Monthly Archives

April 2022

Best Practices for Integrating Finance and Fund Development

By | Accounting, Fundraising, Nonprofit | No Comments
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Finance and fundraising work towards the same shared goal—maximizing margin in support of an organization’s mission. However, finance is often a separate department, with fundraising housed in grant management, marketing, or donor relations.

Although both can work effectively as separate entities within the same organization, when the teams are aligned, great things can happen. Aligning around shared data resources is a natural way to bring both teams together. Here are several best practices you can implement in your organization to help finance and fundraising improve collaboration around data and information resources.

Best Practice 1: Evaluate Current Fund Development Policies

Finance often acts as the guardian of an organization’s policies, but this can conflict with fundraising when donors wish to give support that is outside the current guidelines. A good example is a fundraising effort that connects a donor who wishes to give a substantial gift to the organization, but the gift is outside the organization’s normal policies. If this happens repeatedly, it may be time for finance and fundraising to collaborate on a policy review.

Often, policies have been in place for years. As the organization changes and grows, its mission changes along with the organization, but policies put in place many years ago haven’t changed. Gift policies, for example, may not encompass new technology that didn’t exist when the policies were written. Finance should provide guidance and collaborate with the fund-raising team to adjust gift and donation policies so they remain in alignment with best practices in nonprofit accounting and governance but still meet existing needs and opportunities.

Best Practice 2: Ensure Finance and Fundraising Understand Data Governance

Who in your organization “owns” the current fund accounting system and its resulting database? Probably finance, and that’s how it should be. But the fundraising team provides data that feeds into the fund accounting database—notably, fundraising campaign pledges, donor information, and gifts and donations that must be accounted for and tracked against funds and programs.

To ensure this tracking is accurate, fundraising and finance must determine who owns what in the data management system. Collaborating on a shared data dictionary, tagging each fund or donation appropriately, and tracking revenue and expenses to the correct fund are important parts of nonprofit accounting and financial management.

Without clean, clear data management, any upcoming audit will be a nightmare of tangled data and unclear information. This can lead to many challenges, the least of which is giving your auditors headaches—and showing discrepancies in your accounting. No one on the team wants this, so be sure to agree on who owns what in the database, how information should be managed, and, in the event of questions, which group has the final say.

Best Practice 3: Improve Communications

Depending on the size of your organization and its company culture, finance and fundraising may or may not interact frequently. What’s your take on this situation? Do the two departments find ways to connect and communicate, or are they frequently at loggerheads with one another?

If you find the two groups are bickering, it’s time for a sit-down. Ask each group to bring their questions, concerns, and challenges to the table. Perhaps employees from each group can shadow the other for a day—a member of finance works in fundraising, and vice versa. This helps each team gain a better understanding of the unique needs, challenges, and benefits the other brings to their work. Often, infighting and silos arise because of miscommunication. Eliminating these miscommunications and encouraging teams to share information freely is a great step

Everyone at the organization wants one thing: to support the mission. To do so, good communication, a shared understanding of job functions, and collaboration on policies and data is essential. With a few simple steps, you can accomplish this in your 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 call us at 206-605-3113 for more information.

The Three Pillars of Digital Transformation

By | Corporate Culture, Data, Nonprofit | No Comments
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“Digital transformation” is one of those buzzwords that seems to be everywhere right now. From e-commerce to manufacturing, everyone is talking about the impact of digital transformation.

The term “digital transformation” makes it sound like a magician is at work behind the scenes. Presto, change, click a switch, and voila—your entire organization has undergone a magical transformation!

If only it were that simple. Organizations undergoing digital transformation may find themselves struggling with new questions if they lack strategy behind their adoption of new technology.

There are three pillars, or core concepts, embedded within every successful digital transformation. We suggest having these three areas addressed well in advance of your digital transformation project to boost its chances of success.

A Clear Strategy and Alignment of Vision

Success doesn’t happen by accident. A successful digital transformation project occurs when the strategy and vision behind the project align with an organization’s clarity of purpose and mission.

What is the vision behind the project, and how does it help an organization fulfill its mission? New technology can improve the organization’s ability to fundraise, track grants, and/or manage fund accounting. These are all worthwhile and noble goals. Map out how the new technology you hope to implement helps you fulfill a goal that is clearly aligned with your organization’s mission, purpose, and vision for the future.

Shared Decision Making Around New Technology

It’s tempting to think the purchase of new technology is an IT-department responsibility. But the best IT departments will tell you that all stakeholders—those who will use the technology daily—are the ones who need to be at the table when creating the technology requirements document and exploring options.

Shared decision-making around new technology is essential to finding the best technology that will meet your organization’s needs. Each stakeholder knows their respective area of business best and can provide the most valuable input into how the technology under consideration will help them do their work better.

