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Supporting Small, Local Nonprofit Leaders and Staff in 2022

Supporting Small, Local Nonprofit Leaders and Staff in 2022

Since March 2020, the Catalogue has been surveying Executive Directors in our network of 400+ nonprofits to gain a better understanding of the state of the sector in the Greater Washington region. The goal is to understand how the pandemic is impacting their programming, finances, organizations, and staff.

Over two years into the pandemic, as many of us are re-familiarizing ourselves with gathering in-person, it can feel increasingly easy to forget its cumulative effects, which have weighed more heavily on people with disabilities, people caring for children, and people working jobs with low pay or working multiple jobs. These challenges can be compounded in the nonprofit sector where staff are often on the frontlines of offering urgent and critical services to the community, but who are expected to run on “passion” with little support for overhead and administrative costs.

We have seen this lead to burnout and high turnover within the sector. While the last six months, specifically, have shown overall improvement in staff and leadership engagement, we are also hearing growing worries about forecasts for an economic downturn, challenges with hiring, and resetting funding expectations given a decrease in COVID-19 relief money.

How might we as a sector prioritize the well-being of small nonprofit staff, especially nonprofit leaders, over the next year? Here are three action steps the Catalogue would like to share based on our survey findings.

1. Fund mental health support and coaching for Executive Directors.

“It is impossible to convey how stressful the last two years have been as the leader of a small nonprofit,” an Executive Director shared with us anonymously. “I feel like I have been running a sprint since March 2020.”

37.9% of Executive Directors we surveyed this summer were either feeling burnout or were on the way to burnout. Though this is an improvement over results from our last survey in December 2021, when 42.5% of Executive Directors surveyed this sentiment, it still means that nearly two out of every five small nonprofit leaders in our network are struggling.

Within the same period, the percentage of staff who are feeling burnout or close to feeling burnout (as reported by Executive Directors) decreased from 29% to 19%. This trend, while positive, reflects what we have seen Executive Directors doing — prioritizing their team and the people around them. Staff engagement is a critical component of successful nonprofit management but leaders, too, need to be adequately supported to ensure the overall health, sustainability, and impact of the organization.

Our qualitative results include stories from Executive Directors who have not taken a vacation (or even much parental leave) since the pandemic started and who are seriously considering leaving the nonprofit space due to burnout. Given that strong leadership is a big contributor to building strong teams, we need to collectively attend to the well-being of Executive Directors through providing opportunities for one-to-one and small group consultations and coaching, as well as funding more capacity building support to make the work of Executive Directors more sustainable.

2. Stop thinking of overhead and administrative costs as separate from, or less worthy of funding than, program costs.

As public health guidelines loosen and we ease out of an “emergency” state, our sector is seeing less relief funding being made available. At the same time, the needs of our communities have stayed the same, if not increased. The pandemic impacts people’s health and economic security over the long-term, and its negative impacts will be disproportionately difficult for already underserved communities to mitigate.

Instead of designating funds solely for nonprofit programs that address these issues and more, it is time to rethink the overhead myth altogether. We agree with Curtis Klotz, who wrote in Nonprofit Quarterly that “Strategic financial functions, good governance, and the development of key funding partnerships are vital to strong organizations.” To this, we add equitable salaries with clear professional development and promotion pathways, as well as holistic support that views nonprofit staff as people — because ultimately, programming does not happen without the people who work to implement them.

“The “nonprofit starvation cycle” caused by unrealistic donor expectations of grantees’ administrative and operating costs has been a known problem in the grantmaking world for years,” John Summers and Rodney Christopher recently wrote in PEAK Grantmaking. Analyzing data from nearly 150,000 nonprofits nationwide, they found that “smaller organizations tend to have higher indirect cost rates than larger organizations” because “indirect” functions like accounting and human resource administration “benefit from economies of scale.” Project-based funding that doesn’t cover these costs actually disproportionately burden small organizations and, consequently, nonprofits led by people of color, which often have smaller budgets than white-led organizations.

