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mouse-593297_640As a volunteer treasurer for a NFP, you may wonder just why your organisation needs a budget. After all, your charity isn’t an actual business whose primary purpose is to increase the business owner’s bank account. The funds that your NFP receives should go towards meeting your community’s needs as defined by your group’s mission statement.

Even though the main purpose of a charity or club is to meet needs rather than make a profit, it must still operate in a sound manner so that it can continue to meet its goals and objectives. Both individuals and businesses use budgets to help them better control their expenses, manage their cash flows and create plans for how they will meet future obligations and goals. A realistic budget is also the key to helping your board members have better control over your NFP’s finances.

Budgets are Planning Tools That Help you Meet Your Duty of Care

Having a budget helps your board to wisely manage funding and other resources received by your charity or club. It also helps your board to be able to make strategic plans to ensure your organisation remains operationally sound and able to fulfill its mission statement for many years.

A budget is basically a plan that maps out what funds are expected to be received, when they will be received and how they will be used to further the group’s goals and mission. A budget doesn’t just provide greater control over the NFP’s finances, however.

Creating and approving a realistic budget can also be seen as fulfilling one’s legal duty of care to properly manage the funding for the public good. As we’ve discussed in a prior post, there are negative personal, professional and public ramifications when NFPs and their members fail to follow their duty of care.

Why Budgets are Part of Good Governance

Having a budget is also part of following good governance procedures, as it allows the board to plan how to reduce risks to their reputation and work as well as how they will comply with any tax and superannuation requirements. Along with your NFP’s minutes, the budget, balance sheet and other NFP documents are all records that help to explain why your NFP’s board members have made certain decisions. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) states in Section K of its NFP governance checklist that it’s good practice for NFPs to keep their minutes and other records explaining their actions for at least five years.

We hope you found this information helpful. In our next blog post, we are going to discuss how you can best create a budget, so stay tuned.

Beautiful business woman smiling and looking at camera in a modern office

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The impression you make in the first seconds you meet someone can greatly influence what happens next. Whether you get the job, make the friend, keep the job or get the promotion, those immediate signals and signs you send can make all the difference.

In lightning speed, some say as little as 7 seconds, you unconsciously make judgments and decisions around the person you just met. Why so fast? When our survival depended on whether the person or the animal in front of us was friend or foe we had to make a fast and accurate decision or it could be the last we ever made. This is a prehistoric survival mechanism that now flows into every initial interaction we make.

First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes – Elliott Abrams

In an employment or business context your first impression and the decision you make around it are not a matter of life or death, but they are still fairly critical. Is this someone you want to engage with or avoid? What is your status or authority? And often most importantly, can you be trusted, are you competent, confident and likable? Do I want to work with you?

You can’t stop people from making snap decisions, and some people will always jump to the wrong conclusion or be offended by an obvious trait or adornment, tattoos or piercings for example, but if you understand how the decision making process works you can use it in your favour and make sure those first few seconds are as good as they can be.

Attitude is instant. Finding the balance between anxious and over confident is an individual as well as a challenging thing, but consider the message you want to send before you enter that interview or step up to present. Nerves are not always a bad thing, as they show you care, but you don’t want to quiver and shake either. Confidence is essential but being cocky can also be very off putting.

Stand tall. Put your shoulders back, elongate your neck and keep your head straight. Regardless of your height, strength, status and power are demonstrated in the amount of space you take up. Just think about the cobra preparing to strike. You don’t want to bite your target but standing tall sets a good impression.

Be welcoming. Smile! Being seen as friendly and approachable is key, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel you can always manage a smile.

Make eye contact. This is one of the key strategies in showing trustworthiness and likeability. Being unable to look someone in the eye is often associated with a lack of integrity and truth, and it’s impossible to connect with someone without looking them in the eye. And if you simultaneously raise your eyebrows to make your eyes slightly more open than normal this sends a signal of recognition and acknowledgment.

Shake it out. Did you know it can take up to three hours of interaction to develop the same rapport you get by shaking hands with someone? Not too hard or too much like a dead fish, too brief or too long. There’s a balance there but a good hand shake is essential to a good first impression so don’t miss the opportunity.

It’s not what you wear, it’s how you present yourself that determines what your first impression will be – Unknown

Every encounter with a new person brings a wealth of opportunity and you never know where it can lead, but rarely more important than in a job interview.

pedestrians-400811_640Working with small businesses has many advantages, a fact easily overlooked when the big ones dominate the consumer landscape with a big budget advertising presence. More enjoyable to recognise than a corporate logo, however, are the faces of individuals who work in small companies. Within smaller business settings, it is possible to put names to faces. Within smaller businesses, you know who you are dealing with, and are not offering feedback on forms that are never personally addressed.

