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The Skills Nonprofits Need in 2018 – and Beyond

By | HR, Nonprofit | No Comments

As you start thinking about the year ahead, it’s time to think about the skills your team needs to move your nonprofit forward. Whether you already have team members with these skills or you’ll need to hire new employees with them, the fact remains that these are the skills most sought-after among employers.

The Top 5 Skills Nonprofits Need Now – and Why

  1. Cloud and Distributed Computing: So much of our software is moving to the cloud we predict that site-based software and support is going to be hard to obtain in the future. For these and other reasons, it just makes sense to move things to the cloud. Not only can you save money on your software, hosting, and security, but it also enables better data sharing, storage, and updates. If you don’t have someone on your staff knowledgeable about cloud computing, consider adding it to an IT job description or finding a consulting firm to assist with cloud migration.
  2. SEO and SEM: Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing refer to specific tactics your website utilizes to boost its visibility and hence its clicks and interactions. Adding these skills to your nonprofit will be invaluable in the upcoming months and years as competition for clicks increases.
  3. Business Intelligence: Business intelligence refers to the ability to gather data and information from one or more computer systems and distill it into usable facts. BI system can synthesize financial, accounting, sales, marketing, donation, grants and other information into one report that your nonprofit can use for better business management. Without BI systems in place, your organization runs the risk of having to export multiple data files or reports and manually extract data from each to get the big picture of the organization.
  4. Network and Information Security: You may think that your nonprofit is safe from cyber attack, but in many cases it’s not. Cybersecurity is critical for nonprofits, many of whom rely on small teams and volunteers for assistance. And while many security breaches are preventable, you still need someone in your organization to advise your teams while troubleshooting and fixing your systems.
  5. Corporate and Nonprofit Law and Governance: Corporate laws, including laws that apply to nonprofit organizations, continually change. It’s important to have someone in your organization who understands their application to the nonprofit world and who can help you adhere to all laws pertaining to corporate management and governance. It’s also helpful to have an accounting team member who understands the nuances of pending FASB changes as they pertain to financial reporting, such as FASB 606 changes, which will impact grants and contracts.

Hiring or Outsourcing to Get the Skills You Need

To find the skills you need on your team, you’ll need to hire new employees, train current employees, or outsource the needs to a consulting firm.

Network security and high-level accounting are both examples of skillsets that can be outsourced to a consulting firm. In both areas, consultants may actually be a better choice, because they regularly interact with numerous organizations and work hard to stay abreast of the latest developments in their field.

Training is available through local colleges/universities and professional organizations. This may be sufficient for current staff members who need a refresher or update on specific skills.

As the new year approaches, make a commitment that you’ll work to ensure your team has the right skills to meet the challenges the future brings. To serve members, constituents, and others, you need to be on the cutting-edge of many areas that the corporate world emphasizes, too.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions 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.

FASB Seeks Comments on Revenue and Grant Recognition Reporting

By | Accounting, FASB, Grant Management | No Comments

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is looking for input. The group wishes to improve, clarify, and enhance revenue recognition standards for grants and contracts by nonprofits. They are seeking comments on the topic, and nonprofit organizations are welcome to respond.

Currently, many nonprofit stakeholders indicated confusion about when to report grant and contract revenue or how to consistently report revenue in these areas.  This difficulty is compounded in the area of government grants and contracts.

The comment period for the proposed Accounting Standards Update (ASU), titled Clarifying the Scope and Accounting Guidance for Contributions Received and Contributions Made, ends November 1.

Proposed ASU Changes

The big changes proposed in the standards include distinguishing between contributions (nonreciprocal transactions) and exchange (reciprocal) transactions. If the proposed ASU changes proceed, more grants and contracts will be counted as contributions.

The proposed framework indicates that if a grant is an exchange transaction, revenues should be recorded in accordance with Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Details on this may be found in Topic 606 or other applicable topics.

