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.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Self-Governance Checklist For Not For Profit Organisations

Running a not for profit organisation is not for the faint of heart. Not only are you responsible for the day to day running of the organisation but also for the continuous liaising with the board, stakeholders and others involved with the organisation. Add to that the need to ensure you are complying with all government regulations regarding not for profit organisations and in particular, self-governance conditions, and all of a sudden starting a not for profit organisation takes on a whole new meaning.

Of course, running the NFP is worthwhile for the cause/charity involved but it isn’t going to happen without a dedicated team who are committed to ensuring it is run with precision and care to ensure the best possible outcome at all times. Your board needs to be not only in line with your cause but must also have the skill set to ensure the NFP runs like a well-oiled machine including fundraising, staffing and meeting all reporting obligations.

It is not good enough to assume that someone in the organisation is meeting the statutory reporting needs as part of their role. This is a large part of running an NFP and needs to be allocated to a specific person who not only has the right skill set but the understanding of the importance of meeting these guidelines and ensuring that they are met on a regular basis.

One of the biggest areas outside of funding compliance, is the reporting and compliance of tax and superannuation guidelines for not for profit organisations. The Australian Taxation Office provides a wealth of information for NFPs including this handy Self-Governance Checklist for not for profit organisations. This checklist will allow key stakeholders to review and understand the organisations obligations for tax and superannuation reporting and allow them to put in place the necessary procedures to ensure these items are met in a timely manner as required by the Australian Taxation Office.

There are serious consequences if not for profit organisations fail to meet reporting requirements and it is not a good enough excuse to pass it off as someone else’s role. This role needs to be clearly defined from the outset and allocated to someone with strong skills in this area who will ensure the organisation’s performance and reputation are never brought into question. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Organisation is the Backbone of NFPs

Whether it is the start of a new year or the middle of the financial year, being organised in all aspects of your NFP is important. There is no denying that running an NFP is not as easy as it looks, so it is integral that all the I’s are dotted, and the T’s are crossed. This is vital for any corporation but particularly for non-profits when your donors and beneficiaries are high on the priority list as is the overall reputation of your company.

Have a Variety of Team Members and Spread out Responsibilities

Whether you are blogging or fundraising, it is important that you make the time to adopt systems and procedures so the team and their responsibilities are laid out explicitly. No one wants to feel that they are pulling more than their fair share of weight - volunteer or otherwise – and everyone needs to feel rewarded at all times.

Accounts also need to be reconciled to eliminate errors. Regularly reconciling your accounts ensures that everyone who handles the accounts is only using the charity's funds to pay for authorised transactions. It also helps you to quickly catch any errors made by your group's bank or other financial institution.

Make sure your team is Qualified

It is imperative that you have a qualified team in place to ensure that errors are not made, particularly ones which lead to being a security risk in the long term. This means having electronic copies of everything and double checking all figures with your financial provider. For everyone's benefit, ensure all the financial matters of your NFP are overseen by more than one person. Let at least two people bear witness to the records and account activities, so there is never any shadow of suspicion, or outright loss of money within your organisation.

Security is Number One

When you cut corners, your security systems are wide open for error and corrupt practices. The most basic form of security is the password, and that’s where many NFP personnel go wrong. If you haven’t changed your password in a while, then it is paramount that it takes priority - today. Don’t wait until the last minute to get things done.

Avoid Delays At All Costs

There are many duties that must be fulfilled to get your NFP's finances completed in a timely manner. Delays can occur often in the process, and can result in the loss of time and funds for your NFP. They can also lead to late filings at the end of the financial year, which can result in fees and other penalties for your NFP. It is these delays that can upset the entire process as well as the fine balance between donors and the running of the operations.

When bookkeeping procedures are followed routinely, and the NFP’s systems and procedures are organised, with appropriate technologies and safeguards in place, mistakes become minimal and even often non-existent. In these cases, a volunteer treasurer's role becomes simpler and much more enjoyable for everyone involved with the charity. The longer you spend working for an NFP, the more you will release that high levels of quality are essential to meet all the business objectives.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

2016 Commonwealth Bank Not-for-Profit Treasurers' Awards

Being a successful volunteer treasurer takes an extraordinary amount of effort, work, and teamwork as well. Many volunteers come into the job thinking they would like to make a contribution and quickly discover their work includes some of the most important tasks that need to be done for their entire organisation to even function.

Banks Know How Hard the Work Can Be

The Commonwealth Bank sees this play out all over the country each year, as they provide banking services to not-for- profit organisations. In order to encourage and show appreciation for those who take on the work of keeping the books in order, the Commonwealth Bank is holding Not-For-Profit Treasurer's Awards this September.

