May 23, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Paying Overtime

By the end of this year, the updated rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be in place and for the most part, nonprofits are no exception. We are taking a look at the new guidelines from the Department of Labor and what it means for your organization. The key change includes:

  • Salaried workers paid up to $47,476 annually must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a work week
  • The new rules go into effect starting December 1

The overtime final rule is the first update to overtime regulations in nearly 12 years, doubling the maximum salary allowed for overtime pay. While its intended to boost the middle class and guarantee fair wages, there are concerns about the quick pace of the transition in the nonprofit sector. It gives organizations little time to prepare and plan for the financial impact and ensure their services to those in need are not affected. In September The Independent Sector submitted comments to the Department of Labor, supporting fair wages while expressing concern about the proposed rule.  The Independent Sector suggested moving to a phased-in implementation, revising the terms of federal grants and contracts with nonprofit organizations, allowing for regional market differences to the proposed salary threshold; and implementing an open process for any changes to the duties test.

The new overtime rule can be a gray area, especially for nonprofits. 

The Department of Labor shared guidance and specific guidelines for nonprofit organizations. First and foremost, for employees to meet the requirements to be paid overtime they must fall under the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees would be covered automatically by the FLSA if they’re working for an organization that’s considered a covered enterprise, meaning it generates at least $500,000 in revenue each year; generally many nonprofits are not considered a covered enterprise.
However, the Department of Labor states that while many nonprofit organizations may not be covered, their employees may be covered individually based on the nature of their work.
Here’s an example:

If an employee regularly calls an out-of-state store and uses a credit card to purchase food for a nonprofit that provides free meals for the homeless, that employee is protected by the FLSA on an individual basis, even though the nonprofit may not be covered.
Other duties that make employees eligible for the FLSA include:

  • Making out-of-state phone calls
  • Receiving/sending interstate mail or electronic communications
  • Ordering or receiving goods from an out-of-state supplier
  • Handling credit card transactions or performing the accounting or bookkeeping for such activities

The Department of Labor clarifies that if any of the scenarios listed above are considered an isolated situation, then the employee isn’t necessarily covered by the FLSA. The bottom line is: nonprofits are not exempt from the new guidelines. The Department of Labor acknowledges this can be a burden on organizations and suggests nonprofits make changes to lessen the potential impact by raising salaries that are already close to the threshold of $47,476, or reorganizing workloads and schedules.
The guidelines take effect December 1, with more changes slated in the coming years. The salary thresholds will be updated every three years beginning in 2020.

Want to learn more? The Independent Sector is hosting two webinars focused on the changes and what they mean for you. 







Refugees to MI

At this moment, millions of people in Syria are in desperate need of humanitarian help, living in unimaginable conditions and surrounded by violence. Even for the men, women and children who manage to escape the war torn region, many as refugees, the strife doesn’t end and they still need help. With thousands of refugees seeking new lives and new homes in the U.S., a large number have resettled in Michigan with more to come. Our state will likely see a surge of Syrian refugees in the coming months as the Obama administration works to meet its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September. So far, many resettlement agencies in our state have not seen the numbers they anticipated and with the looming deadline set for a total of 10,000, we may see a spike in refugee resettlements.
Michigan has served as a new home for refugees from all around the globe as it continues to rank among the top states in the U.S. for refugee resettlements.

Syrian Crisis: The numbers

  • Michigan has resettled 386 Syrian refugees since the beginning of 2015, more than any other state
  • 12 percent of the Syrian refugees who have come to the U.S. since last year have resettled in Michigan

We know it’s an urgent issue. In the past few years, several of our CMF members have ranked among the top foundations awarding grants to help with refugee programs in our state. We have seen grants support medical and education programs as well as advocacy for refugees. West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center has also received grants to help refugee students with their studies as well as support them as they experience an enormous cultural change. Work is being done around our state to help these families find their voice and a safe home where they can grow and learn. If you would like to get involved, there are many agencies who connect refugees to legal services, opportunities to learn English, banking assistance and much more. It starts on the ground level with simple items for a household to learning many life skills.

  • St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing helps refugees in their resettlement process from the moment they step off the plane.
  • Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids recently started Hope Farms, a job training farm program for refugee farmers to gain skills for employment while growing food for their families.
  • The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) offers a Refugee Health Empowerment Program to connect refugees with career paths in healthcare.
  • Global Detroit has developed strategies and programs to make the area more welcoming to refugees and immigrants, with a focus on empowering immigrant communities while boosting economic development.
  • Welcome Michigan is another organization that strives to help Michigan feel like home for immigrants and refugees.

It’s crucial that the resettlement programs around our state continue to develop in order to give the families fleeing conflict the resources they need to thrive.








Giving Outlook

Charitable giving by foundations, individuals, corporations and others in Michigan and across the nation remains on track to grow by 4.1 percent this year and another 4.3 percent in 2017, according to a recent report. While “The Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017,” shows continued growth, it also reveals factors that may positively or negatively affect giving.  Michigan giving trends may be impacted by a range of areas and issues including; upcoming elections, the Flint water crisis, Detroit’s improving business climate, and the Detroit Public Schools’ poor financial situation.Researchers say a tumultuous political season can lead to decreased giving. On the other hand, a calm political and business climate is an incentive for increased funding. One vital area that’s seen strong support is education. Across the board education has been experiencing the strongest trend in receiving philanthropic grants and giving. “Nationally, we project stronger growth in giving to education in 2016 and 2017 than in overall giving or in any of the sources of giving," Una Osili, director of research for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy said. Osili said that may be attributed to increased interest from donors in funding higher education and K-12 support. Another usually strong area for giving in Michigan – environmental causes – is expected to attract donor dollars. Want more? Read the full report.








The Community Foundation for Muskegon County Launches Celebrate Community! Prize

Excerpted from an Mlive article, read the full article here.

The Community Foundation for Muskegon County is offering a $10,000 grant to help support a program that makes Muskegon a better place to live.
The Celebrate Community prize is meant to highlight, support and reward an organization in the community that is doing outstanding work in three key areas:

  • Creating an inclusive community, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Enhancing relationships among diverse populations so that everyone can fully participate in all Muskegon County area has to offer.
  • Creating hope and opportunity for Muskegon County's youth.
  • Promote efficient use of community resources, collaboration, and sharing among schools, nonprofit organizations, and units of government, with a goal of strengthening service provision and avoiding unnecessary duplication.

"We're pleased to be able to launch the Celebrate Community Prize," Chris McGuigan, community foundation president and CEO said. "As we set our sights on these three strategic leadership goals, we want to start by learning about and supporting the exemplary work that is already being done in our community.  We expect the Prize will also serve to connect many others to these goals, creating energy and momentum."  
The final winner of the $10,000 Celebrate Community! Prize will be selected by "crowd-grantmaking" – a vote of attendees at the foundation's event. The winner will be announced before the conclusion of the Annual Gathering.

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