Wednesday, 29 March 2017

When To Invest In New Software For Your NFP

Today, many nonprofits are dealing with increased competition for donations and other fundraising challenges, such as the decrease in the availability of grants due to government budget cuts. This makes it more difficult for treasurers to come before the board and ask for funds to upgrade software.

During difficult financial times, many boards adopt the attitude that if something has been working so far, why pay to fix something that isn't "broken?" Others are reluctant to invest in upgrading the software because they think it will simply be too much of a hassle to learn something new. These beliefs can be shortsighted, however, if the new software will in effect pay for itself by increasing efficiency and security and thereby lowering overall costs.

The following are a few signs that your existing software is costing you more than the cost to upgrade, which should help you to convince board members that this is one investment that's worth the cost to make.

Your Free Software is no Longer Worth the Time and Hassle to Use It

Just because there aren't any upfront costs to obtain the software, doesn't mean that it's wholly free to use. Even free software must be set up and configured properly, and updated periodically to run smoothly.

If your "free" software isn't specific to your field or cause, it may be difficult or impossible to track data that is specific to your nonprofit. Another sign that it's time to upgrade is if your current software is if it requires a lot of manual processes and data entry to be able to track items and produce documents and reports.

If this is the case, that free software is probably costing you more in payroll dollars and staff hours to operate as time goes by than the upfront cost of upgrading your software to one that simplifies and automates most processes and that's designed specifically to meet the needs of a nonprofit.

Continuing to Use Your Current Software Increases Risk of Loss

Using older, out of date software may expose your nonprofit to greater risk of loss than newer technology. Many older systems rely on older operating systems to run, which are, by nature, more vulnerable to hacking since they are no longer subject to frequent security updates designed to patch and fix flaws that thieves and hackers can exploit to enter your nonprofit's systems and steal sensitive financial and demographic information.

Older software can make it more difficult to track transactions and take more time to produce reports that might uncover irregularities that point the way to internal and external theft. Money that has been paid to the nonprofit, or, that the nonprofit has paid others, can slip through the cracks when older, out of date software is used.

Old, out of date software also usually does not allow users to store information in the cloud, which puts your organisation's entire collection of records and databases at risk of loss should something happen to the hard drive, such as a fire, flood or other disaster.

Finding a Solution

When your organisation is ready to invest in new software, there are a number of brands and services on the market. Admin Bandit offers accounting software that is designed specifically with the needs of nonprofit organisations and volunteer treasurers in mind.

Admin Bandit software is reasonably priced, very easy and intuitive to use, and walks treasurers through every step of preparing budgets, reporting, statements, managing GST obligations and producing other necessary documents that every nonprofit needs. Most processes are fully automated once the nonprofit's basic account information has been entered, which takes around 2 minutes or less, increasing ease of use.

The software also connects with the cloud so that it's easy to keep the software updated, which increases the security of your nonprofit's information while also making it simple, stress-free and secure to backup databases and other files.

Finally, board members and other officers of nonprofits have significant fiduciary duties and a responsibility to protect sensitive information collected by the nonprofit, wisely use donations and other assets, and to conduct themselves in an honest and impartial manner. The security flaws found in older, inefficient software makes it more difficult for boards to fulfil their fiduciary obligations.

New software such as Admin Bandit's increases transparency in the organisation while making it easier for boards to have the up-to-date information that they need to make better decisions. Upgrading your software not only reduces the potential for loss, but, makes it simpler to recruit new treasurers and board members when openings arise. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

NFPs in The Digital Age

The way we manage data is changing and from an NFP perspective you need to ask yourself whether your data management procedures are efficient and focussed. Are they working to your advantage or could you make some changes to fine-tune the process?

You need to consider issues like how to store and manage your data and how that information can be used to make the most impact and bring about maximum change. You also need to examine the capturing and securing of data from a governance perspective.

Why focus on your database?

Your database is your key to building a relationship with your donors. Today’s NFPs need to be data-driven, and your database is one of the biggest assets your non-profit has at its disposal. It can tell you what is working and what is not working. Maintaining an inadequate database can lead to loss of dollars and donors –a disaster for any non-profit.

