Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

The Foraker Group Blog

There is a common saying: “It is lonely at the top.” I have been contemplating this saying as I enter my 18th year in leadership, including my two and a half years as Foraker’s CEO. I’m thinking about this mostly because of hard conversations I’ve had recently with Alaska leaders, and because of studies like Daring to Lead, which suggests new CEOs often leave their jobs during their third year because they feel isolated. I am also thinking about it because while there are certainly times I experience isolation, for the most part this is an experience I have managed to avoid.

What can make leadership less lonely? And how do we stay and thrive in our work? Some research points to creating environments of support. We believe in this so much we have created programs that focus on support, including our Executive Leadership Initiative that is customized for executives in their first three years of work. We are recruiting for this program now. So, if that means you, give us a call.

We know support works, but shy of taking on a program to create support, I have narrowed down four other factors that are often missing for many CEOs, but can individually or collectively alleviate loneliness.

  1. A true partnership with the board of directors
  2. A supportive and honest board chair
  3. A clear process for feedback and evaluation
  4. Support – support – support

A true partnership with the board of directors

The single most important work the board does is hire the right staff leader at the right time for the organization. This is quickly followed by their next most important job – working as a partner with the CEO. In the Foraker Nonprofit Sustainability Model, we talk candidly about the critical need for board/CEO balance – action taken each day to treat each other as partners in the work of mission stewardship. Partnership means, of course, that there is trust, communication, and effective decision making. It also means that the board and staff take turns leading, depending on the issues. None of this is easy as it comes in hues of gray instead of black and white. The way one group does it will look different from another. And the way the group does it today will change every time there is significant turnover in the board or a change in staff leadership. This is the work.

You likely know far too many boards and CEOs who don’t think this is the work and their behavior in these relationships can range from deflection and avoidance to all out hostility. Mostly the rational for this path is based on good intentions, regardless of bad behavior. It is a rare CEO or board member who purposely intends to harm the mission. Still, bad behavior is more normal than not. If this sounds familiar, and you are a CEO, ask yourself how much time you are spending on your relationship with your board and is it enough to achieve and sustain a high performing team? It likely takes far more time than we prioritize. If you are on a board, and you are seeing a high churn of CEOs and fellow board members, ask yourself: “Do my intentions and my behavior match? How am I building trust by working as a partner with the CEO?” We are a team, and teamwork takes effort from everyone. Some of the loneliest CEOs I know don’t feel they have a team.

A supportive and honest board chair

How did you get your board chair? Was that person in the room when they were elected? Had they been on the board for more than a year? Did they know what it meant to be board chair? I often joke that the best way to become board chair is to go to the bathroom or miss a meeting. We all laugh at this because we recognize how true it is. And yet, this function is so critical to the health of both the CEO relationship and the functionality of the full board. There is often little guidance given to the chair about his or her role. There are a few lines in our bylaws that often describe the role, but rarely a complete and current job description to match the organizational culture and capacity. Often no succession plan is in place. Again, remembering that this position is critical to a healthy CEO relationship with the board, picking carefully and planning ahead is worth making time to do.

While the CEO needs to have a relationship with each board member (partly the reason for taking 20% of your time), in most nonprofits the closest relationship is between the CEO and the board chair. From my own experience, I find that this relationship is a monthly opportunity to work together to craft the board agenda, spearhead difficult conversations, and navigate the full board meeting to achieve successful outcomes and create a rapport for honest two-way feedback. For too many CEOs it is luck alone that makes this work, rather than a strategic and thoughtful approach. If you are the board chair, or are contemplating assuming that role, consider the support that will make the work meaningful, energizing, and affective. If you are flying without guidance, consider working on a job description for the position. You can start with our template but make sure it’s real for the organization you serve.

A clear process for feedback and evaluation

Perhaps the biggest contributor to the “lonely at the top” phenomena is lack of feedback. The feedback cycle can be a gift or a distraction. It can be helpful and forward focused, or harmful and punitive. We have seen it all. We have also seen a complete absence of any type of evaluation for the CEO, usually because the board fails to make it a priority even when the CEO directly asks for it. The feedback process can and likely should take many forms. Monthly calls with the board chair is a way to get immediate feedback from the full board. What I value about this process is its regularity and timelessness. It is so much easier to change course when I can hear the issues as they arise. Waiting months or a full year for an evaluation means that small issues can become big, and big issues can become untenable.