One immediate way donors and funders can support nonprofit staff and leaders is to ensure their financial contributions are unrestricted, so that nonprofit leaders can decide where best to use that money, be it to hire more staff, pay for interns, upgrade the organization’s technology, or more.

3. Commit to recurring giving.

A report published by the National Council of Nonprofits in December 2021 revealed that 42% of nonprofits had 20% or more of their positions open. A separate survey by the Advisory Board for the Arts showed that more than one-third of respondents were taking three-to-six months to fill jobs. These two results reflect the hiring concerns we have heard from small nonprofit leaders in our own network.

While there are myriad current and systemic challenges that have created such an acute workforce shortage in the nonprofit sector — including inflation and increased volumes of work — one of the biggest reasons is that nonprofits are unable to offer competitive compensation compared to their for-profit and government counterparts. 79% of nonprofits surveyed by the National Council of Nonprofits last fall reported that salary competition impacted their ability to hire, and this can be particularly true for small nonprofits with small budgets and teams. Yet, as the report stated, “While job vacancies in the government and business sectors may cause disappointment and lost profits, the lack of adequate nonprofit staffing means delayed or complete loss of needed services.”

One strong way to help ensure nonprofits can increase salaries for their staff is to fund them on a recurring basis. When donors and funders commit to monthly or multi-year giving, not only do they pledge to continually support an organization, but they also acknowledge that it is through sustaining the organization in the long-term that they can help it create the greatest impact. Being able to make projections for their budgets beyond the year allows nonprofit leaders to develop better plans with less uncertainty, which helps to cultivate a work environment where nonprofit staff feel they can grow with the organization.

Free Tax Clinics for Families by the Mother’s Outreach Network

Free Tax Clinics for Families by the Mother’s Outreach Network

“Middle class, educated and White parents have been more likely to claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in the past than Hispanic families and those who did not graduate high school,” according to results from a national survey conducted by Ipsos last year as reported in the Washington Post. Through a temporary expansion of the CTC, eligible families can receive up to $3,600 for children under 6 and up to $3,000 for children ages 6-17. Yet, in DC, an analysis by the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis shows that only 50.4% of eligible DC families received these payments.

Because tax season typically runs from January to April, it can be difficult for individuals and families who want assistance with their taxes to find free tax preparation services off-season. Mother’s Outreach Network, who launched tax workshops back in October of last year, is continuing to run tax clinics in partnership with the DC Public Library through September. Every Wednesday between 11 AM and 1 PM, they answer questions and give 1-on-1 advice at the Southwest Branch Library about the CTC, Earned Income Tax Credit, Stimulus Payment, and more — at completely no cost.

Melody Webb, Executive Director and Founder of the Mother’s Outreach Network, told Axios DC that “she often works with vulnerable mothers who may have misconceptions about the credit or be unaware of it altogether.” Research shows that while such government programs play a large role in lowering poverty, disparities in economic security persist.

As an organization that supports the economic empowerment of Black mothers fighting for their families’ economic stability, the efforts of the Mother’s Outreach Network to increase access to legal services like free tax preparation are critical to reducing these disparities. Because the process can be difficult or complicated, and because many are unfamiliar with the process of claiming these credits, their goal is to ensure that families feel supported and assisted in claiming the government money they’re eligible for.

“The biggest myth we’ve had to dispel,” Webb said, “is that people who are currently receiving safety net benefits aren’t actually eligible.” In fact, the vast majority of US families with children are eligible for the CTC, including people who don’t regularly file taxes. In addition to their Wednesday clinics, the Mother’s Outreach Network has also compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the CTC, available on their website.