As it is easier for smaller companies to attend to complaints, customer service is usually far superior with small businesses. In turn, great service encourages loyalty, and helps ensure success of smaller businesses. It is erroneous to think that larger businesses have better chances of longevity, as small businesses help secure their place by working within their communities, rather than competing or seeking to replace other, smaller businesses. Many people prefer to support businesses that are local to them, when given the option. Also, personal reputations are tied to small businesses, and word of mouth reviews are important. The distance between the customer base and management is much smaller, so consumer recommendations are heard. It is faster to implement changes within smaller businesses, so smaller businesses are usually more sensitive to changing consumer needs, and can be flexible to individual requirements of loyal customers.

Smaller businesses appreciate individual customers more than large corporate entities, and also appreciate the people behind the scenes who help their businesses grow and flourish. Working with smaller businesses means working with individuals who have pride in their work, and in what they offer their communities. Overall, working for small businesses holds many advantages that a more famous logo cannot compete with.

alone-62253_640While many run their lives under the “work hard, play hard” banner, we all should be aware of the early signs of burnout. Working long hours with great enthusiasm can be a road to great success, but if you burn the candle at both ends for too long you might need some tools to manage the negative results.

Though everyone’s thresholds for burnout are different, the Sydney Morning Herald reported research on the matter lay blame at the feet of three key experiences – ‘exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency’.

So it stands to reason if we can beat these three, the sky is the limit! Consider the following tips.

Include exercise – Even a brief walk at lunch time, rather than remaining sedentary for too much of the day can make the world of difference. Is there a park nearby where you could eat lunch? Can you walk or ride a bike to work once a week, or more? A change of scenery can lead to greater productivity later. For some, an exercise class between work and home is perfect for maximum efficiency.

Make personal calls – Make sure, no matter how devoted and into your job you are, that you have some non-work time, with friends or family, where something unrelated to work crosses your radar. No-one can be ‘on’ 100% of the time, so avoid burnout by staying connected to the world at large.

Let go a little and delegate – Recognise that you can not control everything, and work to remove minor headaches before they can affect operations. For instance, consider hiring someone to do the monotonous, time consuming tasks that slow you down.

Get tech-free downtime – The beauty and great problem of computer based work is that it can be done anywhere, anytime. Make sure there are times in your day, everyday, when your devices stay off.

Foster supportive relationships – Keep the humanity about your work by befriending colleagues close to you. Remember you are never in it alone, and having their perspective will help in the tough times, and make the good times that much more enjoyable.

Work hard, play hard is okay some of the time but if you want to go the distance with any great success, you need to ensure you keep it balanced.

Businessman and businesswoman using laptop in office

Put the #social back in #socialmedia

Using social media to promote an organisation, its operations and events is a primary way to get a message out these days. A quick search for almost any school, business or organisation will turn up their Twitter and Facebook pages, which can have advantages over other media as it can be immediate and brief, and is independent of journalism. Latest findings from Canterbury Christ Church University, however, indicate that while social media use is widespread in the field, up to 40% of PR workers are not truly engaging with other users.

Promoting and reposting happens a lot, with PR workers using social media platforms to connect with  loyal and potential customers alike. Tweets and Facebook posts are effective promotional tools as they arrive within a feed of personalised, invited materials, so people are generally quite receptive to their content. It is an informal seeming way to project the image and operations of a business. But if users are not engaging with the people seeing their posts, and commenting or asking questions, the true potential of the medium is being underused.

Social media is a conversation. There is a to and fro, and give and take. When effectively used, conversations had or ‘overheard’ can stick in viewers minds for years. As well as posting, responding should be an integral part of any social media plan. Showing your value them enough to engage will increase the loyalty of your followers, and help spread the word about your work. Consider asking your audience questions to encourage engagement, and remember, humorous and interesting content always as the potential to go viral.

If you are using social media, remember that people (including mainstream media) consider it a communicative channel. Ideally, you will be treating every approach to your social media page as you would any phone call to your office. Responding in a timely manner demonstrates your respect for your clients, and will help your organisation grow.

DeathtoStock_Wired1It is said that you can’t have it all. Something’s got to give.

Is that really such a bad thing?

There will always be times when work wins over home, or life in general, and at other times family comes first. Instead of fighting the work life balance battle perhaps we should just accept it and reduce our stress in a different way. Feeling like you can’t have it all and are somehow failing just makes matters worse. Accepting that there will always be a level of imbalance could be just what you need to take the pressure off.

