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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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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!

Being stressed out seems to be an all too common occurrence in the workplace today. The side effects of it are genuinely terrible. Along with raising our heart rate and blood pressure, stress saps our motivation and productivity levels so getting a handle on it should be a priority for everyone.

The following seven tips can help you relieve the pressure so that you will feel better and be able to get more done during your workday.

Cut the Clutter

When our workspace is unorganised and piled up with unfiled paperwork and misplaced objects, it is visually distracting and can add to our stress levels. An easy way to beat the stress and feel more in control during your day is to take a few moments to clear off your desk, and organise the items in your workspace.

Place the items that you most frequently use within hands reach, and store items that you rarely use away in a closet, filing cabinet or other storage area. Before you leave each day, take a few moments to tidy your space so that you start the next day off with the proverbial clean slate.

Turn Up the Lights

How is the lighting in your workspace? If you spend lots of time in front of your computer, pouring over transactions and other financial information, having adequate lighting is important to prevent eyestrain as well as lift your mood.

Ensure that your workspace has adequate overhead lighting and consider adding lamps or changing the type of bulbs that you use. If you can, position your desk close to a source of natural light to help your body regulate its internal clock so that you feel more awake during daylight hours.

Add a Personal Touch

Add a few decorative plants to your workspace to soften your environment and make it more warm and relaxing. Place a framed picture of your loved ones, or another image that brings a smile to your face, on your desk to add a personal touch to your space and to remind you of why your work matters.

Consider Updating Your Accountancy Software

Old, out of date systems are frustrating to work with. Lighten your load by upgrading your nonprofits accounting software to a fully automated one, such as Admin Bandit’s so that it’s faster and easier to stay on top of your NFP’s finances.

Put the Kibosh on Interruptions

Few things are as frustrating as having your full concentration unexpectedly interrupted. Beat the stress by putting an end to interruptions. Learn to set boundaries with co-workers and others so that they know not to swing by for a chat when you are fully engaged in working on something important. Set the right expectations when it comes to answering phone calls and emails, and only send replies during set times of the day rather than reading and replying to messages and calls throughout the day.

Walk it Out

Don’t forget to take frequent breaks during your day and get up from your desk and walk around your facility. Doing so will help you to mentally switch gears. It also stretches your muscles and increases your intake of fresh air, which are all good to relive the tension and stress that you are unconsciously carrying in your body.

Practice Good Self Care at Home

When our minds and bodies are healthy, they are more resilient to the effects of stress. Take good care of yourself both in and outside of the office. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of water and good night’s rest to support optimal health and nutrition so that you are mentally and physically prepared to give your best at work.

There’s a reason why it’s typically difficult for nonprofits to find candidates to fulfil the role of treasurer in their organisation. The responsibilities that come with the job can truly be daunting since there are so many duties that you must perform well and on time.

The following guide is a brief overview of five of the most essential tasks and duties new treasurers should perform when they take on the position.

Meet with the Previous Treasurer

It’s beneficial to the new treasurer when the prior one is available to go over the accounts with them and answer crucial questions, such as the reasoning behind specific actions that they may have taken. If the previous treasurer is unable to meet with you personally, ask them to at least provide you with a list of the essential details that you will need to perform your job well, such as your NFP’s passwords.

Realise That You Are Much More Than a Bookkeeper and Gatekeeper

While it is your responsibility to see that accurate and secure records of your NFP’s transactions are made and maintained, this doesn’t mean that you must do all of the tasks yourself. Delegating these duties to a staff member, or outsourcing them is perfectly fine, and is typically necessary for medium to large-sized NFPs. Software suites such as Admin Bandit also automate many of these processes, including many of the budgeting processes and reports that you will need to produce.

While oversight is a crucial function of your role in helping your NFP manage its finances, you should not forget that another critical responsibility is to act as a full partner and adviser with the other members of your board. You should always be on the lookout for ways to provide them with pertinent, actionable information that they can easily understand.

Establish Good Internal Financial Practices and Controls

Establish a practice of meeting with your board at least monthly, so that they are current and fully informed about the status of your NFP’s finances. In addition to advising the board of upcoming revenues and expenses at the meeting, make it a practice for the board to discuss planned expenditures before they occur, and establish controls so that purchases must be approved by you prior to disbursal of the funds.

