Nothing ahead of us is bigger than the power around us.

Current Priorities for Nonprofits

Nonprofit OrganizationNonprofits continue to face competition for talent in the areas of Fundraising/Development, Education/Community Outreach, Program Management and Public Relations.   Nonprofits are committing to an investment in talent.  There is an intense competition for talent in a job seeker’s market where qualified candidates have more option in where they chose to work and able to be more selective.  Competitive compensation is a factor given private sector companies are significantly increasing “sign on” bonuses, base salaries and incentives to attract and retain qualified talent.

With many global companies are watching proposed reforms in Foreign Trade Agreements, the nonprofit organizations have a close eye on proposed Tax Reforms both at the federal and state level.  Current tax reform proposals would decrease charitable giving by individuals by a minimum of $13.1B, according to a recent report published and reported at Independent Sector this month. Also, there are proposed changes to Estate Tax which will minimize the advantages of Major Gifts including family foundations. For public and private companies, there is a reform proposed for “unrelated business income” which will minimize the advantages of corporate sponsorships for non-profit initiatives.

With limited resources, nonprofits will need to focus their staff on advocacy efforts and educating policymakers. Some non-profit sectors are banding together to create coalitions to educate legislators on the impact of proposed tax reforms on their client base.  There are several success stories of advocacy groups around the United States who have responded to other government reforms. For example, the Immigrant Service Provider Network (ISPN) and the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) are working together to ensure full support for their client base.

Organization Business Management Productivity ConceptIndividual nonprofits now need to identify new roles in their organizations to collaborate with agencies with common missions and form alliances for educating legislators. There is a new set of skills to be developed through training and development opportunities. Employment branding strategies are important to showcase the mission and culture of individual organizations and attract selective job candidates.  With Millennials setting out to do more meaningful work while maintaining a stronger work-life balance, the culture of collaboration with other “like-minded” organizations is attractive. With Boomers wanting to retool to “pay it forward” during retirement, mentoring young professionals with a common mission is exciting.  Workforce planning, talent management, rewards, and benefits programs are critical for attracting and retaining the right skills and adapt to the upcoming reforms.


Considerations for Global Programming

Policy Process Procedure




Our clients have common questions when navigating through the complexities of globalization. Global integration emphasizes consistency of approach, common company culture and need for some degree of standardization of processes across borders. Following are considerations for global programming.



How do we transform from a company residing in multiple countries to a global company? How do we change the perception that our management is US-centric? Glocalization (globalization and localization) is in play when there are global people strategies and equally strong local policies that connect with the cultures, values and lifestyles of the employees in each country.  Think globally, act locally!  This is the first path on the journey to globalization of your human resources.  We recommend that employers start with a list of business policies that are fundamental to their line of products and services.  Determine upfront which of the policies and related procedures may require local discretion. Set the stage for getting everyone on the same page.



How do we manage to local market pricing?  Should we have different pay ranges for each country?  Should our compensation philosophy consider premium pay for employees in emerging markets?  Global integration of pay programs requires careful benchmarking, market pricing and consideration of alternative job classification and compensation schemes. Annual incentive plans and sales compensation plans can be designed with both company and region or country measurements to ensure local nationals have a clear line of sight for reward opportunities.

Similarly, consistency in jobs and a common grade structure can build a “one company” mindset, while the market needs can be addressed by locally-appropriate pay ranges that align with that common structure of jobs, grades and pay programs. Set a global career path structure for driving talent development and retention.



Most companies find that employee benefits are on the agenda for senior management due to the both the costs and liabilities of statutory programs. How do we stay on top of benefit and pension financial risks?  How do we improve our return on investment from our benefit spend?  What benefits are government-mandated? What are the benefit trends in emerging markets where employees are demanding new and higher supplemental benefit levels? Globalization requires an understanding of compliance challenges and a full plan for governing and communicating the value of benefits to employees at all locations.  Benefits and perquisites are key elements for attracting new employees.

