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Nearly every profession has its own mythology, or urban legends, that develop around it and its operations. While a few of these notions may work to bolster the reputation of a certain occupation, some false beliefs can cause others to shy away from a given field, and prevent those who work in it from getting the credit and recognition that they deserve.

The following list reveals the truth about some of the most popular fallacies surrounding the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofit Work is Easy; it’s the Perfect Career if You Can’t Get a “Real” Job

During the recent global economic downturn, a lot of individuals turned to the nonprofit sector to volunteer their time and efforts while they were awaiting an opportunity to return to employment at a for-profit company. While volunteering is a great way to network and keep your skills sharp, the sector is still a demanding one that benefits from the skills and experiences that top talent can bring to their organisations.

While many people who work in the nonprofit sector do so for altruistic and philanthropic reasons, this does not mean that the pace is not a busy and demanding one, or that everyone that works for a nonprofit does so for free. Most NFPs are facing a host of unique challenges and demands, and the work that needs to get done is often demanding, and schedules and deadlines can be inflexible and stressful.

While some NFPs operate on a shoestring budget, a growing number of nonprofit boards and directors are becoming more aware of the need to recruit and retain the very best people for their NFPs. Many are offering salaries to match the roles and responsibilities that come along with a nonprofit career, and that are comparable to the salary and demands of a similar position in the for-profit world.

All Not-for-Profits Do Basically the Same Thing, and They Don’t Make Any Money

Nonprofits provide a host of services to their communities and the world at large.  The work that is involved in providing these services is as varied as the number and types of charities and associations that exist.

Because of their tax status, many people automatically assume that not-for-profits are banned from earning revenue, when this is simply not the case. All NFPs rely on income generated from at least one source. Examples of types of income that can flow into nonprofits include endowments and grants, donations, fees for services, rents, royalties and interest payments, just to name a few. Without income of some sort, it would be impossible for NFPs to advance their mission, serve their communities and achieve their goals.

As statistics demonstrate, the income generated by the nonprofit sector makes a significant contribution to Australian GDP each year. According to key statistics about Australian volunteering provided by Volunteering Australia, the work performed by volunteers contributed over $25 billion to the Australian economy in 2010.  A recent study on Australian Giving by Swinburne University of Technology reports that 80% of Australians donate to nonprofits each year, with annual contributions now totaling over $12.5 billion.

All Work in the Nonprofit Sector is In Person and Very Hands On

While the staff and volunteers of many nonprofits do provide a lot of hands-on, direct services to recipients, many others offer opportunities to serve others that don’t require a lot of face-to-face contact. Some work can be completed online, from remote locations. Other opportunities are short term, or involve micro-volunteering and may include activities that range from helping out on a project for just a few hours one day, or even for just a few minutes!

The important thing to remember about the nonprofit sector is that there are countless ways that supporters can help nonprofits to advance their mission. Even if you don’t see an opportunity that fits your schedule or capabilities, when you share the values and concerns of a nonprofit, it’s always worth the time and effort to connect with them and ask how you can help them achieve their goals.

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Whether it’s the for-profit, or nonprofit sector, gender imbalance is still a significant issue in the workplace. It continues to hold both women, and men, back from achieving their full potential in the office and at home.

Evidence of the impact of gender imbalance abounds. Men continue to hold a majority of leadership positions within most organisations. Discrimination in the form of unequal pay for equal work, stereotypes, and inflexible attitudes that penalise those who care for children, the elderly and the infirm continue to hold sway in the workplace.

While women need to continue to push for more opportunities to lead so that they can gain the experience that is necessary to prepare them for greater access to board rooms and the c-suite, men have an important role to play in increasing diversity. The following are a few ways that male allies can stand with their female counterparts to make the workplace more open, inclusive, diverse and productive.

Encourage Fairness and Equality

Gender equality isn’t just an issue that affects women, gender inequality affects men also, as well as our children and society as a whole. Encourage the men and women in your organisation to build strong interpersonal working relationships, free of bias and discrimination, particularly as it applies to communication and job performance.

Push for greater mutual respect, cooperation and collaboration within your organisation by encouraging men and women to share the responsibility for job duties regardless of gender.  Adopt a zero tolerance policy in regards to open and covert discrimination and inequality.

Walk the Talk

Many organisations talk about the need for greater gender balance in the workplace, and yet, they continue to leave in place practices and policies that contain both overt and covert gender bias. Encourage men and women of all ages, backgrounds and levels of power in your organisation to challenge the status quo and to speak out and work together to bring about change.

Key equality issues that should be examined include how tasks and roles are assigned and how decisions are made within your nonprofit. Pay, and time away from work are additional equality issues that should matter to everyone, not just women.

Is Caring Just for Women?

Fathers, children and our society all benefit when men have more time to spend with their offspring as they are growing and developing. Childcare isn’t just for women. Your NFP can encourage gender equality away from work by offering flexible schedules for caregivers of both genders.

Parental and family leave policies should be examined for gender bias, and changes made to ensure that fair practices are put into place that allow both men and women to contribute to their communities.

