Blogs

Entries with Blog Label Nonprofit Management .

May 29, 2020

Tips for Ensuring Your Nonprofit Isn’t Scammed During COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines—in more ways than anticipated. While cybercriminals are always looking for ways to scam victims, pandemics provide additional opportunities for fraud. As people are spending more time than ever on their smart phones, iPads, and computers for work, shopping and entertainment, cybercriminals are ramping up their activities and getting more creative with their methods of hacking unsuspecting victims.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are using COVID-19 to further target consumers and businesses alike. They’re setting up websites, contacting people by phone and email, and posting dishonest information on social media platforms. Being aware of the different types of scams out there is the first step in protecting yourself, your business and your employees. Knowing how to handle those scams can save you a great deal of headache down the road.

The following are some examples of scams linked just to COVID-19:

  • Government Check Scams – Attempt to get you to make a payment in return for available business funds.
  • Business Email Scams – Create dummy accounts that look like they come from a company executive asking an employee to make a financial transaction.
  • IT Scams – Emails that appear to come from your tech team asking for a password or directing your employee to download infected software.
  • Supply and Shopping Scams – Create fake stores, e-commerce websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell high demand supplies like hand sanitizer and face masks. 
  • Robocall Scams – Use a recording that appears to come from Google to target small businesses who may be affected by the Coronavirus, warning them to “ensure your Google listing is correctly displaying. Otherwise, customers may not find you online during this time.”
  • Phishing and Malware Scams - Gain access to your computer to steal your credentials. 
    • Malware is malicious software or viruses that can be activated when you click on email attachments or install risky software.  
    • Phishing is used to convince you to share sensitive data such as passwords or credit card information by pretending to be someone you know.

Take the following precautionary measures to protect your organization and its employees from known and emerging scams:

  • Independently verify the identity of any company, charity or individual that contacts you regarding any COVID-19 related content.
  • Ensure you’re using reliable resources to get up-to-date information on the Coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites are your safest sources.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 as well as anyone requesting personal information. Fraudulent emails may be infected with malware designed to capture keystrokes, credentials, or payment information.
  • Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources.
  • Make sure your anti-malware and anti-virus software programs are operating and up to date.
  • Use secure login methods such as requiring multiple password authentication for remote employees.
  • Secure home networks by using encryption which scrambles information sent over a wireless  connection so outsiders can’t read it.
  • Never provide personal information to anyone who calls out of the blue.

With so many people working remote, hackers are looking for companies to drop their defenses, making it easier to infiltrate networks. When people are aware of what scams are out there, they are much less likely to fall for them. Talk about the risks with your management team, create a simplified outline of what to look for, and how to respond and relay to your entire staff.

May 26, 2020

COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction for Nonprofit Employers

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 coronarvirus outbreak a pandemic leaving nonprofit employers across the states scrambling to understand the impact on their business. Now that orders are being lifted and we prepare to re-enter the workplace it’s important to understand the do’s and don’ts of implementing new COVID-19 procedures within your organization.

Do you know whether employers are permitted to take employees’ temperatures and ask about symptoms? Or if employers should allow employees to work at the office if they have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not showing any symptoms?

Since it's often difficult to differentiate the credible information from the bogus, UST has compiled a COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction handout for nonprofit leaders. Uncover the answers by downloading the COVID-19 Fact vs. Fiction Employer Handoutand discover other key COVID-19 facts as well as common misconceptions.

Ensure that Your Nonprofit Stays Compliant! Get a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace, powered by ThinkHR—a cloud-based platform that provides access to a live HR hotline, COVID-19 policy updates, thousands of documents and more. Request your free trial today at www.chooseust.org/HR-trial.

May 07, 2020

COVID-19 Nonprofit Workforce Trends Report

In a recent nonprofit survey, UST uncovered how COVID-19 has affected 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, their employees and operational strategies.

With nearly 800 survey respondents—representing a wide variety of nonprofits from across the U.S.—this report highlights critical COVID-19 information, including:

  • How operations have been impacted as a result of COVID-19 containment efforts
  • Sector statistics on reduced work hours, suspended operations, threatened revenue and more
  • Trends surrounding the most utilized resources for navigating this crisis

This report will provide valuable insight on how nonprofit organizations are coping with the unprecedented challenges during this pandemic. Download your complimentary copy today.

