Monthly Archives

August 2020

Give Your Budget a Checkup with These Best Practices

By | Budget | No Comments

Budgets aren’t set in stone. Rather, they evolve over the fiscal year. They require periodic checkups and adjustments to make them work for, rather than against, an organization’s needs.

If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed this fiscal year’s budget, take time now to go over the budget. Work with your accounting person or department to review projected expenses, income, and more, and give your budget a thorough checkup and tune-up with the following nonprofit budgeting best practices.

Nonprofit Accounting and Budgeting Best Practices

  1. Continuous monitoring: Budgets must be monitored continuously. This includes using both operational processes and the right software to provide up-to-date information. Continuous monitoring enables you to take action quickly should you need to adjust the budget based on actual and projected figures. It also lets you catch and correct mistakes quickly. Schedule time for budget reviews each month and add it to your calendar now.
  2. Assess and review: In addition to monitoring the budget to make sure there are no mistakes, assess and review the major line items periodically. You may need to shift funds from one budget to another or update lines based on cash flow. Special projects, especially those that take more than a year, may need to be treated separately in the budgeting system so that you can maintain, monitor, and review the project budget within a different timeframe than the organization’s general budget.
  3. Ask key questions: During the budget review, ask key questions. These questions may include:
    1. Did you gain or lose any important sources of funding?
    2. Do any granting institutions need updates on how their funds are being spent?
    3. Are there any new economic challenges on the horizon? If so, how can you adjust the budget to prepare for them?
    4. Is there any important or unexpected need that will require special funding?
    5. Are any lines running low? Expecting a surplus?
  4. Revise the budget according: Budgets are working documents, not final outputs. It’s fine to revise the budget and to make adjustments as needed to accommodate changing situations.
  5. Review bylaws and budgets: Bylaws may address budgetary issues. Review the organization’s charter and bylaws now to make sure that any changes you make to the budget follow the bylaws.

Communicate Budget Updates to Your Team

Lastly, budget checkups shouldn’t end with closing the computer or signing off on the updates. You must take the time to provide your staff with an update on the budget.

You may wonder why this is important considering that most people on your staff don’t have budgetary responsibilities. It’s simple: everyone needs to know where the organization’s finances stand. They may not need all of the details, but they need to know that there’s enough money to continue operations, address problems, and reinvest. If there’s a shortfall, they need to know that too, so they can take measures to conserve funds and cut expenses.

It may help to use data visualizations such as graphs and charts to explain the big picture to your staff. This is where cloud-based nonprofit accounting software comes in handy. Such programs offer the ability to run reports using up-to-the-minute data and provide easy-to-understand visuals to accompany your presentation.

Now’s the time to review, revise, and adjust the budget. Make an appointment with your accountant or CFO today to begin the process. And, be sure to schedule the next review now, too. Remember, budgeting is an ongoing process, not a final report.

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.

Digital Storytelling Techniques Boost Fundraising Success

By | Fundraising, Nonprofit | No Comments

As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, nonprofits feel the pinch. Many face record shortfalls. Some who relied upon in-person fundraising activities find it hard to adapt to the new digital world where business and personal events have shifted to the ubiquitous video conference.

Those nonprofits who have never conducted digital fundraising campaigns face a steep learning curve as they embrace the new normal (a phrase we’ve all heard since the pandemic started in March). As you begin your online fundraising efforts, you’re faced with a myriad of choices. What marketing tactic do you use, and when? How do you engage potential donors when so much vies for their attention online? How do you make your story stand out in their newsfeeds or emails?

The following guide to the best digital storytelling techniques can help your digital fundraising activities go from ho-hum to homerun. Ready? Let’s get started.

Establish a Successful Marketing Platform

  1. Review your current marketing plan. Has it been updated since the pandemic? If not, now is the time to update the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis section, competitive analysis, and target audience.
  2. Look at what your competitors are doing to raise funds or generate sales. Where are they running ads?
  3. Where are your donors congregating online? Do they like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube? Once you understand your target market, begin to assess various advertising platforms for your fundraising campaign, and start a list of possible platforms to place ads.
  4. Set up online payment portals or gateways to collect and record funds from the campaign.
  5. Gather the stories to share in your fundraising campaign from those who your nonprofit has helped. Ensure that if you use anyone’s name or likeness, you have a signed consent form on file.

Two Powerful Digital Storytelling Techniques for Nonprofit Fundraising

Take a cue from the for-profit world of advertising and use these proven techniques to elicit responses. Each of these powerful storytelling techniques can be adapted to nonprofit fundraising with just a few adjustments. These basic formulas have been used for decades to sell products. Why not use them to generate funds for a good cause?