The CEO also needs candid and timely feedback from staff. The culture we instill with our team says a lot about how this information comes to us. I recently had someone tell me that I was receiving the gift of difficult feedback because of how much my team wants me to succeed. Without hesitation I agreed and took the gift carefully to contemplate and act with new intention. This is a journey as CEOs we can go on again and again. It is not an accident to receive honest feedback, both the praise and the constructive. As the CEO, I understand that I can shut down the feedback loop or I can stay open and available to learning. It isn’t easy, but oh so valuable to ensure mission is best served.

As a CEO, consider how you are hearing feedback and what you do with it. Are you allowed to fail forward and learn from mistakes, or are you left wondering how it looks from the board and staff perspectives? What can you ask for? What is your role in getting it? If you are on a board, ask yourself, when is the last time the board provided helpful feedback?? Don’t save evaluation just for the challenging issues – use it to let your CEO know they are doing a great job. They don’t hear that often enough.

A safe environment for support

As I mentioned earlier, and perhaps in most of my articles, I am a firm believer in the value of excellent support. What I talk less often about is the need for safety as a key ingredient to support. Safe support is as much about confidentiality as it is about comfort. It is about telling the truth to yourself and others and being heard. It is about listening, not judging, and it is likely more than anything about the ability to bring one’s whole self into a relationship. Safe support is the maxim that drives me to seek support for myself and to provide support to others every day. There are certainly plenty of CEOs and board members who believe that support is a sign of weakness, but I wonder if that brand of support is safe. What I have seen instead is that safe support can be the antidote to loneliness and the energy for inspiration. Support comes in many forms for a CEO. It can be a coach, or a mentor, or a peer. It can be formal and informal. In our Executive Leadership Initiative program we talk about formal support in the following ways:

If you are the CEO seeking formal support, consider what way works best for you right now given the other three factors we just discussed. If you are a board member, consider offering these options to the CEO by creating room in the budget to fund it or by creating an expectation that they will use some of their work day to get it. Not all support takes money to achieve, but it all takes time. This is what I call “go slow to go fast” time. The return on the investment of time will come back tenfold in mission impact, job satisfaction, and less isolation.

Being the leader doesn’t mean it has to be lonely. What will be your next step?

 

On November 9, House Republicans unveiled their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1). Our colleagues at the Montana Nonprofit Association prepared an excellent analysis on the impact of the legislation on nonprofits. With thanks to MNA, we share their thoughts here.

The 429-page bill carries many implications for nonprofits and private foundations. MNA is concerned about two provisions in particular. First, the partial repeal of the Johnson Amendment erodes nonprofit nonpartisanship. Second, the standard deduction is doubled, which almost decimates charitable giving incentives for all but 5% of taxpayers. The bill will be marked up in the next few days, so now is the time to be very clear with our congressional delegation on the impact of these provisions. Join us in advocacy that protects the nonprofit sector.

Foraker agrees with MNA and we call on Alaska nonprofits to get in touch with our delegation – see contact information below.

H.R. 1 Weakens the Johnson Amendment 

The Johnson Amendment is a law currently in place which protects nonprofits by ensuring we cannot and do not endorse candidates for office. H.R. 1 includes language that would significantly weaken the protection from partisan politics that has for decades enabled charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations to remain focused on their missions without an overshadowing partisan agenda. As written, the new provision (Sec. 5201) grants a partial exemption from the Johnson Amendment to houses of worship and their auxiliary organizations. The bill potentially changes the nature of faith-based organizations by allowing political candidate endorsements from “the pulpit.” This not only erodes public trust in the charitable nonprofit sector as nonpartisan, but also includes ambiguous language which lends itself to abuse and an increase in dark money in campaigns. As if we need more of that. 

Foraker joins with MNA in requesting that the Johnson Amendment be retained in the current tax code.

H.R. 1 Hurts Individual Philanthropy 

The House tax reform legislation only nominally retains the existing itemized deduction for charitable donations. Here’s how it works: the bill increases the standard deduction to $24,400 for couples and half that, $12,200, for individuals, up from $12,700 and $6,350, respectively. However, by nearly doubling the standard deduction, it effectively puts this important incentive to give out of reach for an estimated 95 percent of American taxpayers. This decrease in the number of people who itemize would result in a decrease in charitable giving in the U.S. by up to $13 billion annually, according to a study from the Lilly School of Philanthropy. The measure fails to include a universal deduction or other incentive sought by a broad coalition of nonprofits and foundations that would enable all Americans to receive a tax incentive for giving back to their communities. This is especially important in Montana where we stand to lose more itemizers because our income is lower than in other states. Another blow to rural philanthropy. 

