Big Nonprofit Ideas for the Other 95%
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Art Taylor, Jacob Harold, and Ken Berger: The Overhead Myth Letter Signers
Written “To the Donors of America,” The Overhead Myth letter created a lot of buzz in the nonprofit community this summer. My guests are the three co-signers, the CEOs of Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator. Art Taylor, Jacob Harold and Ken Berger will explain what led up to the letter, why it was necessary and why they feel “many charities should spend more on overhead.”
Gene Takagi: Good Overhead, Bad Overhead
Gene Takagi, our legal contributor, helps you understand what may be sensible and appropriate non-program expenses for your nonprofit, and what you should avoid. How do you protect your board, officers and employees, but not go overboard on overhead? Gene is principal of the Nonprofit & Exempt Organizations law group (NEO).
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What is that music? This is tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent and i am your aptly named host. Yes, we have new music, new music this week that was cheap red wine and it’s going to be our music going forward. It’s by scott stein and if you’d liketo meet scott, you can go to the facebook page. We have a little q and a with scott stein. I’m very glad that you’re part of the show. Welcome scott. New music and a new year luciana tova for those who are celebrating fifty seven, seventy four oh, i hope that you were with me last week. I would suffer idiopathic ridiculous apathy if it came to my attention that you have ms trim tab marketing. James eaton is president and creative director of the tronvig group. He explained how something small and seemingly insignificant, like the trim tab that’s it helps to steer a ship can make a big difference in your marketing and more social. Now what amy sample ward, our social media contributor and ceo of non-profit technology network and ten, had thoughts about how to manage the internal changes. When you make social media a part of your office culture this week, the overhead myth letter signers written to the donors of america, the three co signers of the letter are the ceos of the better business bureau wise giving alliance guide star and charity navigator our tailor jacob harold and ken berger, who explain what what led up to the letter, why it was necessary and why they feel many charities should spend mohr on overhead. Plus your questions and good overhead, bad overhead. Jean takagi are legal contributor helps you understand what may be sensible and appropriate non-profit graham expenses and what you should avoid. How do you protect your board officers and employees, but not go overboard on overhead gina’s principle of the non-profit and exempt organizations law group neo-sage san francisco i’m very pleased to welcome the three ceos who are the co signers of the overhead myth letter. Art taylor is president and ceo of the better business bureau wise giving alliance they’re at give dot or ge and he’s with us from arlington, virginia. Jacob taylor is president and ceo of guidestar there at guidestar dot or ge jacob’s calling from washington, d c and ken berger is with me in the studio. He’s, president and ceo of charity navigator at charitynavigator dot orb, gentlemen, welcome hi, good afternoon, glad to be here. It’s. A pleasure. Glad to have all three of you. I do want to ask you in the beginning, tio, try to be concise with your answers, because way, have lots of info to cover and just about twenty five minutes together. So tree, please try to keep that in mind. Really my first question. Art galleries for you. How did you get to be the first signer on the letter? How did you guys decide the sequence of the signatures? That’s, what struck me? Well, actually, i’m not sure about how that came about. I think we probably just threw a golf tee around. And whoever got the point got the name of their first. Okay, i don’t think there’s any significant. So about the order of the names. I think we used different orders for different events that we appear at and different communications that we send out. So, there’s. Nothing to be read into my name being first on. Okay. That’s. Very cordial of you to say. The only pattern i could see was alphabetical by first name art jacob and then ken that’s all that’s all i was able to discern, um, let’s, let’s, stick with you there. All right, you guys are the three. You represent the three leading sources of information about charities. Um, let’s start with you first and then jacob, and then can tell us what’s special about your organization, the wise giving alliance how’s it has it has a little different than the others. Please aren’t well, we’re one of the organizations that will actually make a judgment about how we feel about charity’s accountability and where, as i said, we’re primarily focused on whether a charity is accountable to the public, and we have a set of twenty standards that we use to measure the extent to which we believe charities are accountable. The’s standards were developed with the assistance of the non profit sector. It took us a little more than two years to devise the standards back in two thousand one when we last revised. Hm. And so we really feel that they represent the interests of donors, as well as the aspirations and hopes of charities that want to be accountable to their donors. All right. Thank you, jacob. How about how about guide star? Sure. You know, the big contrast i would make with my two colleagues organizations here gets right to something that art said, which is that guide star itself is not an analyst or raider or provider of judgment. What we are is a platform for data from all across the sector. So we have data on every single non-profit in the country for many, many sources, and we want to share others analysis, because we do think that the sort of analysis done by better business bureau wise giving alliance charity navigator can be very informative and important for the field. And we see it as our role to bring together the many different voices and and present them in a systematic way. And jacob, how many hits are you getting on the web site each month? Let’s, let’s. Just establish how relevant thes sites are for donorsearch schnoll sure. So last month we had about one point. Two million unique visitors. Excellent. Okay, unique visitors. Excellent art. I should have asked you how many? How many hits are you getting or if you can say unique visitors each month? Yeah, i don’t know if it’s unique visitors, but we get about one. We get about five and a half million report hits every year. So five and a half million times. Someone will come to our website to see a