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Archive for the ‘treasurer’ Category

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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donorsMany nonprofits place the focus of their fundraising efforts on broadening their base of support, and increasing the reach of their messaging in order to recruit new donors. Retaining your current donors, however, is just as important as attracting new ones.

Generally, it’s easier to convince an existing donor to donate again than it is to convince individuals that are unfamiliar with your organisation to donate to your cause. This is because your current donors are likely already acquainted with your nonprofit’s mission and the important work that your NFP does to help its community.

While existing donors are already aware of the good work that you do, that doesn’t mean that you no longer have to put forth any effort if you want to receive additional contributions. In fact, it can require a great deal of follow-up and interaction to retain an existing donor and encourage them to continue to donate on a regular basis.

Maintaining the relationship and encouraging donor engagement is critical, the following are a few tips to improve your relationship with your existing network of donors so that they are more likely to want to continue to support your cause.

Show Gratitude

One reason way some donors choose to not make repeat donations is that they do not feel as though their contributions are appreciated. On your organisation’s website, make certain that you are expressing a heartfelt thank you to all donors, regardless of the level of their donation. Ensure that your online donations send an automatic expression of thanks at the moment that the donation is made.

To encourage repeat donations, especially to contributors who make larger contributions, or re-occurring payments, use a more personal touch to show your thanks. A handwritten note sent by post, a telephone call, or even taking the time to thank the donor in person all require extra effort and show your donors that your organisation truly appreciates their support.

For regular donors, and large donations, you might even consider sending complimentary free tickets to your nonprofit’s next gala, ball, auction or other event to show your appreciation and gratitude. Offering donors, perks, awards and other forms of recognition goes a long way towards building a relationship with your donors and keeping them happy and engaged with your nonprofit.

Keep them Updated

Donors are more likely to continue to contribute to your nonprofit when you keep them updated and informed about your latest, news, events and projects on a regular basis. Ensure that your website has a page that is devoted to interest stories that show the impact of your non-profit’s work.

Use social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep donors updated as well as to offer recognition for their efforts by giving individuals donors a shout out when they participate and give during special drives and other fundraising events.

Make certain that you post updates on items of interest to your donors in all of your nonprofit’s publications, including newsletters, emails, podcasts, and videos. Donors normally contribute because they want to make a difference and they are more likely to contribute on a regular basis when they can “see” the progress that your nonprofit is making towards fulfilling its mission.

Be Transparent

Donors are more likely to give to nonprofits when they trust them and the individuals that are involved with the day to day operations of the organisation. Take steps to increase your NFP’s transparency. Publish financial updates that show the status of your nonprofit’s financials. Devote a specific page to financials on your nonprofit’s website and update it frequently. Include staff pages and short biographies for board members, administrators and other employees or volunteers so that donors can learn about the backgrounds and personalities of those who are integrally involved in your organisation.

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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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Being a volunteer treasurer can be a huge responsibility, and during your most busy periods, you may find yourself struggling with the workload. Being able to manage your time efficiently becomes more important than ever, especially when you have finance issues and reports looming.

Here are some tips and tricks we garnered from other volunteer treasurers.

Skip the occasional meeting

While some meetings are important for you to attend, some meetings can be dealt with by a treasurer representative. Send someone on your behalf so you can catch up with your workload. They can then report back with anything that needs actioning.

Work from home

If you face a long commute or are juggling the hours between work and home, perhaps there are tasks which can be carried out at home. If you can access your finances on the cloud, then you may find that a lot of your workload can be handled directly from your home office.

Schedule your day

Without a set schedule, you have more chance of your time getting away from you. Plan to do specific tasks at set times. Check all emails first thing in the morning and then don’t check again until later in the day.

Work an early morning shift to get stuff done

If you can, plan for early morning periods where you can work uninterrupted. You may be surprised at just how much work you can get done at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Try not to make a habit of it, of course, but a few hours of working alone can do wonders for your overall schedule.

Rely on help from others

In truth, you cannot do it all. That is where colleagues and volunteers can come in handy. Seek help from quality staff who are as dedicated to the task as you are and who can help clear some tasks from your inbox. Delegate every opportunity you get.

