, a nonprofit’s 990 provides valuable information that speaks directly to your organizations status so the extra time spent preparing will pay off in the end. Don’t think of it as another menial task on your list of things to do but rather consider how it can affect those researching who you are—ultimately impacting the communities you serve. 

September 17, 2019

BackHR Question: Preparing for New Overtime Thresholds

Question: What should employers do to prepare for the anticipated January 1, 2020, effective date of new DOL white-collar exemptions?

Answer: On March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to update and revise Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) white collar exemptions by raising the salary level for an exemption from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually, among other changes.

The rule is expected to be adopted and become effective January 1, 2020. While it's too early to make any actual changes in response to the proposal, it's a good idea to start preparing now so you'll be ready if it becomes law, as experts anticipate it will.

  • Analyze cost impacts. You can begin to determing which employees are classified as exempt and ear $35,308 per year or less. Estimate the increased costs of either increasing their salaries to $35,308 per year or reclassifying the employees as nonexempt and paying overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week (or overtime hours worked based on your state's overtime laws.) Again, hold off on any actual changes until the proposal becomes effective.
  • Review job descriptions. Take a look at your organization's job descriptions to ensure that they are accurate for the work that the employees actually perform. Update as needed. Review the classifications as exempt or nonexempt based on the "job duties test" as defined by the DOL.
  • Forecast overtime. Talk with the impacted employees and their managers to get an estimate of how much overtime per week they actually work.
  • Review your overtime policies. While employers must pay overtime per federal and state laws even if the overtime is not authorized, employers can limit the amount of overtime allowed and provide disciplinary action to employees who fail to follow policy.
  • Measure productivity. Now that some exempt employees may be reclassified as nonexempt, ensure that the extra hours worked result in measurable productivity. Many exempt employees did not track hours worked previously and may have worked longer hours when not absolutely necessary. Since that time will now be compensable time, employers should ensure that the overtime is warratned based on business demand.
  • Review meal and rest break rules. Those employees who will be reclassified as nonexempt will be required to comply with state or company mandated meal and rest break requirements.
  • Review employee communications regarding plocies, the enforcement of such policies, and how you will communicate these changes to those employees who will be affected by the change in status.

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.

September 11, 2019

How KPIs Benefit a Nonprofits Success

What is a KPI? A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is “a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a nonprofit (or another type of organization) is achieving its key organizational objectives.” Most nonprofits make their data-driven decisions with the help of KPIs – using them at multiple levels to evaluate success in reaching targets.

While KPIs provide important performance information that can allow nonprofits to understand whether or not they are on track toward certain objectives, they must fully grasp how the KPI’s work and how it’s benefiting the organization’s return on investment. The executive team and board members will be looking for stats and will have questions. Such as, how quick will we see a return? Are we seeing any patterns with our donor’s behavior? Can we see a comparison year over year? etc.

The use of KPIs can help correct an organization’s course of action efficiently and adapt to the changing conditions of the environment. When a nonprofit is looking for ways to succeed and achieve its mission in an ever growing and noisy space, they need a solution to measure progress and apply their course of action accordingly.

KPIs are essential when making informed decisions. Once a nonprofit gathers relevant and sufficient data, it’s much easier to make sound decisions that are going to push the organization in the right direction. It’s common that many nonprofit organizations measure generic KPIs that don’t offer any help in understanding whether they’re progressing towards achieving their mission and to what extent.

Being that it’s crucial and challenging to select the right KPIs for your organization, here’s a list of  suggestions for KPIs that are specific to various areas of nonprofit management:

1) Donors & Growth of Donation

2) Donor Retention Rate

3) ROI for fundraising

4) Track donation conversions by channel

5) Website page views

6) Email click-through rate

Friendly reminder: Once your KPIs are set, the work isn’t over. Make sure you’re checking-in regularly, whether that’s weekly or monthly and use that data to your nonprofits benefit. Tracking these important KPIs affect donor relations, program delivery and most importantly, the ability to achieve your nonprofits mission.

August 29, 2019

Getting Ahead of Employee Burnout

Nonprofit employers have been dealing with employee burnout for some time now but knowing what factors to focus on can go a long way in prevention. It’s a crisis that can trigger a downward spiral in both the individual’s performance as well as the organizations’ and can end up costing thousands of wasted dollars.  

Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress and one that has long been lacking official recognition even though it has nearly become an epidemic—until now. The World Health Organization (WHO), recently identified workplace burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that may require medical attention. They state, that burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and characterize by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.  

Employees experiencing burnout at work are often physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the job. They are more likely to take frequent sick days, exude more negativity, reduce team moral and worse, start looking elsewhere for employment opportunities. They become fixated on problems rather than growth opportunities or development. Now, more than ever before, we’re doing more with less, working longer hours, taking fewer breaks and less vacation days. Burnout is a serious workplace concern and is detrimental to the health of everyone involved—managers, co-workers, loved ones and friends.