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Filling the post of volunteer treasurer can be a difficult task for many boards. While volunteer treasurers are responsible for performing a number of significant tasks and duties, there are a number of myths about being a treasurer of a nonprofit organisation that can hold individuals back from volunteering. The following are a few of the benefits that can arise from fulfilling the role of volunteer treasurer.

Improve Self-Esteem and Sense of Self

Many volunteers report that they find that they effort and work that they do to support their cause is very rewarding. Volunteering gives folks that participate a sense that the work that they do is meaningful, and that the actions that they are taking are helping to bring about positive change and transforming their communities into a better place.

This sense of working with others to serve a greater purpose helps improve the morale and sense of well-being one has as a volunteer.

Networking

Because their service often involves working with both other volunteers and service recipients, volunteering gives others the opportunity to meet new people, and learn new things about existing connections. Volunteering connects individuals with others who often share their values, and this increases friendship and a spirit of camaraderie and belonging. Greater connectedness with others increases empathy and happiness, which can improve wellness and well-being.

Volunteering can also boost one’s employment opportunities, as it makes it easier for volunteers to meet others in diverse fields and backgrounds. This increases prospects for the volunteer and can make it easier to find new positions in one’s field, or change careers entirely.

Learn New Skills and Use Existing Skills in a Different Way

Many accounting software packages have simplified common treasurer tasks, such as creating the budget and other reports and documents. It is no longer absolutely necessary to have prior accounting or bookkeeping experience to be a successful volunteer treasurer. However, volunteers with prior accounting, finance, insurance or other similar experience benefit from using their existing skills in a new way that offers them a different perspective on accounting processes and procedures. Others without this experience will appreciate the chance to learn new skills that are frequently used by volunteer treasurers.

Learning new skills not only help volunteers to grow as individuals, but, it provides them with an opportunity to update their resume and possibly increase their chances of success should they decide to enter a new field or search for a new position.

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Accountability can mean different things to many people. While the dictionary meaning denotes responsibility, being accountable means understanding the need to be open and honest to the volunteers, the staff and the general public. So how can you ensure this occurs within your NFP?

Deal with things as they occur

There is no truer test of an organisation than when trouble occurs. And the strength comes from being able to face any issue head on without fear or compromise. This will demonstrate your total commitment to identifying and solving potential problems whatever they happen to be.

Maintain a positive public perception

As board members are the public persona of the company, they need to be held accountable at all times. They should be measured to the highest standard of conduct and reprimanded when they do not meet these levels. There are no favourites when it comes to poor conduct within the board of directors or other staff members.

Share NFP finances openly

What do you have to hide? Audited financial statements should be shared among the board members and made available online to comply with best practices. Investors will be particularly keen to see that the non-profit is open about the way they do business and follow action plans to a “T”.

Set clear guidelines and adhere to them

NFPs must stick to a set of clearly laid out guidelines to ensure that they are operating within the rules. If the rules are not specified in detail, then it is hard to determine whether the charity is working fully within its parameters. Clarify your guidelines for ease now to avoid problems in the future.

Donors, individuals and volunteers want to see the integrity of your NFP. When they notice the self-policing that goes on within the internal structure of your charity to meet the above issues, then they are more likely to trust you. Trust and commitment are paramount when it comes to forming relationships with potential donors and gaining their long-term attention.

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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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Admin Bandit would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to supporting your non-profit in 2017 and beyond.

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college-1280964_640Having a sense of community in an NFP of any size is beneficial but even more in a large NFP to give a real sense of engagement and inclusion.

Build a sense of community in your not for profit

Building a sense of community allows everyone to feel like they are doing their part and helping to shape the overall project. By doing this, you will find your employees and volunteers will go over and above what is asked of them.

Together you can work hard during the challenges and celebrate the successes.

Let your volunteers and employees engage fully

A strong bond between members in the NFP will help develop a strong shared vision and bring your mission statement to life. If your volunteers or employees feel like they are segregated from other members due to their work situation or positioning, then their role will seem no more than just a ‘job’.

Allow your volunteer treasurer to have the opportunity with your marketing team and vice versa. Enable everyone to create a connection with others and engage on a positive and meaningful level.

Generate excitement around projects

A sense of community will allow a real buildup of excitement and motivation take place when you are due to launch a new project. This will give your project much momentum and give plenty of opportunities for participation.

Your supporters will act as champions to spread the word about your project and maintain momentum for the overall project.

Initiate events to build community

The sense of community does not always come naturally particularly if there is a real mix of backgrounds and individuals in the group. Initiate events to allow people to get to know each other and build on their commonality – the want or need to support the non-profit and raise money to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Ensure clear communication at all times

It is so much easier for everyone to work together once they have a clear view of the NFP’s vision and what they are working towards. If communication is lost and people are carrying out tasks with no set direction, then motivation can be hard to find.

Ensure that all the channels of communication are open both upward and downward and everyone is up to speed with their responsibilities. And this goes for listening as well. If people feel that they are being heard, they will be only too keen to provide feedback and offer support.

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