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Being stressed out seems to be an all too common occurrence in the workplace today. The side effects of it are genuinely terrible. Along with raising our heart rate and blood pressure, stress saps our motivation and productivity levels so getting a handle on it should be a priority for everyone.

The following seven tips can help you relieve the pressure so that you will feel better and be able to get more done during your workday.

Cut the Clutter

When our workspace is unorganised and piled up with unfiled paperwork and misplaced objects, it is visually distracting and can add to our stress levels. An easy way to beat the stress and feel more in control during your day is to take a few moments to clear off your desk, and organise the items in your workspace.

Place the items that you most frequently use within hands reach, and store items that you rarely use away in a closet, filing cabinet or other storage area. Before you leave each day, take a few moments to tidy your space so that you start the next day off with the proverbial clean slate.

Turn Up the Lights

How is the lighting in your workspace? If you spend lots of time in front of your computer, pouring over transactions and other financial information, having adequate lighting is important to prevent eyestrain as well as lift your mood.

Ensure that your workspace has adequate overhead lighting and consider adding lamps or changing the type of bulbs that you use. If you can, position your desk close to a source of natural light to help your body regulate its internal clock so that you feel more awake during daylight hours.

Add a Personal Touch

Add a few decorative plants to your workspace to soften your environment and make it more warm and relaxing. Place a framed picture of your loved ones, or another image that brings a smile to your face, on your desk to add a personal touch to your space and to remind you of why your work matters.

Consider Updating Your Accountancy Software

Old, out of date systems are frustrating to work with. Lighten your load by upgrading your nonprofits accounting software to a fully automated one, such as Admin Bandit’s so that it’s faster and easier to stay on top of your NFP’s finances.

Put the Kibosh on Interruptions

Few things are as frustrating as having your full concentration unexpectedly interrupted. Beat the stress by putting an end to interruptions. Learn to set boundaries with co-workers and others so that they know not to swing by for a chat when you are fully engaged in working on something important. Set the right expectations when it comes to answering phone calls and emails, and only send replies during set times of the day rather than reading and replying to messages and calls throughout the day.

Walk it Out

Don’t forget to take frequent breaks during your day and get up from your desk and walk around your facility. Doing so will help you to mentally switch gears. It also stretches your muscles and increases your intake of fresh air, which are all good to relive the tension and stress that you are unconsciously carrying in your body.

Practice Good Self Care at Home

When our minds and bodies are healthy, they are more resilient to the effects of stress. Take good care of yourself both in and outside of the office. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of water and good night’s rest to support optimal health and nutrition so that you are mentally and physically prepared to give your best at work.

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There’s a reason why it’s typically difficult for nonprofits to find candidates to fulfil the role of treasurer in their organisation. The responsibilities that come with the job can truly be daunting since there are so many duties that you must perform well and on time.

The following guide is a brief overview of five of the most essential tasks and duties new treasurers should perform when they take on the position.

Meet with the Previous Treasurer

It’s beneficial to the new treasurer when the prior one is available to go over the accounts with them and answer crucial questions, such as the reasoning behind specific actions that they may have taken. If the previous treasurer is unable to meet with you personally, ask them to at least provide you with a list of the essential details that you will need to perform your job well, such as your NFP’s passwords.

Realise That You Are Much More Than a Bookkeeper and Gatekeeper

While it is your responsibility to see that accurate and secure records of your NFP’s transactions are made and maintained, this doesn’t mean that you must do all of the tasks yourself. Delegating these duties to a staff member, or outsourcing them is perfectly fine, and is typically necessary for medium to large-sized NFPs. Software suites such as Admin Bandit also automate many of these processes, including many of the budgeting processes and reports that you will need to produce.

While oversight is a crucial function of your role in helping your NFP manage its finances, you should not forget that another critical responsibility is to act as a full partner and adviser with the other members of your board. You should always be on the lookout for ways to provide them with pertinent, actionable information that they can easily understand.

Establish Good Internal Financial Practices and Controls

Establish a practice of meeting with your board at least monthly, so that they are current and fully informed about the status of your NFP’s finances. In addition to advising the board of upcoming revenues and expenses at the meeting, make it a practice for the board to discuss planned expenditures before they occur, and establish controls so that purchases must be approved by you prior to disbursal of the funds.

Keep in mind that you should always have documentation on hand to support any disbursements that you make from your NFP’s funds, so always ask for invoices and receipts to justify your nonprofits purchases and other expenses.

Begin Budget Planning Early

While you should take the prior year’s budget into account when planning your next annual budget, keep in mind that needs, funding and other factors frequently change. Be aware that it can take several weeks to a few months to round up all of the data that you need to create a realistic model and forecast of your NFP’s budget for the coming year. Therefore, begin budget planning early, and ideally at least three months before the the start of your next fiscal year.

Don’t Forget About Annual Reports, Taxes and Other Legal Obligations

From VAT to GST, there are many tax filings and payments that your NFP is responsible for each year to meet its legal obligations and maintain its designation as an NFP, Charity or other status. Create a calendar and set alerts and reminders to help you keep important dates at the top of your mind.

