Monthly Archives

April 2019

The Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave Act: What You Need to Know

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

On July 5, 2017, Governor Inslee signed the Washington Family and Medical Leave Act to help Washington state families. Effective on January 1, 2019, employers must comply with the act and ensure that employees have paid time off for family and medical leave. This makes Washington the fifth state to have such an act: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York already have a similar law.

Under the new law, employers with 50 more employees are required to pay the premium for the coverage. If you have fewer than 50 employees, you are not required to pay for the coverage. And, if you have more than 150 employees, there are grants you can apply for to offset the cost of wages for an employee on leave.

Want to opt out? You can, but only if you have a comparable plan in place and pay an additional $250 to the state.

What the Law Covers

The law protects an employee’s job should they need to leave for a specified period due to pregnancy, childcare, or family healthcare needs. Both employers and employees pay into the system, which is administered and maintained by the state. The premium is 0.4 percent of the employee’s wages. The benefit amount itself varies according to whether or not the employee earns more or less than the state’s average weekly wage.

How the Law May Impact Your Nonprofit Organization

The Family and Medical Leave Act covers all employees, from both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, so it’s vital for nonprofits to take note and follow the law. If your employee worked 820 or more hours during the qualifying period, they’re covered.

What exactly is covered? Benefits guaranteed under this law include:

  • 12 weeks of family or medical leave.
  • 14 weeks of family or medical leave if the employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity.
  • 16 weeks of combined family and medical leave.
  • 18 weeks of combined family and medical leave if the employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity.

Premium withholding began on January 1, 2019. If you haven’t collected premiums yet, you can start at any time, but guess what? You’ll be on the hook for them. Employees can receive up to 90% of their salary if they take advantage of the leave, but the amount varies according to whether or not they are paid more or less than the state’s average wage for a week.

So how does a nonprofit prepare for the act? First, take a moment to read the booklet prepared by Washington State for employers. It’s easy to understand and walks you through how you should calculate and collect the premiums.

You will need to report the following information quarterly. The reporting periods are aligned with Unemployment Insurance reporting to make it easier.

  • UBI number
  • Business name
  • Total premiums collected from employees
  • Name of the report preparer
  • First and last name of the employee
  • Social security or ITIN number
  • Wages paid
  • Associated hours

This information is kept on file to help the state track eligible employees. When an employee takes advantage of the leave, they are paid by Washington State, not by your nonprofit.

Washington, along with the other four states who already have similar laws, is taking steps to offset any hardships caused by family situations that may disrupt employment for its citizens. As an employer, it’s up to you to follow the simple guidelines for reporting and record keeping. Together, the state and its employers can help protect citizens from undue financial hardship during life-changing events.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Automate Nonprofit Processes with Excel 2019

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Excel has come a long way since its introduction into the business world in 1985. The 2019 edition includes 12 updates that transform it from a simple spreadsheet tool into a robust office software capable of 3D rendering and more. Here, we present the highlights of the latest version of Excel.

Five Exciting Highlights of the New Excel 2019

  1. Automated workflow: The new version of Excel connects through Microsoft Flow, which enables data to be retrieved from other applications and stored and manipulated in Excel. Data can be programmed to send to others as well, via third-party applications. Flow can gather data from any third party application including ERP systems, CRM systems, weather forecasts, and more, so the potential for its use is enormous.
  2. 3D images: This new feature is hard to put into words, so you might want to check it out for yourself. Excel now enables you to incorporate pictures from their database into your spreadsheets and rotate them to form 3D images. There’s a video of this available from the Journal of Accountancy that shows you just this new feature in action.
  3. Build custom functions: If you know JavaScript, you can now build custom functions into Excel. Excel already lets users create functions with Visual Basic, but now Microsoft has enabled JavaScript programming. It’s more widely available and commonly used than Visual Basic, and offers a great deal of flexibility in Excel.
  4. Map and chart improvements: Map improvements allow you to display maps in many ways, including flat or curved displays. Chart improvements include color-coded heat maps, the ability to control axis information on funnel charts, and more.
  5. Form improvements: If you use Excel to prepare forms, you’re in luck! Form improvements in the 2019 edition include the ability to produce surveys, polls, and quizzes. You can use Excel similarly to other popular form tools and integrate the responses into spreadsheets for easier use. To apply the new form improvements, visit Microsoft online New Form.

