February 23, 2018

Financially Responsible vs. Frugal Tendencies

As a nonprofit organization, working with a limited budget is a common and familiar task.  Any one organization can attest to the financial responsibilities and limitations that come with managing a budget for a nonprofit. In addition, monitoring spending in accordance with strict grant limitations can be challenging and may limit any new business ventures. Instead of pinching pennies, make sure you are reaching your financial goals by monitoring money and allocating funds for future business opportunities that could help your nonprofit flourish.

Most nonprofit organizations are familiar with providing products and services to their membership and or the community with minimal funding. When relying on inconsistent funding sources such as grants, donations, and membership fees, there may be times when money is tight and your organization has to question every expenditure in an effort to make every dollar count. While there is something to be said for being frugal, you also have the ability to stretch your dollars and make the most of every penny your organization spends.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while allocating your budget towards future business objectives:

  • Clearly define needs vs. wants - With the continual integration of all things digital, it is important to make sure that your technology is efficient enough that each employee is able to do their job and reach their best potential.  On the other hand, assuming that each employee needs a third monitor may not be a necessary expense.
  • Purchasing power requires education - People with purchasing power shouldn’t be left to wonder what they can and can’t spend money on. If your staff is unsure and constantly asking for approval before purchasing anything, consider reevaluating your training procedures. Staff members that need to make purchases should be aware of their limitations.
  • Overhead shouldn’t dictate everything - When dealing with overhead, you shouldn’t have to spend your time minimizing costs to stay on your donors good side. To prevent this habit, it is helpful to demonstrate the necessity behind your purchases while being transparent with your donors.

When it comes to being financially responsible, it can vary based on the budget of your organization and the willingness to spend money on new business ventures. It all comes back to having a better insight into your finances and operations, which can help align financial activities with your strategic goals—essentially making your money work harder.

February 21, 2018

Simple Tricks to Help With Workplace Organization

Are you frequently overwhelmed by your workload and flustered by the chaos that your desk has turned out? You’re not alone. Many of us feel buried every now and then – it’s  your busiest time of year, there’s new mail, invoices and or reports that end up on your desk every day and before you know it your desk looks like a tornado swept through it. The problem isn’t so much that your desk is messy but that important stuff gets lost. Beyond efficiency, the strain of disorganization can add unnecessary stress to your work day and cause mental exhaustion.

Reason dictates that those who are unorganized cannot be as efficient or as productive as those who are. There are some however, that know exactly where everything is. Some people may feel that a cluttered desk makes they appear busier while others feel a clean desk shows how efficient they are at getting the work done. Either way, the key is to work in a manner that allows you to be the most effective.

Whether you want a white glove worthy desk or just to bring some order to your work area, utilizing these simple tricks will get you on track in no time at all.

  1. Prioritize your workload every morning. Create a to-do list and keep track of your projects on a week to week basis – this can go a long way in helping to stay focused on what’s most important. There are also many computer programs that allow you to set reminders that can be used in lieu of a spreadsheet.
  2. Scan your overnight emails first. Reply to emails that can be handled quickly. Then, delete those irrelevant messages and handle the remaining in order of importance. This provides an immediate sense of accomplishment and prepares you to move into your workday with some structure.
  3. Adopt the one-touch rule. One surefire way to prevent desk clutter is to deal with every piece of paper as it comes across your desk. Trash it, act on it, file it or – if you really must – place it in your inbox until you have time to deal with it.
  4. Get an inbox and look at it every day. Having a place to leave pending items serves as an excellent reminder to get the task done.
  5. Cut back on saving hard copies of everything. Nowadays, most businesses back up all business related files onto a company server at the end of every day. This makes savings those hard copies unnecessary unless there’s a legitimate reason to do so.
  6. Straighten up your desk every night before leaving the office. By spending just a few minutes at the end of your day ensuring everything is in its place, you will alleviate any early morning stress when arriving to work. Organization is best done regularly versus waiting until it’s piled up so high, it will take hours to sort through.
  7. Create a routine. Make it a habit to cover these steps every day and you will find yourself much more efficient than you could have imagined. It will allow for more time spent on the things that really matter. A routine ensures that each and every day you take consistent steps to rid yourself of mental and physical clutter.

If you are like most of us, you are going to spend the majority of your day at work. It’s essential to your organization and sanity to make your work space work for you so that it maximizes your efficiency.

February 16, 2018

Five Health Benefits of Technology in the Workplace

In the nonprofit sector, technology has provided many advances and fine-tuned processes for communication, workflows and overall functionality in the workplace environment. It has also created more of an awareness and comradery around health and wellness. Having a workplace wellness plan is an effective way to engage and increase productivity at any nonprofit organization. Workplace wellness can include health-promoting activities or certain policies implemented to encourage healthy behaviors among employees. The ultimate goal of this plan is to provide employees with opportunities for better long-term health, especially in the face of rising chronic diseases.

Wearable gadgets such as the Fitbit or the Apple Watch can help monitor stress levels and heart rates. They can also aid in implementing fitness plans, making them an invaluable tool in encouraging workplace health. With most individuals already having access to smartphones, this will allow for easy accessibility to certain health and wellness apps.

Here are five ways technology can improve workplace wellness and health.

1)  Less sick days. The use of fitness and health-related apps and/or wearable gadgets can decrease employee absence due to health concerns, as well as encourage a better work-life balance.

2) Nonprofit savings. Encouraging workplace health and fitness with the use of technology can help decrease employer healthcare costs, especially in the face of rising premiums.

3) Less stress. While bringing a dog to work would be the ideal option to help reduce stress, your organization may not allow this due to pet allergies. A wearable, such as a Fitbit, can help to decrease employee stress levels through breathing exercises, leading to a more productive and healthy team.

4) Improves company morale. Tracking eating habits, dietary plans, and lifestyle choices with the use of certain apps can help you create a stronger workplace culture, encourage supportive relationships, and boost team morale.

5) Overall health awareness. Using wearable gadgets can decrease the seated lifestyle that often influences the present day working generations. Employees have the ability to track their physical movements and set reminders to stand when sitting for longer periods of time.

