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!
January 20, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Adam

After spending years working at a major electronics retailer—yeah… you know… the really BIG one. Now imagine working there on Black Friday—as an Operations and Sales Manager, Adam was ready for a change.

“I really liked the idea of supporting organizations that make a difference,” he explained.

Having served the members of UST first as an Operations Manager and then as the Director of Operations, Adam has been exposed to a whole new side of the nonprofit world while working with the Trust. But his success at easily adapting to a new challenge wasn’t unprecedented—he once had to repair his fuel line with a tire patch kit and electric tape to make it home from a camping trip in Death Valley, California—or unexpected. “I appreciate the feeling that comes with overcoming an unexpected obstacle,” he explains, “and I like having the opportunity to test myself.”

Of his move to UST, Adam recalls, “I was fascinated by the variety of organizations that were members of UST: schools, museums, zoos, assisted living centers, mental health associations, symphonies, hospitals…the list goes on and on. And I realized that my definition of ‘nonprofit’ had been really narrow.”

Taking that newfound knowledge to heart, Adam expanded his volunteer and nonprofit experience by doing work with both Habitat for Humanity and the United Way which allowed him to better “appreciate their focus on the communities that they serve.”

Growing up as part of a Navy family that moved around with his father, a career Navy man, a lot, Adam also supports and admires the efforts of programs like the Wounded Warrior Project because he recognizes the need “to honor and serve those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.”

“One of my favorite childhood memories is having my dad surprise us by coming home early from a nine-month deployment,” he remembers.

And, in fact, family features prominently in many of his stories.

He often begins stories with “My wife…”, and even goes so far as to tell new Trust employees that she features prominently in many of his stories, so that they know who he is talking about when her name pops up. Similarly, his children feature prominently in his office, with mugs designed by them, pictures, and artwork proudly displayed. And, luckily for them, Adam jumps at the chance to learn with, and teach them something that amazes them… makes for a good story as well.

Have questions about Adam or want to know more about how the UST Operations Team works? Follow #MeetUSTMondays or send us your questions at!
January 13, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Cheryl

Cheryl- Account Executive

For the past 16 years Cheryl Jones, VP, Account Executive, has fought relentlessly to help UST thrive. Responsible for all of the personal sales contacts, new business partnerships with state and national nonprofits, and the continued growth and success of the Trust, Cheryl works closely with Donna Groh, the Board of Trustees, and the 75-plus Sponsors that help make sure nonprofits across the country aware of their choices when it comes to funding unemployment.

“I’ve been in the insurance industry for more than 25 years and I jumped at the chance to work with a client whose values I identified strongly with,” explained Cheryl. “I fought hard to make Unemployment Services Trust—which was still HSUT and NNUT—my client and I still love it.

“I have always called UST my ‘Ben & Jerry’s,’ meaning that it’s a great ‘product,’ with great employees which allows you to have a lot of fun at work.”

A frequent traveler for work, Cheryl jumps at the chance to spend time at home relaxing. “I spend so much time traveling for work that when I am home I like to take it easy and be with my friends. I have been very lucky to have traveled to every state and to have met so many interesting people. I used to say that I learned geography by following the Grateful Dead around the country, but really I am thankful every day that I have a job that allows me to go places and meet so many people. I don’t know what I would do if I had to sit at my desk 5 days a week.”

Having completed her dream house in the past couple of years, Cheryl explains, “I would much rather entertain at my house than go out, so I like to use my frequent flyer miles to bring my friends and family out to see me so that I don’t have to get on another plane in my time off.”

Even her perfect weekend revolves around being close to her home, and family and friends. “The perfect weekend would be getting up and exercising then going for a walk or bike ride and having friends over for dinner; if I couldn’t do that though, I would like to be on the water either rafting, boating, snorkeling, walking along the ocean or whale watching.”

Have questions about Cheryl or want to know more about how the UST Operations Team works? Follow #MeetUSTMondays or send us your questions at!
January 06, 2013

Meet US(T) Mondays- Donna

You know their names, and you may even know their voices, but we’d like to introduce you to the “real” UST team! Join us over the next few weeks for #MeetUSTMondays! >In July 2009, Donna Groh joined UST as Executive Director. With broad experience in not-for-profit organizations, associations and healthcare, she is known for her expertise with strategy development, change management, nonprofit governance and board development.

