Monthly Archives

October 2019

What Impact Will You Make – Even After the Grant Ends?

By | Grant Management | No Comments

Before submitting a grant application, ask yourself one question: Have I demonstrated how the funds would make an impact even after the urgent need is satisfied?

Most nonprofits focus on their immediate, pressing needs when completing grant applications. That’s natural: when you have a leaking roof, a new program to fund, or a dire need for cash flow, submitting a grant pitch that heavily emphasizes the urgency of the needs at hand is common.

But consider the viewpoint of the grantor or foundation. They want to know not just what the funds will do today but the impact they can make for years to come.

It is this intersection of satisfying an immediate need with producing a sustainable future result that makes a big difference when applying for grants.

Providing for the Future: 3 Scenarios and Examples

Grant applications must include many points, including both the current and future impact of the funds. To improve your applications for funding, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the immediate effect of these funds?
  • What will the impact be one year from now?
  • What will the impact be five years from now?
  • Can the impact be sustainable without the infusion of additional funds from the grantor?
  • Does the future impact align with the goals and mission of the grantor?

It can be challenging to imagine how funds received today for an immediate need will carry over into the future after a grant ends. There are different ways to make this point to grantors depending on the type of funds sought, the nonprofit’s mission and need, and the grantor’s mission. The better the alignment among need, nonprofit, and grantor mission, the higher your chances of securing funds.

Here are three examples that show how the alignment may work and how different needs can translate into future impact.

Example 1: Homeless shelter pitch for a new fire suppression system.

A homeless shelter requires funds to replace an outdated fire suppression system. Without the new system, the city will revoke their permits, and the shelter will close. The shelter needs $150,000 in grant funds to improve the fire suppression system in the existing building.

The grant application may cover the following:

  • Immediate need: Without the new fire suppression system, the city will force us to close. If we close the shelter, hundreds of men and women may lack basic shelter on cold nights.
  • Future impact: If we are awarded the funds and can install the new system, we can keep our doors open for at least another five years when our lease runs out. The effect will be significant upon several hundred people we serve in the city.
  • Mission alignment: The grantor’s mission is to support programs that serve the basic needs of people for food, water, and shelter. The alignment between the immediate need, the future impact, and the mission should be made clear.

Example 2: A therapeutic horseback riding program seeks funds to build an indoor arena.

An indoor horse arena provides a covered space for horseback riding activities. It enables people to ride horses in inclement weather and to continue lesson programs despite the snow, rain, cold, or excessive heat.

A therapeutic horseback riding program that helps children with disabilities seeks funds to build a new covered arena. If they receive the grant, they will be able to hold therapy sessions six days a week and throughout all seasons.

  • Immediate need: It is clear to what purpose the funds will be used when they are awarded.
  • Future impact: To provide a thorough grant application, the therapeutic riding program should address how they plan to maintain the building. Perhaps a private sponsor has agreed to pledge funds for maintenance, or the organization intends to hold an auction each year to raise maintenance funds. The organization should state their vision for the future care of the building to persuade the grant organization that their donation will continue to make an impact in years to come.
  • Mission alignment: The grantor supports charities that benefit children. Demonstrating how therapeutic riding helps children with special needs can help secure the grant.

Example 3: A college nursing school seeks a grant for a state-of-the-art nursing lab simulator.

A small liberal arts college seeks funds to build a nursing lab simulator. Such simulators include hospital beds, equipment, and realistic dummies that enable student nurses to practice vital skills before embarking on actual hospital rotations with their instructors.

  • Immediate need: The school should make it clear to the grantor how many nursing students each year will utilize the lab and the impact this makes upon their careers.
  • Future impact: Eventually, the effect can be projected to the number of registered nurses entering the profession and filling the nursing shortage nationwide.
  • Mission alignment: The grantor provides funds for health-related organizations. Grants for a nursing lab align with their mission.

Details Matter

When it comes to applying for grants, details do matter. Paying attention to all of the details in your application can make the difference between securing funds and scrambling for money. Many nonprofits neglect to complete the future-casting aspect of grant applications. By adding this vital step to your pitch, you’ll be one step ahead in the fundraising process.