Mother's Outreach Network flyer with text that gives information about their weekly Parents' Tax Workshop & Clinic on Wednesdays at the Southwest Branch Library on 902 Wesley Place SW, Washington, DC 20024. They give free legal information on the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, recovery rebate tax credit or stimulus payment, homeowner and renter property tax credit, as well as the keep childcare affordable tax credit. They will answer your questions for free and give 1-on-1 advice and self-service tax prep to help you get your government cash. Call them at 202-818-8649 or email them at taxclinic@mothersoutreachnetwork.org.

Find more information about these weekly Parents’ Tax Clinics and help spread the word! The Mother’s Outreach Network is a racial justice and antipoverty nonprofit organization that supports Black family wellness, economic security, and racial justice by transforming government income and child welfare laws, policies, and practices from punitive to empowering. Learn more and support their work!

Local Nonprofit Bulletin (08.05.22)

Local Nonprofit Bulletin

08.05.22

Happy August! In this week’s edition of the bulletin, we’re rounding up ways you can get involved with small, local nonprofits across the DMV through exciting events, volunteer opportunities, and more! Know of another opportunity to engage that you want featured in our next edition? Reach out to Amanda, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, to collaborate!

Upcoming Events

The DC Funk Parade returns on Saturday, August 6, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM! Produced by The MusicianShip, this 8th Annual DC music celebration will take place along the U Street corridor, complete with a main stage, soul station, community corner, and more!

Support the next generation of rockstars and see brand new DC youth bands share their original music! Join Girls Rock! DC for their August showcase on Saturday, August 6, at 11:00 AM at the Black Cat.

This weekend is District BridgesThe Dog Days of Summer 23rd Annual Sidewalk Sale! Stop by Logan Circle and/or U Street between 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM this Saturday, August 6, and Sunday, August 7.

Common Good City Farm‘s upcoming calendar is filled with exciting events, such as Herbal Abundance, a class on how to source herbs sustainably, on Monday, August 8, from 6:00 – 7:00 PM.

View new work by incarcerated artists in Justice Arts Coalition‘s network at ArtLinks on Tuesday, August 9, between 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Participants are encouraged to share feedback, reflections, and encouragement with the artists through hand-written letters, which they will send to the artists!

The Insight Memory Care Center has a full calendar of upcoming events and trainings, including a virtual class on Wednesday, August 10, from 1:00 – 2:30 PM about how you can reconnect with someone with dementia through personalized activities.

Get your tickets to The Theatre Lab‘s teen summer shows, starting August 11! Catch Urinetown, presented by The Musical Theatre Institute for Teens, and Audrey Cefaly’s Tell Me Something Good, presented by The Summer Acting Institute for Teens.

Travel the world with Story Tapestries and Game Genius at the FRESHFARM market in Silver Spring on August 13 and September 17, with a scavenger hunt and performances by professional storytellers at 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, and 12:30 PM.

Catch The Dream Project at the Salvadoran Festival in Manassas, Virginia, on August 14 from 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM! Can’t make it that day? They’ll also be at the Arlington County Fair from August 19 – 21 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center.

Calling all nonprofit professionals! Join Keesha Ceran, associate director of Teaching for Change, on August 15 from 2:00 – 3:30 PM for a virtual coworking space to provide time and thought partners to build out and document those long-term goals that you haven’t yet gotten to.

Don’t miss Potomac Riverkeeper Network‘s remaining RiverPalooza Paddles! Their next upcoming one is a guided, interpretive paddle through Mallows Bay on August 20. Plus, they’ll be tubing at Harpers Ferry and hosting a Good-bye Summer Blow Out on the Shenandoah. For a more informative hour, you can also join them virtually on Wednesday, August 17, at 12:00 PM to learn about acid mine drainage, a water quality issue in the Upper Potomac.

Don’t forget to get your tickets to Washington Improv Theater‘s Improvapalooza, a five-day festival of experimental improv happening August 24 – 28! You can also catch them at a picnic on Sunday, August 14, from 3:00 – 7:00 PM at Rock Creek Park.

In recognition of National Recovery Month, BEHIND THE MASK is a free art workshop by VisArts for every person, family, and community member with a connection to addiction. Join them on Thursday, September 8, from 5:00 – 8:50 PM.

