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May 06, 2014

The Human Services Council of New York endorses the Unemployment Services Trust

The Human Services Council of New York has endorsed the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) to all of its members as a new member benefit. HSC, which is recognized as the voice of the human services community in New York, has chosen to partner with UST in alignment with their mission to “strengthen the not-for-profit human services sector’s ability to improve the lives of New Yorkers in need.”

The relationship between HSC and UST will allow many more 501(c)(3) organizations to learn how to lower the cost of unemployment at their organization by opting out of the state unemployment insurance tax system and implementing best practices. By paying only the dollar-for-dollar cost of unemployment benefits awarded to former employees, organizations that join UST lower their average claims cost to just $2,287 per claim versus the national average of $5,174 per claim.

“Not only will this new partnership result in potential savings for HSC members,” explained Judy Zangwill, Executive Director of Sunnyside Community Services, who sits on the Board of Directors at HSC and is also a UST Trustee, “but there are also additional benefits in terms of gaining access to the ThinkHR hotline and training, and getting 100% representation at all unemployment claim hearings when an organization joins UST.”

“As a Trust member I knew that UST helps nonprofit organizations from the time an employee initially files for unemployment benefits to the end of the claims experience. But as a UST Trustee I have even greater insight into the program and can see that it’s not only efficient for members, it’s also a well-run organization that provides increased value for its 80 Affinity Partners.”

About the Human Services Council: HSC strengthens the not-for-profit human services sector’s ability to improve the lives of New Yorkers in need through networking, advocacy, research, media education and by acting collectively to establish greater balance between organizations and government. As a membership association HSC has long been at the forefront of enacting positive changes to outdated, bureaucratic governmental systems that human services providers must navigate to help those in need. In service to their members, HSC seeks to reduce regulatory burdens while strengthening accountability—with the overall goal of producing better outcomes for clients. Their efforts enhance public recognition of the sector, improve its financial stability, and have a long-term positive impact on the well-being of New Yorkers in need. For more information, visit humanservicescouncil.org.

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance alternatives. Visit www.ChooseUST.org to learn more.
April 24, 2014

Could Nonprofits Lose Employees to Business?

In an interesting Op-Ed in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the magazine predicted nonprofits will lose workers to the for-profit sector if they don't feel a sense of purpose. The author, Aaron Hurst, states that researchers have found that employees need 3 things to feel a sense of purpose within their work:
 
  • Opportunities to grow
  • Relationships with employees and others involved in the work
  • To create something greater than themselves
"Wait, wait," you might shout. "My organization gives employees all of those things." And chances are, you're right. But sometimes employees find that the day-to-day business of operating a nonprofit gets in the way of feeling that they are a part of something.

Worse, a disconnect between daily tasks and feeling a sense of purpose can lead to frustration in your employees. Hurst cites one high-level executive who made the switch from the nonprofit sector to the corporate world because she didn't feel her work was impacting the mission of her organization.

But what is your organization supposed to do? How do you re-engage employees that feel their contribution doesn't affect the overall mission of your organization?

Hurst explains that his 3 mantras are:
 
  • Continue to fight Goliaths (ie. supersize your ambitions)
  • Figure out what drives employees
  • Train managers and human resource executives to be community organizers
We've added a few additional suggestions though.
 
  • Make a formal retention plan.
  • Thank your employees, and let them know what their work helped the organization accomplish this year. And don't think "thank you's" have to be grand gestures. Taking the time to regularly acknowledge the effort and impact of someone's work can make a big difference in the long run.
April 21, 2014

UST Helps Members Make Their Unemployment Claims Experience More Eco-Friendly with E-Filings

Every day is Earth Day for nonprofit members of the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) who are reducing their paper trail. More than 91% of the organizations that participate in the UST program now handle the details and filing of their unemployment claims online. 68% of UST members are participating in the online unemployment claim dashboard that allows them to view claims detail related to their organization and process information requests from the state. And an additional 23% of UST members have elected secure email channels as their method of claims response, further eliminating paper waste and increasing the speed of communication.


Having managed more than 21,000 unemployment claims and pulled 12,800 claims reports online for nonprofits last year, UST calculated that 253,000 pieces of paper –equivalent to about 30.4 trees–were saved by UST’s 2,000 members.

