Entries with Topic Nonprofit Management .

December 19, 2018

Using Data to Improve Performance in Nonprofits

Performance management enables business leaders to motivate staff members and maximize worker productivity. Go-getting employees thrive on productive feedback, while others need a clear plan to boost their productivity.

While large corporations devote huge sums of money toward highly complex and feature-rich performance management software suites, these systems typically focus on standardized forms and universal rating systems. Often, this kind of one-size-fits-all management is unproductive and ineffective. Fortunately, there are newer, cost-effective performance management applications that are accessible to even the smallest organizations that do a better job of boosting performance.

With the abundance of available software suites on the market, small organizations can lease performance management applications for pennies on the dollar. Of course, business leaders must also consider the costs involved with managing these kinds of applications. As such, it makes good sense to choose a management suite that is easy to use and integrates well with existing work processes.

To learn more about how low-budget organizations can effectively achieve their goals through data and performance management, check out Rutgers University’s infographic on Using Data to Improve Performance in Nonprofits.

October 16, 2018

Using the Right Metrics for Your Nonprofit?

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

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

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

1) Viability and Engagement:

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

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

2) Sustainability and Financial Security:

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

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

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

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

September 27, 2018

3 Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Communication Strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 21, 2018

Strategies for Building Donor Relationships

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

September 07, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Fundraising Registration 101

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

 

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

 

This educational webinar will help you:

 

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

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

August 22, 2018

[Webinar Recording] The Role of the Nonprofit Board

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

 

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

 

This webinar will teach you how to:

 

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

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

July 20, 2018

Generating a Diverse Workforce for Your Nonprofit

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

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

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

  1. Provide your employees with a list of key terms around diversity—this could help spark up conversations and the asking of questions.
  2. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with each employee to find out what diversity and inclusion means to him or her personally.
  3. This Diversity Toolkit created by USC's MSW program outlines a discussion of identity, power and privilege. It offers ideas on how to facilitate these conversations and how to instill a productive learning process.
  4. Consider implementing a “zero tolerance policy” to prevent any form of bullying or harassment and in the workplace.
  5. Bringing more awareness to the Americans with Disabilities Act can help to educate your staff on the importance of being mindful to those with disabilities. The Corporation for National and Community Service offers some extensive information on disability inclusion that can be very helpful.
  6. Learning from fellow nonprofits is always a perk. Consulting with other nonprofits on their approach to diversity in the workplace can be a great resource.
July 26, 2018

Tips for Adding New Technology to Your Nonprofit

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

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

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

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

July 05, 2018

How to Get Nonprofits Back on the Social Media Map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 13, 2018

Understanding Nonprofit Tax Cuts for Transportation Benefits

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

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

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

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

June 06, 2018

U.S. Employment Shows Promise with Decrease in Unemployment

U.S. employers added 223,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May, compared with an average monthly gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months. With the unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent—an eighteen year record low—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment has continued to trend upward in multiple industries, including retail trade, health care and construction.

May marked the 92nd straight month of job growth in the U.S., with the number of unemployed persons declining to 6.1 million. Since the beginning of the year, unemployment rate has gone down by 0.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 772,000. 

The U.S. economy added 31,000 jobs in retail trade, with an increase occurring in general merchandise stores, building materials and garden supplies. Employment in health care increased by 29,000 and construction rose by 25,000 with a continual growth of 286,000 positions over the past 12 months. Both professional and technical services have shown a gain of 23,000 jobs and has increased by 206,000 over the year. Manufacturing employment has continued to grow during the month of May with 18,000 jobs—durable goods required due to an addition of 6,000 jobs in machinery. Employment in other major industries, such as wholesale trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality and government, showed little to no change over the course of the month.

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.92. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.7 percent and the average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.59 in May.

With job openings being at a two-decade high, this is good news for the many young people who have recently graduated. However, there are still many working-age people on the sidelines of the job market. Though more people have joined the workforce in the first quarter of 2018 than in the first quarter of 2017, the share of prime-age workers who are employed still hasn't returned to where it was prior to the recession.

May 18, 2018

Is Your Board Equipped to Handle Your Budget?