The goal for any nonprofit organization in adding a workplace health and wellness plan should be to alter the mindset and focus on the actions that encourage preventative care. If an employer can have a team focused on their health and limit their sedentary lifestyles, both the employer and the employee will thrive.

February 09, 2018

The Importance of Having a Sick Day Policy

Sick employees are bad for business – plain and simple. They can wreak havoc on the workplace in many ways - spreading germs, putting additional stress on co-workers who have to pick up the slack or even creating tension amongst the team. While it might seem great to have such dedicated employees who are willing to work even when they are ill, what might be a mild case of the flu for one can land another in the hospital or worse, put multiple members of your team out for weeks.

You need an equitable sick leave policy in place that provides employees a reasonable amount of paid sick leave,  allowing them the time to recover when they’re not feeling well. Additionally, having a clearly written policy that specifies the organization’s standards and what is expected of the employee will help to minimize sick leave abuse. Paid sick leave is not typically required under federal law but may be required under state law – different states have different requirements so make sure to do your research to determine what, if any, state laws are applicable to you.

By implementing a few simple guidelines, you can create a solid yet thoughtful sick day policy that helps to maintain a healthier workplace and keep your nonprofit running smoothing when someone is out. First and foremost, you need managers to not only encourage people to stay home when they are ill but to also stay home themselves when ill – leading by example is the most powerful tool managers have at their discretion.

Secondly, have a back-up plan in place for when those instances do arise so key tasks don’t go unattended for days at a time. For example, cross-train your staff so that everyone has someone who can fill in where and when needed. While this may not be an ideal situation for some, ensuring everyone understands the benefits of such a plan and knows what to expect ahead of time, can go a long way in eliminating some of the stress when the need presents itself.

Also important to keep in mind, while it’s not practical to have someone out of the office for weeks due to a general cold, it is wise to require employees who have been out with the flu and/or a fever to remain home until they’ve been symptom-free for at least 24 hours. This will ensure they are no longer contagious and getting others sick upon returning to work.

If an employer doesn’t offer sick leave, they will only accelerate health issues and the spread of illness, thereby lowering productivity and office morale. Remember, when an employee comes to work sick, it puts you and the rest of your staff in a weak environment, which can affect a nonprofit as badly as the loss of a major contributor. Being sensitive to the health of all your staff should be priority number one.  To ensure you are doing everything you can is to genuinely take an interest in the health of the people working with you. Remember, a healthy workplace is a productive workplace.

February 08, 2018

Tech & Philanthropy: Working Together as One

The digital age has created a new outlook on how nonprofits are viewed from the outside world. Technology has allowed the removal of certain limitations in philanthropy—granting more exposure to the public on their efforts as well as allowing these organizations to be more prosperous. Such technological advances have given the sector the ability to improve and expand their outreach to those that are facing problems such as poverty, access to education or those affected by environmental devastations.

Introducing technology advances can benefit your organization in more ways than one. Such benefits will allow your organization to plan ahead, produce content tailored to your audience’s needs and overall create an efficient philanthropy.

Along with the benefits mentioned above, here are a few approaches nonprofits can consider when introducing your organization to new tech elements:

1) Use surveys to better engage your audience. A cost-effective way to gather intel on your biggest supporters is to send out a survey. This will give you the opportunity to gather insight on what messaging should be used to engage your audience and increase your number of donors. Surveys can help you save time by testing your messaging—your supporters can help you refine your messaging approach without wasting time and resources.

2) Create a website that is user experience focused. The design of an organization’s website should be primarily focused on the user’s view and navigation of the site. Displaying a variety of content, such as blogs, eye-catching images, social media posts and videos will allow the user an opportunity to engage with all forms and see which ones they interact with most. Implementing a test user experience can be a simple and cost-effective task that will help identify issues right from the start.

3) Use simple and engaging content to interact with your audience. Any content placed or shared on your social media pages should be directed back to your website. This will continue to increase the number of people that will engage and interact with your site. With a wide variety of social media applications, nonprofits have ample opportunities to increase awareness around the different programs they offer. Also, social media platforms can allow your supporters to share your mission and generate more communication about your organization.

January 23, 2018

HR Question: The IRS and Employee Gifting

Question: Are there tax or IRS implications if we give our employees a gift certificate or gift card instead of a cash bonus?

Answer: According to the IRS, cash or “cash equivalents” (such as gift cards) are always taxable. However, you can exclude the value of a de minimis (minor) benefit you provide to an employee. If you offer the employee a different type of recognition reward (such as a dinner out or tickets to an event), it may not be taxable. While the IRS doesn’t specifically put a dollar value on what constitutes “de minimis,” it is defined as  “any property or service you provide to an employee that has so little value (taking into account how frequently you provide similar benefits to your employees) that accounting for it would be unreasonable or administratively impracticable. Cash and cash equivalent fringe benefits (for example, use of gift card, charge card, or credit card), no matter how little, are never excludable as a de minimis benefit, except for occasional meal money or transportation fare.”

For more information, the 2017 IRS Publication 15-B Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits offers a chart that shows the tax excludable value of some fringe benefits.

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.

January 19, 2018

Why it Matters to Have Fun at Work

Have you ever considered different ways to engage your employees at your nonprofit? High performing companies like Google, Zappos, LinkedIn and other organizations have found a way to have both high productivity among their employees along with profitability and it’s all due to creating a fun work environment. When looking at these highly successful companies, they have been able to incorporate fun into the foundation of their culture. While having fun at work may not produce results on its own, it will make your nonprofit organization stand out among your competitors and spark the interest of future employees who are looking for new employment.

Prioritizing fun in the workplace can have a direct impact throughout your organization in ways that you may not expect - such as organizational health. Fun at work can be used to encourage participation amongst employees, making them want to engage in wellness programs. Productivity; fun can offer your employees a break or distraction from everyday tasks, creating valuable break time. Engagement; when employees are engaged they tend to be more enthusiastic about their work.

Many workers have a tendency to imagine the ideal work environment and can’t seem to shake the idea that there’s always something out there that is a better fit for them. This can make employees only look at the flaws of their current work environment rather than seeing its potential. Discussing such concerns with your manager and/or leadership will help them better understand the issue at hand and work together to create a fun workplace.