charity report can. How about charity navigator? What makes it different and and how? How popular. Well, you know, i just want to say first that i think, you know, between the three organizations were about fifteen million dollars in budget trying to oversee a one point five trillion dollars sector. So there’s, this much need for their, you know, all of us. And there’s a lot of us, i think similarities even more than the differences. But we also i do make a judgment, and we have a, you know, five level star rating system scale from zero to four stars. And we have about thirty metrics that we used to make those judgments. We also engage the sector in that. And also we have all one point six million non-profits on our website with information about them, even if they’re not currently rated. Let’s, let’s. Move to the letter itself. The overhead beth letter from believe june is when, when it was formally announced. Jacob the letter cites the misconception that overhead is a poor measure of a charity’s performance. How did that misconception arise? You know, when there’s a vacuum, something has to fill it, and i think there’s a desire on the part of donors as well as journalists, academics, researchers and non-profits themselves tio try to have a way to make judgments about the non-profits sector, which is very diverse and where there certainly are variances been in quality. Uh, and i think people saw the overhead ratio of something that had some meaning i’m sure my colleagues will talk about how it is not meaningless. It’s just what i would call a filter that helps us still filter out a few bad cases, but not a proxy for for equality and, you know, it fiddled it filled that vacuum, and my hope is that over the next few years, as we systematically gather a number of other types of information across the field, that we can offer an alternative that is much more meaningful and useful and helpful for the field on broader that that alternative being much broader than looking right just that overhead, anybody else want to add? To what you feel led up to this serious misconception about our ways, you know, we at the wise giving alliance, we’ve always i believed that you should look at a broad spectrum of things when you’re assessing a charity’s accountability, and while we have financial ratio metrics, address fund-raising and administrative costs, those are just two of twenty different areas that we look into. And, boy, we must ask charities almost three hundred questions before we can actually no of all twenty of those standards, okay? We’re actually met, so we’ve always group believe that there should be a broader look at what a charity does in order to really know if they’re accountable. And so when this opportunity came up for us to come together and share with the public that belief, we were all for it. So that’s sort of how we come into the table can how about you? How’d we get to this misconception? Well, i think it’s been over a lot of years, and i think that there’s been an ongoing debate over the question of what accountability measures should be those that we use the urban institute has done studies, of course, dan piela has gotten a lot of traction, and i think, you know, the views are wide ranging from we should have absolutely no accountability for overhead. There should be it’s meaningless. And i think all three of us were concerned that we be not throw out the baby with the bathwater that there’s a sort of a balanced place. We need to get to. We’re going take a pause for a couple seconds and course will continue with the three ceos of three co signers of the overhead myth letter and live listener love. When we come back, stay in there, talking alternative radio twenty four hours a day. Do you need a business plan that can guide your company’s growth? Seven and seven will help bring the changes you need. Wear small business consultants and we pay attention to the details. You may miss our coaching and consultant services a guaranteed to lead toe. Right, groat. For your business, call us at nine. One seven eight three, three, four, eight, six zero foreign, no obligation free consultation. Check out our website of ww dot covenant seven dot com are you fed up with talking points? Rhetoric everywhere you turn left or right? Spin ideology no reality, in fact, its ideology over in tow. No more it’s time. Join me. Larry shot a neo-sage tuesday nights nine to eleven easter for the ivory tower radio in the ivory tower will discuss what’s important to you society, politics, business and family. It’s provocative talk for the realist and the skeptic who want to go what’s really going on? What does it mean? What can be done about it? So gain special access to the ivory tower. Listen to me. Very sharp. Your neo-sage tuesday nights nine to eleven new york time go to ivory tower radio dot com for details. That’s. Ivory tower, radio dot com e every time i was a great place to visit for both entertainment and education. Listening. Tuesday nights nine to eleven. It will make you smarter. Hey, all you crazy listeners looking to boost your business? Why not advertise on talking alternative with very reasonable rates? Interested simply email at info at talking alternative dot com dahna duitz i love our new music, scott stein, live, listener lover get live listeners all over the country, in fact, and, of course, all over the world. Asia checking in, but we’re going to start domestic san francisco, atlanta, bloomington, indiana what if that’s the centre at indiana university. Leesburg, virginia. North kingstown, rhode island, south portland, maine. Walnut creek, california in san diego, california lots of californians live listener love there’s lots more coming, lots more live listeners glad you’re very glad that you’re with us and i never want to forget podcast pleasantries for the nine thousand or so that listen in the podcast love you too. Um, let’s see ken berger, you’re sitting here in front of me. It’s true i am. You are the only shill willing to come to the studio. How do you feel about this? That the rating organizations bear some responsibility for the evolution of this this overhead misconception? Well, i think you know, when i when i learned about the origins of charity navigator, part of the challenge for us was that the only standardized information that was available to us way back when was thiss financial information on the nine. Ninety. That’s, really all that there was that we could look at it. We always tried to communicate to our users that finance and overhead is just part of what you should look at. That’s always been part of our message, and i think part of our problem part of our responsibility is, we never really got that message out loud and clear enough. And