“Even before I joined UST as the Executive Director I had known about the Trust from a previous employer and felt encouraged by what we do,” explained Donna of her earliest encounters with UST.

“While I was with my former employer, Holly Smith-Jones, my predecessor at UST, was a board member for the organization I worked at and helped us make the decision to join the Trust. I remember that I liked what UST does for nonprofits, and at the very height of the Great Recession, I saw it as a challenge to join the Trust and take it forward.”

But working with the Trust isn’t the only thing that Donna does. An avid world traveler Donna has been to all continents except for Antarctica—a blemish she hopes to remove from her wayfarer record in 2014 when she will travel from South America down to Antarctica.

When at home with her dog Murphy—a constant companion—Donna enjoys cooking and entertaining. “My daughter is always in charge of cocktails and I am in charge of the buffet.”

Describing her perfect dinner party, Donna imagines an eclectic group of people that would create a great dynamic. “The meal would be catered by Mario Batali who would, of course, also be a guest.”

“I would also invite Abby Wambach, my favorite female soccer player,” Donna said, admitting that while she was a terrible player herself, she was a decent coach.

“Then I would invite Sherlock Holmes because I love the way his mind works, and Jude Law because I like the way he looks. Clive Cussler because of his adventure stories, and David Foster who has created more hit music sensations than anyone else. Bette Midler would round out the group,” she concluded.

Prior to joining UST, Donna was the Executive Director of Toastmasters International and before that Director of Operations & Business Development for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Previously she served as Vice President/COO of the Irvine Medical Center. She has a BS and Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and has completed coursework for an Ed.D in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University.

If you have questions for Donna, or want to know more about how the UST team works, follow our hashtag (#MeetUSTMondays) or send us your questions on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter!
December 19, 2012

The Impact of UI Claims- Part III

Wondering what kind of impact unemployment claims will have on your nonprofit in 2013? Trying to decide if staffing changes will make a difference in your budget? Well, we’ve got answers!

What Will Affect My Organization During Unemployment Peaks?

The Number of Employees at your Organization. Since smaller organizations may have made smaller contributions into the state-run UI trust fund, even one benefit claim can have a significant impact on the organization’s future experience rating.

The Filing Date of the Benefit Claim. The filing date of a claim determines the base period which determines the former employee’s wages that will be used to calculate their UI benefit payments. In the majority of states, the base period is the first four of the last five completed quarters worked.

For example, if Sally H. worked for Organization ABC from December 2004 to January 2013, and filed a base period claim in February 2013, your organization would be charged for her UI benefits based on her wages from 4th quarter 2011 to 3rd quarter 2012 (or approximately Oct. 2011- Sept. 2012).

The Amount of Wages the Employee Earned. Like most taxable areas, the higher the wages your former employee earned, the higher UI benefits they’ll receive once approved. And, in turn, the more high wage earners you have with high benefit payments, the faster your organization will see an increase in employer taxes.

The Amount of Benefits Paid to a Former Employee. Whenever employees stop receiving benefits before the full amount runs out—usually because the employee has found a new job and stopped collecting—it positively effects your experience credit and tax charges.

It is important to note however that not all employers are subject to paying unemployment taxes and some, like 501(c)(3) organizations with 10 or more employees, have alternative cost saving options available to them that can help reduce the price of unemployment at their organization. To find out if a better option exists for your organization, contact us at or request a complimentary Savings Evaluation today.

Want more information? Send us your questions on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook!

December 18, 2012

The Impact of UI Claims- Part II

Wondering what kind of impact unemployment claims will have on your nonprofit in 2013? Trying to decide if staffing changes will make a difference in your budget? Well, we’ve got answers!

What Will the Unemployment Office Look at When Determining the Eligibility and Cost of a Claim?