Grants, on the other hand, are determined to be contributions and should be recognized as revenue for not for profit entities under Revenue Recognition Subtopic 958-605.

There are no sweeping generalities for grants. Each one must be evaluated and categorized individually. Grants can be considered exchanges if the value received is commensurate with the services rendered Then it is categorized as an exchange or reciprocal transactions.

The good news is that the ASU includes plenty of examples to help nonprofits determine whether grants are nonreciprocal or reciprocal transactions.

Conditional Contributions

If a grant does not have either a barrier or a right of return, it may be considered a conditional contribution. A conditional contribution is a grant that comes with strings attached – conditions that must be met in order for the grant to be considered fully received.

Some conditions include:

  • Measurable performance goals such as matching grants, levels of service, or other items that can be measured or quantified;
  • A stipulation that specific conditions must be met for the grant;
  • Something limiting how the funds can be spent;
  • Additional actions that would be required to be taken by the recipient organization in addition to the activities that it would normally pursue

For those fuzzy gray areas, the ASU states that donations requiring stipulations can be presumed to be conditional.

Some grants may be considered contracts with a customer. In that case, the specifications in Topic 606 take priority.

When Does This Go into Effect?

The new recommendations will go into effect on or around December 31, 2019, for the fiscal year ending in 2020. That may seem like a long way off, but for nonprofits dealing with a lot of grants that fit these categories and descriptions, it may be prudent to take steps now to conform to the new guidelines. Of course, changes may be made to the recommendations based on feedback received by FASB.

The good news is that the changes do not affect prior quarters in any way, so you don’t need to change anything prior to 2019. For more details, please visit FASB.

About Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions 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.

Internal Controls & Abila MIP Fund Accounting™

By | Accounting, Audit, CPA, Internal Controls, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Internal controls provide safeguards against losses, thefts and mistakes. An old-fashioned way of keeping internal controls may be to have one staff member count out the petty cash box while another watches the process. The watcher in this case is the internal control. An extra set of eyes on the counting process keeps the person holding the cash in hand from making “mistakes”, whether intentional or not, when it’s handed over for counting.

Implementing internal controls can be easy! Our “Internal Controls for Nonprofits: Best Practice Resource Guide” can help your nonprofit establish best practice principles, policies, and procedures.

In larger, automated accounting systems for nonprofits, such as those that run Abila MIP, internal controls are built into the system. By automating many of the financial processes, it becomes more difficult for someone to circumvent the system and steal from your nonprofit.

A publication from the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants brings home the point that good internal controls, through the use of Abila MIP fund accounting and processes around them, can help prevent loss and “keep honest people honest.”

Safeguards Against Loss: Simple Internal Controls

The first and best internal control is to avoid handling cash when at all possible. It’s not that cash is bad, it’s just that it can be “lost” more easily than money that is already in the bank account and tallied in Abila MIP fund accounting.

A system of checks and balances keeps careful watch over your finances. A few internal controls to keep losses to a minimum:

  1. Lock checks and cash in a safe or drawer both during business hours and afterwards.
  2. Monitor access to the keys.
  3. Make it a rule that all employees, regardless of their job title or function, must have another employee present when opening the safe or cash drawer, and counting out money.
  4. Don’t let checks and cash pile up in the office. Make a bank deposit when the threshold reaches a certain amount.
  5. Use timecards to monitor hourly workers’ wages.
  6. Have a manager review timecard information regularly to ensure no one is ‘padding’ the hours.
  7. Do not let anyone borrow funds from the organization’s accounts for personal reasons, or use business credit cards for personal reasons.

Acting Swiftly

It is important to have written policies in place regarding fraud and theft so that you can take the appropriate steps to document, correct, and if necessary, terminate employees who circumvent or ignore internal controls. Depending on the circumstances, your organization may also have a zero-tolerance policy for theft, and a written policy regarding grounds for termination should include such information.

