Our Shared Sector: How Nonprofits Can Address Unconscious Bias

by YW Boston


In order to address discrimination and inequities within the workplace, many organizations are turning to implicit bias training. Their responses take often the form of one-day trainings after incidents involving micro- and macro-aggressions. Implied in these efforts is the belief that one-day trainings are enough and that these trainings can remove bias from employees.

Through partnerships with other organizations, YW Boston has found that neither of these assumptions is correct. To successfully address discrimination and inequities in the workplace, organizations must transform the way they approach unconscious bias.

Identify and accept

Many people are brought up to believe that holding any social biases is a bad thing. This common belief, often referred to as “colorblindness” when discussing racial bias, approaches bias as a negative, unwanted aspect of society. However, this conceals the fact that everyone holds biases on almost everything and everyone, whether that is a positive, negative, or neutral bias.

In many ways, bias is naturally-occurring and necessary. Humans form positive associations with people who are similar to them, which can exist around a wide range of social and observable characteristics, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and body type. Bias is also seen in the long-held expectation that people take care of individuals within their own groups.

Recognize and acknowledge impact

Rather than being preventative, the belief that all bias is negative encourages people to bury their long-held biases within themselves without interrogation. That said, although all bias isn’t inherently negative, it’s important to acknowledge and address the fact that it can become a harmful force when connected to institutional and structural power.

As individuals begin to show a favorable bias towards their own in-group, they are concurrently being socialized in a world where certain groups hold a majority of institutional and structural power. By holding institutional and structural power, privileged groups shape the world around us in ways that can harm groups with less power and privilege. As individuals move through the world, they encounter these racialized, gendered, and discriminatory power structures, transforming their personal bias into prejudice.


It is through this combination of implicit bias, prejudice, and power that bias becomes a hindrance in the workplace. When people feel most comfortable and protective of people like them, they are more likely to seek them out in a professional setting. This may lead to white interviewers preferring white candidates, or male managers providing more opportunities to their fellow male co-workers. In both instances, these professionals distribute power within the office in reaction to their internal biases.

Re-frame and address

People cannot change the fact that they hold biases, but they can change whom they see as their in-group. If bias naturally arises when individuals seek to take care of their own community, it is crucial that workplaces define themselves as a community. Reducing the negative implications of implicit bias in the workplace involves working on both the individual and organizational levels. First, individuals must begin by shedding the belief that they can eliminate our biases completely. YW Boston has found that workplace discrimination is more likely to be reduced if people are taught to doubt their objectivity and accept they are biased, rather than believing they can be transformed to become “bias-free.”

Organizations must also commit to breaking the link between biases and behaviors by addressing workplace culture (shared values and collective identity) and climate (what is rewarded, supported, and expected in the organization). As research has found, individuals are less likely to act on their biases if the values of anti-racism and racial equity are apparent within organizational culture and climate.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Nonprofit 411: Revenue Diversification – 10 Questions to Consider

Nonprofit 411 KPM-minby James Matzdorff, CPA, Kevin P. Martin and Associates, P.C.

With increasing competition and shrinking budgets, it is important for nonprofits to broaden their horizons to alternative sources of revenue in order to better protect against economic decline and uneven political environments. While diversification of revenue may allow nonprofit organizations to have a more stable financial position, implementing these streams brings different levels of reliability, limitations, costs and concerns with each possibility. Therefore, it is important that nonprofits consider their options and find those that best fit their specific organization and risk management needs.

