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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The Ensight Skills Center has enjoyed working with First Nonprofit for several years. We are enrolled in their Unemployment Savings Program and although we have not required a lot of intervention, there have been a few times. I know others have dealt with the same problem of unemployment fraud over the last year and in our case, a call to First Nonprofit (they actually answer their phones) cleared up the issue. They also sent us a letter to send to all our employees telling them what they needed to do to prevent this in the future and protect themselves. What a relief! Over the years if I have questions or concerns, they are happy to listen, advise and help if they can. Another BIG advantage of using First Nonprofit is that all the money that is paid into the Unemployment Savings Program lives on my balance sheet as an asset. The money continues to be Ensight’s not the governments. First Nonprofit has certainly given me peace of mind.

Ensight Skills Center, Inc, Fort Collins, CO

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

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

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. We are impressed with the accuracy of their employment decisions, integrity of their employees and efficiency of their claim handling. We greatly respect and value the consistent, impressive cost savings from the utilization of their outstanding services.


Thresholds, 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

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