Building a business
Look behind the label
In a staff training on diversity, Ms. Denson explains how we often make assumptions about people and then give them a label. She offers this example:
“When I first started teaching in high school, I noticed that students labeled their peers. A jock was a football player, a nerd was good in science, and a kicker wore boots and a cowboy hat.”
“Yes, we did that too,” says Ms. Hernandez, a kindergarten teacher. “And there were labels for Hispanic students, like me, too.”
Ms. Denson continues: “A couple of months later, when my class was studying The Scarlet Letter, I asked students, ‘Who’s the person behind the letter, or the label?’ They got the point: we are clueless until we know them person-to-person. Labels can dehumanize a people.”
Other teachers nod in agreement.
“What are some labels we hear today?” asks Ms. Denson.
Slowly, the teachers suggest what come to mind: “Welfare mom.” “Redneck.” “Illegal alien.” “Retard.” “Fatso.”
An exercise like this can reveal the bias that lies just below our level of consciousness, and we all harbor some. To counteract such stereotypical thinking, we examine our thinking and behavior. The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center (at www.SPLCenter.org) suggests asking ourselves the following questions:
How wide is my circle of friends? How diverse are the people who visit my home?
How integrated is my neighborhood? My child’s school? My workplace?
Do I take economic segregation and environmental racism for granted?
Do I have the courage to ask a friend not to tell a sexist or racist or homophobic joke in my presence?
Do I receive information about other cultures from members of those cultures, or from potentially biased, third-party sources?
Do I take the time to listen and learn from other people’s experiences—especially people with whom I might initially disagree?
How often am I in the minority?
Our answers can help us in how we care for children in our program, communicate with their parents, hire staff, and market our program.
Nonprofits: Don’t forget IRS Form 990-N
You need to add one thing to the job description for an accountant,” says Betsy, a new board member.
“What’s that?” asks Amanda, the program director.
“Filing with the IRS,” Betsy responds.
“But I thought that small nonprofits don’t need to file anything with IRS,” says Amanda.
“That changed several years ago,” Betsy explains. “Today all small nonprofits with gross receipts of less than $50,000 a year must file the Form 990-N. If you don’t, you could lose your nonprofit status.”
Form 990-N came about in 2008 to keep the IRS informed about whether small nonprofits had changed addresses or were still operating. The form, also known as an e-postcard, is filed electronically only—not mailed.
The form requires only eight items of information, which means it takes only a few minutes to fill out. The items are:
Employer ID number
Your tax year (Does it end Aug. 31 or Dec. 31, for example?)
Your organization’s legal name and mailing address
Any other names your organization uses
Name and address of a principal officer
Confirmation that your annual gross receipts are $50,000 or less
If applicable, a statement that your organization is going out of business
You can find the form at the IRS.gov website. You are required to file every year by the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of your tax year. For example, if your tax year ends Dec. 31, 2018, you have until May 15, 2019, to file the form.
Losing your nonprofit 501(c)3 status means you cannot tell donors that their donations are tax-deductible and you cannot claim to be tax-exempt on expenses. If you lose your nonprofit status, IRS will instruct you on how to get reinstated, but that may require considerable time and effort.
If you have more than $50,000 a year in receipts, you are required to file the more formal and complex Form 990. Because of its complexity, you may need the help of your accountant.
Need help growing your business?
If you have regular customers and consistent profits, if you have a waiting list, and if you’re running out of space, you may be thinking about growing your business.
In deciding what to do, check with your accountant and lawyer, other child care programs, community leaders, and others you trust. You can also contact the Score Association (formerly Service Corps of Retired Executives). This nonprofit organization has offered free business mentoring and education to small businesses for more than half a century. Here’s how:
Mentors. A network of 10,000 volunteers, many of whom own their own small businesses and are still working, can help you analyze your operation, evaluate opportunities, and develop a business plan to work toward new goals.
Assistance. Mentors offer free, confidential business information by email, video chat, or face-to-face in a local chapter.
Tools. Get free templates, e-guides, checklists, and other helpful resources. Read blogs on how to increase profitability, support other providers, and how to reach customers through social media, for example.
Workshops. Sign up for online courses and webinars (live or recorded) on a variety of small business topics, from choosing among different types of loans to making email marketing more personalized.
The Score Association is a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. More than 300 SCORE offices across the country offer free business mentoring, regardless of how many times you visit a mentor, and low- or no-cost workshops.
To request a mentor, visit www.score.org/find-mentor.