Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Celebrating 2015

Well, what a year it has been. It has been choc-o-block full of successes, triumphs and steep learning curves. And dare I say it, we know our charities and ourselves a little bit better than we did at the start.

Were you successful in securing funding for your NFP this year? It is a hard subject to tackle, but when working together with your local community, it can be very rewarding, not to mention beneficial in the long term. Or perhaps you had more luck with one of the available grants valid in your service area?

Many of our treasurers saw an increase in sponsorship which is a great move forward for NFPs and their awareness in the community.

Some of our working volunteer treasurers even had the chance to do some volunteer work outside of their usual treasury role. There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering, particularly around the December period when charities and NFPs are looking for additional hands to help with their Christmas-related projects.

Did you get a chance to look into the Fundraising Management Diploma at all? MTo recap, The Diploma in Fundraising Management is available to both home and international students as a distance learning course and enables participants to develop the knowledge and skills they need to advance in the area of professional fundraising – either working for an NFP or starting their own charity. Perhaps 2016 will finally be the year to take the plunge?

Whatever you will be doing, we hope that next year is, even more, eventful and successful than the last. So from Volunteer Treasurer to you, merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Are Cheques Still Relevant?

After peaking in the mid-80s, cheque use has been steadily declining. According to a report by the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA), the use of cheques has declined over 70% in the last decade.

With so many voluntarily adopting the use of debit and credit cards, as well as other means of electronic transfer for payment, some have begun to wonder if cheques are destined to share the same fate as Australia's Holey Dollars and one and two cent coins.

Disadvantages of Cheque Payments

Opponents of cheques cite the relative security of electronic transfers, and their speed and ease of use as reasons to stop accepting cheques as a form of payment. Most electronic debits and credits happen instantly, whereas it can take 3 or more days for a physical cheque to clear one's bank. It also costs banks about three and a half times more to process a physical cheque than an electronic transfer. The recipient also often has to go to the time and trouble of physically visiting their bank to deposit the cheque.

Even though less than 5% of all the payments made by individuals and businesses each day are made by cheque, this percentage still amounts to a large number of transactions. Almost one million of the payments that are made each day in Australia are made by cheque. As long as there is a need for cheques, it is unlikely that governing bodies will take legal action that would officially end their use.

Groups Still Clinging to Their Cheques

Even though it's unlikely that there will be an official "hard stop" for accepting cheques as a payment method, time itself may make the question a moot point. Most cheque users tend to be older in age, with less than 7% of those under the age of 30 using them.  As the population naturally ages, cheque use will continue to decline.

While older folks prefer to continue using cheques for nostalgia's sake, insurance proceeds, real estate sales, superannuation payments, and even property settlements are often paid by cheque for legal reasons.  Charities, sporting clubs and other non-profits also often prefer to use cheques since they believe it allows the group's treasurer greater control over the organisation's funds.

Why it's a Good Idea to Expand Payment Methods

While it's unlikely that cheques will be outlawed in the near future, many vendors, suppliers and customers may stop accepting them on their own. This fact alone makes it a good idea for the treasurer and other board members to investigate what steps are needed to start making and accepting electronic payments.

While it's likely that cheque use will still exist for some time to come, expanding the types of payment methods that your non-profit makes and accepts  will give your group greater flexibility with vendors and suppliers as well as decrease the time that it takes for funds to be processed and available for use.  

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Fundraising and Sponsorship More Similar Than You Might Think

When it comes to growing your non-profit, sponsorship just may be the answer. Of course, sponsorship is not to be confused with fundraising which is a way of raising cash for your non-profit’s needs. Sponsorship may well be about the cash in the long term but like fundraising, marketing and relationships still play a major part.

At the outset they seem very different – fundraising is about cash – a transaction, whereas a sponsorship is a development of a long term relationship. However from the non-profit’s perspective seeking either, the approach needs to remain the same.

When it comes to finding sponsors or those willing to hand over their hard earned funds to support your organisation, a quality partnership must be established; one built on trust and understanding. What is it they want from you and you from them? Think about why someone would want to sponsor you or why they would give you cash in the first place.

But it goes further than that. You need to look after and respect your partners and funders, thanking them at each opportunity. From your perspective, regardless of how much you need the cash financing or support, it is all about them. And of course, both transactions whether fundraising or sponsorship based will need to be accountable at some point.