How can you ensure your database is working?

Firstly you need to make sure that whatever system you are using, has your charity’s best interests at heart. Designate ownership and management of the system and confirm policies and procedures on how the system can be employed. Your reports need to be relevant and accurate; otherwise, they just end up being a wasteful exercise.

Do you have security and disaster recovery procedures in place?

Ensure that you have a backup to handle any worse case scenario that might occur. Again all processes and procedures must be confirmed and documented and followed to a “T”. And when all else fails, back up again. It is important that you protect your data to ensure your organisation’s success.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

5 Marketing Tips for NFPs

Even though your nonprofit is just that, an organisation that is not designed to operate at a profit, marketing is still important. Without an effective marketing strategy, it's almost impossible for NFPs to raise awareness about their cause.

Marketing plays a critical role in a nonprofit's ability to meet fundraising goals and have the money that is needed for operations to continue. There are only so many dollars to go around, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar nonprofit organisations that must compete for donations and other sources of funding, and marketing makes it possible for your NFP to stand out from the crowd.

The following marketing tips can help your NFP increase the impact of its messaging with potential donors and other supporters.

Branding - In Addition to Functionality, Make Certain Your Website Connects and Informs

Having a website that looks professional, functions well on traditional laptop and desktops as well as mobile platforms, and that connects with and tells your visitors, is crucial to increasing support for your NFP's mission and goals.

Keep your supporters updated by posting on a regular basis. Use images and video on your NFPs blog and elsewhere on your site to increase your nonprofit's emotional connection with donors. Take steps to ensure that your nonprofit's messaging is clear, and consistent throughout your site and all of your channels, to brand your content, and use good SEO practices and promote your best content to increase your reach.

Make it easy for supporters to jump on your bandwagon and support your cause by using buttons to make it easy for them to share your posts and other messages with their social networks.  

By branding your content, including a clear call to action in all posts and making it easy to share, you can easily turn your website, blog, and social media into a network that functions to increase donations and other forms of support for your nonprofit.   

Make Certain that You are Engaging with Donors in Their Preferred Format

Just as the customer is always right in business, your donor is always right. Are you contacting your donors and other supporters as often as they wish, and in their preferred format? Survey your current donors and supporters on a regular basis to discover what is, and is not, working.

How do your fans prefer to be contacted: email, direct mail, newsletters, telephone or in person? What is the impression of your supporters on your NFP's mission, goals and services? Once you have the results, take steps to meet the needs of your audience by segmenting your followers based on type and frequency of contact that they prefer. Use the insight that you gained to refine your messaging to ensure that your supporters have the right impression of your NFP, the services that it provides and the impact that you make.

Segment Audience Based on Demographics, Personalise Messaging

Not every approach, or every message, will work to persuade every supporter. Divide your supporters into lists based on demographics such as their personal interests, gender, age, education and income levels, and then tailor your approach, and your message, based on their individual segment. Remember to use tools to personalise your messages to increase your connection with your donors.

Set Targets, Benchmarks, Test Messaging and Measure Results, Don't Forget to Refine Messaging

Once you've segmented your supporters, set fundraising objectives and other benchmarks, such as targets for sharing, sign-ups and other forms of support. Don't forget to test the impact of your messages and use analytics to measure your results and compare them against benchmarks and standards to help you be able to determine just how effective your marketing campaign is.

Don't be afraid of change, and don't be satisfied with the status quo, but always be on the lookout for ways to continually refine and improve your messaging to ensure that you continue to meet your objectives.

Increase Engagement by Starting Conversations and Keep them Going

In addition to making it easy for your donors and other supporters to share your posts, further extend the reach of your messaging by visiting similar blogs and starting conversations by liking others posts and leaving comments, including a link back to your NFP's site in your signature. Always promptly respond to any comments that are made on your posts so that you can keep the conversation going and win further support for your cause!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Free Webinars Can Be A Great Source of Learning

We all need to hone our skills or take in some learning from time to time, and the start of the new year is a perfect time to do that.

