7 Reasons Systems Fail and Trust Erodes

What is trust? It is an outcome. It’s the result of a process. It is built over time like a bank account. And in absence of trust you’re probably more vulnerable.

People – and donors – rely on the marketplace to operate in a way that rewards fair and honest practices. Those practices include: integrity, honesty, fairness, disclosure and accountability.

According to Claire Rosenzweig, CAE, president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York in New York City, trust goes out the window when systems fail. She made her comments during a presentation, “Building High Trust In A Low Trust World,” at the recent annual meeting and exposition of the American Society of Association Executives held this year in Columbus, Ohio.

Rosenzweig cited statistics from the 2019 Edelman Brand Trust survey where it was found 45 percent of consumers said a “brand” would never be able to regain their trust after a “brand” displays unethical behavior or suffers a controversy. And, 40 percent of respondents said they would completely stop buying from that “brand.”

There are seven reasons why systems fail:

  • Feelings of entitlement;
  • Irrational exuberance and uninhibited self-interest;
  • Arrogance;
  • Conflicts of interest;
  • Creative accounting;
  • Failure of independent auditors; and,
  • Failure of board oversight.

Nonprofit leaders can “be the personification of trustworthy,” she told the audience. Consumers look to nonprofits and businesses to act on social and environmental initiatives as a key element of trust. Boards are responsible to ensure that their organizations and employees can be trusted.

Nonprofit leaders must build a culture of trust so that it is sustainable and ongoing. Leaders need to figure out why mistrust happens and get to the root cause, Rosenzweig counseled.

Leaders need to collaborate every day with board members, staff members and the community. Reputation, financial stability and sustainability depend on it, she said.


All Nonprofits Great And Small

What does the Alzheimer’s Association and it’s more than 2,000 employees have in common with Musicians On Call and its staff of 15? They were both winners in the NPT’s 2019 Best Nonprofits To Work For competition.

Leaders at both organizations understand that to deliver mission you need to be both client-centric and flexible with staff. Finding and keeping staff is not easy in this economy. The 50 organizations in the 2019 competition implemented measures vital to keeping staff and delivering on mission.

The NonProfit Times partners with Best Companies Group (BCG) on The Best Nonprofits To Work For. The Harrisburg, Pa.-based firm puts organizations through a battery of surveys to develop the key drivers. The Employee Benchmark Report portion of the survey includes 79 questions and statements within eight categories.

The top 10 key drivers identified in the survey were:

  • I feel I am valued in this organization;
  • Most days, I feel I have made progress at work;
  • I have confidence in the leadership of this organization;
  • I like the type of work that I do;
  • I can trust what this organization tells me;
  • I like the people I work with at this organization;
  • Quality is a top priority with this organization;
  • Overall, I’m satisfied with this organization’s benefits package;
  • I understand the long-term strategy of this organization; and,
  • My supervisor helps me develop to my fullest potential.

The competition is open for the 2020 NPT Best Nonprofits To Work For. Go to https://bestnonprofitstoworkfor.com to get information on how to be one of the 2020 Best Nonprofits To Work For.

Compete To Be A Best Nonprofit Top Work For

Employee engagement is vital to an ecosystem of success. Finding and keeping a workforce of social good specialists is not easy in a gig economy. But there are nonprofits where life is good and productive for those the organization serves.

Yours is probably a great place to work and you should be competing in the ninth annual Best Nonprofits To Work For, a partnership between The NonProfit Times and the Best Companies Group.

Professional development, training, communication and confidence in leadership are among a number of things consistent across this year’s 50 organizations. The Best Nonprofits To Work For study identified 10 key drivers among organizations that made the list:

  • I feel I am valued in this organization.
  • I have confidence in the leadership of this organization.
  • I like the type of work that I do.
  • Most days, I feel I have made progress at work.
  • I can trust what this organization tells me.
  • At this organization, employees have fun at work.
  • I feel part of a team working toward a shared goal.
  • My pay is fair for the work I perform.
  • This organization treats me like a person, not a number.
  • This organization provides as much ongoing training as I need.

    Check here and sign-up to compete for local, state and national bragging rights in the small, medium and large-sized organizational categories.