Foraker strongly encourages Alaska nonprofits to review this analysis from MNA along with information from the National Council of Nonprofits and the International Association of Fundraising Professionals AFP. Then call our delegation and let them know how this proposal would affect your ability to carry out your mission. They will care about the impact on Alaskans and our communities. AFP has developed talking points that you can use to help tell your own story.

If you have questions, please contact Mike Walsh, Foraker Vice President of Public Policy, at mwalsh@forakergroup.org. Below is how you reach each member of the delegation.

 

A special thanks to those who who donated to Foraker through Pick.Click.Give.!

We’re honored that our work is among the causes you care most about – together we are creating a thriving nonprofit sector that meets diverse community needs across the state.

Thank you all!:

  • Stephanie Allen
  • Lisa Aquino
  • Bruce Botelho
  • Angela Cox
  • Patuk Glenn
  • Zane Jones
  • Diane Kaplan
  • Gabe Layman
  • Jillian Lush
  • Jordan Marshall
  • Joel Neimeyer
  • Joan O’Keefe
  • Deena Bishop
  • Rebecca Savidis
  • Chellie Skoog
  • Joy Steward
  • John Van Alstine
  • Bernie Washington
  • Laurie Wolf
  • Anonymous x2

 

Tax reform is taking center stage in Washington. The administration and House of Representatives have released their Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code, which proposes maintaining tax deductions for charitable donations. On the surface this is good news, but a closer look by the National Council of Nonprofits and the international Association of Fundraising Professionals has raised significant concerns.

Don’t delay – act now. Here’s what you need to know.

According to the Council, one provision – doubling the standard deduction – would reduce the value of charitable deductions because far fewer people would be able to take advantage of them. Currently, 33% of Americans itemize when they pay their federal taxes. AFP points out that the proposed change reduces to 5% the number of people who would be eligible to itemize – that translates to a loss of 30 million itemizers.

Think of what this could mean to your organization.

We strongly encourage you to review information from the Council and AFP. Then call our delegation and let them know how this proposal would affect your ability to carry out your mission. They will care about the impact on Alaskans and our communities. AFP has developed talking points that you can use to help tell your own story.

If you have questions, please contact Mike Walsh, Foraker Vice President of Public Policy, at mwalsh@forakergroup.org. Below is how you reach each member of the delegation.

As we close in on winter in Alaska, each of us is doing our seasonal work of filling freezers and shelves with food, storing lawn furniture and securing our outside environment from the impending wind and snow, calculating how long until we need to switch our tires over to combat icy snow-roads, and generally realigning ourselves and our families for the season to come. We go through these motions with equal amount of routine and stress – like working out a muscle we haven’t used in a few months. It’s hard and takes effort, but it’s familiar. In this change of season, we respond accordingly.

In our nonprofit work environment, we also know this fall season. There are things we do at this time of year because our boards are back from fishing and extended weekends, and our staff is firmly planted back in the office as their children go back to school and the summer adventures are fading into memories. Now is the time to take a deep breath and get into your fall routine.

Of course, the mission didn’t take a summer vacation so it is not the daily operations that need dusting off. It’s the difficult, but predictable tasks that need our attention now.  What are the things you can prioritize each fall? Here are my 5 recommendations:

  1. Get your finances in order. For those not on a July 1 fiscal year, fall is the time for all the other groups to accomplish their final budgets to meet the October 1 or January 1 deadlines. Surprisingly there are still groups operating without an annual budget. If that is you, read this article I wrote in June about the importance of budgeting. Budgeting is critical to being financially responsible for mission and so is an annual external “look.” For mid to large budget organizations, this means that fall is typically audit season. Yep, that time of year when a collection of professionals in well pressed clothes show up in our spaces and do the critical work of helping us understand if our systems are in full working order. This is the equivalent of a good tune-up as we enter another season. Are all systems “go,” or is there room for improvement? Auditors are a true gift when they do their due diligence, and we are open to their work. For some this is a nerve wracking experience because they understand there is work to do or because they were handed a mess from a predecessor. But for all of us, the external perspective is critical to our job as mission stewards. If you are not getting the most from this experience, we recommend these questions to consider asking as you walk through the process.
    • What are the opportunities for improvements?
    • What will we do to improve our internal processes and build efficiencies? SO that… we can be better!
    • Have we done our best? If not, what needs to change?
    • Are there changes to our workflow, tracking mechanisms, or operations that will allow for more efficient and effective management/stewardship of our resources all year long – not just when we’re prepping for audit?