Take steps to create policies and internal controls for your staff. Train and teach them their expectations. Set in termination policies in place. Know who is handling your accounts, who has access to cash and checks, and how such resources are handled. Keeping track of your finances using good fund accounting software is a way to detect fraud and act swiftly.

Abila MIP Fund Accounting

Abila MIP Fund Accounting includes fraud protection and analysis within the system, so you can use the data within it to detect patterns of losses, analyze data, and prevent fraud.

Most losses do not occur in isolation. People find that if they can get away with one theft, they return and try again. This leaves a footprint or a recognizable pattern. Data ran from your fund accounting system may be able to display such patterns so that you can take immediate, corrective action.

At Welter Consulting, we want to help our nonprofit customers prevent losses and fraud. By utilizing good nonprofit fund accounting software, such as Abila MIP, you can keep careful track of all of your accounts and detect suspicious activity quickly.  Click to learn more about Abila MIP fund accounting.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions 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.

The Qualities of the Superstar Staff Accountant

By | Accounting, HR, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Superstar staff accountants look just like any other accountants on your team. Like Clark Kent before he transforms into Superman, your top players are camouflaged behind business attire just like any other employee.

But inside, they share the qualities of top performers in many fields – athletes, artists, entrepreneurs. The qualities of top staff accountants are what makes leaders emerge from among teams and what transforms organizations from the inside-out.

The best news: top staff accountants are made, not born. In other words, these skills can be learned and practiced to become the best you can be. You don’t have to have innate talent. Everyone can emerge with leadership skills if they apply themselves.

The Hallmarks of Top Staff Accountants

  1. Accuracy: Accounting is a profession in which attention to detail matters. Most accountants are, by nature, very detail-oriented. Superstars also pay attention to any and all the details that matter. No details are too small or too beneath their notice. They make sure that every cent is accounted for and also acknowledge time, effort, and a myriad of other quantifiable items.
  2. Teamwork: Good employees work with others, but great ones understand the concept of building, participating in, and managing teams. Good teamwork means sharing your strengths and supporting coworkers by upholding your deadlines, agreements, and responsibilities.
  3. Deadlines: As with accuracy, accounting is a deadline-driven profession. Tax deadlines, payroll deadlines, and other filing deadlines are set by the IRS, state, and local tax authorities. Great staff accountants adhere to deadlines and plan so that they do not miss deadlines.
  4. Time management: Masters of their craft are also masters at time management. Along with meeting deadlines, they manage towards the deadlines so that they aren’t scrambling as deadlines loom. They understand and adjust their schedules to their workload, managing their time productively and efficiently.
  5. Big-picture view: Great accounting staff are able to take the big-picture view of their work. They can step back and assess the situation, and they understand how their efforts and those of colleagues support the organization’s mission and vision. They understand that their contributions and the contributions of others matter.
  6. Communications: Another aspect of great staff accountants is their ability communicate well with managers, subordinates, clients, and coworkers. They can explain complex rules and regulations or tax concepts to anyone, adjusting their language and description to the audience at hand. They write clearly and succinctly – and know when to send an email or pick up the phone.
  7. Integrity: Superstars shine with integrity. No matter if anyone is looking or not, the great staff accountants do the right thing consistently. They uphold high ethical standards and expect others around them to do the same.
  8. Excel experts: Spreadsheets are no problem for superstar staff accountants. They ‘excel’ at Excel, and don’t mind sharing their knowledge of spreadsheets, computer systems, or other things with the team.
  9. Always setting the bar higher: Like top athletes who aren’t content with breaking one records, top staff accountants always set the bar higher for themselves. They look for professional development opportunities as well as opportunities to learn new skills. Once they achieve a goal, they’re onto the next one. Top accounting staff always want to exceed their professional best.

How do you stack up to this list? If you feel exhausted just reading it, don’t despair. As we said at the beginning, great accountants are made, not born. Pick one skill on this list and focus on mastering it. As you work on each, they become second nature. Soon, you too will rank among the superstar staff accountants.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions 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.