Monthly Archives

November 2016

6 Disaster Recovery Tips to Keep Your Nonprofit Afloat

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Disasters come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re small and inconsequential and others are big and completely devastating. Regardless of the size and severity, if you don’t have a plan in place, your business may be forever altered. Both big and small disasters happen at unexpected times, so we often are not fully prepared for them.

There are many examples of accidents that happen every day. Here are a few we have seen that are not as uncommon as you might think:

1. Fire breaks out in the office damaging the equipment leaving management without a location to conduct business.

2. Water pipes in the ceiling burst leaving the office flooded and all servers and vital technology beyond repair. Management’s ability to retrieve and process information stops abruptly.

3. Prolonged power outages due to a damaged electrical transformer. The agency is unable to resume critical business functions utilizing electricity.

4. A server blows up and the back-up system did not work properly. The organization is at a complete standstill.

Post-Disaster Course of Action

After an unexpected event, the most timely and efficient response requires pre-disaster planning. Rather than responding in a crisis mode, with a post-disaster course of action, you will be able to follow a well thought-out plan you put in place for just such emergencies.

Planning for the unknown may seem like a daunting task. However, if you break down the key elements of disaster recovery, it can make planning easier and business continuity a success.

Here are six key steps you’ll likely need to take in a disaster recovery scenario:

1. Designate a place to go to restore operations, whether that’s another location or a mobile office brought to your site.

2. Plan how to communicate with staff. The team is the most important part of your organization. Set up a communication system and reroute telephone calls or establish a special number that the team can call for updates.

3. Consider geography. Locating a disaster recovery site 10 miles away may seem convenient, but in a natural disaster, 10 miles may not be far enough. Assemble an emergency kit filled with batteries, flashlights, water and other sustainability items. It could contain petty cash, important documents, passwords, keys, etc.

4. Validate backup data. Is the data on your backup tapes sufficient? Don’t underestimate this step!

5. Test your plan. Testing often lands on the back burner, yet it is the only way to confirm your recovery plan will work.

Don’t compromise your organization’s health by trying to recover when you are the most vulnerable, as in a disaster. Welter Consulting is available to help with disaster planning, preparedness, business continuity, data storage, and faster recovery. At Welter Consulting we are committed to finding you the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support. By leveraging technology and superior reporting, more efficiency is achieved, freeing up more of your time to devote to the important work of your mission. We are passionate professionals who choose to work in the nonprofit sector for the same reason you do – helping others.

Nonprofit Fundraising Success: Trends that Work

By | Fundraising, Nonprofit | No Comments

Fundraising is often a challenge for nonprofit organizations. The following nonprofit fundraising trends can help you achieve your fundraising goals and boost your margin.

Four Trends in Nonprofit Fundraising

1. Show specific results: Donors want to see specific results from their investment, so

make sure you ‘speak the language’ they want to hear. The more you can demonstrate that donations are contributing toward the achievement of the desired goal, the more you’ll please your donors. Use different communications methods to share the results: Videos, pictures, stories, articles and more.

2. Personal communications: Personal communications cements the relationship between donor and nonprofit even further. Sending personalized reports, emails or notes to major donors, using the specific results mentioned above and emphasizing the importance of the relationship, offers an incentive for donors to keep giving. Personalization is much more than customizing the salutation field on a donor letter – it’s a comprehensive approach to donor communications that keeps your donor’s need for information and contact first and foremost.

3. Tie financials directly to mission goals: Every nonprofit has its own mission and goals in place to reach that mission. Aligning your financial strategy to those goals, demonstrates to your donors that you are maximizing their investment in your organization. Explain to donors that you are utilizing time and money saving business strategies and software in administrative functions, so that donation dollars are directed toward meeting agreed upon goals.

4. Keep abreast of changing demographics: Changing demographics may require different communications methods or styles. As young people increase their philanthropic activities, your donor outreach strategy should include social media campaigns, text messages and more. Learn your donors’ demographics, utilizing that information to improve donor relationships, which is necessary for fundraising success.

Managing Donor Relationships is Easier with the Right Nonprofit Software

Software that tracks donations and includes data from various campaigns can help you select the most efficient channels for future communications. The right software also facilitates donor contact, enhancing personal relationships and future donations.

Welter Consulting is a Seattle-based Authorized Abila Partner and Certified Trainer, helping nonprofits select and implement the best fund accounting, grant management, and fundraising solutions for their organizations. We offer software such as Abila MIP Fund Accounting, Abila Fundraising, grant management and many other software selections that can help your organization become more productive and efficient.

New FASB Rules Help Nonprofits Tell Their Stories

By | Accounting, FASB, Nonprofit | No Comments

Can you really tell stories with numbers? The FASB thinks so. The new Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-14, Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities takes effect for annual financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2017, and for interim periods within fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2018. The goal is to help nonprofits clearly state, through their financial statements, their ‘story’ so that donors and others can make better-informed decisions.

