Why Inclusive Nonprofits Should Consider a “Culture Add” Over a “Culture Fit”

By YW Boston

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When nonprofits interview a potential employee, they are not just looking at their skills and past experiences. Often, teams look for a sense of how an interviewee would work with existing staff and whether they hold the values of the organization. This evaluation is often branded as a search for a “culture fit” – as in, “Does this person fit into the existing culture of our organization?”

Forbes recommends looking for “culture fit” candidates because, as they explain, “we can always provide the resources and tools to help employees get better at their jobs, but we can’t teach someone to align with our cultural values.” Each organization has their own language, processes, and customs. Many people believe that a new employee who is a “fit” will be easily onboarded into this culture, leading to increased employee satisfaction and reduced employee turnover.

“Culture Fit” is flawed

A number of sources that speak of “culture fit,” such as Forbes and Business News Daily, recognize that the concept can be harmful if employed incorrectly. As Forbes explains, “What it doesn’t mean is overlooking different cultures and lifestyles, or dismissing personal values you don’t agree with.” However, when a hiring team becomes very focused on cultural fit, they will be more likely to hire those who are familiar to them. Even if unconsciously, hiring teams make judgements based on who they believe would be the easiest to train or get to know, often choosing those similar to them.

“Culture Fit” may be hurting your organization

With each individual hire, these trends may not be obvious, but they build over time. This leads to a lack of diversity within an organization, which can stifle its success. As McKinsey & Company reported in Diversity Matters, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile. Those in the top quartile for racial diversity are 33% more likely to outperform. Their research demonstrates that hiring bias’s effect on office diversity has large ramifications. A homogenous workplace culture (whether it be homogenous on racial, gender, or experience) can lead to groupthink and the team may have a more difficult time finding solutions.

Instead, focus on “Culture Add”

All of this is not to say that hiring committees should get rid of any attempts to examine how a candidate may work with the organization’s culture. Rather than “culture fit,” consider seeking someone who would be a “culture add” to the workplace. As Beamery explains it, “culture add” requires asking: “What can a candidate bring to the table that will add to your culture and help move it in the right direction?” Focusing on hiring a “culture add” reorients the task by asking your hiring team to perform pre-work that will set you up for success. Before hiring a new candidate, the team should examine: What perspectives are we missing from our work? Where are we looking to grow as an organization? Then, after accepting that employees can and should help your nonprofit’s culture evolve, there must be processes in place to allow this to happen. This means fostering an inclusive workplace where employees are recognized for the unique perspectives and skills they bring to the work.

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: 15 Governance Best Practices for Nonprofit Boards

By Greg Rogers, Senior Audit Manager at Kevin P. Martin & Associates, P.C.

Individuals choose to get involved with nonprofit boards for a variety of reasons such as a passion for a charity’s mission, a desire to give back, a commitment to enhance one’s experience, or a pursuit of new business opportunities. Whatever the reason, those individuals frequently do not fully understand their fiduciary responsibilities when they volunteer to serve on a nonprofit board.

Nonprofit board members play a vital role in the philanthropic landscape of society – they are tasked with a duty of care and a duty of loyalty as stewards of funds raised for public benefit. Boards must exercise prudent decision-making and do what is best for the organization to preserve the integrity of the nonprofit. To this end, every nonprofit board should consider these 15 governance best practices:

  1. Boards should meet at least three times per year with no more than one of those meetings held via conference call (if board members’ locations allow).
  2. Every board should have a minimum of five voting members. Ideally, no more than one voting board member should be compensated.
  3. Term limits should be set to promote board member engagement and board effectiveness.
  4. All boards should establish a nominating committee charged with recruiting directors that are diverse and passionately committed to serving the charity’s mission.
  5. Boards should establish an audit committee tasked with hiring a CPA firm and communicating with its CPA firm on an ongoing basis to ensure all financial reporting matters warranting concern are address in a timely manner.
  6. Boards should regularly evaluate the performance of the executive director and set his/her compensation annually through an objective analysis.
  7. Board members should attend board meetings and meetings of subcommittees they sit on to ensure they can make informed decisions about all matters requiring board votes.
  8. All board members should disclose conflicts of interest at least annually. Boards should verify that conflicts of interest between the charity and a board member or a member of management are not material.
  9. Boards should ensure an orientation process is in place for new directors.
  10. Board members should work with management to ensure adequate internal controls over financial reporting are in place, including a segregation of duties to promote accurate financial reporting and mitigate fraud risk.
  11. Nonprofit boards should approve the organization’s budget prior to the beginning of the fiscal year and continuously monitor budget versus actual results throughout the year.
  12. Nonprofit boards should approve the annual audit, including the financial statements and any other reports discussing internal control matters or comments for management consideration.
  13. Nonprofit boards should ensure the IRS Form 990 is reviewed and approved by the full board.
  14. Nonprofit boards should ensure all governance policies recommended by the IRS are formally adopted by the board.
  15. Boards should take measures to minimize the personal liability of directors in the event of organizational insolvency.

