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The role of treasurer in a nonprofit is one that carries a weighty responsibility. Like any other board member, treasurers have a fiduciary duty to always act in the best interests of the public and to ensure that any funds that are received are put to use to advance that nonprofit’s mission and goals.

As the primary watchdog of an NFP’s finances, they “wear many hats” as they oversee transactions and record keeping and manage assets and cash flows. The best volunteer treasurers take steps to anticipate losses and minimise risk and keep the board and other key stakeholders informed of the nonprofit’s financial status.

Since it is a role that is filled with so much responsibility, it can be difficult to recruit good candidates for the position. If you’ve been reluctant to take on this challenge, consider some of the following advantages that serving in this capacity has to offer.

Strengthen and Diversify Your Skill Set

As a volunteer, even if you are using your existing skills, the chances are great that you will be using them in different ways to solve the unique challenges that tend to crop up in the nonprofit sector. Serving as a volunteer treasurer is a great way to put your bookkeeping and financial management skills to use building your community and brush up on your people skills as well as you cooperate and collaborate with others to advance your NFP’s mission.

Hone Those Communication Skills

Many professionals in the accounting and financial sphere can go days or weeks without speaking to a live person. As a volunteer treasurer, however, you will be the point person on your NFP’s finances.

When board members and others don’t understand a term or line item in your NFP’s financials, you will be the one that they turn to when they need help comprehending your nonprofit’s true financial state, and what the long, and short-term ramifications will be if your NFP takes a specific course of action.

Excellent communication skills is the key to being able to simplify complex financial issues so that everyone can understand what’s going on, and it’s a skill that you will be able to practice and sharpen as volunteer treasurer.

Expand Your Network

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people from all walks of life, which expands your network of connections and opens the door to new opportunities. Your next employment opportunity might just come from a tip that you receive from a contact that you make during your volunteer service!

Become a More Attractive Job Candidate

Volunteering doesn’t just help your job prospects by improving your network, the practical experience that you gain in the role will make you a more attractive recruit for headhunters seeking prospects with hands-on experience filling a role in accounting, finance and leadership.

Boost Your Confidence

Helping others provides a lift to our spirits, and increases our feelings of self-esteem, value and self-worth. When you feel good about yourself, it shows in the way that you carry yourself, and, in the energy that you bring other areas of your life.

The Purpose of Life is Not All About You

The urge to look back and reflect on our lives as we grow older is a normal, expected one. Volunteering to serve your community and give back is a great way to know that you’ve done something in your life to make a difference in the lives of others and help your community.

It’s Fun!

Serving as volunteer treasurer isn’t all about work and responsibility, it can also be a lot of fun! Many organisations offer their volunteers special recognition and invite them to attend members-only events such as awards ceremonies, galas, and other exciting celebrations and action-packed activities!

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Being successful at garnering positive media coverage of your nonprofit and its events can play a critical role in getting the word out about your cause. It also provides a tremendous boost to your campaigns, making it easier to reach your fundraising goals.

The following tips will show you how to attract media support and use it to your NFP’s best advantage.

Research Your Target Audience to Discover Where They Get Their News

Recruiting media takes a lot of research and preparation. Ideally, you want to try to attract coverage from those journalists, bloggers and news outlets that your existing audience is already reading and watching.

Once you know where your audience is getting their news, you can begin to target specific publications, channels and reporters. Subscribe to the publications where your audience is consuming their news to get a feel for the types of stories that they enjoy, as well as the topics specific journalists and publications prefer to cover.

You can save money by searching for free, online versions of many newspapers, magazines and periodicals. Using a media database is also another way that you can stay informed about the issues and stories that interest your audience and learn more about the writers and publishers that produce the news.

Create Compelling, Newsworthy Stories

Once you know what types of stories will interest both your audience and the media you will target, you can get to work creating stories that will resonate with your supporters. This will encourage media to begin following your work and covering your events and other significant news that impacts your NFP and its community.

When crafting your stories to release to the media, try to view your subject matter objectively, and write with a professional, unbiased viewpoint. Rather than focusing on trying to convince your audience to take a specific action, emphasise the information that you are relaying to your audience. Rather than selling, you are informing.

