July 25, 2013

Employment Branding—What You Can Do To Make Your Agency A “Great Place to Work”

Branding has moved beyond sales and marketing and into the world of hiring and HR in the past few years as the concept of employment branding has experienced a significant upsurge.

First introduced in the early 1990’s the term “employment branding” refers to the whole of an organization's efforts to communicate what makes it a desirable place to work. Typified by national companies like NPR, Google, Zappos, REI and local companies unique to every community, the importance of employment branding is staging a revolution.

Driven in large part by the mainstreaming of social media recruitment channels and word of mouth job hunting, employer branding lends itself easily to nonprofits.

Don’t believe me? Well, because values are often the underlying structure for an organization’s reputation (aka branding), many nonprofits can easily incorporate their pre-established mission into their employment brand. By doing what you love, and what you believe in, you (and your employees) have probably already worked toward creating a strong employment brand.

Research backs the importance of successful employment branding. Over and over again workers report that starting salary is less important than their perception of the organization and the satisfaction that they receive from the employer’s culture.

So what can you do to build a powerful employer brand?

  • Start internally. The easiest way to begin building a strong employer brand is by ensuring that your employees are 1.) happy with their jobs and the company, and 2.) are telling others about how much they like the company. Take the time to make sure that employees are being thanked for their hard work and are recognized for their contribution to the company. Additionally, find workplace perks that fit within your company culture and offer them as added incentive for a happier workplace.

  • Engage with the community. Another simple way for nonprofits to improve their employer branding is to actively engage with the surrounding community. Too often it’s easy for agencies to forget about groups not directly impacting their work, but offering community open houses that expose your nonprofit to new and nontraditional groups can extend goodwill throughout the community and open your organization up for exciting new networking opportunities.

  • Address negative branding immediately. Even when everything’s going great, the smallest rumor can quickly bring down years of good branding. And because bad things happen, often with little warning, it’s best to have a pre-established crisis plan that helps keep your employment branding safe.
  • Ensure that employees are treated well when they leave. When good employees leave voluntarily, celebrate their successes one last time, and give everyone the chance to say “thank you!” for all of their hard work.And even if an employee is fired in disgrace, don’t bully them or otherwise act poorly. An unemployment trust, like UST, can help you train your managers and supervisors to properly document all infractions and warnings so that you can gracefully (and successfully) fight any improper unemployment benefits charges later on. Learn more about how UST can help you lower unemployment costs at your agency.
July 10, 2013

How to Advance Your Nonprofit’s Morale

The UST admin team went to the Getty Villa as a group to celebrate our mutual successes throughout 2012- 2013.

Because nonprofits tend to have limited resources accompanied by greater demands, employees often face higher stress levels and workloads. Such unrelenting demands can weaken internal morale. And, with a deteriorating organizational foundation, mission advancement becomes much harder to achieve.

Developing a consistent and efficient morale “check-in” system can be an effective tool in maintaining a pleasant work atmosphere and satisfied employees. One of the best ways to fully realize this internal bliss is to cater towards employee wants and needs; often accomplished through relationship development and positive reinforcement.

Here are a few tips on how to better identify and improve morale:

  • Work toward a reciprocated respect. Employees are far more likely to remain engaged and productive if they genuinely enjoy their work environment. Keeping employees in the loop while encouraging them to give you feedback can only enhance your work relationships.

  • Establish trust. How you act sets the stage for your employees’ work behavior. Set the example by increasing communication levels and taking personal responsibility for your assigned tasks. Trust that your employees will mimic your behavior and mirror your responsibility and initiative.

  • Learn to listen. Your employees have first-hand knowledge of common internal issues and what needs to be improved. It’s important to maintain an open forum and follow up with improvement strategies. Allowing employees to vent their frustrations and be heard is a huge step in the right direction.

  • Communicate and share. Creating small work groups that allow employees to voice ideas, questions, or concerns will provide everyone with a sense of belonging and worth. Furthermore, talking about how each individual’s role affects the mission’s advancement provides employees with more drive and a stronger sense of purpose.

  • Recognize and appreciate. Genuine gestures, whether formal or informal, go a long way when showing your employee’s appreciation. Whether you distribute tangible awards, such as plaques or bonuses, or give a simple handshake, public acknowledgement of an employee’s success will motivate others to strive for similar improvement and personal success.

  • Don’t forget to have fun! Create non-work opportunities for your employees to get together and have fun. Simple activities, such as monthly movie days, birthday celebrations, or department excursions can help alleviate stress and strengthen internal bonds.

The only way to advance your nonprofit’s mission is through employee support and their dedicated work efforts. Taking time to focus on morale improvement can make a huge difference in your organization’s success.

Read more tips on how to improve internal morale here.
July 08, 2013

Don’t Let Unrelated Business Activities Devastate Your Tax-Exempt Status

What is Related Business Activity?

When a nonprofit charges a fee for service, or even sells product(s) as an ongoing activity directly related to its founding mission, it is considered a related business activity because it furthers the nonprofits mission. For example, if a nonprofit animal shelter charges a fee to allow a family to adopt a new puppy, it would be a related business activity.

The fee furthers the shelters mission to provide loving homes for animals in its care.

But not all business activities—or profits for that matter—are protected by a nonprofit's tax-exempt status. So where does the line get crossed? And how can a nonprofit keep from accidentally conducting taxable business?

What is “Unrelated Business Activity”?

The simplest definition of unrelated business activity is that it is taxable profit a nonprofit earns through actions not directly related to its founding mission. But that doesn’t really mean much in the scope of things, so let’s back up and delve a little deeper.

If a business activity is not related to the organization’s tax-exempt purpose, then any profits would be considered “unrelated” and subject to the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT), as applied when gross income from the unrelated business is $1,000 or more.

So, if a nonprofit animal clinic were to also run an exclusive dog breeding program—where the work is not only not performed by volunteers, but also doesn’t coincide with the founding mission of the shelter—then it’s possible that the gross income from this business venture could be considered unrelated.

In fact, it’s highly probable it would be considered unrelated.

Under IRS regulations, a nonprofit can risk losing its tax-exemption if a “substantial” portion of the organizations total activities are unrelated to its mission. When applied by the IRS, the word “substantial” is interpreted to be in effect when the unrelated business activity grows to 25% or more of the nonprofit organization’s activity.

And although the IRS does make certain standard exceptions, an activity is almost also considered to be unrelated if all three of the following are present:

- It is a trade or business

- It is regularly carried on

- It is not substantially related to furthering the exempt purpose of the organization

Although a nonprofit can engage in some unrelated business activity and pay taxes on the profit, it’s always best to be careful. If you think it may be possible that your nonprofit could be gaining 25% or more of your profits through an unrelated business venture, a lawyer well-versed in UBIT and other nonprofit tax/legal implications can help you determine how to keep your 501(c)(3) status and avoid the pitfalls of losing your tax-exempt status.

