Category

Grant Management

Insider’s Tips to Winning More Grants

By | Grant Management | No Comments

There’s something about seeing a looming grant funding deadline that sets nonprofits into a tizzy. The grant writer polishes off another pot of coffee while the director paces the office chanting, “Is it done yet?” And, at the end of the process, when you click submit or seal the package for the post office, you wonder whether or not it’s all worth it. Will you get the grant?

Seven Common Grant Writing Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

We’re here to tell you that you can significantly increase the odds of winning more grants by following a few simple steps. These steps aren’t rocket science. They may strike you as common sense. But a recent informal survey among foundation personnel who review grant applications found some common mistakes among the applications they received. By being aware of these mistakes, you can sidestep them and make your grant applications shine.

Mistake #1 – No Preparation

Grant applications should not be written without preparation. Study the granting organization. Review the last three years of winners. What do they have in common? How can you target your grant so that you have a better chance of receiving funds?

Mistake #2 – Late Applications

We know that work can get busy, but that doesn’t give you an excuse for turning in your grant application late. Always be on time!

Mistake #3 – Stuffing the Package

Sure, you want to impress the people who will review the grant application with every proof of your organization’s excellent work. But pick and choose what you would like to present. Too much information overwhelms reviewers and makes you seem disorganized. Refine the enclosures to support the central message of your package.

Mistake #4 – Vague Proposals

Vague language derails many proposals. Be specific about how you plan to use the grant funds and how it aligns with both your mission and that of the foundation providing the funds. The more specifics you can include in your grant application, the better.

Mistake #5 – Budgets that Don’t Add Up

Do the math. Recheck it. Make sure that any budget numbers included in the proposal are both realistic and accurate. The financials should support the logic that flows through the proposal. Err on the side of realism rather than optimism and have someone double check your figures.

Mistake #6 – Caught Off Guard

You get the call you’ve been waiting for – the foundation is interested, and your application is among the top for consideration. Now they have specific questions about the programs outlined in your application. Don’t be caught off guard. Have a comprehensive plan ready to share with foundation directors when and if they call you.

Mistake #7 – Failing to Say Thank You

Even if you don’t get the grant, say thank you. Thank foundation directors and anyone else at the organization who helped you with any aspect of the  grant application. A sincere thank you goes a long way towards making a positive impression for your organization.

Successful grant applications take time and effort and can be stressful.. With these tips, you’ve just stepped ahead of many others who aren’t taking the time to learn more about the grant application process. Good luck, stay focused, and here’s to your success.

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.

Mid-Year Budget Review

By | Abila, Accounting, Accounting Software, Budget, CPA, Grant Management, Internal Controls, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

Let’s face it. Stuff happens. And, though you may wish your hard-fought and well-planned budget was settled, the National Council of Nonprofits says it best, “Budgets should not be ‘written in stone’ because the financial position of the nonprofit may change during the year.”

How is your nonprofit’s budget performing? Have you reviewed it since it was created and implemented? Is your revenue on target? Have any of the following occurred at your nonprofit? …

  • A shift or pivot in strategy or direction
  • Unforeseen events (natural disaster, legal, economic)
  • Organizational structure change (such as consolidations)
  • A change in funding received versus projected funding (such as receiving more or less from planned grant funding or fundraising activities)

A successful budget is one that is carefully crafted and implemented by a thorough budget team, then cautiously monitored and continuously updated throughout the year to reflect the inevitable changes affecting your nonprofit.

Download our Budget Checkup tool to put your Nonprofit budget to the test.

To learn about best practices when it comes to effectively monitoring and reviewing your budget throughout the year, download Budget Checkup: Critical Components of the Nonprofit Budget Review Process.

Feel like you have a pretty good understanding about the importance of the budget review process, but still relying on spreadsheets or an outdated solution? Join a live webinar, “Budget Lifecycle: Key Components to Budget Creation and Support” on Wednesday, June 7, for an in-depth review of how a true fund accounting™ solution can help you improve budgeting, so you can focus on your cause.

Looking for new nonprofit software to track your budget?  Answer these 5 Questions to Measure Fund Accounting System Effectiveness.

 

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 us online or call 206-605-3113 for more information.

 

5 Questions to Measure Fund Accounting System Effectiveness

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

Mandated reporting has become increasingly complex, due to multiple funding sources and programs within nonprofit organizations. You may find yourself having to rely on spreadsheets and workarounds, which can quickly become unmanageable and have a higher risk for error. As compliance, regulatory agencies, funding sources, and complexities grow, these issues can quickly hinder mission productivity and you may be exposed to larger burdens including:

  • System constraints limiting your ability to adapt other new and vital technology
  • Poor financial control which can lead to future loss of time and money
  • Lost opportunities for additional funding because your system is not flexible or robust enough to properly handle tracking and reporting requirements

Sound familiar? If so, you may need a more robust accounting system. Time to ask yourself the following five questions.

Are you facing an upgrade or needing software built for the complexity of nonprofit finance and accounting? Download “10 Reasons Why Nonprofits Need True Fund Accounting™.”

Does my current solution incorporate nonprofit-specific accounting rules?

Audited financial statements must present information in accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No. 116 and 117, or Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) guidelines. If your reports need heavy customization to comply with these guidelines, you should consider software that easily provides compliance-ready reporting.

 Can I easily measure performance of a program or activity?

Nonprofits typically need to measure a program or activity outcome, and track beyond basic financial information – something off-the-shelf, which is something most commercial accounting software is not designed to do. Your software needs to be robust enough to track and report performance or outcome measures on financial statements, as well as budgeting outcome measures for accurate forecasting.

 Am I able to create reports for varying fiscal years?

While commercial accounting often assumes that fiscal years end in the same months each year, nonprofits often have to report to several different audiences, with different information requirements and reporting timelines. Thus, the ability to track and report across different time periods (cross-fiscal & grant-year reporting) is critical for nonprofits.

 Can I easily show how money is tracked or budgeted?

Funds must be treated as distinct entities with their own general ledger and individual revenue, expense, income, and balance sheet reports. Nonprofits need software that will automatically handle the offset postings to cash or payable accounts by fund, as well as the encumbrance processing, grant tracking, and budget controls.

 Can I perform allocations of indirect costs by grantors?

Accuracy of allocations is critical in providing auditors and grantors a complete audit trail, but these allocations typically are not handled well by a commercial accounting system not designed with nonprofits in mind. Allocations need to be performed on virtually any account balance at the program level, department level, or grant level, and across multiple segments at one time with advanced calculation options, including fixed or dynamic percentages, unit measures, and more.

 

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.

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.