Being on a nonprofit board can require you to wear many different hats and one of the most important aspects of being on a board is learning the budget approval process. Some board members come equipped with a business background—comfortable dealing with budgets and numbers. On the other hand, some may not have the same appreciation or knowledge base when it comes to understanding the financials.

Since each nonprofit organization has a different approach when it comes to handling their budget, there can be some confusion or differences of opinion amongst board members. Educating your board on the proper key terms, types of budgets and the different approaches, is key to ensuring the best decisions are being made on behalf of the organization.   

Here are a few key terms to understand when learning the basics of a budget and some specific terms used when discussing nonprofit budgets:

  1. Cash basis: A method of recording transactions for both revenue and expenses only when the corresponding cash is received or payments are made.
  2. Accural basis: Under the accrual basis of accounting, revenues are reported on the income statement when they are earned. 
  3. Income-based budget: This budget requires a consistent income based around a particular period.
  4. Zero-based budget: A method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period.
  5. Capital expenditures: Money that is spent by a business or organization on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets (i.e. land, buildings and equipment).
  6. Depreciation: A reduction in the value of an asset overtime—due to wear and tear.
  7. Fixed costs: A range of different types of business costs, such as rent, that are constant.
  8. Variable costs: A cost that can vary in relation to changes in the volume of activity.

These terms will help your board increase its financial literacy by reducing the mystery of nonprofit budgets, financial reports and auditing. Since a budget plays such a vital role in a nonprofit’s ongoing financial viability, it’s important your board members can fully understand and approve such budgets.

March 13, 2018

[On-Demand Webinar] ACA Fines Are Here: What You Need to Know Now

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun its efforts to collect on Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalties by issuing Letter 226J to non-compliant businesses. There’s a chance you may have already received one of these letters.

With only 30 days to dispute the letter, having an action plan in place and ready to go is critical in order to protect your organization from costly penalties that could soar into millions of dollars.

Presented by Equifax, the market leader in ACA management, this on-demand webinar reveals best practices for responding to Letter 226J as well as when and how to submit a dispute. You’ll also gain a better understanding of why you received Letter 226J and how the IRS assessment was calculated.

Ensure your nonprofit is equipped with a plan should IRS Letter 226J arrive in your mailbox and watch the on-demand recording today!

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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

September 14, 2016

HR Question: Employee Engagement Surveys

Question: What are some tips for developing and conducting an employee engagement survey?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 13, 2016

Webinar: New Accounting Standards Nonprofits Need to Know

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued the Accounting Standards Update 2016-14, which contains significant changes to not-for-profit accounting standards, focusing on improving, enhancing and simplifying financial statement reporting requirements.

In this 60-minute webinar, Jay Azar, Director of Not-for-Profit Practice Services at Lindquist, LLP, talks about how your organization can begin to prepare your accounting and financial reporting systems for these important changes.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Displaying the current three fund categories of Unrestricted, Temporarily Restricted and Permanently Restricted funds has changed to two fund categories of “Funds Without Donor Restrictions” and “Funds With Donor Restrictions.”
  • Requiring the use of a classified balance sheet and allowing for display of assets with limited use.
  • Requiring that information provided about expenses for the period will be presented both by functional and natural classifications for all not-for-profits.

After watching the presentation, you'll feel more confident and prepared for handling the accounting and financial reporting processes at your nonprofit.

Watch the webinar on-demand now.

This webinar series is part of UST's efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. Sign up to receive UST's monthly eNews for more free learning opportunities just for nonprofits like you!

October 17, 2016

[Podcast] Building Capacity and Strengthening Culture

Through the Noise interviewed Elizabeth Scott, CEO of Brighter Strategies, to help nonprofit employers improve their overall effectiveness by building their internal capacity. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts.

Podcast Description: This podcast emphasizes the importance of harnessing the emotional intelligence of staff members so that organization can do the most with what they have. Dr. Elizabeth Scott aims to provide thought leadership and high value organizational development consulting in an effort to strengthen the nonprofit sector.

