Nonprofits need all of our help


Nonprofits need all of our help

Nonprofit companies are having a hard time of it.

Their endowments, which are largely based on investments, are shrinking as the stock market takes hit after hit. Their local, state and federal funding is getting slashed. And private donors, many of whom are businesses, are tightening up their own ships and not giving as much.

But remarkably, despite the worry about the future and concern over jobs, some people continue to give. The good folks at Saturna Capital decided to give their year-end bonuses to charity instead of putting it in their own pockets, and we can all take a page out of their book. For those of us who have jobs and businesses, we should feel fortunate in these hard times.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our new president called on a National Day of Service, where individuals rise to help our fellow citizens in need. This is a time when we all need to help each other — and especially those who are less fortunate than ourselves — because they are going to need all the help they can get.


Keep your people, avoid layoffs

It’s often said that the biggest asset a company has is its employees, and yet we are hearing news of layoffs across industries and across the country as businesses try to shore up against mounting economic woes. While this will have the short-term benefit of reducing overhead, the long-term cost is the risk of damaging company morale and the loss of trained workers. Retraining new people is expensive, and once companies start expanding again they will need to make that training investment all over again.

This can be avoided through working with employees to come up with creative solutions. If owners and managers are honest with employees about the state of a company, they might be surprised by the suggestions employees will come up with. Some possible solutions include:

Voluntary reduction of hours. Some employees could afford to drop down to part time during a slow period.

  • Unpaid leave or furloughs. We have heard of at least one local company that is allowing employees to take several weeks off during a slow period.
  • Enrolling in the state’s Shared-Work Program. While this program may be a good option for some companies, there is a waiting list. See the story on page 14.
  • Job sharing. If you have two employees who are willing to share a job for a short period of time, this may be a good option.

The key is to be flexible with employees and to allow them to participate in coming up with solutions. The long-term benefits are not only retaining employees but also encouraging them to invest themselves in the survival of the company — which benefits everyone.


Off Beat

by Rik Dalvit

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