Include a catchy headline and use a dateline at the beginning to let the reader know the location of the event. Use the “pyramid” method of telling a story to craft your news item. This means that the most important details are placed at the beginning, in the lead paragraph of the story, while less important details are placed at the end, or left out altogether. Include a link to your NFP’s website, along with a clear image, or video if possible, that supports the information in your story.

Once you’ve created a press release, use a third-party newswire service to automatically distribute it to hundreds to thousands of news outlets in your local and regional area.

Develop Your NFP’s Spokespersons

Keep in mind that you aren’t confined to simply writing stories about your latest events and campaigns. You can also help key influencers in your organisation to develop their voice and use it to spread awareness about your cause. These influencers might be your NFP’s director, a board member, or even a volunteer that is closely involved with your organisation’s activities.

You can help them to establish their authority in a given area by allowing them to create some of the posts on your blog. Allowing the media to interview these influencers is also a great way to establish their connection to your organisation and their credibility as a spokesperson. Going forward, your in-house experts can then be called upon to publicly comment on any number of news stories that relate to your organisation, and the work that it does in your community.

Monitor Your NFP’s Reputation in the News

Not all of your media coverage will be proactive, or positive. To stay up-to-date on news items that affect your NFP and its work, take steps to monitor the news for reports involving your NFP. Use an RSS service to enter keywords that relate to your nonprofit, so that you receive alerts any time that your organisation’s name, or tagline, appear in the various news outlets. Well before you are caught unawares, create a media response plan so that everyone in your organisation knows what to say, and who to contact, should a reporter ask them for a comment on a story.

For many, their only interaction with the treasurer of a nonprofit is listening to their report about the organisation’s finances during regular board meetings. Most of the processes and procedures that involve the treasurer are conducted out of the limelight, which is why so many people have a very limited understanding about the tasks and duties that are performed by the treasurer. It’s also the reason why most newly elected treasurers come to the job full of questions about the role that they will play in their NFP.

The following overview outlines some of the major functions and responsibilities of the volunteer treasurer.

 Management and Oversight of Finances

The treasurer is an officer of the board, and as such has the same fiduciary responsibility to ensure that public funds are spent for the public welfare, and in keeping with the nonprofit’s mission.

The treasurer is also tasked with managing and overseeing their organisation’s finances. They are responsible for recording and tracking both the monies that the nonprofit receives, as well as those that it expends. Effective management of cash flows is critical to effective financial management.

They help to establish policies and controls to protect the nonprofit’s assets and are either directly, or indirectly, involved with making and monitoring deposits, seeking board approval for the disbursement of funds, managing investments and similar activities.

Whether the treasurer is directly involved in the day to day cash transactions or has a staff that assists them with this and other duties, typically depends on the size of the nonprofit.

Creating and Managing the NFP Budget

The treasurer plays an integral part in creating the annual budget and is responsible for helping the board stay on track as it raises funds, makes expenditures and invests in capital projects. The treasurer is responsible for creating a realistic budget and using sound, reasonable judgement and accepted accounting principles and practices when making forecasts involving income, outlays, expenses, and similar items that affect the financial health and sustainability of the nonprofit.

Reporting and Adherence to Legal Requirements

Nonprofits must meet the requirements of many state, federal and regional laws when it comes to reporting, as well as the calculation and payment of taxes and other obligations. This means that the treasurer is responsible filing reporting forms in a timely manner.

The treasurer is also tasked with keeping the board well informed about the NFP’s financial status and producing and presenting formal reports that illustrate the NFP’s current financial status on a regular basis. To fulfil this role, treasurers often find themselves offering the board advice so that they can make better decisions that will advance the mission forward without weakening the NFP’s long-term financial stability.

Additional Duties and Responsibilities

The treasurer is also responsible for many other tasks that complement their main duties. For example, it is the treasurer that is tasked with preparing the nonprofit for an audit, and, helping the board to fully understand any issues or items of interest that may be raised in the auditor’s report. They should also work to keep the NFP’s accounts updated and current on a regular basis and be prepared to assist a new treasurer with assuming the position should they choose to retire or otherwise leave the role.