July 02, 2013

Be Smart, Hire Right the First Time

Nonprofits rely on their dedicated, engaged employees to further advance their organizations’ missions. A lax recruitment process, or weak new hires, can jeopardize valuable time and money pertinent to a mission’s success, though.

Because the hiring process tends to be more strenuous for nonprofits due to their typically smaller size and salary rate, a concise recruitment procedure is imperative.

Don’t risk hiring the wrong individual just to end a painful hiring process. Learn how your organization can better identify great job candidates in a fast and efficient manner.

Substantially improve your recruitment process using these six easy-to-manage steps:

  1. Create a truthful job description that depicts both the job expectations and the company as a whole. You want to attract a candidate whose skills match that of the position’s requirements, and whose personality/interest will fit well in the organization. Falsifying this content could attract the wrong candidates and lower retention rates.
  2. Develop a multiple-step hiring practice. Having numerous hiring phases will eliminate those seeking ANY job. You want someone who is truly interested in what your company has to offer.
  3. Take part in the interview process. Because you know exactly what you’re looking for in a potential new hire, it’s extremely important to get involved as early as possible. Whether it is phone interviews or resume reading, you play a crucial role in weeding out unfit candidates.
  4. Build your interview around the position’s desired qualities. Create interview questions that reflect roles and characteristics needed for the position. This will help you identify how many qualities each candidate possesses.
  5. Have others play a role in the interview process. When it comes down to the final candidates, having other staff members you trust involved with making the final decision will help alleviate any uneasiness or anxiety. Having worked with you, these team members could help with the decision-making process when you’re on the fence.
  6. Set a realistic, yet firm, onboarding timeline. Allow 3 months to search for the right candidate, 1 month in order for the new hire to give notice, and 2 months for training purposes. This will give you both short term and long term hiring goals and will prevent you from abruptly hiring the wrong individual.

By reorganizing your hiring process, using these tips and suggestions, you can effectively sort through hundreds of applications and interviews and successfully identify great potential employees. Remember, combining both personal instinct and organizational intelligence can help you build a strong foundation for your organization’s mission development.

Read more tips on how to hire right here.
July 01, 2013

The Face of Unemployment Insurance Is Changing

The number of states that have made significant changes to their unemployment insurance programs—on both the employer and job seeker side—is rising as more states repay their federal loans and work to improve the future health of their state-run unemployment fund, but the outcome may cripple nonprofit employers looking to lower the cost of unemployment.

Santa Barbara, CA – Even before the Recession began in earnest, several states were forced to begin borrowing from the federal government to keep their unemployment funds from spiraling into insolvency and enable them to meet benefit obligations for unemployed workers.

By 2011, 37 states had borrowed more than $40 billion.

That number has since dwindled to just under $21 billion according to the U.S. Treasury, but states have ratcheted up an additional $503,420,760.96 owed in interest for fiscal year 2013.

But it is only now as the Recession seems to slip further into the past that changes are finally being made at the state level to help protect against UI trust fund insolvency re-emerging the next time the economy takes a dip. While good for the states themselves, and potentially for their future economic health, many of these changes will re-invent the way employers think of unemployment claims.

And some will make it harder for nonprofits to opt out of their state unemployment tax in order to reduce the cost of unemployment at their agency.

For example, in February of this year, North Carolina Governor (R) Pat McCrory signed into law a comprehensive UI reform and solvency bill designed to take dramatic steps to eliminate the state’s remaining $2.5 billion Title XII Loan balance. The bill included significant changes that reduced the maximum benefit amount from over $500 to $350 per week, reduced the maximum weeks of benefits to a range of 12-20 weeks, and changed the calculation of the weekly benefit amount.

Other highlights from the bill included:

  • Employers who fail to respond to the state’s request for separation information more than twice will no longer be relieved from benefit charges that are erroneously paid out
  • After 10 weeks of benefits, any job offer paying 120% of the individual’s weekly benefit amount is considered “suitable work” (for those at the new maximum, that would be $420 per week)
  • Workers can qualify for benefits only if they leave work because their hours were reduced by 50%, instead of only 20% as the law previously stipulated

While certainly the most aggressive in taking steps to rebuild the state fund and prevent future UI fund insolvency, North Carolina isn’t alone.

In November of last year, Illinois enacted legislation that addressed their UI fund solvency by increasing bond authority in the state by $1 billion and planning ahead to use it as necessary to avoid more FUTA credit losses (the federal tax offset that states receive for repaying their loans on time) and interest charges for their UI loan from the federal government. Their federal loan is currently at zero.

Following suit, Wisconsin introduced a bill in late May that would: 1) change the state benefit collection standard so that discharged workers would be less likely to receive unemployment insurance payments if the former employer can establish that a worker was at ‘substantial fault’ for the termination, 2) require those collecting unemployment benefits to prove they are actively seeking work each benefit week, and 3) lessen the current number of acceptable quit reasons that allow claimants to collect unemployment benefits.

Michigan also joined the states reducing total weeks an applicant can collect unemployment and designing new bills to make it harder for claimants to collect benefits.

Even these seemingly small legislative changes can have a significant impact on how employers plan for unemployment charges against their organization though. Because in addition to lowering benefits paid out, many states are also looking to raise unemployment taxes on employers. And all states are passing legislation by October of this year to penalize employers for non-responsiveness or tardy replies to a state’s request for information on a claim.

“Some of these legislative changes might seem drastic, but essentially many states are just now catching up with the reality of our nation’s unemployment climate. For years states avoided those small incremental tax increases that could keep their unemployment funds afloat. So when a tidal wave of unemployment claims hit starting in 2008, many states were nowhere near properly funded,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST.

Groh adds, “It’s our job here at UST to ensure that our nonprofit members know about these types of legislative changes, can properly prepare for them, and budget in advance. We’ve been actively educating our members through state-specific seminars and webinars on how states are implementing penalties for employers who fail to respond to claim requests on time. It’s just a matter of being well-informed.”

For employers, reducing the risk of penalty is, as Groh states, simply about being educated on the new laws and ensuring their organization is doing all it can to stay on top of unemployment benefits being paid out to former employees. Understanding the difference between employee separations that warrant benefits versus those that don’t is a clear advantage when it comes to reducing the cost of unemployment for an organization.

About UST: The Unemployment Services Trust helps 501(c)(3) organizations exercise their right to opt out of paying state unemployment taxes. Instead, member nonprofits only reimburse the state for their own claims. UST also provides members with claim administration, audits of benefit charges, claim hearing representation, educational seminars and HR support. They reach out to more than 20,000 nonprofits each year to educate them on unemployment law. Visit to learn more.
June 23, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Jenn

Jenn- Marketing Coordinator

One month in…and I officially get to introduce myself for Meet US(T) Mondays!

