How to Open a Daycare

We have compiled licensing procedures for New York City. Make sure to follow your state’s specific requirements. Regardless this will give you a general idea of what you will have to do Read More »

What Daycare Owners Must Know About Lead Based Paint

The most common cause of childhood lead poisoning is the dust that comes from lead based paint. While lead paint was banned for NYC residential use in 1960, and nationwide in 1978, Read More »

How to Manage Abuse & Molestation Risks – Part 1

Above all else a school’s primary responsibility is to keep their children and teens safe at all times. Unfortunately this is not always the case as during the past few years several Read More »

Proper Insurance Claims Follow Up Procedures Yield Big Dividends for Schools & Non Profits

If you read our first article in the series “Managing Insurance Claims First Reports Can Have Big Impact  for Schools  & Non Profits” then you know that it’s a two part process, Read More »

 

Category Archives: Non Profits

How Nursery Schools & Non Profits Are Saving Money, Increasing Productivity With Google Apps

Let me first state clearly and emphatically I have no horse in this race. I am approaching this topic purely from a philanthropic, and business acumen standpoint only. Now that the housekeeping is done let me share with you the main point of this article and it’s not necessarily that I love Google, (I do); the point is there are so many new tools on the market that can help a small nursery school, struggling non profit, or a multitude of small businesses grow, become hyper efficient, raise funds, track donors, communicate and collaborate with constituents, parents, donors, board members, whoever, FOR LITTLE TO NO COST!

Let me also state we practice what we preach as we use Google Tools all throughout our organization as well as products from 37 Signals which is also a fabulous resource for most small businesses. For those keeping score at home this is the third company I have had the pleasure building. My last one I helped grow to $50 mill a year in sales before I wanted to embark on a different set of challenges. In that prior company we had the following cost we incurred while maintaining a technology infrastructure that supported 35 employees.

 Old School Infrastructure:

Microsoft Exchange Server – 500 Gigs $10,000

Software License for Exchange – $ 5,000

Maintenance of Exchange Server – $ 3,500 a year

In- House WIKI ( Company Knowledge Base housed on internal servers using VM Ware) – $3,000

Company File Server $ 5,000

Tech To Maintain Whole System: $ 15,000

Please note I am leaving a lot out here as the list would be really long, like all of the Microsoft software licenses we had to buy, install and maintain. Down time dealing with viruses, spam, e.t.c. , as well as the limitation of having most of the data not be collaborative. 

 New  School Infrastructure :
Google Apps is a zero cost full suite of applications that lets students, faculty, and parents work together more effectively. No cost and no hardware mean money saved for more important things like books and fundraising. Schools that implement Google Apps can save up to 90% on their IT costs. In addition to lower costs, below are 7 reasons why Google Apps rocks:

  1. Google Docs – The word processing application gives students the chance to work on the same document at the same time from anywhere in the world. No more USB keys! Docs also includes spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and more.
  2. Gmail – An elite email service for free
  3. Calendar – The class calendar can be accessed from anywhere at anytime.
  4. Google Sites: Which let you build Internal Wikis / Sites for Fundraising / Information Sites to communicate with Boards, Donors, Parents
  5. Security and Privacy– Google takes these very seriously
  6. Easy to use – Almost no installation
  7. Students Love It – Gmail and Google Docs make learning fun for students. Check out this video to see why.
  8. Help Resources – Check out the Google Apps for Education community group .
Old School Infrastructure Cost : $41,500 ++ ( many of the costs reoccurring)  / New School Infrastructure Costs: $ 0
When we had to make technology choices starting the new company the first cost we saved tremendously on was email. By migrating to Google Apps Professional edition we could maintain my websites URL within my email domain instead of using gmail. Our  preference was to have our web site URL not  “gmail” attached to the end of our emails as GMAIL does not give the professional image we want for the business. Thus we use the professional edition which costs a whopping $50 per user!
To be fair, Steve Ballmer and crew still exact their pound of flesh from us as we still use Microsoft Products & Apple Products, however this is by choice not by necessity. A non profit or small nursery school that sweats out computer repairs, software license e.t.c. can do away with all of this. Further by bringing everything to the cloud you no longer have to maintain any of it. You get to focus on your business and not fight with technology. That was the biggest advantage for us.
Further our employees can easily work from home or remote sites without hiring a tech to build a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
If you have a legacy system  and data you need to deal with we recommend  hiring a tech to help you migrate all of your data and do the set ups with Google, especially if you will go with the Pro Edition. If you are a new Non Profit, Nursery School, or small business and starting essentially from scratch this is the perfect platform to begin your new venture. Your internal cost structure will ultimately be a fraction of your competitors which is ultimately a key driver of your success.
We will in subsequent articles feature and profile new tools to help you achieve your goals at a fraction of the cost. Why do you ask would I do this as we are “insurance people”? Excellent question grasshopper! Our goal as an organization is to help our clients efficiently and most cost effectively deploy their resources so they can compete better in their native markets. Assessing, managing risk, buying insurance at the lowest  cost point possible  are all consistent with the company objective at Metropolitan Risk Advisory.

