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!

October 06, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on CalNonprofits Insurance Services

A subsidiary of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits) – a statewide alliance of more than 10,000 nonprofits that serves as the voice of the nonprofit community, CalNonprofits Insurance Services (CIS) has been helping California nonprofit organizations with their insurance needs since 1984. Offering exclusive, cost-saving insurance products ranging from general liability coverage to employee benefit programs, more than 900 nonprofit organizations have chosen CIS as their preferred insurance broker.

CalNonprofits Insurance Services has become the one-stop insurance solution for nonprofits in California since its inception and continues to gain momentum. Not-for-profit organizations have unique insurance needs that differ drastically from any for-profit business and CIS understands those needs better than anyone else – constantly researching new products and services to ensure they have solutions to fit whatever benefit needs are out there.

Developing exclusive, cost-effective plans and discount programs that benefit their clients and keeps nonprofits’ insurance dollars at work within the sector is their missions work. “CalNonprofits Insurance Services is unique because we are a social enterprise subsidiary of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits),” said Colleen Lazanich, CEO at CIS. “Revenue generated through CalNonprofits Insurance Services stays in the nonprofit sector and strengthens the nonprofit communities in California.”

Dedicated to serving California nonprofit organizations for over 30 years, CIS has the expertise to help nonprofits determine the best insurance coverage needed to protect their unique needs. To learn more about CalNonprofits Insurance Services, visit https://calnonprofitsinsurance.org/!

October 05, 2017

Five Steps Closer to Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards

In order for diversity to be a part of a nonprofit organization, it must start at the top.  To achieve real and sustainable change in terms of racial equity toward those we serve, we must reflect that standard. According to a survey done by The Nonprofit Quarterly, CEO’s are concerned with the composition of their boards.  BoardSource completed a study that compared racial diversity on nonprofit boards in 1993 and 2010. Results showed little to no change in Caucasian dominance. In 1993, 14% of members were persons of color; by 2010 there was a slight increase bringing it to 16%. With that in mind, nonprofit organizations need to take the necessary steps to ensure that their organization is an example of acceptance and diversity.

Here are the 5 steps your organization can take to achieve board diversity:

1) Leadership must lead or it won’t happen

The primary goal is that the CEO and Board Chair share a commitment to an appropriate racial makeup—they must hold one another accountable for actions toward the goal. They should be visible leaders and spokespersons for achieving diversity by educating the sector and lobbying for organizational change.

2) Be intentional — make your claim

An organization’s values and mission must be clearly articulated and visible on all outlets, including their website— providing a clear picture on where the organization stands.

3) Create a baseline

First, conduct an assessment of your board’s demographics. Then, based on the results, identify the vision going forward. With this assessment, you can establish a measurable goal to increase racial diversity within your board.

4) Give a grand welcome

When bringing on new board members, be sure to be welcoming and that the orientation is authentic and thorough. Ownership of these processes should involve all of the current board members.

5) Move beyond the numbers

An increase in percentages of racially diverse members is only the first step.  Guiding new members through the flow of communication and onto the leadership track is essential.  Simply waiting and hoping that the pipeline will move members forward is an insufficient strategy.

We need to think beyond a simple checklist to create and maintain diverse board representation—it’s a long-term strategy for creating change through collaboration.

September 27, 2017

Nonprofit eBook Uncovers the Top Five Ways to Combat Hiring and Succession Planning Obstacles

The Unemployment Services Trust has added a new eBook to its library, aimed at helping nonprofit organizations to more effectively find, develop and retain the right kind of talent.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (September 28, 2017) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) reveals some of the most common courses of action to take in order to help sustain employee talent that’s a best-fit for organizational values, culture and mission.  This short eBook provides ideal tactics nonprofits can utilize when approaching reoccurring struggles with recruiting and retaining personnel.

As a nonprofit organization, having the right team is critical to your mission. Without the guidance of strong and steady leadership or the driving force of sufficient organizational support, nonprofits are left vulnerable to financial, strategic and geopolitical uncertainties.

The eBook, “Nonprofit Talent Sustainability Strategies: 5 Ways to Combat Hiring & Succession Planning Obstacles,” reveals that “77% of nonprofit organizations across the country have no leadership transition or a succession plan.” Such lack of preparation can lead to staff burnout, unfinished projects, lost deadlines, and unrealized mission goals.

“The competition for talent is at an all-time high, making it essential that your organization understands how to leverage the benefits you have to offer,” explains Donna Groh, Executive Director. “This eBook provides the insight organizations need to best prepare for inevitable staffing departures while persuading stellar job candidates to come onboard—helping them save valuable time and money.”

Utilizing recent survey data and nonprofit employment trends, UST is able to provide nonprofits with the top five ways to combat hiring and succession planning obstacles.