Keep in mind that you should always have documentation on hand to support any disbursements that you make from your NFP’s funds, so always ask for invoices and receipts to justify your nonprofits purchases and other expenses.

Begin Budget Planning Early

While you should take the prior year’s budget into account when planning your next annual budget, keep in mind that needs, funding and other factors frequently change. Be aware that it can take several weeks to a few months to round up all of the data that you need to create a realistic model and forecast of your NFP’s budget for the coming year. Therefore, begin budget planning early, and ideally at least three months before the the start of your next fiscal year.

Don’t Forget About Annual Reports, Taxes and Other Legal Obligations

From VAT to GST, there are many tax filings and payments that your NFP is responsible for each year to meet its legal obligations and maintain its designation as an NFP, Charity or other status. Create a calendar and set alerts and reminders to help you keep important dates at the top of your mind.

Other key activities that you will need to complete before the end of the year include an annual report to your NFP board, and usually an audit by an independent third party. Make sure that you include these events on your calendar and schedule plenty of time to ensure that they are accurate when completed and filed promptly.

The famous words, “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” is a saying that’s accredited to circus owner and showman P.T. Barnum. Today, it’s widely quoted by public relations professionals to calm their anxious clients. While it’s a well-meaning adage, it’s also a complete myth.

The reputations of both for-profits and NFPs can suffer irreparable damage as the result of a scandal or other crisis. To lower the risk of harm, nonprofits need to be proactive and have a crisis management plan in place, before unexpected events occur, to help protect their standing in the community.

The following tips can help your nonprofit prepare to better weather the next storm.

Plan Ahead

Create a research committee to help your organisation think about what types of crisis can happen, and what steps can be taken ahead of time, to get things back on track and reduce the harm that occurs. When drafting a crisis management plan, it’s important that your NFP realises that disasters can come in many forms.

Examples of such events include an accident that removes a key member of your NFP from your team, weather events that damage your facilities or hidden fraud that suddenly comes to light. Internal and external events like these can put your mission in jeopardy unless you are proactive and plan ahead.

The goal of your plan is to make your organisation more aware of potential pitfalls that can occur, make changes in policies and procedures to reduce the risk of such events happening, and, to have steps in place to help your organisation deal with the aftermath should such an event befall you.

Create a Contact List

Ideally, you plan will include logistics and communications. Designate who your people should contact, both internally and externally, when various types of events occur. Assign point people that can lead others during these events. Decide on who will speak for your organisation, internally and externally.

For example, if something happens that affects the physical safety of others, pre-designate which members of your team will contact the fire department or police for help. Assign leaders that will oversee an evacuation of your facilities should the need arise.

Training and Drills

Does everyone know what they should do if a fire occurs, or, if an armed assailant were to break in? Do your people know how to respond if they are contacted by a member of the press and asked for comments about the work your organisation does or how they feel about a specific event? Train and drill your team on how to respond to potential threats as well as questions from the media.

Talk to the Press, but Do So on Your Own Terms

As part of your strategy, create a process that will increase transparency, while helping your NFP to get your side of the story out to media. Assign someone to gather information and facts about the event. Pre-designate a team that will handle the press and media inquiries. Have someone in place to monitor your social media accounts and to respond appropriately when questions and comments come in about the news. Train your management team so that each is prepared to be a good spokesperson for your organisation. Once you have a handle on what has occurred, and what steps your organisation is taking to remedy the situation, talk to the press, and tell your story on your website, and across your social media accounts. Be proactive and provide regular updates to show that your NFP is actively working on a solution to the crisis and what others can do to help support your NFP and its cause during this time.

Recently, Google has made several changes to its Ad Grants program that may affect your nonprofit’s eligibility for free advertising awarded by Google. The following brief overview covers some of the program’s requirements and changes that became effective January 1st.

Qualifying for Google Ad Grants

Location is a major requirement for the program. Currently, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States are among the 50 countries where nonprofits can be based and still qualify for the program.

In addition to location, qualifying nonprofits are those that are legally designated as charities in their country of origin. Charities that have an established website with extensive existing content should apply. NFPs must also agree to abide by Google’s terms regarding nondiscrimination policies, and how they receive and use their donations.