Brighter Strategies is a non-profit consulting firm that works with non-profit organizations as a “thought partner” to help build capacity and make the most of their greatest asset—their human capital. To learn more about Brighter Strategies, visit their website at www.brighterstrategies.com.

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To stay up-to-date on the latest best practice tips and cost-saving ideas just for nonprofits, sign up for UST's monthly eNews: http://www.chooseust.org/enews

October 25, 2016

How to Distinguish Independent Contractors vs. Employees

Performing small business payroll can be both difficult and critical to effectively avoiding the all-too-tricky claim type, “independent contractor vs employee.”

Nonprofit employers must take the time to learn the distinguishing characteristics of an employee of an organization and an independent contractor, who are self-employed individuals. If and when you make a mistake when classifying these two worker categories, not only will this mix-up lead to high penalties, but you may have to outsource for payroll assistance—costing your organization both valuable time and money.

In general, here’s how you differentiate the two workers:

  • Employee – anyone who performs services and the company can control what is done
  • Independent Contractor – anyone who performs services and the company only has the right to control the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result

To avoid overpayments, rework for the employer and state, and potential investigations from the IRS, employers should use either the ABC Test or the Common Law Test to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.

Both tests are designed to readily identify the worker-employer relationship, focusing on how much control the organization has over a worker and the work accomplished. Check out both the ABC Test and Common Law Test here to ensure your nonprofit’s compliance.

This article was adapted from Equifax Workforce Solutions, UST’s dedicated unemployment claims administrator.

UST members receive exclusive access to an online claims dashboard, e-filing capabilities, a state-specific claims representative and 100% representation at unemployment claims hearings. To find out if your nonprofit qualifies for the UST program, fill out a free Savings Evaluation today or call us at 888-249-4788.

November 08, 2016

Important Information about Affordable Care Act Reporting for 2016

The final forms and instructions that employers will use for 2016 reporting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Employers that provided basic healthcare coverage on a self-funded basis in 2016 are required to report the names and social security numbers (SSNs) of all covered individuals. While this is the second year of reporting for most employers, many still struggle with the process of how to effectively report SSN’s for all covered individuals and their dependents.

If you are an applicable large employer (ALE) that employed 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees during the current reporting year, you must report to the IRS whether or not you did or didn’t offer healthcare coverage by completing Form 1095-C and 1094-C.

The requirement to report enrollment information on each covered individual, including dependent names and SSNs, only applies to employers that self-fund a minimum essential coverage health plan (e.g., major medical, PPO, HDHP). For an ALE, the self-funded plan enrollment information is reported in Part III of Form 1095-C while a “small” (non-ALE) employer reports the information in Part IV of Form 1095-B.

You can review a copy of the IRS proposed regulation on TIN solicitation here.

This article was adapted from ThinkHR, powering the UST HR Workplace provided to UST members at no additional cost. Get answers to your HR questions and sign your nonprofit up for a free30-day trial. 

November 23, 2016

[Podcast] Mergers & Acquisitions for Nonprofits

Through the Noise interviewed Melissa Panagides, Senior Manager of Management Advisory Services at BDO USA, to discuss mergers and acquisitions within the nonprofit sector. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts here.

Podcast Description: This podcast breaks down the difficult questions that surround a company acquisition and provides expert information on how to plan ahead, manage expectations, and how to support the people within organization during this difficult time.

BDO USA, LLP is known primarily as an accounting firm. The Management Advisory team supports organizations that are going through or considering change and focus on helping organizations identify the right technology for their needs by transforming their business. In addition, they help to plan and implement mergers and acquisitions for organizations across the globe.  To learn more about BDO USA, visit their website at www.bdo.com.

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December 22, 2016

[Free Webinar] New Year, New President, New HR Challenges

President-elect Trump’s agenda for employment law is still being formulated, but one thing is certain: change is coming. Business managers and HR practitioners need to be ready, and we can help.

Presented by ThinkHR, this webinar will explore the practical impacts employers need to know now in the following areas:
  • Affordable Care Act regulations and reporting
  • Immigration status verification and reporting
  • Wage and hour changes EEOC enforcement and reporting activity
  • Paid family leave
  • And more!