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

  • Competitive benefit ideas
  • New statistics from the sector
  • Trending recruitment tactics
  • Key ways to engage new staff

You can download your complimentary copy today at: http://www2.chooseust.org/2017/eBook

September 26, 2017

Tech Distractions in the Workplace

No one will argue that distractions in the workplace can kill productivity – from excessive cellphone use and gossiping co-workers to internet abuse and cubicle visits. But it’s that little device, the one that is always nearby – in our pocket, on our nightstand, at the dinner table with us or atop our desk at work. That’s the one that is the biggest distraction of all and while technology helps to simplify our lives, for many employers, it’s killing productivity.

Life as we knew it a decade or so ago, no longer exist. Things have changed drastically since cellphones came into existence and more so now that our smartphones are smarter than ever before. Just last year, dscout, reported that the average cellphone user tapped, swiped, typed or clicked 2,617 times a day. That’s almost three hours a day which implies that employees are spending at least some time at work with personal devices in hand.

While we can’t avoid all distractions – emails, slack chats, meetings, the loud co-worker, we can minimize some of them and many companies are doing just that by implementing policies that either prohibit or limit cellphone use in the workplace. By removing this particular type of distraction, employers decrease the amount of time being spent on messaging apps, social media and other sites that are in no way related to their employees work. Another option being explored are “no-tech” days in which there is no email and or internal instant messaging communication happening. The idea is that there is more time for employees to just focus on pending projects or other pressing matters without the repetitive interruptions.

While neither of these measures are fool-proof, they may help in creating more productivity and better time management. For some, these tactics work, for others, not so much. Policing workers without managing their expectations can make an office feel oppressive but encouraging official breaks can be a healthier way to nudge employees to stay focused during work hours. If you want your staff to spend more time thinking about work and less time being distracted by outside sources, be the example. Then start monitoring what’s happening in your office before making any official changes to ensure you take a course of action that best suits the needs of the company and its employees.

September 22, 2017

4 Common Mistakes Nonprofits Make Using Compentencies in Talent Management

Competencies are designed to help individuals grow in their roles and their organizations. However, when competencies are poorly defined or applied incorrectly, they can undermine a nonprofit’s talent management process.

According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, 1 in 4 senior nonprofit executives will leave their organizations within the next 2 years. These departures can result in a loss of productivity and require the use of organizational resources in order to fill the position. The time and energy spent recruiting and looking for a replacement can equal an employee’s salary depending on the position. These retention rates can have an effect on the managerial level as well. Research shows that managers believe that finding employment elsewhere is the only way they will grow faster.

To reduce turnover, nonprofits can create a talent management process that defines and uses competencies that will help individuals grow in their roles and organizations. When defined and used properly, competencies can help identify particular skills, capabilities, and experiences needed for employees to perform at their best and to encourage future growth.

Here are 4 common mistakes nonprofit organizations make when defining and using competencies:

1. To use competencies properly when assessing an individual’s performance.

A performance assessment of an individual should be based primarily on how well they are doing against their agreed upon goals and target for the year. Competencies enable this performance and act as a guide for individuals to understand the skills they need to develop to improve their performance over time.  Organizations that do this right use the performance assessment to identify the competencies for each individual to work on.

2. Only thinking of competencies in relation to the work of the individual and organization.

Most nonprofits, that have identified and defined competencies, use a list of job-related competencies. These are generally relevant for everyone in the organization (e.g. communication, dependability, workload management) and can include ones that are specific to certain roles. However, many nonprofit organizations forget that they need to have a set of leadership competencies along with the job competencies — to encourage organizational success.

3. Failing to tailor competencies that are both organization-specific and future oriented.

Some nonprofits have a starter set of competencies that they work with that were either pulled from an HR website or another resource. However, most organizations have not considered if these competencies will enable the organization to achieve strategic priorities. While starter lists provide a good foundation, there needs to be a set of competencies that are specific to their work and encourages future success.

4. Not defining competencies that make them user friendly for development purposes.

While many organizations have a short definition for each competency, only a few have taken the time to create a more elaborate definition for each one. This would provide a better understanding of what it means to progress from an early stage to an advanced stage for each competency.

Nonprofit organizations that approach identifying and using competencies with leadership development in mind avoid many of these pitfalls. In addition, getting the competencies right and using them for development purposes gives nonprofits a better chance at increasing retention and job satisfaction among emerging leaders.

September 20, 2017

The Two Sides of Telecommuting

Telecommuting has grown exponentially over the last several decades and is more popular now than ever before as employees seek to find more balance between work and their personal lives. In order to achieve, both employees and employers are reinventing what it means to go to work every day.

Technology has made it possible to work from just about anywhere and as such; many employers are providing their employees the opportunity to work remotely. According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce Report, released earlier this year, from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, the number of workers who are telecommuting at least part –time has increased by an astronomical 115% in a decade.

Working outside of the office allows employees to have that better work-life balance and often results in more productive and engaged workers who are less stressed and more likely to stay on the job long term. Not to mention that less stressed individuals are typically healthier individuals who take fewer sick days. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average commute times in the United States are 25.4 minutes which means workers can free up almost 4.5 hours over a 5-day work week.

Employers also see the savings from flexible scheduling – by allowing an employee to telecommute just part-time companies can save more than $11,000 a year on things like real estate space, office supplies and healthcare costs. It’s important not to forget that telecommuting is also the greenest way to work, reducing the carbon imprint for each non-commuting worker.

