Upcoming Webinar - Boards on Board: Managing Governance Risks for Mission Success

// Katie Rynard on Tuesday August 15, 2017

Good governance is often the missing link between a successful organization that’s fulfilling its mission and one that’s struggling to survive.

To learn more about how you can help your organization’s board govern effectively and appropriately, join GuideOne on Thursday, August 24 at 10 a.m. CT for our free webinar, “Boards on Board: Managing Governance Risks for Mission Success.” You’ll hear from Melanie Lockwood Herman, executive director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, on strategies to help streamline risk management and compliance at your organization. She’ll review:

  • Common governance mistakes and missteps.
  • How to help your board stay on track with its key governance responsibilities.
  • Strategies to help address any bumps in your governance journey or process.

To learn more and sign up, view the registration page. And to get a sneak peek at smart board management tips, check out our infographic.

We hope you can join us. Even if you are unable to participate in the webinar, we encourage you to still sign up because we will send you a recording of the webinar shortly after it airs.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Katie Rynard

Katie Rynard

Katie Rynard is a Corporate Communications Specialist at GuideOne Insurance.

When she's not at work, she enjoys decorating, traveling, trying new restaurants and spending time with her husband, daughter and dachshund puppy.

Gearing Up for Summer Youth Activities

// Lindsay Taylor on Tuesday June 6, 2017

As the school year comes to a close, summer activities are ramping up. If your organization is planning events for the youth in your community – Vacation Bible School, camps, daycare and family activities – there are many safety considerations to think about before day one. Here are some things to keep in mind:  

Revisiting Your Safety Plan – Summer youth activities usually bring an influx of kids to your organization. With the increase in turnout, it’s more important than ever to ensure you have a proper safety plan in place so your event team knows how to respond to allergic reactions, injuries, inclement weather and other emergency situations. If you do already have one in place, be sure to double-check it and update as needed. Your safety plan might include the following sections: 

  • Emergency evacuation procedures
  • Severe weather procedures
  • Intruder procedures
  • Sexual misconduct and abuse prevention
  • First-aid procedures

If you don’t have a safety plan in place, check out this resource for guidance on what your safety plan should include.

Screening Employees and Volunteers – Employees and volunteers are key contributors to running successful activities. However, before hiring employees or accepting volunteers to work these events, it is crucial that you run proper background checks on them. Background checks deter criminals and sexual predators, can reveal criminal history and provide peace of mind. This resource helps you navigate background screenings.

Taking Precautionary Measures – The last thing you want at your events is an accident that results in injury or damage to occur. There are a number of precautionary measures that your organization, employees and volunteers can take in order to reduce the chance of this happening, and this article outlines what you can do to help protect participants and enjoy a fun-filled, accident-free summer.  

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor is a Marketing Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on marketing communications and the co-op program.

In her free time, she enjoys dancing, running and spending time with friends and family.

Emergency Shelter Preparedness

// Lindsay Taylor on Thursday February 16, 2017

Tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods and winter storms: These are all natural disasters that, recently, we’ve heard about much too often. In 2016, 103 natural disasters were declared across the United States. Among those were Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Hermine, wildfires in Tennessee and severe storms, to name a few. So far in 2017, there have already been 11 natural disasters declared – nine of which were severe storms.  

We hope that none of these natural disasters strike in our communities, but if they do, how will your organization respond? Some churches and nonprofit organizations open their doors to those directly affected by natural disasters, and your organization may choose to provide shelter, too. Before you declare your facility an emergency shelter, work with your local and state government to ensure adequate preparedness for all elements of an emergency shelter and review the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nation Disaster Housing Strategy.

Here are some key steps and considerations to keep in mind when turning your facility into an emergency shelter:

Prepare Your Building
Do the following so your emergency shelter is safe, secure and guest-ready:

  • Research local laws and ask about requirements for establishing a local emergency shelter.
  • Work with the fire department to determine the maximum occupancy of your facility.
  • Analyze the layout of your facility, determining a plan in the event of an emergency and adequately communicating the plan to staff and volunteers.
  • See that all exits are marked and are not obstructed.
  • Limit guest-accessible areas and secure remaining areas around the building.

Stock Up on Supplies
As an emergency shelter, your organization will need to supply individuals and families with many resources. Confirm that you have the proper disaster supplies, including food, water, blankets, personal care products, etc. And be sure your first-aid kit is fully stocked.  

