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MIP Fund Accounting

How to Improve Employee Retention by Improving Corporate Culture

By | Abila, Accounting, Corporate Culture, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

We’ve all seen the statistics: it costs several thousand dollars, and several weeks or months of lost productivity to fill vacancies. Nonprofits face additional employee retention challenges in a strong economy with low unemployment. Retaining skilled employees becomes more challenging in a strong, robust economy.

There is no one size fits all program you can put into place to improve retention. Instead, consider building a sustainable corporate culture that encourages people to feel loyal to your organization.

What Is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture is the overall tone, mood, feeling and method of work that occurs within an organization. While difficult to define, it is easy to spot. A productive, positive corporate culture leads to loyalty, low turnover, and high productivity. A negative corporate culture leads to disgruntled employees, poor productivity, high turnover, and myriad other problems.

 

Improving Corporate Culture

The Harvard Business Review lists several methods to improve corporate culture.

 

  1. Clarify the organization’s vision. Nonprofits who successfully retain employees have a clearly defined vision for their organization. Pathway to Stop Diabetes, an initiative of the American Diabetes Association, has a clearly defined mission: “Our visionis simple yet revolutionary: find a new generation of brilliant scientists at the peak of their creativity, then provide them with the freedom, autonomy, and financial and professional resources to set them on the road to breakthrough discoveries.” A defined vision helps unite and clarify the work of everyone at a nonprofit, enhances company culture and is a central point around which all conversations can revolve  .
  2. Hire the right people. We know, it’s easier said than done, but hiring people who believe wholeheartedly in the vision is an important step toward building organizational culture and reducing turnover. Look for people with a demonstrated work history aligned with your mission. People’s actions speak louder than words when it comes to demonstrating their values, and their work history is the record of how they implement those values in their careers.
  3. Develop guiding principles. Guiding principles are the shared statements that reflect how to implement the mission and vision of an organization. They also document how you expect employees to behave, treat one another, and do their work. Guiding principles should include the ideas and concepts you would like to inculcate throughout the organization. A corporate culture that accepts and honors diversity, for example, might have as its guiding principle tolerance for all races, creeds, religions and sexual preferences; a corporate culture that values innovation might have as a guiding principle the embracing of creativity and the time needed to generate creative ideas.
  4. Build a compelling narrative. Narratives are stories and every nonprofit have its own unique story. Marley’s Mutts, a nonprofit animal rescue in Bakersfield, California, builds on the narrative of the founder’s battle with end stage liver disease and the role that Marley, his dog, had in helping him overcome hopelessness. That bond between dogs and people is what inspires all of Marley’s Mutts actions and programs including their prison outreach, special needs children’s outreach, and rescuing so-called unadoptable dogs from shelters around the world.
  5. Promote connections. People are less inclined to leave an organization if they feel strong connections to it and to others who work there. Millennials are often cited as lacking loyalty, but in fact, they simply have a low tolerance for boredom and the lack of interest in their work. Build connections to the organization through promoting challenging projects, increasing responsibility, and improving chances for advancement.

 

Building a strong corporate culture to improve employee retention takes time and effort. Make it a concerted effort among your leadership team, human resources, and managers to enact positive changes that build culture and improve loyalty.

 

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 at 206-605-3113 for more information.

5 Tips to Accomplish Goals with Your Consultant

By | Abila, Accounting, Accounting Software, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

At some point in your nonprofit work, you may need to hire a consultant. Whether it’s a technology consultant  retained to help you choose the right fund accounting software for your organization, or a marketing consultant to  assist in building a great website, consultants are a smart way to expand your team with the expertise  required to complete a project.

Consultants are experts in their field. They are seasoned professionals who choose to work with a variety of organizations rather than spend their time with just one. They are truth-tellers whose main objective is to help you solve a problem.

There are several tricks to finding a terrific consultant and achieving successful project goals together. Here are our top steps to accomplish your goals with your consultants and to work successfully together.