The Type of Employer your Organization Is. A few nonprofits are not required to pay unemployment claims under IRS tax code 501(c)(3). But if you have employed four or more individuals in some portion of a day in each of twenty different calendar weeks, in either the current or preceding calendar year, you must pay into the unemployment system, and your employees are eligible for benefits. Regardless of whether you are exempt or not, it is highly encouraged because it provides financial security to your employees should they lose their job through no fault of their own. If your organization is required to pay (or reimburse) the state for unemployment claims, the unemployment office will continue examining the claim to determine the eligibility of your former employee.

The Type of Employee Involved. Not all employee types qualify to collect unemployment benefits. For example, part-time workers or independent contractors may not qualify for unemployment benefits. However, if an employee is misclassified or other errors occur during the claims review process your organization may be held responsible for benefits paid to the former employee.

The Number of Places the Employee Has Worked. If a former employee worked for several employers within the base period*, the charge to your organization—and the effect it will have on your taxes—may be less because it would be split among all of the employers identified in the base period claim.

The Length of Time the Employee Worked at your Organization. The longer an employee has worked at your organization, the more likely it is that your agency will shoulder the brunt (and eventually all) of the base period claim effects.

The Nature of the Employee Separation. Whenever a new benefits claim is filed, the unemployment office determines whether or not a former employee meets eligibility requirements to collect benefits under state law. In some cases, the unemployment office may determine to provide benefits to an employee you don’t think should collect based on the nature of the separating event, and your organization is able to contest these at an unemployment hearing. Proper documentation is crucial to winning the case so you must be prepared, and some nonprofit trusts like UST will even provide you with a case representative to help you with court cases. (Nonprofits who used a hearing representative had a 72.3% win rate compared to 57.4% for employers who did not**).

It is important to note however that not all employers are subject to paying unemployment taxes and some, like 501(c)(3) organizations with 10 or more employees, have alternative cost saving options available to them that can help reduce the price of unemployment at their organization. To find out if a better option exists for your organization, contact us at or request a complimentary Savings Evaluation today.

Want more information? Send us your questions on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook!

Missed a Part? Read Part I here. Read Part II here.

* Base period claims are those in which a claim form is sent to EACH employer for which the claimant worked during his base period (usually the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the beginning of a claimant’s benefit year). So if your former employee is hired for only a short duration by another employer, you both may liable for a portion of their benefits.

** Source: Equifax Workforce Solutions
December 17, 2012

The Impact of UI Claims- Part I


Wondering what kind of impact unemployment claims will have on your nonprofit in 2013? Trying to decide if staffing changes will make a difference in your budget? Well, we’ve got answers!

Why Does Unemployment Insurance Matter?

Unemployment insurance was designed to provide jobless workers—who lost their jobs through no fault of their own—with weekly income during periods of unemployment. Lasting up to 26 weeks in normal circumstances, the payment amounts vary by state and are determined in part by state-dictated taxable wage bases. For most employers, the rate contributed is hinged on their “experience rating.”

The experience rating of each organization takes into account:
  1. The employer’s size,
  2. The amount the organization has paid into the state UI tax system, and
  3. The amount of UI benefits collected by former employees in a given period of time.

For employees, unemployment benefits provide a form of financial protection that helps them pay household expenses while looking for their next job. And, in extreme cases, unemployment benefits may enable them to continue paying for basic necessities until they are re-employed.

For nonprofit employers, paying UI taxes to the state or reimbursing benefits paid by the state provides the peace of mind that goes with knowing that employees will be financially taken care of if a bad economy, lost grants, or withdrawn financial support forces your organization to let someone on your team go.

It is important to note however that not all employers are subject to paying unemployment taxes and some, like 501(c)(3) organizations with 10 or more employees, have alternative cost saving options available to them that can help reduce the price of unemployment at their organization. To find out if a better option exists for your organization, contact us at or request a complimentary Savings Evaluation today.

Want more information? Send us your questions on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook!

Want more info? Read Part II here, and Part III here.
December 12, 2012

Matching Employees Jobs with Pay

How much are your employees worth? And what would you do without them?

If you don’t know the answer to both of these questions, it might be time to take a look at how traditional job evaluations are giving way to salaries that are now based on market pricing and a little flexibility.

