Monthly Archives

October 2016

How to Offer a Unique and Beneficial Membership Experience

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Abila MIP Makes it Easy

According to recent studies, many membership organizations struggle to retain and attract new members. Marketing General reports that among the associates it surveyed, membership is down six percent overall, and the majority of 68% report that retention remains stagnant.  Ideally, we should be seeing an increase in new memberships so next let’s discuss why this is not happening and what organizations should be doing differently to attract new members, in addition to retaining current members.

 

What’s happening?

It seems that members no longer feel that their user or membership experience is providing them with the emotional satisfaction or experiential satisfaction they once had. Membership, in other words, isn’t providing the same value today that it once did. They are taking their money and memberships elsewhere, or foregoing membership altogether to find other ways of enhancing professional value, education, and interactions.

 

Some of the issue stems from the rise of new technologies, such as social media, which make it easier than ever before to interact and network with people who share similar interests, professional background and experience. This important function was once held solely by membership organizations, which provided meetings, forums, newsletters and other tools that enabled people within a similar profession or interest to find common ground, share industry information, and support one another in their careers.

But we can’t lay all of the blame at the feet of social media. Members always had a choice to join or not, even if it was a choice between local networking groups versus national membership, or organization A versus organization B.

 

A closer look at how big brands such as Amazon enhance user experience may help us learn how to enhance member experience and turn the tide on flagging interest in membership organizations. Then, using a software such as Abila MIP can help you manage the experience more easily.

 

What Membership Organizations Can Learn from User Experience

Several online brands offer lessons in user experience we can translate into daily member experience.

  • Amazon: People love shopping on Amazon’s site because it provides seemingly limitless choice. The retailer began with books, added music to its list, and now boasts almost every category under the sun. The site’s search engine is excellent and makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Site members also rank and comment on their purchases, adding quality assurance for ‘real people’ just like you to each listing.
  • Google: Over 60 percent of the world turns to Google to find what they need online. It’s fast, intuitive, and easy to use.
  • Apple: Apple’s products were originally created for graphic designers. Microsoft’s PCs were introduced for office and home computing, so Apple staked out a niche as the computer for graphic design. Today, it’s sleek design and powerful, virus-resistant computing power appeal to many.

What can we learn from the user experiences listed above?

  • Amazon – comprehensive selection, something for everyone, easy to find what customers need
  • Google – easy to use, fast, understands it customer base
  • Apple – innovative, cutting-edge, new, fresh

These concepts are important over-arching concepts for membership organizations. Taking a cue from the popular brands, member organization can infuse “member experience” into their missions, values and offerings so that potential members see and experience greater value from their membership.

 

To enhance your member experience, think of ways in which you can:

  • Add comprehensive offerings to your member benefits, making it a ‘one stop shop’ for your members. Abila MIP can help you track aspects of member benefits and other pertinent data.
  • Enhance your membership so that it is as easy to use as a Google search.
  • Refresh your educational opportunities so that they are cutting-edge, and different from what members may find at their local colleges, universities, or other professional development providers.

With a little planning and a lot of creativity, you too can come up with ‘member experiences’ that rival that of the big brands. Membership organizations need to evolve, grow and change to keep pace with consumer demand. Make member experience part of your organization starting today.

 

More Mission, Less Accounting Worries

To make time for your new “member experience”, shift some of the accounting tasks into a software that makes things easier. Abila MIP Fund Accounting makes it easier for nonprofits to report and track the information most important to them. It’s a solution that grows and changes with you.

 

At Welter Consulting we are committed to finding you the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support.   We are dedicated to assist you in achieving your mission by leveraging technology and superior reporting.  We are passionate professionals who choose to work in the nonprofit sector for the same reason you do – helping others.

 

Please give us a call at (206) 605-3113 or by visiting our website at welter-consulting.com to see a complete listing of upcoming training and webinars, including the NonProfit Enrichment Series, hosted by Welter Consulting, LLC or by clicking on the following link: NonProfit Enrichment Series Webinars.

Bringing Fundraising and Finance Together with Nonprofit Accounting Software

By | Accounting, Fundraising, Nonprofit | No Comments

Working Together Can be a Challenge

 

You play for the same team, but somehow you feel like cross town rivals.  This sometimes happens between the fundraising and finance departments of a nonprofit. You sit across from each other at meetings, but it doesn’t feel like you are on the same team.  In reality, you are all working towards the same common goal. Accounting software for nonprofits can help merge these two departments onto the same team. It’s easier to work together when you understand the roles of each department.

