Monthly Archives

July 2018

5 Tips to Squeeze More Life Out of Your Nonprofit Accounting Software

By | Accounting, Accounting Software, Data, Fiscal, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

With more and more nonprofits embracing fund accounting as a strategy for growth, combined with the ever-changing reporting requirements from fund agencies, getting the most from your technology investment makes its way to the top of the priority list. Organizations need to be proactive when maximizing the returns on fund accounting investment.

Find out if you have you outgrown your accounting software by conducting a software review.

Start with a thorough review of your system’s processes. Next, conduct an in-depth analysis of the chart of accounts’ structure and financial statement formatting as they relate to supporting the organization’s reporting and tracking requirements. Finally, talk with your staff and key stakeholders  who use the system to find out what’s working, and what’s not.

The revelations may surprise you.The results of these three steps will create a roadmap to refresh your system.

Don’t have time for a thorough system review? There are some steps you can take right now to expedite your system and get more life out of it.

  1. Re-order chart of accounts. Remove unused segment values to make data entry and reporting more logical.
  2. Clean up and archive. Start with the Accounts Payable vendor and Accounts Receivable customer rosters, then tackle the register histories. This will speed up the system while reducing staff time sifting through obsolete information.
  3. Close, optimize, or delete old fiscal years. This will expedite report generation and system inquiries.
  4. Identify additional modules that can create efficiencies for staff. Contact your technology consultant to learn about modules that can be added to automate manual tasks like spreadsheet schedules, purchasing and reconciliations.
  5. Train & Re-Train. You can’t learn all there is to know during your initial software training session. Underutilized modules that your team revisits can streamline processes significantly.

Welter Consulting helps nonprofits get more out of their accounting software. We find the most affordable technology, the most powerful solution, and providing expert support. We are dedicated to assist you in achieving your mission by leveraging technology and superior reporting. If you’re needing technology help, we’d love to talk to you about your specific needs.  Contact us online or call 206-605-3113.

New Features in Microsoft Word Worth Noting

By | E-Learning, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments

Ah, Clippy. Remember Clippy? The happy, bouncing paperclip was once the icon of Microsoft Word, that ubiquitous program that transforms how the world works.

With over 1.2 billion users of Microsoft Office – that’s one in seven people worldwide – it pays to note changes to the popular and familiar program. The Journal of Accountancy recently reported many updates to Word, some of which are quite useful for accountants.

You won’t need Clippy to report on these features. We’ll look at them together with the top features presented here.

New Features in Microsoft Word 2016

The following features are available in Microsoft Word 2016 except for the “Draw” updates (the last item which is only available in Office 365). For those considering an upgrade to Word 2016, the new features may offer enough of an incentive for you to choose Word over any other product out there. Hey, with 1.2 billion users, you know it’s compatible with the software used by most of your clients, colleagues, members and donors!

  1. Tell Me: The Tell Me feature or Tell Me What You Want to Do enables you to locate commands or tools without having to hunt through the various ribbons and dropdowns. It eliminates the need to know or guess where tools are – you can access them immediately.
  2. Improved Version History: Microsoft seems to have taken a cue from Google Docs by saving a unique version of each document when you save it to your OneDrive. This enables you to access previous versions to pull into the current version.
  3. Real-time Co Authoring: You no longer must shuffle documents back and forth by email. Instead, collaborate in real time on a Word document. Do this through OneDrive or SharePoint. I It does take the best of Google Docs and brings it into the more robust Microsoft product. Thanks to the cloud, you and others on your team can avoid the nightmare of sending different versions by emailing files and instead, collaborate, review and edit together in real time.
  4. Simple Sharing: A new “Share” button enables you to quickly Share documents using OneDrive or SharePoint so you don’t have to save, export, open your email, upload the document and then save. Just add a colleague’s email and you can share it instantly.
  5. New Draw Tab: The new Draw tab offers more tools than ever before, a great addition to the Microsoft suite of features. The new drawing and inking tools allow you to customize your document markups. You can use your finger on a touchscreen or move inked items like shapes once they are in place. These new features are only available to Office 365 subscribers but are expected to be standard in the next iteration of Word.

If you create a lot of custom reports using Microsoft Word, you’ll like the new Shapes features too. For example, Shapes now comes with preset transparent boxes, so you can place them over background text or images. This makes it easier to use shapes like callouts.

What about Mac users? Microsoft Word may be used on Macs, and some prefer the features in Word to Mac Pages. If you create more detailed and customized reports or use your word processing software to build marketing documents like brochures, you may wish to test Mac Pages or a full-fledged graphic design program that works along with Word. Microsoft Publisher comes as part of some packages of Office; it’s fine for beginners but may not offer enough flexibility for advanced graphic design. It is, however, compatible with Word documents, so if you compose text in Word, it is easier to import it into Publisher than into some other graphic design package.

Upgrading to Word 2016 is easier than ever with cloud-based subscriptions that offer flexible packages for home, student, and office use. And although Clippy may be a thing of the past, the new functions are way more fun than an animated paperclip.

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.

Enterprise Risk Management, a New Frontier for Nonprofits

By | COSO, ERM, Nonprofit | No Comments

How well does your nonprofit measure risk? Risks occur in almost every aspect of business. Managing risk is part of a leader’s job. Enterprise risk management, or ERM for short, offers opportunities to both mitigate and manage risks as well as seize opportunities that present themselves to your organization.

ERM Defined

ERM embraces elements of internal controls, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and strategic planning. It also echoes the marketing SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) by exposing weaknesses and threats and enhancing opportunities and strengths.