If you have just been promoted or hope to be, begun a course of study, opened your own business or have taken on extra hours or even another job to save for something special, work is going to have a higher priority in your life. All of these events have an end point, are a means to an end and are hopefully worth the sacrifice or the imbalance they create. With appropriate communication and coping strategies the people left at home whilst work takes over will be there to keep the wheels turning and support you until the balance tips in their direction. But it is essential that the work focus doesn’t take over and becomes the new normal. When the goals are achieved, the holiday taken or the study completed those who made the bigger sacrifice need to be rewarded with your time and attention. Don’t keep working the extra hours or take on more study because it becomes a habit or an expectation.

There can also be times when family or home takes precedence. For example welcoming a new baby, moving house, enjoying the well earned holiday you took a second job to save for, or less joyful events such as illness or relationship break down. These things can be out of your control and sometimes occur at the worst possible time, if there is such a thing as a good time. But you’ll find that as important as you are it is unlikely you are indispensable and the job or task will go on without you. It may not be the same and even lack a little something but if it can’t wait then it will go on regardless of your input. Organisations and managers accept that their people have lives and other responsibilities, and like the situation when work takes over, these times don’t last forever. When the crisis or illness is over, the boxes are unpacked or the baby is home then your attention can be diverted to make your work a higher priority once again.

How about embracing ‘intentional imbalance’ instead of work life balance. When you stop feeling guilty about the time you are devoting or not devoting you have more energy and focus to the task at hand. But there still needs to be a clear plan and defined goals. Be sure to record your aims and timeframes and share them with the people around you who will be most affected. If you get carried away or steer off course they will be the ones to remind you and drag you back.

It’s ok to stop worrying about achieving work life balance. You can do anything. But not everything.

Everyone has the right to choose what to do with their time, but we can all agree about one thing – it is certainly not enough for everything. Back in 2013, an ingenious project made use of 28,835 jelly beans (one for every day in 79 years) to show how the life of an average person looks and what we use it for. Simple calculations help the guys show the following important figures:

  • 23,360 days left after the first 15 years.
  • Sleeping: 8,477 days.
  • Eating, drinking and preparing food: 1,635 days.
  • Working: 3,202 days.
  • Commuting and moving around: 1,099 days.
  • Watching TV (arguably): 2,676 days.
  • Chores and household responsibilities: 1,567 days.
  • Taking care of our loved ones: 564 days.
  • Bathing, grooming, bathroom related activities: 671 days.
  • Community activities (taking classes, charities etc.): 720 days.

When you take all that out, you are left with 2,740 days. This is your time for doing what you love, what makes you happy, what you really want to do with your time. And that’s in case you know how to say ‘no.’ 2,740 days does not sound like a lot of time, does it? What you are going to do with it – the choice is entirely yours.

When realising the importance of saying ‘no’, you need to differentiate between your personal life and your business affairs. When it comes to your own private time, making the choice to say no should be much easier. In our lives, we all have those people who would always ask for favours, sacrifices, compromises, spending time on activities we don’t like or need. There are, of course, situations when we should say ‘yes’ – when we really want to help/participate. But when spending our time is obviously not worth it and everything in us screams no – that’s when you should be hard and decided. Say ‘no.’ If they persist, say ‘no.’ again. Soon enough, you will not be the target of unwanted invitations, requests and attention – and you will have the time all for yourself, your loved ones and what really matters in life!

If you are struggling to say ‘no’ to business requests, invitations and projects, you will need to train yourself into practical thinking. Do you have enough on your plate already? Yes? Then the answer to the next thing you will only waste time and efforts on should be ‘no.’ Do you actually want to participate in the project/meeting/event? Then say ‘no’, but include the possibility to be available next time. In order to be successful and to have time for what really matters for your business, you need to know your priorities. A good idea is to have a time rule – for example, give a reply after 24 hours. That will give you what you need to count the pros and cons, to evaluate the proposition and to take the right decision. Only very rare business cases would not let you ‘sleep on it’ before deciding what to do, so take advantage of doing this – the benefits will come with time.

To cut a long story short, ‘no’ is a phrase you certainly need to use more often in both your private and business life. Learn to say it gracefully and with style, without hurting people’s feelings and with the perspective of keeping doors open – never lock them. However, no matter what way you say it, make sure you are in control of your own time. 2,740 days for activities of your own choice. How many of them do you have left? Spend them appropriately!

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