April 03, 2020

How to Manage Your Brand During a Global Emergency

While in the midst of a global emergency, the current COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits are challenged with how to successfully continue managing their mission-driven brand. Going the extra mile to prepare your organization for handling such a feat, will help you and your team better tackle any challenges that arise.

This is an opportunity to align your messaging with what your community needs and/or might be seeking during this time. A crisis is temporary and taking the time to show your nonprofit in a new light by providing specific messaging can instill a sense of trust and value that will be long lasting. It’s important to maintain vigilance in protecting your staff and being an example of a model citizen by not participating in unsafe behavior. Above all else, nonprofits must remain diligent of their brand and visible by its community to ensure they come out of this stronger than before. Here are few objectives for your nonprofit to keep in mind:

  • Focus on developing timely content when creating new email campaigns that speak to the crisis at hand
  • Creating webinars that speak to the current crisis—webinars perform well and are sought after by those looking for information from organizations they trust
  • Creating a survey to push out to your membership—people are eager for information and are looking for results and data on their industry
  • Tailoring the tone of your messaging to use more relatable keywords, such as: empathy, community/unity, education, simplicity, reliable, and trustworthy

When it comes to collaboration in times of a crisis, you’ll have to get creative. These strategies shouldn’t complicate your current workflow but rather benefit your organization—having these tools in place will be very beneficial when a crisis is upon us. Taking your staff into consideration and how they’ll continue to operate is vital to prevent interruptions with current business tasks. For example, if your employees are required to work from home for any duration of time, what logistics and tools should you have in place to ensure everything runs smoothly?  Tools such as, GoToMeeting and Slack allow your team to stay connected with one another while still being able to conduct important meetings and to ensure your mission continues to move forward. With the access to technology, it can make it easy to work from anywhere.

In times of a global emergency, having a plan in place to manage your organization, brand and team through the crisis is just as important as the ability to remain flexible and creative.

March 26, 2020

UST Launches COVID-19 Resource Center

Here at UST, we understand the importance for nonprofit leaders to remain informed and prepared as the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to impact the communities you serve. Nonprofit organizations nationwide have had to react quickly to a rapidly evolving crisis and change their standard business practices to maintain critical operations.

Like so many of you, we have transitioned to remote work and are continuously gathering resources to stay on top of the quickly evolving legislative developments designed to mitigate the economic fallout triggered by the public health response. We’ve also been in close contact with our strategic partners nationwide to ensure that the unique needs of nonprofit employers are being prioritized by our elected representatives during this time.

In an effort to help keep nonprofits abreast of evolving information, we’ve created a dedicated COVID Resources Webpage on our website, which we’ll continuously update,  provides:

  • General considerations related to COVID-connected workforce reductions
  • Links to the most current state-specific unemployment regulation assessments available from our claims administration partner, Equifax Workforce Solutions
  • Language you can share with your elected representatives to support nonprofit employer advocacy efforts
  • A continuously updated list of frequently asked questions, driven by our members’ feedback

We’ll continuously be updating this page so please check back regularly and bookmark the page above for easy reference. UST has been supporting nonprofit employers for over 35 years and understand the value of being informed during times of uncertainty and challenge. Please know our thoughts are with all who have been impacted by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and we’re here to answer any questions you may have.

March 12, 2020

The Benefits of Nonprofit Capacity Building

 

Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of your nonprofit organization–does your nonprofit have the ability to deliver according to its mission effectively now and is it prepared to do so in the future? 

Some examples of capacity building projects may include, identifying a new communications strategy, a different approach to volunteer recruitment, ensuring thoughtful leadership succession, and bringing your nonprofit up to speed with the latest technology. Each of these projects can help build a nonprofit’s capacity to deliver its mission. When capacity building is successful, it will strengthen your nonprofit’s ability to fulfill its mission and help to enhance the positive impact your nonprofit has on the lives and communities it serves.

Capacity building can be developed across multiple levels—individual (micro), organization (meso) or sector/network (macro) and often times, these levels are developed at the same time. For instance, at the individual micro level, programs may enhance people’s knowledge and behavior in ways that can strengthen culture, management practices and connections to other organizations (meso level) and then encourage overall participation in collective action networks (macro level). It can be helpful to look at capacity building from the perspective of who (e.g., people, organizations, networks), what (e.g., knowledge, skills, processes), and how (e.g., training, peer learning, technical assistance).