Unlike a donation which is money given non-specifically, fundraising or sponsorship offers you the opportunity to tell your side of things, to present yourself and your cause in a good light. This is your story and your opportunity to spread it as wide and as loudly as possibly. Attracting those who listen is important particularly those who respond positively to what you have to say. They are the ones who will speak the loudest about your organisation telling others of a great opportunity should they be interested.

More similar than you might think initially, right? Do you have a preference for your non-profit when it comes to fundraising?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Should You Have Your Own Fundraising Professional on Board?

Many nonprofits simply rely on their existing board members to develop their fundraising goals and strategic marketing plans. It's common for boards to turn the oversight of their fundraising over to the treasurer or even to someone else on the board that may have some experience with finances in their private life. In general this is usually a volunteer board member that works in banking or accounting, or other position that involves marketing.

As with most endeavours, board members will find that they can likely improve the results of their fundraising efforts if they enlist the services and experience of a professional. Just as you wouldn't turn to an amateur if you were facing a serious illness and would likely seek out the services of a professionally trained physician, nonprofit boards can benefit from having a fundraising professional on board.

A fundraising professional can help give direction and provide insight to the board when creating a fundraising campaign as well as be able to design one that will increase the amount of funds that are raised. This is critically important for most nonprofits given the fact that fundraising is often a nonprofit's greatest source of funding. Being able to have a reliable professional to turn to can not only improve your nonprofit's ability to achieve its service level goals; it can also increase your ability to continue daily operating in a sustainable manner.  

Because of their training and experience, a fundraising professional is able to help unify your nonprofit's approach to fundraising. They also usually take on the responsibility of doing the hard work that is necessary to keep up with communications that build and strengthen relationships. This helps nonprofits to be able to keep their current donors involved and emotionally connected to the nonprofit's goals while seeking out new donors in ways that are the most cost effective.

Increasing the amount of monies that your nonprofit receives from fundraising is about more than simply asking for more money from your existing network of donors. The most successful fundraising campaigns are usually part of a multi-year fundraising strategy. A professional fundraiser is especially beneficial when it comes time to develop these long range fundraising plans for your nonprofit's organisation as their experience enables them to be able to provide realistic targets for your fundraising goals and likely costs from year to year. This allows your nonprofit to be able to take swift action should circumstances and needs change.

In short, while your nonprofit will likely have to pay to hire a fundraising professional, this cost will probably be more than offset by the increase in the amount of donations that you normally receive while reducing your fundraising costs by providing plans that result in greater focus and less waste during the actual fundraising process. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Importance Of Reconciling Your Accounts

With most cheque account transactions and credit card statements now being available anytime online, you might be tempted to skip the monthly chore of reconciling your organisation's accounts. Even if you use cloud accounting apps and no longer have to wait to receive a paper statement in the mail to check your balances, there are several reasons why regularly reconciling your accounts is still a good idea.

Eliminates errors by serving as a double check of your data entry. Even the best accounting software can develop a glitch and possibly miss transactions. Reconciling your accounts allows you to catch errors and enter any missed transactions that your software might have missed when doing the books. Other errors that you can catch with reconciliation include entries with incorrect amounts or entries made to incorrect accounts. If you misplaced a receipt and a transaction didn't get entered into your records, reconciling your accounts regularly allows you to catch this type of error as well while you still have a chance to search for the missing receipt or perhaps return to the supplier and ask for a duplicate.

Allows you to pick up on overpayments or underpayments to suppliers and others. Regular account reconciliation allows you to stay on top of your transactions. When reconciling your account it's not unusual to have some outstanding cheques, but if one has remained uncashed for a period of time, it's always a good idea to follow up and find out if the cheque was lost, or if there is another issue.

Reduces potential for losses due to fraud or oversight. Regularly reconciling your accounts ensures that everyone that handles the accounts and issues cheques 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.

Ensures financial statements are accurate so that data used to calculate required reports or taxes and fees is accurate. If you have missing or incorrect transactions, then the financial statements that are prepared from these records are incorrect as well. Any taxes or other fees that would be based on these statements would also be incorrect. Regular reconciliation of your accounts will catch these mistakes early in the year and allow you to take corrective action long before required reports and forms are due.

Allows you to have a better grasp of your performance. While some may prefer to look at a statement or other report to get a picture of their charity's financial stability, regularly reconciling your accounts can also give you an instant snapshot and up close view on your income, expenses and cash flow. Staying on top of this information allows you to help your charity, club or NFP to take corrective action should you spot a potential shortfall in income or increase in expenses.