As a volunteer treasurer, we understand that your budgets can be tight and opportunities to learn can be difficult to say the least. That is why FREE webinars can be invaluable to your charity or non-profit.

They give you the opportunity to refine your knowledge and keep the dollars available for the more important things.

Here are four great webinars to look out for.

Asking Styles: A Revolutionary Concept in Fundraising - 10 January 2017

There is no one right way to ask a business or individual for a donation. If you ask in your own style, you will be more comfortable and successful as an asker. Are you a rainmaker, a go-getter, a kindred spirit, a mission controller or a mix of two styles? In this webinar you will learn the unique strengths you bring to the table and how to craft your case for support in your own words and style.

Online Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits - 11 January 2017

This webinar will share best practices including detailed formulas that every nonprofit should be using to track the effectiveness of their fundraising efforts. You will also learn the 7 steps to online funding success, the donor retention problem and attributes of a killer marketing piece.

Finding New Donors for 2017 - January 18 2017

Did you know that over 75% of funding comes from individuals and that it costs twice as much to find new donors as it does to keep your existing ones. This informative webinar will show you 9 new places to find donors offline, the 4 effective ways of building your email list, the stages of giving to help you steward your donors towards larger gifts and how transparency raises you more money.

Crowdfunding 101 - January 19 2017

Crowdfunding is a new tool in the fundraising toolbox to raise more money, faster, from a larger audience. In this free webinar you will learn why crowdfunding is important for your organisation, how to incorporate it into your existing fundraising mix and the concrete steps you can execute immediately.

Let's make 2017 a wonderful year for your charity and your year as a volunteer treasurer extremely rewarding.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas From Our Business To Yours

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all the volunteer treasurers and NFPs a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We look forward to sharing our tips with you next year and hope to hear many fundraising and charity success stories along the way.

Here's to our best year yet!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Revising Your Fundraising Results

Planning is an integral part of successful fundraising, and you can never get an early enough start! As the end of the year fast approaches, many nonprofits are busy hosting holiday galas and other end of year events. Most members of the staff are likely occupied with their own personal holiday celebrations as well. Just because the season is coming to an end, however, isn't an excuse to avoid planning your nonprofit's fundraising efforts for the next year.

Now is the time to reflect on your nonprofit's results for the year, and learn from any mistakes that were made during your fundraising campaigns. The following steps can help you to gain insight into what does and does not work for your nonprofit so that you can revise and refine your strategies and be set to start the New Year off right!

Review Results of 2016 Fundraising Campaigns - What Did and Did Not Work?

Before you start making plans for your 2017 fundraising campaigns, take time to reflect on what did and did not work well this year. Go back and look at the metrics for the messages that you sent out during your various fundraising campaigns; did you effectively target your audience and reach your fundraising goals? Were there steps that you could have taken, such as using additional measures to segment your donors list to further tailor your messaging to specific target audiences, which would have improved your results? What specific additional resources do you need to increase your fundraising results in 2017?

Refine Messages and Targeting to Build and Increase Donor Base

Ideally, you should segment your donor lists so that you can ensure that you can tailor your fundraising efforts to match the demographics of your target audience. You should begin by segmenting your list into current and repeat donors and prospective donors, as your approach to reach each of these audiences should be different.

There are other ways to segment your donor list to improve your results and grow your donor base. For example, we know that certain audiences respond well to certain types of messaging and fundraising campaigns, so you should segment your donor list and group them into target audiences to ensure that you are reaching out to donors via their preferred method of interaction, such as email, social media posts, telephone calls and face to face contact.

Once you have segmented your donor lists, and identified their preferred means of contact and interaction with your nonprofit, you can then tailor your message to match preferences that are determined by such demographics as gender, age, location, shared interests and so forth.

Improve Communication and Storytelling to Increase Results

Improving your nonprofit's communication is really a continuation of refining your messaging and targeting. Review the ways that you communicated with your donors and other supporters throughout the year. What sorts of stories did you tell about your nonprofit and the good work that it does in your community? What methods did you use to communicate your nonprofit's stories?