On the flip side, there can be challenges such as a loss of boundaries between work and home, a lack of discipline on the employees part – they become unavailable for hours at a time, don’t communicate with co-workers for extended periods or more simply put just aren’t working when they should be. Telecommuting can be disastrous for anyone who is unmotivated or disorganized and some individuals just don’t operate well in isolation. When managers lose the ability to control work and oversee timelines for these individuals things can go downhill quickly.

Remote work, like any work, isn’t for everyone and not everyone wants it. The range of flexible work options is broad so companies should consider the needs of each department and individual roles before electing to offer such a program. Also having clear guidelines and policies on what’s expected from remote workers can help to alleviate any unexpected surprises. Remote work is about working smarter, not harder, making the company and its employees, better.

September 15, 2017

[Webinar] Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST

For a limited time, UST offers their highest attended webinar – a 30 minute presentation just for nonprofit executives, CFOs and HR leaders.

Santa Barbara, CA (September 13, 2017) – The Unemployment Service Trust (UST), a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents a short 30-minute webinar, revealing some of the most common unemployment & HR risks that can cost nonprofits thousands of dollars. With $30 million in potential unemployment liability mitigated last year for over 2,100 nonprofits, it’s likely that a good majority of nonprofit organizations are unknowingly overpaying.

After identifying the risks, the webinar, “Unemployment & HR Risk Management with UST,” reveals UST’s top recommendations to combat these issues. This presentation teaches attendees about:

  • Reducing unemployment tax liability as a 501(c)(3)
  • Benchmarking unemployment costs
  • Protecting funding from claims and liability
  • Efficiently managing unemployment claims, protests, and hearings
  • Avoiding costly HR mistakes
  • Enhancing goodwill by utilizing outplacement services

The webinar will also explore UST’s holistic program, which is already helping more than 2,200 participating nonprofits lower their unemployment and HR liability. 501(c)(3) nonprofits with 10 or more full time employees are able to register for their preferred webinar date today: http://www2.chooseust.org/2017/pr-webinar

September 11, 2017

Meet US(T) Mondays - Jessica

Jessica joined the Unemployment Services Trust in late July as a Sales Specialist. As an avid volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society, she was excited to get involved at a much deeper level and start helping nonprofits save money for their missions.

At the age of nine, Jessica was first recognized for her love of helping others when she was interviewed by the local newspaper and appeared on the front page for feeding the seagulls at the harbor. Outside of her love for volunteering, Jessica enjoys the great outdoors and spending as much time as possible with her family. She also has a love for cooking and states that her friends and family have said that she makes the best of everything…we’re looking forward to tasting some of her food soon.

When asked what TV show her life emulates, she said Full House. As she explained, “This show represents everything I believe in when it comes to raising your children. There’s lots of communication, and you see their family always being supportive in all situations.” When you take into consideration that the holiday season is all about joy, family and the traditions we grow to love, it’s no wonder Christmas is Jessica’s favorite holiday.

A favorite quote of hers by Mother Teresa is a beautiful one…“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

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

September 08, 2017

U.S. Continues to Show Progress with Employment Growth

Employers added 156,000 jobs in August and the economy requires 150,000 new jobs each month in order to continue expanding. Considering the economy is growing at a healthy rate, tax cuts and increased spending in 2017 may cause for inflation.

In August, both the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, were little changed from July. After a decline at the start of the year, the unemployment rate has remained at a consistent range from 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April. The labor-force participation rate- People who had a job or were looking for one—remained unchanged at 62.9 percent.

The U.S. economy added 36,000 jobs in manufacturing while construction increased by 28,000 and health care rose by 20,000. Employment in the professional and technical services industry has shown a gradual increase over the course of the year with 22,000 positions filled for the month of August. Mining industry has gained 7,000—employment in mining has risen by 10 percent since October 2016. Employment in other major industries, such as wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little to no change over the course of the month.

In August, average hourly earnings rose by 3 cents, after rising by 9 cents in July. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.5 percent. In addition, the average hourly earnings of the private-sector productions and non-supervisory employees increased by 4 cents.

Keep in mind, Hurricane Harvey had no direct effect on the employment and unemployment data for the month of August. Household surveys data collection was completed before the storm. Establishment survey data collection for this new release was mostly completed prior to the storm, and collection rates were within normal ranges nationally and for the affected areas.

September 01, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency

Established in 1989, the Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency has been a UST partner since 1983. Having recently joined forces with HUB International, the agency is devoted to serving the 501(c)(3) nonprofit community by providing affordable insurance designed exclusively for nonprofits. Originally established as a benefit to the Colorado Nonprofit Association, the organization has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception.

The Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency negotiates and contracts with insurance carriers, evaluates products for quality and cost, researches and develops new products and concentrates on educating  their members.  A full-service insurance agency, CNIA offers a wide range of products including liability, property, Workers’ Compensation and employee benefits such as health, life and disability coverage. Additionally they provide employee benefit programs ranging from flexible spending accounts to wellness programs.