The goal of these questions is to move from anxiety around audit to competence and confidence throughout the year. For those of you not engaging in an audit, the lessons still apply and we still strongly suggest that you get an outsider to review your process. That can be from a trusted member of your finance committee who is not on your board, or by asking a financial firm for a review which is less in-depth and less costly but still provides an important level of feedback and oversight. Your job as board and staff is to be financially responsible to the public’s trust in you—especially when it comes to money. How will you ensure this is a valuable experience and not just the equivalent of getting caught in a snowstorm unprepared?

  1. Stoke the fire and reserve the meeting space – this time of year means it’s time to schedule a board retreat. Sure we can do these knee-deep into winter but the season starts now and you will want to make the most of it. In Alaska, when our average board members are serving on three or four boards at any given time, and then they also want a life, scheduling a board retreat is likely the most difficult part of the adventure. But oh, the rewards can be sweet. Actual space to listen and learn, to connect and grow, to strategize and plan. Having facilitated hundreds of these each season, my team and I know the gift of a thoughtful space. The time to be, what Richard Chait refers to as “generative” (source: Governance as Leadership) – when we have room in our connection with each other to ask “why” and not just “what” or “how.” The gift of “why” means we typically ask a better question about our work and connect deeper to its meaning. The gift of “why” often means our goals in our plans are more grounded and less reactionary. The gift of “why” means we are likely to use our time in equal measure to build our team and make real plans. Retreats don’t have to be fancy or expensive – sure those happen, too – but the common denominator we see more in successful retreats include these few things:
    • The board and staff leadership have a voice in the planning and defining success. Too often the CEO or board chair have very different views about what is most important – creating space up front to define success pays big dividends on engagement.
    • If it is a board retreat the majority of people at the session are board members rather than staff. Too often staff overpower the board members and either do the majority of talking or define a detailed agenda, never creating a generative space for board members.
    • Our job notwithstanding, we believe strongly in an external facilitator – even if you are an expert or even if one of your board members can do it. Having an external person facilitate your space means you and your team can focus on each other. Importantly, it also means that the board or staff member who might be the facilitator instead gets to be an equal voice in the room. If hiring an external person is not possible for any number of reasons, consider rotating roles during your retreat so you can maximize the roles and voices in the room. Each retreat agenda will look different. For many of you the topic of the day will be planning for the future either long-term or near-team, for others it will be skill-building or diving into a meaty topic that needs considerable attention and depth. Whatever is on the agenda, make sure you add a healthy dose of fun, connection, and reflection.
    • Place matters. One of the gifts of a retreat is that it isn’t in your regular room – wherever that might be. So get creative on a budget or do a once a year mini-splurge – wherever it is, remember the environment matters in how we engage .Our space sets a tone and will absolutely influence the agenda. Be thoughtful and match your space to your goals.
    • Finally, eat. Trust is often built over a shared meal. Again, you can go potluck or popcorn or catered delights. Every organization has its own culture and food is one of the ways we see that in action. The groups who take a moment or two to share some food find not only their bodies fueled for the work but their energy is renewed from the shared experience.
  2. Speaking of renewing our energy and our spirit, the fall brings us the season to focus on philanthropy. A Latin word meaning love of humankind, fall is when we gear up as organizations to renew or create healthy habits for people. I am often asked if there is a season of giving and in this regard Alaskans are no different than our friends around the country – fall is our season and our job as organizations is to be as donor focused as possible. The inside-speak of “annual giving” is externally what donors and potential donors experience as an opportunity to invest in the causes and missions they care about on a regular and consistent basis. This is a whole newsletter article or 10 in and of itself, but suffice it to say, this is our season to be implementing our donor recognition, communication, and solicitation efforts. As you plan your year-end strategies, remember to always start at home with your board before reaching out to your donors and then your potential donors. Remember as well that there is no such thing as one size fits all fundraising strategies, so success means focusing first on a clearly identified person or group of people and matching your strategies to them. This kind of approach will necessitate the need for a clear plan. If you are new to fund development planning, check out our blog on the topic or give us a call. I promise you that going slow in this season means going fast all the seasons to come.