Tracking Grants – We Can Help

The entire grant application cycle can be daunting. That’s why Welter Consulting offers help in selecting the right software to track, manage, and monitor the grant process. When you need to keep tabs on documents, applications, and possible future impact statements, keeping all the information in one place makes sense. We are here to help you with software selection, implementation, training, and audit preparation. Contact us at 206-605-3113 for a consultation today.

What Are the Most Common Fundraising Pitfalls? Here are Three You Should Know

By | Fundraising | No Comments

Fundraising ranks high on the list of a nonprofit’s priorities. Everyone wants to get better at fundraising; after all, the better you are at this critical task, the more funds you have to support your work!

Creative fundraising campaigns tend to get the publicity with writes up in your favorite nonprofit journals or marketing magazines. However, there are times when too much of a good thing can be confusing, underwhelming, or just plain wrong for your nonprofit.

As you consider your next fundraising campaign, keep in mind these three lessons from the world of fundraising. Keep them in a file of “what not to do,” so you don’t repeat the mistakes of others. Learn, grow, explore, and yes, test new concepts, but beware of these three fundraising pitfalls.

The Big 3 “What Not to Do” in Fundraising Marketing

Pitfall #1: Being so clever you miss the point and confuse donors.

It’s easy to get lost in a clever campaign. Perhaps you’re tired of the same-old fundraising campaign your organization has used successfully for the past several years, or you feel the need to try something different. That’s fine, but make sure the cleverness doesn’t outweigh the point of the campaign.

A too-clever campaign may rely heavily on puns, graphic gimmicks, or similar ideas to deliver its purpose. What ends up happening is that donors glance at the advertisement, experience momentary confusion, and set it aside. Instead of motivating them to donate, the ads gets tossed in the bin or ignored.

Avoid the too-clever trap: To avoid this pitfall, you can test the “clever” campaign against the tried-and-true response piece. See if the smart piece outperforms the stalwart marketing piece. Mail or send the same number of pieces to a split of your audience. This is called an A/B test and pits A, the clever campaign, against B, the tried and true one. Since you already know the average results of your tried and true campaign, you can see easily if the new piece outperforms it.

Another and simpler method is to show the piece to five random people, perhaps friends, family, or those unaffiliated with your nonprofit. Ask them questions: would they donate? Do they understand the point?

These two steps can save you from wasting time, money, and resources on something that won’t get you the results you desire.

Pitfall #2: Going overboard with design or enclosures.

Yes, it’s a time-tested nonprofit marketing tactic to include a small gift item to entice people to send money back. Stickers, stamps, a notepad, a pen, these are all fine…to a point.

But if your charity is asking for money, consider the impression these gifts make. Are they useful items? Are they expensive items? If so, they might be perceived as frivolous expenses instead of a simple gift.

Another way in which nonprofits sometimes go overboard is by using paper or design that appears expensive. “What!” you may argue. “That paper was much less expensive than the other kind we used to use, and it looks so elegant!”

That may be true, but potential donors only see the surface. They understand what appears to be a very expensive mailer and may perceive that you are ‘wasting’ money on marketing. Err on the side of caution and ensure that your designs reflect the spirit of your nonprofit.

Pitfall #3: Amateurish design.

Design is more than adding photographs or using fonts to punctuate a mailer for effect. Too many colors, competing fonts, a smattering of graphics, and you could end up with a marketing piece that confuses rather than motivates people to act.

A professional graphic designer understands the impact that color, visuals, and type make on the page. Designers know where to put the call to action (the request for donations) and how to set up a mailing panel appropriately. Hiring a professional nonprofit marketing agency or graphic designer, skilled in designing for nonprofit fundraising is a worthwhile investment.

Nonprofit Fundraising the Right Way

Don’t let the mistakes of the past weigh you down. If, as you’re reading this, you see errors that your nonprofit has made in the past, note them and move on.

At Welter Consulting, we act as the bridge between your nonprofit and the software that you need to succeed. This includes fundraising software to track, manage, and measure the impact of donor contacts. We are here to help you with software selection, implementation, training, and audit preparation. Contact us at 206-605-3113 for a consultation today.

