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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.

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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.

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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.

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What are your non-profit’s board meetings actually like? Do they run smoothly, and does your board get a lot accomplished when they gather? Does your board get easily sidetracked instead, or, perhaps worse, do things get destructive and descend into utter chaos soon after the meeting begins?

Most boards have a great deal of business that they need to discuss and take action on when they meet. With so many personalities and points of view involved, disagreements, misunderstandings and even a simple need to be heard can all cause meetings to drag on much longer than they need to.

Planning and sound design, as well as top facilitation by the chairman or another moderator, are necessary to keep things on track and running smoothly.

The following is a list of suggestions to help your NFP host more organised and efficient board meetings.

The Benefits of Using an Agenda

One way to help your board get through all of the items it needs to discuss is to prepare an outline of what events will occur during the meeting, and what topics will be addressed. This framework, or schedule of events, is typically referred to as the agenda. Ideally, you will create a formal agenda and present it to your board members well in advance of the meeting. In this way, board members can acquaint themselves with what issues they need to familiarise themselves with before they meet.

Once the meeting occurs, when discussions begin to turn lengthy, the chairperson, executive director or another facilitator can refer members back to the Agenda and its remaining items to help them stay organised and working towards a successful conclusion of the meeting.

Help Your Board Members to Prepare Well-Before the Actual Meeting

In addition to giving board members a copy of the agenda well before the meeting, they should also be provided with copies of all reports and other materials that they need to read and study. They especially need materials that relate to the items that will come up for discussion or votes at the next meeting.

By ensuring that your board members have the materials that they need to be informed before the meeting occurs, valuable time is saved that might otherwise be spent discussing information and concerns that are already covered in these materials.

Keep Detailed Minutes

Keeping a detailed record of what occurs at the meeting is an integral part of improving transparency and fulfilling the board’s responsibilities and duties. When minutes of the meeting are kept, if there is any question about what was, and was not discussed at a prior meeting, there is a record of all votes and other actions taken by the board. This can help to resolve disputes and disagreements faster, as well as help to refresh everyone’s memory so that old business that has been concluded need not be brought up again, wasting everyone’s time.

Keeping Members on Topic

Make a point to schedule time for your board members to meet and socialise at least a few minutes before the formal meeting starts so that folks can catch up with one another and not waste valuable meeting time getting reacquainted with one another.

If the meeting will be overly long, schedule breaks and place them on the agenda, and provide light refreshments and snacks to help keep energy levels, and spirits, high.

If some members have a propensity to be long-winded and prone to speech meeting, schedule time for the chair or other facilitator to meet with them before the start of the meeting. This way they will feel that their concerns are heard and they will be less likely to disrupt the actual meeting with a speech or other display.

Understand that Silence Implies Consent

Just as it’s important for the chair or other facilitator to help keep members on track and focused on the business at hand, it is also imperative that you don’t rush through items. Constructive dialogue and thoughtful discussion does have an essential place in meetings.

Facilitators should ask probing questions and encourage others to voice their opinions. If members find that they disagree with the apparent status quo of the majority of board opinion, the chair or facilitator should make it clear that these members have a duty to speak up. Otherwise they run the risk of the question being called and a vote occurring.

Before the meeting adjourns, the facilitator or chair should thank attendees for coming to the meeting. Members should use this time to agree on when the next meeting should occur, as well as create a starting list of items to be carried forward or otherwise discussed at the next meeting.

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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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A volunteer treasurer’s role can be both varied and challenging, and while your position can be as unique as the company you work for, all volunteer treasurer positions have one particular thing in common. It is important that you are organised and stay on top of your workload at all times.

While there are many positions where it is okay to fall behind or to have a week’s backlog of work sitting in the in-tray, a volunteer treasurer’s work can suffer if that happens on a regular basis. People look to the treasurer to be able to provide accurate information, and if there are a pile of receipts or invoices to be processed, the work will be far from accurate. As the position can be stressful, falling behind can only serve to heighten any anxiety, particularly if there are deadlines to meet.

As a volunteer treasurer, the transfer of money coming in and money going out is your responsibility. If there are any discrepancies, the blame will fall on you. You must be vigilant when it comes to the deposits and withdrawals and confirm that everything is as it should be.

