Monday, May 19, 2008

ED Group Meeting Discusses Events and Staff Retention

The Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group held the May 14th program at the Herkimer Area Resource Center (HARC). The meeting was attended by eleven directors, who began the meeting with introductions and announcements. As each director introduced themselves, he or she announced upcoming special events. The Group found that golf tournaments are especially popular this time of year. This discovery spurred a discussion about the need for a master planning calendar that would list the major special events that Oneida and Herkimer nonprofits were planning. The calendar would allow directors to try to avoid event conflicts. The calendar also could be a collecting point for staff training that organizations were planning. These trainings could be of interest to other nonprofits. The Group decided that developing a calendar was a good next step. More information about this calendar will be available shortly.

The remainder of the program focused on the discussion of the climate assessment survey on staff retention. The Peacemaker Program's Brenda Episcopo facilitated a discussion of the summary report (available here) and her agency's experience of implementing this survey. Glenn Beville from Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc. also spoke about his organization's employee survey conducted early last year. Glenn has provided a copy of the survey here for the Group and related the following about the survey and examining the results:
The questions are not unique. We came up with some of our own,
borrowed from the internet and got some advice from a vendor company
that had previously conducted their own employee survey. As part
of the analysis process, the team categorized the responses to the 12 write
in questions into one of the following categories:
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Staffing
  • Wages & Benefits
  • Education
  • Space

    We used the categories as a basis to formulate actionable solutions. The second attached document is the "report card" that we used to communicate the actionable plans to staff and periodically report progress.

The Group continued discussion about action steps based on the survey data. The two most challenging areas revealed by the survey were: Factor 7 Recognition and Reward and Factor 9 Competitive Salary. The Group discussed the challenges of these factors, and Brenda shared some of The Peacemaker Program's responses. First, the agency examined salary levels, and created an informal study (available here). This information helped The Peacemaker Program restructure staff salaries. The organization also examined different ways of recognition and reward, creating the following research list:

  • job switch days (shadowing, mentoring)
  • job sharing
  • telecommuting
  • 360 degree feedback
  • Exit interviews
  • Surprise “spot” recognition for a job well done
  • Employee sport teams
  • Include family members in agency functions
  • Flexible schedules
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Ability to use pre-tax money for medical expenses or day care
  • Random days off (personal holidays)
  • Pension plans
The Peacemaker Program is continuing to examine this list for possible ideas to implement. The Group finished the program meeting with a discussion about other topic ideas and next steps. The Group discussed a follow up to this program on employee recognition and reward. Another topic idea mentioned was board retention and recruitment. The Steering Committee will be holding a follow up meeting to discuss setting the next program. Please share any additional ideas by e-mailing

May 14th Program Participants:
Kevin Crosley, Herkimer Area Resource Center
Phyllis Spinner, Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc.
Glenn Beville, Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc.
Cornelia E. Brown, MAMI of CNY, Inc.
Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen, Mid-York Child Care Coordinating Council, Inc
Sylvia J Bunce, RCIL
Rev. Bill Dodge, Rescue Mission of Utica
Sue Casanova, Smoke-Free Mohawk Valley
Gail Miskowiec, The Arc, Oneida-Lewis Chapter, NYSARC
Jan Squadrito, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties
Brenda Episcopo, The Peacemaker Program, Inc.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Life Lessons: Insurance applications are easy grant applications. You should love your broker and vice versa. You should win money for risk management

For the first time in a long time I am sitting in on a few insurance workshops being given by our own Peter Andrew of Council Services Plus (the CCSNYS insurance subsidiary). We're in our New York City office today, it's rainy and cold and windy but we've got about 20 people here intrested in risk management and insurance "secrets" for nonprofits.

Since you probably couldn't get away to the city today I wanted to pass on two things that I think are really easy to understand (ok, maybe three) and implement tomorrow. Many of you know I am like the Racheal Ray of Nonprofit Issues. I want solutions in 30-minutes (preferably less.) So, here we go:

  1. How much time would you spend on a $5k or $10k unrestricted grant? Fill out your next insurance application like you're filling out a grant application. Take your time with it. Tell the insurance company what you do to practice good risk management. It could be as easy as noting your policies and procedures, it could be staff training, it could be board training - there are many things you can do to make risk management a part of your nonprofit's daily life. If you are paying $5k, $10k, $25k for insurance and have the opportunity to save 10% to 30%, look at is as an unrestricted grant award!
What to do tomorrow? Take out your last application for General
Liability insurance. See if it looks like your organization spent time on it. What measures did you take to make the case for the risk management you practice? Going forward, every time you update policies, procedures, do training, get
certificates - put copies in the insurance file - so you remember to use them to
help support your proactive risk management the next time your up for renewal.
  1. You can't make these lawsuits up/Your broker should be your best friend. (ok - so I'm cheating and putting two together). If you think your nonprofit can't be sued take a look at this. I think #3 resonates with most nonprofits. How many of us do delivery, transportation or Meals on Wheels programs? Your broker needs to know what your risks are and be working to lower your rates and get you the coverage you need. If you only hear from your broker once a year about your insurance renewal - that's not good enough folks. Did you know they are making anywhere from 10% to 17% of the premium amount (generally speaking)? They need to be proactive in researching your needs and educating your staff on any changes or needs in insurance coverages.
What to do tomorrow: Here's a plug - and it's not shameless because I can
safely say it's the best service/advice you're gonna get. If you want to talk to
a broker who knows this stuff and will give you an honest answer about what
you should expect from your current provider, contact Council Services Plus at
(877) 501 - 4CSP or
fill out this little form and start getting some answers. Then call your own broker and set up a face to face meeting. Ask them the hard questions. Or call CS Plus in - they'll help you out.
Are you already doing some of this? If risk management is already a top priority at your organization, and you're already spending time on your applications, policies, procedures, training, working on a proactive level with a responsive broker - why not apply for the Nonprofit Risk Management Award - win $2,000 for your efforts?

Hope all is well in your organizations - it's exciting to see what's happening on the NYNED Blog. We know you're 'lurking' out there - remember - feel free to comment or ask questions. Aggressive sharing is good.

Other resources:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Staff Retention Survey Results to be Discussed on May 14th

The Oneida and Herkimer Nonprofit Executive Directors Group's staff retention survey is now closed and is being collated for discussion at next week's May 14th meeting. The survey results will be presented, and the program will focus on the trends revealed and what nonprofits can learn from this data. The conversation will also focus on next steps for addressing staff retention in the local region.

The May 14th program is set for Herkimer Area Resource Center. This meeting is being generously hosted by HARC, which is located at 350 South Washington Street in Herkimer.
REGISTER NOW FOR MAY 14TH MEETING! If you have any questions, please e-mail or call (607) 436-3124.