Monthly Archives

July 2022

A Fresh Approach to Cybersecurity

By | cyber security, Nonprofit | No Comments

Cybersecurity remains a topic of critical importance for nonprofits. Attacks have risen dramatically, with the costs associated with cyberattacks increasing from $3 trillion in 2015 to an estimated $10.5 trillion in 2025. Nonprofits are especially vulnerable given their smaller staffs and often, a lack of IT resources to combat the threats.

Added to these vulnerabilities is the sheer feeling of being overwhelmed from dealing with multiple security layers and platforms required for modern cybersecurity. False alarms, confusing error messages, and other issues can also make managing cybersecurity a challenge for nonprofits.

Strong Security Depends on Employee Vigilance

The best defense is a good offense, as they say. Employee vigilance is your offensive game against potential cyberattacks. Offer a brief refresher annually one how to spot potential scams and attacks including:

  • Avoid opening emails that look suspicious
  • Do not click on password reset links unless you initiated the reset request
  • Do not click on links from emails that look like they are from reputable companies but have telling mistakes in the copy, such as grammatical errors, slight misspellings of the company name, etc.
  • Never give your password out to anyone

If anyone on your team has your password and is authorized to log in on your behalf to any system, be sure to let them know that you will never ask anyone to call them for the password itself. A recent scam is a caller pretending to be someone who works with or knows the CEO, President, or CFO, and then asking for the password on behalf of that employee. This is typically an attempt to gain easy entrée into banking, credit card, and records systems in the company that could be worth thousands on the dark web (digital black market).

Leverage New Technology to Keep Security Simple and Strong

Cloud computing offers stronger and simpler security defenses that can be leveraged by organizations of all sizes. Cloud service providers install multiple security layers and alert systems intended to protect both their own cloud infrastructure and the businesses that rely on it. And, because they have multiple customers and millions of dollars invested in their delivery architecture, they take great pains to protect it from external attacks.

Another way to shield your organization from attack is to leverage a good web hosting company. Such companies have in place many detection methods to protect your site from denial of service (DOS) attacks and other direct attacks on your website.

Lastly, consider upgrading your virus protection systems. Real-time protection may include website scanning as employees use search engines for their work as well as scanning downloads, using cloud-based document storage systems with built in virus protection, and similar systems.

Update Your Software, Systems, and Platforms as Needed

Most major software companies conduct threat monitoring and intelligence, scanning the digital environment for new and emerging threats and developing protection against it. Every software maker and computer manufacturer issues periodic updates to its programs and platforms. These updates are essential to close known security gaps and issue patches to protect against new threats.

Look for security updates for the following systems:

  • Operating systems (i.e., Apple/Mac, Microsoft)
  • Office productivity suites (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Mobile phone operation systems (Android, iOS)
  • Web browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, and many others)
  • Specialized nonprofit systems such as accounting or grant management systems
  • Website updates (WordPress themes and plugins, for example)

Be sure to confirm that your software company did indeed issue that update. Some systems do update automatically. But others that prompt you to update your software should be investigated. You can often find news of updates published in tech journals online as well as on the software manufacturer’s website.

Although many nonprofits are small, they can take mighty steps to protect against cyberattacks. You can do a great deal to protect what you have built in your organization by using these tips.

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.

Just Starting Out? Consider Fiscal Sponsorship

By | Nonprofit | No Comments

Nonprofit organizations just starting out may not have their 501(c)(3) designation yet. This makes it almost impossible to receive charitable donations and apply for grants. One solution they can explore is fiscal sponsorship.

What Is Fiscal Sponsorship?

Fiscal sponsorship for nonprofits is when an established nonprofit acts as an outsourced extension of a new and emerging organization. The legal contract between the two entities establishes their relationship, with the established nonprofit serving as the sponsor. The contract between the two parties does not imply an ownership relationship or a partnership between the entities. Rather, it establishes the guidelines for a working relationship.

By serving as a fiscal sponsor, the established nonprofit provides a valuable service to a newcomer to the nonprofit world. They will charge a fee to cover their services.

What Are the Duties of a Fiscal Sponsor?

