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Nonprofit

National Defense Authorization Act Raises Micro-Purchase and Simplified Acquisition Thresholds

By | Accounting, Government, Nonprofit | No Comments

If you work with tribes or are part of a tribal government, you should closely follow the changes made to the National Defense Authorization Act. On June 30, 2018, the NDAA issued changes that  increased the minimum thresholds for micro purchases and simplified acquisition.  These changes impact many individuals and groups, as well as impact tribal governments.

Raising the minimum threshold should ease some of the reporting burden on those receiving federal funds.

What Are the Exact Changes?

  • The threshold for micro-purchases is increased from $3,500 to $10,000
  • The threshold for simplified acquisitions is increased from $100,000 to $250,000

What Should You Do?

Groups currently receiving federal awards, including tribal governments, may wish to immediately revise internal procurement policies so that they can implement the new thresholds.

Memorandum M-18-18 also outlines changes for institutes of higher learning, nonprofit research organizations, and independent research organizations that wish to use a micro-purchase threshold higher than $10,000.

Specific Recommendations

There are some specific recommendations that can help you follow the new guidelines as stated in M-18-18.

  • Micro-purchase: You should include purchases when the aggregate dollar amount does not exceed $10,000. It may be helpful to distribute micro-purchases fairly among qualified suppliers if you can. You don’t need competitive quotes if management determines that the price is reasonable. Document a definition of how you define ‘reasonable’ prices so that you have something to reference to confirm your choices.
  • Small purchases: You can use simplified acquisitions for the purchase of property services that do not exceed an establish amount pursuant to 200.88 in the Uniform Guidance. This also includes purchases up to $250,000 according to M-18-18. Informal purchasing procedures are acceptable under the guidelines, but you should always obtain several price or rate quotes before making your choice. This is just good business practice that will also help you comply with the new requirements.
  • Sealed bids: Large projects, such as construction projects, commonly exceed $150,000. A formal RFP or bid solicitation process is required. The fixed price, lump sum, or unit price should be awarded to the best bidder who conforms to all the material terms and provides the best price.
  • Competitive bids and proposals: A formal bidding or solicitation process is required. Competitive bids and proposals covers purchases over $150,000. Fixed-price or cost-reimbursement contracts, as well as a formal bid process, should be used when sealed bids aren’t appropriate or warranted. Awarding the contract should be based on the quality of the program with price being one, not the only, factor.
  • Sole source: You can only use the sole source designation when specific criteria is met. The criteria includes:
    • The product or service is only available from a single source – no one else offers what you need
    • There is a public emergency, and the fastest or best way to handle the emergency is to buy from one source
    • Federal warding agency authorization, or the awarding agency specifically authorizes a non-competitive procurement. This is usually after a written request from the non-federal entity.
    • There’s not enough or inadequate competition after you’ve asked for bids from multiple sources.

Can you request an even higher threshold than these new amounts? Yes, but with a catch. You’ll need to request approval from your institution’s appropriate Federal agency for indirect cost amounts. They will then assign you to the appropriate office inside the agency who can approve the new amount and maintain records indicating compliance with the new amount. It’s also a good idea to keep records on your own to support any moves you make when it comes to micro-purchases.

The world of nonprofit accounting is always changing, and new thresholds and guidelines like these are important to understand and follow. Welter Consulting can help you if you have any questions about these guidelines or other nonprofit accounting and software needs.

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.

Charities Advisory Council Update

By | Nonprofit, Training | No Comments

Training, Professional Development Opportunities and More

The Washington State Charities Advisory Council was formed in 2007 to advise the Washington Secretary of State as to: 1) training and professional development programs needed for charitable programs; and 2) model policies related to governance and administration of charitable organizations in accordance with fiduciary principles. The Council also advises the Secretary on industry trends in the nonprofit world so that charities and nonprofits can prepare in advance for these trends. The Council’s latest updates are now available.

Members of the council appointed by Secretary Kim Wyman represent a broad and diverse range of nonprofit charities, both big and small, and  with a wide range of missions. The idea is to be as inclusive as possible so as to address all the needs and potential needs of charities for information pertaining to industry trends, training, and professional development.

Free Webinars for Nonprofits

Interested in continuing education? The Washington Secretary of State’s office provides free webinars to help nonprofits increase their knowledge in a range of areas. Upcoming topics include financial issues, legal compliance for nonprofits, and board development. The link to the upcoming webinars may be found here.

Tax Update

The Washington State Department of Taxation provided an update on guidelines for nonprofits. The state produces a valuable online publication which may be found on the Washington Taxation Department site. The guide is provided at no charge to the public and offers an overview of registration requirements, tax exemptions, reseller permits for fundraising events, and taxability of various nonprofit activities.