As you consider revenue diversification efforts, here are 10 questions to consider:

  1. Why do you want to diversify? Knowing your goals and the reasons you are working to diversify are integral to keeping your efforts focused. Make sure your goals are measurable.
  2. Is now the right time to diversify? While diversification efforts should consistently be discussed, your organization may find itself in a position where diversification would be counterproductive to your goals (i.e. think short-term, extreme growth initiatives).
  3. Are your Board and Senior Management on the same page? Buy-in from all stakeholders is extremely important to the success of any diversification initiative. Make sure everyone is on the same page before you begin.
  4. How entrepreneurial is your organization? Entrepreneurs are not just for for-profit companies. Having the right people on hand who can identify and take advantage of opportunities is key.
  5. What niche markets do you (or do you want to) operate in and what funders support those markets? Be wary of casting too wide of a net too quickly. Identify where it is you want to grow and then identify and specifically target those funders who will support your new initiative.
  6. Who are the local players in your community for your niche service offerings? Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Have lots of it, with lots of different people that are connected to your new idea; whether a municipality, for-profit or nonprofit organization.
  7. Is it time to consider a joint venture? Joint ventures are on the rise and now is the right time to think outside the box about who may be a great partner for your organization. When looking for joint venture opportunities think about organizations who are doing similar, but perhaps complimentary services, or organizations who provide the same service but are in another geographic area.
  8. Are there any sister product/service offerings to what you are currently doing that you could provide? Think side-step opportunities – the art museum who starts a painting class or the childcare organization who starts offering summer camps.
  9. Where’s the low-hanging fruit? This could be a side-step or something as simple as reassessing your physical assets for external opportunities (think solar panels, antennas, even birthday parties). And do not forget about third party and private fees. These can be both lucrative, and just as important, unrestricted.
  10. Last one (and my personal favorite): What services do you find yourself constantly referring out? Hint: ask your staff. Opportunity may be closer than you think.

A solid revenue diversification strategy is an important part of a nonprofit organization’s overall risk management plan. So do not wait until your next strategic plan to start the conversation, engage with your Board and management on potential ideas today.

Member Spotlight: South Shore Conservatory

Member Spotlight South Shore Conservatory-minEvery day, South Shore Conservatory proves that no matter your age or ability, art and music can change lives. Through a new collaboration with the South Shore YMCA, which began in September, South Shore Conservatory now offers its group classes, community events, programming and performances–many that are discounted or free–at Laura’s Center for the Arts, located at the Emilson YMCA campus in Hanover.

“We’re excited to partner with our neighbor, South Shore YMCA, to provide greater access and spread the joy of music to even more community members in the region,” said Kathy O. Czerny, president of South Shore Conservatory.

SSC Memory Café is one example of the programming available at Laura’s Center. A longtime volunteer at South Shore Conservatory, Marcia Vose knows firsthand the effects of Alzheimer’s. She was the caregiver to her mother, who passed away from the disease after 12 years, and in 2017, her husband Abbot was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Marcia’s discovering of South Shore Conservatory’s Memory Café, a program for both caregivers and their loved ones with memory afflictions, has given her and Abbot a newfound shared experience at a time when they need it most.

Marcia and Abbot enjoy the informal coffee and refreshments and time to interact with new friends followed by the more structured activities that range from playing instruments to singing to making creative crafts. SSC Memory Café stimulates everyone’s brains and builds confidence and community among participants. Perhaps most importantly, it provides an opportunity to engage with others who are going through similar challenging times.

“There is relief in forming a bond with others whose experience in the regular social world often leads to feelings of isolation and uselessness. We usually go out to lunch after the café, both of us in high spirits. That joy is priceless,” said Marcia. She and Abbot credit Eve Montague, director of Creative Arts Therapies, with invigorating their minds and spirits, and South Shore Conservatory for creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals to use music, dance and art to socialize and stay active.

“Music reminds us how we’re all the same–not different. Our Creative Arts Therapies department impacts all ages, from toddlers to the elderly, and we’re excited to bring these programs to Laura’s Center for the Arts to reach all people, regardless of ability,” said Eve, who has been a music therapist for over 33 years.

Programs and performances scheduled at Laura’s Center include Music Together®, Mainstage Musical, SSC Community Voices, Too!, Singing with Parkinson’s chorus, Coffee Break Concert Series, SSC Memory Café (sponsored by the Middleton Family), and dance classes. Other programs include a Music and the Brain symposium on March 28, 2020, which is part of a series of events to celebrate South Shore Conservatory’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

“We hope that art and music enthusiasts of all ages will take advantage of the diverse offerings that are now available at Laura’s Center in addition to our other locations,” said Kathy.

