Tibetan Postcards For Sale

DID YOU KNOW? This week, Hostelling International kicked off its first ever “Peace Postcard Project,” a postcard-writing campaign in which people from across the globe are encouraged to tell the United Nations (UN) how traveling to a new place changed how they see the world. With more than 4,000 nonprofit hostels in over 80 countries, Hostelling International based this project in its belief that travel has the unique ability to change people’s minds and build bridges that might lead to lasting conflict resolution and peace. By sending these postcards, Hostelling International hopes to cause a disruption that forces the UN and the rest of the world to recognize the importance of traveling in helping to promote tolerance and understanding that cannot be taught, but rather is experienced. On the day the project launched, travelers could participate by attending and creating postcards at “Peace Postcard Parties,” held at hostels in nearly 30 countries on the International Day of Peace on September 21, or by staying home and sending a postcard from the website or posting one on Twitter with the appropriate hashtag. According to organizers from Hostelling International, the project was expected to create about 10,000 pieces of mail for the UN – to cause a disruption they could not ignore. To find out more about this postcard-writing campaign and why organizers from Hostelling International think something as simple as buying a plane ticket is a step towards peace, check out this article from Forbes Magazine.

1. The Persistence of Unequal Pay: Why Some Nonprofits Might Be Part of the Problem

A recent study from GuideStar, a nonprofit information service, shows that the “gender gap” in pay persists in most nonprofits, but appears most glaring in those with significantly larger annual budgets. In recent years, nonprofits with budgets of over $50 million have made little progress in closing the gender pay gap, which was reported as 21 percent in 2015 and 20 percent in 2016. One reason for this enduring discrepancy in pay is the difference in rising compensation rates for male and female nonprofit CEOs. According to the study, CEO compensations at these larger nonprofits rose 4.9 percent for women and 8.9 percent for men in 2016. Holly Ivel, the Director of Data Services at GuideStar, said that while this gap remains significant among nonprofits in the highest budget brackets, small and midsize organizations are making larger strides in the right direction. In fact, the study reports that in 2016, at nonprofits with budgets between $2.5 million and $25 million, in general, women received larger pay increases than men. Another noteworthy trend presented in the study shows a noticeable growth in human resources and information-technology jobs as an organization moves into higher budget brackets, with sharper increases in these jobs in organizations with budgets of more than $1 million. So, while both men and women entering the nonprofit world will face increased opportunity in certain employment sectors, no nonprofit is automatically immune to the pervasive pattern of unequal pay. Though many, particularly smaller-scale nonprofits, are undoubtedly moving in the right direction. To find out more about the gender pay gap in nonprofits and other findings in the report published by GuideStar, take a look at the article above.

2. Study Shows Great Lack of Confidence in Retirement Savings Among Nonprofit Employees

In its 2018 Nonprofit Survey, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) reported that only 11 percent of nonprofit employees feel confident that they are saving enough for their retirement. Around half of respondents in the survey, which in total included 1,004 nonprofit employees and 502 nonprofit managers from a variety of ages and backgrounds, claimed that salaries and benefits are worse at nonprofits than in the for-profit sector.  A majority of respondents cited the rising cost of healthcare as a major concern in regards to retirement saving. While the future of healthcare and social security funding in the U.S. remains relatively uncertain in a changing political climate, nonprofits may need to consider doing more to ensure the future financial security of their employees if they hope to keep the field attractive and competitive. As the third largest employment sector in the country whose wage total of $638 billion was topped only by those of manufacturing and professional services in 2016, the nonprofit sector represents not only a significant portion of the economy, but also a major influence on perceptions of retirement planning. If the study shows an accurate sample and only around one-tenth of nonprofit employees are confident in their retirement savings, organizations should take note. Even if funding is limited, your organization may want to consider taking steps to boost this confidence by holding informational sessions on retirement planning or opening up dialogue with your employees so as to not shy away from the issue. To learn more about the other findings from the TIAA survey, check out the link above.