The position of treasurer is one that requires the person holding it to be responsible and well-organised. Since so much is dependent upon the nonprofit’s finances, the treasurer should also be honest and known for their determination and moral character.

While some duties that are performed by the treasurer are sensitive to deadlines, the actual work involved with being the treasurer need not be excessively time-consuming. A good accountancy software suite, such as Admin Bandit can help treasurers stay on track by automating and streamlining many of the data entry and recordkeeping requirements associated with the role.

The relationship between many NFPs and their funders is in a state of transition. Competition for government grants, endowments from both public and private sources and even individual donations is growing. It’s becoming more difficult to secure all the monies needed to fund projects and services and build capacity to serve as Federal budgets have been slashed and all donors expect more transparency and accountability from nonprofits as they push for them to provide greater value with less.

If your nonprofit is feeling the pinch, you might be dealing with increased pushback and reluctant on the part of your board, and supporters, to spend money on updating your software and other IT infrastructure.  Cutting back on IT spending might save some money in your NFP’s budget, but it can be a very shortsighted strategy. This is especially true if the outdated technology is causing money to “disappear” in the cracks of your processes and if errors are made due to faulty software and other IT issues.

The following three reasons can help you make a case for investing in IT to your board and other interested parties.

Big Data Relies on Updated Tech

Demographic and other data is critical for tracking and measuring the impact made by the programs and services that your NFP offers. This information is also used in fundraising activities and other critical areas of your nonprofit.

Being able to accurately capture, organise, and later import this data for analysis requires the latest IT hardware and software. If you’re using the outdated technology, you’re missing out on opportunities to capture information that can help you to improve the services that you provide your community, as well as being able to paint an accurate picture of the work that your organisation is doing to improve the lives of others.

Even activities that seemingly don’t require IT, such as fundraising depend on updated tech. Using current hardware and software enables you to improve the message of your fundraising campaigns, measure effectiveness so adjustments can be made to improve results, and allow mobile payment processing so that its easier for supporters to contribute via their preferred payment method.

IT is the Key to Streamlining Your Recruiting and Training Programs

Many nonprofits have difficulty recruiting enough staff and volunteers. Apps can help you simplify the process of applying for a position with your NFP. Technology makes it easy for you to list your openings online and makes it possible for others to apply using mobile platforms via apps. Current IT also makes it easier for your NFP to train its staff and volunteers, communicate and perform other work from remote locations. It also helps to level the field for diverse populations so that those with limitations such as physical disabilities, or language barriers can still participate in your programs and both provide and gain assistance.

Securing Sensitive Information and Other Assets is Your NFP’s Responsibility

When we think of NFP assets, we  think of physical property, actual cash, or other tangible belongings. However,  your nonprofit’s financial records, and private, confidential information are types of intangible, or intellectual property, that your NFP has a duty to take reasonable steps to protect from theft, loss or other unintentional release. Using outdated technology increases the risk that any and all of your assets can be compromised, whether they are physical or intangible. Updating your software and hardware is the easiest and most effective way to increase the security of your information and other assets.

It’s been estimated that around half of all nonprofits currently have IT components that don’t work well for them. With so much at stake, investing in updated technology to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and security of your processes is one of the wisest decisions your board can make, especially in times of reduced funding.

Serving as a volunteer treasurer is both demanding, and gratifying. This roundup of prior posts, offers tips on how to know if you are cut out for the position. It also offers advice on how to acquire the skills that you need to perform your duties well, along with strategies on how to keep calm and save time while fulfilling your responsibilities.

Do You Have What It Takes to Serve?

There are several myths about the skills and background that volunteer treasurers must have before they take on the position. Learn more about what it takes to perform the job well in the post, What Makes a Great Volunteer Treasurer.

Once you’ve assumed the role, you are likely to have a lot of questions about how to get started managing your nonprofit’s finances and performing your other fiduciary duties. The post, How to be the Best Treasurer You Can Be will let you know what steps you should take as you begin so that you can put your best foot forward.

Tips to Reduce Stress and Improve Effectiveness and Performance

The volunteer treasurer is often a time consuming, and stressful role. Much of the work is time-sensitive meaning that there are numerous deadlines that you must make in order to keep your nonprofit on track and in compliance with numerous guidelines and regulations.