For more information and to stay updated with upcoming events and programming, visit https://sscmusic.org/ and https://sscmusic.org/lca/.

A Tip Sheet for Nonprofit Fundraisers to Plan for Stronger Giving in 2020

Giving Item box (4)-minThe landscape of the end-of-year fundraising drive in 2019 looks noticeably different than it did in previous years. These changes are due in part to the increased use of technology in the ways that donors give and the challenges–and opportunities–posed by federal tax reform that impact the ways donors give, particularly middle-income donors who are itemizing less frequently and therefore losing the federal tax benefit associated with their donations.

While most nonprofits are already deeply engaged in their end-of-year fundraising appeals, they are also looking ahead to the new year and considering which effective strategies to use. The last edition of MassGives: The 2019 Challenge offers an easy-to-use tip sheet for nonprofit fundraisers as they plan their work for 2020.

    1. Educate yourself on other tax incentives, and help your donors use them in 2020. Depending on their age and financial position, individuals that lost the annual federal tax write-off may still realize financial benefits to charitable giving in other ways. For older donors, Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCDs) may restore a tax benefit for giving: people who hold Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year beginning at age 70 ½. Donors can fulfill their RMD by a direct transfer of up to $100,000 to charity. Similarly, donor-advised funds may reinstate a donor’s monetary incentive to give. A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving vehicle administered on behalf of organizations, families, or individuals that allows donors to give, receive an immediate tax deduction, and recommend grants from the fund over time. Nonprofit fundraisers should start learning about these giving vehicles now so that they can effectively market their benefits to the right groups of donors in 2020
    2. Segment donor lists and target solicitations based on factors such as age, interests, and income. Oftentimes fundraisers at smaller organizations don’t have data on the particulars of their donors. Now is the time to start collecting and recording this information to build separate lists, as a successful fundraising appeal looks different based off of these and other factors. For example, younger donors of the Millennial and Gen Z generations may be better reached through a mobile-centric or a peer-to-peer/crowdfunding campaign.
    3. Treat your volunteers like potential donors. While national statistics indicate that individual giving may be on the decline, studies show that volunteerism is on the rise, particularly among younger generations. Many nonprofits unintentionally miss potential financial support offered by volunteers, simply by separating them from donor solicitation lists, assuming that they are donating time instead of money. In reality, volunteers are more likely to give to organizations that they know, understand, and care about. In addition, today’s young volunteers are likely to become tomorrow’s larger dollar donors as their earning potential grows. Nonprofits should treat volunteers as a reliable segment of individual donors.
    4. Begin creating an organizational culture of philanthropy to involve all with the work of fundraising and a sense of shared responsibility. Nonprofit fundraisers can start laying down the appropriate groundwork to get buy-in from organizational leadership, educate staff on the basics of fundraising, and involve front-line staff in the fundraising process.
    5. Focus on the mission and the stories you tell. Regardless of tax policy or new technologies and ways to reach people, the vast majority of people give to nonprofits that they feel a strong conviction to support, or a personal connection to their mission. Strengthening storytelling in 2020 should be a top priority.

While the fundraising landscape may look uncertain, using one or all of these strategies can better position nonprofits to see gains in their giving in 2020 and beyond.

New Commonwealth Insights: The Census is Coming, and Nonprofits Should Prepare Now to Ensure Everyone Counts

Comm Insights 2019 3rd ed social media-minToday, we released the latest edition of Commonwealth Insights, “The Census is Coming: How Nonprofits Can Make Sure That Everyone Counts–and Why They Should.”

The Census is nearly here, and nonprofits around the Commonwealth should prepare now to mobilize their communities in support of a complete count. As trusted messengers, nonprofits can leverage existing assets and take advantage of new ones to raise awareness, help individuals access and complete the Census, and coordinate efforts with partners to maximize collective impact.