Turning away from traditional job evaluations that looked at job ranking, job classification, point factor, and factor comparison, many newer job evaluation tactics take into account the fact that people are more fluid in their careers and no longer care how their job is evaluated—so long as they’re being paid fairly. New salary determination methods also take into account that you should never pay more than the job is worth to you.

For nonprofits, especially those where employees give their all to change the status quo and to make a difference for your mission determining salary scales based on market pricing might not be a bad idea.

But nonprofit market pricing doesn’t always compare to the for-profit side where employees may have an easier time paying off their cars, homes, and bills, as well as enjoying that extra dinner out and more vacations.

When you’re ready to set salaries for your nonprofit staff, make sure that you (and Human Resources) know:

  • The upper limit of what each job is worth to your organization and how that compares to other companies in your area
  • What the lowest acceptable wage you could pay—for that job—in your market is

After determining those, it’s time to evaluate the pay structure of your nonprofit employees using a base job salary and base area salary.

Because more jobs are opening up in the for-profit sector—jobs that can often afford to pay employees higher salaries with better benefits and more stability—it’s important that you take into account more than just what job surveys suggest is a fair salary range. Consider questions that look at your employee’s health and happiness while doing this—i.e. would $1500 a month pay the rent or mortgage for your volunteer manager? Would they be able to afford their base bills too? Or would they be left commuting long hours because they couldn’t afford area rent? Do you know how that would affect your agency?

State economic development offices and regional development agencies can help provide up-to-date and accurate state and regional pay information that can then be broken down by skill level and neighborhoods. The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a similar database that can help you determine fair pay scales for your employees.

Your best resource is always other area nonprofits though. Although they might not cover the same mission that you do, other nonprofit employers can help you determine if your pay scale is fair. All you have to do is ask a few of the right questions!

Consider asking these questions in addition to those you think of on your own:

  • What type of industry do your employees work in?
  • What types of job titles do you have at your nonprofit?
  • How many employees work for your nonprofit?
  • What level of education or experience is required for your employees?
  • How long would you like a new employee to work for your organization?
  • How long do the majority of your employees stay with your nonprofit?
December 09, 2012

$2M in Unemployment Benefits go to Inmates in Missouri. Wait…What?!

In early October, after a 3-month cross matching study, it was reported through official channels that nearly $2 million in unemployment benefits were paid to 1,100 people in county jails or state prisons throughout the State of Missouri. $43,000 of that went to a single inmate in Missouri’s Cook County Jail.

While the recipients may now face state and/or federal criminal fraud charges in addition to their previous charges, the overpayments in Missouri are simply a small indication of the larger, systematic overpayments—more than $13.7 billion this year!—that are a regular occurrence across the country.

Unfortunately there is little that can be done to force those who have maliciously collected improper payments to repay their debt, which has further weakened the already unstable UI system. And, as is to be expected in an employer funded tax pool that has already been maxed out in many states, the overpayments—whether intentionally improper or not—have strained the ability of businesses to further develop, which has prevented necessary workforce expansions. And ultimately continues to hurt the economic recovery.

Although unemployment benefits only provide a portion of a jobless workers former wages (when properly collected), the benefit funds allow those still looking for work to continue supporting themselves by paying for basic household and living expenses, which has allowed nonprofits that serve those hardest hit by the financial depression to reach a greater portion of the population most dependent on their services for basic living needs.

According to the Congressional Budget Office though, more than $250 billion have been spent on unemployment benefits in the last five years, with more than two million jobless workers currently receiving expanded UI benefits from the Federal Government, which totaled $94 billion in the last fiscal year alone.

For nonprofits still paying into the state’s pooled UI tax system, continued overpayments and the high cost of paying for the unemployment trends at other, larger companies, further creates a drain on much needed monetary resources that could be better directed back toward their founding mission.

To learn more about how your nonprofit can opt out of the state’s UI tax system and reduce unemployment costs request a quote today.
December 04, 2012

What is UI integrity – and why do I care?

It’s a familiar situation. A notice arrives informing you that your long-term employee, recently let go due to an unavoidable loss in funding, has filed for unemployment. “Oh,” you think, “nothing to do here. Of course Bob is entitled to unemployment benefits.” You set the notice aside and go about your day.

