Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas

Volunteer Treasurer would like to wish all their clients and supporters a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Enjoy your break and we will see you in 2015.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Volunteer Quiz

All the specialists analysing the volunteering sector agree on one thing – the main problem why volunteers give up is that they don’t feel engaged in what they do. In other words, different people are apt to doing different volunteering and if you want to keep them with you for longer, you need to find out what may be the best tasks to give them. From outdoor events organisation to office and administration work, you can now easily determine where your volunteers will fit in with the help of the different quizzes suggested in this post.

This is a great quiz for someone who wants to quickly find out what the perfect volunteer job for them will be. Only 10 very straightforward and clear questions and the volunteer-to-be will know what they will enjoy doing. From there, you just need to place them in the right team and expect amazing results.

This is another great quiz that will help you find more about the volunteering nature of your prospective volunteers. It will tell you if their volunteer style is Active/Hands-on, Social Helper, Artistic/Creative or Technical/Administrative. In addition to this, you will get some ideas about what exactly they can help with – e.g. IT, Coaching, Photography, etc. This quiz is not interactive, so you will have to count how many A, B, C or D answers they have and check out the results table.

About 4 years ago, Wild Apricot published a post discussing 8 quizzes for volunteers that were divided into four categories: Learn Your Volunteer Profile, Eco-Volunteers, Career-Oriented Volunteers and Young Volunteers. Bearing in mind that the Internet is constantly changing, you will probably find that some of the quizzes are no longer there, but it is worth checking the post out and seeing what is still available.

Create Your Own Quiz

After you’ve checked out a few volunteer quizzes on the web, you will start seeing a pattern and determine how to estimate the results. Then, you will be able to create your own volunteer quiz and give it to your prospective volunteers showing interest in your organisation. The good thing about creating your own quiz is that you will be able to include questions that are relevant to your organisation and will better exhibit the preferences and abilities of your future volunteers.

Other Quizzes

If you want to see even more ready-made volunteer quizzes, the web is full of them! Just open your favourite search engine and type ‘volunteer quiz’ or ‘quiz for volunteers’ and you will be offered hundreds of quizzes to choose from.

All in all, knowing about all those great volunteer quizzes will hopefully help you with the hard tasks of retaining volunteers within your organisation. So next time you find a new person who wants to try volunteering, ask them to spend a couple of minutes on the quiz you think best matches your and their aims. The results will show you exactly how you can place the volunteer and how to keep them happy and satisfied with their work. Isn't that exactly what your organisation needs?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Volunteering – Getting More Than You Give

Volunteerism – the policy or practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one’s community” – that’s what volunteerism is all about according to the dictionary. What happens, however, when we take the ‘worthwhile’ out of ‘worthwhile activities’? The Ph.D. student in sociology and volunteer Ian Breckenridge-Jackson asked the same question in his presentation ‘Getting More Than We Give – Realities of Volunteerism’.

Back in 2006, Ian became one of the many tourist volunteers who went to New Orleans with the plan to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. However, it turned out that volunteering turned out quite different than what he expected. Instead of helping the victims settle back in their homes in the historical neighbourhood Lower Ninth Ward, Ian and the other volunteers had the task to demolish what’s left of their houses, leaving people to wait for the government to rebuild it and give them some financial help.

This experience changed Ian’s life. Expecting to go and give his time and efforts to the people, he ended up getting a free trip to New Orleans, an award, a valuable entry in his CV, recognition and the feeling that he did something good. This volunteering experience completely changed Ian’s life. The simple calculations he made helped him see that volunteer tourists, although driven by good will, are mostly a waste of time and money.

Ian found out that if the funds used to get volunteers to New Orleans was used to build new houses instead, it would have been enough to rebuild a neighbourhood twice the size of Lower Ninth Ward (for reference, so far only about 1/5 of the houses in the neighbourhood have been rebuilt). So Ian decided to contribute to the victims in a different way. Firstly, he partnered with another volunteer – Caroline Heldman – and together they co-founded the Lower Ninth Ward Museum where everyone can go for free and learn the story of the neighbourhood’s inhabitants. Secondly, he focussed his Ph.D. dissertation on the impact of volunteers who flocked to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

And while we are waiting for the results of Ian’s dissertation, we can’t help ask ourselves some of the questions bothering him. When is volunteerism turning into a pointless and even a detrimental activity? Before taking part in a volunteer project, you need to find out if your efforts will actually help someone. Volunteerism exists to help people in need, but it often takes an unfortunate turn which helps no-one. There is nothing bad in getting something back from volunteer work – experience, new friends, new connections, knowledge etc., however, for it to be worthwhile, you need to give more than you get.

