Volunteers: Enhance, Empower, Engage

Thursday, Nov. 29 from 9 am–noon with Stacy Bodow and Julie Strickland-Gilliard, Global Links

For most nonprofits, the real challenge lies not in finding volunteers, but in keeping them. Volunteer engagement can be the key to making this link! In this session, we’ll explore how to:

  • Enhance the volunteer experience so that your volunteers enjoy their time with you and feel it is well spent
  • Empower your volunteers so they can take on important tasks that you need done and their time makes a real difference
  • Engage your volunteers in ways that speak to them and that help them feel appreciated, vested, and connected to your mission

Learn different strategies and techniques for achieving these goals, including focusing on why people choose to volunteer with you, storytelling, personalization, social media tools, and well thought-out systems.

Fee: $65 Register online today!


Why does my nonprofit’s website need terms of use and a privacy policy?

By guest author, Larry Silverman

You have just created your website. The work took longer than expected so you are anxious to get the site up and running, but a friend of a friend urges you to prepare Terms of Use and a Privacy Policy before going online. Is he right? The short answer is YES. In this article, I will highlight just some of the reasons why.


Terms of Use (“Terms”) tell users the rules that govern their use of the site. All nonprofits should post these Terms on each page of the site. Below are just some of the reasons why:

  • Even if a user does not purchase products or services on your site, a contract is formed each time they use your site. As such, unless the site contains language in the posted Terms that clearly disclaims liability, your nonprofit could face liability from a user who claims an injury based on his/her alleged reliance on information contained on the site
  • If your site allows users to post User Generated Content (“UGC”) such as photos, videos and writings and that UGC infringes on a third-party’s copyright, your nonprofit may be liable to that copyright owner UNLESS your site contains takedown procedure language in the Term’s that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • Particularly if users can purchase products or services thru your nonprofit’s site, the site should require affirmative acceptance of the Terms via the “click thru” acceptance method. Otherwise, the various restrictions in your Term’s, including resolution of claims thru binding arbitration, the requirement that claims be filed in your locale and language limiting damages to the cost of the product or service, are likely to be deemed invalid and unenforceable by the court


Your Privacy Policy tells the user what personal and aggregate information is collected thru the site, how that information and data is used and secured and whether the information is shared with third-parties. A link to your Privacy Policy should be contained in the Terms so the user knows he/she is bound by both policies. The policy should be separate from the Terms, since many states require that your Privacy Policy be posted on the site. It is imperative that the policy fully and accurately disclose your site’s data collection activities. Only then can you minimize the chances of liability from a user who claims they were unaware how their personal data was being used, shared and secured. While the rules in the U.S. differ from state to state, if any users are located in the European Union, your nonprofit may be subject to the General Data Protection Rules (“GDPR”) that became effective in May of 2018. The GDPR broadly defines “personal information” and grants users sweeping protections, including requirements that your Privacy Policy contain rules protecting the user from unwanted electronic communications, advise the user of their rights to access their data, detail their rights to erase their personal information and describe how their data is secured. Since the GDPR’s penalties are substantial, complying with this law is a must.


Now that we agree that the friend of a friend is correct, that is, you should post Terms and a Privacy Policy when the site goes online, how can your nonprofit minimize its liability? Because
each nonprofit’s website activities are different, the Terms and Privacy Policy must be tailored to fit those particular activities. “Off the Shelf” policies found online often fail to fully and accurately disclose your particular nonprofit’s activities and data collection practices. Experienced counsel can usually prepare both of these policies for a modest cost. Considering the risks your nonprofit faces if it fails to post Terms and a Privacy Policy or if those posted policies fail to include the necessary language or fail to accurately describe the site’s operations, that cost is a small price to pay. Don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish”.

4719 Bayard Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

TechNow 2018

The 15th anniversary of the TechNow Conference took place on Wednesday, October 3 and was a great success! We are extremely grateful for all of our sponsors, especially our headline sponsor, Microsoft, which allowed us to offer tiered pricing for TechNow starting as low as $25.  We also want to thank our keynote speaker, Lucy Bernholz, Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University.

If you missed the conference and would like to hear Lucy’s dynamic keynote presentation, you’re in luck! The keynote is available via video on the TechNow website, as well as conference materials from many of the breakout sessions, with more being added every day. It’s the next best thing to being there!

BCNM proudly introduces the BNY Mellon “Ready to Compete” project

The BNY Mellon Ready to Compete project helps build a stronger future for our regional nonprofit community. Ready to Compete will address two key areas of nonprofit management – finance and human resource (HR) management – with the goal of equipping participant organizations with specific solutions to their most urgent challenges in these areas.

Like all work at the Bayer Center, this program will employ best practices and be custom to each organization. Thanks to the generosity of BNY Mellon, the cost of these engagements valued at $6,500 are just $500 per organization.

Applications to participate will be available on November 26. If you would like to receive an application, please email Carrie Richards at richardsc@rmu.edu.

A thoughtful application and selection process will ensure selection of organizations to create a cohort ready to make full use of the expertise offered.  Consultants will work carefully to identify the most significant challenges and put the right tools and team to work to resolve it. Each agency in the cohort will begin by completing a comprehensive assessment and be provided consulting support to analyze the findings of the assessment. One or two urgent issues will be identified and resolved by our consulting team. The product of each engagement will be a roadmap of the particular issues facing the agency, ordered in priority, and a concrete solution to one or two of the most urgent.

Since we also believe in peer learning to lessen the isolation endemic to small organizations, each cohort will convene twice to share their lessons learned and to forge relationships.