that was where charity navigator one point o had to start. Yeah, it was all that was available. Yes, yes, but, you know, and so we’ve been trying to do bang the drum louder and louder over time, to let people know there are other things that are critical that have to be considered in the most important of all, being the results of the work. Okay, you other guys, anybody wantto weigh in on your organization’s responsibility leading up to this? No, i take it, you know. I’ll just say that i think, you know, we what we didn’t do ratings, we certainly presented the ratio on our site, and, um, i don’t apologize for that, but i think there was always room, as can said for further context provided to users and two donors about how that could be a meaningful peace, but not a full, full story. And then i would also argue that the blame where the credit or the responsibility, however we want to characterize it, goes far beyond any organization that did a rating but all the way to non-profits them cells, which, you know, reinforce this myth by literally, quite literally, billions of times a year, you know, prominently displaying their own ratios on their sites and at times they do that with complimentary data about programmatic results, which i think is very powerful. But when they do that alone, when they they on ly share that information, they really reinforce the myth in a problematic way, and so i would encourage all non-profits to ensure that if they are sharing, they’re they’re financial ratios, that they only do that in the context of their programmatic work and the results they’re achieving their communities, and they might have been doing that in response to donors who were, you know, picking up on it and picking up on the misconception i mean, there’s been a lot of talk about it and that that may have been, albeit sort of, you know, inappropriately waited response, but it may have been a response to the public, so the demand for those for those numbers, i think that’s absolutely right and it’s essentially create a vicious cycle where i think no one wanted it tio kind of spin out of control, and it hasn’t. So now where we’re pulling it back, trying to put things inappropriate contact trying teo affirm this multidemensional approach that we’ve all been talking about write your letter is is addressed to the donors of america, not to the charities of america. Dahna um yeah, go ahead, there’s some something more okay, there’s something i would like to say. You know, i think one of the things that really strikes us is that when a message goes out there, as some people are promoting that what? You should look at his results and results alone and forget about all this overhead. In this other financial business and what not in these other ratios? I think that it’s really ridiculous, and i think it’s really unfair to donors, i think that in a sense donors have made a very rational choice in looking at proxies to some degree, because the reality, as we know from years of research, is that is that the vast majority of non-profits do not publicly report on their results, and in fact, if you take it a step further, the vast majority of charities don’t have any data on their results to report upon. And so it’s not fair. I think two entire, you know to say, well, donors, you know, you should be looking at this when in fact there’s nowhere for most of them to go for most cause areas. For most types of charities, you don’t have robust information. So in addition to the advice that jacob gave about the overhead being paired with the results, i think there’s a fundamental message that charity’s more and more have got to step up to the plate and really take on this matter off results if you want people to look at things other than overhead. You have a really obligation to give them the most meaningful. The most important information which we agree all is about your results. Yeah, the conventional wisdom for for a lot of years has been that our results are unmeasurable were too complex for the work that we do is too abstruse, teo quantify results and that’s still happening. And in fact, we spicy and increasing drumbeat. There are more and more of these kind of particles we see coming out saying, well, we’re too complex. It’s two unique were too it’s, too expensive, there’s any number of a litany of excuses, quite frankly, and we’re not saying that you have to be perfect and it has to be robust. We just want to see charities begin to get on this road and do the best you can just started. Don’t say that. It’s. Impossible. We know that it’s, not there’s. Plenty of resource is out there to help our tailor. The point i would. Oh, please go ahead. There. There are the reasons people give to charities are very complex. And quite a bit of it goes to the extent to which people trust the organization the extent to which they trust people are trying to achieve the organization’s mission and trust can be measured. You are sensed by people, sometimes more so than it can be measured. You know, when we feel that the people in an organization are giving it an honest effort, that they’re working hard to achieve the goals of the organization. We tend to trust that organization, mohr and their different ways of looking at that it’s not always extent to which, you know, we see these results printed so, you know, that has to be factored in, and sometimes trust goes to the extent to which people feel comfortable with how they’re spending their money. And while we don’t like that, it’s still part of the complex mix of what drives people to give to chairs art the letter goes so far as to say that many charities should spend mohr on overhead. What what was behind including that? Well, you know, you can certainly look at some organizations who like to tout the fact that they spend, you know, very small sums of money on overhead and and want to point out that that makes them somehow better than organizations that maybe spending mohr that’s. Dangerous, because if an organization really needs to spend more money on overhead and and that amount is reasonable, they should move in that direction, rather than in a direction that would keep them from being an effective organization by not spending that money. So, i think, that’s, the point that we’re trying to make here. If an organization needs to spend more money on overhead, and they’re still within reasonable boundaries for what would be comfortable for for them and for their board members, they should look in that direction. They should. They should do that, including overhead for long term growth. Minute. This constant struggle between the immediate need and and the the desire to have build scale and capacity for the longer term. That’s, that’s very, very