Renewing Nonprofit and Charities Registration

Washington state has successfully issued a soft launch of their new online registration system for nonprofits and charities to renew their status. The old postcard reminder system isn’t going away – yet. But nonprofits may wish to log into the system soon and learn the process. It’s probably going to be the way of the future for all Washington state charities. Log in with your UBI number to start the renewal process.

Tiered Financial Reporting

SOS Charities Program Liaison, Rebecca Sherrell, spoke at the meeting and provided a summary of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 19.09.541). This code establishes a set of tiered financial reporting requirements for charitable organizations. The statute requires that charitable organizations with annual gross revenue over $1 million have a professionally prepared federal tax return and organizations over $3 million obtain an independent, third-party audit of their financial records. This audit report must be made available in paper form to the public upon request or accessible to the public on the internet. Nonprofits that receive most of their support from noncash donations. An organization receives less than $500,000 cash can waive the audit requirement.

Asking for Donations? Check out the Attorney General’s Site

The Washington State Attorney General’s office provides guidelines for charities and nonprofits that are requesting donations. To remain compliant with state law, it’s a smart move to review the guidelines and discuss them with your entire team, especially those in marketing and donor relations. The full guidelines are available on the AG’s site.

The next meeting of the State Charities board will take place in January 2019. This meeting has provided plenty of food for thought and interest to those in the Washington nonprofit world. Whether you’ve just started a nonprofit organization or you’re working for a mature organization, there is something to learn from the various people and groups who participated in this meeting.

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.

How’s Your CI – Your Organization’s Cultural Intelligence?

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Have you heard of cultural intelligence? Like innate intelligence measured through an IQ test, emotional intelligence is a more recently coined term  to describe someone’s ability to understand  emotional nuances, respect, and work with other cultures.

Nonprofits serve a diverse constituency. Their outreach efforts might span countries, continents or the world. Dealing with such a widespread client and donor base means working with and among diverse cultures, languages, and people.

By improving your cultural intelligence, your nonprofit can ensure both a welcoming work environment as well as a positive face to the global community.

The Many Different Types of Intelligence

Most people are familiar with the term IQ, or intelligence quotient. This test was originally designed to measure innate intelligence through questions that included verbal, reasoning, and logic to assess one’s general intelligence level. Although originally developed for the United States Army, the same people who developed the IQ test eventually spun it out into college entrance tests, such as the SAT.

Although not without controversy, the IQ test remains a benchmark against which many things in life are decided. Originally IQ was thought to be fixed, but today we know that the brain is malleable and can grow, learn, and adapt, raising IQ a few points throughout time or conversely lowering them. IQ tests are not  an infallible measure of intelligence.

The next concept of intelligence, emotional intelligence, was coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer 1990 to describe an individual’s ability to “monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”.  New York Times writer David Coleman popularized their work in a 1990’s book and the term emotional intelligence then became a common reference to an individual’s ability to understand and respond to emotional cues and nuances.

Cultural intelligence is the latest among the types of intelligence to be discussed among experts. It

refers to an individual’s ability to recognize, interact with, and respond appropriately to people of other cultures.

Why Is Cultural Intelligence Important?

Consider the interconnected world in which we live today. We interact daily online with a variety of people from within our own culture, as well as diverse cultures worldwide. Without emotional and cultural intelligence, we become like Mr. Spock on Star Trek or Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory: highly intelligent, logical, and extremely difficult to get along with in real life!

Cultural intelligence, like emotional intelligence, helps ‘grease the wheels’ of social discourse and improves all facets of communication. Consider this: if you understand other cultures, you do not make assumptions about other people’s attitudes or behaviors. Instead, you understand the context in which they act and react, and you can communicate and interact with them accordingly.

Three Examples Cultural Intelligence

Let’s examine three aspects of cultural intelligence and how it may benefit the nonprofit workplace, for example:

  • Rhonda arrives to work with a black smudge on her forehead. Because her supervisor knows it is Ash Wednesday and that Rhonda is Christian, she understands that Rhonda’s religious adherence is important to her. She demonstrates cultural intelligence by not questioning the black X or cross on Rhonda’s forehead.
  • A nonprofit environmental group sends a photographer to upstate New York to photograph farmlands for a brochure they are producing. He sees an Amish family walking along the road and takes a photograph from the back to ensure he respects their cultural requirement of not allowing photographs of their faces.
  • Dina prepares a donor- requested marketing piece for a Chinese audience. The graphic designer sends her a piece with a stark black background. Dina immediately requests red, because black is a bad luck color in Chinese culture and red represents good luck. Black would elicit a negative reaction from her audience. Because Dina has cultural intelligence, she understands how the brochure would be received by the target audience and makes a simple change.