Train Staff and Volunteers
Your emergency shelter will heavily rely on staff and volunteers to maintain guest health and safety. Here are considerations for coordinating your team of staff and volunteers so that everyone is well aware of safety and security guidelines:  

  • Establish a supervision schedule for volunteers and staff, and see that at least two volunteers are awake and monitoring activity at all times.
  • Continuously monitor all entrances and exits.
  • Only allow those trained in food safety to supervise kitchen activity.
  • Plan a response to persons contracting a communicable disease or coming to the shelter seriously ill.
  • Inspect and monitor walking surfaces to prevent slips, trips and falls.
  • Plan accordingly for guests with special needs or disabilities.

Establish Rules
Basic rules for an emergency shelter should include the following:

  • No alcohol or illegal drugs are permitted on the premises.
  • No weapons of any kind are permitted on the premises.
  • No violence or verbal abuse will be tolerated.
  • No admittance after 10 p.m.
  • A quiet sleeping time will be maintained by 11 p.m.
  • No smoking in the building.
  • Children must remain with their parent(s) or guardian(s) at all times.
  • Candles, camping lanterns, oil lamps and other open flames are prohibited.
  • Individuals who violate any rules will be asked to leave the shelter.

Source: FEMA 

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor is a Marketing Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on marketing communications and the co-op program.

In her free time, she enjoys dancing, running and spending time with friends and family.

Volunteers and Employees: What’s the Difference?

// Katie Rynard on Thursday April 14, 2016

There’s no doubt about it: Employees and volunteers are essential to the well-being of nonprofit organizations. And while regular paychecks separate paid personnel from volunteers, that’s not the only difference. Volunteers should complement, not replace, the work of employees. 

Blurring the boundaries between volunteer and employee status – paying a volunteer more than a nominal fee or expecting an employee to volunteer after hours, for instance – can create compliance issues with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Keep these dos and don’ts in mind to avoid problems:

DO define everyone’s roles. Create clear, thorough job descriptions for every employee in your organization and include the employee’s classification and status, education and other requirements and job duties. While you’re at it, develop volunteer position descriptions and a volunteer agreement that allows you to set specific guidelines for employees who want to volunteer when they’re off the clock.  

DON’T pressure employees (or anyone!) to volunteer. Coercion to work without pay is a surefire way to attract a wage and hour claim. Make sure your organization’s supervisors fully understand this.

DO develop policies and procedures. These will help establish expectations and limitations within your organization. Separate go-to guides for employees and volunteers are ideal.

DON’T jeopardize employee status. It’s great when employees are passionate about your organization’s cause and want to volunteer – but you should be especially cognizant of off-the-clock service. Keep tabs on nonexempt employees’ hours worked and compensation to ensure everything is FLSA-compliant, and make sure exempt employees follow protocol to become after-hours volunteers. 

DO exercise caution when paying volunteers. If you wish to compensate volunteers, limit payment to direct reimbursement for expenses, reasonable benefits and/or nominal fees for services.

And if there’s ever any concern about accidentally converting a volunteer to employee status, ask yourself these questions developed by the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. (Hint: The answers to the first four questions should be “yes,” and the last two should be “no.”)

  • Is the entity that will benefit/receive services from the volunteer a nonprofit organization?
  • Is the activity less than a full-time occupation?
  • Are the services offered freely and without pressure or coercion?
  • Are the services of the kind typically associated with volunteer work?
  • Have regular employees been displaced to accommodate the volunteer?
  • Does the worker receive (or expect) any benefit from the entity to which it is providing services? 

To summarize, it’s better to be safe than sorry when managing volunteers and employees, and practicing risk management strategies doesn’t diminish the valuable work they do.

Source: Nonprofit Risk Management Center 

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Katie Rynard

Katie Rynard

Katie Rynard is a Corporate Communications Specialist at GuideOne Insurance.

When she's not at work, she enjoys decorating, traveling, trying new restaurants and spending time with her husband, daughter and dachshund puppy.

Reaching the Millennial Generation

// Taylor Vivant on Tuesday March 15, 2016

Every generation is different. They each have their own image, stereotype, attitude, lifestyle, values, etc. Today, we live among many generations, including the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. 

Millennials, also sometimes referred to as Generation Y, are individuals born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. Many organizations and businesses are spending a lot of time and resources on understanding this generation, as they are the youngest working adults in our world and they are the future leaders.