While taking the time to regularly reconcile your organisation's accounts is not the most exciting or easy task that you have as a treasurer, it certainly has several benefits for your charity that will make it well worth the time and effort. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Cash, Cheque or Credit?

Deciding how best to operate the financial side of your organisation involves weighing up the pros and cons of the big three options. While cash, cheques and credit cards all have their advantages, there are drawbacks to be aware of too. However, when managed well, any of the three options could be just the right fit. Let's consider them one by one. 


Benefits: Convenient, easy to handle. Cash in cash out operations are simple to operate.
Drawbacks: Possibility of theft or accusations of theft.
Suggestions: Count and record cash receipts promptly and regularly. Have at least two people present for all transactions. Keep cash locked in a secure location where only a limited number of people have access. Deposit cash in a bank regularly, so large sums are completely secure. Have signatures of receipt whenever cash is distributed.


Benefits: Cheques deliver an easy to follow paper trail. All payments are recorded by the bank.
Drawbacks: With the recent increase in impersonal banking, forgery is possible. Though a small risk, depositing cheques through ATMs (automatic teller machines) could result in a forged cheque being processed. 
Suggestions: Secure all blank cheques in a locked location. Also secure under lock and key all signed cancelled cheques that are returned from the bank. 

Debit and Credit Cards

Benefits: Cards are widely accepted and more traceable than cash. Cards can be issued to key personnel for them to make purchases on behalf of the organisation.
Drawbacks: There may be a temptation for staff to use cards for personal use, intending to pay back later.
Suggestions: Have clear non-negotiable rules that cards are not for personal use. Set daily transaction limits, and meet with bank officials to discuss and set other limits, like limits on certain classes of vendors.

With some forethought and by remaining mindful of possible shortcomings, cash, cheques or debit and credit cards may be suitable for your organisation.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Why Become A Volunteer Treasurer

Traditionally, people who have little or no experience with volunteering consider it an activity in which you give something directly to the community. You can spend time with the elderly, help prepare food for the homeless, take part in the cleaning of a certain public location or work with animals that are in need of a new home. However, not many people realise that volunteering can also include what they are good at – including design and programming, writing, marketing, or accounting and financial processes. In this post, we will discuss why it is a good idea to become a volunteer treasurer and use your skills to help the organisation of your choice.

Feeling Good

Feeling good is arguably the most important reason why people become volunteer treasurers or take any other volunteer role. Knowing that you help someone, even if it is indirectly – through managing a NFP organisation’s finances, will bring you a feeling of satisfaction and true happiness.

Learning Useful Career Skills

If you are planning to work in the field of finance and accounting full time, being a volunteer treasurer can be a great start for your career. You will work in a real financial environment where you can gain useful insight and practical experience and hone your skills, especially if you are new to the field or if you haven’t worked in it for years. There is no better preparation for the financial world than diving in the books of a real organisation and starting to sort out any problems or situations that may occur, while trying to improve its financial processes, triggers and practices.

Making a Difference

Volunteering is all about making a difference, isn’t it? However, in your case you will be making the difference backstage – making sure that all the donations and collections, the available funds and resources and all other money are safe, appropriately allocated, wisely spent and, hopefully, multiplied. The difference you make will be on a different level – you will not be out on site motivating people to donate. Instead, you will make sure the efforts of other volunteers will not go in vain and every cent donated will be spent for the best possible purpose.

Supporting your Cause

Many consider the role of a treasurer or a board member less important and exciting one than the job of the activists of the organisation. However, it is important to remember that every charity needs its treasurer. We could go as far as saying that the treasurer is the backbone of every NFP organisation – without them, the finances would be a mess and the board may not have the financial insight to take future money decisions, including preparing the budget, creating new financial milestones and goals and cutting or expanding on different spending areas.

As you can see, being a volunteer treasurer can be much more useful for the organisation than people tend to think. Moreover, volunteering your time in such a way has a number of benefits for you as well – improving and expanding your skills, adding some valuable records to your CV, making new connections and finding like-minded people. In other words, being a volunteer treasurer is worth it and has a number of advantages for you, the organisation and the community. After knowing all this, you would consider giving it a go, wouldn’t you? 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Coping With Criticism

Criticism is something you can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.
- Aristotle

Being a volunteer treasurer can be difficult. Not everything to do with your finances is in your control. So how do you cope with criticism when people think you should have done something better or differently?