 

Tips to Work Together with Consultants

 

  1. Build a good rapport with your consultants so you can trust and have confidence in their suggestions. Communications must be clear and understandable; while consultants are experts, they shouldn’t speak in such lengthy jargon that you can’t understand what they are trying to say. Speak up if you don’t understand anything and be sure to ask plenty of questions. Consultants are there to help you, and they should be able to answer your questions in ways that you understand.
  1. Set expectations in writing. Although you may have discussed the nuances of your project, it is easy to forget the details once the work begins or other projects take center stage. Having expectations, goals, milestones, and dates in writing with your consultant ensures that there is no ambiguity around the work undertaken, the definition of when a project is complete, and other details of the project.
  1. Establish communication channels and preferences at the start of the engagement. Consultants should be flexible about the method and frequency of communications. Some people prefer instant messages while others prefer telephone communications. Make sure your preferences are known at the start of the project. Also discuss frequency of communications; how often will the consultant check in with you? Do you require progress reports or other reports for your Board or supervisors? Clarify communication expectations in writing early in the project to avoid frustration on both sides.
  1. Identify people in your organization with whom the consultant should work. Establishing who the consultant should communicate with inside your organization is equally as important as establishing the method and frequency of communication. To ensure the consultants always have someone available, identify one to three people that the consultant can contact for questions and a discussion of issues.
  1. Discuss boundaries. Consultants are not employees. At some point in the project, their work ends, and yours begins. They will pass on their recommendations to you to implement. Have a plan in place to initiate their recommendations as soon as they are accepted. If you do not have a plan for implementation, you may have a great document from the consultant that sits on a shelf gathering dust.

Consultants add a great deal of value to an organization, but you can only benefit from their expertise if you communicate well, trust their judgment, and establish who will take their work on to the finish line.

 

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 at 206-605-3113 for more information.

12 Steps to Improve Internal Controls

By | Accounting, Audit, Fraud, Internal Controls, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

There’s no better time than now to review and analyze your organization’s internal controls. We’ve broken up the intimidating task of updating and maintaining proper internal controls while being slightly more focused and productive, with these 12 simple yet necessary steps.

Step 1: Map out your current processes and workflows. Detail out internal accounting procedures with a simple step-by-step checklist or list of rules. Clearly identify how long each step of authorization should take to process.

Step 2: Identify clear separation of duties. Open your workflow documentation back up and assign owners for each procedure, and other process owners who may be involved in authorizations, approvals, or reviews.

Step 3: Bring in an outside expert to review your current processes. Leverage outside expertise like certified fraud examiners (CFEs) or attorneys specialized in evaluating and improving internal controls. They can help identify any gaps or vulnerabilities.

Step 4: Find a new home for your documentation. You’ll want to maintain documentation of your processes in a commonly-used location that is easily accessible by staff. It will need to be continually updated as needs shift throughout the year.

Step 5: Review security permissions in your fund accounting system. Your technology should fully support your desired workflows encompassing your separation of duties. Update your security settings to limit system access, based on defined roles and security groups.

Step 6: Set up monitoring alerts. Ideally, your fund accounting system can be set up with active monitoring alerts to quickly notify other staff about key activities, such as when checks are printed, but not recorded, or vendor hold payment status is changed.

Step 7: Create a digital audit file. Here you’ll organize and maintain artifacts for future audits, including bank statements and reconciliations, investment summaries, fixed asset and depreciation schedules, documentation of donor pledges and grant funds received, and year-end accounts payable and expenses.

Step 8: Update your employee onboarding. Now that your documentation is up to date, you’ll need to update your new employee onboarding to reflect the changes. It’s important to promote a shared commitment of financial responsibility from the start with a new employee.

Step 9: Set a reoccurring monthly budget review. The budget is not just a planning tool – this is a key internal control. Schedule monthly budget reviews for reconciliation, explaining variances to the budget keeps proper checks and balances across departments.