And, for those of you preparing to welcome donors through Pick.Click.Give. starting on January 1, this is the perfect time to brush up on the latest messages and tools of the program and to fully integrate it into your overall fund development planning. Foraker is a devoted partner to the Pick.Click.Give. program at the Alaska Community Foundation and we are offering classes as an addition to the great tools you can get straight from the Pick.Click.Give. team.

While we often think of this as the season of “asking,” I invite you to consider this as a season of “thanking” as well. I have yet to meet an organization that is satisfied with their donor recognition efforts, which means most all of us could do a better job at making sure our current donors, volunteers, and team feel thanked for the gifts that they give. This step is so very important before we move into asking people to invest their time and financial resources again into mission. This coming season we will be launching a new course on donor recognition. I hope you will join us.

  1. As we contemplate the full cycle of our donor relationships, this is also the season we solidify our relationship strategies with our policy makers both nationally, statewide, and locally. With the legislative session beginning in January, and Congress moving into full swing this season, now is the time to determine your public policy priorities. For those of you traveling to DC, your tickets are likely purchased and your appointments are on the books. But there are plenty more who are new to this role and are just getting comfortable with the notion that public policy is a requirement of good mission stewardship. Whichever camp you are in, as I have said so many times before, public policy advocacy is no longer a luxury for us, but a requirement of our work. This is the time to engage our boards, staff, and volunteers in our key strategies. A few reminders that we find helpful in our own work:
    • Stay focused. In this political environment both locally and nationally there are so many areas to grab your attention. Pick a few and be powerful and clear.
    • Do your math and know the financial return and the social return on government funding at every level – not just how much you save but how much you generate as a result of your efforts. The nonprofit sector is an economic driver not a drain on the economy. Our sector is a powerful partner to government at every level. Let’s get better at telling that story.
    • Be a fantastic advisor on efficiencies and economies of scale. Pull a chair up to the policy table and offer your best suggestions. If cutting is the name of the game, be the one to offer the creative solution that actually improves lives and our communities rather than letting the sound-byte win the day. Those answers are rarely fixes and often do greater harm.
    • Remember you are part of a larger sector and a broader ecosystem. Your job is not organizational survival, it is about mission results. So focus on an abundant model rather than one of scarcity and competition. Just because you are being asked to compete doesn’t mean that is how you have to show up.

This is a short list of four, and I bet you have your own list that could add some more seasonal tasks. I would love to know what is on your mission list. I also want to share one more from my own seasonal routine that gives me the added push to do my lists.

  1. Each fall, as winter creeps down the mountains and I grab every last ray of sunshine, and my days fill with all of the regular mission work and all of the seasonal work that I just described, I remind myself that self-care is mission work. So I make sure that I have one thing in my own self-care tool box. I “have tickets.” This is the phrase we use in my family to refer to the goal of knowing what the break looks like. The tickets could be metaphorical or physical, the intention is the same – a break to renew and recharge for the next season. For me, it usually looks like a deep winter moment of cashing in my Alaska airline mileage and finding some sunshine. It could also easily mean a staycation in fuzzy slippers – the destination and the vehicle is less important than the goal of personal care. So, as we embark on this season of doing our work and our seasonal list, I invite you to add one more – get your ticket to self-care. This is the ticket to renewing your energy for the next season.

Have you seen the new Pick.Click.Give. communication toolkit? Use logos, shareable images, email signatures, postcard templates and more to promote your organization to your stakeholders and donors! You can find this great resource on the Pick.Click.Give website.

The challenges in this world today are many. They come in the form of weather disasters, war, climate change, human action, and many other causes. There are so many critical areas that call to us for action, it’s easy to understand how we can feel distressed and inadequate in the face of such overwhelming events. Today, I join you in considering how to respond in a way that helps us restore our energy, renew our faith, and strengthen our resolve to continue our critical work.

There are no magic answers to these questions. But in the midst of disasters around the world, we are hearing and seeing stories of remarkable heroism by individuals and nonprofit organizations mobilizing in unprecedented ways to support and stand up for those who have fallen. Some of these people and organizations train for these days and are ready to act, but many more of us are left to consider the immediate possibilities of what matters most, and then take action.

And when it does matter most, some of you will use words to both calm and inspire others to action – others will use personal action or organizational action to model behavior. The injustice of our past and present will motivate us, the needs of those we serve will motivate us, the rights of people and our planet will motivate us, the ethics and integrity of our work will motivate us, and the plight of our neighbor, co-worker, family, and stranger will call us to action. We cannot avoid a crisis completely, but how we choose to respond is a choice we all get to make.