The article, Work Life Balance, for Busy Treasurers, contains several tips to help you destress and reclaim your peace as well as your ability to concentrate and perform.

The post, How to Convince My Committee to Upgrade My Software contains advice on how to demonstrate to your board the benefits of updating, and how it will increase the security and reliability of your systems and processes. Not to mention that upgrading your software to an automated system such as Admin Bandit will also help you to decrease the time, hassle and expense involved in managing your NFP finances!

Take Care of Your Volunteer Treasurer offers advice for directors, board and others on how they can make it easier for their new treasurers to perform their duties well and reduce their stress levels in the process. Of all the tips that it offers, it explains the connection between training and effectiveness, and how investing in your people and helping them develop the skills that they need to perform their tasks well will reduce the workload and pressure on everyone.

Strategies to Keep Your Motivation and Morale High

Burnout is a genuine risk for volunteer treasurers, especially if they serve in the position for several years. While some automatically assume that establishing a well-known routine decreases the stress associated with the role, it actually works in the reverse for many volunteer treasurers. Overly familiar policies and procedures become tedious and difficult to maintain day after day and year after year.

How to Stay Motivated in Your Job is a prior post that can help those that serve in the same position for a long span of time to find new meaning in honing their craft and perfecting their performance.

The article How Taking on the Role of Volunteer Treasurer Can Boost Your Career reminds us of all of the numerous benefits volunteer treasurers receive when they choose to serve their communities in this capacity.

One of the most common assumptions that holds back many otherwise qualified individuals from volunteering for the role of treasurer is that you must be an accountant or have a strong background in finance. While experience in bookkeeping or related areas is certainly helpful, it’s not an absolute must.

The following is a list of the top qualities and characteristics needed to fulfil the role of treasurer.

Honesty and Integrity

Treasurers and other office holders in a nonprofit organisation have a fiduciary duty to look out for the best interests of the nonprofit, to ensure that the NFP operates for the public good rather than for a specific individual, and to ensure that the NFP acts according to its bylaws and other applicable guidelines and regulations. Treasurers, as well as NFP directors and board members all need to follow the highest ethical standards and should be known for their honesty and integrity.

The Ability to be Organised, and Think Critically

Some of the important duties of the treasurer include the ability to keep up-to-date records on NFP finances, analyse financial information, protect assets such as monies received, taking steps to protect the nonprofit from losses such as fraud and theft. To be able to discharge duties like these, the person that your nonprofit elects as treasurer will need to be able to think and act in an organised, methodical manner.

The treasurer also needs to be able to evaluate information with a critical, unbiased eye so that they can make decisions that are informed, balanced and based on accurate information.

The Ability to Break Down Complex Concepts and Simplify Them

As part of their role in monitoring and controlling NFP finances, the treasurer is responsible for reviewing all internal processes and methods of reporting. They need to take steps to ensure that the nonprofit complies with all tax obligations, including FBT, GST, and payroll taxes. They need to assist in preparing the budget and reviewing performance. They also advise the board on fundraising and financial strategy.

As a consequence of performing these types of duties, they need to be able to understand the complex concepts involved in these items as well as be able to simplify this information and explain it in terms that board members and others can easily understand. Making sure that the board understands the organisation’s finances and obligations is certainly one of the most important, and weighty responsibilities of a nonprofit’s treasurer.

Automated Software Can Simplify the Job

While each of these areas seems overwhelming and daunting, it’s not as complicated, and burdensome as it may sound at first. While having a background in accounting, it is not that difficult for most folks to learn the basics about how to record, analyse and monitor the transactions and other data that make up your nonprofit’s finances. Accounting Software such as Admin Bandit simplifies the process and makes it easy for even a newly elected treasurer with little previous experience to keep up with their organisation’s finances and reporting requirements.

First Steps for the Newly Elected Treasurer.

Most volunteer treasurers begin their service by being appointed at their nonprofit’s annual meeting. If you have just landed the job, it’s a good idea to get started in the role by completing the following tasks.