This edition of Commonwealth Insights features case studies of three nonprofits–Castle Square Tenants Organization, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the Chelsea Collaborative–working to ensure that their communities count in 2020. Their work can serve as a guide for other nonprofits.

The report is a practical guide that contains useful tips and resources for nonprofits to drive participation in one of the most foundational, high-stakes activities that communities undertake.

This is the third edition of Commonwealth Insights published in 2019. You can read all past editions of Commonwealth Insights at massnonprofitnet.org/CommonwealthInsights. Please feel free to reach out to us with feedback on this or any Commonwealth Insights issue.

We are grateful for the generous support of our organizational sustainers, the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, and the Highland Street Foundation, which makes reports like Commonwealth Insights possible.

Our Shared Sector: 3 Key Diversity and Inclusion Strategies for Nonprofits

By YW Boston

Our Shared Sector Nov 2019-min

The previous two editions of Our Shared Sector described the differences between each part of the “DE&I” Acronym–diversity, equity, and inclusion. The articles also covered several steps that nonprofits can take to weave these principles into their organizational cultures.

Your organization may now feel ready to embark on their diversity and inclusion journey towards a more equitable workplace. Or you may have already begun to implement changes. What happens when you stumble across roadblocks and find the need to re-assess? Here are three key strategies to address common pitfalls during your diversity and inclusion journey:

  1. The diversity within your staff may not be reflective of the diversity of your constituents.

One of the business arguments for DE&I raises a concern that understanding a breadth of markets is impossible without diversity of thought. After all, diversity boosts innovation within organizations. How then can companies measure whether they are building a representative workforce? DE&I experts suggest that leadership should compare demographic information to the makeup of employees within their organization. Reports show that although women made up 51% of the population in the United States in 2012, the number of women within executive teams only accounted for an average representation of 16%. Representation is even lower at the intersections of race and gender.

  1. A diverse pool of candidates may be hiding in plain sight.

When it comes to hiring, where can nonprofit organizations find diverse professionals that are representative of their constituents? We often hear recruiters and leadership executives justify their lack of diverse hiring by claiming they simply can’t find any diverse candidates. In some cases, going as far as claiming that diverse candidates do not exist or show interest in their industry. It’s important to remember that it’s not just about knowing where to look, but how. If you only look in those places that have already produced homogeneous candidates, you are unlikely to find much diversity. Instead, try sourcing through the networks of your diverse peers. Reach out to candidates and invite them to apply to a position within your organization. Furthermore, diversity may be hiding in plain sight, as some diverse folks may be “coding” to try and fit in.

  1. You may need to re-evaluate your metrics.

Let’s say your organization is trying to address racial or gender wage gaps. Research shows that women, particularly women of color, earn less than their male counterparts. Additionally, people of color, women, and in particular women of color are less likely to be considered for promotions or find placement in leadership positions. One way to address wage differences as early as possible is by paying close attention to how inequities manifest themselves during the hiring process. The Equal Pay Act— a law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act that was signed in 1963 and advocated by YW Boston— encourages candidates never to reveal their previous salary to future employers. This is important because candidates, particularly candidates with diverse intersecting identities, may have been underpaid at their previous position so bringing up past salaries during a negotiation or using them as a starting point may be detrimental to the candidate. After all, salary is often a better indicator of a company’s budget size, not of employee experience.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Nonprofit 411: Get Off the Sidelines on Workers’ Compensation

Nonprofit 411 People's United-minBy Bruce Figueroa, SVP and Nonprofit Banking Lead, People’s United Bank

Nonprofits cannot sit back and assume their workers’ compensation policies will protect them from injury claims. To the contrary, active involvement and participation by senior executives in the workers’ comp management process is essential to ensuring the health of the organization and the mission.

