Nonprofit 411: Getting Everything Done

By Annette Rubin, Certified Professional Coach, Founder of Coaching to Potential

Annette Rubin Getting Everything DoneIn the nonprofit world there always seems to be too much work and too few resources, but by focusing on what really matters—and using your time carefully and wisely—you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish. Here are suggestions for getting everything done.

Be Sure Everything You’re Doing Really Has to Be Done by You

Often people discover that they have tasks and projects on their to-do list that should be done by others. There are three basic reasons.

  • You can’t say no. Consider each request based on the importance to your organization, level of priority in relation to other work, who is asking, and whether someone else can take it on.
  • You don’t delegate. You may believe that your staff or colleagues are already working too hard or wouldn’t be able to do a job as well as you. However, giving others the opportunity to take on new tasks facilitates their engagement, helps them gain confidence and new skills, and supports your efforts to get the organization’s work done.
  • You haven’t let go of tasks/projects you don’t have to do yourself. Sometimes you just enjoy doing work that really isn’t part of your job description. Make sure you make your own critical work your highest priority.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Time-Wasters

You may find as you look back on how you spent your day that you actually spend very few hours taking care of business. Here’s what can you do to increase your focused work time.

  • Manage your meetings. Before you agree to attend any meeting, ask yourself if it is critical for you to be there. If not, then decline the meeting. Make certain that every meeting you organize is critical. Ensure you have a tight agenda, limit the length of the meeting, and stick to the schedule.
  • Manage distractions. Check your accumulated email or other social media only a few pre-considered times each day, so that you minimize the number of interruptions.
  • Encourage colleagues to schedule meetings instead of dropping in for unscheduled “brief chats.” Close your door when you are focused on a project, and put up a Please Do Not Disturb sign if necessary. If you don’t have a door, put a sign where everyone can see it. Create a culture of respect for people’s time and recognition of how distractions limit productivity.

Manage Your Work and Time

Do you take charge of each day or do you let requests from others divert you from your own essential work? Be strategic in the use of your limited time.

  • Know what you have to do. Create a list of everything on your plate. Update the list daily. Separate the list into categories: items that you can do quickly, tasks that might take up to a couple of hours and longer-term projects. Each day identify your priorities and focus on them.
  • Plan your day. Use your calendar to reserve time for projects and tasks, especially for work that requires concentration. If you have to bump one of these appointments with yourself, reschedule the time you’ve set aside for YOUR work so that doesn’t get lost.
  • Set deadlines. Assign a deadline for all of your projects and tasks. Then hold yourself accountable. Without a deadline, tasks and projects may remain on your list.

Free Webinar: “Now What: How the New Federal Tax Law Impacts Charitable Nonprofits”

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted just days before the New Year, will affect nonprofits across Massachusetts and the country. From compliance issues, to fundraising challenges, to the prospect of changes in state and local tax law, there is a lot for nonprofits to understand about the Act.

MNN is joining with its colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits in promoting a free nationwide webinar, “Now What: How the New Federal Tax Law Impacts Charitable Nonprofits,” on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 3:00 pm. All workers and supporters of the nonprofit sector are invited to learn about operational changes nonprofits may need to make right away, what they need to know about state and local policy changes, and other items that will affect nonprofits and the people nonprofits serve.

Click here to register for the webinar.


Employer Health Care Assessment Takes Effect

On January 1, 2018, the new temporary Employer Health Care Assessment (EMAC) took effect. Employer charges for the new assessment will be included in 2018 first quarter unemployment insurance bills. Details of the new health care assessment include:

  • A January 1, 2018 effective date with a sunset 2 years after implementation.
  • For employers with 6 or more employees, an increase in the existing employer medical assistance contribution (EMAC) of $26 per employee annually.
  • For employers with 6 or more employees who have employees on MassHealth or ConnectorCare, an additional charge for each employee receiving those benefits (5% of the first $15,000 of annual pay to a maximum of $750/year).
  • Two years of unemployment insurance relief, estimated to save employers a total of $344 million in 2018 and 2019.
  • Additional details and FAQs can be found here.

During the regulatory process, MNN worked to secure changes to the new charge for workers on MassHealth or Connector Care. In November, MNN testified at a hearing on draft regulations for the assessment and urged changes to them. In December, state officials released a final version of the temporary regulations (accessible here), which included two of the changes MNN recommended. The assessment will now only apply to workers on MassHealth or ConnectorCare for at least 8 continuous weeks in a quarter, rather than the two weeks originally proposed. It will also not be assessed on workers who earn less than $500 per quarter in a given job. These changes will provide relief to many nonprofits, including those with employees in short-term or low-hours roles.

Even though the assessment has taken effect, the regulations will still go through one more round of reviews in the first quarter. MNN will continue to advocate for nonprofits throughout the process and if you have questions or feedback, please let us know.

