501 Commons is Serving Nonprofits as Experts, Innovators, and Partners

501 Commons is Serving Nonprofits as Experts, Innovators, and Partners

In Episode 98 of the Charity Charge Show, Stephen talks to Nancy Long, Executive Director of 501 Commons, whose mission is to serve nonprofits as experts, innovators, and partners.

Their passion is to amplify the strengths of nonprofits—so ALL people and communities flourish. Stephen and Nancy Long talk about the resilience of nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic, 501 Commons recent reports regarding nonprofit employee compensation, and common mistake nonprofits make with grants.

Nancy Long is the Executive Director of 501 Commons. 501 Commons addresses the national problem of nonprofits having limited access to the expertise they need to optimize their organization. The organization provides consulting, contracted services, and other forms of support.

This allows organizations to have the technology, data, management, fundraising, finance, and human resources expertise they need.

Before becoming executive director of 501 Commons, Nancy worked in health care as the Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Development at Group Health Cooperative. Nancy was on the health care reform policy staff for the Washington Health Services Commission.

She served as the Director of Marketing for the Basic Health Plan. She developed groundbreaking research to promote health insurance to diverse communities and implemented community-based outreach that resulted in unprecedented participation and diverse enrollment.

As the Director of Quality for the Washington State Hospital Association, she represented hospitals on regulatory matters and led a quality of care research project with rural hospitals.

Nancy Long, Executive Director of 501 Commons

As the Director of Marketing & Community Services at Pacific Medical, she led the effort to create the Cross-Cultural Health Care Program, which has done breakthrough work on culturally and linguistically accessible health care.

Nancy has a BA in social psychology (University of Texas), and a master’s from the Evans School (University of Washington), where she was also a lecturer, teaching nonprofit leadership and management.

Nancy Long on 501 Commons report on nonprofit Executive Director compensation:

On our website there is an analysis around Executive Director compensation and benefits. It’s an important report because boards are required under IRS rules to look at comparative information when they set executive salaries, and a lot of boards are not doing that.

We provide our study so that boards can pull it and other studies from around the country to use when creating Executive Director compensation and benefit offers. As an industry as a whole we have a long way to go with our compensation practices in terms of formalizing the way that employees are paid and the way that pay levels are set.

There’s a lot of guess work involved in setting up salaries right now resulting in employees just getting by with the lowest salary the organization can possibly pay or paying people slightly above what they were paid at their last job in an attempt to conserve resources.

The laws are starting to really tighten around compensation practices in our country in general, with requirements around pay equity based on gender and race among other criteria. These changes require a lot of discipline from organizations on how they set pay levels and how they look at comparable pay across the nonprofit sector.

We’re trying to support these good practices in the sector by helping to educate nonprofits so that they don’t implement poor compensation practices or practices that leave them vulnerable to to lawsuits.

There is also a broader impact on the sector of poor compensation practices reducing the loyalty of staff and resulting in the high turnover we see in nonprofits.

About 501 Commons

501 Commons serves nonprofits as experts, innovators, and partners. Their passion is to amplify the strengths of nonprofits—so ALL people and communities flourish.

501 Commons provides expertise to nonprofits through 30+ services, including a full range of management consulting; technology consulting (IT planning and database development); outsourced HR, accounting, IT infrastructure, and database management services; professional development and board training; and free advisory services.

They also provide a fundraising platform and host GiveBIG, a Washington State fundraising event that raised more than $17.4 million in donations, match, and in-kind contributions in 2021.

They also promote participation in Giving Tuesday.

They offer a cohort program for community-based organizations focused on Black and Indigenous communities, manage a capacity-building fund for Black and Indigenous organizations, and welcome a Black, Indigenous, and immigrant community organizations into the GiveBIG Campaign Support Program, which helps organizations dramatically expand their fundraising.

In 2021, 501 Commons completed 1,100 client engagements with 700 organizations in the Pacific Northwest and around the US. More than 70% of these organization have budgets below $1.5 million, with half having budgets of less than $500,000.

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