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HR

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.

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.

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.

The State of Gender Diversity Among Non-Profit Boards

By | HR, Nonprofit | No Comments

Women have long been at the forefront of non-profit organizations. From Clara Barton founding the American Red Cross to today’s women forming groups to help many others, women have always volunteered their time and talents for the betterment of society.

But among non-profit boards, gender diversity remains a controversial topic. Today, while more women than ever are at the helm of corporations worldwide, they may still be under-represented around the non-profit boardroom table.

New global data indicate that some countries have made good progress adding women to non-profit boards while men continue to dominate in other areas. The state of gender diversity among non-profit boards worldwide is discussed below.

Gender Proportions Among Worldwide Boards

Within countries that have an established gender quota for boards, women are well represented. In non-quota markets such as the U.S., that number is lower.

Globally, boards comprise about 14% women. Five countries are above 30%: Norway, France, Latvia, Iceland, and Finland. Canada and Australia have tougher disclosure laws and as such, are making better progress towards gender equality in board representation.

What’s Stopping Board Diversity?

Female board nominees face numerous challenges when seeking seats on boards. Boards place an emphasis on collegiality, and females facing an all-male board may find themselves outside of an established male group.

It’s also a fact that people tend to invite business and social colleagues to be members of their boards. Women may not be part of these established networks, and it may take time for women to make inroads into groups that lead to board nominations.

Lastly, men and women view the need for board diversity differently. Women tend to place a greater emphasis on the need for diversity, while about half as many men feel the same way.

The Benefits of Diversity on Boards

Women bring a different perspective to discussions when they sit on corporate boards. There are many benefits of having women on corporate and non-profit boards of directors. These benefits include:

  • Differences in work styles and communications
  • Differences in relationships, with an emphasis on trust and teamwork among women
  • Greater emphasis on civil discourse and discussion
  • More independent and creative thinking
  • Less emphasis on conformity

Such new thinking and differences in perspectives can lead to improved problem solving, creative solutions to problems, and the ability to take advantage of opportunities.

Recommendations for Women

There are several recommendations that women seeking board service can implement to obtain their goals. Women in accounting may have more opportunities for board service than others because accountants are often in demand for board positions regardless of gender. Their ability to process detailed financial information may make them a desirable board candidate.

Women should also consider joining professional groups and organizations. Such groups may lead to colleagues who can recommend them for board positions and who know their expertise and abilities. Like the so-called ‘old boy’s network’, these networks of professional friendships help people connect to opportunities.

Although men and women are equally capable of serving on boards, each brings a different perspective to a non-profit. Both will serve well, given their abilities and talents match the needs of a board. Non-profit boards would do well to consider adding more women to the table – the board table, that is.

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.