Nonprofit 411: What Does Growth Mean for Your Nonprofit Organization?

Nonprofit 411 Pear Associates (1)-minBy Alison Glastein Gray, Founder and President, Pear Associates

In my role as a consultant, I work with many organizations as they consider growing…but growing can mean different things to different organizations.

Growth may mean serving new markets –geographies and populations — with the same program or service you currently offer. Growth may mean bringing a new program to your current client base or community. Or growth may mean increasing your market share by bringing your proven model to more people or more communities. And for some, growth may involve all of the above.

No matter how your organization may be thinking about growth, there are several factors to consider.

First, consider why growth is significant for your constituents and clients. Are there service gaps that you can fill for them? Could you serve more clients with more staff or additional locations?

Next, think about why growth is essential for your employees. Are you providing a workplace with new and exciting challenges? Is there a career path that will keep your employees engaged and retained?

Also, take into account why growth is vital for the communities and neighborhoods where you are based. Could you bring new resources into your communities with growth? Are there populations within your communities who could benefit from additional programs?

Finally, reflect on what you risk by not growing. Will your clients miss out or go elsewhere? Will you lose employees? Will you be left behind as your competition grows?

Once your organization has determined that growth is necessary, I recommend the following action steps:

  1. Do your homework

You can learn more about your marketplace and competition by conducting an environmental scan of other nonprofit organizations in your area, and also by reviewing publicly available data to determine current needs and trends. You can also understand your constituency by conducting surveys or focus groups and by relying on anecdotal feedback to enhance any quantitative data you have obtained. Finally, consider the political and economic landscape that you are functioning in to determine how this may impact your growth.

  1. Cultivate Partnerships

Partnerships can help your organization to expand your reach, leverage resources, and obtain new clients and constituents. Partners may be community-based organizations, academic institutions, government agencies, or schools. As a first step, you may want to establish an informal partnership through networking and sharing of information. Once trust is built and you determine areas of alignment, you can develop formal [partnerships through data-sharing agreements and memoranda of understanding.

  1. Engaging in a Business Planning Process

You will want to create a roadmap as you embark on growth. Think about your short-term, action-focused goals. What will it cost to set up if a program? What will it cost to operate the program? What resources (staff, capital, knowledge) will you need to make this happen?

  1. Develop a Marketing Strategy

Once you expand your current model, you will want to inform your audience. Think about your crucial organization and program-specific messages you wish to promote. Consider the channels you will use to promote your growth, such as social media, paid advertising, or leveraging your thought leadership. You may need to brand your new services or make sure they align with your current branding to ensure consistency.

No matter how you embark on growth, consider this exploration as an opportunity to be thoughtful and aspirational. You will be fruitful if you know WHY you are expanding and HOW you will expand.

Nonprofit 411: Donor Acknowledgements: We Have to File What?

Nonprofit 411 BerryDunn (1)-minby Melissa Magoon, BerryDunn

Perhaps not surprisingly, the month of December is by far the most charitable month of the year, accounting for almost one-third of all charitable gifts made annually. And with all that giving comes the requirement of charitable organizations to provide donor acknowledgements, a formal “thank you” of the gift being received. Different gifts require differing levels of acknowledgement, and in some cases an additional IRS form (or two) may need to be filed. Doing some work now may save you time (and a fine or two) later.

Read below for BerryDunn’s list of donor acknowledgement requirements―and best practices―to help you gain control of this issue for the holiday season and beyond.

Donor acknowledgement letters

Charitable (i.e., 501(c)(3)) organizations are required to provide a donor acknowledgement letter to each donor contributing $250 or more to the organization, whether it be cash or non-cash items (i.e., publicly traded securities, real estate, artwork, vehicles, etc.) received. The letter should include the following:

  1. Name of the organization
  2. Amount of cash contribution
  3. Description of non-cash items (but not the value)
  4. Statement that no goods and services were provided (assuming this is the case)
  5. Description and good faith estimate of the value of goods and services provided by the organization in return for the contribution, if any
  6. Statement that goods or services provided by the organization in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefit, if any

It is not necessary to include either the donor’s social security number or tax identification number on the written acknowledgment and as a best practice should not be included in the letter.