Serving the Colorado nonprofit community with their insurance needs is all they do! Dedicated to helping 501(c)(3) charitable organizations for over two decades, the Colorado Nonprofit Insurance Agency has many years of experience helping nonprofits determine the best insurance coverage needed to protect their unique needs.  For more information on CNIA visit http://coloradononprofitinsurance.org/.

August 30, 2017

How to Help Employees Bounce Back After Failure

Being a part of the working world, we’ve all encountered moments of failure. Take this scenario for example: You’ve been assigned a task, you’ve completed your research, and you believe you’ve done all you could do to prepare—however, things still don’t work out in your favor. While we all recognize the importance of learning from our mistakes, employees can struggle to bounce back from missteps. From a project that didn’t meet its target objectives to an important missed deadline, what is the best course of action to take to help your employees recover?

Employees can take on failure in one of two ways:

1)      People can bounce back from their mistakes with a clear mind and resolve.

2)      People can feel crushed, lose confidence and even stop doing the things that made them successful.

How you communicate with your employees can have a huge influence on their performance. For the nonprofit sector in particular, it’s crucial to maximize what limited bandwidth there is—in order to achieve steep mission objectives. When building resilience in your employees, you must consider the tactics that work and don’t work when restoring an employee’s confidence.

While building up an employee’s self-image or giving a pep talk is harmless, it doesn’t seem to provide much help to the situation at hand. A pep talk can gloss over the failure rather than addressing the problem (and potential solution) head on. To be their guide to move on from the disappointment and better manage his or her emotions is essential. Also, encouraging people to forgive themselves, while still holding themselves accountable for their mistakes, is a beneficial tactic for people to build upon their mishaps.

Follow this simple 3-step model to bounce back from failure:

1)      Acceptance- People need to come to terms with the fact that they made a mistake and understand why.  This helps people own their failures.

2)      Forgiveness- Encourage employees to forgive themselves. Use empathetic wording, such as “This is a tough job; you’re not the only one that is having a hard time” or “Try not to beat yourself up over this.”

3)      Planning- Help employees plan their way forward. Figure out what they can do to fix the damage, if possible, and how to avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

August 22, 2017

HR Question: Recruiting via Text Message

Question:  Is recruiting via text messaging a thing?

Answer: Believe it or not, yes. Recruiting via text messaging is not only “a thing” but is a common method used by recruiters when attempting to quickly reach out to potential job candidates. According to recruiters that text candidates, text messages have a 98 percent open rate. This means that nearly all of the texts are “opened” by the user as opposed to emails, which are opened at a significantly lower rate. Additionally, the average response time for a text is only 90 seconds whereas emails can take infinitely longer — assuming the email is even opened.

Another reason that recruiters are using texts to connect is that many candidates are already employed. Therefore, recruiters are finding it is easier to communicate with an employed candidate via text because the conversation is limited to the screen of the device rather than a phone conversation which can be overheard if conducted during working hours, or worse, an email received on a work-owned device that could be viewed by the current employer.

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.

August 17, 2017

Nonprofits Experience $27.8 Million in Unemployment Claims Savings With UST Program

Utilizing State-Specific Unemployment Claims Administrators, Who Help Protest Unemployment Claims and Attend 100% of Hearings, UST Participants Save More than $27.8 Million in Unemployment Claims Costs.

Santa Barbara, CA (August 14, 2017) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST), a program dedicated to helping nonprofits reduce paperwork burdens and protect assets, today announced it has identified $26,219,466.13 in unemployment claims cost savings plus an additional $1,592,247.82 in errors that are refunded to UST participants.

Since 1972, 501(c)(3) nonprofits have possessed the exclusive ability to opt out of the state unemployment tax system and instead pay dollar-for-dollar for their own unemployment claims—as allowed by federal law. UST provides nonprofits the tools they need to exercise their unique tax-exemption status in a safe and cost-effective manner, through dedicated administrative support, e-Filing capabilities and expert claims advice.

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

“In a sector where employee bandwidth and funding is often stretched, it’s beyond rewarding to know that UST provides such significant savings to our nonprofit members,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We know this money filters right back into the nonprofit community and that’s what the UST program is all about—strengthening nonprofits’ missions.”

501(c)(3) nonprofit employers with 10 or more employees can submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form to readily determine whether their organization is overpaying in state unemployment taxes. Those who enroll in the UST Program will receive instant access to expert claims advice.

August 14, 2017

Meet US(T) Mondays - Aron

Aron joined the Unemployment Services Trust in mid-April as a UST Account Specialist and is excited to be working directly with a vast variety of nonprofit organizations. Fittingly, one of his favorite quotes is "Be the change you want to see in the world" which makes him a great addition to the UST team.

Outside of the workplace, Aron enjoys working out and Python coding, a general purpose programming language created in the late 1980’s that is used by thousands of people to do things from testing microchips to building video games. He also does his own shopping and cooking which is fitting since food came up a lot during our Q&A.  His favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and not coincidently, his favorite childhood memory involves food – he shared, “it was the first time I was given a whole torta all to myself.”

