Friday, January 27, 2012

Featured Nonprofit Job: Higher Education Research and Policy Analyst

Cross-Posted From Nonprofit Jobs

Looking for a nonprofit job in sunny Atlanta, GA?  The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) has just the position for you.

Effective immediately, SEF is looking for a highly motivated candidate to fill its brand new Higher Education Research and Policy Analyst role.  This position is being created to help expand SEF's ability to conduct research, analyze policy, and develop programming to improve access to college and degree completion nationally.  A particular focus will be placed on the successs of low-income and minority students.  As such, all interested applicants should have a strong passion for working with these types of students, and a strong knowledge of Minority-Serving institutions.

Interested in this position?  Before you apply, make sure you fit the following requirements:
  • A doctorate degree in higher education, public policy, or a related field.
  • Experience with conducting higher education research and reporting.
  • Communication skills are a must, including written, oral, and electronic.
Along with the submission of your resume and cover letter, also submit a writing sample and the contact information for at least three references.  Apply for this job today at NPT Jobs!

Manassas City Council Stands By Nonprofit Funding Method

Despite a push for change, the Manassas City Councils has decided to stick with its current method of funding nonprofit and arts groups.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Council voted unanimously to keep its current funding method rather than switch to another that is used in Prince William County.  That system appoints a citizen panel to make recommendations on which nonprofit groups to fund and how much.  It has been under fire by groups like the Prince William County Symphony, whose members say too much money has gone towards the Manassas Ballet ($1.6 million since fiscal year 2005).  One of the biggest advocates for changing the current system is Council member Mark D. Wolfe (R) whose wife, Amy, is the ballet's artistic director.  Wolfe abstained from the vote given his relationship to the ballet.

The city decided to keep the current system in part because it believes taxpayer money should be handled by the Council.  The current funding system in Manassas appoints a subcommittee of council members who make recommendations to the City Council on which nonprofits should receive support.  One change was made, however: The subcommittee will now have only two council members, instead of the usual three.

You can read more about this story in The Washington Post.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Examples Of Permitted Political Activities

Nonprofit organizations are forbidden to participate in any activity that favors or opposes any political candidate, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be involved with politics at all.

While an organization can not intervene on behalf of a political campaign, it may undertake certain types of nonpartisan political activities. Yet even in these situations, organizations still need to tread lightly or risk the wrath of the IRS.

In her book “Good Counsel,” Lesley Rosenthal lists some permissible political events for nonprofit organizations:

  • Voter Education and Voter Registration Drives: These are a-OK for nonprofits as long as there are no biased references to individual candidates or political parties. Timing is also an important factor for the permissibility of these events. For example, distributing newsletters on a candidate’s voting record on issues important to the nonprofit would probably constitute intervention during an election year.
  • Speeches by Candidates: An organization may invite a political candidate to speak at an event, but only if opposing candidates for the same office are given equal time. The event must not advocate for a certain position.
  • Facility Rental: A nonprofit that has space for public gatherings may rent space to a candidate looking to make a space, so long as the organization charges the campaign its customary fees and makes the space available to opposing candidates. In addition, the space must be regularly offered by the organization and not specifically for the candidate.

Nonprofit Jobs On The Rise

Cross-Posted from Nonprofit Jobs

A new study by Johns Hopkins University is giving job seekers yet another reason to flock towards nonprofit jobs.

The NonProfit Times wrote about the report from the Baltimore, Md.-based school that showed that jobs in the nonprofit sector increased an average of 2.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, while for-profit jobs decreased by an average of 0.6 percent annually.  This trend even held up during the height of the Great Recession (between 2007 and 2009), with nonprofit employment increasing at an average of 1.9 percent per year while for-profit work declined.  The only year in the past decade that nonprofits didn't outperform for-profits was 2005, when both sectors reported a 2-percent increase in jobs.

If you are wondering which industries increased the most, the JHU study has answers to that, too.  It cited the greatest increase in jobs in the following fields: Healthcare, education, and social assistance.  Those three happen to be the largest employers in the nonprofit sector, with healthcare jobs making up 57 percent of the nonprofit workforce.

There was one bit of negative news for nonprofits.  According to the report, for-profit businesses outpaced nonprofit growth when it came to social assistance, education, and nursing home care.  As a result, nonprofits in these fields lost market share to for-profits.  The reasons for this aren't exactly clear, but insiders are blaming market conditions and the moral tenets of competing industries, which tend to become muddled in tough economic times.