True Fund Accounting Serves the Needs of Nonprofits the Best

By | Accounting Software | No Comments

Charities worldwide struggle to gain donors’ trust. In the United States, while 73% of donors say that it is essential to trust a nonprofit to which they donate, only 19% would give their charities a trust-score of 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Nonprofits must work harder than ever to build trust between their organizations and the public. The news media is quick to run stories of charities that waste money but rarely if ever, showcases responsible charities and the good work that they do. You must be your own best advocate and show the public exactly how their donations are being used, so there is no question about your organization’s integrity.

True Fund Accounting: A Trust Builder for Nonprofits

Which program(s) do you use to track your nonprofit finances and accounting? Many nonprofits rely on spreadsheets and off-the-shelf commercial accounting software programs to track expenses, income, and payroll.

While such methods may be acceptable during your startup and early growth phases, if you’re serious about shoring up trust between your organization and the public, it’s time to switch to true fund accounting.

What Is True Fund Accounting?

There are two main types of accounting software on the market: commercial and fund.

Commercial accounting packages assume that the business sells goods or provides services. It doesn’t have the flexibility needed to manage accounting by specific funds. Fund accounting software enables a nonprofit to track how funds are used. For example, if a donation of $10,000 is received with the specification that it is used only for a specific program, fund accounting enables you to track how those particular dollars are spent.

10 Reasons Why Your Nonprofit Needs True Fund Accounting

Many nonprofits begin their work using spreadsheets or commercial accounting packages. But as your organization grows, true fund accounting is the best way to manage the complex accounting needs of your nonprofit.

If you’re still deciding whether to switch from your current accounting software to true fund software, consider the following 10 reasons why your nonprofit may benefit from true fund accounting:

  1. You receive funds with restrictions: Large donations, grants, and other funds given to your organization with restrictions require sophisticated tracking and reporting. Only true fund accounting software offers the level of sophisticated tracking nonprofits need.
  2. Measuring the performance of a program or an activity is essential to you: Nonprofits who value measuring the performance of specific programs find that true fund accounting offers the detail-level tracking needed to understand the financial benefits of a specific program.
  3. You need to report for different periods or fiscal years: While your nonprofit may run on a specific fiscal year, that timeframe may not align with those of your grantors and foundations. They may require reports based on different time periods. True fund accounting provides a flexible approach to reporting that enables you to run reports on varying time periods rather than a set fiscal year.
  4. Does your organization need to record encumbered funds? If you must record receipt of gifts as encumbered, true fund accounting supports recording encumbered funds. Commercial accounting software does not.
  5. We need to record allocations of indirect costs by grantors. The allocation of elaborate indirect costs can be a headache in a commercial program, but true fund accounting enables you to enter it with ease.
  6. Reports must be generated and submitted to each funding source: Foundations, grantors, and private donors often require detailed reports to be submitted at agreed-upon milestones. True fund accounting makes it easier to run such reports based on milestones, time periods, or events.
  7. Nonprofit-specific accounting rules must be applied to your financials: Not only are you required to utilize nonprofit accounting rules for your organization, but when these rules are changed or updated, your software must update too. Cloud-based true fund accounting updates when changes are made so you continually use the latest software version.
  8. Your organization must manage and report multiple budgets: A typical business using commercial accounting software uses budgets for planning purposes. Nonprofits utilize budgets for compliance and monitoring.
  9. Transparency in how funds are used is vital to your organization: Processing multiple balance sheets within a nonprofit isn’t uncommon. Funds are often treated as separate entities with their own general ledger. Commercial software can be cumbersome to set up for this, but true fund accounting accommodates such setup easily.
  10. Your accounting software must work across multiple platforms: Nonprofits often set up private gateways or access points into their accounting for auditors and others to review their information. It’s essential that such software functions smoothly across multiple platforms and integrates other business applications.

Trust takes time to build and is earned with each interaction between an organization and the public. When you demonstrate thorough, clear, concise reports, applying nonprofit accounting rules and best practices to your financials, and share these clearly with donors, granting organizations, auditors, and others, you build trust. It’s time to embrace true fund accounting for the future of your organization.

Welter Consulting, Inc.

Welter Consulting, Inc is your bridge to technology solutions for nonprofit organizations. Welter Consulting offers software support, implementation, training, and audit preparation assistance for nonprofit organizations. We can help you select a true fund accounting program such as Abila MIP Cloud, our recommended package for many nonprofit organizations. Let’s talk about your needs – contact us at 206-605-3113.