While fun at work can build solidarity, connections and an outlet for workplace stress, the BIG question is… how do you get started? Since this is a cultural change, no one single event or two can single handed lee change a work environment. You can begin by assessing your culture. Ask yourself if you see how the value of fun can fit and then explore how the fun can become a part of your operations. The next big revolution in the working world is focusing in on culture.

January 16, 2018

An Effective Promotions Policy is Vital to Company Success

Promotions are the cornerstone of professional growth - they motivate employees by appealing to their sense of ambition. While there are many things organizations can do to improve employee morale, if you don’t have a solid process in place for promoting your staff, you’ll never see their best efforts.

Over the past year, 400,000+ workers were surveyed in the U.S. and the results revealed that when workers believe that promotions are managed effectively, they are two times as likely to work harder and put forth the extra effort required to advance in the workplace.  In addition, these same workers said they are also more likely to stay put long-term.

For employers, having a clear promotion policy in place is one of the most powerful ways they can drive their company’s success. The payoff is priceless – employee turnover rates are lower, productivity and morale increases and businesses see revenue growth.

Promotions are extremely personal and should benefit both the employee and the employer – no matter how large or small the company is. Leaders should not focus only on an employees’ qualifications but should also take the time to understand their current role, their interests and career aspirations as well as their weaknesses. You then put yourself in a position to be their top supporter and can advocate on their behalf when an internal opportunity arises. By refocusing your energy on the people the process is meant to support, you can improve the effectiveness of the promotion process itself. Taking ownership of the process and encouraging your staff members to step forward when there is an opportunity, creates a trust between the two of you and ultimately the process.

You want to refrain from promoting your buddy or the guy whose ethics are questionable or promote on the basis of seniority. You’ll only leave the rest of your staff feeling like the truly important things don’t matter like productivity or integrity. They’ll start believing that they need to focus more on developing personal relationships or become lazy thinking they just need to put in the time to gain seniority. Even worse, they’ll think that it doesn’t matter how the work gets done just as long as it gets done making the quality of work less of a priority.

A solid promotions process allows leaders to elevate each employee to their full potential – while showing the company what type of results and behaviors are valued. Promotions are about people so when leaders take a caring approach to coach and advocate for their employees, everyone reaps the benefits.

January 11, 2018

[Webinar Recording] New HR Laws in 2018: What CA Nonprofits Need to Know

Did you know that the California Legislature enacted a number of new bills that became effective in 2018?

Watch Ethos Human Capital Solutions webinar on the new employment laws enacted by the California Legislature and how they will impact your business in 2018. Also, the webinar discusses legal cases that have been or will be decided by the courts and will affect CA employers.

You can download the recorded presentation which covers new laws affecting:

  • What you can/can’t ask on applications and during interviews
  • Immigrant worker protections
  • Changes to minimum wage
  • Parental leave

Learn from Lindy Duffy of Ethos Human Capital Solutions and Marla Merhab Robinson, Esp. with Merhab Robinson, Jackson & Clarkson about these changes and what you’ll need to know and do to stay in compliance.

This webinar series 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!

 

January 09, 2018

Economy Remains in Good Shape as we Head into the New Year

December marked the 87th consecutive month of job growth, adding an additional 148,000 positions during the month - bringing the total number of jobs filled in 2017 to 2.06 million. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent for the third consecutive month but fell over the year by 0.74 percent, a 17-year low.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was essentially unchanged at 4.9 million in December but was down by 639,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. The number of long-term unemployed remained essentially the same at 1.5 million in December but declined by 354,000 over the year.

Among the marginally attached, there were 47,000 discouraged workers in December, little changed from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are those not seeking employment opportunities because they believe there are no jobs available. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in December had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Payroll employment growth totaled 2.1 million in 2017, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2016. Job gains occurred in healthcare (31,000), construction (+30,000) and manufacturing (25,000), collectively creating over half a million jobs in 2017. Employment changed little for most other major industries, including food services, professional and business services, retail trade, mining, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and financial activities.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, was unchanged over the month and year. And while the employment-population ratio was also unchanged at 60.1 percent in December, it was up by 0.3 percentage point over the entire year.

Wages rose in December by 9 cents, increasing over the year by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent.

This all alludes to an economy that is healthy and likely to continue growing but we won’t know for sure for a while.

January 05, 2018

5 Worst Ways to Give ‘Constructive’ Feedback

As a nonprofit manager, it is important to be able to give constructive feedback effectively to your employees. Being able to share and receive feedback is vital to self- improvement.  Examples of how to give constructive feedback  include, discussing appropriate behaviors, asking questions, creating an action plan together and building trust, just to name a few. On the other hand, there are a number of ways that your feedback could end up causing more damage than doing any good.

Listed below are five bad habits your nonprofit organization should avoid when giving constructive feedback:

1) Waiting for the annual performance review to give feedback– This method can cause confusion and make things more challenging to work through. Waiting too long to provide feedback could make people feel caught off guard or defensive, rather than being open to having a productive conversation.

2) Not providing specific examples –Concepts like “be more of a team player,” “be more professional” and “show more initiative” don’t typically sink in without the use of specific examples to illustrate them. Labels without examples can leave people feeling at a loss of how to go about making changes because they are unsure of what you’re looking for. Make sure to be specific with your feedback.

3) Lack of preparation – Making an assessment or judgment call prior to gathering all the facts and examining the logic of your assessment, can lead to a very negative outcome. Situations like these could lead to resentment or lose of respect for the manager.

4) Making an assumption of how to praise an employee– A natural tactic is to praise an employee the same way you like to be praised. However, what may work for one type of person or personality may not have the same impact on another. This is one of the many areas of managing where learning personality styles can be extremely useful.

5) Only giving corrective feedback without any positive feedback – If the only time you give feedback is to say something negative, employees will inevitably develop an automatic defensive reaction the moment you try to give them any type of feedback, whether it be positive or negative. Such conditions could be deemed hazardous for a constructive conversation and effect the overall culture of the workplace.

December 27, 2017

HR Question: Hostile Work Environment Situation

Question: An employee is claiming a hostile work environment situation. What should I do next?

Answer: Employees may use the word “hostile” without completely understanding what it means in the employment setting. Sometimes an employee will allege a “hostile work environment” simply due to a negative work experience such as being held accountable for found errors, or a feeling of unfair treatment such as not being permitted to take time away from work when others may be permitted to for a number of reasons.