Any digital transformation team gathered at your organization should include a representative from each major area of responsibility: accounting, finance, operations, program management, marketing, outreach, grant management, donor management, and more. Let those who will use the technology have a voice in the decision of which one to adopt and why.

Process Changes, Too

The third pillar, or major consideration, when undergoing digital transformation is that technology never lives in isolation. It is the impact of technology on people, processes, and things that makes it such a transformation.

The people in the equation—your staff and stakeholders who will interact daily with the technology—must adapt and change their behaviors to work with the new system. There may be a steep learning curve for some. Routines must change, and with changing routines, come changing processes.

No matter how user-friendly the new technology, processes and people must both adapt to it. Make sure you give everyone the time and space they need to learn to use the new technology. Keep an open mind and be flexible to process changes and adaptations, too.

Are You Ready for Digital Transformation?

You’ve probably seen those ads on television for diet programs. They always show before and after pictures: someone looking sad and overweight in the before picture, triumphant and overjoyed in the after photo. What they never show is the in-between: the daily struggle to make wise choices, the moments of decision that lead to a successful outcome.

Your organization’s digital transformation is also like those weight loss programs. You have a “before” shot now: a problem you need to solve, a process that’s cumbersome or slowing things down, and so on. What you desire is the “after” effect: faster, more productive work. But, to get there, you’ll need to bring together these three pillars of strategy and vision, shared decisions, and adapting process to make it successful.

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.

3 Hiring Tips During Times of Candidate Shortage

By | HR, Nonprofit | No Comments
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The so-called “great resignation” has hit all businesses hard, but for the nonprofit sector, it has been an especially trying time. Nonprofit organizations, which typically pay slightly less than their for-profit counterparts, often struggle to attract the best and brightest candidates to their organizations. Add on to this the decrease in funding sources and potentially shrinking budgets, and you have a staffing emergency that can change into a crisis.

With for-profit companies offering everything from higher wages to hiring bonuses, nonprofits may need to tap into their creativity to build attractive packages for potential employees. But how? Here are three tips to help your nonprofit hire successfully during times of candidate shortage.

  1. Study the Market and Build a Compensation Model

First, thoroughly understand the job market as it stands now, and in relation to the openings at your nonprofit. Consider both the local market and a broader market. With telecommuting becoming the norm, you can broaden your hiring options to fill a challenging vacancy by making the position fully remote.

Include a compensation model in this study, evaluating the appropriate compensation for the position, and comparing that to the current market average for similar candidates, at least biannually.

  1. Compete for Candidates Based on Your Organization’s Strengths

Let’s face it—your nonprofit may be unlikely to have perks like an onsite gym or childcare, but maybe it has other perks. Does it offer benefits unique to its mission that would attract just the right candidate?

A nonprofit animal charity may allow pets in the office, which may be a huge benefit for some. Other organizations may have a very relaxed policy towards bringing children to work, which would appeal to some candidates.

Lastly, there’s one thing your organization is guaranteed to have that a for-profit doesn’t: passion for its charitable mission. Oh sure, big companies like Amazon are passionate about fast shipping and having tons of products available, but they aren’t saving the rain forest, championing healthcare, or helping the elderly with transportation … all valuable missions that candidates can get behind.

Leverage your organization’s strengths to attract candidates.

  1. Evaluate Your Current Benefit Packages

One of the motivating factors behind the “great resignation” is the need for work-life balance. Many employees had the chance to re-evaluate their career and family situations during the pandemic. They realized that “all work and no play,” missing their children’s school events and dance recitals, skipping vacations, and never taking a sick day has taken its toll on their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

A cursory review of media articles that cite workers’ stories and reasons for leaving their careers offers both a glimpse into the problem as well as hints at a solution. If people are leaving their jobs because they realize they’re spending more time at work than at home, why not let people work from home? If people believe their work-life balance is important, what can your organization do to encourage a healthier attitude towards work and play?

It’s time to evaluate your organization’s current benefit packages. A survey of for-profit benefit packages, or delving into the available research, can help you position your nonprofit’s benefits favorably to comparable for-profit companies.

Consider the following benefits as part of an attractive package:

  • Additional holidays, such as Juneteenth or the days after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years
  • Additional personal time off
  • Flexible hours
  • Telecommuting benefits
  • Additional time off for parents with newborns

Allow More Time During the Hiring Process

It’s a job seeker’s market right now. Candidates are likely flooded with opportunities from recruiters as well as job boards. It may be difficult to find a great fit for your organization, so allow additional time in the hiring process. It’s never a good idea to rush into hiring someone, and that is still unwise, even with a tight labor market. So, take your time, attract based on your greatest strengths, and find your next great employee!

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.