When I first got involved with UST, I was ecstatic to help nonprofits advance their missions. My past two jobs took place at the UCSB Alumni Association and the Santa Barbara Zoo, both nonprofit organizations. Having witnessed firsthand the external and internal good nonprofits can accomplish, I figured UST was a perfect fit for me.

When I’m not working, and when I’m feeling productive, I love to bake, cook, hang out with friends, and go on beach-side runs. However, since I recently sprained my foot, my activities currently include sitting on my couch, watching reality television, and eating…a lot.

Speaking of my favorite subject (aka: FOOD), my favorite meals tend to include Mexican cuisine, pizza, or cheese in general. Since I was basically raised on fast food, my taste buds often reject most vegetables but never stop craving junk food. It’s kind of a curse, but I’m pretty content with my 8-year-old pallet.

However, my childhood didn’t just consist of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. One of my favorite childhood memories is when my dad surprised me and took me to Disneyland on the rainiest day of the year. Although that sounds like hell to most people, the empty park, matching ponchos and endless rides on Splash Mountain made it completely unforgettable.

A close second favorite memory also takes place at Disneyland. At 5 years old, and my first visit to the park, I finally got to see Mickey…and then proceeded to knock him over in the hugging process. In fact, my family still greets me as “the girl who knocked over Mickey Mouse.” Which brings me to my next point; if I were a circus star, I would have to name myself Klutzo the Magnificent.

After breaking 4 bones (on 4 different occasions), knocking over Mickey Mouse, and rolling my ankle at my college graduation, one could make the argument that I have klutzy tendencies. And even though that's probably true, it hasn't stopped me from living my life to the fullest.

Want to share your clumsiest stories with me? Tweet me @USTTrust with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays.
June 16, 2013

Retain to Sustain: How Your Employees Impact Your Nonprofit’s Mission

Retaining employees at your nonprofit saves time and money-- but are you doing it right?

Promoting your mission is the prime objective of a nonprofit organization. But because we’re often so preoccupied with business strategies and marketing elements, employers tend to neglect one key internal variable—the importance of employee retention.

Losing an employee results in decreased productivity, lost revenue, and excess time spent rehiring and retraining replacements. Since for-profit organizations often offer higher salaries, nonprofits must work twice as hard to actively and consistently engage their employees.

Rather than solely relying on typical motivational tools, such as office parties or bonuses, one must address the multitude of variables that could impact an employee’s job experience.

Here are 5 simple steps that can help increase retention rates.

  1. Be clear during the recruitment process. Before job candidates even get the job, specify what the expected responsibilities are and describe what the overall work atmosphere entails. If someone knows exactly what they’re signing up for, the odds of them staying are significantly greater.
  2. Create a 90 day plan. Have a decisive evaluation plan, broken down into ongoing time frames. Be sure to check in with new employees on a fairly regular basis in order to gage their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  3. Set realistic expectations. While you’re aiming for a smaller turnover rate, don’t shoot for 0%. Retain your strongest employees, but don’t be afraid to say goodbye to the weakest performers. Remember, the goal is toretain the strongest team possible in order to effectively promote your mission.
  4. Engage and interact with your employees. Develop a good relationship with your employees. Give your workers consistent feedback and don’t forget to commend them on their great job performances. When employees feel engaged, they are likely to be more driven and committed to their organizations.
  5. Play it safe—prepare for the worst. Since some employee departures are inevitable, recognize potential skill loss. Be sure to train invaluable skills to multiple employees so your organization doesn’t suffer if someone chooses to leave. Make sure your staff is well-rounded and prepared for any unpredictable turnover.

Having good retention requires a multifaceted plan. Retaining employees is a 365-day practice. Through consistency and overall engagement, nonprofit employers can maintain a positive, reliable work environment for everyone.

This snowball effect of employee efficiency and happiness is imperative for a nonprofit’s mission advancement and maintaining high retention rates.

Learn more about retention challenges and solutions here.
June 04, 2013

Didn’t Think They Could Collect Unemployment for That? You Might Be Wrong.

While reducing employees hours can reduce payroll, it might increase your unemployment insurance payments too!

Cutting employees’ hours may seem like an easy way to reduce costs, but if you didn’t think employees could collect unemployment for that, you might be in for a (not-so-good) surprise.

It seems like a simple way to avoid having to lay good employees off, and over the past few years many employers have turned to this popular alternative. While not necessarily ideal, for many organizations reducing employees’ hours has been a more palatable option and has allowed them to keep their best workers on staff.

But what many employers don’t realize right away is that reducing hours may not yield the anticipated savings.


When an employer reduces an employee’s hours as a result of the organization’s needs, the employee could be eligible to collect partial unemployment benefits for the loss in wages. And the state will include this in the chargeback liability attributed to the organization.

If you think reducing hours is still a quick and easy way to cut costs without laying anyone off, consider this. An employee is still eligible to collect partial unemployment benefits when:

  • They are “underemployed” i.e. working part time through no fault of their own
  • They are ready, willing and able to work full time
  • They have met the state’s minimum earnings or hours worked requirements

That’s why it’s incredibly important for nonprofit employers to carefully weigh the consequences of reducing hours, laying off employees, and/or using contractors before making any decisions about staffing changes. Often surprise charges can crop up when changes are made, so you will want to know what effect the unemployment claim charges may have on your organization’s benefit claims.

If you want to discuss how different staffing changes could affect your claims experience, you may want to look into membership in the Unemployment Services Trust (UST). 501(c)(3)s with 10 or more employees can find out if they qualify for membership, and receive the help of UST’s expert claims administrator to determine the impact of all staffing changes before actions are taken. It's been proven that using an unemployment claim administrator helps save an average 15% annually on costs! Call a UST expert at 1-888-249-4788 to learn more about membership.
June 02, 2013

Results Show UST Members Saving, Satisfied

The 2013 UST Member Satisfaction Survey finds UST Members happy with service and savings found at the Trust.

Santa Barbara, Calif.- The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) is pleased to announce that 93 percent of Trust participants report that they would recommend participation in UST to another nonprofit. Explained one respondent, UST provides “reliable and ‘understandable’ services and communication, and it makes financial sense [to join].”

Providing more than two thousand not-for-profit organizations with unemployment claims management and budgeting services, UST has been aiding 501(c)(3) agencies in reducing their overall unemployment costs for over three decades.

In fact, 78 percent of survey respondents ranked “saving money by no longer paying unemployment taxes” as a primary benefit of being a UST member, while 75 percent also felt that “having professional claims management services” was a “very important” part of the benefits to their organization.