But wait, what’s wrong with this picture? You may not realize it, but disregarding that notice has just exposed your organization to serious risks.

UI Integrity

What is UI Integrity? Depending on which state you work in, it may already be familiar, but if you haven’t seen the impact of this federal legislation yet, it’s coming. Passed as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011, compliance with UI Integrity provisions is required of all states no later than October of 2013.

UI Integrity was designed to address one of the biggest weaknesses of Unemployment Insurance funds nationwide: the persistence of unemployment benefits paid in error. In fiscal year 2011 alone, nearly 12% of unemployment benefits nationwide—approximately $13 billion dollars—were paid in error. While a common conception is that benefits paid in error are the result of bureaucratic incompetence, the truth is that most of these unwarranted payments occur when the state awards benefits to an applicant whose claim is later overturned. Frequently, the decision to award benefits is reversed when the employer offers information that wasn’t provided to the state in response to their initial request.

To address this problem, UI Integrity requires employers to provide complete and timely information for all unemployment claims in response to the state’s first request. And to make sure the reform yields the necessary savings, this law has teeth. 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 you ultimately win the claim, you’re still on the hook for any benefits paid to the claimant.

Even more alarming, if the state identifies a pattern of failure to provide complete and timely responses, your organization and your claims administrator are at risk of permanently losing valuable protest rights and/or facing monetary penalties.

The bottom line on UI Integrity is that your organization has to be prepared to provide a response to every claim, every time.

At UST, our goal is to do everything we can to help minimize our members’ unemployment costs. As a claims administrator, we help nonprofits respond in a timely manner to all unemployment claims, which gives us the best opportunity to save more funds for our members’ missions. Learn more about UST claim management here:
November 27, 2012

AICPA Audit Clarity Standards are Coming: Planning for Possible Changes in Your Audit Engagement

by Guest Blogger Barry T. Omahen, CPA, Managing Partner, Lindquist LLP Certified Public Accountants

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has issued new standards that may impact your future audit engagement. Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS) Nos. 122–125 (referred to as “Clarified Auditing Standards” or “Clarity Standards”) introduce changes that go into effect for financial statement audits for periods ending on or after December 15, 2012.

For most entities, that means the standards will be effective for the year ending December 31, 2012, or later.

Some changes may affect all audit engagements

  • Auditors are now required to review the terms of the engagement with you annually, even if you have a multi-year engagement letter.
  • Management’s responsibilities are spelled out more clearly in the engagement letter as a result of the new standards, but management responsibilities are unchanged.
  • The audit team is now required to ask you more questions regarding your legal and regulatory framework and to review correspondence with licensing or regulatory agencies, if applicable.
  • All confirmations are now required to be in writing (verbal confirmation is no longer an option).
  • Internal control communications (management letters) will now include a description of the potential effect of significant deficiencies or material weaknesses that the auditors identify through their procedures.
  • The audit report (opinion letter) has changed, with added headings to distinguish each section and a more complete description of management’s responsibilities.

Certain changes may only apply in unusual circumstances

  • When performing an audit on your organization for the first time, auditors are now required to perform and document various procedures on opening balances and consistent accounting procedures.
  • If your organization uses a financial reporting framework (previously called basis of accounting) other than Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), your auditors will need to discuss the appropriateness of the framework and may perform additional procedures regarding related-party transactions.

Some of the benefits of the clarified auditing standards include enhanced communication between your team and your auditors, improved audit quality and increased confidence in the audited financial statements.

These new standards will require auditors to redo much of the system evaluation work and memorandums that they carry forward from one audit to the next. As such, it’s encouraged that you work closely with your auditor to make these changes as smooth and efficient as possible!

For a more detailed version of this article, refer to Lindquist LLP’s website:

Barry T. Omahen , CPA, is Lindquist LLP's managing partner based in the firm’s San Ramon office. Barry specializes in serving the audit, accounting and reporting needs of not-for-profit organizations and employee benefit plans. He serves as the partner in-charge of the firm's quality control review and audit and accounting practice. He can be contacted at (925) 498-1546 or .