challenging. Yes, that’s. You know, that’s, what boards and executives of non-profits are charged to do? We have to balance the challenges of explaining to a doubting public that he spent expenditures are worthwhile and that they will lead to results. Uh, that’s the role of the board and that’s the responsibility, i think, of the executive running that organization to make sure that the people understand the directions that they’re headed in art taylor is president, ceo of the better business bureau wise giving alliance jacob harold, president, ceo of guide star, and ken berger, president, ceo of charity navigator. And we’re talking about there overhead myth letter that the three of them signed i want to take a moment, send a little more live listener love, hillside, new jersey, yonkers, new york, new york, new york, baltimore, maryland and bloom dale, ohio live listener love out to all of you let’s, go to some some questions we did a lot of pulling for listener questions, and i want to thank all three of your organizations. Thank you and your staffs for retweeting my tweets, looking for questions and really, i wantto do one think all three of you and your and the staff, they were working with me. Really very, very, very helpful. Thank you for that. Um ah, question came from amanda. Pee on da on twitter, she’s at living united who decides and how do you decide what is program and what he’s overhead? These areas can be pretty overlapped and sort of pretty vague boundaries. Who want to take that? That question from amanda p about program versus overhead. How do we decide? I think part of that can be in discussion with your your auditors to help ferret out. Make sure that you’re using the best practices in the policies that air in place to make that determination. We do know that, you know, i bought it. Work is as much an art as a science and there’s some ambiguity there. But there are some experts that have worked with a lot of organizations that you can, i think, rely upon, you know? And the other thing is to remember that were typically looking at larger organizations, those of us at least those of us that are doing these ratings. So those kind of organizations that need to do a gnawed it and to have that kind of expertise they can work with that professional to help make certain that they’re allocating those costs appropriately, that our overhead and that are not overhead and let’s also remember that when we’re talking about overhead, there are two subsets of that in particular, one is fund-raising and the other is administrative, and there was some important differences between those things, and as we’ve been talking about the importance of overhead, a lot of what we’ve been talking about is especially in the area of the administrative, the infrastructure jacob can mentions the fund-raising overhead is there a another? This is another question i got from a couple of listeners about the cost of raising a dollar that phrase, the cost of a dollar raising the dollar, any any guidance around that? What can we what can we offer charities? Well, so you know, i would say this distinction is is an essential one, um, and that when we talk about investing in yourself and investing in training or strategy or internal systems, that really falls into this category of administrative overhead and that’s something that in general, i’m very sympathetic when an organization says we need to invest in ourselves on we need to be able to think in the long run and that ultimately the way that we’re going to maximize effectiveness is by being a strong and effective healthy organization with fund-raising you know, i think that when you look at the cases of fraud, which i believe are rare but it’s still important for us to address, they more often fraud and or gross mismanagement, um, they more often fall into the category of fund-raising fraud or front fund-raising mismanagement, i’m not going to offer any sort of a, uh, redline a particular number where it’s, fine, if you’re below and it’s bad, if you’re above because the non-profit sector is simply to divers for that, i will say that, you know, the vast majority of a dollar raised is going teo fund-raising costs, especially when those air outsourced to professional fundraisers, you know, that’s something that to me is not a red flag at least a pink flag is worth exploring, but i also recognize that, you know, philanthropic capital is the fuel of the non-profit sector, and it does cost money to raise money, and we have to defend non-profits ability to invest in their own fund-raising while recognizing that there are those cases where it goes too far, aren’t we have find it interesting? Yeah, that in our evaluations, about forty five percent of the organizations we evaluate failed to meet one arm or of our twenty standards, but only about twelve percent failed to meet because of some financial ratio issue, whether that be fund-raising or administrative. So, you know, we like to help donors appreciate that if you’re just focusing on these overhead numbers, you might be giving to organizations that you wouldn’t give, too, if you knew more about him. So there’s also the flipside of overhead, which is over relying on them, can can lead you to support organizations that you might not want to if you do so, we think that our financial ratios are probably at the right place, given that so few fails to meet those financial ratio stands. Okay, that puts it in perspective. Thank you. All right, let’s, stay with you. We have a question from the council of non-profits in washington d c on twitter. They are build np capacity. Should we still use overhead? Is it so charged a word? Now that we should be using something else instead, well, you know, the word overhead is a generalization, as we’ve just discussed, what we’re really talking about here is where their charity spending a reasonable amount on administration and program and fund-raising and those are the three categories that we use should we continue to use that those three descriptions? Absolutely, because organizations do need to know how much their spending on these particular categories for purposes of comparing their effectiveness in these particular areas, effectiveness isn’t simply program effectiveness, it’s also, you know, making sure your administration is effective and making sure your fund-raising operation is effective, and i don’t think you can do that without keeping score financially to go along with what you’re doing. From programmatic jacob question from jean takagi who’s, our legal contributor and on twitter he’s at g tak wonders, why did it take so long for the overhead myth letter? Um, you know, a fair question, and i’ll i’ll say that, you know, part of it is just the coordination