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Grant Management

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.

Accounting and Project Management: Two Unlikely Allies

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

As an accounting professional, you know that you play an important role in your organization. Your team can help your organization achieve its goals more effectively by  working alongside project managers.

Project managers may be part of the marketing, creative services, information technology or any other department. Their job is to organize, guide, and as the name implies, manage a project from start to finish, ensuring that timelines, milestones, and budgets are met.

As you can imagine, accounting can best partner on the budget side of projects, however, accounting teams can help project managers with so much more. Here’s how the two can become unlikely but powerful allies to build organizational efficiency.

The Accounting Team Knows How It’s Done

Accounting teams have a special knack for understanding the workflow within an organization. Chalk it up to knowing where the money flows in and out, but the accounting team can be the organizational experts on who does what, when and how.

That information is essential for project managers struggling to align processes and people with project goals and milestones. The accounting staff understand the risks, controls, and other details that can help projects move smoothly through the organization. They know how work gets done internally and can guide project managers around any potential obstacles.

Project Management Methodology

Accountants who wish to add value to the project management team must, however, learn the language and methodology of successful project management.

Projects are mapped with a specific workflow in mind. There is a beginning,a middle (or milestones to reach), and a stated goal which marks the end.

The overall project map can be called a charter or project plan. Accountanting professionals, used to managing risk, can add value to the creation of a project plan or charter by objectively identifying potential risks from their unique perspective.  This can help the project managercorrect any faulty assumptions and keep projects on track.

Accounting Participates from the Start

Another helpful hint: Participate in project plans from the start. Don’t wait until the project is near completion and the project manager needs help finding additional funds in the budget to complete it. You can add the greatest value to a project by working alongside the project team from the start to advise on process and budgets.  Instead of coming in at the last minute, your guidance is essential near the project kickoff, in the middle when the project may need changes or additions, as well as with final budgeting.

Tips to Manage Project Risks

Accountants are risk managers. To add your greatest strength to the project management process, use these tips to help manage risks.

  • Help the project manager at the beginning of a project.
  • Stay involved with the project. Attend meetings of the project team and review any documents, emails or other materials promptly.
  • Ask questions like an auditor. Key stakeholders in project meetings can help identify the most important project milestones that deserve focus.
  • Be aware of workload dips and spikes, and accommodate the crunch periods with additional help.
  • Identify project scope creep, or when the work moves outside of the intended project. Gently guide it back into scope with the help of the project manager.

By asking the right questions and using your talents and strengths  in managing financial accounts, you can become a valuable ally and asset to the project management team in your organization.

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.

10 Essential Keys to Effectively Engage Clients in E-Learning

By | Abila, Accounting, E-Learning, Grant Management, Nonprofit, Training, Webinar | No Comments

As nonprofit professionals, it’s imperative to endlessly observe your member experience and reflect on ways to improve your processes. Here are 10 keys to enhancing your E-Learning to better engage your users.

KEY 1: Get to know your members: What do your members value in educational programs? If you don’t know the answer, it’s time to find out. Get to know their generational and career stage preferences, technology comfort levels, content interests, and more.

KEY 2: Enhance member benefits: Nearly half of all association members who responded to Abila MIP’s™ Member Professional Development Study want a combined, all-in-one option for membership and education. Yet, less than one-third of organizations report having this type of offering. Consider ways to bundle and personalize your membership and education to meet your learners’ needs.

KEY 3: Attract young professionals: With Millennials representing the largest generation in the workforce, having a strategy to attract, engage, and retain them as members is crucial. Millennials want to learn new skills and advance in their careers, so creating programs that cater to these needs will help associations deepen their relationships with this group.

KEY 4: Personalize your learning: Apply what you learn about your members, and deliver the content and communication that keeps them coming back. Content is the single most important driver for why members choose an educational offering over another. Use your data to deliver a personalized learning experience to your members.