Lindquist LLP provides this information for general guidance only. It does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. Tax articles are not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding accuracy-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
November 18, 2012

Do Your Employees Love What They Do?

Do your employees wake up every Monday morning dreading the day? Or do they come to work full of energy and ideas that they’re ready to implement? If it’s the latter, your employees may well love what they do, which gives your organization a leg up over unhappy competitors. Read on for a list of 7 things that show your employees love their jobs.

  1. Employees actively help one another out. When your employees regularly work together it suggests a couple of things that create a successful workplace. One, it suggests that they feel collaborative efforts are worth their time and energy, and two it suggests that they feel confident in the skills and opinions of their peers.
  2. Employees regularly suggest—and implement—new ways to help your organization and your mission succeed. When your employees come in first thing Monday morning with fresh ideas they’re ready to put into action it shows that they’re not only thinking about work outside of their M-F workday, it shows that they’re committed to improving the foundation that your organization has already laid.
  3. Employees like one another. Have you ever heard of the airplane test? Basically it says that when meeting—or interviewing—someone new you should ask yourself how you would feel being stuck on an airplane with them. If you’re happy to be sitting next to your companion the flight will go well. If you aren’t, it probably won’t.
  4. Employees feel confident in approaching upper management with concerns and new ideas. Having a strong connection with upper management suggests that your employees not only feel valued within your organization, but also that they know that your organization will take their ideas into consideration when planning next steps—a big plus!
  5. Employees happily share credit with one another. Former President Harry Truman famously said that “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
  6. Employees regularly exceed expectations. If your employees are going to work because they have to, your organization may be stifled by their lack of enthusiasm and contribution, but if your employees are coming to work because they love what they do, chances are they will regularly exceed expectations because enthusiasm and hard work are a very reactionary combination.
  7. Employees know what they do matters and that it makes a difference within the organization. For most employees a secure knowledge of who they are within the organization, how their work matters, and how it makes a difference to those outside of the organization equals happier work life self-esteem.

How do you measure employee happiness? Would you add anything to our list? Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!
November 07, 2012

Making Sure that Talent Management Works for Your Nonprofit

Understanding talent management and succession planning at your nonprofit is about more than just knowing where your next hire will come from and planning for transitions. It’s all about understanding the non-negotiables, the employee skills and talents that are necessary for the continued success of your nonprofit. And, in the long run, it’s about carefully planning for the future ahead of each critical position.

Building your Talent Management Capabilities

Successful agencies don’t simply happen overnight, and neither does successful succession planning. It’s important that key people within your organization recognize that people will leave, employees will retire, and key positions will need to be filled ASAP. When this recognition happens, you can begin approaching succession planning within your agency as an opportunity to train and support talented employees in a way that moves their career forward.

When you are open and up-front with employees about the opportunities available for them at your organization, you position yourself and your Board for success. But you also get employees involved in the talent management of your agency.

Getting employees on board early and often, means that they’ll be prepared to do the work required to grow to their aspirations. It also helps ensure that they’ll understand the steps required to get a promotion and help new hires assimilate to your mission. To do this you must start with an internal review of your existing talent management steps and be prepared to change them as necessary.

Internal Review

To get started, begin considering what you’re doing now to develop the people within your organization that you know you would like to groom for future leadership. Ask questions that will help you gain understanding and insight into areas which they need strengthening in, and prepare to demonstrate the importance of investing in their development to others within the organization.

Some questions to consider before you begin explaining the importance of talent management and succession planning might include:

  • What is your average turnover/tenure rate?
  • How do you identify internal talent with a high potential to take on leadership roles?
  • How do you measure their performance and support their growth?
  • What would you do if a key member of the agency gave a two week notice today?
  • What problems or obstacles would their successor encounter before they are fully integrated into the agency?
  • Plan Overview

    As you get past the planning stage and actually begin drafting a plan overview, make sure that you remember key items such as visible support from key management and Board members that strong succession plans often include. Lastly, make sure that key leadership criteria with incorporated information from focus groups and industry best practices, and agency accountability and follow-up options should also be included in your plan.