Experience the mission and creative energy of the Sitar Arts Center at Sitar on the Piazza on Thursday, September 8, at 5:30 PM on the piazza of Ristorante i Ricchi!

Support Local

Interested in identifying future leaders? Help The Posse Foundation select the students who will become Posse Scholars! Using their unique evaluation method, you can work with them to identify young leaders who might be missed by traditional admissions criteria, but who can excel at selective colleges and universities. In this first phase of their process, they narrow down approximately 1,500 students who have been nominated for the Posse Scholarship to 600 by engaging them in activities that demonstrate their teamwork, strategic thinking, and other leadership skills. Learn more and sign up to volunteer with them!

Volunteer with Earth Sangha at their Wild Plant Nursery and do some potting, weeding, and labeling!

Strut Your Mutt with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue and help raise money to save the lives of Lucky Dogs and Cats!

There are still three shifts you can join for the Mother’s Outreach Network Summer Canvas for Guaranteed Income! Help increase public awareness and education around guaranteed income by canvassing from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Saturdays August 13, August 20, and August 27.

Community Family Life Services is hosting a Back 2 School Bash and you can help them ensure families have the tools they need to be successful in the upcoming school year. From backpacks to calculators to notebooks, check out their donation list and drop off your donations by August 16 at their headquarters on 305 E Street NW.

Become a fall volunteer with Casa Chirilagua! They are looking for volunteers to support elementary school students with homework help, facilitate small group discussions for mental health curriculum with middle school students, help high school students prepare for college, and more.

Justice Arts Coalition is recruiting outside pARTners who would like to work with incarcerated youth as part of a special partnership. If you have experience working with youth, sign up to be paired with a Free Verse Project youth writer or artist as a pen pal, with art as the center of correspondence!

Craving a sweet treat? Order from Sunflower Bakery — they have an August special, shipping this month only!

September is National Recovery Month. VisArts invites individuals to submit photographs/images/designs/artworks that address the struggle of addiction, the process of recovery, portraits of those we have lost to addiction and portraits of those who’ve found a path forward through recovery. Submit your work for inclusion in their five-night projected installation by September 2.

The Fund for Investigative Journalism is accepting proposals for grants of up to $10,000 to cover the expenses of investigative stories that break new ground and uncover wrongdoing in the public or private sectors. Attend their webinar on August 12 at 11:30 AM and submit your application!

Dress up as your favorite superhero and join SafeSpot for a 5K & fun run on Saturday, September 17. All proceeds will benefit children and families impacted by abuse in Fairfax.

Attend or volunteer for C&O Canal Trust‘s Park After Dark on Saturday, September 17. Proceeds support the mission of the C&O Canal Trust and fund preservation programs of the C&O Canal NHP.

Join Street Sense Media for Artshow on September 29 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM at metrobar and share an evening of art, community, and entertainment celebrating their artists/vendors! There will be food trucks, visual art, performances, and more.

On Thursday, September 29, from 6:30 – 9:00 PM, New Endeavors by Women will be celebrating the NEW women overcoming homelessness and the supporters who help them thrive! Join them for their fall fundraiser and auction at the Jackie American Bistro in Navy Yard.

Your story matters! The Arc of Northern Virginia works to show the community that people should not be defined by a disability. What really resonates is a personal story. Fill out their form to share yours.

From now through October, volunteer with Food for Others on the fourth Thursday of the month between 4:00 – 7:00 PM at Skyline Park, where you can assist in serving 150-300 families by packaging and handing out food. On Sunday, September 25, you can also participate in their Tysons 5K and Fun Run.