    Go ahead and click that link: bestnonprofitstoworkfor.com

Elements Of A Positive Workplace Culture

There’s no denying that this isn’t your father’s Corporate America. Since Don Draper’s day, workplaces have become more casual, more connected, more innovative, and more flexible. But have they become fun? Maybe so, or at least, that’s what the latest crop of employees hope to find when they settle into their new environment.

According to a recent report from Accenture, 60 percent of Class of 2015 graduates said they would take a pay cut to work where there is a “positive social atmosphere.”

“Most employers don’t actually need to see the results of a study to know that a positive, even fun, company culture is a deciding factor for young people who are entering the job market,” according to Michael Houlihan, co-author along with Bonnie Harvey of The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People and The New York Times bestseller The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand.

“And since Millennials now account for the largest share of the U.S. work force, those employers had better take this generation’s expectations seriously — even if they themselves are members of the ‘it’s called work for a reason’ camp,” according to Houlihan.

Don’t worry, assures Houlihan, you won’t have to put in a basketball court or bowling alley. And, injecting a little more fun into your organization will benefit everyone.

“It’s a myth that productivity improves when company cultures are rigid, serious, and businesslike,” Harvey notes. “The reality is, productivity improves when people enjoy being at work and enjoy the work they’re doing, regardless of the decade in which they were born.”

In The Entrepreneurial Culture, Houlihan and Harvey, who founded Barefoot Wine, share the methods and tactics they used to make their brand so successful. (And yes, that included proactively making their company an enjoyable place to work.) Here, they share six components of a positive company culture:

  • Fun: While going to work might not ever beat a day at the beach, it’s still possible to make time at the office enjoyable. When possible, allow your employees to work in highly collaborative teams and make group work areas available. Give these teams clear goals and celebrate when they’re accomplished. You might even want to introduce a little friendly competition.
  • Respect: Yes, your new millennial hires will be the low men and women on your company’s totem pole. But that doesn’t mean they can be treated dismissively or viewed as a cost. No one, regardless of age or experience, will enjoy coming to work if they aren’t treated with respect and viewed as an asset.
  • Philanthropy: A 2014 report by consulting firm Achieve showed that not only do Millennials think it’s important to give back to their communities, 57 percent would actually like to see their employers offer more company-wide volunteer opportunities.
  • Flex-hours: If your organization has a rigid attendance policy, Houlihan and Harvey ask you to seriously consider: Why? Thanks to technology, many of today’s jobs don’t require employees to be in the office, at their desks, from nine to five. And believe it or not, almost half of millennials say they’d choose flexibility over pay.
  • Appreciation: When your employees work hard on your behalf, they deserve your thanks and appreciation. Don’t take it for granted when your employees put in extra hours, land a coveted client, or turn out an incredibly well-thought-out proposal, for example. Make sure they know that you have noticed their efforts. For that matter, don’t even take it for granted that they show up every day. As the economy continues to improve, employees have an increasingly wide array of potential employers to choose from.
  • Family: Accenture’s report also showed that only 15 percent of 2015 grads “prefer” to work for a large corporation. Houlihan and Harvey confirm that today’s employees want to be known and treated as individuals, not merely as “human capital” or cogs in the proverbial machine. They value kinship, shared values, and being part of a supportive group that has one another’s best interests at heart. They want to feel proud of their “tribe” and look forward to the company of the group with whom they spend the majority of their waking hours.

Having A Risk Program

It’s a best practice for strengthening NPOs Nonprofits working domestically or internationally do so in increasingly complex and dynamic environments. They are confronted with a variety of risks such as lack of funding, harm to staff and beneficiaries, loss of assets caused by crimes, repetitional harm due to allegations of sexual harassment, and, inability to […]

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Safe Workplaces

Fundraising is not immune from misconduct Many people who work at nonprofits might feel a distance from the “Me Too Movement” (#MeToo), an idea that began spreading virally in October 2017. It is in response to the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment charges, mainly in the workplace, following allegations against the movie producer Harvey […]

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Survey: Average Fundraiser Salaries Up

The average salary for a fundraiser jumped almost 8 percent last year, with nearly half of those surveyed seeing increases of 1 to 3 percent, according to a new survey. Despite the growth, a third of the almost 3,600 respondents said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their compensation and benefits package. The 2019 […]

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Professional Development: Membership Principles To Remember

