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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!

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As the current focus for many NFPs at present is on budgets and figures, it should be noted that marketing for the next financial year will enter heavily into the equation. Did you successfully track your successes during the previous 12 months? Are you aware of which fundraising campaigns brought in the most money? Was there something that just didn’t work for your nonprofit?

Understanding your annual budget looking at both past and future options can be very exciting, but it is not without consequence. Allocate too little in a campaign, and you may fail to execute it appropriately. Allow too much, and you find yourself short in other areas. The decision you make now will determine the outcome 6 or 9 months down the line. So where should you be focusing your efforts to make a real difference without paying through the nose for the privilege?

Content Creation

Your focus should be on content creation with a twist. You want to engage, delight and inform. You want to surprise and inspire. It is no surprise then that storytelling should continue to be a significant aspect of this year’s goal. With the right stories, you can challenge and engage your viewers – this year’s nonprofit conversation needs to be all about you.

Influencer Marketing

Your NFP must source reputable personalities to get behind your brand and spread the word. Influencers are generally people not associated with a business but can promote and endorse and act on a company’s behalf. Influencer marketing takes the focus from more traditional marketing forms involving more of a personal connection to your organisation.

User Generated Content

With so many budding artists and storytellers out there, utilising user generated content is a great way to make yourself heard. Why not run a creative campaign asking for submissions to a competition? You can ask users to film an advertisement or photograph a relevant subject which you can then circulate across all of your social media avenues.

Thought Leaders

Thought leaders are becoming a popular way to market both for-profits and nonprofit organisations. Is there someone in your company that you could promote to this position? As a thought leader, they would need to be very vocal about all things related to your nonprofit, but it can be a very effective form of marketing if done well.

Live Video

We have seen an increase in the use of video for non-profit, but now organisations are beginning to realise the importance of live streaming video. The Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) did a live internet stream of their conference in Australia with great success. They weren’t the first to utilise this technology, and they definitely won’t be the last.

Not all NFPs have huge budgets to compete with others. Many of these ideas can be incorporated into a more restricted budget yet still provide excellent results. What do you plan to add to your marketing budget this year?

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Fundraising campaigns are one of the most significant sources of funding for most nonprofits. Most fundraising events are not without cost, however.

Preparing a budget for special fundraising events helps nonprofits avoid overspending, especially if their event does not raise an amount equal to or greater than its fundraising goal.

The Importance of Setting a Large Enough Fundraising Goal

When making plans for your nonprofit’s next fundraiser, it’s important to set an appropriate amount as your fundraising goal. This goal should be realistic; it should be an amount that your nonprofit can reasonably expect to raise during the event.

Your fundraising goal should also be for an amount that is large enough to cover all of the costs and expenses associated with the event. In addition to this amount, you will want to add a net sum that is left over after all of the costs are paid. This net sum should be large enough that it justifies the time and effort that is put into hosting the event.

The Importance of Creating a Detailed Budget Specifically for the Event

You should create a separate, completed budget that lists each expense that will arise as a result of hosting the event. This list should be thorough, and highly detailed to help you avoid under budgeting.

When creating your budget, look at the history of past, similar fundraising events held by your nonprofit. Look at the types of costs that were incurred, as well as the amounts that you have raised during these events. Can your nonprofit reasonably expect to spend a similar amount, or, have costs increased in one or more categories? Determining the answers to these questions can help you avoid underestimating the actual expenditure.

At the very least, your budget should include the cost to rent the venue for the event, as well as unique items related to the location. For example, will your nonprofit need to rent extra tables and seats or other items and equipment to hold the event at the designated location? Be certain to include realistic estimates for these items in your budget.

Catering, staffing, creating and sending invitations, security, transportation, VIP accommodations,  entertainment, ticketing, fundraising software, marketing materials, promotional and gift items/event swag are all typical expenses associated with special fundraising events, so be certain that you include these and any other costs in your budget.

Don’t Forget to Plan for the Unexpected and Include it in Your Budget

It’s also a good idea to include a built-in “cushion” in your budget to help your nonprofit be able to cover the cost of unforeseen events to help you make certain that your nonprofit has enough funds to cover the cost of the event.

Use Caution When Attempting to Cut Costs

Many nonprofits are still feeling the pinch from the global economic downturn of a few years ago, and remain short of funding, especially given the resulting cuts in Federal monies in the form of grants that many nonprofits relied upon. If your nonprofit is struggling financially, it can be tempting to cut corners to reduce spending. While reining in expenses is important, it’s equally important to avoid cutting quality.

