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Do you have what it takes to be a good fit for the role of treasurer in your organisation? Before you say “yes” or “no” to the position, look at our list of the top traits shared by successful treasurers.

Integrity

Integrity means various things to different people, but at its heart, to have integrity means that you are honest, dependable and trustworthy. It is the number one trait that treasurers, as well as the other board members, should have. When someone has integrity, it means that others can count on them to look at situations objectively, and, to do the right thing.

For nonprofits, this means that others are safe putting their trust in you to look out for the best interests of all your stakeholders, and the public at large.

Patience

Another trait that is critical for nonprofit treasurers is patience. As treasurer, you will be called on to simplify complex financial information and translate it for others that don’t have extensive backgrounds and experience with accounting and finance. Treasurers need to have their fingers on the pulse of their organisations, and to be able to answer questions and provide their input on matters that may only be tangentially connected to your NFP’s financial health.

Persistence

To fulfil their oversight role, treasurers must be ready to follow the trail of their NFPs past financial moves. They need to be able to look through the records of former treasurers and be prepared to deal with the unexpected, including changes in accounting practices that have affected the way that specific valuations are determined and accounted for. They need to be prepared to see that effective and transparent practices and policies are put into place that lowers the risk of loss for the nonprofit. Each of these tasks can be both time consuming, and, stressful over time, but a good volunteer treasurer has the determination and responsibility to stay on top of these and other tasks.

Availability

While automated bookkeeping software has simplified many of the most basic, time-consuming and monotonous accounting tasks for treasurers, there are still many duties that require the treasurer to be available. NFP meetings, preparing reports, and getting the NFP ready for independent audit can all lead to treasurers needing to be available outside of the hours of a “traditional” 9 to 5 position.

Good treasurers are available on an as-needed basis and are always ready to weigh in with their other board members to answer questions and make sure that everyone has the information that they need to make good decisions for the benefit of the nonprofit.

Comfortable Dealing with Numbers and Handling Cash

While it’s not necessary to have a specialised degree in accounting or bookkeeping, or have direct experience in the financial sector, it can definitely help. Regardless of their previous experience, a good treasurer will be comfortable with figures, as well as handling large amounts of cash. They are prepared to enter transactions, especially those that affect nonprofit monies, as soon as possible. They “play by the rule,” and are responsible and do not disburse funds without board approval and require proper documentation before making disbursements.

A good treasurer also recognises the benefits from continuing education. They are open to taking classes and attending training courses to help them strengthen the skills and knowledge basis that they need to perform their tasks and fulfil their duties well.

An Analytical Mind with an Eye for Details

A good treasurer is also someone who tends to be very practical. They can analyse problems, zero in on the fine details, and perform tasks in a very planned, methodical manner. Being able to think, plan and act logically helps them to spot discrepancies and trace them back to the source, whether the source is a simple human or computer error or a deliberate act, such as an instance of internal theft or another form of fraud.

Ability to Act Decisively and Impartially

The best treasurers are always able to separate their personal feelings about a person or proposal, from their professional, legal duties. They can thoroughly analyse the facts around a situation and make impartial decisions that are based on what is best for the nonprofit and the population it serves.

If you possess these seven traits, then you are well on your way to having what it takes to make a great volunteer treasurer. Like other forms of volunteer service, it is a great way to give back to your community and help others! If you have the time and ability to do so, you should consider serving in this capacity!

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The role of treasurer in a nonprofit is one that carries a weighty responsibility. Like any other board member, treasurers have a fiduciary duty to always act in the best interests of the public and to ensure that any funds that are received are put to use to advance that nonprofit’s mission and goals.

As the primary watchdog of an NFP’s finances, they “wear many hats” as they oversee transactions and record keeping and manage assets and cash flows. The best volunteer treasurers take steps to anticipate losses and minimise risk and keep the board and other key stakeholders informed of the nonprofit’s financial status.

Since it is a role that is filled with so much responsibility, it can be difficult to recruit good candidates for the position. If you’ve been reluctant to take on this challenge, consider some of the following advantages that serving in this capacity has to offer.

Strengthen and Diversify Your Skill Set

As a volunteer, even if you are using your existing skills, the chances are great that you will be using them in different ways to solve the unique challenges that tend to crop up in the nonprofit sector. Serving as a volunteer treasurer is a great way to put your bookkeeping and financial management skills to use building your community and brush up on your people skills as well as you cooperate and collaborate with others to advance your NFP’s mission.