And in an era in which live phone support has proven increasingly scarce, it was not surprising to find that 83 percent ranked the “UST customer support by phone” as a valuable resource. It seems that this support has proven effective, as the vast majority of respondents—over 95 percent—indicated that over the past year they have had no concerns about UST’s service or their concerns were adequately addressed (68.5% and 26.8%, respectively).

With the large majority of respondents in Finance, HR and Administration roles, the Member Satisfaction Survey is a high level overview used to assess recent service enhancements, determine areas for improvement, and enrich the member experience.

“We’re very excited to find that so many of this year’s survey participants are not only happy with their membership in the Trust, but that they feel confident in taking that a step further and would recommend the Trust to their peers,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director.

“To hear that such a large segment of our members are satisfied with their participation in the Trust is deeply gratifying,” agreed Adam Thorn, Director of Operations. “At UST we’re always working to improve our processes and make it even easier for members to lower the cost of unemployment and build a healthy reserve balance, so whenever we have the opportunity to get feedback from members about what could be done to improve the service we carefully consider it.”

Using previous surveys and other member feedback data, the Trust has introduced new processes and features that focus on further reducing unemployment claim liability. Recent enhancements have included a new online claims dashboard to view which former employees have filed for unemployment benefits, a more comprehensive and timely statement of account, and representation by an expert at all unemployment claims hearings.

“Some of our best new ideas have come from members,” Thorn added.

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing 501(c)(3) organizations with a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. Equifax Workforce Solutions (WS) is UST’s partner to provide members with claim administration, audits of state charges, and hearing representation if a member’s claims protest goes to court. They also provide educational seminars and training materials to UST member agencies throughout the year. Visit to learn more.
May 30, 2013

Promote your Best Worker Bees without Disturbing the Whole Hive

Promoting from within can enhance internal productivity and increase external relations—if done right.

Truth be told, the process of hiring from within an organization is fairly common. Having built up trust and demonstrated more competence than the average worker bee, many workers within your organization may appear more than ready for a higher authority position.

But just because your buzziest employees are great at what they do now, it does not mean that they possess the skills and desire to move up within your agency.

While an individual may excel at his or her current tasks, the leap from associate to manager, for example, can damage one’s professional career. For instance, if a promoting manager fails to analyze the key differences in position responsibilities, the promoted worker may be unprepared or unwilling to perform the newly assigned tasks.

Such confusion (and irritability, or push back in some cases) will cause a domino effect within your organization. If other employees either don’t respect their newly appointed superior, or don’t feel that their new superior is prepared for the increase in responsibility, they may develop lazy work habits and become resentful. And when work production decreases, relationships with outside sources—whether with donors or community liaisons—will inevitably suffer.

And without growing external support, your company’s mission will become much harder to advance.

Avoid promotion regrets. Take the time to properly and effectively assess your potential candidates.

Here are some guidelines to follow when considering promoting within:

  • Coach your best workers. Mentor figures can help familiarize promotable employees with vital authoritative skills, so they can be groomed for future leadership roles.
  • Define what characteristics you are looking for. Specify the requirements and expectations necessary for the promotion. You want to eliminate any confusion and vagueness.
  • Constantly check in! After assigning new responsibilities or challenges, be sure to track the worker’s progress and adaptability rate. This will allow you to continue to measure their potential learning capabilities.
  • Give others a chance. While you may originally have someone in mind for the new role, don’t rule out other prospective employees. Certain workers may thrive under the pressure and exceed your expectations.
  • Take baby steps. Give your hardest workers added responsibilities over an extended period of time. The last thing you want is to overwhelm your employee and give them a role they aren’t yet conditioned to handle.

Hiring within is an extensive process, but produces worthwhile results when proper precautions are taken. Be responsible and prepare. Set the example. So your company’s future leaders can one day do the same.

Learn more ways you can turn a good worker into a strong leader here.
May 28, 2013

Reading Resumes Doesn’t Have to Ruin your Day

Even before you finish posting your most recent job opening, resumes start pouring in. Eager candidates are ready to do whatever it is your organization needs done.

Unfortunately eagerness alone doesn’t fit the bill—candidates need the right combination of skills and experience too.

Keeping a few things in mind when screening that burgeoning stack can keep it from becoming a people-eating monolithic pile of epic proportions. These four tips will help.

  1. Know exactly what criteria you’re reading through resumes for. Even if you have more than one opening at your agency, it’s important that you become familiar with the position description and what your hiring managers are looking for in each position.
  2. Create a consistent evaluation process, and always stick to it. Whether you decide to create an Excel spreadsheet that lists every resume alphabetically, or organize resumes into folders of “yes,” “no,” and “maybe,” based on how they meet criteria, it’s important that you follow the same process every time. And although it may sound trivial, keeping your resume screening process consistent can help you breeze through the process, gracefully decline those who applied and aren’t qualified, and get to the next step.
  3. Do a quick sort. Your first run through a resume pile shouldn’t have you hiring private investigators or even Googling a candidate’s name. As you read through resumes the first time, keep in mind what’s most important to the hiring manager and in the posted job description. If a candidate makes it past this stage then conduct a more in-depth review of their resume, check out their online presence, and schedule a phone screening.
  4. Don’t forget that somewhere in one of these piles is your next great employee. As time-consuming as resume screening can be, somewhere in one of those piles is your organization’s next hire. All of your hard work will pay off when they bring in new donors, strengthen community relations, or streamline your most antiquated process.

How do you make sure that reading resumes doesn’t put a damper on your day? Tell us on Facebook!
May 27, 2013

Florida Pays Off Federal Loan that Supplemented Unemployment Benefit Costs

For the past 4 years, Florida has been indebted to the Title XII federal loan program, due to the economic crisis in 2008. Along with 35 other states, Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund became insolvent as the economy suffered. While this state trust fund was designed to be self-sustaining, most states had no other option but to take out an extensive loan—coupling a devastatingly shorter and smaller supply of unemployment benefits with a huge outstanding balance owed to the federal governments.

But, Florida was able to make their final loan payment of $9.2 million on Tuesday, May 21st.

Using more than $3.1 billion from employer tax collections and $360 million from an issued Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax credit, Florida became the 14th state to successfully pay off their debt. The remaining states still possess a cumulative outstanding balance of over $21 billion, with an added interest of over $464 million—all of which must be paid off in order to restore their Trust Fund balance.

With their balance finally at $0, and their unemployment rate down to 7.2 percent, Florida is now able to focus their energy on job creation and economic improvement strategies.

While there was no specified payment schedule for the loan, Florida has progressed a lot quicker than some of the larger states. 22 states still remain in debt, but Florida paves the way for economic salvation. And provides a sense of hope to those seeking employment.

Want to learn more about the Florida federal loan pay-off from the Tampa Bay Times? Read this overview.