and that you know, the power here it that our three organizations that have some differences have different approaches, sometimes differences of opinion. Came together because we did share a belief that we have the field could move beyond are our focus on on overhead, it just takes a while sometimes to coordinate that across organisations that even as we are friendly there there elements what we do that are in competition with a city with one at the same time, though guidestar, charity navigator and others did sign a similar agreement back in two thousand nine. So we did do this before. I think part of the differences that, you know, you have the damp a lotta phenomenon, and i also think that and jacob and guide star was very instrumental in this, trying to have a way that tangibly the non-profits could actually sign on and be involved and engaged in the process which pulled people in in a way that weren’t wasn’t in that original effort in two thousand nine. Yep. That’s right. Gentlemen, we have to leave it. Okay. Very, very quick. Back-up. Go ahead, jacob. Oh, just that. And the one thing that has that there’s now hope that their new alternatives emerging and that we can begin to fill the vacuum with something else i want to. Thank all three of you, alright, can burger just said, amen. Thank you, taylor president, ceo wise giving alliance. Jacob harold, president, ceo guidestar. Ken berger, president, ceo of charity navigator you confined art on twitter at wise giving. Jacob is at jacob, harold and ken is at ken’s commentary. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being guest. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. Been a real pleasure. We take a break, go away for a couple seconds when we come back, tony’s take, too. I want to express some gratitude, and then gene takagi on good overhead, bad overhead. More live listener, love. Stay with us. You’re listening to the talking alternative network, waiting to get in. Duitz nothing buy-in good. Are you suffering from aches and pains? Has traditional medicine let you down? Are you tired of taking toxic medications, then come to the double diamond wellness center and learn how our natural methods can help you to hell? Call us now at to one to seven to one eight, one eight three that’s to one to seven to one eight one eight three or find us on the web at www dot double diamond wellness dot com. We look forward to serving you. Hi, i’m ostomel role, and i’m sloan wainwright, where the host of the new thursday morning show the music power hour. Eleven a m. We’re gonna have fun. Shine the light on all aspects of music and its limitless healing possibilities. We’re gonna invite artists to share their songs and play live will be listening and talking about great music from yesterday to today, so you’re invited to share in our musical conversation. Your ears will be delighted with the sound of music and our voices. Join austin and sloan live thursdays at eleven a. M on talking alternative dot com. You’re listening to the talking alternative network. Buy-in hi, i’m bill mcginley, president, ceo of the association for healthcare philanthropy. And you’re listening to tony martignetti non-profit radio. Big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent. Oppcoll got more live listener love, rocklin, california, brooklyn, new york, clinton, maryland, dallas, texas live listener loved to you let’s, go abroad. We’ve got seoul, korea, seoul so so loyal. Such always someone at least one of a couple of today from seoul. Thank you very much for listening on your haserot and chongqing, china usually have more from china, but only one today. Chung ching, china ni hao, time for tony’s. Take two and i want to use this time to just thank you very much for listening. I am grateful for your support of the show. I’m in your ear right now and i thank you for that. Radio is a very personal, maybe even intimate medium, i believe. And i thank you personally for listening and supporting the show. Thank you very much. And that is tony’s. Take two. Just my gratitude for friday, the sixth of august sixth of september. Who writes this copy? Who writes this copy to sixth of august, the thirty sixth show of the year. Jean takagi he’s, the principal of neo the non-profit and exempt organizations law group in san francisco he edits the popular non-profit law blogged dot com and as i said earlier, i’ll give him another shot out on twitter. He’s at g tak welcome back, jean tony, how are you? I’m terrific. What was what was your take on that conversation? You know, i thought it was really interesting. Tony, i really appreciate the fact that the three of the signers of the overhead myth better came onto this show and we’re willing to discuss discuss that issue. I think it’s a really important one to recognize. Excellent. And i was grateful as well it was. And that was the first time i ask can off mike that’s the first time that the three even have been together in a live for him like this. The only other time was answering a newspaper. Reporters questions and, you know, newspaper is a secondary medium to radio, of course. So very glad to be the first time that they were all three together. Live s o. You have some thoughts on good overhead, bad overhead. I got some questions, gene, that really worded differently, but fell into the category of this. How do we decide what is appropriate? Yeah, i think. That’s a great question. Tony and it’s. Difficult. To answer because it’s so specific tio the organizations in the circumstances that may be applicable to that organization so it’s hard to make generalities. Which is the whole reason why it’s hard tto rate charities based on their overhead. But i think we can, you know, lissome general principles of what might be good overhead and what might be problematic. Okay, you have some from categories, then that that we should start with the good, i believe, sure. So i think education is a really good category educating particularly your board of directors so they can understand their responsibilities and how they can best contribute to the organization. I think boards are largely an untapped resource for many charities and investing in educating and engaging them. Figuring out how to best engage report, i think, is really valuable then educating your executive director or ceo. I think that’s so important as well, often times ditigal dd is charged with implementing a plan, and that person may not have the experience or the educational background to do all the things that are required to implement that plan. Perhaps no translating their vision into organizational priorities are setting realistic budget providing. A useful employee feedback, you know, defining and delegating properly assessing organizational needs on dh communicating those two all the stakeholders of the organization, the eighties are charged with doing so much and so many different areas, and they may have tremendous skill and leadership, but they may lack certain certain skills or experience in certain areas, and i think boards have got to make sure that they put into their budget equipping that executive director with the information or consultants or other materials that she or he needs to get the job done. Thiss ah lot of what you’re talking about falls in the category, i think of professional development for the board, for the executive officer on that would also trickle down to the staff as well. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, i call it education rather than professional development, because professional development sometimes seems like a benefit that you’re giving out to your to your employees. And i think these air just crucial investments, both in making sure that you’re properly equipping your organs, you know, perhaps you’re your most important organizational asset, which people, um and also in terms of just, you know, making sure that you’re going to retain the best people if you’re not educating them, retention is going to be a big challenge, all right? What’s another category of what you deem acceptable and an appropriate overhead expense stop purposes by saying i am a lawyer, chun hee’s. I’m bringing that perspective into this and and others will have other perspective to offer. All right, jeez, what’s coming boy, go ahead regularly at the morris with for me as a lawyer, making sure that you’ve got the right policies in place is really important. I think sound policies can improve on organization’s operations, can help prevent really costly mistakes and keep in organizationally a new organization legally compliant, which can be valuable in so many ways. So that would the expense aside from time to time to create policy and then have it approved by the board, might involve consultants in areas that the organization’s lacking expertise? Yeah, absolutely so anywhere from an auditor, regardless of whether you’re require an audit or not under under laws, maybe an audit or financial review, khun raise cem cem, sufficient information or materials for the board or the executive to consider an internal control policy. Financial management policies getting other consultants involved or lawyers to deal with conflict of interest, document retention, whistleblower issues figuring out what type of gifts are ok to take and which ones are not ok to take. Most organizations don’t have gift acceptance policies and that’s something that they should look into, and i think you’re going to raise maybe an issue of expense reimbursement later on and that’s another good policy to have to make sure that everybody’s on the same page well, okay, around that you and you and i have talked about a lot of these policies in the past, in detail, so around that expense reimbursement there was there’s, an interesting case, a to college, a college president who spent one hundred forty thousand dollars on a trip to china, and it is justifying it. Could i don’t remember the name of the college. I don’t do you? Yeah. It’s, westfield state university and their president was abin da bao. Okay, he’s he’s. So that expense, among other things, it’s. Not just that expense, but among other things. But that one caught my eye because it’s on its face, it would seem so outrageous. But there’s things. We don’t know, like how many people were there and, uh what? What the outcomes were i mean, that could be a justifiable expense, that kind of money for a trip it was to china. I’m pretty sure yeah, absolutely. So i don’t know enough about it to really comment on it any more than to say that, yes, on its face, it can look like it’s going to be difficult to justify expense, but that’s, as it was characterized by the media on dh i don’t know that we have all the information or if the media has sametz displayed, you know, the information that would raise sort of public outcry where otherwise it might be kind of boring to know what justifications there were for such an expenditure. Perhaps there were good reasons teo increase the amount of revenues that coming from from china, or support or toe otherwise in attract students from from there, if that was indeed one of the goals, i think there’s more that needs to be learned about this before criticizing it, and the board or the executive committee of that board had requested and risk steve thirty page audit, i believe, and i think they’re going to need to go through that pretty court carefully. It just raises the point that it’s really without all the facts, as you’re saying, it’s really impossible to know whether one hundred forty thousand dollars for a trip to china or fifteen percent spent on program in a year or are more vice versa in a year is appropriate. You just if you just can’t draw these lines the way one of the ceos i think it was jacob, harold said, you know, and we were talking about i was talking to those guys you just can’t know and be so precise with dollar amounts and percentages, yeah, in some ways are in many ways i would say that st tony, i guess there are the exceptions and aren’t there are always exceptions, but if a charity that’s focused on poverty relief is paying for, you know, first class entertainment, first class flights to paris toe entertain their staff members for retention purposes. I upleaf that’s bad overhead, but, you know, outside of the really obvious examples, it is sometimes difficult t criticize a charity, but i don’t think we can downplay whether donor-centric tae shins are reasonable or not, if you’re transparent organization and that information is coming out through the media through the charity rating sites through your nine ninety, you’re going to want to make sure that that you’re aware of certain expenses that might catch people’s eyes and turned them the wrong way because of public relations and the goodwill that the charity has is, you know, other other than the people of this that that are supporting the charity, another one of the charity’s most important resources that that goodwill so you don’t want to harm that you want to avoid the perception of a bad expenditure. Yeah, especially if it looks like a blatant rip red flag out there. What’s another category you you have for us in the in the good overhead section. A few risks that you have the right insurance investing in the, er, right technology, kind of another area, i think, in terms of raising the effectiveness and efficiency oven organizations performance even currently, and not just building skills for the future. I think you gotta look at