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Accounting Software

True Fund Accounting Serves the Needs of Nonprofits the Best

By | Accounting Software | No Comments

Charities worldwide struggle to gain donors’ trust. In the United States, while 73% of donors say that it is essential to trust a nonprofit to which they donate, only 19% would give their charities a trust-score of 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Nonprofits must work harder than ever to build trust between their organizations and the public. The news media is quick to run stories of charities that waste money but rarely if ever, showcases responsible charities and the good work that they do. You must be your own best advocate and show the public exactly how their donations are being used, so there is no question about your organization’s integrity.

True Fund Accounting: A Trust Builder for Nonprofits

Which program(s) do you use to track your nonprofit finances and accounting? Many nonprofits rely on spreadsheets and off-the-shelf commercial accounting software programs to track expenses, income, and payroll.

While such methods may be acceptable during your startup and early growth phases, if you’re serious about shoring up trust between your organization and the public, it’s time to switch to true fund accounting.

What Is True Fund Accounting?

There are two main types of accounting software on the market: commercial and fund.

Commercial accounting packages assume that the business sells goods or provides services. It doesn’t have the flexibility needed to manage accounting by specific funds. Fund accounting software enables a nonprofit to track how funds are used. For example, if a donation of $10,000 is received with the specification that it is used only for a specific program, fund accounting enables you to track how those particular dollars are spent.

10 Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Needs True Fund Accounting

Many nonprofits begin their work using spreadsheets or commercial accounting packages. But as your organization grows, true fund accounting is the best way to manage the complex accounting needs of your nonprofit.

If you’re still deciding whether to switch from your current accounting software to true fund software, consider the following 10 reasons why your nonprofit may benefit from true fund accounting:

  1. You receive funds with restrictions: Large donations, grants, and other funds given to your organization with restrictions require sophisticated tracking and reporting. Only true fund accounting software offers the level of sophisticated tracking nonprofits need.
  2. Measuring the performance of a program or an activity is essential to you: Nonprofits who value measuring the performance of specific programs find that true fund accounting offers the detail-level tracking needed to understand the financial benefits of a specific program.
  3. You need to report for different periods or fiscal years: While your nonprofit may run on a specific fiscal year, that timeframe may not align with those of your grantors and foundations. They may require reports based on different time periods. True fund accounting provides a flexible approach to reporting that enables you to run reports on varying time periods rather than a set fiscal year.
  4. Does your organization need to record encumbered funds? If you must record receipt of gifts as encumbered, true fund accounting supports recording encumbered funds. Commercial accounting software does not.
  5. We need to record allocations of indirect costs by grantors. The allocation of elaborate indirect costs can be a headache in a commercial program, but true fund accounting enables you to enter it with ease.
  6. Reports must be generated and submitted to each funding source: Foundations, grantors, and private donors often require detailed reports to be submitted at agreed-upon milestones. True fund accounting makes it easier to run such reports based on milestones, time periods, or events.
  7. Nonprofit-specific accounting rules must be applied to your financials: Not only are you required to utilize nonprofit accounting rules for your organization, but when these rules are changed or updated, your software must update too. Cloud-based true fund accounting updates when changes are made so you continually use the latest software version.
  8. Your organization must manage and report multiple budgets: A typical business using commercial accounting software uses budgets for planning purposes. Nonprofits utilize budgets for compliance and monitoring.
  9. Transparency in how funds are used is vital to your organization: Processing multiple balance sheets within a nonprofit isn’t uncommon. Funds are often treated as separate entities with their own general ledger. Commercial software can be cumbersome to set up for this, but true fund accounting accommodates such setup easily.
  10. Your accounting software must work across multiple platforms: Nonprofits often set up private gateways or access points into their accounting for auditors and others to review their information. It’s essential that such software functions smoothly across multiple platforms and integrates other business applications.

Trust takes time to build and is earned with each interaction between an organization and the public. When you demonstrate thorough, clear, concise reports, applying nonprofit accounting rules and best practices to your financials, and share these clearly with donors, granting organizations, auditors, and others, you build trust. It’s time to embrace true fund accounting for the future of your organization.

