Today‘s blog is being brought to you while I sit on my back porch sipping a cup of coffee and listening to the birds chirp. It’s a relaxed environment and allows me to work as I need to get my job done. As a volunteer with the Volunteer Center of McHenry County I certainly appreciate the flexibility this affords me while I support a nonprofit agency from the comfort of my home. Not that long ago I would not have been able to do this but would have made the long commute into the office to sit in a cubicle and pound away on a keyboard. Gradually there has been a shift in work environments and how things are being accomplished.
During the mid 1990’s advances in technology made it possible for a new type of work environment to be created. The era of working remotely was born. Smartphones, laptops, tablets and a Wi-Fi connection became the tools for modern day telecommuting. Telecommuting is a work arrangement where employees work outside of the workplace at a remote location…home, library or coffee shop. All it takes is the technology, a mobile device and a location.
Organizations have discovered that telecommuting programs attract and retain valuable employees, while boosting morale (National Council of Nonprofits). It comes with a flexibility that many employees view as a work benefit. Working remotely also saves on commuting time and reducing an organization’s carbon footprint. So, is telecommuting something viable for non-profit organizations? The answer is YES, but requires planning, policies and procedures.
The National Council of Nonprofits offers these practice pointers when establishing guidelines for nonprofit employees working remotely:
Many nonprofits do not operate within a brick and mortar facility. Employee headcount and budgets restraints may call for a “virtual office” type environment. It is crucial these nonprofits adhere to established policies and procedures specifically created for working remotely.
Keep in mind that a traditional work environment may not have roles and responsibilities which allow for working remotely. Leaders within the organization will need to evaluate and determine what best meets the needs for the nonprofit. For those that do remember flexibility and communication are key to the program’s success.
National Council of Nonprofits. Remote Worker and Telecommuting Practices for Nonprofits.
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Benefits of Telework.
“We become what we want to be by consistently
being what we want to become each day.”
Richard G. Scott
In the nonprofit world volunteers are invaluable and essential to the success of the organization. They are your eyes and ears of what’s going on with your clients and the community. This means you want to be sure the message and the mission they are conveying coincide with the message and mission of your organization.
This requires establishing a volunteer program and reviewing it regularly. So, what exactly does it take to have a successful volunteer program? A few key components include volunteer recruiting, volunteer delegation, volunteer evaluation, and volunteer appreciation.
Volunteer Recruiting: Recruiting the right person for the right role is critical. To ensure this is happening start with creating job descriptions. Clearly identify volunteer roles and responsibilities. This will help potential volunteers have an idea on what the role is and how they can best serve the organization. It will also help you the organization to assess where their greatest need for volunteers resides.
Volunteer Delegation: Alex Balan with 123ContactForm identifies delegation as one of the most important aspects in managing organizations or programs. “Effective delegation should be based on clearly outlined qualifications and responsibilities drawn from the recruitment phase. By delegating you empower volunteers and make them feel needed and important. Furthermore, it makes everyone in the group involved in activities, motivating them to reach their goals and improving their experience.”
Volunteer Evaluation: How do you know if your program is accomplishing what you want it to without some sort of gauge to measure and evaluate what’s happening with the program. Evaluating the program will show what’s being done right and highlight areas of improvement opportunity.
Volunteer Appreciation: Volunteers are there to support your organization 100% and they are doing it for free! Let me repeat that…for free. However, it is important to remember that everyone needs to feel appreciated. They need to know the job they’re doing matters. Make time to acknowledge your volunteers and let others know what an asset they are to your organization. Remember to say “thank you” often.
Getting your volunteer program off the ground and running or reviewing a current program might seem like a daunting task, however with good resources available it will go much smoother. The Volunteer Center of McHenry County will be hosting the workshop
"Increase Your Impact: Volunteer Management Training Certificate" in June. This is a great opportunity to address all the pertinent components of a volunteer program at one time.
This workshop will focus on:
Alex Balan. "Why and How to Manager Your Volunteer Program Professionally." https://npengage.com/nonprofit-management/why-and-how-manage-your-volunteer-program-professionally/
"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way."
The fields are ready. Uniforms are pristine. The concession stands are stocked. The bats are warmed up. The gloves are oiled. That’s right it can only mean one thing...baseball season is here! At this point you are probably wondering where this is going so let me get started.
