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Storytelling for Fundraising – But What Do I Say?

By | Fundraising, Uncategorized | No Comments

In our last article, we talked briefly about the importance of getting your board “on board” with fundraising efforts. Boards should lead the way in the fundraising department and set the tone for the entire organization to encourage support and donations.

One way in which you can encourage your board members to participate in fundraising activities is to change the mindset around fundraising from a chore to a pleasure. How can asking for money be a pleasure? When it’s framed as a story with a message at the end, it becomes much more fun to talk to people about your nonprofit and yes, ask for a donation.

If you’re not a natural storyteller, never fear. We have several tips to help you think on your feet.

What Stories Should I Tell?

Stories for fundraising take several forms. These include:

  1. Stories about the organization: Talk to people about how your organization became involved in its work. Who was the founder? What did he or she do? Where did you start? Most board members know their organization’s story by heart. It’s a great place to start. The ending can be, “We need your help to keep the story going…” and then the call for a donation.
  2. Stories about individuals: Individual stories stick in people’s minds the best. Who are the people you have helped? Tell their individual stories and include details (without compromising anyone’s privacy, of course). For example, a nonprofit that donates mosquito netting to villagers in Central and South American can share how it helped one woman give birth to a healthy baby by preventing zika virus infection. It’s stories like this that connect people emotionally to the charity to which their funds are donated.
  3. Ask the other person their story: This is an interesting twist on storytelling for donations. Instead of telling your story, or the organization’s account, ask the other person their story in reference to your organization’s mission. Someone seeking donations for an education nonprofit may ask, “Where did you go to college?” and the answer may lead to a story about how the potential donor chose their college. This can segue into a discussion about how they paid for college, the opportunities a college education opened for them, and so on. From there, you can weave the story of how your nonprofit helps people go to college and why their donation is essential. You use their story as a springboard for the donation request.

Connecting the Dots, Story-Style

Stories connect the dots between the work an organization does and the impact it makes upon those it serves. Data about the organization is important; after all, people do want to look up nonprofits on sites such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator to ensure that their donation is going to an organization that manages its work responsibly.

But it is the stories that people remember, not the facts. An animal shelter helps place dozens of dogs and cats annually, but it’s the story about the shelter dog who woke his family up by barking and saved them from a fire that will keep donors interested. It’s asking the donor if they’ve ever rescued a dog from a shelter and seeing their eyes light up when they tell you about Duke and what a great dog he was, and then reminding them that the Dukes of this world also needs a home. Stories, and the emotion they convey, connect the dots between heart and mind, donor and 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.

Internal Controls & Abila MIP Fund Accounting™

By | Accounting, Audit, CPA, Internal Controls, Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Internal controls provide safeguards against losses, thefts and mistakes. An old-fashioned way of keeping internal controls may be to have one staff member count out the petty cash box while another watches the process. The watcher in this case is the internal control. An extra set of eyes on the counting process keeps the person holding the cash in hand from making “mistakes”, whether intentional or not, when it’s handed over for counting.

Implementing internal controls can be easy! Our “Internal Controls for Nonprofits: Best Practice Resource Guide” can help your nonprofit establish best practice principles, policies, and procedures.

In larger, automated accounting systems for nonprofits, such as those that run Abila MIP, internal controls are built into the system. By automating many of the financial processes, it becomes more difficult for someone to circumvent the system and steal from your nonprofit.

A publication from the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants brings home the point that good internal controls, through the use of Abila MIP fund accounting and processes around them, can help prevent loss and “keep honest people honest.”

Safeguards Against Loss: Simple Internal Controls

The first and best internal control is to avoid handling cash when at all possible. It’s not that cash is bad, it’s just that it can be “lost” more easily than money that is already in the bank account and tallied in Abila MIP fund accounting.