When asked what TV show his life emulates, he said General Hospital, explaining “Everyone has heard of it and knows about it but no one really knows who’s in it or what it’s about.” An exciting adventure in his life story would be a visit to the Nurburgring Race Track in Germany where high performance cars are tested for speed but open to the public for those with an adventurous side – a place Aron has wanted to visit for some time.

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

August 09, 2017

Understanding and Utilizing Different Office Personalities

Have you ever critiqued a coworker because of their overbearing tendencies or their abrasive personality? Don’t worry; you’re not alone in your frustrations. However, learning to dissect and identify your own and others’ personality traits can actually increase work ethic and strengthen internal relationships—paving the way for a stronger organization overall.

For nonprofits, employees’ collaborative efforts are often the key element to mission advancement.  But clashing personalities working toward the same goal can lead to resentment and impatience in the work place.

Learning to recognize and understand others’ personality strengths and weaknesses can help you appreciate the diverse environment you work in.  Specifically, nonprofits can take advantage of their diversity when it comes to improving their employment procedures and ensuring ongoing structural soundness.

Basic working styles can often be separated into 4 broad categories:

  • Learning—Learners are the researchers.  Unable to quench their thirst for knowledge, learners are constantly looking for the root of current and potential problems.  For instance, with regard to your organization’s employment practices, learners can help analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce, analyze how better documentation and standardized hiring practices can lead to a stronger, more long-term labor force.
  • Loving—These individuals are known for their relationship building abilities. They tend to show empathy and kindness towards others and understand how to approach difficult situations with grace. Spreading optimism throughout the office can help your nonprofit maintain a “glass-half-full” outlook on everyday work problems. Internal positivity and support alleviates stress during unanticipated budget or employee loss—providing you with a sense of security and consistency.
  • Doing—Doers are known to execute and accomplish set goals. They thrive on lists, deadlines, and projects. For example, by utilizing this focus and attention to detail, nonprofits can analyze and restructure their training and continued education opportunities—leading to greater time efficiency and overall HR effectiveness.
  • Leading—Leaders create and persuade by providing your employees with the tools to succeed.  Able to paint a picture of their visions, using innovation and passion, leaders are able to easily rally support behind their ideas. Great leaders inspire employees to constantly push themselves and take calculated chances to further your nonprofits’ mission. With each leader setting the bar even higher for the next, your nonprofit will be on track for upward mobility and constant procedural refinement.

Whichever working style team members possess doesn’t really matter by itself.  What most affects a nonprofit’s success is the compilation of strengths your team brings to the table and your team’s ability to successfully work together as a cohesive unit. As long as you understand and utilize everyone’s unique abilities, pertinent to your team’s progress, your nonprofit will continue to flourish.

August 04, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Founded in 1987, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has been a UST partner since 1990 and is the largest state association of nonprofits in the U.S. Founded to meet the increasing informational needs of nonprofits, MCN provides the capacity to do together what these organizations could not do individually.

Working to inform, promote, connect and strengthen individual groups and the nonprofit sector as a whole, MCN joins nonprofits together to work on issues of common concern. Since its inception, they have served thousands of member organizations, formed numerous chapters, sponsored countless annual conferences and sees a myriad number of unique website visitors per week.

Some of the tools available through the MCN Resource Library include:

  • Fundraising planning
  • Nonprofit Marketing
  • Education and professional development for nonprofit managers and leaders
  • Leadership and Governance
  • Public policy education and civic engagement
  • Cost saving product partnerships
  • Research on nonprofit sector trends and tax budget issues
  • Advocacy at local, state and federal levels
  • And much more…

MCN continuously aims at strengthening nonprofits’ inclusion and engagement practices while increasing the sector’s effectiveness in serving new and underrepresented populations. Dedicated to ensuring that nonprofit organizations from across all interests accomplish their missions for a healthy, cooperative and just society, MCN has grown from a grand idea to a solid foundation with 22 state allies and numerous national affiliations. For more information on the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits visit http://www.minnesotanonprofits.org/.

July 19, 2017

Social Media Best Practice Tips for Nonprofits

Nowadays, there is a plethora of social media platforms that allow both individuals and organizations to network, share, and promote—but are you truly living up to your nonprofit’s technological potential?

Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other public forums, social media is an incredibly effective way to strengthen your nonprofit’s voice. Ranging from sector news to teambuilding pictures to campaign promotions, social media is a fast, cost-effective method in broadening your audience and developing your brand.