One thing baseball and nonprofits have in common is they operate under a form of leadership. Both answer to a board of directors, shareholders or someone at a high management level. The leadership is responsible for a variety of tasks; financials, human resources, employees, clients and operations just to name a few. This probably sounds very similar to your organization. Leaders have a hug responsibility to their organization. Without leadership something is bound to fail. This month let’s look at how baseball and nonprofit succession planning are important to staying in the game.
The game of baseball is a very strategically planned and played as a team sport. On the field the team is led by a manager. The manager is the decision maker for the on-field strategy, lineup, training and instruction. The role is critical to the team because the manager’s guidance is what dictates the team’s direction on the field. So, what happens if the manager is no longer there? Maybe a planned retirement or an unplanned termination has occurred. Maybe a personal emergency takes them off the field. No manager could now mean no direction for the players. So, how does an organization handle this? The organization needs a new leader. They can't just pull one of the streets to fill the role. The sustainability of the team requires careful succession planning if the organization is to continue to drive success.
Nonprofits are also very strategically driven. They are also challenged with the inevitable leadership shifts. Leadership will change, it’s not a matter of if but when. These types of shifts can be detrimental to the organization if there hasn't been any pre-planning done. The best way to handle this is to create a written succession plan. Not taking the time to create one could mean the demise of your organization. Getting started is always the toughest part. Let's get you pointed in the right direction.
The National Council of Nonprofits suggests starting with these ten planning tips for transition:
The future sustainability of your organization relies on the work and plans you put into place today. Get a written succession plan created and keep your organization in the game!
If you are in need additional resources take a look at the Nonprofit-Executive Succession Planning Toolkit. It offers guidance on emergency and planned successions. (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)
National Council of Nonprofits. Succession Planning for Nonprofits – Managing Leadership Transitions. www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/succession-planning-nonprofits-managing-leadership-transitions
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. "
So much of what we do today is governed by policies and procedures. Most businesses including nonprofits have some form of policies and procedures program they follow. These policies and procedures help ensure organizations are complying with laws and regulations that protect clients, employees, volunteers and the organization overall. Policies and procedures provide for a consistent message from your organization to your internal and external partners, promoting your organization’s culture. Properly selected and crafted, they serve as valuable guiding principles to be used for handling day-to-day situations.
Here’s an easy way of thinking about it. Policies are created to let us know why something needs to be done; and procedures let us know how to achieve it. An example might be establishing a security policy to protect the privacy of a client. The procedure established to follow that policy includes photo identification verification during the registration process.
Initially defining organizational policies and procedures might seem like a daunting task but there are a variety of resources to help. Start with the Volunteer Center. They will be hosting the workshop “An Easy Button: Implementing Policies and Procedure”, that will take a broad look at policies and answer many of your questions and provide suggestions on types of policies, implementing major policies, how to recognize policy mistakes, and which ones to avoid.
Policy and procedural reviews and updates should also be incorporated into your operational practices. According to Chris Anderson, established policies and procedures help “your organization by providing employees with a handy reference to daily business operations, common organizational activities, or routine organizational tasks.” All these things help to contribute to a smoothly running operation equating to happy employees, volunteers and clients.
Click here to learn more about the Volunteer Center’s upcoming workshops and resources.
National Council of Nonprofits:
Internal Controls for Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/internal-controls-nonprofits
Good Governance Policies for Nonprofits. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/good-governance-policies-nonprofits
Anderson, Chris. Why Do We Have Processes and Procedures. https://www.bizmanualz.com/organize-your-business/why-do-we-have-processes-and-procedures.html
"A true professional not only follows but loves the processes, policies and principles set by his profession.”
Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Oh, how true this statement is. I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Franklin had insight into just how convoluted the tax system would one day become, creating confusion and often frustration for everyone.
As with any type of organization, nonprofits must follow federal and state tax laws. These laws help to protect the integrity of the organization and its’ operation.
In 2017 H.R.1 (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) was signed into law. This new law brings a potential shift in the way daily operations and fundraising activities are handled by nonprofits. From the fundraising perspective these are very uncertain and often downright scary times for organizations wondering if this new law will cause fewer people to donate or donate less.