Hone Those Communication Skills

Many professionals in the accounting and financial sphere can go days or weeks without speaking to a live person. As a volunteer treasurer, however, you will be the point person on your NFP’s finances.

When board members and others don’t understand a term or line item in your NFP’s financials, you will be the one that they turn to when they need help comprehending your nonprofit’s true financial state, and what the long, and short-term ramifications will be if your NFP takes a specific course of action.

Excellent communication skills is the key to being able to simplify complex financial issues so that everyone can understand what’s going on, and it’s a skill that you will be able to practice and sharpen as volunteer treasurer.

Expand Your Network

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people from all walks of life, which expands your network of connections and opens the door to new opportunities. Your next employment opportunity might just come from a tip that you receive from a contact that you make during your volunteer service!

Become a More Attractive Job Candidate

Volunteering doesn’t just help your job prospects by improving your network, the practical experience that you gain in the role will make you a more attractive recruit for headhunters seeking prospects with hands-on experience filling a role in accounting, finance and leadership.

Boost Your Confidence

Helping others provides a lift to our spirits, and increases our feelings of self-esteem, value and self-worth. When you feel good about yourself, it shows in the way that you carry yourself, and, in the energy that you bring other areas of your life.

The Purpose of Life is Not All About You

The urge to look back and reflect on our lives as we grow older is a normal, expected one. Volunteering to serve your community and give back is a great way to know that you’ve done something in your life to make a difference in the lives of others and help your community.

It’s Fun!

Serving as volunteer treasurer isn’t all about work and responsibility, it can also be a lot of fun! Many organisations offer their volunteers special recognition and invite them to attend members-only events such as awards ceremonies, galas, and other exciting celebrations and action-packed activities!

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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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If you are a busy volunteer and trying to find balance in your life, it can be difficult. It may not seem as if you have enough hours in your day to get your “work” done, let alone find time to relax and de-stress. And what about friends, family, your children? Overworking and not achieving a healthy balance can be extremely tiring, not to mention, draining. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn off those devices

Being connected 24/7 can be tiring in itself. When did you last switch your phone off so you could do something uninterrupted? Those constant notifications and pings can distract your thought processes and your relaxation. Turning them off will allow you to enjoy the moment – even better when you are spending it with those you love. Give them 100% of your attention without the need to check your device constantly. Everyone will benefit because of it.

Everything does not have to be perfect

We are always surrounded by perfectionism – on television, in magazines and in the books we read. But keeping up with those standards of measurements can be difficult. Life is complicated and busy for a start! So if you have to let things slide for the sake of your sanity, then do it. Leave the dishes until tomorrow. Clean the bathroom in a day or two. Whatever you need to put off, it is truly okay. It will still be there tomorrow (unless someone kindly volunteers to do it for you!)

Schedule in exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we constantly tell ourselves we will do later. But the truth is, there is always an opportunity to exercise; we just need to make it a priority in our life. If you have time to sit down and watch a television program, then you have time to commit to a short exercise schedule a couple of occasions a week. Whether you enjoy yoga, want to job, go for a walk, or cycle, then schedule it in. It will not only make you feel less stressed about your busy lifestyle, but it will also improve your energy to get you through the day.

Take it one step at a time

Marathon runners don’t get to where they are without attempting small runs first. It is the same with making any changes in your life. You don’t aim to lose 20 pounds in a week and nor do you try to find 3 hours of “me time” in one go. Take it slowly and snatch moments here and there. Once you begin to see that giving yourself permission is kind, not selfish, then you will be keener to make changes, so it happens on a regular basis. Like exercise, scheduling it into your daily movements will help.

Create boundaries

It is not acceptable for people to call you at 11 pm or 7 am. It is not acceptable when you are asked to forego your lunch break to help out in the office. Create boundaries so people know when you are available – anything else can wait until you are available. Unexpected things happen regularly in life and the office, but your time is sacred and needs to be respected as well. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then turn your phone off and shut the door. People will soon understand when you are open to conversations or wish to discuss their requirements. Saying no is something you have to get used to saying more often.

Plan your holidays in advance

Plan your holidays in advance, so it gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an all-expenses paid cruise to unwind. Even a staycation (a holiday at home away from work or volunteering) can be great for the mind and body if you plan it right. Once you know your dates, then you can delegate as necessary. That will give time for a volunteer to step up to take on your responsibilities. And don’t forget if you do plan to go away, arrange for someone to water your plants and check on your home, to give you one less thing to have to worry about.

