Friday, December 9, 2011

Busy Employees Are Happy Employees

If you sat a few employees down in a room and told them that they would be doing less work but receiving the same pay, what do you think their reaction would be?  Jumping for joy, right?  Wrong.

In an article on The Nonprofit Jobseeker, NPT's home for nonprofit jobs, we learn that employees are most happy when they are busy.  This is according to a recent report by Sirota Survey Intelligence, a Purchase, N.Y.-based research company.  This flies in the face of what some bosses might think.  Wouldn't employees like having less stress on a daily basis?  It turns out that most workers would prefer to accomplish as much as possible during a given day, rather than just getting by on their job.

This makes all the sense in the world, especially when you apply it to nonprofit organizations.  One of the big attractions of working at an NPO is getting the chance to do work that can make a difference for a cause.  Why wouldn't a nonprofit employee want to be accomplishing more for a cause they presumably care about?  The survey results indicate that "Overworked people, in a sense, are getting feedback from the organization that their contributions are important.”

The results also make sense from a practical standpoint.  What would you rather be doing during a long workday?  Having a lot to do, or sitting on your hands doing nothing?  Make sure to read the full article on the Nonprofit Jobseeker.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nonprofit Jobs: New Jersey Nonprofit To Create 800 New Jobs

Cross-Posted From NPT Jobs

On the heels of the good job news from last month, one New Jersey nonprofit expects to create twice the number of jobs as originally expected.

According to a report in The Asbury Park Press, the New Jersey Technology Solutions Center estimates it will be able to create 800-1,000 new jobs over the next five years. That's a far cry from the 200 to 300 positions the center was originally expected to create when it launched last year. It's also a dose of good news for an organization that had an uncertain future after earmarks--a major source of funding for the center--were discontinued by Congress earlier this year.

The new jobs are expected to arrive once the nonprofit receives contracts in a number of areas, including engineering, software development, management, and business development. If all of these new jobs are created as predicted, it will go along way towards making up for the loss of 5,000 high-technology jobs when Fort Monmouth, one of the army's installations in Monmouth County, closed earlier this fall. These jobs will not only get people much needed employment, but are also expected to pour millions of dollars into the local economy by 2017.

Read The Asbury Park Press story for more information. You should also be sure to check out our career center for other New Jersey nonprofit jobs.

Nonprofits Facing Fiscal Stress

The latest fundraising survey by The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) was a mixed bag for nonprofits.

The survey, which was released yesterday, showed that 41 percent of organizations reported increased charitable receipts for the first nine months of the year.  On the other hand, there were signs that a significant number of organizations were feeling increased fiscal stress.  Among signs of fiscal stress, the primary concern was flat or declining contributions, cited by 52 percent of organizations, followed by 48 percent each who said low cash reserves and limited number of funders. Nearly as many, 46 percent, said flat or declining non-contribution revenue was a concern.

These problems are of even greater concern to smaller organizations.  While NRC reports that only 8 percent of NPOs fear they are in danger of closing because of financial reasons, that number increases to 20 percent for organizations with less than $3 million in expenditures.

But let's get to some good news, shall we?  Aside from the increased charitable receipts--up from 36 percent last year--half of responding organizations saw an increase of new donors.  This included new corporate funders (37 percent) and foundations grantors (16 percent).  Still, prospects look bleak for 2012.  All organizations expect they will start 2012 with reduced revenue from multiple sources.

What is your reaction to these numbers?  Has your organization experienced any of the fiscal problems mentioned?  Be sure to read the full report on the survey on The NonProfit Times.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Changes To First Class Mail Coming?

UPDATE, 4:00 PM EST: We have updated the story with more reactions from nonprofits.

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In a story that we posted on our website this morning, the USPS announced plans to close half of its processing facilities in an effort to shift First Class mail to a two- to three-day standard for destinations in the continental United States. 

The Postal Service says this change will allow them to save $2 billion, which will help in their efforts to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015.  Despite it being the most profitable category of mail, First Class mail is on the decline.  Volume was down to 78 billion pieces last year, with projections of 53 billion in 2016 and 39 billion by 2020.  They insist that the changes to First Class mail, which is also scheduled to receive a postage increase in January 2012, will have only a small impact on the "average postal customer." 