Compare what your state debt balance is here.
May 14, 2013

Hiring Regrets- Part 2: Hiring Tips for Managers and Making Your Interviews Work

Do they all have updated interview training?

As we learned yesterday, interviews are one of the most effective ways to determine if a potential candidate will fit well within your organization.

In fact, according to research published by DDI International, new hires who reported their hiring manager and staff interviews to be effective were 85% confident in their decision to accept the job, 42% more likely to be planning on staying with the organization, and 39% more likely to be highly engaged!

Luckily, interviewing is a trainable skill.

By providing proper education and coaching at your agency, hiring managers are able to better, more accurately present the job, your company, and how an applicant would interact with their team. And an accurate representation of the position and your organization can lower first year attrition rates, improve employee morale, and boost outlook.

To review your interview training requirements, consider the following:

  • Does your organization provide a question template before the interview to help the interviewer get answers to specific, relevant questions?
  • Does your organization provide a template for after the interview that helps interviewers assess the candidate with as little bias as possible?
  • Do your hiring managers and interviewing staff know which questions could be deemed illegal by federal nondiscrimination standards?
  • How often are interviewing staff at your organization required to refresh their interview skills?
  • Do hiring managers within each department have a consistent means of scoring and evaluating applicants?
  • Are hiring managers at your organization skilled at coaxing useful answers from applicants, or do they often accept vague, generic answers?
  • Does the hiring process at your organization turn applicants off? Is it too long, complicated or demanding?
  • How well do interviewers at your organization listen to responses?

For organizations that need to update their interview training, a quick internet search can reveal hundreds of specialized services catering to many different job requirements, complimentary tricks and tips, and many other resources.

Tell us: How often does your organization evaluate your interview and hiring procedures?
May 13, 2013

Hiring Regrets- Part 1: Employers and New Employees Often Question Hiring Decisions

Have you ever hired someone, only to turn around days or weeks later and wonder, “What in the world was I thinking?” Or worse, have you ever hired someone and then heard that employees are asking the same question?

According to global research about hiring trends published by Development Dimensions International (DDI), half of new employees report that they are experiencing buyer’s remorse after accepting a recent job offer.* But new employees aren’t the only ones rethinking their employment.

Many employers surveyed also reported that they are questioning whether they have made wise hiring decisions, with 1-in-8 new workers employed during a 12-month period having proved to be a “bad hire.”

When staffing directors were asked what the top reasons for hiring mistakes were, nearly one-third of respondents blamed an over-reliance on hiring manager evaluations, while only 21 percent pointed to candidates that had oversold their skills.

And because interviews are one of the best ways to determine how a potential candidate will perform in the role, bad interviews can be poisonous. But only 1-in-3 staffing directors feel that their hiring managers are skilled at conducting high-quality interviews, or are satisfied with their company’s training program for interviewers.

In better news, further research revealed that just over half of all new hires would rate themselves as confident in their decision. Delving deeper, many of those who reported a lack of confidence found that the hiring process had failed to paint a realistic picture of the job, department and company they are now employed by.

On the other hand, in companies where the hiring process yielded an accurate portrayal of the job, company, and department, new hires were far more confident in their decisions, less likely to immediately begin scanning job boards, and highly engaged with the job and their workplace.

So what’s the best way for a nonprofit to address these concerns?

Well-trained hiring managers, realistic portrayals of what the position is really like, and good interviews!

Read more about the research by DDI International at SHRM. And come back tomorrow for Part 2: Hiring Tips for Managers and Making Your Interviews Work.
April 24, 2013

Know Your Sector- The Nonprofit Impact

How well would you guess you know the Nonprofit Sector?

Would you be surprised to learn that 1 in 10 people work for a nonprofit? Or that, the nonprofit sector makes more money--every year-- than the economies of Saudi Arabia, and Sweden combined?

Sometimes we forget the incredible impact of the nonprofit sector overall, but this short video, made by YouTube contributor PhilanthropyGuy, did a good job reminding us at UST! Take a moment and watch it, and let us know what you think. Were you as surprised, and impressed, at everything nonprofits do?

Watch the Video here: Know Your Sector- Nonprofit Impact<
April 17, 2013

Changes to Unemployment Integrity Laws Force Employers to be more Diligent about Claims Management, Says UST

Federally mandated changes to the state-run unemployment system will be rolling into effect over the next 6 months as the October 2013 deadline looms, forcing employers to comply with stricter administration standards or face high penalties. UST helps member nonprofits comply to avoid costly errors.

- Interview Available-

Santa Barbara, CA (April 18, 2013) – In an effort to reduce potential penalties for its nonprofit employer members, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) has launched several new efforts and technological tools to help address what is being called the federal “UI Integrity mandate.”

Passed as a part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Integrity mandate requires all employers to provide a complete and timely response to the state’s first request for information about an unemployment claim. Designed to address one of the biggest weaknesses of Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds nationwide—the persistence of unemployment benefits paid in error, which are have cost $10.3 billion in the last year—the UI Integrity Act requires full compliance from all states no later than October 21, 2013. As of today, 5 states (NE, OK, MS, IL, and WV) have enacted legislation with 6 additional states (CA, UT, NM, SD, MN, and NC) passing legislation to be enacted in the coming months. 12 states (WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO, AZ, ND, IA, LA, KY, and VA) have pending legislation. The remaining states have yet to take any action to meet the federal deadline.

To ensure that the reform yields the necessary savings, there will be penalties on employers for non-compliance. Any employer that fails to provide a complete and timely response to a claim loses any hope of relief from charges attributable to that claim—even if the employer ultimately wins the claim.

Further, if the state identifies a pattern of failure to provide complete and timely responses, negligent organizations and their claims administrator are at risk of permanently losing valuable protest rights and/or facing monetary penalties.

To address these new liabilities, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST), which helps more than 2,000 nonprofit employers nationwide to reduce the cost of unemployment claims, is conducting regional seminars and state-specific webinars for its members. Through its partnership with Equifax Workforce Solutions (WS), UST’s educational opportunities will allow its nonprofit members to examine how changes to the national UI integrity laws will affect them and to gather helpful tips to improve overall win ratios when protesting improper claims. On average, this type of diligence reduces an employer’s claims costs by 15% each year.

In addition to the seminars and webinars, UST’s nonprofit members now have access to a unique unemployment claim dashboard called CaseBuilder, which was launched by WS earlier this year. “This online dashboard will allow organizations to gather and submit documents and details in a fast, secure environment for all stages of the unemployment process,” reports Workforce Solutions. Current members who utilize CaseBuilder have significantly increased their ability to comply with state requests in a timely manner—which will be extremely pertinent as states begin to integrate UI Integrity legislation into their practices.