Say no if necessary

It is important that you say no to some of the many requests that land on your desk. Just like you don’t have to attend every meeting, you also don’t have to go to every luncheon or do every bit of research that is asked of you. Prioritise your personal tasks, so you don’t stretch yourself too thinly.

Set time limits for volunteers

Volunteers may have issues and wish to discuss their problems with you. Let them know at the beginning of the meeting that you can only spare 5 or 10 minutes and keep to that time limit. Meetings can easily overrun and take up the majority of your office time.

Remember, it is your time. Being firm with your time limits and sticking to your main responsibilities is in your best interests. It will allow you to manage your workload more effectively and minimise the number of hours you work overtime.

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As a volunteer treasurer or other board member, it’s unlikely that you came into the position fully equipped and knowing everything that you need to in order to be effective in your post. Even if you’ve served on the board for some time, the needs of every organisation changes. So, it’s likely that at some point during your service career there will be several times that you need some training to better assist the other members of your board.

There are numerous types of training available to those on the board of a non-profit. The training that you will need will depend on what you are trying to achieve. For example, many treasurers and other board members start their position learning as they go and pick up skills as they are needed. Mentors can show treasurers and other board members how to adequately perform in their position because they’ve learned from their personal experience on the board. However, there are many times when a mentor may not be available within the existing board. This is especially true in times of upheaval when several board members leave, or the focus of the non-profit happens to dramatically change.

Workshops and other short-term, hands-on training can be useful to bring new board members up to speed as to the responsibilities and requirements of their role, or to help existing board members stay updated. Training is useful when there is a specific skill that one or more members needs to acquire. Special topics or areas of interest can be presented well in this format. For example, if there is a change in guidelines that affects the board’s governing and oversight requirements, a workshop can quickly update everyone’s skills. Technology is another example where this training works well and is often needed. Since technology is rapidly changing, a short seminar can facilitate board members to become more familiar with topics such as best practices to increase cybersecurity to protect the non-profit’s systems.

Other times, formal training and even coaching can benefit board members and others who are in a leadership role in the non-profit arena. While it would likely be difficult for some board members to schedule time for formal, in-person training, there are online courses which enable board members to acquire skills that they need to be more useful in their position. Coaching can be done online especially when there isn’t already an existing mentor on the board to guide others in acquiring the skills they need. Coaches can support board members to clarify their vision for the non-profit and increase their individual leadership ability so that the non-profit’s goals are achieved more easily.

Boards can increase their effectiveness by conducting an audit to determine what skills each board member needs, and what training can be offered to update and improve everyone’s knowledge and capabilities. Individual board members can aid one another by being open to both mentorship and guidance and seeking ways to share their special talents and skills with one another.

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To err is human, and it is through our mistakes and failures we learn the most, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to make the best decisions we can.

Effective decision-making can be developed, just like every other business or personal skill, and the ability to make consistently sound choices will set you apart regardless of your role or level, whether you are paid or a volunteer.

Using a few simple strategies, you can improve your problem-solving skills and minimise the chances of making a less than ideal decision. And when you do, you can live with the consequences, whatever they may be.

Think 100 times before you take a decision, but once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.”

– Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Don’t procrastinateIf a decision is particularly tough, it can be tempting to put it off on the basis you need time to think it over, or at least that is the story you tell yourself. It’s true that it may take some time to research and review to make difficult decisions well, but delaying unnecessarily is not helpful. Consider the pros and cons, make a list if that helps, forecast the consequences and then act.

Don’t make it personal Ego driven and emotional decisions are rarely good ones. Being personally invested can and will cloud your judgement. Objectivity is more important than personal gain when it comes to good decision making.

Get a second opinion – You are not the first person to face this kind of situation, and you probably won’t be the last. Why not ask someone more experienced and learn from their mistakes instead of making your own? If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask. Being self-aware and seeking advice makes you stronger, not vulnerable.

Check your facts – When it comes to collecting information to make a decision, it’s unlikely you will ever get the complete picture, which is ok. Your aim is to make the best decision based on the information that is available to you, so the key is to make sure the data you use is the best it can be. Seek feedback from stakeholders where appropriate, and consult tried and trusted sources if you want your end results to improve.

Anticipate the worst – Expect the best possible result. We never plan to fail, but consider the consequences of the worst case scenario as a result of your decision. If you can live with that, then the risk is acceptable. If you can’t, you may need to start at the beginning and review where you can make changes.