From a time management and impact on bandwidth perspective, capacity building initiatives fall into three categories; short-term planning and training, longer-term organizational effectiveness initiatives and sector-strengthening programs that encourage the exchange of information. Capacity building produces multiple benefits simultaneously, such as learning and peer interaction.

When looking at capacity building and nonprofit work in general, it can be difficult to not view capacity building, especially multiple forms of capital, as an additional task. However, when executing the program mindfully, building capital can occur through service delivery. A multiple-capitals approach to program design can help produce mission fulfillment and increase overall effectiveness of the organization. A multiple-capitals framework integrates planning, service delivery, evaluating, and reporting—in return, offering a smoother, integration of organizational activities and stakeholder accountability.

Capacity building is an important infrastructure that supports and shapes nonprofits success in helping the communities that serve. Capacity building enables nonprofit organizations and their leaders to develop competencies and skills that can make them more effective and sustainable, while increasing the potential for nonprofits to enrich lives and solve society’s most intractable problems.

February 20, 2020

Five Steps to Achieve Social Media Capital for Your Nonprofit

 

Social media continues to prove to be an essential part of a nonprofit’s marketing strategy. A key benefit of social media is that it offers new forms of communication and the ability to engage with your organization’s stakeholders. Another benefit that can go unnoticed, but is a crucial and valuable resource is social media capital. Social media capital is a particular form of social capital that is accrued through an organization’s social media network. Nonprofits can look at social media capital as being an immediate outcome derived from their social media efforts, and as a resource that can be converted or used toward strategic organizational outcomes.

Social media capital is built around interests or causes rather than institutions, and this is where nonprofits have the upper hand over other types of organizations. Nonprofits have the opportunity to integrate their missions into their social media presence and strategy to take advantage of the capital that comes with advocacy and awareness efforts. Plus, any public events that relate to a nonprofit’s mission will likely be seen in the media and nonprofits can take advantage of this opportunity for exposure—building their online presence.

To dive deeper into social media capital, highlight its characteristics, and how nonprofits should be intentional when building out their strategy, here are five steps your nonprofit can take to get a better grasp on the benefits of social media capital:

1) Utilize resources and target audience strategy: In order to get your social media up and running you need resources—time, money, and staff. Unfortunately, these commitments are likely to be overlooked by nonprofit managers and passed off to another staff member to handle. Next, is your strategy—what is your organization’s communications role and what audience are you looking to target? The organization needs to develop a plan that shows a clear lay out of desired outcomes, defines the target audience, and communication efforts.

2) Strengthen connections and messaging on social media: To acquire social media capital, you need to utilize two essential tools; making connections and responding to messages in a timely manner. Connections are viewed as relationship building—these connections can be made through organization’s friending and/or following other users. This action shows your nonprofit’s interest in engaging with other users, in turn, creating an online community. Messaging is designed to provide content to your target audience and can be curated to meet the needs of the community you’re looking to reach and engage. And, can be done through any social channel (e.g., YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

3) Gain social media capital: This is the step where your organization should expect to see social media capital—these are the social resources in an organization’s social media network that can be used to achieve organizational outcomes. In order to attain any meaningful organizational outcome through social media activities, your organization must first obtain social media capital.

4) Turn your social media capital into organization resources: This is the step when you turn your followers into customers—converting social media capital into an organizational resource. For example, your organization asks followers to donate to a cause and it results into a success, this is social media capital converting into an organizational/social resource, i.e., financial capital.

5) Incorporate social media capital into your strategy: Nonprofits should look at social media capital the same way they look at financial capital. Financial capital is considered a convertible resource and needs both short-term and long-term planning. Similarly, social media capital is fluid and requires a thoughtful strategy to maximize its support of both short-term and long-term goals.

Social media capital is generated differently and more simply than capital accumulated offline. Social media capital is assembled on messages, connections, and having a trusted role in social networks where you want to start conversations. This can help convert capital into other resources or produce key organizational outcomes.

January 30, 2020

UST Debuts New Animated Video - HR & Unemployment Workforce Solutions for Nonprofits

 

For over three decades, UST has been providing nonprofits with workforce solutions that help manage unemployment funding, ensure compliance, and maximize employee bandwidth. By offering cost-effective services, reliable protection and significant savings, UST allows nonprofits nationwide to save valuable time and money.

As part of UST’s ongoing efforts to educate nonprofits we recently released our newest animated short video designed to provide a holistic overview of UST. About a minute long, this video reveals how nonprofit employers can streamline their day-to-day processes with simplified programs and dedicated support—including HR consultants, on-demand training modules, unemployment claims representatives, and career transition services.