For example, you don’t want to skimp and not spend enough on marketing, and word fails to get out about your event. You also want to make certain that you choose reliable vendors for the venue, catering, and so on. Just because one vendor offers a lower price, doesn’t mean that you can depend on them to deliver on time. Make certain that you still check references and look at past histories in addition to price when comparing services and creating your budget.

Accurately budgeting for your special event is an important part of ensuring your nonprofit’s financial stability. Don’t forget the traditional fundraising metrics such as net revenues and costs to raise when hosting your event, and preserve this information to help you more accurately forecast the budget for your nonprofit’s next special event.

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apple-desk-laptop-workingContinual learning and education are important regardless of what your role entails. It enables you to push and motivate yourself so you can engage more fully in your position, non-profit or otherwise.

Education, in any form, is vital to both your personal and professional life and can help in your future success stories. Showing an eagerness to learn and ability to increase your knowledge is very exciting to many employees and NFPs.

Did you know that there are many free educational opportunities out there? And did you know many of these are suitable for volunteer treasurers and NFPs?

Each year, NFP advocates and individuals offer free webinars on subjects specifically relevant to charities and not for profits. They can be a valuable source of information, particularly when they impart knowledge that can have enormous benefits to your organisation.

Learning from others who have gone before you is a great asset to your career path. Why make mistakes which can affect your fundraising ability or cost your NFP money when you can follow the advice of other fundraisers and charity workers? And as much of the work you do is relevant only to the NFP niche, it makes it even more advantageous to take advantage of these offers when they appear.

So what’s in store for January? Here are a handful of exciting webinars to get you started. Bear in mind that many webinars are offered live rather than as a recording, so you may need to set a reminder in order that you don’t miss these and other similar events.

The 7 Fundamentals of a Monthly Giving Program – January 12, 2017

In this 30 minute webinar, you will learn how to recognise monthly donors, how to set your ask amounts, how to present results and how to plan for growth.

10 Signs Your NGO Excels at Social Media – January 18, 2017

This live webinar will show real case examples of how to use images and video to increase engagement, how to inspire your donors to give as a result of social media and how to format online news and blog content for maximum effectiveness.

Finding New Donors for 2017 – January 18, 2017

This webinar will take you through new places to find donors, how to build your email list, cultivation tips to keep your existing donors and fast ways to thank your donors.

As technology changes and develops, so does the demands of fundraising and financial management. Keeping up to date with this ever-changing technology is more important than you think, especially since many of the areas are becoming more mobile in their capabilities.

New information is always relevant to fulfilling your role adequately. Familiarise yourself with NFP-related websites and mark your calendar with the many relevant webinars which will come your way in 2017 and beyond.

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teamworkVolunteers may come into your NFP as individuals, but you need them to work together as a group. This doesn’t always happen naturally, but there are things you can do to help bond your people into a devoted team.

Know their reasons for volunteering

Some people like to help out in many places; some will be drawn just to your organisation. Understanding why each individual is there will help you to keep them engaged and inspired, whether they want to learn new skills, fill some free time, or just love to help others.

It will also help you to build an effective team of like-minded people who enjoy each other’s company. Volunteering is often a social activity where people make new friends.

Communicate

This is the easiest and most effective way to keep your team motivated, but it’s easy to overlook. Expectations should be clear and responsibilities of each person should be laid out, providing a path to success. Provide instruction and offer additional training if needed.

Don’t forget to listen as well as talk. Volunteers are the people at the heart of your organisation; ask for feedback and be open to suggestions. Talking to them before hiring an expensive consultant can save your NFP time and money.

Share the vision

Your NFP has a big picture and volunteers work on small goals toward making it happen. Show them how the work their team is doing fits into the overall plan, so they know what they’re working toward.

Instead of taking over, delegate responsibility. For instance, don’t hand down a to-do list. Instead, ask the team to make small and large goals for their project. Give your people more control, and they will be driven to make things happen – plus they’ll keep the pressure on the other members of the team.

Let them know they’re making a difference

When a goal is reached, or progress is made, share that with the team so they can see the results of their hard work. For example after building a school, invite the volunteers to visit and see classrooms full of children.

Show appreciation

It’s simple: say thank you! Say it in person when you see them, say it publicly on social media with photos showing off their hard work. Reward the team by celebrating together when important projects come to an end.

Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you aren’t excited about your NFP, no one else will be either. Have fun and your people will too!