Ian is not the first one to doubt the usefulness of volunteer tourists. Many specialists are of the opinion that a worthy cause could do better to invest the money for volunteer tourists in local specialists and companies (depending on the situation), who will be able to do much more for the people in need than those coming from all over the world. Some people even think that volunteer tourism is becoming a whimsy, a sort of amusement for some people.

We know it is the volunteers, not the tourists, devoting their time and efforts with good intentions. However, before you choose a cause to volunteer for, ask yourself what you will be doing, why you will be doing it and who you are really helping. If the answers to these three questions are satisfactory – go for it! If not, maybe you should consider another cause or project.

Good luck! 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

NAB And Community Spirit

Today we want to address our gratitude to the National Australia Bank and Impact Investing Australia for a piece of great news – the foundation of a brand new impact investment fund amounting to $1 million. NAB, which is one of the founders of Impact Investing Australia, appears quite keen to start a new process that is bound to shape the social face of Australia for years to come.

The latest report by Impact Investing Australia (which came hand in hand with the announcement of the new fund) is named “Delivering on Impact: The Australian Advisory Board Breakthrough Strategy to Catalyse Impact Investing” and is full of useful content that explains how exactly Australia will become a better place with the help of Impact Investing. According to the specialists who have worked on the report, if everything goes as planned, it will be easy to achieve $10 billion in impact assets in the market.
So what does all that mean? To start with, if you want to do Impact Investing but you don't have the capital to start, now you can access it. If you have a business model that can improve the social and community conditions in Australia, you can realise it with the help of the new fund. If you want to invest in the improvement of Australia and the Australian community and earn at the same time, you only need to find out how and apply for financing. If you have already found out how – so much the better!

The fund will be known as the NAB Impact Investment Grants Program and will be managed by NAB in cooperation with Impact Investing Australia. The Difference Incubator will also have a significant role for making it happen – mainly in terms of the structure and design of the program. As Steve Lambert (who is both part of NAB and Impact Investing Australia) says, "the program is only one of the projects currently being developed to improve the community situation in Australia and overcome any challenges the country may face in the future". According to him, one of the main responsibilities of NAB is to provide their customers with ‘holistic and innovative financial solutions’.
This is a great start for the Australian Impact beginning (although there have been other efforts to push it forward), but it most certainly won’t be enough to help create the Australia we want. Therefore, the National Australia Bank encourages all organisations and businesses out there to contribute to the fund. With mutual effort and hard work, Australia may become a great place for living, investment and business – as long as we want it and fight for it.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Lessons From Geese

This is a popular story across the internet and it’s easy to see why. I’m not alone when I say that the animal world has a lot to teach us if we just pay attention. This story is filled with lessons which apply to the way we work in teams and particularly as volunteers for not for profit organisations. Sometimes it seems as though our voice is the only one trying to bring attention to the cause but, as you read this, you will realise that you’re not alone, and your team is with you. Learn how to work with it for better results.

Lessons from Geese

As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird behind it. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier when they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down. They stay with the goose to help and protect it until it is able to fly again or it dies. Then they launch out with another formation to catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other.

Whenever a goose falls out of the formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging - not something less than helpful.

Now that you’ve read the lessons, take from them what you can. Volunteers are amazing people – you are an amazing person – so stick together like geese and move forward as one. You have more chance of being seen and heard if you fly together as one.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Celebrating Your Volunteers In Your Blog

As every manager of a NFP organisation knows only too well, the burning out of volunteers is one of the main problems in the sector. It is important to know that along with the other reasons why volunteers cease to be interested in volunteering, a strong factor is the lack of attention to their efforts. If you want to keep your volunteers happy and motivated, you will have to make them feel special and what better way to do so than acknowledging the difference they make. In this sense, using your blog to celebrate the volunteers at your NFP is a great idea with a lot of potential.

Devoting a section in your blog to your volunteers is a solution that can help in more than one way. To start with, your volunteers will be pleased to know that you are interested in what they have to say and will be happy to share their opinion, views, feedback or memories. Bearing in mind that most of them may be too shy or modest to share that they volunteer, celebrating them in your blog will do that on their behalf and may turn very useful if a prospective employer makes the effort to google them for more information. And finally, you will have fresh and unique content for your blog, which will contribute to your search engine optimisation and will have a positive effect on the online image of your NFP.

As to what volunteer-related content you can publish in your blog, that’s the easiest part of the process. Your volunteers have special events in their lives, some of them related to the organisation. If an elderly volunteer celebrates an important anniversary (like a 70th birthday or 10 years at the organisation), you can celebrate them in a blog post – a short interview and a nice photo will do. Otherwise, you can start a rubric of the ‘Ask a volunteer’ and ‘Our volunteers’ feedback’; every week a different person can share their organisation-related thoughts. Or you can ask around the company for interesting or funny stories from the volunteers’ experience and share them with your blog readers.