The exact duties of a fiscal sponsor are stated in the sponsoring agreement. Some of the more common duties held by sponsors include:

Can Sponsorship Agreements Extend Beyond Financial Assistance?

Yes. Some nonprofits work with a sponsor which extends operational support to the fledgling organization. They may provide back-office support such as bookkeeping services in addition to fundraising and donation management.

The Benefits of Fiscal Sponsorship

Startups face numerous challenges: funding, growth, marketing, accounting, legal needs, and more. Nonprofits face these challenges along with the need to become self-funding over time. Many people who dream of starting a nonprofit choose to work with a sponsor to allow time to test their concept and ensure there’s a place for them in their chosen field.

Another benefit to nonprofits using a sponsor is that they can focus on growing the organization. The time needed to manage accounting, tax preparation, and other back-office tasks can be used for organizational growth and development, as well as program services.

Lastly, larger nonprofits capable of sponsoring a startup often have considerable staff and expertise: legal counsel, an accounting department, and an HR manager. Working with such a team provides startups with access to highly experienced staff at a critical time during the startup phase, which can help them build stronger, better organizations.

Where to Find Fiscal Sponsors

The best place to start looking is among local nonprofits. Use your network of contacts to find out if any local nonprofits offer this service.

Other places to find potential sponsors include:

No matter how you find a fiscal sponsor, as with all work agreements, investigate the sponsor thoroughly. When working with a fiscal sponsor, you must ensure that there’s both a meeting of the minds and the philosophies to make the situation work to your mutual benefit.

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.

Solving Three Common Grant Management Challenges

By | Grant Management, Nonprofit | No Comments

There are over 900 federal grant programs offered by 26 different grant-making agencies and over 86,000 foundations offering more than $62.8 billion in funding. If your organization taps into any of these funding sources, it is vital to make proper grant management a priority.

Grant recipients must take specific steps to ensure that funds are managed properly. These steps follow both nonprofit accounting best practices and guidelines issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and by state agencies, such as the Washington state office of grant management. Nonprofits often miss several steps in the management process. The following are three common grant management challenges, suggested ways to address them, and a proposed solution to streamline grant management throughout your organization.

Grant Management Challenge #1: Lack of Internal Controls

Have you documented your current grant management processes? Internal controls map out the process by which grant funds are received, allocated, and documented. Without written processes for the management of grants, the process may shift into areas that put it out of compliance with applicable laws.

To ensure your organization is following a compliant grant management process, document the steps your group takes to manage the entire process. Process mapping may be useful to view the workflow from start to finish and identify any potential gaps.

Lastly, make sure that all processes are written. If changes are made over time, they should be documented. All internal control documents should be kept in one central location for easy access by the entire team.

Grant Management Challenge #2: Compliance Issues

Documentation requirements also extend to program performance too. Measure and document progress, performance, and plans that utilize grant funds. Failure to do so could put your organization in jeopardy of losing grants. You must monitor and record all relevant activities to provide compliance documentation to the granting organization.

One important step to meet this challenge is to centralize both the grant management function and the records. Many organizations are adding a grant manager position to their staff to ensure full compliance with all regulations. Such a position ensures that one person has their eye on the many areas of compliance record-keeping and reporting needed to satisfy granting organizations.

Grant Management Challenge #3: No Central Grant Management Resources

As mentioned above, some nonprofits are adding a position to their accounting departments whose sole duty it is to manage grants. While this may not be possible in all nonprofits, most can at least add resources to centralize grant management.

Some centralized resources that improve grant management include:

  • Cloud-based file sharing platforms to enable collaboration on documents
  • Grant management software that automates much of the record-keeping
  • A single person responsible for the grant management process, or, if that is not feasible, someone in the accounting or development office who has this on their list of accountabilities

Solve Your Grant Management Challenges

One tool that can help solve all three grant management challenges is grant management software. Software such as Amplifund, available through Welter Consulting, manages many aspects of the grant process including recording, management, and reporting.

If you’re pursuing more grants this year or struggling to manage your existing grant resources, now is a good time to consider software to help you centralize data and streamline resources.

About 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.