Millennials are actually very socially engaged and value the protection of our environment and the “green” effort. Additionally, they are confident, driven to succeed and easily welcome change in their lives. However, it also is important to note that while this is a general description of the generation, every Millennial is different. So, it’s easy to see why some organizations are having difficulty reaching this unique group of people.

If your organization is struggling to connect with this younger generation, review these tips from Christianity Today on how to effectively reach and maintain relationships with Millennials:

  1. Relate to them. Traditions are important to some organizations. But, to gain the attention and retention of Millennials, it’s important to consider a more contemporary environment. Think about social trends or popular culture. The first step is to relate to the audience in order to obtain their interest. 
  2. Be real. While Millennials want to be related to, they also want authenticity and realistic points of view. Christianity Today offers an example for churches where Millennials were more attracted to leadership that was transparent and open. They appreciate pastors who preach about the struggles we face in life. Being real offers a stronger connection. 
  3. Be philanthropic. Millennials care for the environment and others around them. They find importance in serving the community – locally, nationally and globally. Philanthropic efforts are another way to connect with and interest this group. 

The key take away from this post is it’s important to know your audience. If your organization is trying to connect with Millennials, maintain relationships with them, be open and honest, and help them learn more about the causes you care about. And, get to know the Millennials associated with your organization. The more you understand them, the easier it will be to achieve your goals. 

To get started, check out the Pew Research Center’s page on Millennials

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Taylor Vivant

Taylor Vivant

Taylor Vivant is a member of the Corporate Communications and Marketing team at GuideOne Insurance, where she assists in a variety of projects and tasks.

Away from work, she enjoys being active outdoors, adventuring with her friends and planning her next vacation.

Fundraising Trends and Challenges in 2016 and Beyond

// Alexa Guessford on Tuesday January 26, 2016

Fundraising is tough. With all the worthy causes in the world, it can be difficult for people to prioritize who they give their hard-earned money to. There are pros and cons, as well as challenges and triumphs, to every fundraising effort. At times, it can be easy to get bogged down with all the negatives; however, there are several upcoming trends that nonprofits can take advantage of to help get their fundraising efforts off to a good start this year.

To provide us with some expert insight and advice, I chatted with Julie Matternas – United Way of Central Iowa’s Corporate Engagement Officer. She weighed in on the following trends and challenges, and top secret ways to overcome them.

What trends do you foresee for nonprofit organizations in 2016 and beyond?

“Donors want to be more personally connected to and involved with the organization they are supporting. Having an impact, both financially and personally, is an important value across the board to those who give. Many nonprofits also are using social media to their advantage to fundraise more effectively. We’ve learned that we can’t just mail a letter and hope to get a contribution in return. Nonprofits need to communicate with and involve their donors on a personal level.”

What trend(s) do you think will have the most impact on how nonprofits operate and fundraise?

“Giving is a personal choice. Donors have a strong desire to know how their contributions are being put to use, so it is essential that nonprofit organizations continue to be transparent about their finances. This includes statistics on how much of a donor’s contribution is used for administrative expenses and measurable outcomes that are a direct result of a donor’s investment. Donors very much want to see the direct impact their dollars are making, and nonprofits need to be prepared to show that information.”

What challenges do you foresee for nonprofit organizations in the future?

“With the baby boomer population starting to retire, nonprofits are seeing long-time donors decrease their contributions as they head into retirement. Replacing those significant contributors is a challenge, and they are not easily replaced by new members of the workforce. Additionally, with so many worthy nonprofits doing great work in the community, and these organizations serving more people each year, it is difficult to raise enough money to serve the community’s need.”

Do you recommend any strategies for overcoming the challenges mentioned above?

“I’d suggest developing strategies for engaging volunteers and donors so they can learn more about the organization and see first-hand the impact their support is having on the community. I’d also suggest researching and developing ways to engage young professionals in your organization’s work.”

What can nonprofit organizations take advantage of in 2016 that they may not have been able to in previous years?

“Social media is a tremendous opportunity that nonprofits were not able to leverage in prior years. Today, nonprofits can communicate in many different ways to various audiences in a more cost-effective manner. For example, it’s much easier for organizations to create a compelling video of their work and share it across a multitude of platforms quickly and efficiently. It’s much easier to tell a story today and convey a message than even a few years ago. I highly recommend taking advantage of the social media avenues your audience is engaged in most.”

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Alexa Guessford

Alexa Guessford

Alexa Guessford is the Corporate Communications Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance, mainly responsible for internal communications and special events.