Finally, members of UST are already reaping the benefits of “SIDES,” the State Information Data Exchange System that 24 states have implemented, with more scheduled throughout 2013. SIDES is a secure, paperless system which allows UST members and their claims administrator WS to better provide necessary details and documentation at the time of an initial claim filing. Here is how it is helping UST member organizations:

  • It’s electronic, so it’s more secure than paper documents.
  • Electronic delivery of claims from the state will increase the amount of time employers have to respond to requests for separation information.
  • SIDES was specifically designed to require details as a part of the response. Providing the details up front will save time by reducing additional requests for information.

“All employers will be on the hook to respond to every unemployment claim, every time,” says Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We’re trying to establish best practices that ensure our member nonprofits are ahead of the curve—so they can avoid penalties down the road.”

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing 501(c)(3) organizations with a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. Equifax Workforce Solutions (WS) is UST’s partner to provide members with claim administration, audits of state charges, and hearing representation if a member’s claims protest goes to court. They also provide educational seminars and training materials to UST member agencies throughout the year. Visit to learn more.
April 16, 2013

Reforms to Unemployment Insurance Reviewed by House Committee

Chairman Reichert of the House Committee on Ways and Means held a Hearing yesterday on the Implementation of 2012 Unemployment Insurance Reforms that will focus on the implementation of reforms to unemployment benefits enacted in P.L. 112-96, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.

According to Doug Holmes, President of UWC – Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers’ Compensation:

"On February 22, 2012, the President signed P.L. 112-96, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. This legislation extended and reformed the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program for the remainder of 2012, which was subsequently extended through December 2013. This legislation also included landmark reforms to the permanent unemployment program, such as creating new job search requirements for Federal benefits, permitting States to have new flexibility to seek “waivers” to promote pro-work reforms, allowing States to screen and test certain UI applicants for illegal drugs, requiring “reemployment eligibility assessments” (REAs) for the long-term unemployed, and requiring States to recover more prior overpayments of UI benefits. The initial implementation of these 2012 reforms was previously explored during a Human Resources Subcommittee hearing in April 2012."

"In announcing the hearing, Chairman Reichert said, 'Fourteen months ago, Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate agreed on commonsense reforms to the unemployment insurance system designed to help more Americans return to work sooner. The President signed those policies into law, but the Administration has since been selective in implementing some policies and has created barriers to successfully helping states take action on other policies. This hearing will help us evaluate how the Administration has implemented the 2012 reforms and determine what we can do to help more Americans collect paychecks instead of unemployment checks.'"

UWC provided testimony and advocated in favor of the integrity provisions in the legislation in 2012, many of which were adopted. UWC testimony from the April 25, 2012 hearing in review of implementation can be viewed here.
April 09, 2013

Employment for People with Disabilities Promoted by the National Governors Association

The National Governors Association (NGA) has turned their attention to helping people with disabilities find jobs this year. Focused on building partnerships with companies that help those with disabilities find long-term, satisfying employment by accommodating those once considered unemployable, the NGA will make ongoing recommendations for further improvement in their annual August report.

How has your organization adapted to better accommodate hiring workers with disabilities?

The Association aims to create a plan that provides workers with disabilities a paycheck while strengthening the deeper sense of purpose and belonging many people find in their jobs.

Nationally more than 30 percent of the adult population receiving income-based government assistance has a disability. But, only 1 in 3 adults with disabilities, ages 18 to 64, were employed in 2011—the most recent year statistics are available for—compared with 3 out of 4 adults without a disability.

However, according to the NGA, the U.S. spends about $300 billion annually to support unemployed workers with disabilities, while 67 percent of working-age people with disabilities would rather have a job they feel productive at.

Does your nonprofit support workers with disabilities? How have you encouraged other organization to accommodate workers with disabilities? Has it caused any changes within your organizational structure?

If so, you may be interested in connecting with our partners the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC) which provides private specialized education programs and serves as a community resource or the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP) which works to enhance the political, financial and professional/educational health of their members which care for people with disabilities.

Read coverage on how Walgreens and other employers are working on better accommodating workers with disabilities as a “good business decision” in this Stateline article.
March 28, 2013

Study Finds Nonprofits a Vital Part of Many Nations’ Economies

Nonprofits connect communities.

A study by the John Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies (@JHUCCSS) has found that nonprofits are a significant and growing source of jobs and economic activity worldwide.

The study, The State of Global Civil Society and Volunteering: Latest Findings from the Implementation of the UN Nonprofit Handbook, found that if both paid staff members and volunteers are counted, nonprofits employ 7.4 percent of the total workforce—on average—in 13 nations for which this information was available.

Furthermore, because nonprofits are growing so quickly, it was found that their economic activity is outpacing that of the national average of economic growth in many of the nations studied.

Does this ring true at your nonprofit and in your community? Does it make a difference? Let us know!

Want more about the findings? Read this overview.

Read more about the study’s findings here.
March 25, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Megan C.

Megan C.- Customer Service Representative

A sunset Megan captured outside her house last week! How gorgeous is that?!

After starting out with UST’s Accounts Payable department, Megan C. was excited to be offered a position as a Customer Service Representative in February. “I was excited about helping nonprofits potentially save money on their operating costs after having volunteered with nonprofits in the past,” she explains.

“I worked with MDA and helped with their Fill the Boot and Winter Wine Down campaigns. And although I still haven’t had the chance, I’ve wanted to work with the Make-A-Wish foundation since they helped my cousin, who was battling an unknown cancer, ”* she says.

“My cousin was 19 when he passed away and really into gaming, so the Make-A-Wish foundation redid his room and decked it out with all sorts of entertainment and gaming systems that he was then able to play. It made a big difference to him.”

Growing up with a large family, Megan treasures her memories of summers on Cape Cod and at the beach, Thanksgiving with her whole family present, and her grandparents’ stories of growing up in Greece. “Being half Greek, and hearing their stories throughout my own childhood, my grandparents have easily convinced me that I want to visit and experience the culture first hand.”

Have questions for Megan? Tweet her @USTTrust with the hashtag #MeetUSTMondays!

*About 5 percent of those diagnosed with cancer have a previously unrecognized form.
March 21, 2013

Tips for Negotiating a Nonprofit Compensation Package- Part III

Know your priorities before you begin negotiating.

The end of our mnemonic prioritizing what you want most in your benefits and salary package at a new nonprofit is often the hardest. It requires that you legitimately sit down and determine which benefits are the most important to you and where you have the most wiggle room.

For instance, the title of your position more important than the amount of money you make a year? Is an extra $3,000 or $5,000 of salary a make or break issue for a position that you would love to have?


If you get too hung up on a single point in the negotiation process, it can slow everything down and create issues that may haunt you later down the line.