The natural reaction is to be hurt and angry, but neither of those emotions are positive. They won’t get you anywhere, but you do need to allow yourself time to get the emotions out of your system before you take any sort of action.

A couple of years ago we brought you a post that offered some constructive ideas. Called “Have You Got Critics?’ The post covered 5 steps in the coping process. There is one key point from that post that I’d like to remind you of.

It's about them, not you.

"If you're truly being criticised unfairly, then it's likely the other person has got some background issues that are feeding their maniacal nastiness. Pity them. Life is too short to get wound up by someone else's drama.

May you have many days free of critics, backstabbers, gossips, and other yuckiness! If not, stuff 'em! You're better than all that."

Criticism is the first weapon people call on when they feel challenged by something you’ve done. It might be as small as asking them to explain their expenditure or as large as pushing them to change the accounting processes within the NFP. Either way, the reaction is either defensive or fearful, and the criticism is not really targeting you.

How do you know if the criticism is real?

The answer lies in these 3 steps.

1. Stop and listen to what is being said. Suspend your judgement and hold back your emotions so you can hear without bias.

2. Consider who is speaking. How credible are they? How valid might their point be? Alternatively, is it possible that they have misunderstood what you said, or might need more information to fill in the gaps in their understanding?

3. Consider the outcome of giving in to their criticism. What would change? What project might be halted? Is there an agenda behind the criticism that you need to pay attention to.

When you have thought through each of these steps, you will know if the criticism is valid or if it’s really nothing to do with you. Then you are in the right head space to choose what action you need to take, if any. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

B Corp Offers Grants To NFPs

As a volunteer treasurer, you are probably always on the lookout for sources of additional funding for your Not-for-Profit (NFP). If your NFP does work that involves the health and well being of children, then you will be happy to learn about a new grant program being offered to NFPs by Whole Kids.

Whole Kids is a certified B corporation and a small, family business that offers children's products that are healthy and organic. This company has started the Small Seeds Community Grant to help fund local community NFP projects that improve the lives of children and their families.

The grants start at $500 and can be up to $5,000 for a single project. Currently, the company has committed to providing at least 1% of gross sales to funding the grants each quarter, and the company hopes to fund up to six projects per quarterly round.

NFPs can only apply for one grant per project. Applications that can be fully funded with smaller amounts are given preference so that the company can fund as many projects as possible each round.

The company started accepting online applications for the grants on April 1st, and will continue accepting applications for this first round of funding through June 30th of this year. Your NFP will be notified the following month after the round closes if their project was selected to receive one of the grants.

Service areas for the grants focus on projects that help children in the following eight areas:

·         Efforts to build stronger communities for families and children.
·         Improve the health and nutrition of children and improve access to wholesome foods.
·         Improve children's access to learning opportunities and education.
·         Improve the environment to reduce hazards to children.
·         Secure the environment, wildlife and natural resources for children for generations.
·         Promote safe places where children can play and enjoy recreational opportunities.
·         Improve the health and well being of children, including their mental health.
·         Promote social justice for children and the community and protect children's human rights.

Securing funding for your NFP local projects not only helps strengthen your community directly, it can also increase the stability of your NFP to ensure that you can continue operations and serve the needs of your community for the long term. If your NFP has projects that focus on improving the lives of children, why not consider applying for one of the grants today?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

We’ve provided a lot of information for you over the last few posts so we thought it was about time for some humour.

If you’re a volunteer treasurer, you know as well as we do that sometimes you’ve got to laugh or you’ll go crazy.

So here you go. This is for you. We hope it makes you laugh.

At the Zoo

A man was delivering penguins to the zoo when his van broke down on the highway. A fellow stopped to see if he could be of assistance. "Oh, I'm in some real trouble here" said the first man. "I've got to take these penguins to the zoo today, and now I'm not sure I'll get there."

The helpful fellow volunteered to put the penguins in the back of his car and take them to the zoo. 

The man with car trouble gratefully accepted this offer and promised to get to the zoo as soon as possible.

A little later, the man was on the road again and went immediately to the zoo. He looked everywhere but did not see the helpful fellow or any of the penguins. In a panic, he drove back into town. Just as he was wondering what in the world to do next, he saw the "volunteer" walking across the street with all the penguins waddling along behind him.