In her spare time, Alexa enjoys working out, spending time with her family and watching Friends.

Is My Contribution Tax Deductible?

// Ellen Wade on Tuesday February 3, 2015

It’s getting to be that time of year that many of us dread – tax season.  Time to lug out statements, gather forms and try to decipher your state’s tax laws.

One of the more difficult portions to try to determine is whether or not a contribution to a nonprofit is tax deductible.  While I grew up with a parent who is in the tax profession, those genes apparently skip a generation, so when writing this article I turned to GuideOne’s internal Finance Department, as well as the EY Tax Guide 2015 for guidance.  This handy book puts some difficult-to-understand rules into layman’s terms.  Here’s what I learned:

Is a donation to a nonprofit organization tax deductible?

Yes, as long as the organization is a qualifying organization.  Most organizations other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to become a qualified organization.  If you are unsure if the organization you’ve donated to has a qualified status, check with them.   Or, use the IRS’ online search tool.  Generally, foundations, veterans’ organizations, churches and most nonprofits qualify. 

Some organizations that would not be considered qualifying organizations, and therefore a contribution would not be tax deductible, include certain state bar associations, chambers of commerce, country clubs or other social clubs, homeowners’ associations, labor unions, and political organizations and candidates.

Is a donation directly to a staff member of a qualifying organization tax deductible?

No.  This is not considered a deductible contribution.  According to EY, the following contributions are not tax deductible:

  • Contributions to fraternal societies made for the purpose of paying medical or burial expenses of deceased members.
  • Contributions to individuals who are needy or worthy.  This includes deductions to a qualifying organization when specifying a certain individual.  You can deduct the contribution to a qualifying organization that helps needy or worthy people, but you cannot deduct it if you earmark the contribution for a specific person or family.
  • Payments to a member of the clergy that can be spent as he or she wishes, such as for personal expenses.
  • Expenses you paid for another person who provided services to a qualified organization.
  • Payments to a hospital that are for a specific patient’s care or for services for a specific patient, even if the hospital is operated by a city, state, or other qualified organization.

The distinction here is making a general donation to the organization to do with as they best see fit versus making a donation to a specific person.  The general donation qualifies as tax deductible, while the other does not.  As always, if you have any questions, check with your tax professional to discuss the various intricacies of the law surrounding contribution eligibility, as well as any other tax questions you may have. 

GuideOne is providing this information as a general reference, and does not claim to give tax advice.  Please contact your tax professional for further information.  

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade is a Marketing Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on content marketing and social media.

In her free time, she enjoys running, biking, reading and exploring new cities.

Touchdown! How to Enjoy the Super Bowl without Copyright Infringement

// Eric Spacek, JD, ARM on Tuesday January 27, 2015

The countdown is on. The teams have been decided.  The viewing party has been planned.  It’s Super Bowl time.

Many churches have planned a viewing party for the big event, as it’s a great way to reach across all demographics and share your ministry through an evening of competition, food, and community.  While it sounds like a simple way to entertain your congregation, it’s important to make sure your event complies with the NFL copyright laws to avoid violation.

In the past, churches that hosted Super Bowl events faced potential legal action for doing so because of NFL copyright issues. However, in 2009, the rules were clarified; and since then churches have been allowed to host this social gathering with the following restrictions:

  1. The game must be shown live on equipment you use in your ministry. It cannot be a recording.
  2. Admission for the party cannot be charged. However, donations can be accepted in order to help pay for costs associated with your event.
  3. To avoid any copyright infringements, call the event “The Big Party” or some equivalent, rather than a “Super Bowl Party,” as the event may not be promoted with the use of any trademarked or protected intellectual property. This includes using any of the following:
    • NFL;
    • Super Bowl;
    • Team logos; and
    • Any team names (e.g., Giants, Patriots). The city names where the teams are located are allowed (e.g., New York, New England).

Hosting an event during the game can be a great way to bring those in your congregation closer together. Just be sure you adhere to these guidelines to avoid receiving your own personal foul from the NFL.

If your church hosted a viewing party we want to know!  Post photos of your event on our Facebook page!

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Eric Spacek, JD, ARM

Eric Spacek, JD, ARM

Eric Space, JD, ARM is the Director of Risk Management and Loss Control at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Before joining GuideOne, he served as Minister of Operations for a large Methodist church in Raleigh, N.C., and was a liability litigation trial attorney in Washington, D.C.