 

It’s Not Easy to Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

 

When thinking about your finance and fundraising departments remember the old saying, “You don’t know what it’s like to be someone else unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” When it comes to fundraising and finance, there are things that each department wished the other knew about their work and concerns.

 

Fundraising wishes that finance could…

  • Understand the challenges and process of fundraising;
  • Accept that you have to spend money to make money (or get donations);
  • Help us maintain good donor relations;
  • Offer us some flexibility – things aren’t always black and white in our world.
  • Respect that fundraising isn’t easy.

 

And finance wishes that the fundraising team could…

  • Understand the fact that finance’s job is complex and time-consuming;
  • Accept help from experts in finance.
  • Help us do our jobs better by providing us with information we need.
  • Offer to sit with us to learn some basic accounting practices.
  • Respect deadlines.

 

It’s often easier to come to consensus when you understand and respect one another’s positions in a situation. Knowing what the other ‘team’ wants can help you step closer to a compromise, and to support each other’s vital roles in an organization. One way to share information is through accounting software for nonprofits, which can help both teams step closer to one another through shared information.

 

Different Departments, Similar Challenges

 

Although finance and fundraising reflect different departments with varying needs, both seem to experience similar challenges when it comes to data and information. Ways in which both departments can help each other overcome their shared challenges include:

 

  • Collaborate on budgets and tracking
  • Improve reports and reconciliation of financial information
  • Jointly plan and set goals
  • Establish frequent, timely communications
  • Identify ideal processes and procedures
  • Integrate fundraising and accounting software

 

Software for nonprofits is a great tool that can help both departments communicate, collaborate, and plan together.  Various software packages including Abila MIP and others can work independently or together to provide data sharing among teams, timely updates and more. Cloud-based solutions ability to be accessed anywhere that there is a web connection makes it easier for fundraisers who travel to visit donors.  They can see and update accounts from the road, which in turn, will help the finance department do their jobs better.

 

The right accounting software for nonprofits won’t solve all of your internal struggles, but it can help to get fundraising and finance on the same team.  This will be a win win for all the players involved.

 

Contact Us

 

Welter Consulting makes choosing the right accounting for nonprofit software easier.   At Welter Consulting we are committed to finding you the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support. We are dedicated to assist you in achieving your mission by leveraging technology and superior reporting. If you’re ready to cross the bridge to empowering technology, effective nonprofit solutions, and superior technology – let’s begin! We would love to talk to you about your specific needs.  Contact us today or call 206-605-3113.

Recruiting the Best Accounting Talent to Your Nonprofit Organization

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Professional sports teams know that to find the top athletes in the country, they must recruit them early from the college teams. Imagine if they merely placed ads, screened resumes and videos of players, and then said, “You’re hired!” It is likely that the process would result in unsatisfactory teams.

 

The same may be said for the method by which nonprofits typically recruit finance and accounting talent. Many nonprofits place job advertisements, screen resumes, interview and hope for the best.

 

If you want to create a “starring team” for your nonprofit, here are a few ideas you can use to recruit top talent into the world of nonprofit finance.

 

Five Ideas to Recruit Top Talent

  1. Develop talent networks: Do not wait for job openings to have your eye on the next employee for your nonprofit. Participate in local networking events for your industry. Join chapters of local nonprofit business leadership organizations. Meet and get to know the top finance and accounting professionals. When an opening arises, you will already be connected to the people you want to recruit onto your team.
  1. Start an apprentice system: Another method to recruit top talent is to build it into an apprentice system at your organization. Offer paid summer internships, work-study programs, and starting positions that grow and develop into leadership positions. Organize your employment structure so that potential employees feel there is room for growth. Reach out to top accounting schools in your area and alert them to apprenticeships. They will grow into their positions, and you will begin working with young, bright graduates eager to succeed.
  1. Recruit widely: Although many aspects of nonprofit accounting are specific to the way in which nonprofits operate, there are many similarities to the for-profit world. A good accountant can quickly learn the differences and apply learnings from the for-profit world to improve operations and efficiencies. Consider recruiting top talent from all industries, not just the nonprofit world.
  1. Network with professors: An interesting but often untapped resource to find smart and rising accounting stars are the professors in the local business schools or universities. Professors know their students well and can attest to their strengths. To get to know the professors, host educational seminars on accounting for nonprofits, FASB changes such as FASB 958, and other pertinent issues. Along with cultivating a local network of accounting professionals, developing a network among the professors can help you later identify promising students to recruit into your organization.
  1. Consider competitions: A competition for the best business plan, paper or other accounting-related project offered through local universities can attract bright accounting talent. You can then assess their work by reviewing their submissions.

