Category

Budget

What Do Grant Organizations Look For? What Funders REALLY Want When They Make Decisions About Where the Money Goes

By | Budget, Fundraising, Grant Management, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

Funders, defined as people at grant organizations, approve fund requests. They can be a nonprofit organization’s bane or best friend. A new report, called Social Solutions: Foundation Report Study, examined the metrics by which foundations and granting organizations determine which nonprofit organizations to awards funds. The results are surprising and tell us a lot about what nonprofits can do to increase their opportunities to receive funding.

The Three Most Important Considerations for Funding

Funders overwhelmingly agreed on the main consideration for granting an award: IMPACT.

98% of those responding to the survey picked “impact” – as in the award they gave would make an impact on the project or people – as the most important consideration for funding.

Lagging behind impact but coming in second is MISSION. How well does the project or request match the fulfillment of the nonprofit’s stated mission?

And third, legal nonprofit status was cited as the third most important consideration. That was surprising given that one would assume that anyone applying to a foundation or grant organization would already have legal nonprofit status before requesting such funds.

Evaluating Impact

It wasn’t just the overall impact that was important to these funding organizations. To evaluate impact, they look at several criteria. This included:

  • Outcomes
  • Detailed data
  • Consistency to mission
  • Outputs
  • Community
  • Financials
  • Other criteria

Funders are also seeking clear, concise reporting, as well as strong community outreach. Communication around projects and nonprofit goals are also important. The funding organizations wanted to be sure that organizations are “putting their money where their mouth is” and doing what they state they will do in their mission and materials.

Reports Are Important

Reports back to the foundation are also an important part of the process. What the foundations and granting organizations seek in reports includes plenty of stories about how the money is making an impact, as well as the data to back that up. Spreadsheets, paper-based reports, and other documentation lends credibility and credence to reports and supports the nonprofits’ assertions of how money is being used or will be used.

One thing is certain: more feedback is required from nonprofits as part of the grant process than ever before. Funds are one thing, but telling a story about the funds is important.

Donors Like to See Dollars in Action

Donors like to see their money in action, making an impact, effecting change, and supporting the mission of the nonprofit. That goes for individual donors as well as foundations and granting organizations.

Large or small, all funders preferred to see stories (82%) over other forms of reports. Why stories? Stories paint a great picture of how funds have made a difference. That doesn’t mean that stories have to be written out. They can be told through images, slideshow presentations, or videos, but illustrating the impact of the funds on the lives of others was deemed very import for the funders to decide to whom to give money..

Your Take Away: Get Your Ducks in a Row

The big takeaway for nonprofit organizations is to be sure that you have your entire package prepared as best as you can before sending it to a funder. If your nonprofit status isn’t fully documented, your application may be pushed to the bottom of the pile.

Documenting achievements in both qualitative and quantitative formats is also important. Qualitative documentation such as stories, testimonials, and presentations enhances the emotional impact of your nonprofit’s work, while quantitative data support assumptions about its effectiveness.

Funders have money to give to worthy causes. Knowing what they are looking for and tailoring your grant paperwork to their requests can help you achieve your nonprofit’s funding goals.

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.

 

Technology Budget: Getting Buy-In from the Board or Association

By | Accounting, Budget, CPA, Nonprofit | No Comments

Regardless of a non-profit’s budget, the technology world is quickly revolving and to stay competitive, it is imperative to stay current on technology.  Even the simplest of computing advancements can require that some hardware or software be upgraded from year-to-year. Failing to keep up with the techno-curve can leave your organization in a deep hole that ends up costing you more in lost time, money, and resources then it would if you were able to justify the expense of upgrading.

So, we have a need to communicate how to balance the cost of doing nothing with the cost of spending on new technology in a business environment.

The need to present an annual technical budget to an association or nonprofit board may have its own unique circumstances, such as the need to adhere to strict or mandatory budgeting requirements. To meet these constraints, consider the following criteria when preparing for your annual budget review with the board:

  • Supports mission statement: Be transparent about how any funding is being used to further the group’s mission.
  • Forecasts contributions: Show how future contributions, gifts, and grants can offset operating expenses.
  • Plans for updates: Communicate how budget updates will be handled throughout the year to keep the original budget on track.

Presenting the right budget for your organization will differ materially from what is right for another organization. Each organization will have its own challenges and needs. Some of these variables can include:

  • What an organization is capable of and prepared to spend on technology.
  • Access to a discounted or donated upgraded system.
  • Ability to absorb implementation and training costs.
  • How effectively current technological resources are being used.
  • The number of staff available to participate in a technological update.

Although it may be tempting to propose that your organization adopt the latest technology can offer, generating a business case that shows an immediate and positive return on investment (ROI) using such technology may be a stretch. For example: Are you able to demonstrate to the board how your present technology is slowing your business process down to the point where it’s causing lost revenue? And can you then show how the proposed upgrade will alleviate your staff’s business challenges resulting in smoother office operations and higher revenue returns?