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.

However, the fact that an employee has come forward with a concern is important and compels you to investigate further. Helping an employee understand the difference of experiencing a negative event and the legal term of hostile work environment is a first step in moving forward to ask very specific questions of the employee to understand the nature and scope of the situation. Depending on details, you may need to do a complete investigation and administer appropriate training or disciplinary action. Best practice is to access a third party to perform investigations to minimize any perception of bias through the process, findings, and determined action(s).

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 21, 2017

Better Together - A Spotlight on the Maine Association of Nonprofits

Endorsing the UST program since 2002, the Maine Association of Nonprofits was founded in 1994 as a member organization dedicated to enriching the quality of the nonprofit community in the state of Maine. By advocating for and on behalf of the nonprofit sector in the state, providing guidance on best practices and offering management training, research and assessment tools as well as cost-saving programs, MANP allows nonprofits to run much more effectively and efficiently.

The organization also connects leaders in the community in an effort to build relationships that enable these organizations to grow together and form a united front on critical issues that may arise.  They work to build the capacity of the sector to develop their existing and emerging leaders.

Just a few of the services and tools you can expect to find through the Maine Association of Nonprofits include:

  • Professional Development Programs & Educational Resources
  • Nonprofit Job Board, Networks & Coalitions
  • Voter Engagement & Advocacy Support
  • The Answer Center & Assessment Tools
  • Assistance with Starting or Dissolving a Nonprofit
  • Intensive Programs & Executive Transition and Succession Planning

MANP recently launched a member survey and when they asked members “If you were describing to someone why your organization is a member of MANP, what would you say?” Responses included comments like “MANP has proven to be the best advocate and resource for nonprofits in general in the state of Maine.” and “MANP provides essential resources for nonprofits to be more successful, administratively, publicly, internally and externally.”

Maine Association of Nonprofits continually works to improve the communities throughout Maine by providing the framework and resources needed to help organizations be successful. For more information on the Maine Association of Nonprofits visit www.nonprofitmaine.org.

December 20, 2017

The Truth Behind Nonprofit Marketing

Leaders in the nonprofit sector can share in the same sentiment when it comes to concerns surrounding the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization—especially with marketing. While marketing can affect many aspects of your organization, the most vulnerable could be your reputation and financial well-being.  In the light of such concerns, some nonprofits have managed to achieve marketing success by using the services of a third-party marketing firm. While this option is not feasible for all nonprofits, having some type of marketing strategy in place is crucial for your organization.  Creating a well-organized and strategic marketing plan that remains true to your mission and keeps your organization within budget, will bring your nonprofit to new heights.

While there are many effective marketing strategies, discovering which one is beneficial for your organization is key to ensuring you receive the most from your efforts. Learning how to use analytics, and accessing different testing methods can help point you in the right direction of what your organization may need to get started on its marketing journey. Also, integrating the latest tools into your website and social channels will help your organization stay relevant and current.

A good marketing plan is interlined from top to bottom. For each goal, there are objectives, every objective has strategies, and each strategy has tactics.  Without good tactics, a strategy will not successfully complete an objective, rendering the success of a goal. A true marketing plan should employ the right mix of experience with critical thinking.

If your nonprofit has allocated a portion of their budget towards marketing, they’ll typically put it towards “outbound” marketing, i.e., email marketing, newspaper advertising, and press releases. Where “inbound” marketing, i.e., social media marketing, can be beneficial for nonprofits to generate leads, it can be difficult to turn these leads into donors. With marketing being such an essential part of the nonprofit framework, it requires participation from all aspects of the organization in order to see any return from such efforts.

Nonprofit marketing is an ongoing commitment that requires the development of new ways to keep your following engaged and willing to donate. Nonprofits are well-positioned to tell stories that have the ability to make an impact. By creating a comprehensive content marketing strategy, realigning your marketing dollars, and ensuring your goals, objectives and tactics are in place, your great stories will go further – attracting and motivating your audiences to do even more.

December 14, 2017

UST Makes GoToWebinar’s Prestigious Top 100 Webinar List for 2017

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) has been acknowledged by GoToWebinar as being a great source of business content for the nonprofit community.

Santa Barbara, CA (December 14, 2017) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program focused on helping nonprofits save money and strengthen their missions, announces that their webinar, “New Accounting Standards Nonprofits Need to Know,” hosted by Lindquist LLP, has made it on GoToWebinar’s list of Top 100 Webinars of 2017.

UST is a one-stop-shop to find HR best practices, workforce solutions and unemployment risk management tips exclusively for nonprofits. UST has created a variety of webinars catering to both nonprofit executives and HR employees. These webinars cover topics ranging from Retirement Planning and Common Financial Reporting Errors to Emergency Succession Planning and Best Practices in Outplacement and Career Transition Services. 

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts and to partner with Lindquist LLP to create content that educates the nonprofit sector,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We look forward to continue providing a robust resource library for the nonprofit community.”

To view the most popular on-demand webinars, UST has launched a dedicated webinar channel on GoToWebinar’s new platform—GoToStage. This all-access video platform is designed to deliver relevant and easily accessible content that the nonprofit community craves. Visit UST’s GoToStage Channel today to keep up-to-date on the important legal changes and trends that may impact a nonprofit organization.

To receive the latest updates on free webinars and how-to guides exclusively for nonprofit organizations, make sure to sign-up for UST’s Monthly e-Newsletter.  

December 13, 2017

HR Question: Holiday Pay for Voluntary Company Party

Question: Will the employer have to pay overtime to a nonexempt employee for time spent at a holiday party even if the party is voluntary?

Answer: In the event of an after-hours voluntary party, where there are no consequences for not attending, there is no requirement to compensate a nonexempt employee under wage and hour regulations. However, in the event that a party is held during any portion of an employee’s normally scheduled work hours and the employee is permitted to attend during those hours, even if voluntarily, the nonexempt employee is to be compensated. Therefore if the employee’s work day ends at 5 p.m., and the party goes from 3 – 7 p.m. the nonexempt employee would be paid for two hours (3 p.m. – 5 p.m.). If the party was mandatory or would have any consequences for those not in attendance, the nonexempt employee would be paid for the entirety of the party. If the nonexempt employee provided any work effort towards the set-up, during, or post event clean up, the employee would need to be compensated for all time worked at regular wages, including any eligible overtime.