Workers’ compensation coverage is one of the biggest expenses for nonprofits that deliver human services. In fact, for many of these organizations it ranks behind only physical infrastructure and salaries in terms of cost. Many organizations assume their sizable policy payments mean they have their exposure and risk under control. But when it comes to workplace injuries, there is much more to consider:

  • What are the best policies to prevent accidents and avoid claims?
  • Is there a plan in place to respond if-and-when someone gets injured on the job? Who is in charge?
  • Who is documenting the event and how? How will the organization investigate what happened?
  • What can an organization do for and about individuals who suffer multiple injuries or file multiple claims?

These questions are complicated by the fact that, given their limited resources, most small and mid-sized nonprofits do not have a dedicated risk manager on staff. Instead, the responsibility of risk management is usually taken on by a director or human resource manager who also wears many other operational hats.  Although these individuals might be highly committed and resourceful, they generally do not have extensive experience in managing crises or the ability to answer detailed questions in specialized areas like workers’ compensation. For example, does your organization know if volunteers are covered under your policy? Likewise, nonprofits often are unaware of the many options available to them and to their employees in terms of modified responsibilities and other means of facilitating injured employees’ return to work.

Because nonprofits without a dedicated risk manager often lack such a detailed level of knowledge, organizations could be vulnerable to claims, and less-than-fully prepared to manage crises when they do materialize.

There are standard workers’ compensation procedures and provisions that can protect both employees and organizations. To be effective, however, these elements must be in place before an injury or claim occurs. For this reason, advanced planning around established workers’ compensation “best practices” should be mandatory for all human service nonprofits. At a minimum, nonprofits should:

  1. Develop full knowledge of relevant workers’ compensation statutes, since workers’ compensation is a statutory benefit and can differ significantly from state to state;
  2. Understand legal defensibility, or how to use statutes to manage or defend a claim. In some cases, it might be best to deny a claim up front in order to engage a legal process;
  3. Implement procedures for accident investigation and claims management. To make this process consistent and effective, the organization must fully engage both supervisor and employee;
  4. Establish corrective action plans to prevent recurrence. In addition to making sure you don’t make the same mistake twice, this is a critical way to lower the organization’s experience modification rating (experience mod) and reduce loss costs;
  5. Hold periodic meetings with safety committee, management and your insurance company/broker;
  6. Create and implement a working strategy around the claims process. Review it periodically, and be willing to modify it when needed.

Given the scope of these requirements, it’s clear that nonprofits cannot afford to leave workers’ compensation claims up to human resources, the finance department or an insurance company. It’s time for directors, human resource managers and other executives to get off the sidelines and take on the responsibility of protecting the organization, its employees and its mission.

Bruce Figueroa is the Head of Nonprofit banking at People’s United Bank. The Nonprofit team meets the financial service needs of over 500 nonprofit institutions across the Northeast including credit commitments of over $1.3 Billion to support their missions. Contact Bruce at bruce.figueroa@peoples.com or visit our website at www.peoples.com/nonprofits.

Member Spotlight: Essex County Community Foundation

Member Spotlight ECCF-minBefore Sept. 7, 2019, many may have thought of the Beverly-Salem Bridge as just an average fixed-span roadway connecting the cities of Beverly and Salem, which lay on opposite sides of the Danvers River. But after, as the sounds of live music and laughter hung in the air and the bridge was illuminated in a shimmering purple light, it became so much more.

For seven days, painting, poetry, music, dance, theater, games and storytelling took up residence there, and they brought the bridge to life during the week-long Crossing Water arts festival, one of 12 public art and creative placemaking projects funded by the Creative County Initiative (CCI) of Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF).

ECCF is a charitable foundation – a family of more than 225 charitable funds – with a mission of inspiring philanthropy that strengthens the 34 communities of Essex County. They do this by managing and investing charitable assets ($91 million), strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership.

The Creative County Initiative – one of several of ECCF’s current community leadership initiatives –  is a partnership between ECCF and the Barr Foundation to strengthen the creative ecosystem of Essex County. ECCF first partnered with Barr in late 2017, when Barr granted ECCF $500,000 to launch the pilot phase of Creative County. Together, with a commitment from ECCF to raise an additional $250,000, an innovative approach to elevating arts and culture in the 34 cities and towns of Essex County was born.