When: Two dates available (Thursday, January 5th or Tuesday, January 10th at 8:30 am PDT)

Register: http://pages.thinkhr.com/HR-in-2017-Webinar.html

Register Now

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

January 30, 2017

[Podcast] How Digital Strategy Enables Nonprofit Growth

Through the Noise interviewed Kiki L’Italien, CEO & Founder of Amplified Growth, to provide nonprofit employers the latest digital marketing tips they need to reach and engage current and potential members. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts.

Podcast Description: This podcast discusses why it’s important to understand and utilize SEO and SEM—search engine optimization and search engine marketing—when looking to amplify your nonprofit’s voice. Kiki L’Italien explains how to get to know who you are trying to reach, where they spend their time, and how to meet them where they are.

Amplified Growth is a DC-based digital marketing consultancy specializing in SEO, social media, and content strategy for associations and commercial clients. To learn more about Amplified Growth, visit their website at http://www.amplifiedgrowth.net.

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February 10, 2017

5 Enviable Traits of Top Nonprofit Employer

You may think that a decent wage and working for a mission matters most to nonprofit workers, but there are key things that the best nonprofit employers do to give their staff that extra boost – helping retain them longer and providing a more satisfactory workplace.
Here are our top 5 organizational traits that make a nonprofit the best place to work:

1. Give them room to grow. Employees need to know their duties and their responsibilities are recognized, and that there is a clear path to growth. Recognizing those employees that are eager to take on more can help you craft an upward moving path for them. And remember it’s okay to ask! What do they see themselves doing? What can they offer? Letting them feel involved in their own future gives them confidence in themselves and their leaders.

2. Have mentors. The next leaders are already in our midst. Giving them the tools they need – direct from the experts – is pertinent to maintaining a strong nonprofit sector. Who’s better than leaders within your own organization to provide this? Sometimes assigning a formal mentor to an employee is necessary to build this type of relationship. Consulting with your executives and even executives at other organizations as to who they can stand by and provide career direction, might just open some doors to some true talent development.

3. Ensure a fair workplace. Limited HR staff often means nonprofits are “winging it” when it comes to applying workplace rules. But are the rules fair, and more importantly, do they follow the law? You might think closing the office for a week during Christmas is okay if you require employees to work Saturdays leading up to the holiday (this is a true story), but that would be classified as overtime and not paying them appropriately could cause a damaging lawsuit for your organization. Wrongful terminations are another big source of costly legal exposure.

4. Train your managers to be the best. Employee satisfaction often starts with having the right guidance. Training your managers to be great managers helps provide the framework for the entire organization. People often leave managers, not companies… and because good leaders aren't born (they're created), providing leadership education and management-skill training is vital to helping build the leadership an organization needs to retain employees. UST offers 200+ free online training courses for managers and employees when you join the UST Program, which is exclusive to nonprofit organizations.

5. Acknowledge they have lives outside of work. As an employer you might think your role starts and stops during the 9-5 job. But recognizing that life-work balance is important, and giving employees options like flexible hours, working from home occasionally, discounted gym memberships or sponsorship of activities like registration in a race or creating a softball team, can help foster more happiness and productivity at work. With many for-profit companies making these types of moves, it’s important to recognize how the nonprofit sector can provide equally satisfactory jobs for workers. There are all kinds of ways nonprofits make a difference for their employees. Tell us some of your ways on facebook!
May 02, 2017

[Podcast] Board Recruitment

Through the Noise recently spoke with Jeff De Cagna, Executive Advisor at Foresight First LLC, to discuss the way you think about board recruitment, management, and collaboration. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts here.

Podcast Description: This podcast discusses how nonprofit organizations might be missing a crucial opportunity for growth and relevance by underutilizing their boards. Jeff De Cagna is an author, speaker and advisor for associations and non-profit organizations across North America and around the world with decades of experience under his belt.

Foresight First LLC is a governing orientation that provides actionable insights on plausible futures by challenging association and non-profit boards to deal productively with the past so they can focus their attention on the future and pursue the generative work of transformation. To learn more about Foresight First LLC, visit their website at www.foresightfirst.io.

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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/.

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