Strong board = strong nonprofit

June 10, 2014

Strong board = strong nonprofit

In addition to the hard, steady work by a nonprofit's staff members and volunteers, organizations can thrive even more when collaborating with their strong and informed boards. Since those performing the majority of the day-to-day tasks for a charitable organization take their instructions from the top, having a solid executive strategy in place is particularly important.

Research from McKinsey & Company that polled private and public businesses, as well as nonprofit groups, showed that executive groups can range from being disorganized to very successful. Common habits shared across executive committees at different performance rating levels (low, medium and high) included a regular commitment to discussions on innovation and working on the diversification of investment portfolios. In general, low-performing boards were deficient when it came to assessing the specifics of what drives value, understanding the allocation of resources and debating operational alternatives.

To succeed in the long run, organizations should have a thorough understanding of how resources are distributed. This is especially true for nonprofits, as budgets are often tighter and there is less room for error than at a for-profit enterprise. Similarly, being able to craft alternate paths to an objective is important for nonprofits that need to stay agile despite the cyclical nature of fundraising and the general scarcity of resources.

Boosting efficiency and slimming operating budgets
Organizations of all kinds have two major paths for increased effectiveness: reducing extraneous spending and improving decision making. Data analysis can help nonprofits find useful alternatives for a variety of operational needs, such as improving donor outreach efforts or raising awareness of operations. As nonprofit magazine Leader to Leader points out, using metrics and data allows organizations to measure progress, and analysis of this information can guide more successful practices and reduce or eliminate less-efficient ones.

Nonprofits can focus on very specific tasks to consistently reduce unnecessary costs. One clear strategy nonprofits can take to save money and boost efficiency is opting out of state unemployment insurance (SUI) pools and becoming a reimbursing employer. By becoming a reimbursing employer and paying out unemployment claims on a dollar-for-dollar basis, charitable groups avoid the fluctuations in unemployment taxes, increasing table wage bases, plus the shared liability of such programs. Using a service such as an Unemployment Savings Program provides the security of having funds available for paying out claims without the undue financial obligations associated with SUI pools. Stop-loss insurance included in the program can increase confidence in times of financial hardship as well.

For information on how your organization can cost-effectively meet its unemployment insurance needs, contact First Nonprofit Group at or visit


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We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Luckily for us, our interactions regarding any issues with staffing has been very minimal! I can say that all other interactions with regards to billing, 941 reporting, etc. have been extremely pleasant, accommodating and easy to work with. Kim Ghanayem is always prompt, professional and friendly. Thank you so much!

Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

First Nonprofit has been easy to work with and makes the administrative process easier and smoother. We enjoy working with you.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY