Monthly Archives

April 2018

How Do You Measure the Impact of Good? Measuring Nonprofit Outcomes

By | Cloud, Data, Nonprofit | No Comments

How do you measure the impact of a nonprofit organization? Many try to measure impact through output metrics: number of people helped, animals saved, members served. But what if we could measure not just how many but how much – as in, how much good was done?

Two organizations, GuideStar and Impact Genome Project, are attempting to do both.

GuideStar recently launched GuideStar Platinum, a platform through which nonprofits can report both outcomes and impact. About 20 percent of the more than 12,000 metrics shared on the GuideStar platform represent impact-based outcomes. The rest measured output.

Impact Genome Project is an initiative curated by Mission Measurement. It aggregates more than 10,000 pieces of research, seeking to identify patterns of what works and by extension, what doesn’t work. This analysis can help nonprofits replicate what works by sharing the outcomes.

Why Bother with Data?

The question many nonprofit managers ask is, “Why bother with data?” Outcomes data has long been the standard method of reporting for many nonprofits. It’s easy to see why. Charting how many members you’ve signed up this year is easier than ascertaining the impact that your programs have made on those members, for example.

Data is now used throughout many industries to quantify success. In medicine, for example, hospitals rely on both outcome data (the number of patients who attend a diabetic symposium or nutrition class) but on impact data (changes in community data such as the number of diabetics diagnosed in a year). Together, these two metrics build a powerful story that demonstrates not just the effort of the nonprofit, but also the effect that effort has on the community.

Donors Want Data

Donors want to see data on how well nonprofits are utilizing their funds, and that’s where the GuideStar program comes into play. GuideStar is well-known in the nonprofit world as a good place for potential donors to research nonprofits.

GuideStar data enables donors to:

  • Research potential nonprofits
  • Read their financial reports
  • Understand how well their money is spent to support and sustain the nonprofit mission
  • Review leaders, salaries, money spent on overhead and more
  • Read answers from the nonprofit on specific initiatives
  • Contact the organization

Nonprofits that provide quantitative as well as qualitative answers to these questions to groups like GuideStar provide transparency to their potential donors. Donors look for metrics they can understand before giving money. They want to see not just quantity, but quality.

Success is measured through many metrics. Donors want to know that their money successfully solves the problems the nonprofit purports to solve through their program. If they are donating money to a bird sanctuary, they want to know not just how many birds were rescued, but overall, what is the impact on the sanctuary, the environment, and the local wildlife.

Data Is the Future of Nonprofits

Although you probably want to roll up your sleeves and get to work helping the audience for your program, there is a need for data, and that need will continue to grow in the future. As donors become pickier about the causes they support, the demand for facts to base nonprofit assertions will grow.

Start tracking the outcomes of your programs now and discuss ways by which you can measure the impact of your programs. You may need time to ramp up your databases, software, or other tools to help you track, measure and report outcomes.

It’s a smart idea to sign up for programs such as GuideStar or the Impact Genome Project now so that you are fully prepared for future donors who wish to investigate your organization’s credentials. The sooner you can provide data, the more attractive you will make your organization to potential donors.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting offers a bridge to solutions that work for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Can’t Find Internal Auditors? You’re Not Alone

By | Accounting, Audit, Nonprofit | No Comments

If you can’t seem to find internal auditors with some experience for mid-level career positions, you’re not alone, and you’re not imagining the scarcity in the marketplace. There’s a shortage of internal auditors with 5 to 10 years of experience. Worse, many organizations are dissatisfied with the skills of their existing internal audit team.

What’s behind this problem and how can it be addressed?

The Current Situation: Few Are Happy with Current Situation

A study released by Deloitte sheds light on the situation. According to the results of the study, just 13% of Chief Audit Executives are very satisfied with the skills of their current audit team. More than half responding to the study expressed outright dissatisfaction with their teams. How can this be?

We could blame poor leadership, but there are some wonderful CAEs out there, and many organizations have strong leadership, yet weak teams. The real problem lies in the fact that there are few university-level programs that educate people for the internal auditing profession.

Most internal audit professionals begin their careers with a general accounting or finance degree. They end up specializing in the internal audit function by accident. A job opening appears and they take it, entering the audit department as junior level members.

When they reach the mid-career stage, however, many either leave the audit team or seek jobs elsewhere. This leaves a gap within the mid-level ranks.

The trail to the audit team is also one that is not well known to most college graduates. Many graduates with degrees in accounting and business look for work in the for-profit sector. The internal audit function is a relatively hidden profession within the larger sphere of accounting that many might be attracted to if they only knew it existed.

The Remedy: How Can We Encourage More and Better Internal Auditors?

The problem seems clear enough: lack of a formal education pathway into the professional and a lack of clear progression in a career path once established. Lack of awareness for the job’s many interesting facets is also part of the problem.

To remedy this situation, nonprofits might consider the following steps:

  • Recognize that the internal audit department provides a valuable and important function in your organization: Ensure that everyone knows the importance of internal audits and why they aren’t just checks and balances for finances, but are viewed as a valuable aspect of business development. The internal audit function can help nonprofits successfully analyze their finances and plan better for development. They are a vital, integral part of the finance and accounting teams.
  • Support professional development: Offer professional development to your existing internal audit staff. More than half of internal auditors surveyed by the Institute of Internal Auditors, for example, admitted that they lacked training in cyber security, a growing threat to nonprofit organizations. Such training is relatively easy to find online or through many organizations and could bolster your nonprofit’s ability to defend against attacks. These and other professional development opportunities could help your current auditing team feel engaged and motivated, both of which reduce employee turnover and improve retention rates.
  • Talk to undergraduates: Consider contacting the chairs of the local business colleges and ask if you can address business and accounting students on career day or in their accounting classes to share with them what the internal audit function is like and why there are so many opportunities for young, smart graduates in the field. Someone out there may just need a nudge in the nonprofit direction to find a rewarding career as an internal auditor, but they won’t know the career path exists until it is shared.

These are just a few of the steps you might wish to take to help improve the situation among internal audit teams at your own nonprofit and to support the profession in general.

Internal auditors provide so much assistance to a nonprofit, that it’s hard to imagine an organization without them.  Yes, the shortage of mid-career talent is real, but we can do so much more to fix that problem then we are doing now. With the right steps, we could improve the situation and help more people enter the field.

Welter Consulting, Your Bridge to Solutions

Navigating the many options available to you for technology resources can be tricky. There’s always something else tugging at you for attention. Where do you start? How do you decide?

Welter Consulting offers a bridge to solutions that work for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

 

Finding Technology Resources for Your Nonprofit Organization

By | Cloud, Data, Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments

It would be nice to have a fairy godmother who could wave her magic wand and provide your nonprofit with all the technology bells, whistles, sparkles and licenses it needs to be up-to-date.
The reality is, however, that each nonprofit must find a way to find its tech upgrades on its own. That comes with challenges.

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There are solutions for nonprofit organizations who need to update their technology, but no solution is a perfect fit for every organization. You’ll need to examine the solutions, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with the technology plan that’s right for your group.

Consider All Costs

“Technology” is an umbrella term that encompasses hardware, software, and connectivity. It may also include various devices used by your employees such as laptops, cell phones, tablets and more.

Before looking for technology resources, develop a list that includes all of your organization’s technology needs. Start by listing the employees, their jobs, and the resources each person needs to successfully complete their job.

Costs may include:

  • Laptops
  • Desktop units
  • Monitors
  • Mouse and keyboard
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Business productivity software such as spreadsheets, word processing, presentation software, etc.
  • Cloud storage or networking
  • Graphic design software
  • Human resources software
  • CRM or donor relationship management software
  • Grant tracking software
  • Accounting and financial software
  • Modem or internet connectivity
  • Copiers, scanners, fax machines, printers, etc.

Some of these items may be available for little or no cost. Google Documents, for example, provides cloud-based word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software that may be fine for your basic business needs. Small or startup nonprofits have different needs than a 100-person nonprofit operating in several states or countries.

Keep in mind that licenses for software may be based on how many users are on the system, so as your nonprofit grows, you may need to add extra licenses. You should include these costs into your estimates.

Office equipment today combines printing, scanners, fax machines and copiers all in one small unit. Such a unit may suffice for your office needs in the short-term and can be purchased new for a modest fee.

Nearly New or Brand New?

Nonprofits may find that they can benefit from local corporations who wish to donate their computer equipment to the organization. Before accepting such equipment, ascertain whether the donated equipment is compatible with licenses and software that you currently own. Otherwise, you may spend considerable time and effort finding ways to adapt software to equipment.

Before accepting used equipment, feel free to stipulate to the company donating it that you’d like to look at it first. You don’t want a truck pulling up at your doorstep filled with circa 1990 monitors; they’re only good for doorstops at this point in time. Examine the equipment and if it doesn’t meet your needs, pass on it.

New equipment can be purchased at a discount online. TechSoup offers discounted equipment and  many bargains . Even traditional retailers and office supply stores provide coupons, discounts and sales. End of year and back to school times are great opportunities to take advantage of these sales.

Big Projects? Think Sponsorships

 Lastly, consider asking your best donors to sponsor large-scale tech projects. Consider a capital campaign with specific donation amounts suggested in the campaign and linking those amounts to what the donation will purchase.

“Your donation of $100 will buy a new copier for our office” ,for example, allows the potential donor to visualize how they help your organization. This is a time-tested way of encouraging donations for specific campaigns.

Nonprofits need technology. Paying for it or finding the funds for it may be challenging, but there are many creative ways to help you harness the power of technology for your benefitwith a little thought, care and planning,

Welter Consulting, Your Bridge to Solutions

Navigating the many options available to you for technology resources can be tricky. There’s always something else tugging at you for attention. Where do you start? How do you decide?
Welter Consulting offers a bridge to solutions that work for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.