“Fall seven times and stand up eight.”

– Japanese Proverb

Some decisions will always be made at gut instinct level, and some of the time they will be right. There will always be a place for these kind of judgements, especially when an immediate response is required. In fact, sometimes gut instinct is all you have. However the risk in these situations are higher. Collecting information and reviewing the options and consequences in a clear and structured manner in a sound framework will always be safer and more consistent.

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In past posts, we’ve discussed a few of the different types of budgets and how each type might be used by a NFP. While the most common type of budget is an incremental one, the actual goal that you are trying to achieve determines the type of budget that will provide your board members with the clearest, most actionable information.

Budgets can also vary based on the length of time that they measure, such as monthly, interim and annual budgets. Individual budgets can also be made for a specific department or service project, while a master budget includes information and projections from all of your organisation’s individual budgets.

The following list outlines a few steps to take to help you get started creating your NFP’s next annual budget.

1. Pick a Budget Type. The first step in creating a budget is to decide what you are trying to measure and pick the corresponding budget type that will give your organisation the most useful information. For incremental annual budgets, figures and categories from the prior year’s budget form the basis for your new projections.

2. Start With Expected Revenue. As you begin to prepare your annual budget, you will likely want to start with the revenue section, as your NFP’s level of service, and the number and types of projects it offers the community, are dependent upon the type and amounts of funds that you expect to receive.

Include monies you expect to receive from all sources, including federal grants, donations, proceeds from fundraisers and/or ticket sales, other events and even unexpected or overlooked sources of income, such as rental fees or interest earned from other NFP assets.

3. Count Your Costs. Regardless of the budget type that you choose, you will want to separate your fixed and variable costs. This simple step enables your board to quickly see if they have enough revenue coming in to cover operations and what expenses that they might be able to lower through their direct actions.

Controlling costs enables your board to make the best use of the funds that they receive. Boards can also go a long way to ensuring their long term survival by controlling their costs.

4. Account for Project and Service Funding. This section of the budget allocates funds from revenue to specific services and projects. Depending on the type of budget that you choose, a portion of the fixed and variable costs associated with providing these specific services to the public might also be accounted for in this section of your budget.

5. Stay on top of Capital Budgets and Asset Management. Assets that are owned by the NFP must be properly maintained and cared for, and at some point, may need replacement as well. The costs associated with these actions should be accounted for in the budget.

Rather than directly using funding from the revenue budget, some NFPs use proceeds from investments in real estate, annuities, bonds, or other investment vehicles to help them to save to acquire capital that is later sold, with the proceeds being used to finance specific NFP goals.

Other NFPs seek to operate in such a way as to build cash reserves that can be later used to cover unexpected pitfalls, such as a loss of funding that might occur. Plans to save to cover the cost of purchasing, maintaining, and selling plant, equipment, and other capital assets, as well as plans to build cash reserves, should be included in this section of the budget.

6. Don’t Forget About Restricted Funds and Assets. Some grants and donations may come with conditions that restrict their use, so you will want your budget to include the revenue and costs associated with these funds separately from the sources of revenue and expense that don’t have such limitations.

For example, you wouldn’t want the sections of your budget reserved for general revenue and costs to include funds from sources that can only be spent to meet a specific need.  To ensure that these funds are spent properly, it is best to account for them in an individual budget that is then accounted for in a separate section on your master annual budget.

7. Frequently Review and Revise the Budget. Your board will likely want interim performance reports for each section of the master budget. Budgets should be reviewed frequently and action taken by the board so that they can quickly respond to any sudden changes and developments.

For example, the unexpected loss of funding from a long term donor or governing body should be addressed to prevent a shortfall in the revenue section of the budget and a corresponding drop in service level. If the loss of revenue can’t be made up, the NFP might look at cutting back on some of its variable costs or drawing upon its cash reserves or selling a capital asset in order to maintain its service level to the public.

While preparing the next annual budget for an NFP might seem like a daunting task for the volunteer treasurer, Admin Bandit’s software makes it easy for both the novice and the expert to stay on top of these and other common NFP accounting tasks. You can see just how easy it is to use by getting started today with our 55 day free trial!

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