Category

Nonprofit

Addressing the Dangers of Cyber Attacks

By | Data, Nonprofit | No Comments

No one is immune to cyber attacks, hackers, viruses and phishing scams, including non-profit associations. Both your organization’s money and its reputation may be at stake.

At Welter Consulting, we want your organization to be safe from such cyber attacks. We offer consulting services to make technology planning easy. Contact us online or call us at (206) 605-3113 to learn more.

Boards Must Lead the Charge Against Attacks

Boards cannot afford to be complacent about cybersecurity. Many nonprofits are too small to have a dedicated IT staff or resources. In those cases, it falls upon the Board as the leadership team of the organization to develop policies and processes to guard against cyber attacks.

How Breaches Occur

Nonprofits may find themselves in the thick of a cyber attack through completely innocent circumstances. An employee may accidentally download an infected file. Someone may be searching for information and stumble across an infected site, leaving a virus in their browser.

These are common ways in which nonprofits become infected with malware. Recently there has been an increase in the number of extortion-related viruses. Such viruses lock users out of their computers until money is paid to someone who supposedly holds the virtual key to unlock the computer. Criminals do not care whether you run a charity for orphans or a financial firm; they take the money and continue their extortion schemes.

Other types of cybercrime include data theft. A data breach in which your donors’ or members’ personal data including names, addresses, social security numbers or credit card numbers are stolen can result in negative publicity for nonprofits and the threat of potential lawsuits. These crimes often aren’t noticed until long after they occur, giving nonprofit leaders a false sense of security. In truth, anyone can be the subject of such an attack.

Taking Steps to Prevent Attacks

Nonprofit board members can take several positive steps to ward off the threat of cyber attacks. While you may not be able to prevent them all, you can ward off many.

Steps you can take include:

  • Encourage management to adopt policies that prevent cyber intrusion. This may include frequent software updates, limits on web browsing, and training to raise awareness.
  • Add cyber insurance to your organization’s coverage to minimize the financial ramifications of cleaning up after a breach.
  • Build a proactive response plan, imagining worst-case scenarios and including steps to take should they occur.
  • Take an inventory of your current cyber security measures to disclose gaps.
  • Close any identified gaps or hire a consultant to do so for you.
  • Evaluate security risks among vendors and suppliers.
  • Find out where the most valuable information is stored – and treat it as you would money in a safe. Take extra precautions to make sure it is secure.
  • Discourage risky cyber practices, such as downloading documents from unknown sites or clicking links requesting that users reset their passwords.

Above all, make cybersecurity a top priority for your company. When boards do so, they send a powerful signal that it is an important topic worthy of employees’ time and effort to address it.

Cybersecurity is like the doors and locks on your home. You invest in strong doors, locks, and alarm systems to prevent burglars from stealing your television and computer. By making sure your cybersecurity efforts are up to par, you’ll prevent virtual burglars from walking off with important assets. You’ll add a layer of safety to your nonprofit that provides better peace of mind.

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.

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.