Join a group

While joining another group when you are time limited sounds counter-productive, it can do your mind a world of good. It allows you to concentrate on something else other than volunteering or the mundane chores at home. It also provides you with an avenue where you can spend time talking about something you like with other like-minded individuals. Do you have a hobby or wish to take one up? This is your chance to join a group and expand your knowledge.

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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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Your email list is one of the best resources you have. It consists of people who may have volunteered, are considering volunteering or are interested in your charity. That is why it is important to make the most of this method to boost the number of volunteers you have assisting your organisation.

Keep it short and to the point

While you make think a lengthy email is better, try to communicate all the information you have in one brief request. In today’s age, email holders are often overwhelmed with the number of emails that appear in their inbox. Keep it simple and to the point.

Emphasise the good they can do

Don’t just tell them what they can do, let them know how much they will be helping others by giving up their time. People volunteer to make a difference in the community, so demonstrate that in your email as much as possible.

Showcase the benefits

Volunteering can also teach individuals new skills which will often look good on their resume. Point these skills out to the reader so they understand that by giving up their time, they will also gain skills which can they can use to further their full-time positions or other volunteering positions in the future.

Personalise the email

Add the recipient’s name to the email so that there is a higher opportunity of them even reading it in the first place. It will increase your chances of being noticed and getting your message out there to your audience. Personalisation can increase the average open rate of non-profit emails to increase above the standard 25% to closer to 30%.

Add images to brighten their inbox

If your email text is all words, then your readers will likely skim over it and miss the important points. Add some interesting pictures so they can see at a glance what your charity represents and how they can help you individually. It will keep their attention for slightly longer and give you a fighting chance to gain extra volunteers.

Convey a sense of immediacy

Let your prospective volunteers know that it is important that they respond as quickly as possible. You don’t want to hear from prospects two months after your email goes out. Let them know that interest will need to be provided as soon as possible so you can move on to the next steps of the volunteer recruitment process.

These are all helpful tips to ensure that your email has more chance of being read, let alone acted upon. One bonus tip which you will find especially useful is to keep it real. Show your charity’s personality and aim through your email without trying to be something that you are not. Authenticity is extremely important in maintaining quality connections with your readers, your volunteers and the general public.

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smartphone-569076_640In April, a telling report named “State of Volunteering In Australia” was launched at the National Volunteering Conference. Some of the key findings were ways in which to address perceived shortcomings of volunteer recruitment and placement, as well as how to improve volunteer participation and retention.

Challenge Finding Enough Help

Interesting areas in the report addressed what potentially deters volunteers from becoming involved in non-profit projects, even when the need for volunteers is clear and present. This is pertinent to many not-for-profits, as close to 90% report finding adequate volunteer help is an ongoing challenge for their organisations.

Catch 22 of Finding Volunteers

In a somewhat cyclical manner, it appears some organisations are not getting enough help because they lack the resources to recruit or engage volunteers. In this way, the groups remain small or understaffed, and important work is stalled. Various solutions are suggested for this scenario; mostly surrounding advocating for funding, and recognition of the fiscal contribution volunteer participation brings to operations. Getting a financial boost from outside can be the impetus needed to be able to reach out for more assistance.

Main Deterrents for the Volunteers

Volunteers, for their part, don’t always seem to mind incurring out of pocket expenses to be able to volunteer, with over 60% saying they did so, and just 18% claiming reimbursement. However, for others it can be a barrier, so it pays to be mindful of what may be the case for your organisation. Make sure to offer reimbursement at recruitment if it seems to be an issue. Other things that can be barriers to volunteers offering their time most commonly include work commitments, and ‘excessive’ paperwork, including background checks required in some sectors.

Making the Most of the Volunteers

Another shortcoming that is affecting volunteer retention is the possible lack in positively matching the skills and abilities of volunteers with work organisations. Organisations do well when they recognise and apply the best people to particular jobs, rather than leaving volunteers to do the job paid employees don’t want to do. When good matches happen, it is a win-win, with volunteers returning time and again to assist groups they know need them.

While it is not always easy finding the people you need when you need them, being aware of what stands in the way of long-term volunteer/organisation relationships is a vital step.

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