    Defining Success at your Agency

    Before you get too deep into writing the plan overview and creating the framework for your organizations talent management though, it’s important to determine what the most vital positions are.

    You’re first thought might be to say your agency couldn’t survive without the Executive Director, or the CFO, but what about the Intake Coordinators, Fundraisers, and front-line workers your agency couldn’t live without?

    While determining which positions are most important at your organization, be careful that you’re not only including top management, top performers, or current, well-liked employees. Include positions that are crucial to the daily functions of your organization and give these the highest priority for review based on the risk the organization runs with each vacancy.

    Once the most important positions are determined, develop a success profile for each position that identifies the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience a new hire would have to have for this critical role. Now might also be a good time to take a look at the performance assessments that have been conducted on this position- regardless of the employee within the position- over the last few years. (Learn more about setting the stage for an effective performance Assessment here.)

    Developing the Talent

    Now that you’ve determined the most critical positions within your organization and developed success profiles for each of them, you’re ready to begin figuring out how to develop the employees you would like to groom for these positions.

    You’re goal in this should be to identify and develop internal candidates that may be potential successors for specific positions. These potential successors should match:

  • Your needs as a nonprofit agency
  • The skill set that they can or will be developing
  • The employees aspirations for their future
  • If an employee you think might be worth developing doesn’t match on any of the above three points, begin developing outside connections that expose you to the potential employees that would help fill the gaps in your agency.

    Throughout this step you’ll want to use performance management tools that integrate organizational data outside of the typical performance review to help build a complete profile of the individual that is in the position. A more comprehensive talent inventory that involves multiple aspects of the position will allow you to identify skills gaps at the departmental level and systematically identify the people with qualifications that fill those gaps.

    Recruiting and Hiring the Right Talent

    Before finishing your succession planning, make sure that you have identified the timing and process for bringing new people into the organization, particularly for your critical roles. Because successful recruitment occurs long before a vacancy occurs, the profiles and assessments you create now will help you identify the types of skills and talents that your organization thrives because of.

    Read the original Capability Company report here.

    November 04, 2012

    Nonprofits and the Criminal Element

    In late 2010, nonprofits earned more than $670 billion and employed more than 1 in 12 Americans. However, recent screenings have revealed that nonprofits don’t tend to hire employees with criminal backgrounds.

    Whether intentional, or unintentional, only 5 percent of those who were screened by Lexis Nexus Risk Solutions had ever been involved in any kind of criminal activity. But more than 1-in-5 of those who had a criminal background had been convicted of serious charges, including drug-related offenses, sexually-based crimes, kidnapping, and murder.

    Nearly 1,200 nonprofit employees who were given background checks during the study had been convicted of murder. There were also 600 kidnapping offenses included in the audit.

    Every year, Lexis Nexus combines forces with thousands of nonprofit agencies across the United States to conduct background checks and gather information designed to better protect nonprofit organizations in the event of a bad, or worse, accidental, criminal hire.

    New EEOC Guidance May Soon Change This

    In April, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission approved new guidance on criminal background checks that requires all employers to individually assess whether an applicant’s past criminal conduct is job related or consistent with business necessity before throwing them out of the hiring pool.

    For nonprofits who have encountered problems with employees whose criminal background prove not so distant, and for those who protect clients from criminals, the new rules will be jarring because the EEOC provides only 2 circumstances in which an employer can meet the “job related and consistent with business necessity” on a consistent basis. The first occurs when an employer is able to validate the criminal conduct screen for the position in question. This can only be done in accordance with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures Standards if the data about the candidates’ criminal conduct, as related to their work performance, is available and can be validated.

    The second, more time consuming and personal, option requires that a nonprofit employer must develop a targeted screen of all applicants considering the nature of their crimes, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job available. The employer must then provide applicants excluded by the screen the chance for an individual assessment to determine whether the policy, as-applied, is job related and consistent with business necessity.

    The individual assessment would further require that the candidate is notified that they have been excluded from consideration because of a criminal conviction. According to the EEOC, the notice would have to include an opportunity for the screened candidate to demonstrate that the exclusion should not be applied based on the particulars of the candidates’ circumstances.