So, are you ready? Are you ready to respond with a voice of stability while acknowledging urgency? Are you ready to respond with a voice of solution while acknowledging deep seated problems? Are you prepared to offer hope while acknowledging sadness and grief? How will you answer these questions for yourself and your organization? These are hard questions and likely harder to answer. That is okay, the goal is to begin to consider them today so you are prepared for tomorrow. I encourage you to join with your team – board and staff – and consider the possibilities together.

I also want to suggest one action you can take right now. Please consider donating money to one or more of the many nonprofits doing remarkable work in the face of disaster. We join with you to send our good energy and our personal donations to the flooded families and people in Houston, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan and those now in the path of Hurricane Irma. We are also with those enduring fire, smoke, and extreme heat in California, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington and the communities in Mexico devastated by the recent earthquake. We know that Alaska nonprofit staff and volunteers, rescue personnel and firefighters are on the ground in affected areas in this country. They have joined incredible local teams in each of the affected regions. Please do what you can to support their heroic work. Stay connected and informed about ways to engage and do your homework before making an investment. Remember that overhead is part of ensuring a great mission and if you want amazing people on the ground doing critical work you have to be willing to invest in them.

Thank you. I may not have a perfect answer for you today, but I am grateful for all of the work I see carried out by extraordinary people and organizations and this brings me energy and inspiration. Our team is grateful for all your efforts, both in a time of disaster and every day. Please take a moment to find your balance in this unstable time, and know we stand ready to assist your mission efforts every step of the way.

The federal judge in Texas who temporarily enjoined the Obama Administration’s Overtime Final Rule late last year ruled this week that the Final Rule is invalid because the U.S. Department of Labor exceeded its authority in setting a high salary-level test that denied exempt status to executive, administrative, and professional employees without regard to their job duties. The judge interpreted the Fair Labor Standards Act as granting the Labor Department the authority to define and limit the white-collar exemptions based primarily on the duties they perform. Because the Overtime Final Rule would have revoked the exempt status of four million workers based solely on the increase in the salary level and without regard to the work they perform, the judge invalidated the rule.

Today’s ruling in State of Nevada v. U.S. Department of Labor was expected. The main question was how the judge would rule on whether or not the Labor Department has the authority to set any salary-level test. Currently, the salary level is set in regulations at $455/week and has not been changed since 2004.

What does this mean?
The decision is exactly what the current Labor Department had sought this spring – a ruling that the Obama Overtime Final Rule (and the salary level threshold of $913/week) is invalid, but that the Department does have the power to set a salary threshold at some level. The Request for Information (RFI) published in July appears to anticipate this week’s result because many of the questions relate to how to adjust the salary-level test for inflation and what changes to the duties tests, if any, are appropriate.

As we have been advising, nonprofits need to review the RFI and submit comments to the Labor Department by the close of the public comment period on Monday, September 25. For more information, including background on current law and annotations that explain several of the questions presented in the RFI, see the National Council of Nonprofits analysis, Labor Department Reopens White-Collar Salary Exemption for Comments.

Tomorrow we mark the 97th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. While we have seen much progress in rights for women, we know work still needs to be done. At Foraker, we are committed to this work with many others like the YWCA – especially in the area of pay equity.

To add to the conversation, earlier this year we conducted research and prepared a report on pay equity in Alaska’s nonprofit sector. You can find that report here.

Please join us in celebrating our achievements and re-committing to further advancing equity in our sector and others in Alaska.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register seeking comments from the public about how the white-collar regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act should be updated. The Obama Administration had sought to revise the same regulations in 2016, but that effort was blocked by a federal court late last year. Under current law, employees working in a “bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity” are not eligible for overtime pay.

Federal regulations determine which employees fall within those categories. In most cases, employees will be considered exempt from overtime if (1) the employee is paid on a salary basis (“salary basis test”); (2) the employee receives at least a minimum specified salary amount (“salary level test”) which is currently set at $455/week; and (3) the employee’s job primarily involves executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (“duties test”).

The questions posed by the Labor Department in the new Request for Information give the public the opportunity to weigh in on whether and how those tests should be changed in future DOL rulemaking. The deadline for submitting comments to the Department is September 25, 2017.

We urge all Alaska nonprofits to review the DOL request and submit your comments by the September deadline.

If you have questions please contact Foraker HR Director Rebecca Savidis at 907-743-1200, or rsavidis@forakergroup.org.

bottom