And remember, if you do anything out of line in the negotiation, or if anything in your package is seen as excessive, controversial, or deemed “special interest” there may be problems down the line when it comes to managing your team and working with other stakeholders throughout the organization. So, if you don’t think something in your package is worth fighting for long after negotiations are over, consider leaving it out.

What other tips do you have for negotiating a nonprofit compensation package? Are there things that you can’t live without? Tell us about them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!
March 20, 2013

Tips for Negotiating a Nonprofit Compensation Package- Part II

Yesterday we began by explaining how research can give you a better idea of what negotiations will be like—and what items you most want to negotiate—during the pre-hire stage, so today let’s “Focus on the Future.”

Because, as you know sometimes jobs come along that are simply too good to turn down, so in these cases it’s even more important that you recognize the difference between what you need, what you want and where the difference is.

Focus on the future in your negotiations to make sure you don't get stuck in your financial past.

Focus on the Future

If you can, evaluate the non-monetary points of the compensation package to determine if they help fill the gap. Maybe you are able to take a leave of absence every year, or you can create flexible working hours that allow you to work during the times that make the most sense for your life. Since the monetary portions of any compensation package are often the most stringently reviewed—and the least likely to pass muster—look at the amount of value that is gained from other components of the proposed compensation package.

If even this doesn’t pass your compensation test, consider whether you (and the organization) would be interested in revisiting the package a few months down the line when you have shown your worth. It’s possible that the decision makers may be more inclined to offer you better perks if you have proven yourself a valuable member of their organizational team.

What other tips do you have for negotiating a nonprofit compensation package? Are there special things that you don’t think you’d be able live without in the future? Tell us about them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!
March 19, 2013

Tips for Negotiating a Nonprofit Compensation Package- Part I

If you’re like many people the idea of having to sit down and negotiate a compensation package—of any kind—dulls the thrill of finding a new job and learning that you’re the right fit. But by preparing yourself for the conversation you are better positioned to come to a happy medium with your potential employer.

If they're fighting this hard, chances are they didn't do their research!

As a starting point, make sure that you’ve gotten far enough along in the interview process that you’re questions are appropriate. The standard suggests that asking in the first meeting is too forward, but by the second or third interview you should have some idea of whether or not the salary fits your expectations and living standards.

Once you have an idea of what the salary may be, and are firmly knowledgeable of the fact that the organization (and you!) have decided you’re right for the position be “Ready For Practice.”

A short mnemonic you can easily remember to help you better retain these principles, “Ready For Practice” translates to: Research, Focus on the Future, and Prioritize.

Let’s start with “Research.”


If you don’t already know them, research the standard compensation benefits for specific nonprofit jobs. Often nonprofits review their executive compensation packages annually against peer organizations, but if you aren’t looking for an executive position you may have more hurdles to jump.

Often nonprofit positions outside of the executive suite are more heavily influenced by internal structures and the current compensation of peer positions. The better you understand these ranges, the more leverage you can create to tailor a request close to the standard that the Board or CEO will accept.

Also look at the financial history of the organization you are interested in working with. If you notice that they have had a rough time for the past 5 years, it may not be in your best interest, or in theirs, for you to ask for $500,000 a year. But, if you look at their financial history and see that they have the right combination of stability and growth that would merit a larger salary for your position, ask for it.

What other tips do you have for negotiating a nonprofit compensation package? Do you have any little known (or best used) research practices others can use? Tell us about them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!
March 17, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Lisa

Lisa (in red) poses with Laura, Megan, Angela, Robin, and Kim (from left) with their UST mugs.

Lisa- Customer Service & Enrollment

When Lisa started working with the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) in May of 2012, she was revving to go. “I was excited about the opportunity to finally—after many years of working—be doing something that actually makes a difference,” she explains.

As a Customer Service & Enrollment Specialist, Lisa spends the majority of her time talking to nonprofit organizations all around the U.S. to explain how the Trust can help lower the cost of unemployment, and to get them the information they need to make an informed decision. She prides herself in being a gateway for each new organization; helping each agency weigh their decision about whether to stay with the State UI system, opt out and reimburse on their own, or join the Trust.

“I have volunteered at retirement homes, as well as in the critical care unit working for new babies, and I feel very strongly about both the elderly and infants/children. They are the most vulnerable and innocent populations and I love helping them,” she says.

“But in my time off, I’m such a homebody,” she laughs. “I read, watch movies, do cross-word puzzles and spend time with my family and friends…and dance in the living room. In fact, if I could dance for a living, I would. I love to dance on my own to music, just expressing whatever I feel. But my absolute favorite place to be is curled up on my couch on a rainy day with a great book, my kitties around me, and someone I love next to me.”

As much as Lisa’s cats and her couch may call her name though, she’s still been bitten by the travel bug: “For years the Beatles were an enormous part of my life, and I adore them, so I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to go to Liverpool, England, and see where they began.”

Have questions for Lisa? Want to talk about why the Trust makes sense for so many different orgs, or tell her about your own Beatlemania? Tweet her @USTTrust!
March 14, 2013

Guest Infographic: The Devastating Human Impact of Sequestration Cuts by the National Council of Nonprofits

Made available to us by the National Council of Nonprofits (as featured in their March 11 issue of Nonprofit Advocacy Matters), the following infographic helps illustrate the true human impact of the sequestration.

Sequestration infographic

March 11, 2013

US DOL Releases Instructions on Sequester Impact on UI

by Guest Blogger Douglas J. Holmes, President of UWC- Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers' Compensation

The US Department of Labor has released instructions to states in response to the federal sequester that became effective March 1, 2013.

Changes to UI, as announced in the recent UI program letter, could affect your organization. Have you read the full letter yet?

Regular state unemployment compensation amounts are not directly impacted by the sequester. However, the details of the impact on funding for UI administration at the federal and state level and in sorting out the reduction amounts for individual weekly Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefit (EB) claims will be confusing for claimants, state agencies and employers and will likely result in higher error rates due to the short time to respond with programming, lack of training for staff, and misunderstanding of changes.

Sequestration specifically applies to

  1. UI state administrative grants under Title III, Social Security Act
  2. Administrative funding for UCFE, UCX, and administrative funding for TRA, ATAA, and RTAA benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act
  3. Reemployment and Eligibility Assessments (REAs) for regular UI program claimants
  4. UI national administrative activity funding
  5. Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits and administrative funding
  6. EUC related Reemployment Services and Reemployment and Eligibility Assessments
  7. Federal reimbursements of state Short Time Compensation benefit costs
  8. The federal share of extended benefit reimbursement

The DOL has asked that states make adjustments necessary to implement the reductions as soon as possible, and that EUC weekly benefit amounts and total EUC benefits payable be reduced by 10.7% effective with the week of March 31, 2013. However, recognizing that there may be some states that are not able to implement the reductions on March 31, 2013, states may delay implementation but the applicable percentage reduction will increase with later implementation.