3. Overhead vs. Waste: Changing the Conversation of Nonprofit Financial Management

In an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, Keenan Wellar, the Co-Founder and Director of Communications at LiveWorkPlay.ca, is just one of many nonprofit researchers challenging the belief that overhead is synonymous with waste in the nonprofit sector. According to Wellar, the narrative of nonprofits “wasting money on overhead costs” has become much more prevalent with the rise of charity rating systems over the last ten years or so. In findings published in a recent edition of Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Jason Coupet actually reports observing a negative correlation between an organization’s overhead rate and its efficiency. Coupet claims that the overhead ratio is a poor indicator of efficiency because it not only fails to take into account what an organization is actually doing with its resources on the ground, but also ignores what it is able to accomplish with its non-overhead spending. By using this and other one-dimensional financial measurements as a means of assessing a nonprofit’s efficiency, charity rating systems like Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance risk misleading donors by underestimating what these organizations are able to achieve. When we fixate on low overhead costs as the primary or only measurement of success, we perpetuate what the Stanford Social Innovation Review has dubbed “The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.” By doing so, “we starve charities of the freedom they need to best serve the people and communities they are trying to serve,” according to a letter published by Nonprofit Quarterly. So, if your organization has ever been discouraged by the “overhead myth” that all overhead costs are inherently harmful, or felt pressured to under-report when asked to convey overhead costs, do not be frustrated because you are likely not alone. With more and more research emerging showing the importance of investing your surpluses in overhead to ensure the future stability of your organization, the narrative might very well be shifting. To read more about the overhead debate and why some think that donors are looking for more detailed transparency regarding decisions on expenditures and investments, check out the article above.

4. How Thoughtful Posting Can Bring Real Results

In a post published by the Forbes Nonprofit Council, Austin Gallagher outlines a brief guide to help nonprofit leaders boost their organizations’ brands on social media. Gallagher, CEO of Beneath the Waves, an environmental nonprofit focused on finding solutions to the planet’s most pressing marine conservation issues, has been able to accumulate supporters, further professional relationships, and bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding and in-kind donations for his organization, all via a strong social media presence. Having done all of this without a formal PR team, Gallagher shares a few tips on how to best maintain a positive but limited social media presence in order to best spread your message and connect with your supporters. Among other things, he advises leaders to be cautious of over-sharing victories, focus on quality by paring down posts to no more than a couple per week, diversifying content, refrain from complaining or speaking negatively of critics, and most importantly, demonstrate your passion for what you do. Gallagher wisely tells leaders to “treat social media as a way to communicate your passion and motivation to move forward and make the world a better place.” After all, he says, this is what most of your supporters (or followers) will connect with the most. Long story short, social media is your friend. Deliberate and engaging posts can bring your organization quantifiable benefits in terms of funding, corporate sponsorships, increased awareness, and other important partnerships that you might never have found otherwise. To learn more about what posting, and not posting, on social media platforms might mean for the growth of your organization, check out the link to the Forbes Nonprofit Council above.

5. The Fatality of Fraud: Why Accusations Prove Annoying for Some and Lethal for Others

While an accusation of fraudulent activity can significantly damage anyone’s reputation, reports of fraud in the nonprofit world, whether accurate or not, are often followed by an organization’s swift and permanent demise. Yet fraud does not haunt all of these organizations equally. In an article published in April by Nonprofit Management and Leadership, researchers took a look at 115 nonprofits who had all been the recipients of very public allegations of fraud. Of the organizations studied, a quarter of them shut their doors within three years of the time the alleged fraud was committed, and the vast majority of these closures occurred among smaller and newer nonprofits. Researchers from the study cite several reasons for this, including, among others, a lack of structure in newer nonprofits and the inability of smaller nonprofits to recover from financial crises from which their larger and much deeper-pocketed counterparts are often able to bounce back far more easily. But size and age were not the only two relevant variables that impacted the likelihood of these closures. Among other factors, the study showed that if the fraud was committed against the public rather than the organization itself, the nonprofit was far more likely to shut down. Still, if your organization is on the smaller or younger side and you are worried about increased rates of fraud in nonprofits similarly sized, there are a few safeguarding steps you can take. Ruth McCambridge, Editor in Chief of Nonprofit Quarterly, says that one such step is creating and maintaining a board unafraid to ask tough questions when it comes to your organization’s financials, and making sure everyone on your board is aware of how to properly monitor funding. To learn more about what makes instances of fraud so deadly to nonprofits and what you can do to prevent your organization from ever facing that challenge, click the link to the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To find out more about Hostelling International’s creative strategy to create peace and tolerance across the globe, check out this article from Forbes Magazine.

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