Staying Qualified – Rising Expectations

To continue to qualify for the grants, which include $10,000 a month in free ad spend, NFPs must adhere to Google’s program policies. Recent policy changes are designed to improve the experience of the end user, and also allow nonprofits to better target audiences who will truly be interested in their cause and the work that they do to create a positive impact in their communities.

Critical Updates to the Program

Key updates to the program include a new requirement for nonprofits to create ad campaigns that achieve a click-thru-rate (CRT) of 5 percent two months in a row to avoid cancellation of the account.  While this is an achievable goal, the pressure is really on NFPs to continually monitor their ad campaigns, checking analytics, test messages and continually pushing for improvement in the quality of their content, and, the results.

NFPs will also need to create more targeted ad groups and align them with specific landing pages rather than allowing traffic to arrive at a generic welcome page for all of their ad groups. To prevent the loss of the grant, nonprofits will need to immediately pause any underperforming campaign and take immediate steps to improve their targeting and messaging.

The quality of the keywords that NFPs target will also take on added importance, with overall quality needing to now meet a minimum score of 3 as a benchmark. Standard Ad Words policies also remain in effect for these accounts.

Making the Best of the Changes

Along with the new requirements, Google has made additional changes that will directly benefit NFPs. For example, in the past its been difficult for many nonprofits to use their entire $10,000 a month in free ad spend because of the $2 cap on CPC campaigns. Now, when NFPs build their campaign with an automated bidding strategy to Maximise Conversions, they can use more of their grant money during this process and have a better chance of winning when bidding on specific keywords. This levels the playing field against competitors who are often for-profit businesses with greater access to cash and other financial resources.

This change is a welcome addition to Google’s lineup of helpful webinars, blog posts and local events that are designed to assist nonprofits learn more about the program and how to put it to best use to increase the reach of their message and encourage greater support through volunteering, advocacy and donations.

The office holders of not-for-profit organisations have the same legal responsibilities as board members of larger, incorporated associations. Regardless of your nonprofit’s size, or mission, you are accountable to all of your stakeholders. This includes your donors, and the various state governments and regulatory bodies that oversee charities where you are located.

At all times, your NFP must operate in a manner that ensures your finances are sound, as well as act in ways that support your stated mission, and under which you receive any tax exemptions. This means that not only do you have to keep up with the books and reporting requirements, but you also need to take steps to protect your nonprofit from a myriad of potential financial losses.

Loss of Tax Concessions One of the Many Consequences

When the treasurer and other officers fail to follow through on their fiduciary duties, such as when internal fraud occurs, they can face severe penalties, including criminal prosecution. However, the folks that suffer the most are the nonprofits themselves and the people who benefit from their services.

For example, a loss of tax concessions can lead to a loss of donations, and, can make it more difficult for nonprofits to fund their operations and services. In 2017 the news was filled with stories about Australian nonprofits losing their preferred tax status for failing to meet their financial obligations.

In 2017, it was widely reported in the Herald, and other news outlets, that six nonprofits in Northern and Central Victoria lost their Commonwealth tax concessions after failing to provide the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with required financial statements for over two years.

The article stated that these NFPs join 590 other nonprofits that had recently lost their concessions for similar reasons. Over 1,300 not-for-profits were also warned earlier in the year that they were in danger of losing their tax preferred status.

Protect Your NFP with Updated Software

Admin Bandit’s software suite can help your nonprofit avoid a similar fate because it makes it so easy to stay on top of all your required tasks, from keeping up with the books, to creating budgets, filing GST and other required statements.

Using an updated software system that stores everything in the cloud can also protect your NFP from losses due to internal theft and fraud. It can also make it easier to spot these types of losses, and help you make sure that someone is keeping up with the books on a regular basis, especially if they are occurring outside of your direct control, such as in an affiliated branch office.

For example, with Admin Bandit, parent organisations can run an operations report that allows you to see when transactions occurred, when they were entered, the amount, and when the account was last reconciled. Information like this can point the way to potential trouble that may be occurring in your main office, or in NFP’s branch offices.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your NFP fulfil its reporting requirements, reduce risk, and meet other legal requirements.