There are often many factors that cause job fatigue but managers play an important role in helping to avoid this occupational phenomenon. Employees who trust their managers are more likely to experience meaningful work. Below are some key strategies for building that relationship and reducing employee burnout:

1. Check-in daily – we’re not talking about a daily 30-minute meeting but a simple “Good Morning”, “How was the school play last night” or “Any plans for the weekend”. These brief interactions can make a huge impact on someone who may be struggling.

2. Listen actively – being a good listener when an employee comes to you with an issue is a critical step in earning their trust and developing a solid bond.

3. Make time for team-building – creating a team that is unified provides another line of emotional support for an employee who is struggling. Co-workers often understand better than anyone else the struggle of being burnt out.

4. Encourage break time – everyone needs to take a break to stay connected and focused so ensure your employees are taking the time to recharge.

5. Make work purposeful – being connected to your mission isn’t enough so give your employees more reasons for making their job feel important.

6. Always say please and thank you – two very simple terms that are extremely underused in the workplace. Showing appreciation and respect can go a long way.

7. Put the right people in the right place – make sure your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best so you get the best of what they have to offer and they feel fulfilled.

If you don’t address the causes of employee burnout in your nonprofit, you’re missing the opportunity to create a workplace environment that empowers employees to feel and perform their best. Employee burnout is no longer just an HR issue, it’s a public health issue and one that can be managed before it even hits. Develop healthy workplace habits that begin with managers who foster positive experiences and ensure you have policies in place that help recognize the triggers before they get out of control.

August 16, 2019

​​​​​​​Nonprofit eBook Reveals Five Strategies to Overcome 2019 Retention Barriers

UST releases a new eBook focused on vital engagement practices to foster a desireable workplace.

Founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, UST publishes an eBook that reveals the latest retention best practices that can help nonprofits to better engage their dedicated staff. This resourceful eBook uncovers ideal strategies to withstand the ravages of financial, strategic and geopolitical uncertainties by overcoming retention barriers such as economic competition from other employees.

This eBook offers the top five strategies to employee engagement practices that help to foster a desirable workplace. You’ll also learn about:

  • Compensation benchmarking tactics
  • Creative benefit options
  • Employee engagement initiatives

The eBook, “Innovative Strategies That Overcome Nonprofit Retention Barriers,” reveals that “a surprising half to three-quarters of all turnover is actually preventable, if managers know how to implement all the tools and strategies available.”

Be sure to download your complimentary copy today!

August 14, 2019

​​​​​​​Nonprofit Webinar: Unemployment & HR Risk Management Tips

For a limited time, UST opens registration to all 501(c)(3) nonprofit executives interested in learning more about their organization's unique tax alternative.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents an exclusive 30-minute webinar to showcase some of the most common unemployment & HR risks that can cost your nonprofit 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.

Nonprofit executives, finance directors, and HR staff should register to learn 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 is 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 and resources that can address many of your ongoing pain points – helping you to refocus your funding and employee bandwidth on the communities you serve.

If you work for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 10 or more full time employees, register for the August 20th or September 18th  webinar before space runs out!

August 07, 2019

​​​​​​​[Webinar Recording] National Nonprofit Benefit Study

 

Nonprofit professionals face a challenging job that is made even more complex by industry dynamics and a competitive talent marketplace—requiring even more attention around compensation factors that include benefit portfolio offerings. While benchmarking data exists in the corporate sector, detailed benefit data has been lacking in the nonprofit sector, until now. Work for Good has produced one of the most comprehensive national studies on nonprofit benefit offerings to date.

 

Presented by Karen Beaver, CEO of Work for Good, this on-demand webinar shares their findings from the 2019 Nonprofit Benefits Coverage Index Report, and reveals how you can take action now to prepare for what’s ahead.

 

This educational webinar recording outlines some of the top employee benefits trends shaping the sector this year and presents practical takeaways to inform strategy around:

  • Competitive benefit plan offerings
  • Current benefit trends
  • Strategies for 2020

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

July 31, 2019

​​​​​​​2019 Nonprofit UI Toolkit

Here at UST, we've compiled some of our top unemployment guides for managing nonprofit unemployment risk and created the 2019 Nonprofit UI Toolkit. These tools provide valuable information that can help nonprofit organizations like yours better understand the ins and outs of unemployment from the employer's perspective.

These tools offer exclusive access to unemployment claims management tips, how-to-guides and an informative webinar recording. Plus, you can learn about best practices for unemployment compensation and the ideal approach to take when dealing with unemployment hearings.