“This green initiative is our small way of contributing toward reducing our carbon footprint, and also making life easier for our nonprofit members,” says Adam Thorn, UST’s Director of Operations.

Thorn explains, “Last year the federal government mandated that state penalties should be imposed if an employer does not respond in a timely manner to the state’s request for information on an unemployment claim. The response window is often a week or less, so being able to e-file claims information helps mitigate the risk of non-compliance and helps us be a more eco-friendly program. It’s a win-win.”

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance alternatives. Visit www.ChooseUST.org to learn more.
April 07, 2014

UST Found More than $3.5 Million in Savings for Nonprofits

Last year the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) identified $3,532,485.26 in unemployment tax savings opportunities for more than 200 nonprofits that requested a Savings Evaluation. Additionally, UST found $1.7 million in state errors that were credited back to current participants in the UST program after state charges were carefully audited by the claims administrator.


“When you file your own personal taxes with the IRS, you make sure you’ve identified every savings opportunity. At UST we help nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees identify whether their 501(c)(3) is overpaying for its unemployment taxes,” explained Donna Groh, UST’s Executive Director.

Based on research conducted by the UST Division of Nonprofit Research last year, 1 in 4 nonprofits is unaware of the legislation that allows 501(c)(3)s to opt out of paying state unemployment taxes and instead directly reimburse the state for the dollar-for-dollar cost of benefits paid to their former employees. UST helps nonprofits determine if this alternative will save them money by analyzing their past few years of unemployment claims. Savings can be as much as 60 percent.

“This year our goal is to find more than $7 million in potential savings for nonprofits that ask us to compare UST to their state unemployment tax rate or current supported reimbursing program. Too many organizations are overpaying for their unemployment costs, and we hope to help change that by putting more unrestricted funding back into their budgets when they take advantage of the UST Program.”

For most organizations that join UST, the savings add up quickly. Steve Lepinski, Executive Director of the Washburn Center for Children in Minneapolis and a long-time UST Trustee, said, “The savings generated by UST are like a large foundation has provided millions of dollars to nonprofits across the country.”

His organization estimates that it has saved more than $100,000 on unemployment costs since joining the UST program.

About UST: Founded by nonprofits, for nonprofits, UST is the largest unemployment trust in the nation, providing nonprofit organizations with 10 or more employees a safe, cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes. UST has partnered with 80 state and national nonprofit-based associations to teach their members about their unemployment insurance alternatives.
April 03, 2014

Recruiting the Right Employee: Conclusion

Presently, 10.7 million people are employed by the nonprofit sector. With job functions ranging from healthcare administration to membership development to content creation, the nonprofit sector encompasses every job skill and employment level available. Falling behind only the retail and construction fields in terms of sheer manpower, nonprofits face very different challenges when it comes to recruitment.

Hobbled by limited budgets for recruitment, historically lower pay scales, and fewer opportunities for internal advancement (the largest majority of mid-level employees come from other nonprofit organizations), nonprofits have a lot working against them when it comes time to hire. So what is a nonprofit to do when they need to source appropriate applications and hire the best candidates to advance their mission?

Let’s start by ensuring job postings are in the right place and reaching the most relevant candidates.

Rather than relying solely on word-of-mouth advertising through the nonprofit community, or on your informal network of connections, become active in sourcing candidates from the very field you want to hire for. You never know which job seekers are looking for the opportunity to leave the corporate structure in favor of an organization whose mission they are passionate about.
April 02, 2014

Recruiting the Right Employee: Part 3- Posting and Screening for Specialized Positions

Does your nonprofit rely most heavily on informal recruitment networks to fill open positions? If you said yes, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that 88% of nonprofits surveyed are satisfied with using the informal recruitment networks of their friends and colleagues.

The same survey found that a whopping 85% of nonprofits don’t have a formal annual recruitment budget. Of the 15% of organizations that do have a formal recruitment budget, the media budget allotment was only $8,500 a year.

Maybe that explains why so many organizations rely on informal recruitment networks. But with only $8,500 to spare at most, where do organizations turn when they need to fill a position they can’t locally source from their pre-established informal recruitment networks? Even more difficulty emerges when the position a nonprofit is looking to hire for is highly specialized or needs a very select set of background and educational or certification experiences to support it.