Paperwork should always be filed before completion dates, and as NFPs rely on grants and are offered special dispensations by the government, everything must be done in a timely fashion. Falling behind on important deadlines can have huge repercussions.

Management will rely on your budget as a guide. If your actual budget is not accurate, then poor financial decisions may be made.

Failure to stay up to date, particularly when your tenure is at an end, will be a nightmare for the next person who takes over the volunteer treasurer office. Everything will need to be up to date to enable a smooth transition.

A volunteer treasurer plays an important part in sustaining the future of the nonprofit and ensuring it meets its goal and mission. There is no room for disorganisation anywhere in the skill list.

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innovationWhen most of us hear the word innovation, we likely think of the creation of new products and services. The true meaning of innovation, however, isn’t limited to the invention of new things that no one has seen or dreamed of in the past.

The word innovation comes from the Latin word innovare. Meanings of this term include to “make a change from established routines and practices or to restore or renew something that already exists”. Innovative NFPs find ways to increase communication and successful relationship building with multiple stakeholders so that more individuals come to understand and support the nonprofit’s vision.

The following are some strategies that innovative organisations use to sharpen their focus and gather supporters to help them change either the entire world, or, at least their corner of the world.

Innovative NFPs Create and Maintain Communities

Forward thinking nonprofits can multiply their efforts, and increase their results, by focusing on the human element and seeking ways to connect with others. These organisations focus on communication to raise awareness and donations, building networks of like-minded individuals who come together to participate in the organisation’s projects.

Get Up!, is one Australian nonprofit that relies on its community of supporters and network of strategists to bring attention to environmental, civil rights and other social justice issues and effect change. Since its founding nearly a decade ago, the organisation’s supporters have raised billion in mental healthcare funding, and prevented the opening of new major coal mines that harm the Great Barrier Reef and other parts of the ecosystem.

Forward Minded NFPs are Open to Change and Experimentation

Charities and associations that are the most successful in terms of fundraising, and their ability to provide services to their communities, tend to not rest on their laurels. Rather than being content with doing things the way “they have always been done in the past,” the most innovative NFPs are open to trying new ways of doing things.

For example, rather than relying on traditional fundraising events to raise money, such as direct mail appeals, raffles and auctions, the Movember organisation utilises social media to raise awareness and donations via crowdfunding.

Since 2003, the organisation has issued challenges to raise awareness about prostate cancer and other health issues that primarily affect men. Some of the more unique events include volunteers growing a mustache during November. Supporters can also participate in physical challenges such as running a marathon or climbing a wall and then share their results on social media to encourage others to donate and get involved.

From its humble beginnings in a bar in Melbourne in 2003, this Australian charity has grown to now include chapters all around the globe. As of 2015, over $770 Million Australian dollars have been raised since the NFP’s founding, and over 1,200 projects that support men’s health have been funded.

NFPs with an Innovative Mindset Use Confidence to Power Change

While building a community of supporters, and experimenting with novel approaches to fundraising can make it easier for your nonprofit to accomplish its mission, willpower and confidence also play a powerful role in the success of your efforts. Being able to remain upbeat, positive and determined in the face of overwhelming odds can help your organisation continue to push for change and achieve results.

An example of this is the good work done by the Fred Hollows Foundation whose mission is to end preventable, treatable blindness in Australia and around the world. Each year, millions of people all around the world lose their sight, but 4 out of 5 of these individuals have a preventable, or treatable, cause of blindness.

The nonprofit continues the good work started by eye surgeon Dr. Fred Hollows, and is primarily focused on raising money to train doctors and other healthcare professionals, provide medical facilities, equipment, and antibiotics and continuing to perform sight-saving operations.

According to the foundation, “Our work won’t stop until the injustice of avoidable blindness is completely eradicated in Australia and in the rest of the world. We believe, without a doubt, this will one day be accomplished.” Since its founding, the organisation’s determination and focus have enabled them to restore the sight of over 2 million individuals around the world.

Is your nonprofit making progress towards its goals, is the completion of your mission in sight, or, is something holding your organisation back from achieving its peak performance? If you’re not quite hitting the mark for your fundraising and other goals, it’s probably time to look for ways to shake things up and try something new!

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