Publisher's Note

By Pamela Davis, President, and Andrew Hastings, Chairman Board of Directors, American Nonprofits

Our mission at American Nonprofits, where the two of us serve on the board, is to strengthen the financial health of nonprofit organizations. Over the last twelve months, we have been working through changes in leadership and operating models and gathering information about what Blue Avocado means to you, our readers. Today we are pleased to begin offering the benefits of that work with a new issue of Blue Avocado, featuring two terrific new articles and some of our favorite pieces from the archives.

Every two months, a new issue will be published. We'll bring you new perspectives and interesting conversations about the issues facing our sector. Popular columns like "Ask Rita" are here to stay, but we hope you will keep us on our toes and tell us when we hit the right notes and when we don't. And we're on the hunt for writers. We can help you shape your idea and make your words shine. Email editor@blueavocado.org.

 

Ask Rita: Can I Just Hire Independent Contractors?

By Siobhan Kelley

Dear Rita in HR: I am executive director of a very small nonprofit. Recently, I had to fire an employee for the first time. In retrospect, I probably made a bad hiring decision, but it was a real nightmare to go through. I would like to just hire independent contractors from now on. As I understand it, with contractors I just pay them a flat amount every month and at the end of the year they get a 1099 instead of a W-2. Sounds like a great solution to me! Are you going to rain on my parade?

Signed,

Found the Magic Wand

 

If Your Board Looked Like Your Community

By Josephine Ramirez, Portfolio Director, The James Irvine Foundation

Moving Board Diversity from a 'Problem to Solve' to 'Something to Practice.' Staff and Board Members Weigh in on Common Hurdles and How to Overcome Them.

This story is part of New Faces New Spaces, a series by the Irvine Foundation exploring how arts organizations are adapting to reflect the changing demographics of California, engage with their communities, and become more resilient organizations.

 

Treasurers of All-Volunteer Organizations: Eight Key Responsibilities

By Dennis Walsh, CPA

More than half of the nonprofits in the United States are estimated to be all-volunteer organizations. Here is a wonderful, succinct guide for the 600,000 + treasurers of such organizations:

My time as treasurer of a faith-based nonprofit was a labor of love. Starting out as an all-volunteer organization with a $20,000 budget, we developed financial systems, workable budgets, and demonstrated accountability. We served families affected by incarceration and there's no greater personal reward than seeing people realize they have real hope for a better life. In just three years the budget grew to over $330,000.

However, there was stress as well. As a CPA I found myself the recipient of unnerving deference at times. I frequently fell short in communicating financial information to board and staff. But the outcomes made it all worthwhile.

This experience helps me appreciate one of the many unsung heroes of our time: the treasurer of the all-volunteer organization (AVO). AVOs are among the most important and most invisible building blocks of our communities. Members of all-volunteer organizations read to children, care for the dying, get clean water legislation passed, serve as . . .

 

A Board Member's Guide to Nonprofit Insurance

By Pamela Davis

Many board members don't think about the organization's insurance until something adverse happens. As one Blue Avocado reader commented: "Insurance isn't sexy, but it's as essential as a roof over your head." In these tight times, it's tempting to make insurance a low priority, but this strategy can be penny wise and pound foolish. Blue Avocado asked Pamela Davis, president and CEO of the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group (and a Blue Avocado Steering Committee member) to give us the low-down on liability.

Q: Pamela, what are the most common insurance claims against nonprofits? How much do they end up costing?

Pamela: Almost all of the claims - 90 percent- reported by nonprofit . . .

 

Crawling Out of the Psychological Depths

First Person Nonprofit - By Marilyn Neece - August 14, 2014

Most of us have had moments of despair. Marilyn Neece very generously shares her story with us:

It's hard to say this out loud. I lost my edge. I went from sharp-minded and insightful consultant to a tired and nearly burnt out executive director in just three short years.
I know the board is wondering if I'm all right. It's humiliating. They hired me to make the great turnaround. We started with such energy and focus. But then . . . life is very different from those case studies in Harvard Business Review.

It started out great

My organization is a small mental health counseling center that was founded 35 years ago by several churches. It's a neighborhood place. We still have Christian counseling for those who want it, but we are mainly secular, and we offer counseling in a number of languages.

I've been a successful executive director in the past. I know about boards, strategic plans. I was . . .

 

Ask Rita in HR: Do we really have to do performance evaluations?

Ask Rita in HR - By Ellen Aldridge - June 8, 2013

Dear Rita:  I just started as the first HR Manager for an environmental nonprofit that has grown to 65 employees, although at least 35 of them are summer staff. I was somewhat shocked to discover that there are no performance evaluations in the files! When I asked the ED about this, she said two things: a) seasonal employees don't need to get evaluations, and b) that regular employees work mostly in teams and that they've worked together for a long time. When I recommended a formal performance evaluation process the ED said she would only do it if legally required. So my question: are performance reviews legally required? Signed, New Kid on the Block.

Dear New Kid: First, there is no law that mandates . . .

 

Free Webinars for Members

Notes from the Chairman

Drew Hastings, Volunteer Chairman, American Nonprofits
Drew Hastings
Volunteer Chairman
American Nonprofits

Dear Colleagues:

I’m pleased to write with news of significant developments at American Nonprofits. As many of you know, our organization was established in 2012 with the broad mission to develop programs for supporting the rapidly evolving finance and capitalization needs of the nonprofit sector.

Our first approach to addressing this mission was to explore the creation of a national nonprofit credit union. We undertook two years of intensive research and development work with the membership of the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California (NIAC). In conjunction with this R&D effort, we acquired the online media project Blue Avocado in 2012, led by Jan Masaoka, as a means to help us define our...

Join the Discussion

American Nonprofits was formed by a group of nonprofit sector leaders to serve as a platform to address issues of finance, credit, strategy and accountability. As a membership organization that welcomes both nonprofit organizations and individuals, we occupy the intersection of finance and strategy. We are a platform through which members can convene local and national discussions, initiate solutions, and collectively improve nonprofit finance (e.g. the credit union project below).
>Read More
Online Surveys Powered By QuestionPro
Web Polls Powered By MicroPoll
Follow us: Contact us via emailFollow us via twitter

American Nonprofits Federal Credit Union

Do you think nonprofits deserve fair access to credit and loans?
Do you want to discuss and improve nonprofit strategy and finance?
Does it annoy you that big banks make profits from nonprofit customers without offering appropriate credit?

> Read More.

To view the draft business plan for the proposed credit union: Draft Business Plan

Follow us: Contact us via emailFollow us via twitter

Supporters

The work to found American Nonprofits as well as assist with the research into the credit union is possible thanks to a $100,000 grant from Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, and an initial $25,000 grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation also made a $50,000 grant to forward this work.

Press

Check out this recent Article about us in the Silicon Valley Business Journal

Check out the Article about us in the San Francisco Business Times

Check out the Article about us in the Chronicle of Philanthropy