KEY 5: Wrap it in a bow: Make the buying process easy for your members with creative and strategic opportunities for them to access your content. Create packages of on-demand programs or a webinar series, or allow users to curate their learning experience with a create-your-own program bundle.

KEY 6: Blend the distribution: We learned that members still use a variety of learning formats for their education. To cater to the different preferences, vary your methods of content delivery and offer multiple mediums for your programs. This will ensure you meet the needs of all your members.

KEY 7: Get the bang for your buck: Offering multiple mediums does not have to be hard. Leverage the content you’ve already created. Take your in-person event and webcast it. Following the event, sell the recording as a whole or  in segments with on-demand and podcast offerings. Don’t forget you can rebroadcast the program as well!

KEY 8: Make it easy: Finding the right technology remains a challenge for organizations, with only one-third or fewer saying they are “very satisfied” with their systems. Finding a system that integrates, has a simple user flow, and offers options for live and on-demand learning content can make for a seamless experience for your users and staff.

KEY 9: Engage your audience: Holding a learner’s attention can be difficult, with most saying they start to lose interest after one hour,. Incorporating interactive elements into your programming, such as polling and chat, can help to keep your members engaged.

KEY 10: Offer certification (Professional Development): Earning certification and maintaining a license is one of the top reasons members seek professional development. Make sure your course and credit offerings meet the needs of your market. If you aren’t in a career that requires a license, consider creating your own certification program.

To learn more about each key and how Abila clients are putting them into action, check out the 10 Keys to Enhancing the eLearning Experience whitepaper.

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.

Personalized Training Plans Offer More Meaningful Professional Development

By | Abila, Accounting, Government, Grant Management, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Professional Development, Training | No Comments

CPAs, like other professionals, need an additional 40 hours of continuing education units annually to maintain their certification. Even if your industry does not require taking continuing education courses, everyone benefits from refresher courses and keeping abreast of changes and developments in their industry.

There is great value to designing a personalized plan for continuing professional development. These plans build a customized training roadmap for individuals, so that instead of taking a prescribed set of courses to meet your continuing education requirements, you create your own curriculum. Here’s why they work.

The Benefits of Personalized Professional Development Plans

  1. Relevant: Personalized course plans are highly relevant. They take into consideration your currently level of skills, interests, and needs, as well as those of your employer or company. You can choose the courses that are right for you and fit your personal learning goals.
  2. Flexible: You choose when you wish to take the courses, creating a plan that lets you take courses on the weekends, at night, or even during your lunch hour. You aren’t locked into a set schedule.
  3. Higher completion rate: Because the courses in your personalized plan are relevant and on a schedule that meets your needs, they tend to have a higher completion rate than other courses.
  4. More feedback and interaction: Some personal development plans include interaction with a mentor or trainer, providing more personalized feedback and interaction from the one to one mentoring.
  5. Noticeable difference: Personal plans offer you the added bonus of being able to identify specific goals to work towards. You can document progress toward your goals through milestones and checkpoints. Not only does this help you achieve them, it also helps you see both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture. You can see just how far you’ve come.

Does Personalized Professional Development Stand Alone?

Most companies blend both personalized development with general professional development activities,  offering both the benefits of personalization and group interaction that’s valuable for team building and shared knowledge.

Why Professional Development Matters

Lifelong learning is important for all professions. While we tend to think of professional development for teachers, accountants, financial managers, others benefit from continually sharpening their skills.

Professions change over time. New governmental and IRS regulations, for example, may change how accountants and financial planners manage specific tasks and functions. Yes, you can read about these changes in professional journals or online bulletins from the managing organizations, but in some cases, in-depth professional development through workshops, conferences, or classes may be the best way to completely understand something new.

Technology is changing how CPAs manage data, how sales and marketing professionals do their jobs, and how human resources managers organize their files. By taking additional professional development courses in technology-enhanced areas, you’ll be able to maximize the use of such  developments to create a stronger, better organization.

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.