Other improvements to Excel include co-authoring, which enables people collaborating on documents to include their names, 500 new built-in icons to create dashboards and infographics, and full SVG support, which means that graphics won’t pixelate as they once did. It’s bringing Microsoft Excel up to data in many ways.

Excel for Nonprofit Organizations

Microsoft Excel continues to be a popular software choice for nonprofit organizations. It’s inexpensive, plays well with other Microsoft software, and provides a standard format for sharing information with colleagues, consultants, and others who may require access to your data.

Although it is limited compared with specialized systems for nonprofits, the enhancements to the 2019 version of Excel make it an excellent tool for many standard functions in the nonprofit office environment.

  1. Basic reports: When used in conjunction with an accounting program, Excel can be used to create charts, graphs, and other reports that make data easy to understand.
  2. Grant tracking: Use Excel spreadsheets to track grant applications, progress towards completion of grant applications, and other vital metrics.
  3. Mailing lists: Mailing lists can be tracked on spreadsheets too. Name, address, and other information merges smoothly with label-printing functions in Microsoft Word to enable you to generate your mailing labels and get news sent out promptly.

Microsoft Excel has definitely come a long way since its early days. It’s much more than spreadsheets. It’s an office productivity tool that helps you organize, work with, and share data of all types.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

The Importance of Social Media Policies

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Do you know the name Justine Sacco? Justine made the news when she made what she considered a joke on social media. The PR executive sent a poorly worded tweet out on her feed, and the world saw it. They also condemned it. We won’t bother repeating it here (and we don’t want to) but suffice to say, it’s not the kind of attention you want for your nonprofit organization.

Justine’s story, and that of many other people who made bloopers on social media, underscore the need for all businesses, but especially nonprofit organizations, to have social media policies in place. These policies should be carefully crafted and reviewed with everyone associated with your organization. An ounce of prevention, especially in the case of a nonprofit and social media, is worth a pound of cure. In an age when one poorly worded tweet can ruin a woman’s career, a poorly timed or badly worded social media post can shatter the hard-won reputation of a nonprofit organization.

What Are Social Media Policies?

Social media policies are guidelines that spell out when, how, and what may be shared on social media. They certainly apply to the people guiding social media efforts at your organization, but they should also guide all employees who post online.

People may not realize that even during their “off hours” they may still be viewed as a representative of the organization. Certainly, people have the right to free expression. But when that free expression crosses the line into casting doubt on a nonprofit organization’s mission, vision, or efficacy, it should be taken seriously.

Policies on social media may include:

  • What is—and what’s not—acceptable to share on company pages
  • Guidelines for public posts on employee social media pages
  • Guidelines for board members and others involved at an executive level with an organization

Don’t Just Prohibit Social Media Behaviors – Encourage Good Ones, Too!

Policies are fine, but there’s another side to the social media coin: social media can be used to encourage positive behaviors, too.

For example, employees and board members may be great advocates for your organization’s mission. Instead of worrying about what they will say and how they will say it, provide them with appropriate graphics and messages to share across their social media pages.

It doesn’t take long to generate 10-20 messages that the organization approves and that can be widely shared by everyone at your nonprofit. By providing people with positive, share-worthy items, you’ll help steer the message in the right direction without coming down too hard on people who honestly want to promote the organization (but may not have the best way of doing it).

Choose Social Media Representatives

Like all public-facing or marketing initiatives, there should be someone who can represent the organization well and guide the content appropriately. Choose one or, at most, two people to handle your overall social media work. These people should be trusted members of your marketing team and deeply involved in the organization’s work so that they can message it adequately across social media.

Guide Use of Images, Memes, and Third-Party Content

Another often overlooked aspect of social media posts is the sharing or use of third-party content. Sharing links to approved third-party content is appropriate. For example, an environmentally-focused nonprofit may develop a list of recommended websites from which team members may find and share links on social media platforms.

However, copying pictures from the internet and using them to illustrate your social media posts isn’t legal and may construe copyright infringement, unless the images are licensed for social media use. It’s safest to use images you’ve taken yourself or pictures which have a clear license agreement and are licensed to your organization.

Social Media: Use Wisely

Social media offers numerous ways in which nonprofit organizations can connect with the world and share their mission. Used wisely, it offers a great way to promote your cause, connect with members and donors, and share great information. With the right guidelines and policies in place and strong leadership at the helm, you can have a strong social media presence.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.