Nominate Yourself or a Friend

Perhaps, as a treasurer, you feel you have great ideas and insight that others would benefit from finding out. Make sure you put it all down on your application, as one category of award is going out to those who share their knowledge and contribute to the betterment of all treasurers. These are in the form of 3 $5000 prizes, which can be donated to the organisation the treasurer nominates.
Maybe you know of a treasurer who is the steady, punctual, accuracy ensuring centre pin that holds your organisation together. Make sure that person gets a nomination, as all those who are entered will receive a certificate of appreciation, letting them know just how much their hard work is noticed.

The Community Financial Centre

The Not-For-Profit Treasurer's Awards also help draw publicity to the resources the Commonwealth Bank makes available to people in not-for-profit organisations through the Community Financial Centre. This is set up to educate and empower relevant individuals who work as volunteers, with essential skills to understand and easily navigate a number of hurdles that can slow treasurers down. Volunteer Treasurers can get help with banking, fundraising and account keeping queries, from experts who know the not-for-profit sector well.

Prepare to Be Awarded

The Commonwealth Bank has been involved in Australian communities, including not-for-profits, for over a century. Each year the bank is eager to facilitate the sharing of knowledge between the very best volunteer treasurers across the country, as well as offer appreciation to every treasurer who puts in hours of effort to make sure our not-for-profit sector remains a robust and colourful part of our society. Make sure your treasurer is entered to receive an award this September. More information can be found here.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

ATO App Makes Fundraising Easy

Smartphone technology is impacting many sectors, and there is an app or ten for just about everything you can think of. Relevant to the non-profit sector, the Australian Tax Office is making the most of widespread app use by developing one of their own. The Australian Tax Office App, contains many useful tools, including a function called myDeductions.

What can it do?
MyDeductions can be used by taxpayers to track, throughout the year, the deductible expenses they have incurred and donations they have made. This eliminates the possibility of receipts being lost, or having to be reissued, and will help many users file more complete returns. People or organisations who regularly contribute to the fundraising efforts by non-profit organisations will be pleased to know it is now easier than ever before to ensure their contributions are acknowledged and met with an appropriate deduction at tax time.

How does it work?
There are several simple steps that need to be taken, and then anyone can make the most of this tool. The free app should be downloaded from the app store on the appropriate device. After a donation is made, the user can enter the information into the highly personalised and secure app, including the cause, date and amount donated. They can also take a photo of the receipt, and all of this information is then safely stored, ready to be retrieved when needed.

Who can use it?

It may be beneficial for non-profits to share information about the ATO app with their benefactors, as it could encourage some supporters to give more, or more regularly. Many will be excited to find out they can input any number of deductions into the myDeductions tool, including vehicle use, equipment purchases and other work related expenses. As a lot of individuals forgo claiming everything they are entitled to because of the extra legwork involved in storing and sorting receipts for a whole financial year, some will be grateful to learn there is a new, simple, alternative. And you never know, they may even opt to show their gratitude by making a bigger contribution to your fundraiser.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The End of the Financial Year for NFPs

The end of the financial year is literally just around the corner, is your NFP ready? As a volunteer treasurer, there are a host of duties that you must fulfill at the end of the year.

End of Year Duties for Treasurers

End of year functions for the treasurer include getting your NFP's accounts in order, compiling and filing various reports, making sure your paperwork is in up to date before any independent reviews or audits, calculating GST, as well as preparing for the start of the new fiscal year. The volunteer treasurer isn't the only board member, however, with duties and responsibilities at the end of the financial year. 

Directors and Board Members Also Have a Role to Play at the End of the Financial Year

As part of their oversight and fiduciary duties, directors and other board members also have certain responsibilities at the end of the financial year.  For example, board members have a responsibility to ensure that they have a solid understanding of their NFP's finances and that they have the knowledge necessary to be able to understand financial reports, and question the accounting methods and information used to compile reports and statements, including the various NFP budgets.

Even though board members are not involved in the day to day management and operation of the NFP, they are still responsible for seeing that the books are kept properly, and reports and other documents are filed on time with the ASIC.  Directors and board members should also take steps to ensure that adequate controls have been put in place to ensure the fair and transparent handling of cash and other assets and that accepted accounting standards are used by the treasurer.  They must also take steps to ensure that any audits are conducted by professionals who are impartial, unbiased and avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute to Compile End of Year Financials

There are many duties that must be fulfilled to get your NFP's finances and filings completed in a timely manner. Delays can occur nearly anywhere in the process, and can result in the loss of time and funds for your NFP. For example, if your accounts and other paperwork are not in order before your audit begins, it will take the auditor more time to complete the audit, which can result in the auditor charging a higher rate. Delays can lead to late filings, which can result in fees and other penalties for your NFP.

Treasurers should already be working on preparing for the end of the financial year now in to avoid the extra cost and hassle that can result from unforeseen delays and complications.

As a board member, you can help keep your NFP on track by checking in with the treasurer to make certain that they have all of the resources that they need to get ready for the end of the financial year.  If there are newer members of the board that have less financial experience, consider offering a short class or training now, before the end of the financial year, to help bring them up to speed on the ins and outs of your NFPs finances and their responsibilities as board members.