Perspectives on Building Relationships Abroad

Peach and CoconutA Peach and a Coconut

For a business to succeed, it needs to establish trust on many levels. Co-workers have to trust each other, employees need to trust their managers, leaders need to earn the trust of the employees and the customers need to trust that your business will deliver on its commitments. Trust is both personal and professional. But how is that trust built?
The peach and the coconut is a common metaphor to explain these differences. It has been said that the US approach is like a peach. A peach is soft on the outside which is easy to pierce, but has a hard pit that is hard to penetrate. People in the US are known for being friendly and polite. We will easily strike up conversations with strangers asking how they are doing, do they have any children, what hobbies they enjoy. However, these conversations don’t mean that we will invite them into our personal lives. There is a personal barrier is harder to penetrate and is the “peach pit”.   Perhaps we could then describe the approach to new business relationships with people of some other cultures like a “coconut”. They are more cautious in divulging personal information which makes them harder to get to know.  However, once you get past the hard outer shell, there is little resistance to the complete person.   They will look at you as a friend and not just a business acquaintance.


Business is Business

In the US trust is typically built through demonstrating competence over a period of time. You trust a worker who always delivers the work you need and a vendor that consistently delivers on time and for the right price. Leaders earn trust by setting the right course and timely and transparent communications. You trust those that perform time and time again.


Business is Personal

In many other countries, trust is built differently. It is built more through personal relationships than just performance. This is true for all of “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as well as Mexico, Japan and Spain. In those countries, trusting the person they are doing business is a very important precursor to a business commitment. So if your strategy to secure new business in these countries consists solely of a presentation that demonstrates a positive business impact then you may fall short. They may choose someone they can trust over a better business proposal.



Perhaps the biggest adjustment will be the different kind of business relationship. Because of the increased emphasis on personal relationships you will likely divulge more personal information than you normally would in a US business setting. However, you should be aware that your relationships will be different and you should be prepared to be open to stepping out of your comfort zone.



We’ve all been in several day meetings. In the US, we typically fall behind, order in food so we can we can work through lunch and eliminate or shorten breaks to make the most efficient use of time the group is together. During the shortened breaks, we ignore those in the meeting by catching up on emails or making a quick call. By the end of the second day, we go back room at night to catch up on what we’ve missed by being in the meeting.
The priorities for meetings should be reversed when meeting with these other cultures. The lunches, breaks and evening dinners are the time that you can get to know each other on a personal level and start building trust. This can be the most important outcome of the meeting. Instead of thinking of getting through all the agenda items, think it terms of opening up, relaxing and try to build a personal connection. You may find that by de-prioritizing the agenda times, taking the time to build a relationship you will create the trust needed to get quicker consensus on all your agenda items.



In the US we have a very stable and established legal system. We typically employ business contracts that spell out liabilities, payment terms and possible breach of contract issues. Some cultures, depending upon the maturity of their legal systems, may take offense by documenting some portions of your agreements in a legal contract. In some countries, if you have a relationship based on personal trust, you don’t necessarily have to document all the terms. They will pay on time because of your relationship, not because of the contract and possible legal ramifications. Bringing up issues about possible breach of contract issues, especially in early stages of the relationship, may make them question your commitment and damage the trust you built. It may be wise to consider how to approach documenting your agreements in other cultures.



What you might see as a business “friend or acquaintance” in the US will likely be seen differently in other cultures. Business is not just business, it is personal as well and that will take some adjustment. If you build that relationship, you will have more of a trusted partner or friend than just a vendor, colleague or customer. If you recognize this and take the time to build trust, you will likely have a long term business relationship as well.

The Arrogant American? How is Your Company Peceived Abroad?


As your business starts to expand and you start interacting with people in other countries, you will run into cultural differences that must be considered. Your aim is not to offend, however, we can unintentionally do so by assuming that our new partners and employees conduct business the same as we do in the US. As you forge the new relationships needed to fuel your business growth globally, be sensitive to cultural differences and nuances. You don’t want to be remembered as “The Arrogant American” company.

Macro or Micro Style for Presentations?
US business leaders have been taught present the “what’s in it for me” for their audience within the first 5 minutes of the presentation, or risk losing the audience’s attention. The US audience wants to quickly know how what you are presenting will solve their particular problem and will appreciate you not wasting their time. This is the micro style of presentation.

Americans may ask pointed questions that quickly move a presentation to key issues and recommendations so that a decision can be final during the meeting. The American’s expectation is quick closure. Using this style of presentation abroad may quickly establish a reputation for arrogance and boastful behavior.