An example of an organisation that makes the effort to celebrate their volunteers in their blog is Oxfam Australia. Navigating in their website, you can easily reach the section of the blog devoted to the volunteers and there you can see posts similar to the proposed above: Volunteer Spotlight which focusses on a person and their story; a message from one volunteer to another; commemorating the retirement of a long-term volunteer, etc. As already mentioned, this can only bring benefits to your organisation and your blog, and it will be a precious little act of attention for your volunteers.

Having said all this, if you think it is high time you did something special for your volunteers, try celebrating them in your blog post. Making them feel special is sure to invigorate them and make them even more passionate for your NFP’s activities. And besides this, your prospective volunteers will read positive stories of current people working with you, which is a great plus for your recruitment strategy. All in all, blogging about your volunteers is a win-win, so make sure you try it soon!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Online Learning For Volunteer Treasurers

Although it is a voluntary position, being a treasurer for a not-for-profit organisation may be a challenging experience, especially if you are not prepared. There are many activities a volunteer treasurer (VT) needs to participate in, and even more processes they should monitor and control. Therefore, if you are or want to be a volunteer treasurer, it is worth taking the effort to train yourself for the job. Similarly, if you are about to take on board a treasurer for your NFP organisation, you should make sure that they are ready for this responsibility.

Fortunately, nowadays it is not too hard to find appropriate resources and train on your own – the Internet is full of materials that can help volunteer treasurers with their undertakings. A good place to start is Davidson Institute, a financial education institution part of the Westpac network. The Institute provides a lot of resources that will prove helpful for VTs. Once you get on their website, you can either visit the Learning Centre, which is divided into categories for Business, Personal, Not-for-Profit and Corporate visitors, or you can check out the courses page and browse through similar categories.

At present, there is one active short course appropriate for Not-for-Profit VTs, with more undoubtedly to follow. Meanwhile, you can take the 1-day Financial Management 101 for Not-for-Profit & Community Organisations, which will help you understand the financial management tools you will need in order to be successful in your position of treasurer and improve the NFP’s financial performance. You can check out the course details here.

In the learning centre, you can find many free resources that will improve your financial knowledge and prepare you for the role of the treasurer. There is a separate section Managing Money for Not-for-Profits, where you can read articles on different topics by experienced treasurers and financial managers or participate in the free webinars. There are also other resources that you can check out, like the Cause and Effect Newsletter.

All these resources provided by Davidson Institute can help volunteer treasurers find new sources of funding for their NFP organisations, increase the financial stability and processes and implement good financial practices. If you are anxious about your financial literacy, you could find help with the interpretation of financial statements, the building of cash flow budget and the planning and managing of seasonality. You can also learn how to understand the financial impact of growth, diagnose financial problems and deal with them, and many more. In other words, the resources on this website are a real treasure for treasurers – make sure you check them out and improve yourself!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

3 Bookkeeping Mistakes Your Club Or NFP Might Be Making

The end of the financial year is a great time to take a look at your bookkeeping processes to see what is working and what is not.  The systems which once worked for you may no longer be appropriate, especially if you have seen a growth in membership.

Here are 3 key bookkeeping mistakes made by many clubs and not for profit organisations.  Are you making any of these?

1.  Keeping paper based records.

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.  Keeping paper based records is a security risk.  Anyone can access them and – even worse – alter them without you even realising.  (And I hate to ask it, but where are your backup records?)

2.  Using the wrong financial record keeping software.

Sometimes your accountant will advise you to use accounting systems which, although excellent at what it does, is too advanced for you or your treasurer to use.  If yours is a smaller NFP you don’t need an accounting system full of bells and whistles.  Often it can be hard to imagine that errors are made purely by accident. Choose club software such as Admin Bandit software which gives you everything you need to accurately manage your accounts without giving you a headache.

3.  Not checking your records with the bank.

This is a basic mistake but it happens more often than you would think possible.  Sometimes it is an oversight and sometimes it’s a confusion over who is responsible for the task.  Other times it is because one person actively prevents it happening, and that’s when they know there is something to cover up. You can’t be confident in your records, especially if they are paper based, without confirming the details with your bank.
Now is the time to check the systems you are using to see whether or not they are working for you, and if there is a better, more secure way to manage your bookkeeping and club finances.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Your Password Is Weaker Than You Think

With so much of our lives and information contained in that little box on your desk or lap, it’s important that we protect it as much as we can. The most basic form of security is the password and that’s where many of us are going wrong.

How secure is your information? It depends on how strong your password is.

Earlier this year Splashdata released a list of the worst passwords of 2013 which was compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online during the previous year. What they found is that most of us are so worried about forgetting our passwords that we choose ones which are easy to remember. The problem with that is that if we can work them out, so can some hacker who wants his wicked way with your data.

One good sign which shows we are becoming more aware of our security is that “password” as a password has finally lost its number one spot on the list.