ERM evolved as a method to assess risks in a complex business environment. It applies equally as well to nonprofit organizations as it does to for profits, helping senior leaders assess risks and respond appropriately once all of the risk factors and influences are known.

COSO Recommendations

The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations and Treadway Commission (COSO) recently released a new ERM framework. To use it effectively, COSO recommends the following:

  1. Compare your current ERM practices to the five components and 20 principles of the framework, Enterprise Risk Management — Integrating With Strategy and Performance.
  2. Identify opportunities as they pertain to specific principles that might add the most value and might help your organization manage risk better.
  3. Watch out for and identify areas of potential risk. Potential areas of risk are typically new items added to a system, such as new software, new regulations, new programs or other major changes. Anytime there is significant change, there is risk.
  4. Evaluate the alternatives. If you have identified and evaluated alternatives, you can mitigate risk by having a second or third option to turn to in the event that the first is too risky.
  5. Examine the business context of the risk and reward. If the reward outweighs the risk, it may be time to act.
  6. Note connections. Business decisions rarely stand in isolation and are frequently interconnected. Some risks may have a domino effect, imparting additional risks or openings for risk in other areas of the business. Conversely, closing gaps and mitigating risks may have positive impacts. Understanding these impacts is vital for good management.

Frameworks Can Free or Limit

Does the ERM framework feel freeing or limiting? Some leaders claim they can manage just fine without a risk management framework such as ERM while others find it helpful.

Why do some leaders find frameworks stultifying rather than freeing? It may be because they automatically think in terms of such frameworks without consciously applying them to the decision-making process. For example, an experienced nonprofit leader may think ahead to the risks of a potential new software purchase without consciously examining them and applying them in a framework. He may come to a swift decision regarding rewards versus risks without ever saying the words risk management. This may look like instant decision-making to his colleagues, but it’s actually a skill that’s been honed through practice.

Think of an Olympic gymnast; she makes the balance beam look absolutely effortless. Yet it wasn’t always effortless. At some point her career, she had to take the first steps out onto the beam. She made mistakes and she tumbled to the ground. But over time, with continuous effort, practice, coaching and study, she’s mastered a routine that earns a gold medal.

Seasoned CEOs, CFOs, and other top organizational leaders are akin to Olympic athletes. They’ve mastered the craft of decision making and so it looks effortless.

For those who are still learning such craft, studying and practicing decision making frameworks such as ERM can help you become a gold medalist of risk management too.

For more information on the COSO framework, see Enterprise Risk Management: Integrating with Strategy and Performance.

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.

What Distinguishes High Impact Nonprofits? Experts Weigh In

By | Corporate Culture, Nonprofit | No Comments

What distinguishes high impact nonprofits from average ones? The Stanford Leadership Study, spearheaded by researchers Bill Meehan and Kim Jonker, identify seven factors which they call the “engine of impact.”

These seven factors include:

  1. Mission
  2. Strategy
  3. Impact evaluation
  4. Insight and courage
  5. Organization and talent
  6. Funding
  7. Board governance

There is no one critical factor, but rather all seven must work together to propel the nonprofit forward – hence the term “engine of impact.” With a combination of all seven factors working in concert, nonprofits can serve more people and achieve their mission on a grand scale.

Only a Handful Meet the Criteria for High Impact Nonprofits

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the engine of impact. The bad news is that only about 20% of all nonprofits believe they meet the criteria of a high impact nonprofit. The good news? Among the remaining 80% who fail to meet the criteria of high impact nonprofits, there’s plenty of room for growth, and many are well on their way to achieving it.

One core concept the study posits is  the importance of external audits or evaluations. Among the nonprofits surveyed, only about 40%  utilize external evaluations. .

What Is the Impact Engine?

These seven factors encompass many overarching concepts that set strong nonprofits apart from struggling ones. Mission and vision, for example, provide leadership and guidance not just at the top, but to all who work at the nonprofit. With a strong mission and vision statement, nonprofits can guide, organize, and adjust their work to fulfill the mission and ensure that all work they undertake supports their mission-driven environment.
Funding is another example of a broad concept that has specific, measurable impacts. Funding, talent organization and board governance  comprise the fuel that keeps the engine of impact turning. Without enough fuel, a car sputters and stops. So too, a nonprofit without adequate funding, poor funding management, and poor governance and organization cannot achieve success as a strong nonprofit.

What Are Nonprofits Doing Right?

Among the nonprofits surveyed during the study, several key findings emerged.

  • 56% of the nonprofits in the study had Board Governance in place, with Funding close behind at 52%.
  • 50% of nonprofits had systems in place to evaluate their impact, which is more positive news. Without such an evaluation, it is difficult to assess areas of focus for the future.

Where did nonprofits fall short?

  • Just 35% had a stated strategy in place
  • 18% lacked a clear Mission statement
  • 17% lacked insight and courage, two elements that enabled nonprofits to take a long, hard look at their work, evaluate its success or failures, and make improvements for the future.

How Does Your Organization Measure Up?

Before you decide where your organization fits in this evaluation, the study’s authors have put together a free online quiz to help you assess your nonprofit. Take the quiz, then return to the Welter Consulting website for more information and articles to help you build your nonprofit impact engine.

Take the Next Step with Welter Consulting

After completing the nonprofit impact engine survey, how does your organization measure up?

Most organizations will find one or more areas in which they could improve. That’s nothing to panic about. Instead, it provides ample opportunities for change and growth.

Once you’ve identified key areas with room for improvement, it’s time to get to work. If you’re unsure where to start, contact 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.