Most professionals from other regions of the world like to make decisions with more context than Americans. They want presentations that start with the big picture, macro view and then logically move step by step to the micro view of how the information and recommendations presented will apply to their particular situation. They like to understand and then question each of the logical steps towards that recommendation. It is important to allow plenty of time for questions.

When delivering a presentation, professionals from other regions are more likely to prepare a long introduction covering the theoretical principles involved and mapping how these principles relate to solving the audience’s problem. It is important to provide the presenter with plenty of time for explanations.

Countries that prefer the macro style of presentation also take longer to make business decisions. For example, in China, management focuses on long-term commitments for which the Chinese expect long-term rewards, whereas in the US it’s very much the opposite. In group business discussions, the Chinese conversation style is very indirect because they do not want to lose ‘face’ in front of the group. When giving presentations, it could be difficult to measure the effectiveness of your performance because of this difference in culture.

Europeans and Latin Americans may prefer to discuss and debate items that lengthens the decision making process. Depending on the situation and culture, the decision may then have to be approved by a higher level which leads to a longer time frame for closure. The end result will be a decision that is thoroughly vetted and agreed upon with the full knowledge of pros and cons. However, it will likely strain the patience of quick decision makers on the US side.

Sensitivity to differences in presentation styles will help your company assimilate into the customer’s culture. Communication about intentions and work styles is the best way to forge relationships. A mistake in presentation style could break down important cross-border business collaborations.
Remember to ask a lot questions about the interactions that seem different to you to help establish an understanding and ultimately a better working relationship with coworkers, customers and suppliers across the globe.

6 Reasons To Consider International Student Internships

Most international students in the United States are studying under a valid F-1 Visa, granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). This is a non-immigration visa for the purpose of university studies, which also allows the holder to accept paid work for some circumstances.  While the responsibilities of maintaining a valid visa and applying for work opportunities is the individual’s, this article addresses the benefits of International Student Internships from the employer’s prospective.

1. Internships provide businesses an early opportunity to gauge talents of a new generation of globally minded professionals

Are the new graduates different from prior years?  In what ways?  How should organizations effectively utilize knowledge about differences? Internships also offer the opportunity to preview potential employees and assess work habits, technical skills, language skills, interpersonal skills and adaptability. In turn, the intern evaluates the organization as a potential employer.

2. Introduction to differing work styles and problem solving approaches

International students bring their unique perspective to the opportunity. They may approach problem solving in a different way from what is currently done at your organization, which is a good experience for a company with an emerging global workforce.  It may lead to breakthrough solutions or new idea generation for products, marketing strategies for branding in emerging markets and can have effects that last far longer than the internship.

3. Cultural Exchange benefits everyone

Interacting with international students is a cultural exchange for the employer’s employees as well. How frequently do employees from your present workforce interact with local nationals outside of the headquarters location?  Daily interaction may allow for a deeper awareness than a cross-cultural training program. As the company is growing globally, is this a learning opportunity for everyone?

4. Potential pipeline for future employees or international expansion

Following a successful internship, students return to campus and become walking advertisements or even recruiters for the employer. When International students return home or move to another country, this social network can become a recruitment tool for quality candidates. Universities, too, are likely to recommend students to those companies with high quality internship programs.

 5. Builds international reputation for Employer

Becoming better known as an employer with a global mindset is great for both small and larger companies.  In arranging internships, organizations must work with the colleges and universities.  This builds relationships and opportunities for future partnerships with the individual students, universities and the surrounding communities.

 6. Provides leadership opportunities for Employees and Management

To be successful, Internships must be well organized in advance, communicated and coordinated with university administration, and have clear goals on what work is to be done, what skills are needed and what results are anticipated for the project. Doing the advance planning, interacting with universities, managing the project and/or the Intern, and providing updates and summaries of the results to executives are all great learning opportunities for current employees and managers.

There are rules and guidelines that must be followed for Internships in general to avoid treating the Intern as an employee or violating the visa requirements.  And for International students especially, the rules are more stringent.  Click to learn more about avoiding unintended employment and creating a valuable internship program.