Welter Consulting, Inc.

Welter Consulting, Inc is your bridge to technology solutions for nonprofit organizations. Welter Consulting offers software support, implementation, training, and audit preparation assistance for nonprofit organizations. We can help you select a true fund accounting program such as Abila MIP Cloud, our recommended package for many nonprofit organizations. Let’s talk about your needs – contact us at 206-605-3113.

5 Tips to Squeeze More Life Out of Your Nonprofit Accounting Software

By | Accounting, Accounting Software, Data, Fiscal, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

With more and more nonprofits embracing fund accounting as a strategy for growth, combined with the ever-changing reporting requirements from fund agencies, getting the most from your technology investment makes its way to the top of the priority list. Organizations need to be proactive when maximizing the returns on fund accounting investment.

Find out if you have you outgrown your accounting software by conducting a software review.

Start with a thorough review of your system’s processes. Next, conduct an in-depth analysis of the chart of accounts’ structure and financial statement formatting as they relate to supporting the organization’s reporting and tracking requirements. Finally, talk with your staff and key stakeholders  who use the system to find out what’s working, and what’s not.

The revelations may surprise you.The results of these three steps will create a roadmap to refresh your system.

Don’t have time for a thorough system review? There are some steps you can take right now to expedite your system and get more life out of it.

  1. Re-order chart of accounts. Remove unused segment values to make data entry and reporting more logical.
  2. Clean up and archive. Start with the Accounts Payable vendor and Accounts Receivable customer rosters, then tackle the register histories. This will speed up the system while reducing staff time sifting through obsolete information.
  3. Close, optimize, or delete old fiscal years. This will expedite report generation and system inquiries.
  4. Identify additional modules that can create efficiencies for staff. Contact your technology consultant to learn about modules that can be added to automate manual tasks like spreadsheet schedules, purchasing and reconciliations.
  5. Train & Re-Train. You can’t learn all there is to know during your initial software training session. Underutilized modules that your team revisits can streamline processes significantly.

Welter Consulting helps nonprofits get more out of their accounting software. We find 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 needing technology help, we’d love to talk to you about your specific needs.  Contact us online or call 206-605-3113.

Feeling – and Dealing – with Being Overwhelmed

By | Abila, Accounting, Accounting Software, Budget, Cloud, Corporate Culture, Fiscal, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Technology | No Comments

It’s not confined to tax season. A look at why you’re feeling overwhelmed, and how to deal with it.

In the book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”, authors Jeff and J.J. Sutherland have an interesting chart on page 91. In this chart, they cite statistics that indicate that as one’s attention is divided, productivity decreases. Working on two projects at once means a 20% loss in productivity due to switching gears; three projects at once, and you lose about 40% due to context switching.

Accountants and financial managers at nonprofits aren’t immune to this loss, due to context switching. In fact, we’re probably more vulnerable to it due to the focused nature of our work. Dealing with financial issues, accounting questions, and understanding complex financial information requires quiet, focused time. The barrage of instant messenger apps, phone calls, emails, texts and myriad information streams in today’s connected world increases the loss due to context switching. Multi-tasking for greater productivity is a myth.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Nearly all professionals are feeling overwhelmed these days. It’s as if the crunch before tax season never ends. Researchers point to the common culprits – instant messengers, instant news, instant everything – as a big part of the problem. The human brain isn’t wired to deal with this level of intensity, and we haven’t had time to adapt to the rapid pace of change that technology has wrought in our personal and business lives.

Although we cannot fully shut the world out and switch off the phones, there are ways to improve productivity. These include avoiding context or task switching, single-tasking instead of multi-tasking, and establishing boundaries around office times.

Single-Tasking for Greater Productivity

Multi-tasking does not improve productivity. Instead, it diminishes productivity because the mind needs time to acclimate to the second task. As we focus on one task, our attention is fixed on that task; switching to a second task takes brain power to establish focus, change direction, and process new information.