things like technology are using data technology, that’s going to be more expensive, upkeep and that’s creating inefficiencies. In the productivity of your staff for that hinders prevents reasonable expansion will knew technology allows for more effective and efficient ways of advancing the mission, communicating with the donors and supporters, finding new donors, you know, mobilizing advocacy efforts, measuring and analyzing impact. And i think measurement tools is another thing there’s a demand now from from lots of sources about well, if it’s not overhead it’s about, are you creating positive impact? And if that’s the big question out there now what? How our charity is measuring that i think are may have mentioned that a lot of charities, they’re not showing that in their nine nineties, we can’t really determine howto review charities based dahna on impact and part of that is because it’s so hard to measure, but what investments are you making there then? I think the last thing i wanted to mention with building engagement and collaboration collaboration is it was such an important part of being more effective and efficient and taking great ideas to scale where, where it makes sense and that all costs money, and if you’re going to label that is overhead and then i think you have to make sure that you’re putting your money in the right place. One of those questions that i read from a listener was, you know, he’s overhead, a jaded term now. But, you know, maybe i’m probably doesn’t really matter what the term is, but investment is something that i think that sounds more positive than overhead, and it seems to fall into. I think it sort of captures a lot of what you’re talking about in terms of engagement. You know, in investing in people and maybe joint ventures and things like that, we have to go away for a couple seconds. Jean, of course, will stay with us, and we keep talking about good overhead, bad overhead. Got a little more live listener, love, stay with us. You’re listening to the talking alternative network. Oppcoll are you stuck in your business or career trying to take your business to the next level, and it keeps hitting a wall? This is sam liebowitz, the conscious consultant. I will help you get to the root cause of your abundance issues and help move you forward in your life. Call me now and let’s. Create the future you dream of. Two, one, two, seven, two, one, eight, one, eight, three, that’s to one to seven to one, eight one eight three. The conscious consultant helping conscious people. Be better business people. Have you ever considered consulting a road map when you feel you need help getting to your destination when the normal path seems blocked? A little help can come in handy when choosing an alternate route. Your natal chart is a map of your potentials. It addresses relationships, finance, business, health and, above all, creativity. Current planetary cycles can either support or challenge your objectives. I’m montgomery taylor. If you would like to explore the help of a private astrological reading, please contact me at monte at monty taylor dot. Com let’s monte m o nt y at monty taylor dot com. Talking alternative radio twenty four hours a day. No. Got more live listener love, vietnam live listener love out to you, warrington uk and mara pole, ukraine live listener left each of you. I’m sorry, we don’t have vietnamese or ukrainian covered in the studio here. We do have japanese, though. Konnichi wa to you, yokosuka! That was terrible. Let me try that again. Yokosuka and osaka i could eat you are gene let’s, let’s move, teo bad overhead some something’s in the fall into that category you think probably are hard to justify. Yeah, there are certain transactions that i think or expenses that they’re going to be more difficult to justify than others think again there they’re going to be exceptions to some of these, but generally speaking, if you’ve got transactions that appeared to benefit insiders like boardmember zehr officers mohr than the charity’s intended beneficiaries, those are going to be difficult to justify, and you’re going to want to think carefully about whether you should make those expenses and then whether they’re really of reasonable advantage to the organization if that was to come out in the open. So those are one type extravagant expenses way before we before we moved to benefit another if that one hundred forty thousand dollars china trip is really resulting in very trivial benefits and never with the expectation of muchmore benefits to accrue to the organization but was really about sort of making sure that a president or ceo was traveling on a very enjoyable trip. That’s compensation, that’s that’s not that’s, not an organizational expense that that it’s going to be easy toe to justify in and of itself, and finally appears, you know, having significant expenses on furthering some other cause other than your mission other than your state admissions, then that may be a problematic expenses well, and that may be a violation of your duty. Teo ensure that the charitable, recent sources are used for that particular mission. So if you’re an organization with a mission to improve the lives of children with leukemia, you shouldn’t spend significant amounts of the charity’s money tto help disaster victims in the local community, even if that’s a wonderful cause because that’s not your mission, you mentioned the insider transactions, and one of the policies that were supposed to have when we were talking about good overhead was was conflict of interest policies, but that is not. Supposed to deal with the the insider transactions? Yeah, in part it does, but we can. We can have work transactions that are going to pass the legal requirements of conflict of trance. Interest transactions are not necessarily bad if a director or boardmember is offering an organization rent and one of you know his or her office spaces and that’s slightly below fair market value or nor more than fair market value, that might actually be the best deal for the organization to take. And that deal might be fine. But on the other hand, if you had other choices that were equally viable and it looks like you’re benefiting one ofyou, directors air, doing him or her a favor by renting out when it their offices and that can be problematic, and then you want to you want to factor that into the decision for that particular transaction. You have some thoughts about fund-raising expenses and how they may or may not be good or bad, excessive or or appropriate. Yeah. And there again, it’s it’s really about the care and the diligence at the board and the executive are exercising in determining what is an appropriate amount. To spend on fund-raising expenses and what is