These are very simplistic examples and barely touch the surface of how cultural intelligence plays out in the workplace and  an organization’s outreach. Understanding and demonstrating cultural intelligence develops bonds among people that bring people together; neglecting cultural nuances breaks bonds and makes it harder to communicate.

Those who possess cultural intelligence will be well equipped to handle themselves gracefully across cultures. Combine that with high IQ and strong EQ, and your nonprofit organization is poised for success worldwide.

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.

Is There Any Value for Nonprofits to Accept Cryptocurrency?

By | Cryptocurrency, Nonprofit | No Comments

Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dash, Ethereum…. what in the world is going on? It’s cryptocurrency, the blockchain-based value system that’s taking the world by storm and transforming much of the business world. That includes the world of nonprofits who find that accepting cryptocurrencies may increase their donor base and donations.

What Are Cryptocurrencies?

The world of cryptocurrency was created in January 2009 when a pseudonymous author, Satoshi Nakamoto, published a white paper in an obscure online forum. “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Network” set forth the proposition that a distributed ledger could enable peer to peer transactions in a public, secure, and unalterable method. Blockchain technology developed out of this paper and has been quietly revolutionizing many industries including real estate, finance, and even email delivery.

Cryptocurrency was  born out of this invention and remains a controversial outcome. Unlike fiat or hard currency such as dollars, euros or yen, cryptocurrency isn’t issued by a central bank, government or authority. Individuals or companies with enough money and computing power can develop their own blockchain and issue a coin called a cryptocurrency which is then traded on an exchange. The value of the cryptocurrency fluctuates according to the supply and demand for it.

Are They Legal?

Yes, they are legal to own, buy, sell, and trade – in most countries. Some countries, such as the United States, haven’t yet issued a final decision about how to account for cryptocurrencies on your taxes or in your general ledger. Are they assets, securities, or commodities? No one is quite sure and both the SEC and the IRS have weighed in on the issue with various statements that tend to confuse the public more than offer clarity.

  • The IRS indicates that individuals and companies should treat cryptocurrencies like property for U.S. tax purposes.
  • The SEC appears to consider cryptocurrency exchanges as trading platforms similar to exchanges for stocks. They are taking a hard line on the subject.

Because the world of cryptocurrency changes rapidly, it is important to research it on your own before embarking on a plan to accept cryptocurrency through your nonprofit and to keep up to date on tax laws and SEC rules that may follow the publication of this article.

Benefits of Accepting Cryptocurrency for Nonprofit Organizations

Cryptocurrencies appeal to younger donors, so if your nonprofit targets the under 35-crowd, it’s natural to accept cryptocurrencies. By doing so, you’ll open up possible donations to many more people. Some people have accumulated a great deal of money by trading cryptocurrencies and would gladly donate it directly to a nonprofit if they could find a way to do so. As an early adopter of this policy, your nonprofit stands to gain more in donations and add newcomers to its donor base.

First, to accept cryptocurrencies as donations, you’ll need to set up a wallet. A virtual wallet enables you to accept and send cryptocurrencies. Each wallet has: 1) a public address which you can publish with confidence so that donors can send money into it; and 2) a private address to set up a method of changing cryptocurrency into fiat currency and depositing it into your organization’s bank account. This is completed on a cryptocurrency exchange.

Cryptocurrency exchanges deal with one or more cryptocurrencies and enable you to exchange the currency into another or into fiat currency and then transfer it into your bank account. You will need to complete a KYC process for your organization to ensure legal compliance. After completing the KYC process, you’ll then set up your bank account information in the exchange system to transfer money to and from your account.

Exchanges charge a fee to accept cryptocurrency and change it into fiat currency and those fees can add up quickly. Each exchange does state its fees upfront and these are usually calculated as a percent of the transfer.

Once you’ve set up your account and wallet, you’ll be able to generate a QR code which looks like a square, funny-shaped barcode. This code can be placed on your website or onto invoices. The numbers on the code are used to move cryptocurrency into your wallet online.

Once you are accepting cryptocurrency through your nonprofit organization, keep careful records of the assets coming into the exchange from donors, any fees to exchange the currency to fiat currency, and other fees. These should be included in your accounting records and kept on file for reference as you are preparing year-end filings.

Accepting cryptocurrency donations may seem like a big effort, but it’s on par with setting up a cart system on a website to accept PayPal or similar donations. And who knows? Maybe you’ll increase donations thanks to the appeal to a younger, tech-savvy generation.

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.