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.

November 30, 2017

Four Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Blog

As a nonprofit leader and advocate for your community, staying in front of your audience requires being current and consistent. From producing press releases, scheduling tweets, and putting in countless hours to produce a monthly newsletter, being on top of it all can be overwhelming Regardless of your constant efforts you know, deep down, that your marketing strategy always has room for improvement.

Since marketing is always a popular topic of discussion in the nonprofit world, the same question comes to mind—what more can we do to make people aware of our mission? How about an easier tool to promote our non-profit? Like a blog.

Don't think you need a blog? You're not alone.  While many nonprofits put blogging way down on their priority list, it could be a tremendously effective marketing tool for any organization. Here are four good reasons why your nonprofit should start a blog:

1. Create personal conversations

Like most nonprofits, you’re probably utilizing social media as a way to reach your audience and to display content to properly convey your mission. Social media has great value; however, it can be difficult to break through the noise. With a blog, you can focus more on developing content that will resonate with your specific audience without feeling the need to compete to be seen or heard.

2. Provide press coverage on newsworthy topics

Press releases are a great source of communication and a great way to get the word out about your programs and offerings. However, press releases can require fact checking, approvals and asking journalists to cover your work— which is often extremely time-consuming. With a blog, you’re the journalist. You can funnel the efforts of a press release into a post and then track its performance with analytics. Even with a small readership, your blog will be better received by your dedicated followers than a mass media audience who may tune you out.

3. Produce content that organically attracts donors

While mailing newsletters can still spark some attention, they tend to be glanced at and tossed in the recycling bin. We live in an age where if certain content can’t be emailed, posted or texted, it could be considered irrelevant. Here's where a blog can do the job for you. Your posts can be found forever on search engines and repeatedly promoted through multiple online channels. As your blog content gains traction, donors can share posts again and again via social media to attract new donors to your cause.

4. Connect with people on a more intimate level

Using short bits of content are great for social media and an easy way to share current events happening in the nonprofit sector. A blog, on the other hand, allows you to share stories of how your organization was able to make a difference. It provides an opportunity to tell in-depth stories that will create a deeper connection between you and your future donors.

A blog can become an essential part of your marketing strategy. Not only will blogs allow you to create content that is shareable, but it will also help you drive your marketing efforts. Plus, building a blog full of engaging content can make a world of difference in boosting your number of supporters and donations.

November 22, 2017

Misery on the Job

Just two decades ago, jobs were for life – even if you hated yours. Offices were often dark and dingy, promotions were rare, there was no such thing as ergonomic desks and even smoking was allowed indoors. Today, not only are office spaces bright and more cheerful but many companies are now offering the option to telecommute. There are also more efficient systems in place, better laws protecting employees and far better benefits than ever before. And let’s not forget the in-house gyms, team building excursions, methodical review processes, and the boundless opportunities to grow. So what gives? Why are so many U.S. workers unhappy at work?

Job misery can have a devastating impact on individuals, and their employers. Nowadays, there are countless studies surrounding the decline in employee engagement – Gallup, Randstad and Mercer, the list goes on. Gallup has been measuring employee engagement in the United States since 2000 and finds that a whopping 77% of workers say they hate their jobs.  Many report feeling no real connection to their work and state they are growing to resent their employers. Randstad has found that disengagement leads to some pretty bad habits - workers admitted that while on the job, they drank alcohol, took naps, checked or posted on social media, shopped online, played pranks on co-workers, and/or watched Netflix. The pressures modern day workers are clearly causing employees to feel burnout which is a natural reaction to stressful environments, or long workdays, but job dissatisfaction at this level usually occurs after long periods of unresolved issues.

One of the biggest problems seems to be having the wrong management in place. When the wrong person is hired or promoted to a management position, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits – nothing. When employees feel that their manager has little to no interest in them as human beings – their personal lives, their aspirations and their interests, especially at work – there is bound to be job misery. If you start typing “my boss is” into the Google search engine, you get options that include “crazy”, “lazy”, “bipolar”, “abusive” and “a tyrant”.

If you do the same Google search for “my job is”, it reveals a rather bleak outlook of life in the office by finishing your sentence with “killing me”, “stressing me out”, “ruining my mental health” or “draining my soul”. Those are some pretty strong comments and cause for concern. Most alarming of all – if you type “my job is stimulating”, Google assumes you have made a typo and suggest you must have meant “not stimulating”. Workers also feel they are expected to “do more with less” – blaming business owners who aren’t willing to expand their budgets to hire more people or provide better compensation to those already in place. Losing your best people because they’re stretched too thin can be costly so many employers are getting creative. Benefits can come in many different forms - ranging from flexible hours, stipends for commuting, increased vacation time or robust development programs.

It's important for employers to be aware of these situations, evaluate if they're a sign of a larger issue and identify what they can do to help. Workers crave development, advancement and purpose and when they don’t’ have it, they will move on.

November 16, 2017

Why Nonprofits Should Stop Avoiding Overqualified Candidates

Overqualified candidates can often be challenging for nonprofits to take on—while experience, knowledge and self-sufficiency can be appealing, the potential for boredom and chances for increased turnover in the workplace can make any employer feel uneasy. While there are both benefits and downsides to hiring overqualified candidates, finding a middle ground is key to gaining the most value from these particular hires and providing work that continues to challenge them.

The “right” overqualified candidate can bring a plethora of skill sets to a nonprofit organization—experience, expertise, proficiency in basic skills, leadership potential and the ability to take on challenging projects and tasks. Unfortunately, the chance of these candidates being ruled out solely on a brief look at their resume happens more often than we think.

Often, a presumed risk among nonprofit organizations is that these candidates may become bored, unmotivated or leave the position quickly. On the bright side, overqualified candidates are likely to be able to hit the ground running. Already being equipped with the basic skills needed for the position, they likely don’t require too much hand-holding. In the long-run, this can help you save valuable time and money when it comes to onboarding.