He ran up and said, "What are you doing here? I thought you were going to take the penguins to the zoo!" and the volunteer replied, "I did, and we had such a good time there, we decided to come into town for ice cream."

Moral: When working with volunteers, clear instructions and good training is always necessary.

Submitted by Sandy Leonard

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

New Diploma Of Fundraising

For everyone who dreams for a career in fundraising – we have some exciting news! The well-known Fundraising Management Diploma course offered by the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) is now being updated to include new features and provide a better, more comprehensive professional qualification for fundraisers. The new Diploma in Fundraising, which will be offered in the form of a distant learning program, will substitute the current Fundraising Management Diploma in the summer of 2015.

The Fundraising Institute Australia, founded back in 1968, is the organisation representing and supporting fundraising professionals across Australia and making sure professional development pathways are available for as many people as possible. Maintaining high standards and promoting measurable standards, FIA is the ultimate place to find help and support if you are planning to work in fundraising.

The new Diploma in Fundraising will be available to both Home and International students as a distance learning course and will enable the participants to develop the knowledge and skills they need in order to advance in the area of professional fundraising – either working for a NFP or starting their own charity. Taking the course offers many advantages, including:

Professional Fundraising Relevance – just like the current Fundraising Management Diploma, the new Diploma in Fundraising will be recognised by fundraising bodies and NFP organisations across Australia and will improve your career prospects in the sector.

Varied Learning Experience – the new updated distance learning course will make sure you are prepared for the world of fundraising by delivering the material in innovative and highly efficient ways.

Guidance and Support (including for preparation and assessment) – throughout a course, you will be able to use the help of specialists whenever you find it hard to deal with the material on your own or complete certain tasks.

Establishes a relationship between theoretical and practical knowledge – your fundraising experience so far will be utilised and related to the theory you need to absorb through the course.

Renown Tutors – the people teaching you are themselves professional fundraisers with vast experience in the sector, so you will be in good hands.

As you can see, the new Diploma in Fundraising appears to be an exciting opportunity and a must for everyone engaged with professional fundraising. If you would like to find out more about the course, you can e-mail FIA at or contact their Education Team on 1300 889 670. Registration for the course will be open in May, but if you want to express your interest, you can do so on the above e-mail.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Volunteering in an Emergency

Have you ever noticed how the worst and most miserable situations motivate people to instantly lend a helping hand? In cases of floods and fires, earthquakes and hurricanes, even in an emergency like this one, people forget about their differences, limited time and their own everyday problems and join together to form an astounding force driven by good and changing fates.

The recent Sampson Flat bushfire near Adelaide brought similar thoughts to Bev Langley, volunteer and operator of the Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre. Seeing the hundreds of volunteers arriving to the area of the disaster from every corner of Australia, Bev commented, 'I think it has brought the best out in a lot of people.'

And here is an interesting question for every NFP organisation to think about – how can you use this particular knowledge to your advantage? Well, it is obvious that emergencies and urgent situations motivate people to volunteer. Of course, we don’t encourage you to set a school on fire and ask for help to save the children, but emergency may have many faces and forms. If you manage to convince people that your organisation needs urgent help in terms of volunteer force and donations, you will solve your problems for a long time to come.

One way to do this is, obviously, to have a very creative marketing campaign. Do not lie and do not distort the truth – just tell the facts in a really expressive, convincing and touching way. Remember why you started helping people, why you decided to help these particular people – and then tell the others why they should help. Do not show people that you will be fine without their help – instead 'We will be grateful for your help', say 'We need your help!' and instead 'As a volunteer you can make a difference' – 'You WILL make a difference!'. Using strong language will urge people to help and will make them think that you need them as soon as possible – and this is exactly the effect you want to achieve.

The most important thing you need to remember is that people need a reason to volunteer. You will get far weaker response if you tell them that you are recruiting just in case, or because it is good to volunteer in the first place. On the other hand, if you have an action that needs more people to organise, if the current levels of volunteering are really low and that may bring the end of your NFP, or if there is any other situation which requires urgent actions, you can be sure that people will respond.

To cut a long story short, you may need an emergency to recruit new volunteers and attract donors. The good news is that everything can be presented as an emergency. Actually, if you think about it, your organisation helps people, animals or the nature, and the fact that someone or something needs help is urgent enough to make people want to participate. You will just need to present it in the right way. Good luck!