Here are 7 quick tips that will help your organization strengthen its impact throughout the nonprofit sector via social media:

  1. Avoid being a passive presence—Why limit yourself to merely posting information? Social media is meant to be interactive. Support other local organizations and your nonprofit peers to build a greater sense of community.
  2. Use social media all year round—Don’t just post announcements and blogs when a specific event or promotion nears. Incorporate news and articles that are relevant to your targeted audience on a consistent basis throughout the year.
  3. You’re a human, so act like one—People are more likely to empathize with you and support your nonprofit if the articles and posts they see appear to come from a relatable individual (rather than just an automated robot). When using social media, you must show your personality in order to grab people’s attention.
  4. Share, share, share—Your nonprofit’s not the only organization promoting a noteworthy cause. Be sure to share other people’s ideas that you support or that would be of interest to your social media followers.
  5. Create trust amongst your community— Whether you’re replying to comments on your blog or soliciting feedback for new content, your followers will be appreciative of your thoughtful communication efforts. Providing people with the information they actually want will make them view you as a one-stop shop for nonprofit news and tips.
  6. Tell your nonprofit’s story—How did your nonprofit get its start? How have you grown over the years and who specifically have you impacted? It’s important to tell your audience not only what you do but why you do it in order to cultivate respect and support for your nonprofit.
  7. Discuss real-life successes—In order for your audience to get a better sense of how your nonprofit impacts the community, share before and after stories of specific individuals your nonprofit has helped over the years. This way, people can readily put themselves in others’ shoes and determine if your nonprofit is a good fit for them as well.

While many nonprofits are limited by a smaller budget and staff size, social media is a great way to grow one’s network, attract potential donors and supporters, and cultivate a reputable voice that can influence people nationwide.

July 13, 2017

Ten Things You Should Be Doing When an Employee Unexpectedly Resigns

Unexpected resignations can present big challenges for any business but especially for nonprofits with an already limited staff. Image the shock slowly turning into disappointment, anger and dread. Abrupt departures can be an emotional blow to the psyche, especially if it is someone who has positively contributed to the company. Now what?

Once you’ve processed the emotional aspects of losing a star employee, you’re then faced with the challenge of making sure things run smoothly through the transition. The following steps can help you effectively manage your staff during an unexpected staff departure:

  1. Accept and reflect - Don’t take it personally, oftentimes employees resign for growth opportunities and if their reasons are related to your management style, they usually won’t say so. How you act now is pivotal in maintaining a good standing with them and sparing the company from any backlash once the employee is officially gone.
  2. Show your support – A good manager will support and wish its employee well. Don’t hesitate to offer a recommendation if the employee deserves it.
  3. Confer with your Human Resources department – It’s important to understand company procedure as related to resignations so you are prepared on how to handle any specific questions that may arise.
  4. Explore the merits of a counter-offer – You should be selective about who to give a counter-offer to and who to let go. Whether or not to make a counter offer comes down to how critical this person is to you and how much of a disruption their absence will cause.
  5. Develop a transition plan – Deciding how to divvy up responsibilities while you are short-handed can be difficult. Start by determining which tasks just can’t go unattended and if any can be put on hold. Discuss those priorities with your staff to divide among existing employees and ascertain if additional interim help will be required.
  6. Communicate – You can’t control how others will react to the news, but you can control how it gets communicated. Be positive and show respect by acknowledging the work the departing employee has done. Being honest about the impact on the team and offering a temporary plan of action will go a long way in easing the minds of your remaining staff.
  7. Transfer knowledge – Once you have figured out who will take on what, it’s a good idea to arrange time for training during the notice period before the departing employee leaves. Capturing unique knowledge the employee has developed over the years isn’t always as easy to capture but having an extensive shadowing mechanism can help in obtaining that information.
  8. Review the current job description and revise if necessary – Transitions are a good time to review a job description. You want to ensure company needs are being met and possibly add new responsibilities. Asking employees for input on what skills, experience and qualities they would like to find in the new hire can help ensure any gaps are covered.
  9. Post the job opening ASAP – Coordinate with HR to formally post a job listing in an effort to show your staff this transition period is temporary.
  10. Throw a Going Away Party – This small gesture should never be overlooked. It’s important to gather your team and say “thanks” to the person leaving. Failure to acknowledge an employee’s departure and his or her contributions sends a bad message to the rest of your team.

When an employee resigns it creates uncertainty which creates stress. While losing some of your best people is inevitable, it doesn’t have to wreak havoc on the entire infrastructure. Managers set the tone for what happens next and with clear communication and mindful delegation; you can ensure an unexpected departure doesn’t turn your business structure upside down.

July 11, 2017

HR Question: Different Parental Leave Programs for Women and Men

Question: Is having different parental leave programs for women and men discriminatory?

Answer: Yes. Parental leave must be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms. For example, if an employer extends leave to new mothers beyond the period of disability from childbirth (for instance, to provide the mothers time to bond with and/or care for the baby), the employer cannot lawfully fail to provide an equivalent amount of leave to new fathers for the same purpose.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. It is important to note that for purposes of determining these Title VII requirements, employers should carefully distinguish between leave related to any physical limitations imposed by pregnancy or childbirth and leave for purposes of bonding with a child and/or providing care for a child (parental leave). Leave related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions can be limited to women affected by those conditions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides the following examples of nondiscriminatory versus discriminatory leave policies as applied to men and women:

  • An employer offers pregnant employees up to 10 weeks of paid pregnancy-related medical leave for pregnancy and childbirth as part of its short-term disability insurance. The employer also offers new parents, whether male or female, six weeks of parental leave. A male employee alleges that this policy is discriminatory as it gives up to 16 weeks of leave to women and only six weeks of leave to men. In this example, the employer’s policy does not violate Title VII. Women and men both receive six weeks of parental leave, and women who give birth receive up to an additional 10 weeks of leave for recovery from pregnancy and childbirth under the short-term disability plan.
  • In addition to providing medical leave for women with pregnancy-related conditions and for new mothers to recover from childbirth, an employer provides six additional months of paid leave for new mothers to bond with and care for their new babies. The employer does not provide any paid parental leave for fathers. In this example, the employer’s policy violates Title VII because it does not provide paid parental leave on equal terms to women and men.

