May 6, 2009
My friends Kristen and Denise of Homeschool Group Leader have a sense of humor.
You have to be able to laugh at human weaknesses if you are a homeschool leader.
Here are their 10 Ways to Torture a Tired Leader:
Top 10 Ways to Torture a Tired Leader!
- Don’t Listen ~ Talk all during the announcements, the meeting discussions and while your leader shares important information.
- Be Clueless ~ Ask your leader repeated questions about the information that you didn’t just listen to. Send them one-line questions in individual emails spread out over time.
- Fill Other Members’ E-mail In Boxes ~ Send your repeated questions and comments to everyone on the list, filling all in-boxes, instead of only the in-box of the leader to whom you’re writing.
- Quit at the Last Second ~ Volunteer to help with, or better yet–lead–an activity, then back out at the very end, leaving it all for the leader to complete.
- Gossip ~ Discuss the leader’s clothes, kids, home life, homeschool, and leadership style –openly and with great fervor.
- Complain ~ Never be happy with the place, the decisions, the agenda, the trips, the teachers, or the way the leader looks at you.
- Show Up Late ~ Choose carefully the events that need to start at a specific time and strategically and systematically show up 15 or 30 minutes late.
- Never Help Clean Up ~ Don’t stay after any event and help clean up. After all, isn’t that what the leader is there for??
- Don’t Watch Your Kids ~ Let them run wild or talk while someone else is talking. Then get offended when someone asks them to be quiet or to sit down.
- Be Demanding ~ Always express your opinion as fact. Be sure you speak every time someone else does, making sure that your frustrations and wants are very clear each time.
Recognize anyone? Maybe you at times? Some of these are too close to the truth to be truly funny!
Carol Topp, CPA
March 26, 2009
Volunteers are worth their weight in gold. Most homeschool organizations are run completely by volunteers who are doing a wonderful service to their community and other homeschooling families. What’s a volunteer worth? Priceless? Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, calculates the worth of an hour of volunteer time.
The estimate for the value of volunteer hour jumped by 74 cents, from $18.77 in 2006 to $19.51 last year, according to Independent Sector (IS), a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of nonprofits and foundations.
Washington, D.C. had the highest hourly value ($30.10) . The top states were all found in the Northeast: New York ($26.18), Connecticut ($25.75), Massachusetts ($24.29) and New Jersey ($23.62).
In all, 10 states eclipsed the $20 value and all but seven had values of more than $15.
Could your homeschool group survive if you paid your volunteers these wages? Probably not…they are indeed quite valuable.
I am frequently asked if a volunteer can be paid. If you pay a volunteer, she is no longer a volunteer anymore.She is an employees and your homeschool organization will owe employer taxes such as Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment and Worker’s Comp.
I recommend homeschool groups show appreciation though thank you notes, gift certificates, verbal appreciation and praying for your volunteers.
Carol Topp, CPA
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February 17, 2009
Do you ever wish that you could gather with other homeschool leaders just to receive encouragement, share resources or bend someone’s ear?
Last month, 12 homeschool leaders from seven different homeschool groups gathered on a cold winter night in Cincinnati, Ohio just to meet and support each other.
We had coffee, cookies and laughed, gently reproved and empathized with other leaders.
We came from a diverse background. Some were experienced homeschoolers-one with 15 years of leadership under her belt! Others had only been leading their group for two weeks! We had unschoolers, classical schoolers, virtual schoolers and traditional homeschoolers (whatever that means!)
After we exchanged names and information on our groups, we listed what challenges we face as homeschool leaders. Here’s what the leaders listed:
Doubling in size in one year
Four of five board members leaving
Low commitment from board members
Parents test limits
Clean up building
Late or unprepared teachers
Need a larger facility
Any of these sound familiar? I think these are common problems. Sometimes the other leaders had helpful answers and suggestions; sometimes they just offered sympathy and encouragement. Everyone needs someone who can say, “I understand.”
I shared some resources including:
- My website, HomeschoolCPA.com, for articles and ebooks on running a homeschool organization
- The Old Schoolhouse magazine’s Homeschool Leader Yahoo group, a wonderful place for homeschool leaders to pose questions and get answers from leaders across the country
I hope you find these resources helpful too.
Carol Topp, CPA
November 10, 2008
HomeschoolCPA has been getting quite a few questions via e-mail lately…here’s one I thought I’d share with you having to do with rewarding volunteers.
Thank you for your web site. It is a great resource for homeschool groups.
I’m on the board of a home education association. We hold an annual conference of about 800 – 1000 and need many volunteers to help us with the event. What are some appropriate ways to thank the volunteers? Can we give them a gift (e.g. mug)? Can we give them free parking? Can we give them a dollar amount off admission for each shift they work? From one of the answers you gave in your FAQ, it appears it is OK to give discounted admission to the conference, but I just want to confirm that.
Can we give more to key volunteers (ones who are responsible for key areas of the conference and will not be able to attend sessions)? Can we give key volunteers a complete set of CDs from the conference, hotel rooms and meals while at the conference? Do we have to report this on the 990 also?
Thanks for your great help.
Thank you for your kind words about my website. You ask some excellent questions. As for the mugs, free parking and reduced admission: yes, yes and yes. All these are appropriate ways to thank your hard working volunteers.
As for the CD set, hotel and meals: yes, these are also appropriate ways to thank volunteers. If any of these volunteers are also board members, you should disclose these expenses paid by the organization on their behalf on Form 990 Part V-A Current Officers compensation. I’d include a note to the effect that the volunteer was given lodging and meals at the annual convention. This is not taxable income to the volunteer. Putting the information on the Form 990 is just a way of disclosing to the IRS and anyone reading your 990 that you pay expenses for volunteers. That is a completely legal, legitimate and generous thing to do!
I hope that helps! Best of success in your future efforts!
Carol L. Topp, CPA