Whether you are a day care, a nursery school, or even a college, using a tool like Google Apps can save you money and improve your efficiency. Here at Metropolitan Risk Advisory we practice what we preach as we use Google Apps to run our business. We hope you found this article useful. If you found this valuable please leave a comment to inspire us to keeping writing and sharing. On behalf of the staff at Metropolitan Risk Advisory, thank you for putting others first!

The Results of a 25 Year Study on Early Childhood Education

There was a study conducted over 25 YEARS (yes years) about the benefits of early childhood education programs. The study was published on June 9th, 2011 by Arthur Reynolds (professor of child development) and Judy Temple (professor at the University of Minnesota). The study ended up with overwhelmingly positive results for early childhood programs.  It followed more than 1400 participants, mostly African American. Some of the results for those who participated in these programs are summarized below.

  • 28% fewer were incarcerated or jailed
  • 9% more completed high school; 19% more males
  • 20% more achieved at least a moderate level of socioeconomic status
  • 22% fewer had a felony arrest while the difference was 45% for children of high school dropouts
  • 28% fewer abused drugs and alcohol
  • 19% more carried a level of health insurance coverage

One of the biggest shocks was finding that children who participated in the CPCEP graduated high school on time 55% more than those who did not participate in the program. Lastly, according to this study, the cost benefit analysis of early education resulted in an 18% annual return on investment for society.

What do we take away from this study? That early childhood education is a great investment for society and that not enough money is ending up in these programs. In fact, Only 3% of the $14 billion dollars allocated to school districts under “No Child Left Behind” goes to preschool. That number seems drastically low for a system with such great benefits to society.

For more check out the study in “Science” or the  article from the New York Times which was the original source for this piece. If you represent an early childhood education program we appreciate your hard work which is why we make it a priority to protect your efforts. At Metropolitan Risk Advisory we specialize in childcare insurance, day care insurance, nursery school insurance, and non profit insurance in the greater NYC area. Our risk management techniques will protect your children and facility resulting in lower costs which can then be re-deployed on more important things, like  teachers & children not insurance premiums!

Hot Tips On Finding Public Money For Your Non Profit Or For Profit Business

As a working business or non-profit you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to receive grants. This article will serve as a general overview on how to locate and take advantage of this public money.

Who is Eligible?

Not all business are eligible. For federal grants you must be in a business that is “promoting the public good.” Non profits certainly fit that criteria. State and local governments have a wider range of acceptance but non profits are still a main beneficiary. If you are not sure if you qualify call up the program officer on the announcement to find out. Lastly, remember that once you receive the money you are typically limited in how you can spend it.

Where Should You Look?

Government websites such as grants.gov push out notices of available funding. You could also sign up for various e-newsletters that will alert you of grant opportunities. In addition to federal grants, state and local governments give out money as well. Search for your state’s grants online. For example if in PA go to newpa.com . Look for the RSS orange symbol stand that stands for Really Simple Syndication. I love sites that offer this. If you have a reader like Google Reader, every time the site is updated it kicks the feed to your reader. The advantage being you go to one place to pick up new and alerts from all the different websites like this one that may have posted a new article. For grants, these are invaluable tools because you don’t have to troll to 20 different sites one at a time to see what’s new. The 20 sites you subscribe to send their updates to you. Try it with our site. To sign up look on the top right corner of our home page where it says subscribe.

How to apply?

Applying is usually very basic. Give the details about your business, your goals, what you would use the money for, and other sources of financing. Federal apps require more paperwork such as a copy of the previous years financial audit and a statement about your accounting practices.