The AIDA Formula

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. It’s a way of writing material to grab attention and interest, spark the desire for action, and inspire the action. In nonprofit fundraising, a compelling headline grabs attention while success stories and pictures generate interest.

To spark the desire to help, you must tell the story in such a way that it appeals to the emotions. Then, ask for the desired action—in this case, a donation. Make it easy for people to donate by creating a direct landing page for the campaign with links to online donation forms or buttons to click to donate.


The problem-solution-result-ask formula is often used in case studies to showcase how a company solved a problem, and, by extension, could solve the same problem for the potential customer reading the case study. Nonprofits can adapt this formula by thinking of it in terms of the problem brought to their attention, the solution they applied, the results achieved, and asking for donations to continue such work.

Perhaps you have seen advertisements from animal shelters on television or online. These are classic problem-solution-ask ads. These ads typically start by showing the problems—abandoned pets, sick dogs, injured cats. Next, the scene shifts to the solution—pets frolicking with new owners, shiny eyes and coats, injuries healed. The solution is the shelter’s activities and the dedicated people working there. Such commercials end with the ask and the offer. They ask for donations, offer something in return (the feeling of helping, a gift), and ask again, providing clear and easy methods for donating to the organization.

This formula has worked well for many nonprofit organizations and charities, including food banks, homeless shelters, drug and alcohol rehabilitation charities, educational organizations, and medical charities. It can work for many types of nonprofits, and it may work well for yours!

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.

How to Choose a Good Technology Partner

By | Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments

One of the most time-consuming decisions nonprofits make is finding the right technology partner for their needs. Such partners include resellers (like Welter Consulting) who provide both consulting and software sales. Resellers help nonprofits choose the best software solution, such as a fund accounting or grant management solution, and help them address problems using specific software applications.

To make finding the right technology partner easier, we’ve put together a 7-point checklist to use when interviewing potential vendors. You can use this checklist in addition to the RFP process to help you narrow down your choice of vendors.

7 Point Vendor Review Checklist

  1. Does the provider listen to you? It should be a given that any potential consultant or vendor listens carefully to your needs and concerns, but not all do. Consider how well the potential vendor listens to you and responds to your concerns.
  2. How does the vendor respond to questions? Some vendors respond promptly and thoroughly. Others evade or act as if questions are an annoyance to them. Be sure that the vendor under consideration answers your questions courteously and professionally.
  3. Does the vendor understand nonprofit finance and accounting? Many vendors who serve the for-profit mark think they understand the nonprofit world, but you may find them a poor fit unless they work with nonprofits. They rarely understand the nuances and challenges of fund accounting, audit preparation, and other situations that nonprofits routinely encounter. Find a vendor who works with nonprofit organizations regularly.
  4. Have a salesperson you can work with? You’ll likely work with a team on the vendor side, but make sure that the primary point of contact is someone with whom you click. Yes, they can leave the company, or you may work with someone else, but at least at the beginning of the engagement, you’ll spend a lot of time working together to set up the system, complete training, and work out any snags in the migration to the new software. It’s important to feel you have a rapport with the vendor’s team, especially your primary point of contact.
  5. Is the contract easy to understand? Contracts can be frustrating and difficult or plain enough for the average person to read and understand. It’s helpful to work with a vendor who has a short, simple contract. It shouldn’t take a law degree to understand what you are getting and how much you pay for it.
  6. When will training take place? Training is an important component of any software rollout but especially important with nonprofit finance and accounting software. During the training period, the vendor will teach you and your team how to work with the basic software. Additional training may be scheduled for “power users” or those who will use the system daily and in-depth. Make sure that you feel the training time allowed in the contract is enough. If not, what will it take to increase it? Is there a fee?
  7. Is the vendor available post-implementation for questions? Again, ask plenty of questions and read through the contract to understand what, if any, post-implementation time is allowed by the vendor for questions, fixes, and other needs. Most vendors answer quick calls or questions but may charge a fee for custom programming or additional data migration. Ask about fees for services you may need post-implementation and compare among various vendors.

Choose an Experienced Partner

Lastly, consider the vendor’s references. Before calling references, have a list of questions prepared. You may want two or more employees to call the same reference to see if they get the same answer in each call or if anything unusual comes up in the conversation.

Testimonials and endorsements from nonprofit agencies and organizations are also a sign of a good vendor. Although you can’t predict how a software rollout will go, conducting due diligence and asking plenty of questions before hiring a vendor goes a long way towards a successful nonprofit accounting software implementation.

Welter Consulting

Of course, we hope you’ll choose Welter Consulting for your needs. We believe we fulfill all the right boxes in this checklist to make us a great choice for the technology needs of nonprofits.

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.