Other key activities that you will need to complete before the end of the year include an annual report to your NFP board, and usually an audit by an independent third party. Make sure that you include these events on your calendar and schedule plenty of time to ensure that they are accurate when completed and filed promptly.

The famous words, “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” is a saying that’s accredited to circus owner and showman P.T. Barnum. Today, it’s widely quoted by public relations professionals to calm their anxious clients. While it’s a well-meaning adage, it’s also a complete myth.

The reputations of both for-profits and NFPs can suffer irreparable damage as the result of a scandal or other crisis. To lower the risk of harm, nonprofits need to be proactive and have a crisis management plan in place, before unexpected events occur, to help protect their standing in the community.

The following tips can help your nonprofit prepare to better weather the next storm.

Plan Ahead

Create a research committee to help your organisation think about what types of crisis can happen, and what steps can be taken ahead of time, to get things back on track and reduce the harm that occurs. When drafting a crisis management plan, it’s important that your NFP realises that disasters can come in many forms.

Examples of such events include an accident that removes a key member of your NFP from your team, weather events that damage your facilities or hidden fraud that suddenly comes to light. Internal and external events like these can put your mission in jeopardy unless you are proactive and plan ahead.

The goal of your plan is to make your organisation more aware of potential pitfalls that can occur, make changes in policies and procedures to reduce the risk of such events happening, and, to have steps in place to help your organisation deal with the aftermath should such an event befall you.

Create a Contact List

Ideally, you plan will include logistics and communications. Designate who your people should contact, both internally and externally, when various types of events occur. Assign point people that can lead others during these events. Decide on who will speak for your organisation, internally and externally.

For example, if something happens that affects the physical safety of others, pre-designate which members of your team will contact the fire department or police for help. Assign leaders that will oversee an evacuation of your facilities should the need arise.

Training and Drills

Does everyone know what they should do if a fire occurs, or, if an armed assailant were to break in? Do your people know how to respond if they are contacted by a member of the press and asked for comments about the work your organisation does or how they feel about a specific event? Train and drill your team on how to respond to potential threats as well as questions from the media.

Talk to the Press, but Do So on Your Own Terms

As part of your strategy, create a process that will increase transparency, while helping your NFP to get your side of the story out to media. Assign someone to gather information and facts about the event. Pre-designate a team that will handle the press and media inquiries. Have someone in place to monitor your social media accounts and to respond appropriately when questions and comments come in about the news. Train your management team so that each is prepared to be a good spokesperson for your organisation. Once you have a handle on what has occurred, and what steps your organisation is taking to remedy the situation, talk to the press, and tell your story on your website, and across your social media accounts. Be proactive and provide regular updates to show that your NFP is actively working on a solution to the crisis and what others can do to help support your NFP and its cause during this time.

Recently, Google has made several changes to its Ad Grants program that may affect your nonprofit’s eligibility for free advertising awarded by Google. The following brief overview covers some of the program’s requirements and changes that became effective January 1st.

Qualifying for Google Ad Grants

Location is a major requirement for the program. Currently, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States are among the 50 countries where nonprofits can be based and still qualify for the program.

In addition to location, qualifying nonprofits are those that are legally designated as charities in their country of origin. Charities that have an established website with extensive existing content should apply. NFPs must also agree to abide by Google’s terms regarding nondiscrimination policies, and how they receive and use their donations.

Staying Qualified – Rising Expectations

To continue to qualify for the grants, which include $10,000 a month in free ad spend, NFPs must adhere to Google’s program policies. Recent policy changes are designed to improve the experience of the end user, and also allow nonprofits to better target audiences who will truly be interested in their cause and the work that they do to create a positive impact in their communities.

Critical Updates to the Program

Key updates to the program include a new requirement for nonprofits to create ad campaigns that achieve a click-thru-rate (CRT) of 5 percent two months in a row to avoid cancellation of the account.  While this is an achievable goal, the pressure is really on NFPs to continually monitor their ad campaigns, checking analytics, test messages and continually pushing for improvement in the quality of their content, and, the results.

NFPs will also need to create more targeted ad groups and align them with specific landing pages rather than allowing traffic to arrive at a generic welcome page for all of their ad groups. To prevent the loss of the grant, nonprofits will need to immediately pause any underperforming campaign and take immediate steps to improve their targeting and messaging.

The quality of the keywords that NFPs target will also take on added importance, with overall quality needing to now meet a minimum score of 3 as a benchmark. Standard Ad Words policies also remain in effect for these accounts.

Making the Best of the Changes

Along with the new requirements, Google has made additional changes that will directly benefit NFPs. For example, in the past its been difficult for many nonprofits to use their entire $10,000 a month in free ad spend because of the $2 cap on CPC campaigns. Now, when NFPs build their campaign with an automated bidding strategy to Maximise Conversions, they can use more of their grant money during this process and have a better chance of winning when bidding on specific keywords. This levels the playing field against competitors who are often for-profit businesses with greater access to cash and other financial resources.