In End-of-Year Fundraising, Consider Tax Reform in Your Pitches

The end of the calendar year is typically a time of frenzied fundraising for many of our members. This year is no different- except that last week, the federal tax bill passed the House and Senate. It will take affect in 2018.

One of the bill’s effects is that millions of donors across the country will no longer itemize their deductions. Those donors will no longer utilize the charitable tax deduction, beginning with their 2018 contributions. In MNN’s Commonwealth Insights publication earlier this year, we estimated that change could reduce Massachusetts giving by up to $513 million.

As you prepare your end-of-year asks to donors and other supporters, we suggest that you notify them of this change and encourage those affected to take advantage of the charitable deduction while they still can by donating in 2017. If you have already sent out your direct mail campaign, consider making phone calls or starting an online campaign.

MNN remains committed to working with our members, and our colleagues across the country, to advocate for the interests of nonprofits.

Nonprofit Independence Upheld as Johnson Amendment Protected in Final Tax Bill

The independence of the nonprofit community was upheld last night as the language that would have severely impeded nonprofits’ ability to pursue their missions was stricken from the final version of the tax reform bill.

During deliberations in the Senate late Thursday, the chamber’s parliamentarian blocked language that would have repealed the Johnson Amendment, an important provision in the current tax code that prohibits charitable organizations from endorsing candidates for political office.

“While the final tax bill set to be revealed today will contain a litany of provisions harmful to our sector, nonprofits will be able to operate free from partisan politics, ‘dark money,’ and tax-deductible political contributions. This represents a significant win for the integrity of nonprofits across Massachusetts,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MMN).

Over the past few weeks, MNN activated its members in an expansive email and phone call campaign directed towards federal representatives integral in tax reform deliberations, including Representative Richard Neal of the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

But the fight for the Johnson Amendment is far from over, Klocke noted, as Congressional leaders may try to repeal the Amendment in the near future.

“We look forward to continuing our work with our members and colleagues as we pursue our ultimate public policy goal: enacting policies that strengthen and unite, not divide, our communities.”

Local Nonprofit Leaders: US Tax Reform Will Hurt People in Need

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, and Catholic Charities of Boston today issued the following joint statement outlining their concerns about the impact of increasing the federal standard deduction on charitable giving:

“The Tax Reform legislation passed by the United States Senate, and by the US House of Representatives, has the potential to significantly harm the ability of nonprofit organizations to help people in need, both in Massachusetts and across the country. On behalf of the children, families and communities we serve, today we are speaking out about the ramifications of the tax proposal on the nonprofit sector, specifically the elimination of the charitable deduction for 31 million middle- and upper-middle income taxpayers.

“Currently, the charitable tax deduction is available to taxpayers who itemize, about 30% of taxpayers, or about 45 million taxpayers. Of the 45 million taxpayers who itemize, 36 million claim the charitable deduction, which accounts for an estimated 82% of charitable giving. The proposal would decrease the incentive to itemize by increasing the standard deduction, and 31 million taxpayers will lose the ability to claim this deduction. Studies suggest that this will result in about a $13 billion reduction in gifts to the charitable sector. These donors often give to humanitarian, social service and disaster relief organizations.

“The direct impact on nonprofits in Massachusetts could be devastating.  In Massachusetts, roughly 1 million donors (nearly a third of all Massachusetts filers) claimed the charitable deduction, accounting for $5.5 billion dollars.  A 5% loss resulting from tax reform would mean $275 million fewer dollars to fund private food banks, homeless or domestic violence shelters, provide day care, or job training.

“A drop in giving of this magnitude would have disastrous consequences. It would mean large cuts to services that people depend upon. It would put hundreds if not thousands of small nonprofits across the state out of business. And it would jeopardize the financial health of medium- and large-sized nonprofits, threatening their ability to deliver services.

“In addition, 20% of donors who would be eligible for the higher standard deduction earn an income of $200,000 or more. A national study released in 2016 asked philanthropists, whose incomes were $200,000 or more, whether their giving habits would change if the charitable giving deduction were eliminated. Nearly half (49%) indicated that they would decrease their giving, and 20% indicated that their contributions would ‘dramatically decrease.’

“There is unanimous agreement among academics and economists that charitable tax incentives enable people to give more. While any individual person has a variety of motives for giving, the century-old policy of exempting charitable donations from taxes significantly increases charitable giving. Claims that the final tax reform legislation will increase charitable giving are unsupported by any fact-based analysis.

“We are not optimistic that the compromise bill will differ significantly from what has been passed, but we will continue to look for other avenues to enact a universal “above-the-line” charitable deduction. We are deeply concerned for the millions of people in need in our communities and across the country who rely on private funding for critical early education, out-of-school time programs and organizations that provide pathways out of poverty.”

Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
Jim Klocke, CEO, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network
Deborah Rambo, President and CEO, Catholic Charities of Boston


Nonprofit 411: State-Sponsored 401k Plan for Massachusetts Nonprofits

Expanding Benefits as an Employee Retention Tool Just Got Easier

by State Treasurer Deborah B. GoldbergTreasurer Deborah B. Goldberg

One of every organization’s most valuable assets are the people who work there.  With more rapid changes brought about by the increased use of technology, and improvements in the national and local economies that translate into more competitive job markets, keeping your most talented employees has never been more challenging. Even within the nonprofit sector, it is critical to offer employees compelling benefits to remain and work for the causes they care about. This environment means your organization should do more, and we have a tool that can help.

The Massachusetts CORE Plan (CORE Plan) is a state-sponsored 401(k) retirement plan designed especially for small Massachusetts nonprofit organizations.  As CORE Plan Sponsor, the Office of The State Treasurer assumes a number of administrative and investment responsibilities on behalf of participating employers and their participating employees.  The CORE Plan is a Multiple Employer Plan, which allows us to combine Plan assets between your organization and other organizations across the state, bringing down the costs of offering a full-featured 401(k). The CORE Plan leverages the expertise and best practices used today in many large retirement plans while striving to keep costs low for employers and employees. Nonprofit organizations based and chartered in Massachusetts and employing 20 or fewer staff may adopt the CORE Plan.

Your employees likely know how important it is to save for retirement, but opening an IRA and remembering to contribute, or making sure enough is being contributed, is not always as easy as it should be. The CORE Plan is designed to make it simple and straightforward to participate and see real savings add up.

Some of the key features of the CORE Plan include:

  • All of the employee benefit protections under ERISA.
  • Automatic enrollment, combined with auto-escalation of employee contributions, makes it easy for CORE Plan participants to start saving early and grow savings rates quickly.
  • Higher contribution limits versus an IRA and the potential for employer-matching contributions.
  • The investment structure of the CORE Plan is developed and monitored by an independent investment consultant acting as a fiduciary under ERISA.
  • Knowledgeable CORE Plan representatives available to explain Plan benefits to your employees.
  • Easy-to-read fee disclosures ensure that participants are aware of fees. There are no deferred sales charges or contractual obligations for CORE Plan participants.
  • A robust participant website experience includes individual retirement income projections based on each participant’s age, contribution rate, account balance, and investment allocation:

For additional information regarding the CORE Plan employers may visit us at or contact us at 877-630-4015. Find out how you can join us in adding value to your employee benefits.

PS: If you are an employee at a small Massachusetts nonprofit and think your organization could benefit from adding the CORE Plan, please share this information with your executive staff or human resources department.

MNN Urges Representative Neal to Protect Johnson Amendment in Tax Reform Debate

Yesterday, MNN sent a letter to Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, expressing their opposition to Section 5201 in the House of Representatives version of the federal tax reform bill, a provision that would radically change the longstanding protection known as the Johnson Amendment.

Section 5201 would significantly weaken the Johnson Amendment, a section in the U.S. Tax Code that prohibits nonprofits from endorsing or raising money for political candidates.

The letter urges Representative Neal, who was recently appointed to the conference committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the tax bill, to work with fellow conferees to ensure that the provision is stricken from any final version of the bill.

“Section 5201 of the House-passed tax bill is harmful and will politicize and weaken the charitable sector in fundamental and irreparable ways. In a time of division, the nonprofit sector is one of the few places where people can work together on our country’s most important challenges,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

MNN Statement on Senate Tax Proposal

On Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed its tax legislation.  Despite containing several provisions harmful to the nonprofit sector, it did not weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment, an important part of the current tax code that keeps nonprofits free from partisan politics and focused on their missions.

The conference committee is expected to take very swift action on reconciling the House and Senate versions of tax legislation.  The House version includes language significantly weakening the Johnson Amendment—language that must not be included in the final bill.

MNN will continue to work to protect nonprofit independence, working with its 800 members, the entire Massachusetts nonprofit community, the National Council of Nonprofits, Independent Sector, and the Council on Foundations.

MNN Urges Senate to Vote Against Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Today, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) sent letters to Senator Edward J. Markey and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, thanking them for their ongoing support of the nonprofit sector and urging them to vote against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act scheduled for a vote in the Senate today.

“The tax legislation to be considered by the Senate includes significant changes to long-standing tax policies that will have a drastic effect on the Commonwealth’s nonprofit sector. These effects include reducing charitable giving by billions and imposing new and unfair taxes on the nonprofit sector,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN.

Although the Senate bill does not contain a repeal of the Johnson Amendment like the House bill included, Klocke noted concerns held by many in the nonprofit sector that a repeal could be offered as an amendment, or could survive should the House and Senate tax bills end up in conference.

In opposing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, MNN joins opposition from both their member nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth and from national groups including the National Council of Nonprofits, Independent Sector, and the Council on Foundations.

The full text of the letter can be found here.