to be gained out of it sometimes you know fund-raising expenses are going to be expensive, and if you’re building a new campaign and intending to raise a lot of money, you may have to invest a lot in that to get the right people there. Tio use the right strategies for marketing, but again, you’ve got a sort of manage both what your needs are and what your donors and the public’s expectations are. Well, yeah, it’s a tricky area that’s very hard, though, because the public’s expectations air being set by thie overhead myth misconception, for instance, and what and what they do see some charities publicizing the way i think it was jacob harold, you know, said hey didn’t use the fund-raising expense example, he used the overhead ratio example, but those don’t expectations are very hard to two teo to manage well, impossible to manage their very hard to know sometimes, yeah, i think one of the questions that that has been raised on twitter around the show as well with what you know are the signatory to the overhead midst letter going to do about changing don’t expectations, and i think they’ve got limited power to do it. I mean, it’s, great to shut some sunlight on this issue, but, you know, your donors are your donors on dh you’ve got no, you know, here’s, another overhead expense that you should be spending on is educating your donors about why you’re spending the way you are on if you can tell them exactly what you’re doing and be open with it, hopefully that’s going to justify it for your particular backs of circumstances, but you can’t just simply, you know, expect donors to understand it very, very high overhead ratio initially, uh, let you know, let them figure out for themselves that it’s going to actually result in better impact and lower overhead ratios in the future. You know, companies deal with this, you know, expectations. I said it’s, impossible to manage, not manage, but i don’t know, maybe i’m splitting hairs here, but persuade mean over time, and it does take time, and it does take money. People’s perceptions do change. I mean, look, a tte political candidates who are disgraced and then, you know, win win congressional offices or running for mayor or something on dh, you know, and have a good chance of succeeding. Look at, you know, your own your governor in california, for instance, people perceptions about people can change perceptions about companies can change. Weii just have about a minute left. I mean, it can be done, but it’s a very long and i think expensive process. Yeah, i absolutely agree. And i think it is important for platforms like like this and be open the overhead mid letter and and your show, uh, tony, for people to understand, you know, overhead averages about twenty five percent across all industries in the for-profit world and thirty four percent across service industries, at least according to one major study and a lot of non-profits are scared at anything that approaches over twenty percent and, you know, maybe that’s not right. And sometimes you need the initial overhead expense to build infrastructure uh, before you move on to more efficient systems, and that means your overhead, rachel is going to be bigger as well. So educating more and more people about this through through the media, through other platforms, but also on the organizational level really, really important. Durney martignetti non-profit radio we’re trying to be the change that we want to see in the world jean takagi is principal of neo in san francisco non-profit and exempt organizations law group. You’ll find his blawg at non-profit law block dot com, and you’ll find him on twitter at g tak jean, thank you very much, as always. Thanks, tony, my pleasure. Next week, scott koegler returns he’s, our tech contributor and the editor of non-profit technology news. We’re going to talk about internal versus external social media and communications tools and platforms very much want to thank my three ceo guess the three tenors, i don’t know there were the they were like the three tenors. I don’t know which one would be pavarotti, who were the other three placido domingo and i put it in janice ah, former opera singer on the spot she can’t name the third just she can’t name the third she will as soon as we sign off, i know i’m i’m sorry, janice, if you like this show, then you’ll like my podcast, which i do for the chronicle of philanthropy. It is fund-raising fundamentals it’s monthly and it’s ten minutes each podcast and it’s on the chronicle of philanthropy website and itunes have some more lingering live listener love that io, doylestown, pennsylvania. Bethpage, new york. Port. Charlotte, florida. And tokyo, japan live listener love to all of you. Our creative producer is claire meyerhoff. Gemma’s taylor is today’s line producer. The show’s social media is by deborah askanase of community organizer two point oh, and the remote producer of tony martignetti non-profit radio is john federico of the new rules i’m loving this new music. What do you think you could tell me on the facebook page? What you think of the new music? I hope you’ll be with us next friday, one to two p, m eastern. Talking alternative broadcasting at talking alternative dot com. Duitz e-giving didn’t think the shooting. Good ending. You’re listening to the talking alternate network, waiting to get you thinking. Cubine are you a female entrepreneur? Ready to break through? Join us at sixty body sassy sol, where women are empowered to ask one received what they truly want in love, life and business. Tune in thursday, said noon eastern time to learn tips and juicy secrets from inspiring women and men who, there to define their success, get inspired, stay motivated and defying your version of giant success with sexy body sake. Sold every thursday ad. Men in new york times on talking alternative dot com. Are you suffering from aches and pains? Has traditional medicine let you down? Are you tired of taking toxic medications, then come to the double diamond wellness center and learn how our natural methods can help you to hell? Call us now at to one to seven to one eight, one eight three that’s to one to seven to one eight one eight three or find us on the web at www dot double diamond wellness dot com. We look forward to serving you. You’re listening to talking alternative network at www dot talking alternative dot com, now broadcasting twenty four hours a day. This is tony martignetti athlete named host of tony martignetti non-profit radio big non-profit ideas for the other ninety five percent technology fund-raising compliance, social media, small and medium non-profits have needs in all these areas. My guests are expert in all these areas and mohr. 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