UST already helps more than 2,200 participating nonprofits make the most of their resources to achieve their mission-driven initiatives. And, just last year, identified $2,707,750 in potential unemployment cost savings for 103 eligible nonprofit organizations. Watch the video today to discover how UST can benefit your nonprofit, your employees and the communities you serve.

For access to nonprofit specific how-to-guides, checklists and resources, sign up for UST’s monthly eNews today!

January 29, 2020

Five Obstacles Marketers Encounter in the Nonprofit Sector

When marketing in the nonprofit sector, it can be a difficult road to navigate. With more than a million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., it can be challenging to earn the trust and support needed from donors to run a successful nonprofit. From grassroots groups to national organizations, local nonprofit marketing brings its own unique set of challenges. Even national nonprofits often struggle to implement cohesive campaigns across their many locations.

Here are five of the biggest obstacles nonprofit markers have to face on a daily basis:

1) Consistent Messaging: More often than not, nonprofits are faced with bandwidth restraints making it difficult to develop specific messaging that speaks to different marketing channels and constituents.

2) Communicating on a Personal Level: Since most nonprofits suffer from having a small team or budget restraints, marketers rely heavily on the success of email communications to their membership and supporters. While this form of communication can result in a positive response, it lacks personalization. The use of social media can be a great way to connect with your donors on a more personal level—allowing for more one-to-one communication.

3) Using Key Performance Indicators: Measuring success of marketing efforts is an area some nonprofit marketers lack expertise in or the time to devote to capturing this data. Marketing teams that have been able to incorporate the task of measuring their efforts, have more insight into performance and the ability to make data-driven decisions when creating an annual marketing plan.

4) Communication Across all Teams: In order for nonprofit marketers to gather accurate data and segment prospect lists, they have to collaborate with other departments and this can be a difficult task for some organizations. Passing information around the organization can lead to some restrictions or even tension amongst departments–competing for budget increases and donor attribution.

5) Dealing with Budget Restrictions: Nonprofit marketers deal with challenges from all directions, especially when it comes to budget restraints.  Many nonprofits face challenges in reaching their marketing and engagement goals and this is primarily due to budgetary constraints. This is a consistent theme across most organizations, regardless of size or type of nonprofit.

With the needs of nonprofit communities constantly changing, we have to remember that the marketing strategies should change with them. To gain continual support, nonprofits need to keep consistent communication with donors, volunteers, and employees. They should attend council meetings, fundraisers, and other events to gain exposure and one-on-one face time with those they hope to serve.

December 10, 2019

Winter is Upon Us - Prepare your Nonprofit Now

It’s that time of year again when we can expect to experience some inclement weather conditions across the states. When severe weather interferes with the day-to-day operations of your nonprofit, having a plan in place for unexpected barriers to your workflow can help to keep your organization productive and or reestablish business operations sooner than later if you are forced to shut down.

Severe weather increases the risk of power outages—knocking out heat, power and communication services—and often for extended periods. Many employers find themselves dealing with a number of weather related inconveniences they hadn’t even considered until it happens to them. While there are no federal or state laws that define how a company should handle such things as notifying employees of office closures or how to handle pay for missed workdays, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority.

By taking a proactive approach now, you can avoid the headache later—scrambling to figure out what to do and where even to begin. You can start by creating a plan that includes policies for what to do before, during and after emergencies—ensuring that everyone in the organization has a role and understanding of the policies once finalized.

Below are some tips to help ensure your nonprofit and its employees are prepared:

  • Outline an emergency communication plan
  • Update your evacuation plan and practice it
  • Where possible set up remote access to desktops for use during forced office closures
  • Sign up for local notifications and updates from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Understand what disasters could possibly affect your area
  • Learn how to help before help arrives
  • Create an emergency supply cabinet with first-aid kits and non-perishable food
  • Work with other organizations in your community to strengthen preparedness
  • Hold a preparedness discussion with your employees to ensure everyone understands the procedures and how to stay informed

Regardless of what weather incident you may experience, having a solid preparedness plan in place will help ensure your employees know what to expect and aid in keeping everyone informed. There are dozens of websites dedicated to helping businesses create successful preparedness plans so just remember—a little preparation now will go a long way should your nonprofit come face-to-face with Mother Nature.