In addition to including the elements above, the written acknowledgement is also required to be contemporaneous, that is, sent out in a timely fashion. According to the IRS, a donor must receive the acknowledgment by the earlier of:

  1. The date on which the donor actually files his or her individual federal income tax return for the year of the contribution
  2. The due date (including extensions) of the return in order to be considered contemporaneous

Quid pro quo disclosure statements

When a donor makes a payment greater than $75 to a charitable organization partly as a contribution and partly as a payment for goods and services, a disclosure statement is required to notify the donor of the value of the goods and services received in order for the donor to determine the charitable contribution component of their payment.

An example of this would be if the organization sold tickets to its annual fundraising dinner event. Assume the ticket costs $100 and at the event the ticketholder receives a dinner valued at $40. In this example, the donor’s tax deduction may not exceed $60. Because the donor’s payment (quid pro quo contribution) exceeds $75, the charitable organization must furnish a disclosure statement to the donor, even though the deductible amount doesn’t exceed $75.

It’s important to note that there are some exclusions to these requirements if the value received is considered to be de minimis (known as the Token Exception), but the value received needs to be relatively small (ex: receiving a coffee mug with a picture of the organization’s logo on it). Please consult your tax advisor for more details.

If the organization does not issue disclosure statements, the IRS can issue penalties of $10 per contribution, not to exceed $5,000 per fundraising event or mailing. An organization may be able to avoid the penalty if reasonable cause can be demonstrated.

Receiving or selling donated noncash property? Forms 8283 & 8282 may be required.

If a charitable organization receives noncash donations, it may be asked to sign Form 8283. This form is required to be filed by the donor and included with their personal income tax return. If a donor contributes noncash property (excluding publicly traded securities) valued at over $5,000, the organization will need to sign Form 8283, Section B, Part IV acknowledging receipt of the noncash item(s) received.

By signing Form 8283, the donee organization is not only acknowledging receipt, but is also affirming that if the property being received is sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of within three years of the original donation date, the organization will be required to file Form 8282. A copy of this form is filed with the IRS and must also be provided to the original donor. Form 8282 is not required for sales of donated publicly traded securities. The penalty for failure to file Form 8282 when required is generally $50 per form.

Cars, boats, and yes, even airplanes? That would be Form 1098-C.

An airplane? Yes, even an airplane can be donated, and the donee organization must file a separate Form 1098-C, Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes, with the IRS for each contribution of a qualified vehicle that has a claimed value of more than $500. Contemporaneous written acknowledgement requirements apply here too, and Form 1098-C can act as acknowledgement for this purpose. An acknowledgment is considered contemporaneous if it is furnished to the donor no later than 30 days after the date of the contribution if you plan to use the item for a mission-related purpose, or 30 days after the date of the sale of the item to an unrelated third party.

Penalties for failure to provide contemporaneous written acknowledgement for qualified vehicles can be pretty stiff, generally calculated as a percentage of the sale price if sold, or a percentage of the claimed value if not sold. Should you have any questions or receive a request regarding any of the forms noted above, please consult your tax advisor.

As you can see, the rules around donor acknowledgements can seem a lot like Grandma’s fruitcake―complex and perhaps a bit on the nutty side. When issuing donor acknowledgements this holiday season and beyond, be sure to review the list above and check it twice. Doing so may end up keeping you off of the IRS’s naughty list!

This article originally appeared on BerryDunn’s website here.

Nonprofit 411: Paid Family and Medical Leave is Coming to Massachusetts in 2021

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by Jeff Bastien, AVP, RogersGray Insurance

As part of the “Grand Bargain,” Massachusetts officially passed a Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) program into legislation, with benefits scheduled to start on January 1, 2021.

The road to 2021 has come with challenges, as deductions that were originally scheduled to have started 7/1/19 were delayed to 10/1/19. The marketplace pushed back against legislators asking for more time to prepare for what was to come. That delay caused the rate increase from 0.63% of gross payroll up to 0.75%.

As withholdings started 10/1 for many employers, many went through the process of getting a Private Plan proposal and filing for an exemption, saving significant dollars versus paying on the state plan.