In the last two years, not only has ECCF funded 12 incredible public art projects across the county that have each united artists, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities, but the Foundation has also worked collaboratively with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission on local and regional cultural plans; launched EssexCountyCreates.org, a regional platform for local arts and culture; and hosted two Essex County Arts & Culture Summits, which together have gathered more than 700 people invested in strengthening arts and culture in Essex County.

ECCF recently announced a second round of funding from Barr – in the amount of $1 million – to continue this critical work. With a $300,000 second-round commitment from ECCF, over the next three years, the Foundation will invest an additional $1.3 million to equip the Essex County arts and culture community with knowledge, tools and systems to build an arts ecosystem that is sustainable, equitable and accessible for all.

“Arts and culture are so important for strong, connected communities,” said ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis. “And we are so grateful to Barr for their support and so fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many people in Essex County who are committed to this work.”

CCI is a profound example of how the Community Foundation’s brand of systems philanthropy is making a big impact. Systems philanthropy is ECCF’s innovative approach to long-term social change, not just in the arts, but across all of the Foundation’s community leadership initiatives. It begins with community engagement, identifies root causes, inspires collaboration, invests larger resources over a longer period of time and engages funders as strategic partners.

“This systems approach enables ECCF to work alongside all those with a vested interest in creating population-level impact,” said Stratton Lloyd, ECCF’s COO and Vice President for Community Leadership. “It’s a strategic, holistic form of philanthropy based on strong cross-sector partnerships, a common vision for our communities and trust.”

Trust is a value common throughout all of ECCF’s work.

“Trust is critical to all facets of our mission – from helping our fundholders navigate their philanthropic goals and building capacity in nonprofits to convening community leaders tackling Essex County’s biggest social challenges,” said Francis. “Trust brings with it the ability to make progress, and at ECCF it’s something we value highly.”

For more information on ECCF, visit www.eccf.org.

From Boomers to “Gen Z,” Nonprofits Should Optimize Donor Outreach for Today’s Fundraising Climate

Giving Item box (4)-minBy Danielle Fleury, Director of Government Affairs

Engaging individuals as donors, volunteers, and general supporters has always been an important part of a nonprofit organization’s overall development strategy. Donors are more likely to respond to messages or calls to action that speak directly to what drives their philanthropic behavior, and nonprofits have long segmented donor lists and tailored asks for support accordingly.

But in 2019, shifting landscapes in both technology and tax policy are impacting who gives, when, how much, and through what channel. In this climate – when more day-to-day activities take place online, and as the full impact of federal tax reform becomes more apparent – there are tangible approaches that can help nonprofits engage new and existing donors, from millennials to retirees. The 2019 year-end giving season is a great time for nonprofits to review segmented donor lists and refine their approaches with each group. For nonprofit development plans, this can mean not only maintaining overall individual giving goals, but shifting strategies to respond to an evolving fundraising climate.

Nonprofits should focus on growing their ‘middle income’ donors that are likely to be most affected by changes in federal tax reform.

Federal tax reform changed the way that individuals file their taxes, nearly doubling the standard deduction and capping the amount of state and local taxes (SALT) that can be deducted. The impact is likely that fewer middle income donors itemized their deductions when they filed in 2019, and have realized that they lost the federal tax benefit for their charitable contributions. In response, nonprofits can shore up their engagement strategies to encourage continued support from middle income donors with the following tactics:

  • Share stories of impact – Routinely sharing powerful stories of impact with this subset of donors can help tap into donors’ altruistic motivations at a time when their tax-based incentives to give are changing.
  • Establish recurring donations – Standing up recurring donations with these donors can build a reliable stream of organizational support, and move the conversation away from lump sums of year-end giving that is no longer tied to tax incentives.

Nonprofits have a great opportunity to expand their donor base to younger donors through targeted solicitation of millennials.   