Save the Dates

September 15 | Common Good City Farm’s A Night on the Farm (September 29 rain date)

September 16, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | City Blossoms Garden Fiesta

October 1, 2:00 – 6:00 PM | Healwell’s Birthday Bonanza

October 6, 4:00 – 7:00 PM | Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia Pickleball Mixer & Happy Hour

October 6, 6:00 PM | DC SCORES’ One Night One Goal

October 7, 6:30 PM | Story Tapestries Elevate Voices – Celebrate Community

October 9, 1:00 – 4:00 PM | VisArts turns 35! Free anniversary open house

October 13 | Insight Memory Care Center’s Paintings & Pairings

October 14, 6:00 – 10:00 PM | Byte Back’s EVOLUTION: 25 Years of Transforming Lives Through Technology

October 19, 6:00 – 9:00 PM | FRESHFARM Feast

October 19, 6:30 – 8:30 PM | Georgetown Ministry Center’s The Spirit of Georgetown

October 19 | Family PASS Annual Golf Tournament

October 20, 6:00 – 7:30 PM | Community Reach of Montgomery County’s Mansfield Kaseman Health Clinic Virtual Celebration

October 20, 6:30 PM | Sitar Arts Center’s CREATE CHANGE Benefit Gala & Auction

October 21 | PEN/Faulkner’s Literary State of the Union

October 24, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM | So What Else & Mamma Lucia’s 6th Annual Golf Tournament

November 5, 6:00 – 11:00 PM | The Arc of Northern Virginia’s 60th Anniversary Gala Celebration

November 13, 5:00 – 9:30 PM | The Theatre Lab’s Cabaret Benefit

Suited for Change’s Recipe for Success: Nonprofits Banding Together

Suited for Change’s Recipe for Success: Nonprofits Banding Together

What has been driving nonprofit organizations to continue through what seems like an endless pandemic? Leaning on each other.

When everything came to a rushing halt back in March of 2020, many organizations turned off their lights, locked their doors, and never returned. With nonprofit organizations being the backbone of our community, the ripple effect of these closures was felt almost immediately.

After some initial adjustment, Suited for Change (SFC), a nonprofit organization focused on empowering women through providing professional attire, skills development, and coaching, had the realization: the only way to survive is to band together.

A person wearing a black mask and colorful printed dress in the middle of a classroom speaking to students who are seated at white desks

Over the past two years, SFC has completely revamped their services, finding new approaches to meet the needs of their clients right where they are.

SFC began calling all their referral partners in the DC Metro area, asking them, “What do your clients need right now?” Beginning with virtual suitings, and then expanding to virtual and in-person workshops, SFC started collaborating with nonprofits within the Catalogue for Philanthropy network, including Friendship Place, Calvary Women’s Services, Britepaths, and La Cocina VA, to best serve their clients as they continue to strive for economic independence.

With a talented variety of volunteers who have expertise in fashion, interview preparation, resume writing, and financial literacy, SFC has been able to equip their clients with a well-rounded education on the tools they need to embark on their professional journey.

Screenshot of a person speaking next to a presentation slide that reads, "The Secret to Awesome Interview Outfits"

Through these growing partnerships, both SFC and the affiliated referral partners participating in these new workshops have already begun to see the effects of their collaboration. From increased motivation and confidence to achieve participation and eagerness to learn, the clients have been exhibiting their drive to succeed in all avenues of their life.

Prior to these workshops, many clients would arrive at the SFC boutique hesitant and unsure of what to expect. However, after having a clear introduction to SFC, clients have been jumping at the chance to schedule an appointment to get the finishing touches they need to launch their careers.

Thanks to the continuing collaboration between these Catalogue for Philanthropy nonprofit partners, clients are more equipped than ever to tackle the professional world and get the jumpstart they need to thrive.

A classroom with four students seated at black rectangular tables next to a large window, with the instructor up front wearing a pink mask and black dress next to a presentation slide that reads, "Positioning"

Suited for Change equips women in need in our community on their path to financial independence by providing them with professional attire, coaching, and skills training. Join Suited for Change and support the local women in your community as they secure and sustain professional employment. You can donate both funds and clothing, volunteer with them, shop at their boutique, and stay updated through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!