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fashion-person-woman-handAs more of our lives involves using digital means to accomplish our daily tasks, things get faster and easier. We can order meals, groceries, take classes, and pay the bill for it all online. However all this easy access can also open the door to unwanted hackers and scammers.

Personal habits are often the key to protecting data, and by taking a few simple steps you can make it much harder for anyone to break into your digital life or that of your Non-Profit Organisation.

Step 1: Take Passwords Seriously

Having a strong password is one of the most basic steps in protecting information, but it is frequently overlooked. Last names, birthdays, children’s names; all personal information is off limits. It is easily found online, especially if you do not have tight security on social media accounts such as Facebook.

Writing a password down is another classic but common mistake. No sticky notes on your desk or the back of the keyboard. If you must write them down, leave the note at your house as a backup.

Use a password that you can remember, maybe a phrase or reminder of a goal. Include capital letters, punctuation and numbers to make it more secure. Don’t share it with anyone, and change it regularly. A good recommendation is every 30 days.

Step 2: Disguise Your Data

Encryption is just a fancy way of saying that the data is scrambled so that it can’t be read without a key. It can be more secure to encode data in this way than to delete it because deleted files can still be pulled off the hard drive.

Setting up encryption is not hard, but it’s not something you may have thought to check. Apple and Windows both have the option to turn on auto encryption of the hard drive, or you can buy a third-party encryption program. If you do business on your phone, you can turn on encryption in the settings on most models.

Be careful what programs you use to communicate as well. Make sure your email is encrypted. Signal and Whatsapp are texting programs that automatically encrypt instant messages, while Facebook Messenger and Google’s Allo have it as an option that will need to be turned on.

Step 3: Stranger Danger

We are taught as children not to trust people we don’t know, and that is a good rule of thumb for the digital world as well. Emails from someone you don’t know are suspicious, and links or instructions that seem strange are a big red flag. Don’t click on flashy links that may take you to a site that secretly accesses your computer.

If it seems out of place or just doesn’t feel right, seek advice. It is always best to be cautious when the security of your NFP’s information is at risk.

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good leadersSo what makes a great leader? If I asked a variety of people from different backgrounds, I would be given a myriad of responses from good communication to honesty and a whole list of other things in between. Leadership is indeed a complicated topic, and there are, of course, many ingredients that go into making a great leader.

Simon Sinek, management theorist and author, suggests that a good leader is someone who makes their employees feel secure, and it is indeed an interesting thought process. By drawing your team into a circle of trust, there is nothing that cannot be achieved as a group. But this trust and safety does not come overnight. You cannot automatically ask someone to trust you without offering any reason to do so; it just doesn’t happen this way.

As a leader, you have to show your employees that their job is 100% secure and that they are supported every step of the way. If there is risk or insecurity within their particular role or set of responsibilities, then trust will not be rewarded. If your employees are scared about breaking rules or losing their job, then the safety net is broken. Once employers know that you have their back, then naturally you will be rewarded in kind with their commitment to the role and the company.

Simon Sinek described the situation accurately in a TED Talk on this subject.

“I was flying on a trip, and I was witness to an incident where a passenger attempted to board before their number was called, and I watched the gate agent treat this man like he had broken the law, like a criminal. He was yelled at for attempting to board one group too soon. So I said something. I said, “Why do you have treat us like cattle? Why can’t you treat us like human beings?” And this is exactly what she said to me. She said, “Sir, if I don’t follow the rules, I could get in trouble or lose my job.” All she was telling me is that she doesn’t feel safe.

The above example is not an environment that any of us would want to work in. The leaders in that organisation obviously don’t value their employees and don’t know the first thing about ensuring job safety or indeed, satisfaction. This scaremongering is common particularly in industries where people are being let go of on a regular basis. Imagine going to work being fearful of your job! How can you work to your best ability under those circumstances?

Being a leader is a choice. It is not just a rank as determined by a title. Leaders should be the ones who lead – who aren’t afraid to go first or to make mistakes. They are the ones who should sacrifice their bonuses for their team members. And when the going gets tough in an organisation, real leaders are the ones who should stand up for their members and fight for their jobs despite backlash or the challenges ahead.

Now that’s a leader I would want to work for. One who would fight for me – one who would give me respect first and foremost. We need to see more leaders who will ‘lead’ the way and show the future generations of leaders to come how it is done.

Safety is paramount to the leadership cause and when trust is inclusive in the role, the sky’s the limit for results and expectations.

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