We recommend that you be specific. Back up your argument with research. Explain the good that will come from the money and use numbers to support your argument. “This money will lead to ___ more beds for the elderly” etc. Facts are the most important part of the application.

Who can help you?

Grant writers are available to help you with your application. Some charge a flat fee and some charge by the hour. These writers can cost several thousand dollars and unfortunately still have to be paid if you do not win the grant.

Be aware that scammers exist. Never pay a writer that wants a commission if your grant is approved or one that is promoting free money. Go to a professional and remember there is no reason to pay for information about the grants themselves because it is all obtainable online.

At Metropolitan Risk Advisory we can help you as well. We specialize in non profit insurance and risk management techniques that will lower your costs. Have an insurance question, or want a second opinion on how cost efficient your insurance program is? Call us for a free consultation and let us help you save thousands.

Using Mediation to Avoid a Lawsuit

Mediation is a process that involves an unbiased party or member to help carry out negotiations to terminate a dispute. Mediators don’t make any decisions, but give opinions. They have no power and do not testify in the courtroom or reveal events during the mediation process. Mediators have the power to encourage or pressure disputing parties to come to an agreement by recognizing risks of advancing further with a lawsuit. Having mediators can save your New York Non-profit business attorney fees. With a mediator, you may have control over the agreement instead of an unfavorable decision by a judge or jury.Mediation has been an increasingly popular procedure and can occur at any point in the legal debate. Here are some things you should consider whether or not it’s the right time to involve a mediator.

Cause:
If the other party suggests a mediator, it may be an effort by the opposing team to reconcile, you should accept. They settlement may benefit your team and your non-profit business. If you refuse to involve a mediator, advancement in a lawsuit can lead to the discovery of evidence that can be used against your organization. If you chose to mediate, be prepared; know the facts and laws regarding your position and provide adequate documents and information to persuade the mediator to understand your side of the story. If you are unable to clearly present your case to the mediator, the mediator will not be able to fight the other team to change its position. You don’t want to involve too many people in the mediation process. Include those who were directly involved and people with the power to make decisions. Prepare by listing all the possible events that may happen and how you will respond to each one.

Who will be the mediator?
The mediator’s role is to persuade each party, not intimidate and force a party into an agreement. A trusted and credible mediator has more power over a party’s decision than a mediator who will hammer them.

Mediation is a great alternative to reconcile business conflicts. If you are New York or New Jersey non-profit business owner dealing with a lawsuit (or possible lawsuit) and need more advice and information about mediation, don’t hesitate to contact Metropolitan Risk Advisory. We also offer advice and solutions to reduce and manage risks and costs to your New York or New Jersey Business as well as insurance for non-profit organizations.

Does Twitter Affect Business?

Twitter has exploded as one of the top social media services that can be used anywhere from your computer to your smart phone. Your tweets of up to 140 characters can be viewed and followed by many which allows others to see the latest information you post. Twitter has been a great networking and marketing tool which has helped small businesses and non-profits gain recognition and grow. 

Businesses using Twitter:
– Restaurants, stores, and services can tweet daily specials and promotions
– Real estate agencies can inform followers of new homes for sale
– ticket agencies can tell people about close to expiring tickets
– local events and promotions can be sent by the chamber of commerce
– a public relations firm can tweet opportunities
– the tweeting possibilities and subjects are endless

Twitter is a way to accumulate a following, gain trust, and increase credibility. It is important to note that Twitter is not a direct way to get clients or donors.

Building Relationships:
By using Twitter, you become familiar with your followers. You get a sense of their personalities, priorities, activities and events they enjoy, and things they don’t like. After getting to know your audience, you can tweet useful and valuable information (not sale advertisements/twitter spam) directed toward their interests.

Beginner Tweeters:
If you just started using Twitter for your business, the fist step is to follow your target market or interesting people within or outside your business interest. Instead of using your business logo, use a personal picture for your Twitter icon to better connect with your followers and get to know your followers and people you follow by introducing yourself.

As an avid user of various channels of social media to help our New York business at Metropolitan Risk Advisory, we can help your small business or non-profit organization with any questions you may have regarding Twitter, other social media networks, or content advice.

The Reward of Risk Management v.s. Simply Buying Insurance for a Non Profit

I was recently reading an op ed piece in the NY Time entitled A Bad Deal on Malpractice . Whether you agree with their premise is not the point. What was interesting to someone who practices risk management is the enormous moral, social and financial benefits from using smart techniques and risk management protocols within your Non Profit Organization.