Two private options from the approved carriers have come out of this process:

  1. Custom PFML percentage based on a census of their employees today, with the understanding they will need to get a finalized quote before putting the plan into place in 2021. Some of these carriers require additional lines of coverage, and others will write the PFML stand alone. Here are some risks to understand:
  • While you can get a rate less than the state 0.75%, you could also end up with a rate higher
  • Your rates are not final rates and are subject to change if you have a big population change
  1. Carriers that matched the state rate of 0.75% if organizations either already have business with the carrier or commit to writing one or more other lines of business bundled with the PFML benefit. Here are some risks to understand:
  • You do not know if the 0.75% is high or low based on your population; you could be over-paying
  • If you move your other lines of coverage to a different carrier, you will lose the 0.75% guaranteed rate and if you are a less desirable risk, you could end up paying more

Even though the first exemption deadline passed (12/20/19), those who have not received an exemption will still have the option to file for a Private Plan exemption for the contributions prior to 2021.

There is still plenty to do for an organization in 2020 to help prepare you for 2021 when PFML starts. PFML is putting a spotlight on Human Resource departments as it is another regulation that could potentially be a target for discrimination lawsuits from employees.

Here are some of the items you can review to see if they need to be addressed prior to 2021:

  1. HR Audit including:
  • Best practices for handling employee issues
  • Employee Handbook
  • Job Descriptions
  • Disciplinary Policies
  • PTO and Leave Policy Reviews
  • Technology options with Leave Management via private carriers
  1. Benefit Updates:
  • Short-Term Disability – full update to lower/cancel coverage as PFML will end up taking over a large portion of STD benefits (including AFLAC/Colonial Benefits)
  • Long-Term Disability –waiting period needs to be updated as PFML benefits have a longer duration than the typical STD benefit that they will end up replacing

Adding these items to your HR agenda in 2020 will undoubtedly save time and energy (and potentially company dollars) when PFML starts in 2021 and employees begin requesting leave.

If there are any questions surrounding PFML or any of the items discussed in this article, please feel free to reach out to Jeff Bastien at 978-722-0206 or jbastien@rogersgray.com.

Our Shared Sector: Your Evaluations May Be Biased. Here’s What You Can Do About It.

by YW Boston

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Nonprofits are increasingly interested in measuring their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to determine whether these are actually effecting change. Whether you are evaluating efforts within your office or your community, evaluations are important tools for measuring progress. They are a valuable tool that will inform any adjustments, should you need to course correct. Yet bias often shows up in evaluations, just like it can show up elsewhere. This unaddressed bias can jeopardize the success of your DE&I efforts.

YW Boston has focused on developing evaluation tools that allow us to effectively measure individual and organizational readiness for D&I work, as well as tracking progress and areas of improvement. Here are some tips to help you identify and disrupt bias in your DE&I evaluations.

  1. Acknowledge that bias is always present and address it accordingly

The first steps towards addressing any challenge involves acknowledging the problem at hand and exploring possible root causes. People are biased, and as biased individuals, we can reproduce our biases in everything from self-assessment and decision making, to the tools and technology that we use. Prejudice and racism are institutionalized, so it is important to recognize that bias will be present within data—such as demographic data—and processes, regardless of where and how data was collected. Try pushing beyond quantitative data as it does not always tell the full story. Your quantitative and qualitative data may be communicating differently, so it’s important to gather more perspectives in order to gain deeper meaning. One common hurdle in evaluations is the inability to disaggregate. Disaggregation is critical to identifying singular data on specific identities such as race, gender identity, class, abilities, as well as intersections of identities.

  1. Examine what is being measured

In the words of Marc Miringoff, “we measure what we value.” Our environments, experiences, and institutions will impact our ideas about what is important and what should be measured. Therefore, institutionalized bias, prejudice, and racism will impact choices about the data we gather, the findings we prioritize and the meaning we ascribe to them. One way to mitigate racism within evaluations is to examine who is performing them. Evaluators have a lot of power, so ask: Are your evaluators diverse? Do they have an understanding of power and privilege? What data collection methods are being prioritized? Is your default indicator a white male?

  1. Consider who determines outcomes

It’s equally important to consider who’s involved in the post-evaluation process. After assessments are complete, someone will interpret the data and decide how to move forward. Consider shifting power dynamics from institutions and “experts” to communities and individuals most affected by the research. Evaluators can ask themselves, “Who is not included?” Define your theory of change and what it would take to achieve your outcomes. Identify your timetables and gather input from those who will be involved in making them happen. Think about what a negative or positive outcome might mean and who will frame those results.

Nonprofits should prioritize an equity lens throughout the process, even after evaluations have concluded. Be intentional about how your share data and make sure participants know what is being measured and why.

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. 

Our Shared Sector: How Nonprofits Can Address Unconscious Bias

by YW Boston

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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.

Contextualize

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.

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.

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.