Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Importance of Social Media for NFPs

If nonprofits wish to survive and thrive, they must have support. This support can come in many forms such as advocacy, donations, and volunteering.

Increasing Support Doesn’t Have to Be Costly

At its heart, social media marketing allows nonprofits to use one of the most successful, and oldest, forms of advertising to increase its base of support: social influence, or, word-of-mouth marketing. Social media campaigns are effective for increasing an NFP’s reach because their cost can be easily controlled by scaling campaigns up or down.

Once the initial content is created, connections within various networks spread the message on their own, creating organic support and traffic without incurring additional cost. Using social media to find and recruit supporters, however, isn’t just about controlling costs. The following is a brief overview of two additional reasons why nonprofits need to be using social media in their marketing campaigns and communications.

To Stay Competitive

Competition is a key factor that affects the impact and growth of every nonprofit, despite the increase in collaborations and partnerships between third parties.

Nonprofits compete to recruit skilled, talented people to serve on boards, and as staff members and volunteers. Funds are also a scarce resource, as there are not enough grants, endowments and individual contributions to fund every need.

Research shows that if you want your nonprofit to be able to recruit enough staff, volunteers, advocates and donors, then your nonprofit must have an online presence, and be using social media to spread the word about your cause and how others can help.

According to statistics provided in the 2016 Global NGO Online Technology Report, most not for profits worldwide are actively online using multiple social media channels to connect with supporters, accept donations and spread awareness about their NFP’s mission. A full 92% of NFPs have a website and 46% blog regularly, making it easy for online users to discover information about their mission and projects.

75% email their supporters’ donation requests and other news, and 75% accept donations online. 95% have a Facebook page, 83% have a profile on Twitter, and nearly 40% use Instagram to keep their supporters up-to-date and motivated about the good work that their organisation is accomplishing.
To be effective, nonprofits must use social media to stand out from all of their competitors in both the for-profit and not-for-profit world. They should use it to firmly establish their brand, and link their brand to their cause, their vision and the work that can be accomplished with the support of others.

To Remain Relevant

It’s not just other NFPs that are online. According to data on social media trends provided by Track Maven, nearly one third of the entire world’s population will be online by next year. Global Web Index statistics reveal that most online users have about 6 social media profiles and regularly use nearly half of them.

This data clearly illustrates why it’s so important for your nonprofit to enter this space! A growing number of us no longer get our news from traditional network broadcasts and media outlets. Instead, we are leveraging our social media networks to stay up-to-date on the latest news and events. We then share those stories that personally connect with us and then like or otherwise express an opinion about these posts with our connections.

To become a part of these crucial conversations and exchanges of ideas, you must be online, and using the social media channels where these conversations are taking place. To engage with potential supporters, you must be online where your supporters are likely to be. Otherwise your cause will go unnoticed and your projects will go unsupported. To stay relevant, nonprofits need to include social media in their marketing strategies, and engage their supporters on the social media channels of their choice.  

If your nonprofit is struggling to build its base of support, this is likely a sign that your social media strategy may need some fine-tuning to return the results that your nonprofit wants and needs. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

3 Essential Qualities Every Good Treasurer Must Have


A volunteer treasurer needs to be organised and good with figures. They must ensure they are on top of the situation from the very first day of the job. They should be passionate and motivated. They need to be trustworthy and available when the charity or nonprofit has a query or requires a report. The list is seemingly endless!

On top of these traits, and the many others we could name off the top of our head, there are three other qualities which a treasurer must have in order to make their job easier.

Professionalism

Regardless of how relaxed the organisation is, as a Volunteer Treasurer, it is your job to represent the NFP in a professional manner. Having a solid base of professionalism will make the job simpler, and you never know who may be watching. Remember your volunteer role may lead to other opportunities in the future. Conduct yourself professionally in all situations and show the NFP that you have a solid work ethic regardless of whether it is a paid or volunteer position.

Strength

A Volunteer Treasurer needs to be tough and strong. You should always stick to your guns and follow the rules and policies set in place. If there are no rules, then create them. Establishing solid business practices from the start will hold you in good stead. Financial control policies are there for an excellent reason. They prevent bookkeeping errors and fraud. Don’t let the team walk all over you or ask you to bend their rules just because they don’t like them. Stick to the rules and your colleagues will soon understand that you mean business.