Any nonprofit needs support, and usually the more the better. Members donate money, but they also can spread the word about the organization or the mission or both. Sometimes sheer numbers can have an effect on impact.
The need for fundraising is so constant that sometimes the opportunities for increasing membership are overlooked. Members do matter, however.
At a nonprofit conference at National Harbor, Md., Lynn Swain who at the time was with Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO), Hailey Conneely who at the time was with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (ISGM) and Diane Ward of Membership Matters, said that membership does matter, and they offered several guiding principles for driving massive membership growth:

• Understand expectations. Assess current situation and resources.
• Demonstrate organization-wide impact. Know what members do (or do not) for the organization to better understand the impact of future growth.
• Determine appropriate positioning and expectations of membership program, current situation or in the future.
• Examine expense. Growth makes sense when the fixed cost of additional members is incrementally low.
• Learn the “business” and “purpose” of membership. Invest in acquisition and retention and recover the cost of service through additional spending, gifts and long-term engagement.
• Identify current performance and compare to industry standards and competitors when possible.
• Create tracking systems and define reporting tools to measure current and future performance.
• Expect the unexpected. Remember that goals change.

Attracting Millennials To The Mission

“Millennials in the Corner Office, Gen Y Bosses Tell Us How They Lead,” was a headline of a Fast Company magazine story. The story’s guts were results from a survey on Millennial leaders conducted by Fast Company, Inc., and the career-development site Muse.

The survey stats should pique your interest more:

  • Relationships in the workplace matter to Millennials: 35% said they “relate to older employees as equals,” and 38% said they “want to learn from older workers.”
  • Millennial bosses are champions of transparency: 51% said that companies should practice “active transparency, making all financial information available to employees.”
  • A learning mindset beats other traits: “Is eager to learn” topped the list of traits that are extremely important to Millennials who hire. Compared to the trait of learning, only 32% of the Millennial bosses cited “has relevant skills” as an extremely important trait for new hires.
  • Millennial managers face challenges working with their Millennial peers: 19% say their peers require too much attention or feedback; 27% said they take constructive feedback personally; and 20% prefer managing Gen Xers compared to other colleagues.

A tangible takeaway from generational-based surveys is a reminder of the downside risks of buying into stereotypes about any generation of workers and donors, including Millennials. Generations are hard to define. If you were born between 1982-84, do you feel more Gen X or Millennial? If you’re older than 40, chances are you’ve been on both sides of a generational gambit.

A cultural generation is a specious definition at best. The only agreed-upon generation defined by the demographers of the U.S. Census Bureau is Boomers (1946-1964). Culturally, some of these folks were responsible for the DIY (do it yourself) ethic of Gen Xers (with typical birth years ranging from the early 1960s to the early 1980s), and for building the technology companies (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon) that powered the Millennial culture.

It’s easy to see why generational boundaries serve as shorthand, in place of a more nuanced narrative. To a large extent the media draws these boundaries to fill catch phrases and satisfy short attention spans. Some of the most common but damaging and unproductive stereotypes still heard include: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks and Millennials are entitled. Here are some ideas to change the perception:

  1. Make learning new skills a must for all staff;
  2. Model the commitment to learn;
  3. Keep it real;
  4. Remind yourself that it’s a job, not a tattoo; and,
  5. Sync what you do with what you say.

It’s time to revise “millennial” as a moniker of youth culture. Whatever you thought a millennial was, it now means an older person.

Melanie Lockwood Herman is executive director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center in Leesburg, Va. Her email is melanie@nonprofitrisk.org

8 Signs Of A Toxic Work Culture

What do your employees think of their place of work? Do they feel supported and empowered as they carry out the organization’s mission or is the culture in the office taking a toll on their emotional and physical health?

According to Shaara Roman, founder and managing partner of the Silverene Group in Arlington, Va., incivility is at an all-time high in the workforce. She discussed eight reasons a nonprofit could have human resources issues during a session at the recent annual AICPA Not-For-Profit Industry Conference at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

Those eight points include:

  • Employees are afraid of speaking up;
  • You only hear positive, not constructive feedback from your employees;
  • Your rules exist to keep employees in line;
  • Information flows from the top down;
  • Decisions made in meetings are unmade elsewhere;
  • You have favorites and everyone knows who they are;
  • Employees spend most of their time managing your ego versus managing your vision; and,
  • There are always lots of new employees but the organization isn’t growing.

If it feels as if more people leave than join, you might be receiving clues that your culture isn’t up to snuff, Roman told those attending the session.