The key to bringing on any new hire is finding the right balance. When it comes to an overqualified candidate, an employer may have concerns about training because they may have habits that are difficult to modify. On the other hand, if the candidate is educated about the culture and values of your organization during the recruitment process, they will embrace and absorb new formalities relatively quickly. 

To avoid being a “life raft” or “stepping stone”, it is important to be honest and transparent with a candidate that is overqualified. Explain your concerns about the role in comparison to their experience and be upfront about your expectations. One of the most common concerns is the topic of salary. During these conversations, it’s important to touch on the candidate’s long-term career goals, including what motivated them to apply for this position and what they hope to contribute to the organization.

Last but not least, remember to keep an open mind! While a candidate may look like they are overqualified on paper, they may have a personal reason for applying to the position. They may be looking to switch into a different industry that they’re more passionate about… they may have always wanted to work for a nonprofit and it’s beneficial for you to find out whether they could be a positive addition to your team and help further strengthen your mission. 

November 13, 2017

Meet UST(s) Mondays - Chelsi

Having recently joined UST as a Marketing Project Specialist, Chelsi is excited to be part of a company that strives to help and be an advocate for nonprofit organizations. While she isn’t currently doing any volunteer work herself, she does donate blood regularly and has already participated in corporate volunteer events during her off hours – I think it’s safe to say she’s a good fit.

Chelsi started dancing competitively at the age of three and stayed active in the dance community for the next ten years. She moved from Utah to California when she was nine and later went on to obtain a degree in Health Administration at CSUN. Before taking a position at UST, Chelsi was a Marketing Specialist within the healthcare arena.

Outside of the workplace, she enjoys living an active lifestyle that includes running, yoga and hiking as well reading, DIY projects and binge watching Netflix. She says she loves to bake and is a die-hard Dodgers fan (tough loss this year). Most of all, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and says her favorite childhood memory was time spent having tea and playing dress up with her Grandmother.

When asked which TV show her life emulates, she answered Gilmore Girls, sharing “Growing up with a single mom, our lives were full of ups and downs but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Her favorite holiday is Christmas and apparently she especially loves to bake during the holidays - I guess that means extra holiday pounds for the rest of the team though I don’t think anyone will be complaining.

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

November 10, 2017

HR Question: Time Off for Veterans Day

Question: Are private employers required to give employees the day off for Veterans Day? And if employees work on Veterans Day, must they be paid at a holiday rate?

Answer: Private employers are not required to give employees the day off from work for Veterans Day. However, private employers may elect to do so for Veterans Day and/or any other holiday.

Veterans Day is a federally recognized holiday, and federal law does not:

  • Require private employers to provide holidays to their employees on federally-recognized holidays.
  • Require private employers to pay nonexempt employees (whether hourly or salaried) for holidays on which they are not required to work.

Specifically, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays (federal or otherwise). These benefits are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative); thus employers may elect:

  • Whether employees will be compensated for holidays.
  • To not count holiday pay as hours worked for overtime calculations.

Employers must apply any workplace policy consistently and fairly to all employees.

Note: On a government contract to which the labor standards of the McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) apply, holiday and/or vacation fringe benefit requirements are stated in the SCA wage determinations in contracts that exceed $2,500. On a government contract to which the labor standards of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts apply, holiday pay and/or vacation pay is required for specific classifications of workers only if the Davis-Bacon wage determination in the covered contract specifies such requirements for workers employed in those classifications.

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.

November 08, 2017

UST Expands Program to Address the Needs of Tax-Rated Nonprofit Organizations

In an Effort to Help More Nonprofits Reduce Overhead Costs and Lower Their Unemployment Tax Rate, UST Support Now Provides Workforce Solutions Specifically Tailored for Nonprofits in the State Unemployment Tax System.

Santa Barbara, CA (November 7, 2017) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announces the revision of a standing program, UST Support, which will now cater to both tax-rated and direct reimbursing nonprofits. UST Support provides cost-savings tools to nonprofits that are looking to offload burdensome unemployment claims management processing in order to allocate more time and money to their core missions.

Since 1983, UST has served direct reimbursing nonprofits with the HR resources and unemployment claims management tools they need to keep more money within the nonprofit community. Now, UST Support offers a solution specifically designed to provide tax-rated organizations with valuable benefits to operate efficiently while saving money.

The UST Support program offers exclusive access to the following services:

-          Professional Claim Administration

-          Professional Representation at Appeal Hearings

-          CaseBuilder Online Claims Management

-          Live HR Hotline, Online Compliance Library and Training

-          Outplacement & Career Transition Services

-          Budget Guidance from Certified Actuaries

In addition to these robust resources, UST Support now provides several features designed to help tax-rated employers better manage their unemployment costs. One of these tools includes rate forecasting—an aid used to help with budgeting and cash flow management. Plus, our claims administrator’s annual analysis can help you decide whether a voluntary contribution can be used to lower your unemployment tax rate—providing long-term savings for your organization.

“Nothing is more rewarding than hearing how our support has helped nonprofits to better serve their communities and support their missions,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “And now, UST Support is giving us the opportunity to assist a whole new group of organizations by providing a solution customized to meet the needs of tax-rated nonprofits.”

501(c)(3) nonprofit employers who are interested in learning if UST Support is the right program for your organization, should submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis today!

November 03, 2017

Better Together – A Partner Spotlight on the Center for Nonprofit Advancement

CNA--small-for-web A UST partner since 1990, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement has been providing advocacy, education, networking, and group-buying power to nonprofit organizations throughout the Greater Washington region since 1979. By providing the tools and resources needed, they’ve been able to help those organizations focus on what truly matters – their mission.

“At the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, we believe strong nonprofits make stronger communities,” said Karen Brown, Vital Health Benefits Trust Director at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement. “Our nonprofit members rely on us to help them advance their mission.”