Look for ways to keep your nonprofit's messaging in line with your nonprofit's mission and goals. Make it easier to build connections and increase support for your cause by expanding the ways that you communicate with supporters. In addition to using visual images that carry human interest and convey emotion, consider adding short "micro-videos," that can help demonstrate just what it is that your nonprofit does and how it makes a difference and helps others in your community.

Don't forget to test the messages that you send through 2017, and adjust them to improve your results. This includes the emails that you send about fundraising events and donation requests as well as the other messages and updates that you send to supporters throughout the year.

Use Creative Twists to Update and Market Popular Fundraising Events

Annual events are a great way to encourage repeat donations, but you must be careful to not allow fundraisers such as galas, awards ceremonies, auctions, raffles and other events to become stale and boring. Don't be afraid to use creative twists to keep things fresh, and interesting, at your nonprofit's fundraising events.  

Consider hosting events in a new locations, shake up routines by varying the presenters and line-up and look for ways to inject fun and excitement into your nonprofit's events to encourage donors to want to come to your nonprofit's next event.

Test and Overhaul Your Website and Revamp Social Media Efforts

Just as you want your nonprofit's fundraisers to be exciting so that they continue to draw repeat donors and encourage new supporters to attend, you also need to take the time to update your nonprofit's website on a regular basis. Make certain that your posts are fresh, interesting and helpful, both on your nonprofit's main website, as well as on social media posts.

Take time to make certain that all of your site's pages load quickly, and can be viewed on both mobile and stationary platforms. Make certain that posts are easy to share across all of your nonprofit's social media profiles, and make it easy for others to like and share your content as well.

Continue to test messaging, and make certain that all of your posts are in keeping with your nonprofit's mission and goals and will make the impression that you want while also getting your message across.

Above all, make certain that your site's main donation page and donation buttons work well so that it's easy for supporters to donate as well as be able to learn more about your cause.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

What is Corporate Volunteering?

Corporate volunteering is similar to general volunteering, yet happens within the confines of a standard work environment. Employers – from small businesses up to Fortune 500 companies – are taking advantage of this popular volunteering scheme.

Why do companies allow their employees to volunteer during working hours?

These employee-employer agreements (also known as Employee Volunteering Programs or EVPs) are an organisation’s way to improve their social responsibility activities. Employees believe it enhances their image and reputation while at the same time improves employee retention, develops staff skills and increases employee productivity.

How can you set up corporate volunteering within your organisation?

Setting up corporate volunteering systems are a great way to further the employee-employer bond. However, where do you start?

Talk to your staff

Communication between employers and employees is important at all stages, particularly when it applies directly to them. Your company will need the backing of its staff to make the EVP work. Is it appealing? Do they even want to do it in the first place? If your team is part of the development process, then they are more likely to want to get involved from the ground up.

Make it flexible

If the system is not flexible, then they may not want to get behind it. What kind of charities are involved? Can they choose their specific charity? How much time do staff have available for volunteering? How far do they have to travel? The staff need to have their preferences taken into account to make it work.

Make sure any perspective charities make a good corporate match

Your organisation may have ties to current charities, or your staff members may have alternative charitable interests. Do any necessary research, meet with the charities and ensure that both sides benefit from the agreement. Is there some clash? Are their ideal aligned with yours?

Nurture the relationship and follow up opportunities

It is essential that once a charity or a number of charities are decided upon, those contacts are maintained during each stage of the process. Visit them and ensure open communication at all times. Make sure that the volunteers and the charity are a favourable match.

Market the volunteering scheme

Market the entire process both online and in-house and showcase success stories on the corporate website and in yearly reports. Make processes clear and advise all new staff about the volunteering program. Promote volunteering opportunities via meetings, emails and fliers and arrange talks about the benefit of corporate volunteering. Set up award schemes and show everyone how they are indeed making a difference. Thank each and every volunteer personally for offering their time.

Look into corporate volunteering for your organisation and see firsthand the benefit that this type of program can offer your company. It’s a win for all involved – your organisation, your team members and their charity of choice.