A system of checks and balances keeps careful watch over your finances. A few internal controls to keep losses to a minimum:

  1. Lock checks and cash in a safe or drawer both during business hours and afterwards.
  2. Monitor access to the keys.
  3. Make it a rule that all employees, regardless of their job title or function, must have another employee present when opening the safe or cash drawer, and counting out money.
  4. Don’t let checks and cash pile up in the office. Make a bank deposit when the threshold reaches a certain amount.
  5. Use timecards to monitor hourly workers’ wages.
  6. Have a manager review timecard information regularly to ensure no one is ‘padding’ the hours.
  7. Do not let anyone borrow funds from the organization’s accounts for personal reasons, or use business credit cards for personal reasons.

Acting Swiftly

It is important to have written policies in place regarding fraud and theft so that you can take the appropriate steps to document, correct, and if necessary, terminate employees who circumvent or ignore internal controls. Depending on the circumstances, your organization may also have a zero-tolerance policy for theft, and a written policy regarding grounds for termination should include such information.

Take steps to create policies and internal controls for your staff. Train and teach them their expectations. Set in termination policies in place. Know who is handling your accounts, who has access to cash and checks, and how such resources are handled. Keeping track of your finances using good fund accounting software is a way to detect fraud and act swiftly.

Abila MIP Fund Accounting

Abila MIP Fund Accounting includes fraud protection and analysis within the system, so you can use the data within it to detect patterns of losses, analyze data, and prevent fraud.

Most losses do not occur in isolation. People find that if they can get away with one theft, they return and try again. This leaves a footprint or a recognizable pattern. Data ran from your fund accounting system may be able to display such patterns so that you can take immediate, corrective action.

At Welter Consulting, we want to help our nonprofit customers prevent losses and fraud. By utilizing good nonprofit fund accounting software, such as Abila MIP, you can keep careful track of all of your accounts and detect suspicious activity quickly.  Click to learn more about Abila MIP fund accounting.

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.

Get Along Better with Your Boss – and Get More Done at Work

By | Nonprofit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Tips for Managing up

You’ve read many articles on how to manage subordinates. Tips for delegation, communication, and other work-related issues. But how many articles have you read about managing up – about how to improve your relationship with your supervisor?

The people to whom we report have a big influence on our careers and work experience. Yet few consider the benefits of improving their working relationship with their boss or supervisor. Whether you report to one person or several, managing up can help you move ahead and get more done at work.

Tips for Managing the Managers

Everyone has a manager. Even your organization’s CEO reports to a Board of Directors or others who have a say in his or her work. You may have chosen to work with your current supervisor or the reporting lines may have changed since your initial start date. No matter the reason why you currently work for the supervisor that you have, all relationships can benefit from applying these tips.

Improve communications

Improving communications with your supervisor(s) means trusting them with both the good and the bad news. Subordinates often try to shield their bosses from unpleasant news. This can boomerang on you, however, because your supervisor may find out and be blindsided by key information you could have, and should have, shared.

Learn how to trust your supervisor. Share information that will help supervisors do a better job. Rely on facts, not assumptions or feelings, to inform your conversations.

In addition to spoken communications, discuss with your supervisor how often he or she prefers to receive communication via emails. Some supervisors like to be copied on everything; even if they don’t comment on an email, it helps them stay on top of all of the work that’s going on. Others want just the topline summary. Confirm first, and adjust your communication style to be helpful to your supervisor.

Share judiciously

Share details about your personal life, ambitions, and goals judiciously. Yes, your supervisor needs to know that you have your eye on the CFO chair someday, but they don’t need to know every detail of your personal life story. Your supervisor is probably very busy and doesn’t have time for a lot of personal chatter. As you get to know them better, you may find a working relationship that turns into a true friendship. At that point, the rules surrounding sharing change, but for the most part, keep your conversations focused on work with an eye towards shared business goals.

Work as a team

Lastly, work as a team. Support your supervisor. Don’t fight against their requirements, requests or direction. Be supportive, and always maintain a positive outlook. Keep good working relationships with everyone in your department as well as with your supervisor for the best outcome for all.

A Good Worker and a Good Manager Share Similar Traits

Good managers, like good workers, listen, prioritize, share judiciously, and feel as one of the team rather than in competition with their subordinates. This approach adds a positive spin to every interaction in your department and leads to productive, harmonious relationships at work. Give it a try and see how well it works!

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.