Center members receive a vast variety of services and support from the Center which include:

  • Advocacy - A collective voice that speaks out on region-wide nonprofit issues so local governments understand that nonprofits provide core services that hold communities together.
  • Education - A robust program of courses that ensures leaders and staff at every level can increase performance and impact of their services which drives greater impact to their respective missions.
  • Networking - Opportunities for nonprofits to collaborate and connect with philanthropic, corporate, and government communities. Through these cross-sector connections, they provide the insights and solutions in real time to support them.
  • Group Buying - A one-stop solution for high-quality, administrative and management assistance services.  The VitalHealth Insurance program is the most utilized benefit that offers medical, dental, vision, life and FSA plans to over 1,800 employees of nonprofit members in the District of Columbia, Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Dedicated to representing nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years, the Center is proud to strengthen, promote, and represent members of the nonprofit community by helping over 50,000 individuals advance the mission of more than 800 local organizations. They embody every sector of the nonprofit industry and provide services and support to more than 9 million children, adults, and families around the world. To learn more about the Center for Nonprofit Advancement visit https://www.nonprofitadvancement.org/.

November 01, 2017

Exercise Your Nonprofit's Tax Exemption for 2018

time is moneyWe all feel the rush of time around now, the holidays racing towards us followed by the ringing in of another new year. Before you know it, you’re wondering where the time went… for most 501(c)(3) organizations, November is the deadline month to exercise their state unemployment tax exemption for 2018. That means you need to act now.

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, dollar-for-dollar, 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.

The Unemployment Services Trust helps nonprofits to better manage their cash flow through proper claims administration and safety reserve building. 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 $27.8 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. Rather than overpay into the State unemployment fund – effectively subsidizing for-profit companies – wouldn’t it be more true to your mission to allocate that wasted overhead to your programs and services?

Submit your FREE Cost Analysis Form no later than November 15th in order to meet the state deadline for 2018 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 27, 2017

How to Invest in Talent on a Nonprofit Budget

Talent plays a critical role in the overall performance of a nonprofit. However, according to the 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, 84 percent of nonprofits don’t have a formal retention strategy in place and the turnover rate has gradually increased over the past few years. Behind all this data, there is a noticeable pattern across these nonprofit organizations of why this is happening—limited budgets.

Allocating a portion of your operating budget to invest in talent will ensure that your organization has an engaged team to guide your mission in the right direction.  To achieve true sustainability for your organization, you must compensate your talent appropriately and commit both time and resources to strengthening your culture.

Fortunately, there are many ways to foster a healthy and effective workforce that won’t have a direct impact on your budget. Besides compensation, there are other important factors that drive employee satisfaction—culture, values, organizational leadership, work-life-balance and career opportunities. Here are several cost-effective solutions to use when finding talent regardless of budget constraints:

1) Define Your Culture- Regardless of your nonprofit’s budget, you can have a strong organizational culture and, in turn, will encourage advancement of your mission. The most effective nonprofits tend to have employees that have the highest level of culture satisfaction. In order to have a positive corporate culture, nonprofits should apply the following components:

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Practices
  • People
  • Narrative
  • Place

 

2) Implement Diversity Initiatives- According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 67 percent of jobseekers indicated that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering a new employer. While diversity has an impact on recruiting, it also plays a significant role in organizational performance. According to McKinsey & Company, diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform less diverse companies.

 

3) Incorporate New Management and Feedback Processes- While an overhaul to your approach on performance management can be costly and time consuming; you can now make incremental improvements even with a tight budget, and see major results. Improvements may include switching to quarterly reviews, encouraging employee feedback and evaluate current performance management tools. 

4) Encourage Self-Care and Work Life Balance- Actively promote self-care and let your team know that even in times of budget restraints, you value their well-being. Educate your team members regularly on how they can incorporate better wellness practices into their daily routines.

October 24, 2017

UST Launches A Fully Insured Program to Accommodate More Nonprofit Needs

Already Offering Multiple Nonprofit-Exclusive Programs, Designed to Streamline Operations and Reduce Overhead Costs, UST Launches Unemployment Insurance Program to Further Safeguard Nonprofits.

Insurance fileSanta Barbara, CA (October 19, 2017) The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program dedicated to helping nonprofits ensure compliance and protect assets, today announced it is rolling out a fully insured program, called UST Secure, which will provide full coverage for all claims within the year as well as access to claims management tools, certified HR guidance and award-winning outplacement services.

Already working with more than 2,200 nonprofit participants from across the nation, UST aims to provide nonprofit organizations with workforce solutions that reduce costs and strengthen their missions. Having received frequent requests for an insurance option over the last few years, UST is partnering with Ohio Indemnity Company to deliver an insurance solution specifically for 501(c)(3) employers.

“We are honored and excited to work with UST,” said Ron Lucki, Vice President of Business Development at Ohio Indemnity Company. “As one of the nation’s leading specialty insurance carriers for nonprofits and financial institutions, we look forward to growing with UST and offering insurance options that will enable UST to serve their clients with insurance protection and peace of mind.”

"UST Secure is another way we can provide financial relief and an invaluable sense of security to the nonprofit community." Donna Groh, Executive Director, UST

Ohio Indemnity Company is a fully licensed and admitted insurance company that has provided specialty insurance products to all 50 states plus District of Columbia for nearly 60 years. OIC’s financial stability has earned them an “Excellent” rating by A.M. Best, a global full-service credit rating agency and is also listed by the U.S. Treasury as an approved surety bond provider.

“No nonprofit is alike, so we have continuously looked for new resources and program offers to expand our reach within the sector,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “UST Secure is another way we can provide financial relief and an invaluable sense of security to the nonprofit community.”

501(c)(3) nonprofit employers who are interested in learning more about UST Secure can reach out to a dedicated Unemployment Cost Advisor at 1-888-249-4788.

October 20, 2017

The Top Do’s and Don’ts for Nonprofit Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is an impactful—and often, cost-effective—one-to-one relationship-building tool for businesses. While it may allow you to speak to many people at once, it also allows for more of a personalized interaction with your audience or customers. For nonprofits, social media marketing can be just as beneficial as it is for a for-profit business.  It’s a great way to build support for your organization, grow your number of volunteers, and increase donations. In order for your social media marketing to thrive, the commutation to your audience must be your top priority.

Engagement is the key element to a functional social platform. While it comes in many forms, communication with your audience is the leading form of engagement. This makes it crucial to respond to those who support you on social media in a timely manner, whether it’s a simple reply to comments or engaging in a particular thread—this is a feature that can be very effective when used on a consistent basis. In turn, anyone who manages the social accounts of your nonprofit must be well-versed and have a firm handle on some of the social media best practices, ensuring that your organization maintains a positive reputation.