Creating an Environment Attractive to Professionals

The Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) conducts annual surveys among human resources managers to assess the most appealing benefits for different age brackets. Among their findings, SHRM reports that to attract highly skilled professionals, companies must offer attractive benefits packages.

Senior-level professional workers, such as top-level accounting and finance professionals, value health care benefits, retirement packages, similar traditional benefits packages. Younger workers, however, are open to additional benefits and find flex time, telecommuting, and unpaid leave opportunities valuable.

 

Nonprofits that have trouble attracting senior-level talent may wish to re-examine their benefits packages. Beefing up the healthcare package as much as possible and offering other benefits, such as telecommuting and flex time, may make your organization more appealing to potential employees.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting offers financial reporting, compliance, and software to help nonprofits with their accounting needs. We focus solely on nonprofits, bridging the information gap between nonprofits and business disciplines. We are passionate about helping nonprofits success. For more information, visit us or call 206-605-3113.

 

Findings from the Northwest Nonprofit Capacity Report

By | Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

The Northwest Nonprofit Capacity report for 2016 recently released points to resiliency and advocacy throughout the northwest, with a healthy and growing nonprofit base. The full report may be accessed online for those interested in the comprehensive picture of nonprofit activity in our region.

 

Capacity-building, both for continuing existing work and creating growth for the future, remained a top concern for all nonprofits regardless of their mission. Among the areas of greatest concern are:

1. Human resources: All human resources activities were of concern, but the need for staff and expanded staffing was at the top of the list. Specific        skills such as grant writing, fundraising, technology skills and other skills may be difficult to find for specific nonprofits. Maintaining and managing      human resources for an organization remains challenging as well.

2. Facilities: Many nonprofit organizations hoped to improve their facilities and equipment. Capital campaigns to build new facilities or upgrade             existing ones are a shared concern. Improving and updating necessary equipment also ranks high on the capacity-building needs.

3. Fundraising: There’s probably no nonprofit in the country that doesn’t wish it had better fundraising, but fundraising ranked third on the list of        concerns for northwestern nonprofits.

4. Communications: Greater community outreach and awareness is a shared desire among nonprofits responding to the survey.

5. Strategy and leadership: Without exception, nearly all felt they needed to become more proficient at the business side of running a nonprofit.          This includes improving leadership, strategic decision making, and other skills.

Five nonprofit, state-based associations participated in the survey. These included Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. Although serving a diverse array of needs, they all reflect a consensus around improved business practices, communications and community outreach, and additional resources to fulfill their mission.

 

Nonprofit Accounting: Gaps

One surprising result of the survey is that only 77% of nonprofits in the northwest have a written annual budget. About the same number have such a budget approved by a board, and use it. Slightly fewer agree that their budget is ‘effective.’

 

Budgeting is critical for nonprofits to remain healthy and viable. Understanding the nuances of your financial situation, apportioning funds accordingly, and diversifying income streams are all part of running a sound nonprofit.

 

Other key findings related to accounting show a significant lack of written fundraising plans. Only about 43% of respondents have a written plan, and approximately 33% find such a plan effective The remaining majority of nonprofits either do not have a plan at all or have a verbal plan agreed upon by their members.

 

Such haphazard fundraising efforts may lead to uneven income. Although grants, membership fees, and other funding may provide a solid foundation, without additional fundraising activities you run the risk of critical shortfalls should any of these routes fail to be productive in a given year. Diversifying fundraising efforts is just as smart as diversifying personal investments.

Perhaps most troubling of all is the lack of business planning among northwest nonprofits. Fewer than 25% have a written business plan. The old adage, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” may be true. A business plan also provides a solid base upon which a nonprofit can build and grow. Without it, your organization may suffer from mission or scope creep and unproductive activities.

 

Hopeful Signs, Room for Improvement

The report shows both many hopeful signs as well as room for improvement. Business strategies, financial management, and other quantitative disciplines must improve for nonprofits in the northwest to remain healthy.

 

The many hopeful signs, such as a strong commitment to change and growth, point to a positive outcome despite these limitations.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting offers financial reporting, compliance, and software to help nonprofits with their accounting needs. We focus solely on nonprofits, bridging the information gap between nonprofits and business disciplines. We are passionate about helping nonprofits success. For more information, visit us online or call 206-605-3113.