This change is a welcome addition to Google’s lineup of helpful webinars, blog posts and local events that are designed to assist nonprofits learn more about the program and how to put it to best use to increase the reach of their message and encourage greater support through volunteering, advocacy and donations.

The office holders of not-for-profit organisations have the same legal responsibilities as board members of larger, incorporated associations. Regardless of your nonprofit’s size, or mission, you are accountable to all of your stakeholders. This includes your donors, and the various state governments and regulatory bodies that oversee charities where you are located.

At all times, your NFP must operate in a manner that ensures your finances are sound, as well as act in ways that support your stated mission, and under which you receive any tax exemptions. This means that not only do you have to keep up with the books and reporting requirements, but you also need to take steps to protect your nonprofit from a myriad of potential financial losses.

Loss of Tax Concessions One of the Many Consequences

When the treasurer and other officers fail to follow through on their fiduciary duties, such as when internal fraud occurs, they can face severe penalties, including criminal prosecution. However, the folks that suffer the most are the nonprofits themselves and the people who benefit from their services.

For example, a loss of tax concessions can lead to a loss of donations, and, can make it more difficult for nonprofits to fund their operations and services. In 2017 the news was filled with stories about Australian nonprofits losing their preferred tax status for failing to meet their financial obligations.

In 2017, it was widely reported in the Herald, and other news outlets, that six nonprofits in Northern and Central Victoria lost their Commonwealth tax concessions after failing to provide the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with required financial statements for over two years.

The article stated that these NFPs join 590 other nonprofits that had recently lost their concessions for similar reasons. Over 1,300 not-for-profits were also warned earlier in the year that they were in danger of losing their tax preferred status.

Protect Your NFP with Updated Software

Admin Bandit’s software suite can help your nonprofit avoid a similar fate because it makes it so easy to stay on top of all your required tasks, from keeping up with the books, to creating budgets, filing GST and other required statements.

Using an updated software system that stores everything in the cloud can also protect your NFP from losses due to internal theft and fraud. It can also make it easier to spot these types of losses, and help you make sure that someone is keeping up with the books on a regular basis, especially if they are occurring outside of your direct control, such as in an affiliated branch office.

For example, with Admin Bandit, parent organisations can run an operations report that allows you to see when transactions occurred, when they were entered, the amount, and when the account was last reconciled. Information like this can point the way to potential trouble that may be occurring in your main office, or in NFP’s branch offices.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your NFP fulfil its reporting requirements, reduce risk, and meet other legal requirements.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. As always, we appreciate your support and hope to assist you in 2018. What an exciting year it is going to be!

But for now – put your feet up, enjoy that glass of wine and we will see you back in the New Year!

Living in a digital age means that it’s increasingly important for nonprofits to be aware of the latest technological advances and how to use these tools to grow their NFP’s base of support. Some of the following ideas might be just the inspiration that your nonprofit needs to find new opportunities to encourage greater giving and expand the services that you provide.

Improve Your Storytelling and Increase Your Reach

Social media is a great way to bring together increasingly diverse groups of people. Use this tech to reach out to the individuals connected with your NFP and discover more about their personal experiences. Use this information to inform your storytelling.

When you allow everyone’s unique voice and experience to shine through, it increases the variety of perspectives and points-of-view you offer supporters, making your stories more relevant, and interesting, to them.

Once you have some great stories to share about your nonprofit, encourage everyone connected with your organisation to use multiple digital channels to share your posts with their networks to increase awareness about your NFP and its work.

Embrace Big Data

Larger, for-profit organisations are known for using “big data” to help them identify trends to drive greater creativity and innovation. Nonprofits can benefit from this technology by using both data and its related analytics to shape their strategic planning, test and adjust messaging, and develop more effective processes.

Using data can also increase transparency in the decision-making process while making it easier to identify areas for potential collaboration with others. Since most NFPs are constantly under pressure to use their scarce resources more wisely, collaborations make it possible for nonprofits and their partners to share their limited resources and accomplish more together than they would have on their own.

Big data’s analytic tools even make it easier to identify your NFP’s current key social influencers, as well as identify and recruit new ones that can make it even easier to spread messages about your work, and how others can join your efforts.

Use the Cloud to Increase Access and Security

Saving your nonprofit’s data in the cloud makes it easier to secure your nonprofit’s sensitive information. If your NFP’s data is only stored on a local computer, external drive, or physical printouts, it’s more likely to be damaged by a fire or flood. It’s also easier to manually alter information when it’s stored locally, or to steal it outright.

NFPs can also control access to cloud-based documents and programs more easily. Most cloud-based drives create a record of what user logs in, when they do so, and what specific information they view, offering a further deterrent to fraud and other forms of theft.

Many cloud drives make it easy for you to invite other users to collaborate on specific files. This makes it easier for others in your organisation to work together on projects and other shared activities, and increases productivity.