Welter Consulting helps nonprofits gather and share their financial ‘stories’ through smart money management and software that supports better financial management. As you learn more about FASB Topic 958, consider upgrading your software to provide you with the updated and detailed accounting information that will be required moving forward.

FASB Topic 958

Much has been written in the financial press about FASB Topic 958, or the new Accounting Standards Update. It is the first such update in 20 years and proposes several major changes for nonprofit accounting methods.

These changes include:

* Two net asset classes instead of three.

* Changes in how underwater amounts of donor-restricted funds are reported.

* Requirements to how nonprofits report liquidity risks.

* Reporting expenses by function and nature, as well as an analysis of expenses by both function and nature.

Why all the changes? The FASB recognizes that numbers tell an important story. The public has a right to obtain a clear, concise, and detailed summary of that story through a nonprofit’s financial statements.

Although much of the information was included by nonprofits, the new requirements hope to force nonprofits to accurately, clearly, and completely disclose how they are tracking and using funds.

Donors Require Fiscal Transparency

Donors today are just as philanthropic-minded as past generations. They are, however, deeply concerned that their donations are used for the purposes for which they are given. They want to know that their money is going to fund specific activities. Although most donors do recognize that some money must be spent on operational expenses, most want to see their donation going for the good of the cause or to fulfill the organization’s mission.

You can help donors understand your financial reports in many ways:

* Providing both required disclosure as well as additional, simplified language for the public to explain the numbers on your reports.

* Campaigns to increase awareness for your activities and initiatives.

* Donor outreach and communications, including social media and newsletters that shares how funds are used.

The greater the transparency around how your funds are used, the greater the trust between donors and organizations. The FASB requirement is important to note, but of even greater importance is winning and keeping the public’s trust. Smart nonprofits are already taking steps to ensure that this happens, along with steps to comply with the new FASB regulations.

At Welter Consulting, we are committed to helping you find affordable, useful technology, and to learning how to use that technology to its fullest capacity. We work exclusively with nonprofits and government agencies to help them find and use technology solutions. For more information, please contact us or call 206-605-3113.

Data Analytics: The New Resource for Nonprofit CPAs

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

According to a recent report in the Journal of Accountancy, the need for data analytics, and systems that support accurate data, has never been greater for CPAs and accounting firms. Today’s CPAs are as likely to be reviewing complex data reports as they are preparing tax returns. Data analytics has become especially important for auditors, and new initiatives are underway to research and support best practices for auditors. For those working at nonprofit organizations, these skills are also quite relevant.

The Importance of Data Analytics Skills

A survey by Robert Half and included in the previously cited article indicates 61 percent of CFOs believe that data analytics skills are mandatory for at least some of the accounting staff at an organization. Most finance and accounting professionals at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, understand the importance of using data to build their organizations’ business plans and help them achieve their KPIs.

The Need for Data Analytics

CPAs today must have data analytics skills for several reasons:

* They must be able to use data to enable practices such as continuous monitoring, continuous auditing, and full data set analysis.

* Complete data sets can be used to analyze past trends and make recommendations for future plans.

* Data can be analyzed to uncover patterns and trends in customer, donor, and member behavior that can lead to new marketing programs, improved customer communications, and better materials for members, donors and the public.

A joint AICPA Assurance Services Executive Committee/Auditing Standards Board Task Force is developing a new Audit Data Analytics Guide, which will supersede the current Analytical Procedures guide. The AICPA has also partnered with Rutgers University to form a new research initiative into the use of data analytics for auditors. The new partnership seeks to test the effectiveness of new approaches to auditing using data analytics.

Four Types of Data Analytics Skills

Data analytics is an often misunderstood term. It is helpful to understand the four discrete skillsets included in the umbrella term “data analytics.”

1. Descriptive analytics: Data that provides insight into what is currently happening in the organization. This is commonly found in percent changes, sums, and other simple data records.

2. Diagnostic analytics: The practice of using analytics to examine and explain the causes of past results.

3. Predictive analytics: Helps predict and understand future patterns from past data.

4. Prescriptive analytics: Assists in identifying the best option to choose from among several options. Uses data to identify choices and best course of action.

Among these four skillsets, the first is the one with which most people are familiar and comfortable. Expanding your skills to encompass diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics can help you use data from your organization to improve outcomes.

Accessing and Managing Data

Nonprofits seeking the benefits of data analytics can benefit from better software to manage their accounting. Good data begins with accurate data collection. The right software ensures that data flows seamless into your accounting system and throughout your organization. MIP Fund Accounting, for example, is a software package designed for nonprofit organizations. Abila MIP Fund Accounting offers several core modules including General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Budgeting and more to provide nonprofit organizations with the data and accounting support they need to be successful.

Within these modules, you will find reports that facilitate data analytics. Using this data, you can provide accounting support throughout your organization so that it can better achieve its mission.

At Welter Consulting, we are committed to helping you find affordable, useful technology, and to learning how to use that technology to its fullest capacity. We work exclusively with nonprofits and government agencies to help them find and use technology solutions. For more information, please contact us or call 206-605-3113.