You can read more about JHU's study of nonprofit jobs in The NonProfit Times.

Global Fund Gets Major Gift From Gates Foundation

These are tough economic times we live in, but philanthropic organizations are still willing to give big money to causes that improve the lives of people in need.

That was the key message that Bill Gates sent when his organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, committed $750 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  The major gift came in the form of a promissory note, a new funding mechanism that allows an organization to distribute funds based on immediate needs, which leads to greater impact.

The Gates Foundation has always placed a high priority on deadly diseases with its philanthropic efforts.  The organization has already contributed $650 million to the Global Fund since its inception 10 years ago at the World Economic Forum, which is a gathering of the world's top business and political leaders.  In addition, the foundation has a Global Health Program that uses advances in technology to help save lives in poor nations.  Most of this work is done through grants to partner organizations.

Since 2002, investments to the Global Fund have helped develop innovative treatments for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing countries around the world.  The organization has provided antiretroviral treatment to 3.3 million people, detected and treated 8.2 million people with tuberculosis, and provided 230 million bed nets to families to prevent malaria.  These efforts and more have helped save 100,000 lives every month.

You can read more about this story in The NonProfit Times.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Contract Law Basics

Contracts can be intimidating things to nonprofits.  Once you put your signature on that piece of paper, it seems like the whole world changes.  Everything you do from that point on must be weighed carefully.  They sure can be a hassle, but contracts are necessary to allow organizations to get the resources they need to carry out their programs.

Every nonprofit program is different, but they all have at least one thing in common: Concern with contract law.  Contracts can provide a lot of legal issues for organizations.  Management always needs to be prepared for any situation.

In her book "Good Counsel," Lesley Rosenthal lays out the basics of contract law.  She writes that contracts must be written with reasonable specificity so that each party can perform their necessary obligations under the agreement.  These specifics include the parties to the contract, when or over what period of time the exchange of obligations is to occur, and any other details that are determined to be important to the parties.  If none of these details are included the contract may not be considered valid, because it only expresses that an agreement has been reached, rather than a binding agreement.

Once there is an offer and acceptance to an agreement, Rosenthal writes that the parties need to render the agreement in writing and sign the document.  This will make the agreement binding.  Some organizations do confirm their contracts with oral agreements, but it is safer to do it in writing so you have something to refer back to should an issue arise.  Note that "in writing" doesn't necessarily mean on paper.  Electronic contracts are equally recognized in most places as binding for both parties.

Now that the contract is written, you can put it away and begin living up to your end of the bargain for the life of the agreement.  You will likely never have to look at the contract again unless a problem arises--which is hopefully something you and your management team will be able to avoid.

Romney's Tax Returns Shed Light On His Giving

One of the big issues that had surrounded GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was his tax returns.  Romney was under intense pressure to release them and he said they would be available in April.  After a loss in the South Carolina primary last week, he decided he would hasten that schedule.

The NonProfit Times took a look at Romney's tax payments and found that he had given more to charitable organizations ($7 million) than he paid in federal income taxes ($6.2 million).  During a recent Republican debate in Florida, Romney said that the American public would be satisfied that he had paid his fair share during the past two years.  Let's take a deeper look and see exactly where Romney's money went:
  • The largest charitable contribution noted was a $1,525,000 donation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Romney is a noted member of the Morman faith, and he has donated at least $4.1 million to the church over the past two years.
  • For 2010, available tax returns show Romney's itemized deductions totaled $4,519,766.  His total income was $21,661,344, with an adjusted gross income of $21,646,507.
  • None of his income came from wages.  They came instead from capital gains, stock dividends, and interest payments.
  • Romney had an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent.  Note that, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, the average effective tax rate for millionaires is 25 percent.
In President Barack Obama's annual State of the Union address last night, he stated his belief that millionaires and billionaires pay a lower rate than average Americans.  He announced the so-called "Buffet Rule," where individuals who make more than $1 million would pay 30 percent in taxes.  If that rule were in effect in 2010, Romney would have had to pay a lot more in taxes.

Read the full article on Romney's tax returns in The NonProfit Times.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Planning The Hiring Process

After much debate, your organization has identified the area that needs help and has posted the corresponding advertisement to an online job board.  Now what?

