Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Do You Have These Skills To Help Your NFP Succeed?

Even if you have never worked for, or managed, an NFP before, you may find that you have many useful skills which can directly assist your organisation. Your individual skills, and the talents of your team members, is what gives your NFP its edge and corporate advantage over the other charities.

Leadership Skills

While you may not consider leadership skills to be important, remember, that it takes more than passion to lead an NFP to success. Leadership skills can vary but generally consist of the ability to think strategically and communicate well. Being able to motivate and inspire others is also an important asset to your company.

Marketing Skills

While traditional leaders have a team of marketers and social media managers working for them, NFPs have a leaner budget and must take on some of the efforts themselves. Social media can increase the awareness of your NFP and directly increase your fundraising efforts. As more and more people are accessing their information on mobile devices, NFPs need to stay up with the technology or avoid getting overlooked entirely.

Networking Skills

Being able to get out there and connect with other businesses and individuals will hold you in good stead. Effective communication and networking skills will enable you to reach out to potential donors and sponsors and really get across your motivations for doing what you do. Through your words alone, you can make connections that will guarantee long-term support, and ultimately the longevity of business.

Financial Skills

While financial skills can be learnt, having the ability to be able to manage the monies which come into the organisation can overcome any foreseeable challenges. It is not just a simple case of profit and loss for a nonprofit as the money may go back into the company to further their charitable aims, or even be allocated toward future fundraising and campaigns, as well as salaries and other running costs.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

How to Make Your Role as Volunteer Treasurer Easier

The volunteer treasurer is a significant position on any nonprofit board. Key responsibilities include the management and administration of the nonprofit's finances, reporting to the board, offering fundraising advice and acting as a liaison with independent auditors.

Treasurers that serve on the boards of small to mid-sized nonprofits, as well as all-volunteer organisations, often have a more hands-on role than those who serve at larger NFPs.

The following are a few tips that can make this daunting job a bit easier and less of a hassle.

Use Automated Software Designed Especially for Treasurers of Nonprofits

To keep up with everything, you must compile, track and report which are all very time-consuming. From recording the day-to-day transactions of your nonprofit and handling routine processes, such as bank reconcilements, to calculating GST, compiling monthly reports and so on - the role can get very busy if not managed well.

As your organisation's treasurer, one way that you can save time, and improve accuracy, is to make the switch to a fully automated bookkeeping software that is stored and accessed in the cloud, such as Admin Bandit's software for volunteer treasurers.

Software like this one tracks all of your organisation's transactions for you. It also walks you through each step of a host of more complicated tasks including preparing budgets, creating monthly and annual reports, calculating GST and other important filings.

Since the data is stored in the cloud, it reduces the risk of losing your organisation's valuable data should there be an incident of theft, fire, flood or another disaster.

Establish Sound, but Simple, Systems and Controls

As the treasurer, financial oversight is one of your most important duties. To protect the organisation's finances, you will need to limit who has access and control of the nonprofit's cash and other funds.

Take the time to establish policies and procedures that will help you to both follow and monitor your nonprofit's assets. Create routines that reduce risk of loss, such as always having two people to count the funds whenever cash handling is involved.

One way to establish routines that will also generate records that can help you track activities is to build forms for your procedures. Forms help you to leave a paper trail for your organisation's activities and expenses, such as having team members submit reimbursement request forms to help you track expenses.

While accounting software and a host of useful apps are generating less physical paper, you should still use a system of binders and other tools to help you organise whatever paper records and other important physical documents are generated.  

Use a Calendar

Of course, an old-fashioned paper calendar that is mounted on the wall or desk still works. However, there is an easier and more efficient way to keep up with all of the important dates that you must remember. Software and internet-based calendars make it a lot easier for you to keep track of filing requirements and deadlines. This is because you can program a virtual calendar to send you alerts and reminders, making it less likely that you will forget an important date.

This simply ensures that you are keeping up with financial requirements while also helping to ensure that your organisation avoids the expense of paying late filing fees and other penalties.

Prepare for the Next Treasurer

No matter how fulfilling your find your role and its duties, at some point, your term as a volunteer treasurer with your organisation will come to an end. You can make things easier for yourself, and the next person that follows in your footsteps, by making a point to regularly file your paperwork and keeping your records organised, and up to date.  

Before your term is set to expire, it is especially helpful to schedule a meeting with the incoming treasurer. Go over your accounting system and filing system with them, as well as the controls and procedures that you have in place to help minimise the impact of this new transition. 

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!