Creativity

If your nonprofit has not embraced modern technology or made any changes in the last ten years, then you may have to put your creative hat on. Just because it has always been done that way, doesn’t mean it has to stay like that. A Volunteer Treasurer’s position involves a lot of responsibility, and often there are systems you can utilise to cut down your hours or improve your overall effectiveness. Look at software options such as Admin Bandit or endeavour to fine-tune those reports so they are more efficient. There are always alternative methods - you just need to find the ones which will assist you to streamline the procedures and save the NFP time and money. Do your research to understand what will fit the needs of the NFP and, of course, yourself.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

How to Craft an Email Newsletter that Actually Gets Read and Creates Results

Drafting a newsletter can be very nerve-wracking. What if no one reads it; what if people unsubscribe as soon as they receive it? Well, chances of both of those things happening are quite high. But in between the unsubscribers and the deleters are a bunch of interested individuals who want to hear what you have to say.

There are some definite tips you can take on board to increase the percentage of those who read it and those who click on a link and visit your website, however. Despite those nerves, it is time to get drafting and provide valuable information to your readers that will have them engaging with your brand and donating to your cause.

Do you have an objective in mind?

If you are purely sending your email out because it is the third Tuesday of the month, then you may find yourself struggling a bit. You need to have a specific objective in mind when drafting it, so it resonates with your readers. Think about what your objective could be this month and then set out to fulfil this aim.

Are you consistent with design and frequency?

If you send out a newsletter every now and again, it may not be so well received. We are creatures of habits and you will be more likely to build trust if you send them out on a regular basis. Try to be consistent with your design, so it matches your newsletter and other marketing material. Once you have drafted it and have the layout approved, stick to it.

Do you have any metrics set in place?

Many nonprofits tend to shy away from metrics because they feel like they are a bit of a failure if they miss the mark. But metrics are particularly useful to see how well your newsletter was received. Focus on the positives – the likes and the clicks which demonstrate your achievements and then work out how to do better next month.

Have you come up with catchy headlines?

Most NFPs spend much of the time writing the text, planning the layout and tweaking the images. But remember, don't leave the headline until the last minute. It is the first thing they see in their inbox and well-placed strategic headings will carry the reader through the entire newsletter. Use them wisely.

Is it as pretty as a picture?

Huge blocks of text can be dull to browse. Break up the words with text or even a video but always check back to see whatever you are adding, connects strongly with the overall objective of the message. Don’t add a picture just for the sake of it.

Do you have a donate button incorporated into your newsletter?

It is such a small thing to do and if you use a template each month, then it is something that you probably don’t even need to think about. Make sure that there is an easy-to-locate donate button on your page in case your readers are feeling in the mood to give.

Constant communication will tick those boxes for accountability and trust, not to mention donor retention. Do your NFP a favour and send out newsletters that are worth writing and reading.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Attracting Millennials To Your NFP

NFPs need all sorts of employees and volunteers to function at its very best. Employing millennials (individuals born between 1980 to 2000) is a must, if it is your intention that your NFP stands the test of time. Millennials are not only generous to causes they believe in, but they can also educate you on new and improved ways to reach other millennials and increase donor support.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds and 27% of 25 to 34-year-olds volunteered in 2014. This is compared to 39% of individuals aged 35-44 and 42% of 15 to 17-year-olds. The 18 to 34 age group could definitely do with some more incentive to volunteer and gain employment with NFPs. Millennials are a huge part of the population, and organisations need to understand that there may be alternative ways to engage them.

It is essential that you create a brand or marketing campaign that millennials will be happy to get behind. Millennials resonate with individuals and organisations wanting to make a positive change in the world. If they feel empowered by your brand, then they will get excited about it. As millennials are heavily connected online, having a solid website, cleverly constructed 'About Us' page and well laid out social media channels is important. Make it eye-catching, inspiring and mobile-friendly.

Ensure it is easy for them to connect to you. The younger generation tends to make their decisions based on impulse. Don’t let anything stand in their way. And once you have their interest, try to keep them engaged. A millennial who follows your cause will be more willing to pass your information on to others.

Storytelling campaigns are one of the best ways you can connect with millennials. Showcase stories and profiles of individuals who are making strides in your industry, so they have someone to emulate.

If you use just some of the following tips to attract the millennials, then you stand more of a chance in increasing millennials.
  • ·         Strive for diversification in the workplace
  • ·         Use social media to communicate your story
  • ·         Explain career paths and opportunities
  • ·         Offer meaningful experiences
  • ·         Be open to new ideas
  • ·         Create entry level positions with real room to grow

Millennials appreciate companies who provide fulfilling jobs and flexible workplaces. NFPs must understand how to communicate this information authentically to draw in the younger crowd.

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.