Step 10: Recruit for an audit committee. You’ll want to institute a strong audit committee of independent members (typically from the board) who are familiar with finance and accounting. They should select and review the independent external auditors and help monitor for fraud.

Step 11: Schedule an internal audit. The best prepared organizations perform internal audits to ensure key control activities are being followed, and to identify any reconciliation discrepancies. Find an appropriate time for your team and stick to the date.

Step 12: Set up quarterly staff trainings. You must reinforce your controls with periodic trainings. Take the time now to get these on the calendar and build into the agenda time to discuss any shifting accounting standards for which you may need to adjust.

Remember, the objective of internal controls is to put “checks and balances” in place to help manage and preserve the charitable assets of the organization. It builds a foundation of policies and procedures that ensures employees act responsibly and ethically and prepares the organization for expected scrutiny (for example, audits and budget reviews) and tough to predict events (for example, staff turnover).

Here are a few resources to help you implement the 12 Steps to Better Internal Controls:

 

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.

Key Takeaways from the Journal of Accountancy’s 6th Annual Roundtable

By | Data, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit, Technology, Training | No Comments

In this year’s 6th annual roundtable, sponsored by the Journal of Accountancy, some familiar themes emerged: the importance of cloud computing, improving technology training for all staff, and cybersecurity. But among the topics discussed during the roundtable, new trends emerged that are worth noting.

Mid-Sized Accounting Firms Struggle with Technology

According to the experts participating in the roundtable, mid-sized accounting firms lag behind both small and large-sized firms in many areas of technology: Implementation, maintenance, and strategy, which can create problems.

For example, lagging behind in cybersecurity puts your entire IT infrastructure at risk. Cyber attacks aren’t limited to big firms; mid-sized and small-sized nonprofits may be at greater risk since criminals view them as low-hanging fruit and quick to capitulate and succumb to things like ransomware. They may also have no dedicated staff to cybersecurity, which means less attention is paid to it and criminals may have an easier time accessing critical data, personal information they can resell, and other information.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing may bridge the gap mid-sized firms experience in the technology world. Because cloud computing services are set up through the internet, they are accessible to all sizes of companies. They also offer higher security since cloud-based companies providing software and services invest in tighter security to protect multiple clients.

Software delivered through the cloud can also be less costly than previously available versions that were seat-based. Cloud software, shared among multiple mid-sized firms, spreads the cost out so that it is more affordable. Better computing power at a lower cost makes it an obtainable goal for many mid-sized companies.

Technology Improvements Needed

Throughout the roundtable discussion, the need for overall improvement in the use, adoption, and understanding of technology was apparent. Many nonprofit organizations feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of technology solutions they are expected to learn and apply.

Partnering with a strong consulting firm who can teach, advise, and guide you through the process of adopting tighter cybersecurity practices and cloud-based software solutions may be a good path to follow. Small to mid-sized nonprofits do not have the resources or time to invest in cybersecurity, but they can partner with a company or consultant who is an expert in this area to help them. Understanding your nonprofit’s strengths and partnering with others to shore up your weaknesses is a smart way to proceed.

Simple Changes that Reap Big Results

A few simple changes suggested by the experts that can produce big results include:

  • Encrypting emails: Encryption can protect sensitive information and provide an additional layer of security with an easy fix.
  • Training: Training staff how to screen for phishing schemes, how to craft strong passwords, and other simple cybersecurity measures needn’t be a huge undertaking, but even a little training can go a long way to improve cybersecurity.
  • Updating hardware: Many experts talk about updating software, but how about updating the hardware your staff uses? Bigger monitors may sound like a strange thing to focus on, but they can make workstations more comfortable and prevent mistakes by simply enlarging information on screen.

There’s a lot to focus on when it comes to technology for your nonprofit association. It can feel overwhelming to tackle everything on your technology to do list. Finding and working with a consulting partner may help you move into a better, more comfortable place when it comes to technology.

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.