A quick Google search of the term “specialty job listing site” returns more than 2.4 million results. For organizations looking to hire someone with highly technical training, there is the job site “37signals.” For those looking to hire someone with an accounting or other financial background, there is the site “Financial Job Bank.” And for nonprofits looking to hire skill sets most often found within the nonprofit sector, there are ASAE: CareerHQ and Opportunity Knocks.*

Other well-recognized specialized job boards include:
 
  • Bridgespan Group
  • State Associations, such as many of our recognized Affinity Partners (view the full list here)
  • Industry & Skill Specific Associations, such as Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA)
  • MediaBistro
  • HealthJobs USA
  • College Recruiter
Another good way to look for potential applicants with specialized skills or certifications is by sourcing from your volunteer bank. (Hey, sometimes it’s best to rely on word of mouth!) If you are looking for someone knowledgeable in an area that you already have one or more volunteers in, consider asking them directly if they would be interested in submitting an application.

Similarly, your organization shouldn’t only be positing these specialized positions on specialized job boards. Consider posting on some of these sites as well. Even if you don’t directly reach the perfect candidate through general boards such as Craigslist or Indeed, many active job seekers know passive jobs seekers who they are willing to forward relevant positions to.

*Opportunity Knocks is a national online job board, HR resource, and career development destination managed by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, one of UST’s 80+ Affinity Partners.
March 27, 2014

Recruiting the Right Employee: Part 2- Posting and Screening for General Positions

For employers trying to find candidates to fill general skills positions the battle to wade through the tide of resumes is daunting. Sometimes it feels as if there are 500 “good” candidates for every one open position.

This is where the importance of having a well-written and well-defined job description (and by extension, job posting) comes in handy.* Including required experience, education, and other basic skill requirements allows potential candidates to self-screen before putting together a cover letter and resume package for your organization. In fact, even the simple act of requiring a cover letter (and throwing out all resumes submitted without one) can help your organization pre-screen employees based on their communication skills.

The same with including a salary range—a lot of companies don’t do this for a multitude of reasons, but applicants know what they need their base rate of pay to be. You don’t want to find the perfect candidate to only learn that you can’t afford to hire them after going through the entire recruitment process, do you?

After you’ve put together the full job description and have ensured that it will help potential candidates and the hiring committee quickly screen for the least likely candidates, it’s time to post. But where do you post the job description?

The easiest place to start is general job search sites, a short list of which you’ll see below.
 
  • Idealist
  • Monster
  • ASAE:CareerHQ
  • Craigslist
  • Indeed
  • CareerBuilder
  • LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Job Board


Other places you should consider posting the job would be with your local community centers, churches, community colleges and universities, and libraries.

Have more suggestions? Share on our social media channels!

The next segment of this series will discuss finding candidates with refined or specific qualifications. Since many nonprofits often rely heavily on informal networks for hiring & finding new talent, these are sometimes the most difficult jobs to fill.
 
*UST’s offering ThinkHR can help UST members build strong well-written job descriptions and evaluate pre-existing job descriptions against similar, if not exact, jobs. Learn more here.
March 26, 2014

Recruiting the Right Employee by Posting Jobs in the Right Place: Intro

It sounds easy when you first start looking for a new employee: Post job “A” and after a careful selection process, hire the best person for the position.

But what if the best person doesn’t submit an application? How can you reach the right job seekers with the right job postings? Well, there’s a song about how the best place to start is at the very beginning, so it’s important that you make sure you are posting job descriptions on the most appropriate sites.

There are so many different job boards though!

It’s a mixed blessing that you’re right. Even as the economy has improved and the unemployment rate has fallen (with the exception of February 2014), the area of source identification has remained murky when it comes time to recruit new candidates. For some positions, industry specific job boards provide the most active access to the ‘right’ candidates on a national, or even international, scale. But for highly localized job postings, where do you turn?

And where should your organization seek general skill jobs such as Admin Assistants or Receptionists?

Our newest series focuses on finding the best ways to identify candidate pools that are a good fit for your general positions, and finding candidates with more refined, specific qualifications.
January 28, 2014

Understanding Your Future Leadership Needs

There comes a time at every nonprofit that conversation must shift—whether naturally or through force—to future leadership needs. But often, founder’s syndrome, overbooked schedules, and fear of change squelch the conversation or muffle the sounds of potential future leaders leaving.

