Thursday, November 17, 2016

Is Your Nonprofit Trustworthy

It’s that time of year when individual nonprofits, the United Way, and alternative organizations to the United Way are sending letters and are working with employers to solicit donations.  New nonprofits seem to be popping up to ask for funds.  The public often assesses nonprofits simply by familiarity, word-of-mouth, the visibility in the community or increasingly by websites and Facebook pages.  Something new has popped up to turn our direction toward nonprofits, #GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  It urges us to volunteer and donate in our area rather than simply spending our money on Black Friday.   

Since the public values nonprofits because we trust them, you might want to consider what your website and Facebook page says about you.   Are you transparent in your actions and do you tell donors how you use donations? 

The first stumbling block is whether the public can tell you are a nonprofit.  This summer I donated some materials and photos to four historical societies.  I’m familiar enough to know that historical societies are nonprofit, but I’d be hard pressed, except for the donate button, to know that two of the four were nonprofit.  Some nonprofits, particularly colleges use the term private, but this confuses the situation as for-profit colleges have come under serious scrutiny.  In a study I did of 104 nonprofits, I searched for the words nonprofit, non-profit, not-for-profit, charity, tax-exempt, 990, 501(c)3, or United Way member.  A little over half had such an indication.  A visitor to your website could look for an annual report, a link or a post of 990 form, or even a page that states how donations were used.  Only 39% indicated the purpose for donations.  Perhaps, less specific, your nonprofit could have a code of ethics, a list of board members, its mission, or even historical information to let visitors know of your status.  If you are missing some of this information you are not alone. 

Could a potential donor find your executive’s name, email, or phone number?  In my study, many nonprofits made it difficult.  I think contact information is sometimes missing because we all get bombarded with emails, but if email is overwhelming, a phone number would help. 

Being transparent and trustworthy is your function.  For a small nonprofit, it will mean re-working the website to ensure you are clearly identified as a nonprofit.  Once done, the type of information I am talking about should be more or less permanent with updates yearly for, say, an annual report. You’ll be more likely to connect with young people who are less familiar with the differences between government, private and nonprofit sectors.

I visited and GuideStar, the search that provides 990 forms of nonprofits,  I did not find any indication that GivingTuesday  was a nonprofit except that it was founded by the 92nd St Y and many people listed on the website have given money to support it.  When I emailed the website, I learned that it is a "project created and run by the 92Y Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact."

What did you find missing at your nonprofit’s website? 
For assistance, please contact me at Management.Vision 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Decline of the Pink Collar Worker

The 37.5 Hour Work Week

I visited a vice president at a private nonprofit college one time. He seemed particularly pleased to tell me that he had no administrative assistant.  He answered his own phone.  I know another professional who is constantly photocopying and preparing report materials because there is no clerical support.  I’m sure that you have visited a government agency or university that has a receptionist or administrative assistant in the middle of the hall.  You’ve come across a locked door and had to use an intercom and be buzzed in.  You may have had to be the receptionist and talked to visitors, clients, or customers because you had no support person to do so.  Of course, we all have become accustomed to the ubiquitous, press 1 if you want…, press 2 if you would like to speak to, etc.

Some of these situations have occurred for efficiency.  We all have computers and cell phones to keep in touch with staff, clients, customers.  Some of these situations have been occurred purportedly for security.  Now with the new Fair Labor Standards Act rules going into effect Dec 1 that will require you to pay overtime to once professional exempt workers, you may be thinking about whether you need that clerical help again, this time to save money. 

We just went through an election cycle when politicians bemoaned the loss of manufacturing jobs and offered solutions.  The decline of manufacturing, however, is nothing new.  Nor is the decline of the pink collar worker, but few talk about the situation.  

Are there other ways to approach the changes in exempt and non-exempt status of your employees besides laying off?  Sure FLSA experts and Management.Vision will tell you to conduct a job analysis to consider whether the jobs are truly doing exempt or non-exempt work but, for the most part, your professionals at the lower end will become eligible for overtime. 

Think about the flip side, how much time your executives and professionals will spend on clerical work with a loss of a pink collar worker.  No executive or professional is going to  
admit the time they spend on clerical work.  Consider what impression you make not having an available receptionist. 

How about shortening the forty hour week?  There is no law that says your work week must be forty hours.  I have worked in places that have had a 37.5 hour work week and a 35 hour work week. I know some employers who have used a 39 hour work week. Who wouldn't like to go home an hour early on Friday.  I’ve seen the 37.5 hour work week successful in a nonprofit hospital including for the nursing staff. This doesn’t mean that you won’t need to pay overtime and certainly hospitals do, but you just might save a job, keep good customer relations, and keep down that expensive wage for your professionals to do clerical work.  Cutting the work week and saving jobs may not work in all nonprofits and government agencies but it might work for yours.