The following provisions in the Act may impact donors and the tax benefits they receive from making charitable donations (Takagi, 2018). This could have huge implications on donations that nonprofits rely on to exist. Gene Takagi, with the NEO Law Group suggests that “as a result, charitable giving is expected to drop from between $12 billion to $20 billion per year.”
Each of these tax law provisions comes with a lengthy detail of information. Navigating through the detail might be overwhelming but understand you don’t have to do it alone.
It helps to have reliable resources to navigate through the cringe worthy tax law maze. Join the Volunteer Center on February 7th for the “Keep Your Nonprofit Out of Hot Water, 2018 Tax Law & Human Resources Updates” workshop. This workshop will provide the most-up-to-date tax law and Human Resource concerns. It will address how your organization will be affected by the 2018 changes. Another option is to visit the National Council of Nonprofits website and check out “Resources on How the New Federal Tax Law Impacts Charitable Nonprofits.”
“In the philanthropic world, you’re looking at the toughest problems that exist…problems that have resisted all the intellect & money thrown at them over the years.” Warren Buffet
Happy New Year!
Well it’s happened again. We have just rung in a new year! It’s time to set new goals, establish resolutions and develop new perspectives.
Maybe you’re considering incorporating healthy habits into your routine. Maybe you’re considering becoming more involved in your community. Here’s the perfect opportunity to do both! Start training for the upcoming McHenry County Human Race on April 22, 2018.
Transition that winter couch potato attitude into something your body will thank you for later. Get up and start moving! Now is the perfect time to begin training for the annual 5K walk/run.
According to the Mayo Clinic exercise contributes to:
training schedule as your guide. This training schedule was created by Olympian Jeff Galloway. It's tailored for beginners (Mayo Clinic).
Once your training is completed put it to good use. Join the McHenry County Human Race. This 5K CARA Certified walk/run allows participants to choose which organization will receive the proceeds of their race fee and any fundraising they choose to do.
In its first seven years, this event has supported over 70 local non-profit organizations serving McHenry County and has raised over $516,000! This is a great community event that highlights and strengthens the missions of local nonprofit organizations.
In 2016 there were 62,776,640 Google searches for folks looking to “get healthy.” Start your search right here. Let 2018 be the year you “get healthy” and do something great for your community at the same time!
Is customer service important to a nonprofit organization? You bet it is! In the nonprofit world customers are your donors. Donors are the folks who make it possible for you to carry out your organization’s mission. This means it’s imperative donors feel valued with the service the organization is providing to them.
How do you make your donors feel valued? How do you keep them interested in your organization and keep them donating? Joanne Fritz, writer for The Balance has worked in the nonprofit world for most of her 30-year career. Here are a few thoughts on keeping your customers satisfied and donating again.
Take the time to treat your customers with the value they deserve. You want them to share their positive experience with others and continue to support your organization.
Fritz, Joanne. “Why Every Nonprofit Should Turn Stakeholders into Customers.” https://www.thebalance.com/customer-relationship-management-for-nonprofits-2502000
Solomon, Micah. Nonprofit Customer Service In A (Hopefully) Post-Greg Mortenson Era. “https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/11/09/nonprofit-customer-service-in-what-we-hope-is-a-post-greg-mortenson-era/#7e2421c070cf
Volunteering is FUN!
Do you know what makes it even better? Getting a group of family, friends or co-workers together to support a worthwhile cause.
Have you ever considered volunteering as a group? There are many reasons this is often the preferred method of philanthropy for some folks. Getting folks together for a group event promotes teamwork; forges new friendships; enhances existing bonds; make new memories and pulls diverse individuals together for a common cause.
So maybe you’re asking yourself…where should I start? Jayne Cravens with UNvolunteers.org suggests creating and following a checklist for groups interested in volunteering together. Cravens says to begin with a contact person that will act as a liaison for group members and the organization. From there the group needs to assess their interests and goals to help identify an organization they are interested in volunteering with. Nonprofit needs vary so there are several different opportunities to consider. Maybe it’s serving a hot meal at a soup kitchen; stocking shelves at a food pantry; setting up beds at the homeless shelter or building a home for a needy family. The options are abundant.
Michelle has been a volunteer with the Volunteer Center of McHenry County for a year serving as a marketing volunteering.