There's a lot of work ahead of you while you wait for qualified applicants to apply.  One of the things you can do to make this work a little less painful is to lay out a hiring process.  In his book "Nonprofit Management 101," Darian Rodriguez Heyman says having such a plan is essential to evaluate candidates.  He stresses that any hiring process should allow applicants multiple opportunities to provide evidence of their past success.

Heyman recommends the following process to successfully narrow down your nonprofit's pool of applicants:
  • Job application review
  • Phone screen
  • Initial in-person job interview
  • Follow-up interview (as many as you deem necessary)
  • Reference and background checks
  • Negotiation and hiring
Each of these stages should involve what Heyman calls the "four tenets" of an effective hiring process:
  • Clarity: Everyone involved knows exactly what you want.
  • Consistency: Every candidate participates in the same process.
  • Equity: Every candidate is treated equally.
  • Legality: The process is nondiscriminatory.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nonprofit Volunteer Accused Of Embezzling

Volunteers are great help for any nonprofit, but one California-based nonprofit is dealing with an issue that highlights the need for strong vetting of potential workers.

Elizabeth Lower is accused of embezzling around $25,000 from Empty Cradle, according to a report from Channel 10 News San Diego.  A member of the organization, which helps families deal with the loss of children, spoke to the station about the situation, which took the nonprofit by surprise.  Lower first came to Empty Cradle asking for help after her 6-month old daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Although she was struggling with the loss, she wanted to volunteer for the organization.

There were no red flags to be found at first.  It wasn't until a year ago that Empty Cradle noticed something was wrong.  They found they were unable to get in touch with Lower after they found an unpaid bill.  Upon closer inspection, they found they had lost between $25,000 and $30,000 from their accounts.  Just like that, all of their money was gone.

Lower was arrested at her apartment last Thursday and will be arraigned today.  In the mean time, Empty Cradle is left only being able to perform its core services.  The case highlights how careful organizations have to be when hiring new volunteers or employees.  It wasn't that long ago that the Girl Scouts of America Greater New York affiliate went through a similar situation when their finance director pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the organization.

Read the full story on Channel 10 News San Diego.

Webinar: Moving Nonprofit Financials To The Cloud

When someone talks to you about the cloud, is your first thought to look into flight courses?  If that's the case, you might want to attend our upcoming webinar.

The NonProfit Times and Intacct are proud to host a free webinar on February 14th.  It's called "Moving Your Nonprofit Financials to the Cloud: The Do's and Don'ts," and it's a must-attend event for any organization looking into this new technology.

As a nonprofit organization, your accounting needs are more challenging than a for-profit corporation's financials.  You probably hear many people around the industry talking about cloud computing, but the last thing you want is to do is deal with another new technology.  Is it really worth all the hassle?  By attending the upcoming webinar, you will get answers to all the questions you have about the cloud, and learn why thousands of nonprofits are using it to gain control of their finances.  You can even ask questions.

The speakers for this event will be nonprofit technology and business process expert Jacqueline Tiso from JMT Consulting Group, and Dan Drucker from Intacct.  Topics include:
  • What are the key financial management technology issues facing nonprofit organizations today?
  • What are the risks moving to cloud computing and how do you protect yourself?
  • How secure is the cloud and what do you look for when evaluating a vendor?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of cloud computing for the finance department?
Register for this free webinar today!

Conducing A Job Analysis

Cross-Posted from Nonprofit Jobs

How well do you know the jobs at your nonprofit? Even if you think you have it all covered, it's important to undergo a thorough analysis of the positions at your organization.
A job analysis identifies and describes what is happening in the jobs at a nonprofit. All organizations must undergo this process, as it helps to differentiate job and performance requirements based on job content, specifications, and working conditions. All of this information will be crucial when developing a job description.
In "The Big Book Of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem describe the information your organization should obtain in a job analysis:
  • A job's context or its purpose, its work environment, and its place in the organization.
  • The duties and responsibilities that employees carry out in the position.
  • How people in the job are expected to act while accomplishing their work.
In order to get this information, you should:  
  • Get direct employee and supervisor input.
  • Gather data from multiple incumbents and supervisors.
  • Use techniques that yield data that is concise, easy to update, and limits bias.