As social media marketing evolves, new tools and platforms continue to emerge, along with new improvements to how you can better reach and interact with your audience. Best practices continue to be centered on the human experience.

Here are the top 5 social media DO’s for nonprofits:

  • DO target your market. When deciding which platforms will work best for your nonprofit or what type of content will result in the best conversion, you should make a conscious effort to know your audience.
  • DO focus on specific platforms. While it may be tempting to jump on board with the newest social platform craze, it’s important to focus on the platforms with the most potential benefit for your organization.
  • DO develop targeted campaigns. Develop content that speaks to specific groups and people. Also, it’s okay to have more than one type of audience member—that’s the benefit of running multiple targeting campaigns.
  • DO interact with your followers. Responding to comments and thanking your audience members for sharing your content can go a long way toward making them feel included.
  • DO use your analytics data to improve.  Studying the analytics behind each post is good habit to get into. You’ll be able to see how each piece of content performed and what kind of content to post in the future.

Here are the top 5 social media DON’Ts for nonprofits:

  • DON’T use generic messages. Social media works best when the content speaks to a specific audience. Refrain from filling your profile with messages that don’t resonate with anyone in particular.
  • DON’T forget to update. Not being active on your social media accounts can result in a loss of followers and engagement. The best way to measure growth is staying relevant.
  • DON’T solely request funds/commitment. If you only push out content that is asking for donations, this can be off putting to your audience. Be sure to offer content that provides value along with publicizing your charitable needs.
  • DON’T ignore comments. While it’s not necessary to respond to every comment, it’s a good rule of thumb to “thank” your audience as often as possible. Also, if someone leaves a complaint, make sure to respond in a timely manner.
October 16, 2017

HR Question: Emergency Preparedness

Question: What can we do to be better prepared to respond to an active shooter in the workplace?

Answer: Unfortunately, we live in an environment that requires all employers to think about, prepare for, and take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all employees in active shooter or other emergency situations. Therefore, it is important for employers to offer employees both training and action plans. Most security experts, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stress the following key points in response to active shooter preparedness:

  • Have evacuation and emergency plans in place in all locations.
  • Conduct drills and ensure that all employees are trained to be aware of the environments in which they work and to react quickly to evacuate the area in the event of an active shooter situation.
  • Ensure that all employees know the locations of the exits nearest to their work areas.
  • If evacuation is not possible, employees should know the locations of the best shelter areas and what to do, such as closing and locking the doors and windows immediately, turning off lights and silencing cell phones, establishing sturdy barricades that could possibly withstand gunshots, etc.
  • If the situation allows, employees may be trained to take necessary steps to incapacitate the shooter (tackle the shooter or otherwise attempt to incapacitate).
  • The simple advice is to run, hide, and as a last resort, fight.

Whenever possible, create your emergency action plans with assistance from local law enforcement authorities. The plan should include all of the following:

  • Preferred method of contacting 911.
  • Lockdown and evacuation plan.
  • Contact information for local hospitals.
  • Contact information for, and responsibilities of, individuals to be contacted under your employee assistance plan, if applicable.

In all cases, preparing and having a plan for an active shooter or other emergency will help both employees and managers better prepare for dealing with such a high-stress situation. We also recommend preparing your plan in coordination with law enforcement to ensure best practices.

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 12, 2017

Does Your Resume Pass the Six Second Skim Test?

When seeking a new job opportunity, your goal is for your resume to capture the attention of a busy recruiter and for them to bring you in for an interview. In order for this scenario to take place, you need to understand the day in the life of a recruiter.

Recruiters will receive hundreds, maybe even thousands, of resumes making it quite impossible for them to go through each one. The line-by-line method is difficult to achieve when receiving such a large volume of resumes, as there just isn’t enough time in the day. In the nonprofit sector, this can pose as an even bigger challenge. With some nonprofits not having a designated HR team—maybe one HR employee at most—this can make reviewing resumes very time consuming and burdensome.

When a recruiter is reviewing a resume, his or her eyes are moving down the page in a Z-pattern—left to right all the way down. They’re looking for certain key terms that relate to the job they’re trying to fill. This first pass is called the Six Second Skim Test. If a recruiter comes across what he or she is looking for in that first pass, your resume will likely get a shot at a more in-depth resume review. And, if they still like what they see, you might even get a phone call asking you to come in for an interview.

In order to pass the six second skim test, formatting can make all the difference. Showcasing your key skill sets and keywords that relate to the job for which you’re applying, can make you stand out from the rest. Adding these simple key changes can significantly improve the chances of your resume getting noticed.

Nonprofit organizations have to use their time as efficiently as possible, making this six second skim test a useful tactic to incorporate when recruiting and hiring future candidates.

October 09, 2017

Meet US(T) Mondays - Holly

Holly joined the Unemployment Services Trust back in August as a Sales Specialist and was eager to help nonprofits on another level. Having previously worked for a nonprofit organization, Holly understood the importance of saving mission critical funds anywhere possible and as active member of the Surfrider Foundation, she shows a true desire to improve the nonprofit community.

In her off-time, Holly enjoys any time with her family and friends, quiet time with a good book, or a vigorous workout session. While she admits, she can’t sing, she also enjoys a good turn at the Karaoke microphone. Holly grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and moved to California at the age of 16, after graduating from High School she minored in Arts and still enjoys painting and graphic design. She went on to earn her Bachelors in Communication with an emphasis in Nonprofit & Business and is currently working on obtaining her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management. She’s one busy girl!

When asked what TV show her life emulates, she answered Parks and Recreation, explaining “My friends call me Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler. She’s a bit crazy but her heart is in the right place.” Holly continued by saying, “I get so enthusiastic with things I’m passionate about, especially when it comes to my community. I’m always trying to get my friends and family involved in some sort of cause.” Well who doesn’t love Amy Poehler?

Her favorite holiday just happens to be Halloween and says she’s known to get a little crazy when it comes to her costume so we can’t wait to see what unique and outlandish ensemble she comes up this year! Help us in welcoming Holly to the UST team via Twitter @USTTrust or Facebook @ChooseUST with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!