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

July 07, 2017

Are Your Nonprofit Programs in Align With Your Mission?

There is not one nonprofit organization that wants to cut programs it believes furthers its mission. But too often, nonprofits keep programs long after they’ve stopped being effective and worth the cost. Sometimes it is necessary to scale back or even eliminate programs so that funds can be better spent launching new initiatives that help the organization meet its core mission.

Communities are constantly changing and your nonprofit must be prepared to change with them. Do your homework and research what is working and what is not – never assume the effectiveness of your programs.

  • Survey participants, members, donors, employees, volunteers and other stakeholders about which of your programs are the most—and the least—effective and why.
  • Review your community’s demographic data for changes relevant to your program offerings.
  • Ask the community what they know of unmet needs or new trends that should affect your programming decisions.

While you don’t want to eliminate anyone’s opinions, you do want to be careful about how the feedback is used to rid your organization of obsolete programs and create new ones. If one of your programs is clearly ineffective and another is wildly successful, the decision to redeploy funds to the successful program is obvious. And keep in mind that new programs can be variations of old ones, just re-vamped to better serve your nonprofits core mission, values and goals.

Undoubtedly, you already have goals in place that measure each of your programs progress. If you don’t, now is the time to set them up. Being able to easily identify what is working and what is not, is pivotal to your nonprofit’s success.

Before deciding whether to cut a program or start a new one, be strategic and realistic about your expectations. Being able to recognize when it’s time for a change and how to best use what funding is available will help ensure successful programs.

July 05, 2017

[Webinar Recording] What to Do When Employee Behavior Crosses the Line

PT Barnum’s quote, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is not the case when an employee comes forward with a claim of harassment or hostile work environment and, to make matters worse, discusses the company’s handling of the situation on social media or in the press.

If you’re a company like Uber, you can hire the former Attorney General to manage the issue. But if you’re not, what can you do to get things under control? And how could your company have avoided the issue to begin with?

Presented by ThinkHR, this on-demand webinar highlights the latest best practices and tools to prevent harassment and discrimination claims.

You’ll learn the key components of respectful workplace cultures for prevention as well as practical ideas for conducting investigations into claims of improper conduct to help resolve issues when they arise.

Watch the webinar recording today!

This webinar offers 1 HRCI and SHRM-approved credit. Want access to more HR-certified webinar opportunities and a live HR hotline? Visit www.chooseust.org/thinkhr/ to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of the UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR.

June 30, 2017

Better Together: A Partner Spotlight on Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance

A UST partner since 1983, the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance is the largest advocacy organization for nonprofits in Connecticut, representing hundreds of nonprofit organizations across all categories—ranging from Health and Human Service programs to Arts and Culture. After the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits and Connecticut Community Providers Association joined forces in early 2016, the 600+ nonprofits represented by the new Alliance serve more than half a million individuals every day in areas of mental health, substance use disorders, intellectual disabilities and child and family health and well-being.

“The Alliance is the voice of nonprofits in Connecticut. Our mission is to advocate excellence in community-based nonprofits through advocacy and capacity building,” said Josh Lipshitz, Director of Membership and Business Development at CT Community Nonprofit Alliance. “One example is our partnership with UST, which helped 38 of our member organizations to save over $957,000 in unemployment costs in 2016 alone.”

The Alliance currently offers the following programs and services:

  • The Nonprofit Center – Serves as home to 26 nonprofit organizations and more than 200 employees
  • Preferred Purchasing Program – Promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Public Policy and Advocating – Champion nonprofit causes and represent their interests at the Legislature level
  • The Center for Professional Development – Workshops, conferences, resources and tools
  • Networking and Information – Cultivates communication and cooperation among its member nonprofits

Dedicated to representing nonprofit organizations for more than 35 years, The Alliance has successfully promoted the health and well-being of the 169 communities that compromise the State of Connecticut—focusing their energy on the people and communities they serve. With a plethora of programs and services to offer and a long history of involvement in the nonprofit communities of Connecticut, we’re proud of our long-time partnership with The Alliance.

CT Community Nonprofit Alliance is the collective voice of community providers and nonprofits in Connecticut that strengthen and sustain healthy communities by advocating for community-based, nonprofit organizations. For more information on The Alliance visit www.ctnonprofitalliance.org.

June 22, 2017

Webinar Recording: How to Best Prepare for Your Fast-Approaching Audit

It’s June once again, and for many of you that means the year-end closing of the books on June 30th—which means the AUDITORS will soon be coming!