November 15, 2019

How to Create Your Nonprofit's Story

In our world of online communication, nonprofits and charities are able to share and show how their organization is making a significant impact on the communities they serve through inspiring stories. This can be a challenging and overwhelming task for nonprofit professionals—they feel the pressure to create inspiring, unique and emotional stories that will set them apart from other nonprofits.

In the beginning stages of telling your nonprofit’s story, you should start by telling your organization’s “origin story.” This gives you an opportunity to explain how your nonprofit came to exist. Where and when did the idea of your nonprofit begin? How did you get to where you are today? Being able to emphatically and confidently tell your origin story will make a significant impact when connecting with your donors and volunteers.

Great storytelling is the best way to capture the attention, as well as the hearts and minds, of your supporters. While providing data on how a charity has impacted a community can be beneficial, people tend to give more when presented with a heartfelt story rather than data. Stories will help you express your mission to people who may know nothing about you or your cause. Statistics may offer some shock value, but statistics rarely get people to take action and donate to your cause.

If you and your nonprofit organization are doing things no one else is doing, it’s your job to make people aware by sharing your story. Tell your story in such a way that people won’t be able to forget it. Start by sharing how the community looked before your organization started and what the world looked like at the time. Then, touch on how the world looks now after you started this nonprofit journey. Maybe even share an example of how your nonprofit has positively impacted the community to help build your story. Using these types of examples makes your nonprofit more relatable—it allows for a more real connection and even empathy.

Empathy is also incredibly important when telling your organization’s story—there should be a moment when people see themselves or someone they know within your story. The more people can relate to your mission and your story to their own lives, the more likely they will be willing to engage and offer support to your organization.

September 11, 2019

How KPIs Benefit a Nonprofits Success

What is a KPI? A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is “a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a nonprofit (or another type of organization) is achieving its key organizational objectives.” Most nonprofits make their data-driven decisions with the help of KPIs – using them at multiple levels to evaluate success in reaching targets.

While KPIs provide important performance information that can allow nonprofits to understand whether or not they are on track toward certain objectives, they must fully grasp how the KPI’s work and how it’s benefiting the organization’s return on investment. The executive team and board members will be looking for stats and will have questions. Such as, how quick will we see a return? Are we seeing any patterns with our donor’s behavior? Can we see a comparison year over year? etc.

The use of KPIs can help correct an organization’s course of action efficiently and adapt to the changing conditions of the environment. When a nonprofit is looking for ways to succeed and achieve its mission in an ever growing and noisy space, they need a solution to measure progress and apply their course of action accordingly.

KPIs are essential when making informed decisions. Once a nonprofit gathers relevant and sufficient data, it’s much easier to make sound decisions that are going to push the organization in the right direction. It’s common that many nonprofit organizations measure generic KPIs that don’t offer any help in understanding whether they’re progressing towards achieving their mission and to what extent.

Being that it’s crucial and challenging to select the right KPIs for your organization, here’s a list of  suggestions for KPIs that are specific to various areas of nonprofit management:

1) Donors & Growth of Donation

2) Donor Retention Rate

3) ROI for fundraising

4) Track donation conversions by channel

5) Website page views

6) Email click-through rate

Friendly reminder: Once your KPIs are set, the work isn’t over. Make sure you’re checking-in regularly, whether that’s weekly or monthly and use that data to your nonprofits benefit. Tracking these important KPIs affect donor relations, program delivery and most importantly, the ability to achieve your nonprofits mission.

March 19, 2019

​​​​​​​Job Growth and Resilience in the Nonprofit Sector

From 2007 to 2016, the nonprofit sector experienced substantial growth in employment and a range of industries reaped the benefits of this growth. During this time, nonprofits surpassed the for-profit sector in employment growth with a 16.7 percent increase compared to the 4.6 percent increase in the for-profit sector. With consistent resilience and very little recognition for these efforts, nonprofits had the ability to employ nearly twice as many workers as construction, finance, insurance and transportation.

When looking at how nonprofit employment is distributed across a variety of industries, it can be helpful to see which industries benefited from this growth. Hospitals came in at the highest with 34 percent of the total, along with other health care sectors (e.g., nursing homes and health clinics) at another 21 percent. Next, is education with 14 percent of nonprofit employment then social services with 12 percent. An interesting point made in The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report is “within the industries noted above, nonprofit workers tend to out-earn for-profit workers” and an example of this is, “an average nonprofit worker in ambulatory health earns $1,364 a week versus $1,101 for a person employed in the same industry by a for-profit firm. That is a 24 percent nonprofit wage advantage. In the social assistance sector, the nonprofit wage advantage is a stunning 55 percent.”