The article referenced New York Presbyterian Hospital/ Weill Cornell Medical Center and the enormous improvement they have seen in their malpractice claims when they simply stopped buying and paying for insurance and began to look at the correlation between the cost of their malpractice claims, insurance costs, patient care, and  employee moral. By utilizing the time tested techniques of risk management they achieved amazing results. Simple things like focused staff training after polling staff and doing a simple trend analysis as it relates to their losses and claims, electronic documentation, and follow up. The hospital focuses on collecting the right data, reading what the data results, and then taking sustainable corrective action.

The amount the hospital spent annually for compensation payments and legal expenses to defend allegations fell by more than 90%. From 2003 to 2006 there average expense load was $27.59 million between 2003 and 2006. By 2009 costs fell to $250,000 in 2009, a remarkable drop of 99% reduction in losses. Folks, you don’t achieve that kind of result by taking your poor claims history, giving it to 4 brokers and have them come back to you with 4 insurance quotes, whereby you pull the trigger on the cheapest one. If your claims are bad enough the end result of your effort is the least of the highest price increases. Remember  insurance companies don’t like to lose money and insurance for the most part is simply a very expensive credit line.

You don’t have to be the size of New York Presbyterian, nor do you need to have their resources. If you are a small NY Non Profit, a NY Nursery School, a NY Group Home, or a NY Supportive Housing Non Profit, same goes for NJ Non Profits & CT Non Profits;  you have so many opportunities to reduce costs and losses sometimes by as much as 90%. Remember every dollar we save on the expense side can be allocated to your constituents. The key is to simply stop buying insurance and talk to an insurance brokerage firm that has a background in Risk Management. A talented insurance brokerage firm can help you identify the fricitional points on your balance sheet, and then come up with smart, intutive strategies to re-capture these critical resources so you can re deploy them  back into your Non Profit Organization.

For those of you nodding , who believe that this is not just possible, but an absolute neccessity for your non profit we would like to suggest you call a Risk Advisor at Metropolitan Risk Advisory, anyone that practices the craft. We also suggest taking a hard look at your workers compensation insurance as we have found that to be a very rich area of ours since many non profits can be labor intensive , riddled with employee injuries, surcharges, incorrect experience modification factors, and error laden workers compensation payroll audits.

Efficient Non-Profit Partnerships

Non-profit partnerships are very effective but challenging. Partnerships emerge when board members agree or when two organizations collaborate with the help of funders. Each scenario has its advantages as well as disadvantages. 

When two organizations recognize and share the same beliefs and collaborate have a deep connection and strong goals. If funders force two organizations to collaborate, the tie will last until funders are no longer in the picture and the collaboration breaks.

Strong non-profit partnerships starts with:
– Ties among organizations and the community
– Accountability
– Non-profit boards and CEOs work to strengthen the partnership
– Discussed results, responsibilities, roles, and allocation of resources.
– Stakeholders know what is going on
– Agreement between the organizations to break the collaboration if it does not work

Should your partnership or New York or New Jersey non-profit encounter any problems, Metropolitan Risk Advisory provides risk management & insurance brokerage service, advice, and insurance coverage in the following lines of insurance: NY Non Profit General Liability Insurance, NY Non Profit Workers Compensation Insurance, NY Directors & Officers Liability Insurance, and NY Fiduciary Liability Insurance.

Useful Tips For Press Releases

No one wants to read long and boring press releases. Following these tips will save your non-profit business time and make your press releases more interesting.

-Keep it short: pretend your press release is an elevator pitch; get to the point, make it intriguing and sell it. If your press release cannot be explained in under one minute (200-400 words) or you think some readers may want to learn more about the topic, you can always attach a link to more detailed information.

– Keep it simple: make your non-profit contact information easy to find for journalists the media.

– SEO: the main purpose of press releases is to increase traffic and SEO to your non-profit website. Make sure that keywords consist 3-5% of your content, but 15-20% of your headline.

– Be Persistent: sometimes it take a few tries to get your message across. Refining and re-releasing a press release you believe is important can help you gain audiences and recognition.

If you need further advice about non-profit press releases, tips to increase traffic to your website, or general assistance with social media strategies and generating high return, Metropolitan Risk Advisory can provide solutions.