    The employer must also consider their appeal with merit to the particular circumstances that are revealed during the consideration period.

    What It All Means

    Thankfully, the same study that found that only 5 percent of those employed by nonprofits have criminal backgrounds found that the number of nonprofit employees with criminal backgrounds has declined for five consecutive years, dropping from 7 percent in 2007 to 5.3 percent in both 2010 and 2011.

    According to the study, which is called The Power of Positive Information, “The results… demonstrate that our background screening programs are working for nonprofits and underscore the importance of continued screening vigilance at nonprofits since nearly one-fourth of the records included in the audit were for serious offenses.”

    More importantly, the study shares several best practices and program recommendations including:

    • Developing a standard screening policy that’s automated across locations to boost program efficiency and effectiveness
    • Volunteer rescreening, which keeps organizations updated about any evolving risk
    • Expanding minimum screening requirements to supplement a national criminal database search with a country-level search to enhance program strength.

    To learn more about the study or how you can better improve the security of your nonprofit, visit for the full study.
    October 25, 2012

    Organized Nonprofit Sector Linked to Lower Local Unemployment Rates

    In a study finding that probably won’t shock anyone working with a nonprofit, it has been found that an organized nonprofit sector is linked to reduced unemployment rates in the surrounding community.

    By categorizing an organized nonprofit sector to include the number of nonprofits per capita in each community and the degree to which nonprofits directly engage local residents, the study, “Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds,” presented three key findings:

    1. There is less unemployment within counties that have a higher density of nonprofits than in similar counties that have a lower number of nonprofits,
    2. Social cohesion, or “the level at which citizens trust, talk to and help neighbors, and socialize with family and friends,” is another strong factor in preventing unemployment, and that
    3. The organizations most likely to be linked to lower rates of local unemployment are those that “provide direct, tangible benefits to their members” and those “whose supporters perceived themselves as genuine members.”

    Further emphasizing the importance of an organized nonprofit community that is involved with those in the local area, the study suggests that while nonprofits directly contribute to a lower unemployment rate by creating jobs, there also appears to be a ripple effect in which organizations that engage with local residents create a change in the local unemployment rate.

    Released by the National Conference on Citizenship this study may well become highly influential for those who most often are called upon to discuss the importance of establishing strong nonprofit sectors. And although it doesn’t offer all the answers as to why organized, involved nonprofits are able to directly impact unemployment rates, there will undoubtedly be more information to come in the next few months as the unemployment rate continues to trend downward.

    Read the original NPQ article here.
    October 22, 2012

    New LinkedIn Features Let You Connect to Potential Board Members Online

    Every great nonprofit is built on great employees, which are often built by a great leadership team, but finding that great leadership can be incredibly difficult if you don’t have a wide net of already established nonprofit-focused connections. Thankfully, Board Connect, the newest social media program from LinkedIn looks like it will be able to help make the pain of a Board search a thing of the past.

    By allowing nonprofits to connect directly with potential board members, Board Connect, a project of the Social Impact division of LinkedIn, aims to help you build a stronger Board of Directors that bring the ideal set of skills and expert knowledge to every nonprofit organization.

    While it is only available to a select group of nonprofit organizations at this time —notably those in the fields of social entrepreneurship and education leadership— LinkedIn has dedicated a lot of time and energy to ensuring that the program is a success.

    For instance, the Board Connect program provides nonprofits with free access to Talent Finder, one of LinkedIn’s premium accounts focused on finding top candidates across the site, access to an exclusive educational webcast, and an invitation to join the Board Connect Group. While participation is limited to registered U.S. nonprofits, the new program will help better connect the right people—with the right Human Resources, Marketing, and Business experience—to your organization.

    Focusing on deepening relationships and cultivating connections by creating a stronger network of connections for your organization, LinkedIn bills itself as the perfect platform to connect with the people and resources every nonprofit needs to accomplish its mission.

    What do you think? Is LinkedIn the right online platform to connect nonprofits with potential Board Members?

    And, when the program becomes more readily available, will you consider using it to find a new Board Member? Will it significantly change your Board Membership or the methods you use to search for them?

    Sign up here.