Don’t buy into the myth of multi-tasking. Instead, turn off the music or the television while you work. Shut the door to your office. Switch off the instant messages and turn your cell phone to mute while you work on a project. Allow yourself the space to focus, rather than trying to cram as many tasks as you can into the same amount of time.

Set Office Rules

Another tip to improve productivity and avoid feeling overwhelmed is to set some basic ground rules around your time in the office. While many managers prefer an ‘open door’ policy and make themselves available to their staff at any time, you may need to establish some basic policies around availability.

Some managers have ‘office hours’ when they leave their door open as a clear signal to their teams that they can drop in and ask any questions they wish. Others block out time on their calendar for quiet, focused work. Either method works fine. The point is to ensure that you have adequate quiet time for focused work and additional time blocked out for your teams.

Switch Off the Mobile Phone

 Cellphones are a great convenience, but their buzzing, shrilling, vibrating presence has ruined many a meeting, family dinner, or quiet time. Shut off the mobile phone when you aren’t at work or when you need some space. Texts are rarely as urgent as we make them out to be, and your brain needs a break from the constant stream of messages and information it’s trying to process.

Give Yourself Permission to Rest

 Lastly, give yourself permission to rest on the weekends, vacations and holidays. When you’re behind schedule on projects, it is tempting to trying to bring work home or devote a few extra hours in the evening to finishing up a project. Occasionally burning the midnight oil doesn’t hurt  but making it a habit can cut into your overall productivity. Ensuring balance in all things takes time, practice and effort, but it helps your overall productivity.

Everyone feels overwhelmed at times by work. If it becomes chronic, however, it’s time to take steps to safeguard your time. Burnout happens in all professions, including accounting and finance, nonprofit and for-profit companies.

 

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.


 

Fiscal Year-End for Nonprofits

By | Accounting, Accounting Software, Budget, CPA, Fiscal, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Year-End | No Comments

For many nonprofit organizations June represents the last month of their nonprofits fiscal year, and the start of closing of the grants. As soon as fiscal and executive staff return to the office in July 2018, there will be plenty of work to do to close the books.

Oftentimes nonprofit organizations that operate around a program schedule find that closing their fiscal year at the end of June simply works better. For example, after colleges and other higher education organizations have celebrated graduations they enter a slower time making it an optimal season to close out their books.

Healthcare and human services receiving substantial funding from grants are preparing for end of July reporting requirements, making it an ideal time to get in line with parallel grant cycles. Others prefer to avoid the double whammy of having fiscal closing and tax season that start in January. Whatever their reason, July marks a new financial year of opportunity ahead.

What will your fiscal 2017 results look like, and how will you distribute them? If you close your books at the end of June your IRS tax Form 990 will be due on November 15. Audits will also start to get scheduled which include financial statement scrutiny, especially for organizations covered under OMB’s A-133 single audit act.

Some questions you and your team can be asking include:

  • Where will your organization be presenting your results?
  • Will you go beyond a normal board meeting update and provide results to your top funding stakeholders?
  • Do you also publish results to your website and/or an annual report?

Keep in mind the future funders of your organization likely expect more transparency than the ones to whom you’re delivering results today.  Getting audit ready for year-end is probably at the top of your to-do list and making sure you have all your tools in place is important.

Another way to effectively navigate this end of year season with success is to put a budget plan in place. This plan should be adaptable. If you have just started a new FY 2018 budget, think about your checkpoints and where you can adjust the plan. If you’re on the cusp of starting budget planning, though, please consider how you can build a better budget. We are offering a guide to building a nonprofit budget roadmap that can help you wherever you happen to be in your own organization’s journey.

 

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting is a technology firm empowering nonprofit and government organizations with effective software, consulting & training that can help you with your accounting needs. We are committed to finding the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support. By leveraging technology and superior reporting, our team helps to free more of your time to devote to the important work of your mission. We bridge people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We are passionate professionals who choose to work in the nonprofit sector for the same reason you do – helping others. Please contact Welter Consulting online at 206-605-3113 for more information.