Presented by Jay Azar, Lindquist, LLP Director of Not-for-Profit Practice Services, this on-demand webinar reveals how your organization can better prepare for the year-end audit and make the process more beneficial for you.

Jay provides expert TIPS on:

  • Administrative planning for the audit
  • Internal control and systems documentation reviews
  • Preliminary trial balance and general ledger reviews
  • Drafting financial statements
  • Supporting schedules for accounts on the Statement of Financial Position
  • Communications before, during and after the audit
  • Handling audit findings during the process
  • Keeping the process moving after audit fieldwork
  • Audit reports and responses to findings

Watch the webinar recording today and learn how you can get the most out of your upcoming audit.

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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!

June 20, 2017

Avoid Losing New Hires to Counteroffers

It can take months to find the perfect candidate but even after the acceptance letter has been signed and a start date agreed upon, nothing is for certain, until they are through the doors on that first day. This is especially true of a candidate coming to you from another company – typically a company that is now unhappy over the loss of a good employee.

Often times, these other employers, already have a strategy for handling this very type of situation and are likely prepared to counteroffer in an effort to change their employee’s decision to leave.  And nowadays, employers are far more sophisticated about counteroffers than in days gone by. They used to be based mostly on compensation, but companies are now addressing these issues in a more global way, by looking at everything from different work assignments to title changes.

Understanding a candidate’s motivations for a career move is vital to fending off the threat of a potential counteroffer. If someone is leaving their current employer for money, they are likely to stay for it, too. If you want to avoid losing a new hire to a counteroffer, consider the following:

  • Discuss the possibility of a counteroffer with the candidate during the interview process
  • Find out more about any other opportunities a candidate is exploring
  • Maintain regular contact with the candidate through their notice time
  • Send links to articles or share a recently published annual report
  • Share company updates and department developments
  • Arrange a lunch with their new boss or colleagues
  • Schedule “meet-the-team” meetings immediately

For you it might just be another hire, but for the candidate it is a life-changing event – a new route to work, new coworkers, new places and new routines. With this comes some degree of uncertainty, fear, and apprehension. Conveying a genuine interest in the candidate and making them feel like they are already a part of the team, even before their start date, can reduce the temptation to follow up with other recruiters or go on any remaining interviews.

June 13, 2017

Effective Teams Communicate

Humans are social creatures by nature. We work together, play together, and live together – we communicate on a daily basis with little to no effort. Verbal and non-verbal, quietly or loudly, we’ve been communicating our whole lives, so why, is it sometimes so difficult?

When people communicate effectively, in a way that makes all parties feel heard, even conflict and criticism can be constructive and lead to positive results. In business, a lack of effective communication can be detrimental. People are hired for jobs that they are knowledgeable about and have the skills to perform - but if they can’t interact with those around them in a productive manner, the whole team suffers and so does the bottom line.

Communication isn’t just about the words we say. It also includes the way we say it and the physical signals we use. Being able to read people’s nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions, can give a much deeper understanding of the message being transmitted. Often times, conflict arises when written text is taken out of context because there are no visual signs that come along with it. Say the wrong thing, and the infrastructure of a team can quickly fall apart - effective communication can actually help build trust and employee engagement.

Tips on how to increase positive communication:

  1. Listen carefully – pay attention and ask clarifying questions
  2. Speak clearly – be concise and show confidence
  3. Watch your body language – make frequent eye contact
  4. Be respectful– put away the distractions
  5. Up your empathy – verbal or non-verbal feedback

People communicate differently depending on their personal and professional backgrounds. Some may need more mentoring than others on best practices. It all comes down to getting to know the people you’re communicating with and being able to adjust your communication style accordingly. Developing good communication skills is a must and good managers know that communication is a key factor in success and a vital part of teamwork.

June 08, 2017

Nonprofit HR Toolkit 2017

Here at UST we've put together our Top 10 guides for 2017 Nonprofit Human Resource management. And for a limited time we're giving them away for FREE.

You can use these tools to make sure your nonprofit is in compliance all year long. Plus, you'll learn the top trends in nonprofit job satisfaction so you can retain your mission's best assets: your staff. Click below to download the full toolkit, courtesy of UST and ThinkHR:

  1. Quick 2017 HR Practices Checklist
  2. Federal HR Compliance Chart
  3. Federal Recordkeeping Requirements Checklist
  4. Small Employer ACA Checklist
  5. Large Employer ACA Checklist
  6. Workers' Compensation Audit Checklist
  7. 2017 State and Federal Minimum Wages
  8. 6 Reasons Nonprofit Employees QUIT eBook
  9. Webinar Recording: Updating Your Employee Handbook
  10. Unemployment Cost Analysis Form

Download Now

Still have questions? Don't forget we're here for any of your unemployment cost questions or to set you up with a free 30-day trial of our HR Workplace, where nonprofits can get HR questions answered in just 24 hours, and explore our step-by-step Employee Classification, Handbook, and Salary Tools.