If possible, schedule a meeting with the prior treasurer and ask to be filled in on important details, such as the passwords to online accounts and software. Make sure to ask for a copy of the financial procedures manual, and check to ensure you have been provided with a copy of all financial information, including prior budgets, receipts and other essential financial documents. Review any upcoming payments, and incoming revenues that may not have been included in the budget.

Review the details of all bank accounts held by your NFP. Update changes in signatories. Do the same for any credit card accounts and update any spending authorisations. Ask that outstanding or otherwise missing cheque books or credit cards be returned as soon as possible.

Create a schedule of upcoming deadlines, such as payments for bills and other expenditures so that you don’t miss any due dates. When you create the budget, review it with the outgoing treasurer if possible to make sure that you haven’t missed or otherwise overlooked anything that should be included.

Going forward, you should check to see if your NFP has an audit committee. If not, you will need to prepare to review your nonprofit’s existing control policies and procedures to ensure that they are adequate and take corrective measure if they are not.

You will also need to be prepared to look for and analyse any financial discrepancies or other irregularities. The treasurer is also responsible for taking steps to ensure that the NFP’s financial information is accurate, organised and ready for independent audit.

Treasurers also act as a liaison between their board and the independent, third-party auditor and help prepare their NFP for audit.

Don’t Worry – You’ve Got This!

While all these duties sound complicated and time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be if you have a high degree of integrity, are diligent and logical, and have sound systems and software to simplify your processes and back you up!

It takes more than good intentions to create an impact in your community. In addition to dedication and support from your staff and volunteers, your nonprofit will need to secure funding to pay for its programs and daily operations, as well as build your capacity to grow sustainably.

The following fundraising guide is a brief overview of how to get started raising the funds that your organisation will need to support its mission.

Set Goals

Before you start, it’s important to have a firm goal in mind of the amount that you want to raise with your current campaign. While prior targets can give you a good idea of where to start, you will also want to include room to account for changes in your donor list, and, the needs of your organisation. Try to set a target that is both reasonable, but a bit challenging as well.

While it might seem counterintuitive, setting a high bar can inspire affluent donors that want to make a significant contribution to causes they believe in and organisations that they think are serious about making a genuine impact.

When setting your goal, be sure to include benchmarks to help you measure your progress and the success of your event.

Create a Plan

Once you have a target in mind, you will need to decide on what type of campaign you will host. Will it be a special fundraising event, such as a gala or auction, or, will you be conducting an online campaign? How long will your drive last, and, finally, what steps do you need to take to make sure that this fundraising drive goes off without a hitch so that you reach your targets?

Recruit a committee to help you plan the event. The committee should make a list of every resource and item that is needed, along with assignments for who will be responsible for gathering the resources and putting into play at the event. Include such things on your list as VIPs, entertainment, catering for refreshments, the venue, items to be auctioned, publicity for the event, seating, transportation and so forth.

Set Your Budget

Once you have created a plan for your drive, you can then create a budget of estimated expenses for the campaign. Include a cushion of 10 to 20% of estimated charges to make sure that you will have enough funds to cover the costs before you make final preparations and publicity releases for the event.

Fund Your Plan and Put it into Action

Do you know how much you can reasonably expect to earn from your planned fundraiser, and, is this amount worth all the effort you are putting into the event? The total amount of donations that you reasonably expect to receive should far outweigh the total costs. Otherwise, it might be better to pare down your event or host a different type of fundraising campaign altogether.

Once you have decided on an event, created a plan and set the budget, it’s time to approach your board for approval and funding. Once approved, you can decide on a final date for the event and make arrangements for it to take place.

Get the Word Out

Publicity is an essential part of making your fundraising drive a success. In addition to any flyers, and direct invites you make to your list of donors and other supporters, make sure you utilise as many tools as possible to get the word out. Post on your website, and your social media channels. Send reminders via email, and text alerts on Twitter and elsewhere as the day draws near to encourage as many as possible to attend.

Evaluate Your Results

Once you host your event, it’s time to take a good look at what went right, and wrong. Use analytics to evaluate your results and point you in the right direction for ways that you can improve your processes before you host your fundraiser. The information that you uncover during this review will help you to create a strong foundation for your next fundraiser!