Most nonprofits use Standard Nonprofit mail for their direct mail solicitations, so it's unclear what the response will be from the nonprofit community.  Tony Conway, executive director of the Association of Nonprofit Mailers (ANM), said the USPS has “all these plants to handle all this mail that’s declining every year."  He went on to say: “They need to downsize the network. That drove the whole decision.”  We are continuing to check the pulse of nonprofits, and will update our story when we get more reaction.  Stay tuned.  In the mean time, let us know what you think of this news.

Nonprofit And For-Profit Newsrooms Working Together

Nonprofit organizations partnering with for-profit corporations is nothing new but in recent years they've become more commonplace.  When there is a common goal, these partnerships can be very fruitful.  And now, for-profit and nonprofit newsrooms are discovering they need each other.

The PBS website MediaShift, in conjunction with the Investigative Reporting Program, conducted a roundtable discussion with local media experts on this subject.  With budgets tightening at newsrooms across the country, established media outlets are finding they don't have the resources for extensive investigative reports.  Spending six months on a story isn't exactly the best way to make money.  That's where nonprofit news organizations come in. 

Sites like the Voice of San Diego and the St. Louis Beacon have been popping up, filling the gap in investigative journalism.  Major news outlets, not wanting to lose this area of reporting entirely, have found that working with these nonprofit news sites makes for a partnership that benefits both sides.  This benefit can be seen in a recent project by Frontline, an investigation show hosted on PBS.  They worked with PBS, The Guardian, and CBC on a project, and found that they were able to accomplish a lot more by sharing resources.

It's not all roses and sunshine, though.  Mary Walter-Brown, who works at the Voice of San Diego, spoke to the roundtable discussion about her experience partnering with a local NBC affiliate.  They would often have people from the Voice as experts, but Brown says they still have trouble getting them to explain their mission to viewers. It seems some fledgling news organizations seeking nonprofit status also are having difficulty explaining their mission to the IRS.

We recommend that you read the rest of the roundtable discussion on PBS's website.  What do you think of the stories they shared there?  Has your organization had similar experiences in their partnerships with for-profits?

Monday, December 5, 2011

MBA Programs Pair Students With Nonprofit Boards

Nonprofit boards are trying to get an influx of youth.  That goal may be within reach thanks to help from MBA programs.

According to an article in Bloomberg Business Week, schools with MBA programs in nonprofit management are teaming up with local nonprofit boards.  The article cites the example of Columbia Business School's Nonprofit Leadership Program, which pairs 30 MBA students with a local nonprofit board each year.  Ryan Bell, who attended the school in the Fall of 2010, was assigned to the board of Friends of the Children of New York.

Bell didn't just attend meetings while serving as a Board Fellow; he also assisted the board's fundraising committee by analyzing the organization's five-year strategic plan.  His assistance played a key role in developing a new evaluation system for students, which ultimately resulting in $275,000 in additional funding.  All this was done at the end of his one-year term.

Programs like the one at Columbia are becoming more popular as nonprofit boards are seeing it as an opportunity to connect with a younger audience.  We had written an article a couple of years back that showed that only 2 percent of nonprofit boards have members younger than 30.  Make sure to check that out to get a better sense of the age disparity at nonprofit boards.

If you want to read the full article on Board Fellow programs, check out the Bloomberg Business Week website.

Accommodating Your Youth Volunteers

The job market is proving difficult for everybody, and college students are no exception.  That's why the amount of time they volunteered increased from 2009 to 2010, according to USA Today.  Volunteering remains a popular way for young people to keep themselves busy while they are looking for work.  It also looks great to nonprofits on a resume.  With the number of youth volunteers increasing, nonprofits need to come up with ways to accommodate them.

In his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recruiting and Managing Volunteers, John L. Lipp offered some ways that nonprofits can accomplish this goal:

  • It all starts with flexibility.  If the volunteer is still taking classes, it might be tough for them to commit more than two hours.  This is especially the case near the end of the semester, when work loads typically increase.
  • Lipp says that most young people like working together, so pair up students to promote teamwork skills.
  • Keep your volunteers engaged by making mundane tasks more fun.  For example, have an envelope stuffing party with pizza and videos.
  • Involving youth volunteers not only addresses short-term needs of an organization, but also long-term needs. Try to engage these volunteers as best as possible so they will turn to your organization in the future when they have disposable income.
Make sure to read the full article on this subject over on our website.  This is a very valuable subject in this day and age.