November 23, 2017

Is Your Organization Ready?

Is Your Organization Ready? - Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard 029
In recent months the world has witnessed several tragedies: the current flooding in the Midwest, a rash of tornadoes in the South, and an enormous earthquake in Japan. These events, on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the earthquake in Haiti, serve as reminders that disaster could be just around the corner and can happen in almost any community. If your region were hit by calamity, is your organization prepared to help? Have you thought about the strengths your agency can bring to the table — and how they fit in with the community’s emergency response plan? For this article we’ve reviewed a couple of resources that can help jumpstart a conversation within your organization regarding disaster readiness.

FEMA has released a publication called “Are You Ready?” that covers the basics of disaster planning. Their suggestion is to start by assessing the likelihood or risk of various types of catastrophe. The booklet even contains a worksheet that you can fill out to help you with this task. Much of the document is geared toward individual families but can easily be adapted for organizations. For instance, the section on maintaining family communication can easily be changed to maintaining organizational communication. One specific suggestion is to create cards with contact information for every member of the family, or, in this case, every member of the organization. Once again, the key is taking suggestions for civilians and reworking them to fit your organization.

Another great resource is The Points of Light Foundation’s publication “Ready to Respond.” The booklet serves as a guide for readying volunteer organizations to be responders in catastrophic situations. However, even if your agency is not a responder, the document still has some very useful information. For instance, there is an easy-to-use checklist to complete to assess an organization’s readiness. These are issues that any agency should be thinking about, just in case.
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Resume Tips For Volunteers

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard
In an earlier blog article, we explored the advantages volunteerism can bring to individuals by providing them experience that can be applied to the work world. As such, make sure you continue to examine the motivations attached to the volunteers who are landing at your door. You’re probably seeing some people who are drawn to your volunteer opportunities in an effort to keep current skills sharp or learn new ones to advance beyond their present job. Others may be seeking management experience or want to acquire an entirely new skill set in order to transition into a completely different field. As you work with career-minded volunteers, this is your chance to give back in return, by offering some resume tips.

For these, we turn to a wonderful article from energizeinc.com entitled “Helping Volunteers to Market Their Experience on Their Resumes” by Mary Agnes Williams. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When applicable, rely on volunteer work to fill in time gaps between jobs.
  • Use generalized headings, such as “Professional Experience,” as opposed to “Employment History.” This allows an individual to list his or her skills without limiting them to paid positions.
  • When specifying work that was unpaid, do not feel the need to label it as volunteer. Instead, focus on the position’s title.
  • Clarify if the volunteer work is full-time or ongoing. Most employers assume volunteerism is intermittent.

Williams suggests that organizations may want to go the extra mile as an appreciation of their volunteers and host a resume workshop for them. Because, in addition to those who are volunteering specifically to gain new skills, she also points out that you may have another group of people who don’t even realize it’s acceptable to put volunteer experience on their resume. A great way to jog a volunteer’s memory to all the duties s/he performs — and to assist him or her with resume writing — is to hand out a new copy of his or her volunteer job description. Of course, managers at your agency can also offer letters of recommendation to outstanding volunteers to accompany the newly-honed resumes.

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Social Entrepreneurship: Matchmaking Marketplace and Missions

Social Entrepreneurship: Matchmaking Marketplace and Missions
Author: Fonda Kendrick, VolunteerHub.com

Effects of the economy are continuing to change how the world works on many levels. For nonprofits, one of these adjustments comes in the form of exploring alternative funding sources. As such, the idea of social entrepreneurship is beginning to take a firmer hold. J. Gregory Dees, founder of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, explains this movement: “It combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination commonly associated with, for instance, the high-tech pioneers of Silicon Valley.”

The buzzword is a somewhat recent development (within the last few decades), but the practice of social entrepreneurship is not new. According to brighthub.com, it can be traced back as early as the 18th century and includes legendary figures such as Florence Nightingale, who established the first nursing school; Maria Montessori, famous for her early education methods; and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known for his initiatives to pull the United States out of the Great Depression.

A recent Courier Post Online article gives some examples of present-day social entrepreneurship successes:

  • Established in 1963, Seattle’s Pioneer Human Services achieves its mission of helping those with mental health, substance abuse, or criminal histories with profits made from several endeavors. Business activities such as warehousing, food service, manufacturing, and distribution now fund a whopping 99 percent of the assistance program.
  • A Zen Buddhist meditation group led by Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, a former aerospace engineer, started Greyston Bakery in 1982. The Yonkers, New York-based business takes the traditional bake sale concept of fund raising to a whole new level. Its website states, “We don’t hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people.” Here, the sale of brownies funds such projects as affordable child care, health care for HIV patients, housing for homeless individuals, and technology education. The bakery provides desserts to top-notch New York City restaurants and also has become the sole-source for brownies used in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
  • In 2009, Columbus, Ohio-area Lutheran Social Services invested $40,000 in its Freshbox Catering company. The program looked to the business world for leadership and hired an investment analyst to head up the program. The result was $130,000 in sales the first year. While the fact that the program is paying for itself is amazing, Freshbox is also achieving its greater mission of providing jobs and training for the homeless.

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Tax Incentives For Volunteering?

Tax Incentives For Volunteering?
Peter Funt, second generation Candid Camera host, has turned his attention to more serious topics lately. In the past several years, Funt has written op-ed pieces, some of which have been picked up by The Boston Globe.

One of his recent articles, arguing in favor of tax breaks for Americans who volunteer their time, was picked up by the media in late December 2010. Funt is certainly not the first to bring this concept to the table, but his idea is receiving press throughout the country. Newspapers in at least twelve states carried the column, and a Google search shows that it has also been posted on several blogs.

In his article, Funt argues that unpaid volunteers in the U.S. should receive a federal tax credit that “would help Americans at all income levels pay a bit less, while also providing some benefit to the unemployed.” Following are his main talking points:

  • Volunteers should be allowed to claim $5.69 per hour donated. (This figure is based on 25 percent of the average hourly rate for all American civilian employees.)
  • Credits could be rolled over for up to five years.
  • Organizations participating must be qualified non-profits.
  • The cost to federal government for a volunteer tax credit using his proposal is estimated at $1 billion per year.

Funt acknowledges that his idea would create more paperwork for non-profits, but points out that documentation for monetary donations is already being generated. He also believes this proposal would alleviate some of the imbalance between paid workers and volunteers working side by side at the same agency. Giving a nod to possible abuses, Funt states, “But whom should the IRS worry about more: the billionaire who bends the rules when claiming a five-digit deduction, or the… (volunteer) who adds 15 minutes to his time sheet?”
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