While nonprofits are less impacted by recessions than for-profit firms, they still face other obstacles that are unavoidable. For-profits continue to make advancements and are outpace nonprofits in a number of the traditional nonprofit sectors, such as nursing and residential care field, hospital field, social assistance; to name a few. For-profits also continue to grow in the private sector and while nonprofits are growing in the service(s) sectors, they are growing faster than the economy can accommodate.

With the nonprofit sector continuing to show resilience while battling with the many economic pressures and in constant competition with the for-profit sector, the nonprofit sector continues to push on. However, attention needs to be given to the many factors that impact the future of nonprofit business models.

February 04, 2019

Nonprofit Webinar: Navigating the Road to National Accreditation

For a limited time, UST opens up registration to 501(c)(3) nonprofits interested in learning about accreditation and its benefits for your organization.

UST, a program dedicated to providing nonprofits with dedicated HR support and educational tools, presents an exclusive 60-minute webinar that offers an overview of the major phases of the accreditation process and highlights the benefits of becoming accredited—including enhancing revenue opportunities.

Join UST and Jennifer Flowers, Founder & CEO of Accreditation Guru, Inc., to better understand the fundamental organizational requirements necessary for accreditation, key participants to include throughout the process and how to avoid the common pitfalls of accreditation preparation.

This educational webinar will teach attendees about:

  • Understanding the key benefits to becoming nationally accredited
  • Comparing timelines and costs for accreditation from the various accrediting bodies
  • How to recognize why accreditation mandates are becoming more
  • Becoming familar with how to avoid common accreditation preparation
  • How to identify what is needed to successfully prepare for accreditation

If you’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit executive with 10 or more full time employees, register for the February 13th webinar before space runs out!

December 19, 2018

Using Data to Improve Performance in Nonprofits

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

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

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

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

October 16, 2018

Using the Right Metrics for Your Nonprofit?

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

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

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

1) Viability and Engagement:

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

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

2) Sustainability and Financial Security:

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

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

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

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

September 27, 2018

3 Ways to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Communication Strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 21, 2018

Strategies for Building Donor Relationships

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

September 06, 2018

[Webinar Recording] Fundraising Registration 101

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

 

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

 

This educational webinar will help you:

 

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

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

August 22, 2018

[Webinar Recording] The Role of the Nonprofit Board

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

 

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

 

This  webinar will teach you how to:

 

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

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

July 26, 2018

Tips for Adding New Technology to Your Nonprofit

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

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

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

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

July 20, 2018

Generating a Diverse Workforce for Your Nonprofit

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

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

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

  1. Provide your employees with a list of key terms around diversity—this could help spark up conversations and the asking of questions.
  2. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with each employee to find out what diversity and inclusion means to him or her personally.
  3. This Diversity Toolkit created by USC's MSW program outlines a discussion of identity, power and privilege. It offers ideas on how to facilitate these conversations and how to instill a productive learning process.
  4. Consider implementing a “zero tolerance policy” to prevent any form of bullying or harassment and in the workplace.
  5. Bringing more awareness to the Americans with Disabilities Act can help to educate your staff on the importance of being mindful to those with disabilities. The Corporation for National and Community Service offers some extensive information on disability inclusion that can be very helpful.
  6. Learning from fellow nonprofits is always a perk. Consulting with other nonprofits on their approach to diversity in the workplace can be a great resource.
July 05, 2018

How to Get Nonprofits Back on the Social Media Map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 13, 2018

Understanding Nonprofit Tax Cuts for Transportation Benefits

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

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

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

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

June 06, 2018

U.S. Employment Shows Promise with Decrease in Unemployment

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

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

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

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

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

May 18, 2018

Is Your Board Equipped to Handle Your Budget?

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

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

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

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

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

March 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

This webinar series is part of UST’s efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. For more learning opportunities, tips and legal updates just for nonprofits, sign up for our monthly e-News today!

February 16, 2018

Five Health Benefits of Technology in the Workplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 08, 2018

Tech & Philanthropy: Working Together as One

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 30, 2017

Four Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Blog

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

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

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

1. Create personal conversations

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

2. Provide press coverage on newsworthy topics

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

3. Produce content that organically attracts donors

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

4. Connect with people on a more intimate level

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

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

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