Your ability to identify your organizations biggest technological challenges and technology needs will help you to better outline your budgeting options to your nonprofit or association board for their review and approval. Based on a clear understanding of these options, presenting a cohesive set of recommendations that are more likely to be approved by the board becomes more certain.

By remembering the importance of comparing the ROI to the cost of upgrading, while showing the cost of doing nothing, you have a better opportunity to realize board approval of your technology budget that moves your group’s stated mission forward.

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.

Going Faster Isn’t the Answer. How Nonprofit Leaders Improve Decision Making.

By | Abila, Accounting, Budget, Data, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

The phone is ringing off the hook and you have 3,000 emails waiting for an answer. Meetings are booked back-to-back and your desk looks like someone dumped a file cabinet on it. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to take a deep breath and rethink how you’re handling your day.

We each get 24 hours in a day, and some of that time must be spent on things like sleeping, eating, and personal needs…but many of us feel that if we can cram more into our workdays, we’re improving our productivity. We take classes on productivity, buy fancy journals or add apps for time management, and wonder what we’re doing wrong when we get buried under an avalanche of work.

Where we go wrong is easy to spot. We think that by going faster and working harder, we’ll eventually catch up. We try to multi-task, cram more tasks into each hour, and find new ways of working while commuting, showering, or sleeping (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but how many of us would find ways to work if we could while we sleep?).

Instead of working harder and doing more, noted professor Harry Kraemer of the Kellogg School suggests a radical new approach to managing the deluge of tasks facing most professionals. Rest, reflect, and reset is the mantra of the truly successful person.

Why Doing More Isn’t Better

The problem with always trying to do more is that you never have time to do what will truly make an impact.

Authentic and effective leadership requires thoughtful planning. Leaders may have natural talent and abilities, but they must put those talents into action after considering the facts around them. Without the time to reflect, the action may be ineffective.

Self Reflection Leads to Better Decisions

Leaders know that they have two main tasks: to prioritize what is important and to find the resources needed to get the important tasks completed. But you can’t prioritize if you don’t take the time for self reflection.

Self reflection is more than thinking about what you’ve done during the day and what you’d like to accomplish tomorrow. It includes thinking about what you need to do differently.

If you’re so busy you don’t have time to breathe, let alone think, you won’t be able to think outside of your current situation. You’ll continue to try solutions that haven’t worked but are comfortable and familiar. And when it comes to problem-solving, comfortable and familiar are not a leader’s friends.

Systematized Self Reflection for Leaders

To make self reflection a reality instead of a wish, it’s important to systematize it. By setting up a system for reflection, observation, and action, you incorporate self reflection into your day.

The following steps may make it easier to incorporate self-reflection in your leadership skills.

  1. Set aside 15 minutes for writing out your reflection.
  2. Write down your thoughts about the day. Include questions, problems, and tasks you need to tackle next.
  3. Keep a running list of items to follow up on as well as the second list of items to explore.
  4. Consider both big-picture thoughts as well as the minutia of the day.
  5. Make self reflection a daily habit.

Self reflection builds strong leaders, teams, and companies. It’s a simple task that only takes 15 minutes a day to complete. Instead of constantly speeding up and trying to do more in a day, taking a brief break to reflect, refashion, and recommit to our goals can help build a better company and create stronger leaders.

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.

Financial Transparency

By | Accounting, Audit, Budget, FASB, Grant Management, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of “transparency” is “characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices”.  Transparency in your financial statement means it should be user friendly, clear, easily understandable and everything should be properly disclosed.

Importance of transparent financial statements

  • Proactive transparency and communication are essential to organizational success. Stakeholder understanding and support  is a direct result of transparency and open communication.
  • A practice of continuous, transparent communication enables an organization to better respond to crises – such as physical disaster, fraud, or the sudden loss of a leader – and execute more robust crisis communication strategies.
  • Establishing a culture of transparency is critical for effective governance, constituent engagement, and responsive management.
  • Opening communication channels can help to establish meaningful and productive relationships with constituents. These relationships can have a significant impact on long-term performance.

Start with the Stakeholders

Know both internal stakeholders (board, committees, senior management, management team, staff, volunteer workers) and external stakeholders (customers, donors, funders, grantors, creditors, partners, government, public). It is imperative that you understand their needs and expectations. Information needs, communication methods, and information consumption patterns vary substantially from segment to segment. Meeting and exceeding the information needs for each of these groups is critical to delivering satisfaction. 

If that’s too overwhelming, start by identifying your top two to three stakeholders. Determine what they need/want and go from there.

Strategic messages with financial statements

Make the data you have today more understandable and relatable; enhance the story and improve disclosure. When we think about financial statements we think revenue inputs and expense outputs but we need to be thinking more about outcomes.

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.