But guess what its replacement is? Yep. It’s 123456.

Here is the list of the top 25 worst passwords of 2013.

1. 123456
2. password
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. 123456789
7. 111111
8. 1234567
9. iloveyou
10. adobe123
11. 123123
12. sunshine
13. 1234567890
14. letmein
15. photoshop
16. 1234
17. monkey
18. shadow
19. sunshine
20. 12345
21. password1
22. princess
23. azerty
24. trustno1
25. 000000

Your password is what keeps your data safe so it’s worth creating a strong one and memorising it.

The best passwords, according to Splashdata and most security experts, will have eight characters or more, combining letters, numbers, and symbols. It is recommended that you don’t use the same password for everything, and that you have an even stronger password to keep your financial information safe.

Go and check your own passwords now. If you recognise it from this list, take immediate action to change it.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

You’re In The Deep End!

Your treasurer has quit. No one else wants the job. Somehow you find yourself volunteering for the role.

Now what? Numbers aren’t your thing.

How soon till the panic sets in?

Oh heavens, where did you put the calculator?

Like a modern day Robin Hood, you will have to rob the rich to pay the poor – but where do you find the money? 

Don’t worry. It’s not going to be a nightmare. Just use Admin Bandit software which has been specifically designed to help volunteer treasurers and their committees to manage their accounts without going crazy.

Make yourself look professional by taking advantage of the built in features.  Customise Admin Bandit to match your organisation and present a professional image to the committee and the world:

·         import your own logo to appear on all reports, receipts, invoices and member notices.

·         customise terms to match your activities, e.g. Members to Players, Groups to Teams.

·         consistent brand across all correspondence and reports generated for your club or society.

·         consistent clear reports give you confidence in the job you do as a treasurer

In our busy, competitive world, give your organisation the edge by having a good handle on the finances.

A well run organisation is attractive to people when they are deciding which association or club they will commit their time and resources to assist.

Find out more in our video which explains the whys, wheres and hows for you.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Have You Applied For The 2014 Westpac Community Grants?

Is your NFP working to improve the lives of disadvantaged Australians?

Could you do with a boost to your funding?

The 2014 Westpac Community Grants might be just what you need.  The grants have been designed for specific purposes.  This is an extract from the Westpac page.

What we do fund:
  • Projects that build on a community organisation’s core work
  • Running costs, including salaries, to ensure that community organisations can maintain and develop their core work and services.
What we do not fund:
Organisations that do not have a Deductible Gift Recipient Item 1 status with the ATO, or are not auspiced
  • Charities that mainly work overseas
  • Hospitals, hospices or medical centres
  • Medical research, funding for medical equipment or medical treatments
  • Rescue services
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Sponsorship or funding towards a marketing appeal or fundraising activities
  • Capital projects, appeals and refurbishments
  • Projects that support animals or to promote animal welfare
  • Programs promoting religion.
The Westpac Foundation has already provided over one million dollars of funding for community grants. These grants have helped over 113 Not for Profits to expand their operations.  That is a very impressive record.

This year there is a total of $530,000 in grant money available to groups who can meet the funding requirements.

If you have never applied for a grant before, take the time to read the documentation on how to apply and check the selection criteria.  Both are found on the information page.
Applications are open until March 31st and grant recipients will be announced in June. Please visit the Westpac Foundation to discover more about the grants and to make your application.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

What We Can Learn From Australia’s Top Reputable Charities

To be named Australia’s most reputable not for profit organisation is an honour; to be named most reputable 3 years in a row is definitely a great achievement indeed.  Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service has been given this honour ranking highest again in the 2013 AMR Charity Reputation Index.

The AMR survey measures across many facets of a non-profit organisation including innovation, workplace, citizenship, governance, leadership and cost management.

AMR’s Managing Director Oliver Freedman said that the Royal Flying Doctors had in particular built a strong reputation across this broad base. 

Freedman commented, “The research demonstrates that for a charity to have a strong reputation, it is not enough simply to be supporting a good cause.  These organisations also need to be innovative, strong community leaders, demonstrate appropriate cost management, be transparent in their governance and provide a good workplace for employees.  The Royal Flying Doctors came up well in all these dimensions, and their overall reputation ranking reflects this community view.”

Coming in a very notable second is the McGrath Foundation which managed to rise a whole eight places from last year to achieve this astounding result.

The Foundation communicates clearly about what it is raising money for, and where it will go,” Freedman said.  “This has contributed to its overall reputation in the eyes of Australians because they understand what the charity stands for and can see the work it is undertaking out in the community.”

These two charities are certainly a great act for all not for profits to follow and it just goes to show how much transparency, innovation and reputation play a part in an organisation's success.

To learn more about the charities and the AMR Charity Reputation Index visit the original article.