Possible issues in finance may include

  • Developing a cost-centered budget
  • Better management of cash flow
  • Creating necessary internal controls
  • Assessing financial risks and equipping the board to provide proper oversight
  • Working with board and staff to review annual audits and 990s

Possible issues in HR may include:

  • Developing a performance management system that fosters values and culture
  • Writing job descriptions, screening and interview guidelines
  • Compensation studies
  • Guidance to boards facing executive transition

The outcome of this investment will be twenty-five more capable, stable organizations that are equipped to deliver high quality services because their internal house is in better order. In short, this program will help to insure that these agencies are Ready to Compete!

The 2019 Wage and Benefit Survey needs your participation!

Since 2002, The Wage & Benefit Survey of Southwestern Pennsylvania Nonprofit Organizations has provided the most current data about regional salary and benefits, needed both for valid decision-making and 990 compliance. Additionally, it sparked the “74%” and “What Now?” conversations which have helped to improve equity for the nonprofit workforce.

Your willingness to provide information makes this sector-wide resource possible. The survey will be available for purchase in January 2019, OR you can receive a copy for FREE if you take part! Start the survey now!

The submission deadline is Friday, November 9. All information is held in the strictest confidence, viewed only by our independent consultants. Questions? Contact Dr. Carrie Tancraitor at tancraitor@rmu.edu or 412-397-6003. If you are NOT the party who should complete the Wage & Benefit survey, please forward to the appropriate person in your organization.

Thank you in advance for your commitment to the nonprofit sector and your participation in this important survey.

The link to the questionnaire supplies the following information on the first page:
1.  An Excel file for the compensation portion
2.  A PDF list of jobs
3.  A PDF list of job descriptions
4.  A PDF survey glossary

Putting Pay Equity into Practice

Ten years ago, BCNM began research that was eventually released as “74% – Exploring the lives of Women in Nonprofit Organizations”.  One of the primary findings was a gap in salaries between female and male executives, particularly in organizations with an annual budget over 7 million.  Women executives, we learned, were earning approximately 74 cents for every dollar that was paid to men.  While this study revealed trends on the executive level, there are similar national and international trends in wage inequity for a variety of groups – ranging from people of color to people with disabilities.

The latest iteration of BCNM’s biannual wage and benefits survey indicated that the pay gap originally identified had significantly decreased – now the earning gap was 81 cents on the dollar.  It’s great news, but also begs new questions – what was going on behind the scenes that made the change?   Perhaps board members were making time to consider the list of HR questions that BCNM generated.  Possibly they were also making some changes in hiring or promotion practices.

What kind of actual, on-the-ground hiring practices lead to equitable pay? A few years ago, Vu Le of Ranier Valley Corps wrote a blog post naming the disclosure of salary ranges as a way to promote equity, both with new hires and inside of the organization.  One of the points of the post was women and others who often find themselves paid less than the industry average get caught in a cycle if new salaries are based on incremental upticks on past, discriminatory salaries. Furthermore, Vu argued, time is a privilege. It’s harder for lower-earning but highly qualified people to spend their time angling for jobs that they can’t ultimately afford to take. The comment section lit up with relief on his perspective and stories of past frustrations.  Some states have been considering the same idea for the same reasons and nine have currently enacted legislation banning employers from asking about salary history (Pittsburgh bans salary history questions, but only for City positions).

However, executive director searches are located with the board of trustees, not HR.  Will salary disclosure work towards equity in these cases? Susan Egmont, a search consultant in Boston and a friend of BCNM, feels that many boards approach hiring a new director the way that people approach buying houses.  They may have a fixed budget and set of most desirable qualities in mind at the start, but the search itself often educates them about a reasonable salary given the market as well as highlight criteria that weren’t originally on their radar.  In those cases, publishing a wage range at the start of a search may discourage qualified, diverse applicants from applying.  Wage equity in hiring at the top level, in her experience, is promoted by a diverse set of people and perspectives on the board, as well as a collective understanding of what the job is worth.

There is no one practice that can eliminate wage discrimination within organizations.  BCNM’s research indicated that larger organizations where there was a woman board chair and a woman executive, there was even greater wage inequity.  This gives some indication of the complexity of the issue, and the way that cultural practices and assumptions have generational impacts.

In considering whether disclosing salary ranges for open positions and prohibiting questions on salary history can be a tool for equity in your organization, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we hire a number of people with the same job description, or do we write customized job descriptions for each new hire? (it’s easier to implement this policy when you have standard job descriptions)
  • What information do we currently provide about our compensation policies to existing staff?
  • How can we educate ourselves on the market before we publish our posting?

Equity can be explored both as an art and a science.  We need creativity as well as ongoing, intentional testing to reach the dollar for dollar mark.

Interested in creating more transparency and equitable salary distributions in your organization? BCNM consultants may be able to help.  Contact loucks@rmu.edu for more information. 

Critical Strategies for Fundraising Success: Join us on June 27!

This interactive and intensive session will explore four mainstays of fundraising success: leadership, systems, case, and donors. Participants will learn how to develop a fundraising board, manage top donors, identify new donors, prepare a poignant one-page case for support, and build relationships that will lead to long-term fundraising success.

Along with step-by-step instruction for implementing each strategy, you’ll get tips, tricks and templates that can be used each year to set up your fundraising program for success.

Instructor: Emma Gilmore Kieran, Pilot Peak Consulting
Fee: $65 ($55 if paid online)
Register online today, or call Shelby at 412-397-6000 to register over the phone.