The DOL has prescribed a notice to be sent to claimants explaining the reason for the reduction in EUC payments.

Impact on charges to state UI trust fund and employers in federal share of Extended Benefits

Of particular concern to employers in states that have triggered regular Extended Benefits (EB) is that the federal share of the EB payment will be reduced from the temporary 100% federal reimbursement, increasing the share to be paid through charges to employers and the state unemployment trust fund. Alaska is currently the only state triggered, but this cut in reimbursement should be noted as a concern in other states as well. A state may pass legislation detailed in the DOL program letter to reduce the EB Weekly Benefit Amount by the percentage of the cut.

A number of states enacted optional EB trigger provisions due to or conditioned on there being 100% federal reimbursement for the payments. The federally promised 100% reimbursement is now being cut, raising the policy and legislative issue as to the impact on laws requiring 100% reimbursement and states that assumed 100% federal reimbursement when enacting the optional triggers.

State administrative complexity will cause overpayments

Instead of simply reducing the total amount payable in EUC, the Office of Management and Budget and DOL have decided to implement the reductions with respect to individual weekly claims as well as in reduction of the total. The result of this decision will be difficult programming and administration by states with very little additional administrative funding ($40,000 per state). The determination of the amount of the reduction on a weekly basis, the relationship to state weekly benefit amounts, overpayments and a host of other issues are likely to result in significant numbers of overpayments and confusion on the part of claimants.

Employers and states should review the program letter (linked below), specifically with reference to EB considering measures to avoid increased charges to state unemployment trust funds resulting from a reduced federal share reimbursement.

The full program letter may be viewed at
March 03, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Robin

Robin (right) and Lisa feel peaceful as they take the tram.

Robin- UST AP Specialist/Claims Analyst

In 1976, Robin’s parents did the unthinkable. They drove across the U.S.—from Southern California to Montreal, Canada—with 3 small children in tow.

For days they stopped at historic landmarks across the East Coast letting their children experience the excitement and historic fervor of some of the most famous historic landmarks in the U.S., including the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty and many others in Washington D.C., before attending the Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Still her favorite childhood memory, it’s possible that this early exposure to the many different cultures of the U.S. helped ground her in her hometown of Carpinteria—where the UST administrative office is located—and led her to UST where she enjoys working with state agencies on behalf of our members.

“I knew UST would be a perfect fit for me,” Robin says, “the challenges of working with state agencies on behalf of nonprofits and providing the best customer service that I can is something that I love doing every day.” And, she sheepishly admits, “I loved the idea of working in my own community. I’ve lived here all of my life, but I’ve never actually worked in town.”

But with only 3 stoplights, and a downtown area that is only about four blocks square, it’s not surprising that Robin had never before worked in town—even if her Grandmother’s portrait does hang in the town’s historic museum.

Have questions for Robin? Want to swap Olympic memories with her? Tweet us @USTTrust!
February 27, 2013

Mugging with UST

Laura, Megan, Angela, Lisa, Robin, and Kim pose with their UST mugs outside our office.the very best of our members "Mugging with UST!"

Beginning mid-March we're going to be featuring the very best of our members "Mugging with UST!"

Send us your pictures* with a UST mug, logo, pen, newsletter, or whatever else you can think of, and we'll feature you on our social media channels! All submissions should be sent to

*Please include the link to your website if you would like us to also highlight the nonprofit you work for! (We're all about sharing the love.)
February 10, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Angela

Angela- Customer Service Representative

After more than 10 years with UST, Angela—who moved into a newly created position of Customer Service Representative at the beginning of the year—is still excited to talk to nonprofits about UST.

“When I first joined UST I was excited about the program and my involvement in it because it’s a unique way to help nonprofits save money. I love that our purpose is to help nonprofits across the U.S. save on unemployment costs specifically so that their own missions can be furthered!” she remembers.

Always excited to help others succeed, Angela splits her time between school, work, and volunteering at the local schools her daughters go to.

“I’m very social and I like to volunteer when I can. Throughout the year I volunteer at my daughters’ schools and help out whichever way I can, whether that means working as a classroom aide, working at the annual jog-a-thon, or helping out at the snack shack during athletic games.”

And in many ways, her desire to help others comes from early childhood experiences. “I have many fond memories of my childhood,” she says, reminiscing about her walk-in closet that was outfitted with a child-sized grocery cart, all the plastic toy foods you can think of, and a wide array of cabbage patch kids with their matching carrier, diaper bag, car seat, and stroller sets.

“Not all children experience what I had as a child, which is why I feel that it is so important to give back to our community and lend a helping hand to those with less,” she explains.

And while she’s outgrown her cabbage patch kids and the fake plastic food in her closet ‘grocery store’, Angela still loves to bake—especially around the holidays!—and take care of her friends and family. “When I’m not at work or at school, I like to spend my time with family and friends and just hang out. And I make sure to take my bulldog, Chula, on walks on the Bluffs around my house a few times a week so that we don’t forget how lucky we are to live in a place with mountains on one side and the beach on the other!”

Have questions for Angela? Want to congratulate her on the new job? Tweet us at @USTTrust!
February 05, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays (On Wednesday!)- Laura

When Laura, Customer Service & Enrollment Supervisor, isn’t herding cats around UST, she’s busy at home with her two young daughters—who I might add, are both under the age of 5, and are absolutely adorable?!—and convincing them that art museums featuring anything from romanticism to modern art are where it’s at.

Clearly she isn’t turned off by a tough sell.

So, beginning earlier than the rest of us wake up, Laura heads into the office, gets on the phone, and helps nonprofits across the country solve problems, better understand their rates, and save money that they can then put back toward their core mission.

And Laura jumps at the opportunity. “I was very excited to work with nonprofits,” she explained about her start with UST.

“I had always wanted to get into the nonprofit world as I feel very drawn to cause related endeavors and feel this opportunity fits my skills excellently.”

(Even her blood wants to get involved with helping those who need it! “I donate blood several times a year as a form of community service because I qualify to donate to the local neonatal intensive care unit.”)

And, echoing the sentiments of much of UST, Laura loves spending time with her family when she’s not at work. Recounting time spent growing up she explains, “My family would spend a month of every year in the Redwood National Park.”

“It was an amazing chance to explore nature, spend time together, and learn independence. We would stay in a very small town with only one grocery store/tackle shop and the same families would go there every year. I have very fond memories of the early mornings spent learning to fish with my father and then hiking and swimming with my mom and brother.”

"Those summers taught me that my presence has an affect on the world around me, and I feel that those early experiences really showed me that I can do things to help others succeed, which is-- at the heart of it-- what UST is all about."

Have questions for Laura? Want to know more about the UST Team? Tweet us at @USTTrust!