Millennial donors are both more likely to give and to volunteer than prior generations. Even though they are currently giving less in total dollar amounts than baby boomers or Gen Xers, the high levels of philanthropic activity early in their careers signify that millennials will likely give more as they earn more – an important factor to note as they will soon make up the majority of the workforce. With more daily activity happening online, nonprofits that focus on expanding their online presence and employing the use of technology-centered fundraising strategies are in a great place to expand their donor base to younger generations. Nonprofits can capture millennials’ interest and attention at this critical time with the following strategies:

  • Strengthen mobile strategy – Millennials are likely to receive information about causes that interest them and take action to support those causes from their mobile devices. Nonprofits should maintain an active presence on social media and strategically optimize digital communications for mobile use in order to fully engage with millennials and subsequent Gen Z donors.
  • Build peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns – Daily presence on social media means that millennials are instantly connected to their peers, aware of their causes and philanthropic activity and can easily promote their own giving habits to others. Nonprofits should consider whether peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns is an appropriate complement to their individual giving programs.

Nonprofits can specific giving guidance to retiree donors, particularly those who might be impacted by federal tax reform.

Retirees continue to make up a core component of individual donors, and are also among the most likely groups to be impacted by federal tax reform. Luckily, there are a couple of ways that older donors can retain their tax benefit for charitable donations. Nonprofits can raise general awareness about the following strategies, and walk individual donors who may benefit through some basic steps:

  • Promote Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) – People who hold Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year beginning at age 70 ½, and donors can fulfill their RMD by a direct transfer of up to $100,000 to charity. Nonprofits with donors in this age bracket should promote QCDs as a way of retaining a tax benefit of charitable giving.
  • Encourage Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) – A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving vehicle administered on behalf of organizations, families, or individuals that allows donors to give, receive an immediate tax deduction, and recommend grants from the fund over time. Nonprofits should remind donors about this vehicle, particularly those expressing concern about federal tax reform.

The increased use of technology and shifting strategies in the wake of federal tax reform have illuminated specific strategies that nonprofits can use to understand and engage donors at different stages of their lives. Segmenting donor lists and employing differentiated solicitation strategies that make sense for distinct categories of donors in this age of evolving platforms and altered policy landscapes can make a significant difference in engaging new and recurring donors.

MNN Supports Policy Proposal to Expand Access to High Quality, Affordable Nonprofit Retirement Benefits

The nonprofit workforce is the lifeblood of the sector. Individuals working for nonprofits often forego higher salaries in order to dedicate their careers to advancing the public good. But many nonprofits struggle to offer the competitive benefits that help them to not only recruit and retain employees, but to recognize the value of their workforce. In addition, a growing number of people are not prepared for retirement. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, the median retirement account balance is $0 among all working individuals. Even amongst those who have begun saving, the typical worker had a modest account balance of $40,000.

Recognizing this trend, Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg launched the “Connecting Organizations to Retirement” (CORE) Plan – a statewide multiple employer 401(k) retirement plan available to Massachusetts nonprofits with 20 or fewer employees. This innovative plan allows nonprofits to focus on the primary mission of their organizations, while offering a comprehensive benefit to their employees. Currently, 63 small nonprofits around the Commonwealth are participating, helping employees to secure their financial futures.

While great strides have been made in enabling nonprofits to offer more competitive benefits for their employees, the CORE plan is currently limited by statute to those with 20 or fewer employees. On October 31st, MNN testified in support of H.36, An Act Relative to the 401(k) CORE Program, which would remove the cap and allow nonprofits of all sizes to participate.

Allowing nonprofit employers of any size to participate in the CORE Plan will increase access to this critical service. Increased enrollment will also assist in achieving economies of scale, making the plan more affordable overall to nonprofits across the state.

To join in our effort to allow nonprofits of any size to participate in the CORE plan, please contact your legislator today and voice your support of H.36.

To learn more about the CORE Plan, click here. Please contact MNN’s Director of Government Affairs, Danielle Fleury, with any questions.