  1. Best Practice Tips - Keys to Unemployment Compensation
  2. Webinar Recording: Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST
  3. Unsatisfactory Job Performance vs. Willful Misconduct
  4. Unemployment Hearings - Just the Facts
  5. Understanding Unemployment Insurance
  6. Controlling Unemployment Costs
  7. Employee Considerations
  8. Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

Want access to more nonprofit how-to guides, checklists and resources? Sign up for UST's monthly eNews!

July 18, 2019

HR Question: Interns and Overtime

Question: We hire interns (generally students in their junior and senior years) to do professional work for clients alongside, and under the supervision of, our professionals. They earn at least twice the salary test wage of $455 per week and are paid on a salary basis. Are they eligible for overtime pay?

Answer: Maybe. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws exempt certain categories of employees from overtime. These interns may qualify as exempt employees under the "learned professional” employee exemption.

To meet for the learned professional employee exemption and be exempt from both minimum wage and overtime pay, all of the following criteria must be met:

  1. The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week.
  2. The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge.
  3. The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning.
  4. The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

See WHD Fact Sheet #17D: Exemption for Professional Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) for additional information explaining the learned professional exemption.

If the employees meet the exemption requirements, they would not be entitled to overtime. If the employees do not meet the requirements, it still may be possible that they qualify under one of the other white collar exemptions.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.

July 12, 2019

3 Reasons Paid Internships Benefit Nonprofits

When looking to hire interns to work at your nonprofit, there are multiple factors that can help determine if your organization wants to offer a paid or unpaid internship. On January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) “created new guidance for determining whether a worker could be classified as an unpaid intern under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. However, this is not always the case when it comes to interns. Under the FLSA, interns may not be classified as “employees” which puts them in a situation where they don’t receive compensation for their work. With these new rules in place, employers now have more say when implementing unpaid internships.

Internships can provide highly beneficial, sought after opportunities for individuals and organizations alike, especially nonprofits.  Internships give organizations unique ways to observe new talent, promote training and share resources within their community. Often interns can be college students and these internships can allow students and other individuals creative ways to grow in their intended fields, to learn valuable work skills and to develop their resumes for future success. 

As a nonprofit, deciding to offer a paid internship can be a difficult decision to make, however, here are three reasons why a paid internship could be the way to go:

1) An unpaid internship could limit your pool of candidates to choose from, ruling out college students who come from lower and middle-income backgrounds. Not only are these students looking for compensation to pay for a college, they need money for everyday necessities.

2) Since interns tend to work on teams with paid employees, an unpaid internship can affect the work of those paid employees making their work feel less valued.

3) Keep in mind, when assigning projects to an unpaid intern to make sure the work isn’t something they should be compensated for – which could result in wage claims. Offering a paid internship can prevent issues like this from arising.

Bringing on interns is a great way to help those new to the workforce learn what it takes to be successful in the working world while helping nonprofits get special projects completed. Plan ahead and structure your program so that your internship program is a great experience for all those involved.

June 25, 2019

​​​​​​​HR Question: Inclement Weather

Question: Last week our offices were closed because of inclement weather. Do we need to pay our employees for the week? If not, would they be eligible for unemployment compensation?

Answer: When your business closes early, opens late, or closes for the week due to inclement weather, how you pay employees will depend on whether you have an inclement weather policy or an established practice for office closures. If you do not have a policy or practice, whether your employees are eligible for unemployment compensation depends on whether they are nonexempt or exempt. Further, whether employees would be eligible for unemployment insurance depends upon the circumstances and the particular state; employees may be able to qualify for some assistance through the state’s unemployment department.

Nonexempt employees need to be paid only for the time they have actually worked. If they have paid time off (PTO) accrued (whether vacation time or a PTO plan), then the company could deduct hours from the accrued bank to continue their pay, if the employee so desires.

If nonexempt employees come to work but are not allowed to work their full scheduled shift, a number of states impose a reporting time obligation requiring employees to be paid a minimum number of hours if they have reported for work.

However, exempt employees are paid on a salary basis and must be paid the same amount each week, regardless of the amount of work that they do. If you have a PTO plan, you can deduct from the exempt employee’s vacation or accrued time off bank to make the salary whole.

For example, management decides to send everybody home four hours into the day due to a blizzard and the offices remain closed the next day. Joe is an hourly employee in the warehouse with no accrued PTO and Mary is an exempt-level office manager with five days (40 hours) in her PTO bank. Joe would receive the four hours of pay for the day he worked and no pay for the remainder of that day or the following full day. If the company does not wish to pay Mary her entire pay for the time the office was closed, it may elect for her to receive four hours of regular pay for the time worked, and deduct from her PTO bank for 12 hours (the four hours remaining on the first day and eight hours for the next day). Mary will receive her full pay for the week.

Q&A provided by ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofit HR teams. Get your free 30-day trial here.