But few nonprofits should actually be afraid of leadership development since often it indicates growth and mission success.

When your organization is open to examining your current organizational goals and is ready to actively assess your employees and positions to see if you have the employee talent to lead your organization forward, there are hundreds of resources for leadership development.

Thankfully, The Bridgespan Group has put together a Nonprofit Leadership Development toolkit, with videos based off of their own leadership development research, that can help you tie the skills and talents your organization will need into your strategic planning efforts.

Watch the first video here.

UST’s ThinkHR hotline can also help you prepare for future leadership needs with expert job description builders, salary benchmarking tools and more than 200 on-demand courses for both management and employees! Visit the webpage here.

Learn more about the HR resources available to UST members by calling (888)249-4788 today.
January 26, 2014

Before You Add a New (Young) Board Member, Read This!

The Millennial generation has been getting a lot of press over the past few years, and often the coverage is decidedly unkind, with a focus on personalities that feel entitled to a “participation trophy,” are lazy, and don’t respect their elders at work. With an engrained focus on technology and change previously unseen in former generations, Millennials have made a lot of people uncomfortable and have been called out repeatedly for it.

But according to research done by the Social & Demographic Trends arm of the Pew Research Center, Millennials are forging an identity that is “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and open to change”-- which makes them perfect candidates for your next open Board seat. (Read the full report here.)

Creative and highly adaptive, many Millennials are defined by their upbeat energy, positive outlook and high level of inclusion. Conversely many Boards are getting a bad rap for being exclusive, untouchable, and far too opaque in their conservative decision-making.

According to advocates for younger board members, having Millennials on your board has many benefits and advances your organization in ways that may be overlooked by those quick to dismiss the young. These include:
 
  • Passion for your mission and organization
  • Access to fresh, new networks and a strong knowledge of how to continue building them
  • Future leadership potential and the ability to act as a bridge to other future leaders
  • Technologically savvy with a knack for teaching other generations the benefits of a technological shift


Read more of the benefits of having younger board members on your Board.

Take the quiz to find out how Millennial you are.

Do you have younger board members at your organization? How did you find them? Tell us about your board demographic!
January 12, 2014

Pictures, Pizza and Philanthrophy

More than thirty years ago, the Unemployment Services Trust was established with the core mission to help nonprofits save money and do more for their mission. As the years have passed and UST has grown to more than 2,000 member nonprofits nationwide, the scope of the organizations that we partner with has also expanded into a broad spectrum of charitable functions, including every major nonprofit sector.

For those of us who help run the day-to-day operations of the UST program, there is a special thrill in hearing how each of our members is able to make an impact in their community through after school programs, health and human services, meal delivery programs, arts, literacy advancement efforts, animal advocacy, and so much more! We wanted to reach into our local community and get help illustrating (literally) all of the types of nonprofits UST serves. So we asked the children that participate in our local Girls, Inc. and Boys & Girls Club programs to help us by entering a calendar contest. And within a month, we received more than 100 incredible drawings!

The only problem is there are only 12 months in a year! So after a difficult selection process, we presented each of the winners with awards, and threw all of the participants a pizza party. Said Tristan from the Boys & Girls Club of Carpinteria to the local newspaper, “I was really excited I won because I never thought I was that good at drawing.” His entry in the Museums category is the winning image for May.
 
December 03, 2013

#GivingTuesday and the #Unselfie Bring In the Big Bucks

On Tuesday, December 3rd, the second annual #GivingTuesday took place. Encouraging people all over the world to take place in what started as a national day of giving, the campaign celebrates and contributes to the success of charitable activities that support millions of nonprofit organizations.

This year online donations by Blackbaud rose 90% to $19.2-million, with the average gift hovering around $142. Network for Good, which also processes online donations, said it handled $1.8-million in gifts on Tuesday.

In 2012 there were more than 2,000 recognized #GivingTuesday partners in the U.S. During that 24-hour period, Blackbaud processed more than $10 million in donations while DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations on that day over the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2011.

The #Unselfie, in which participants take a picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with the name of a charity they support-- either through volunteer work or donations-- and post it to their social media networks, helped contribute to the trend and was a leading keyword in the days leading up to Tuesday.

What was your favorite #GivingTuesday campaign? Tell us about it on Facebook and Twitter.
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