For Executive Directors

Procedures Manual: Rental Lease

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November might be NaNoWriMo —National Novel Writing Month. Here at Fun with Financials 2012 is NaProMaWriYe —National Procedures Manual Writing Year.

If you’ve been playing along at home, congratulations! You are on your way to finishing your Procedures Manual. When you complete this chapter you will have one remaining. If you need to catch up, you can start by clicking here.

Do you pay rent or own your building/space? If you answer yes to renting, add your answers to the following questions to your manual. If you answer no, you can stop reading and take a coffee break.


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Posted 11/28/12 by Carol

It’s Time to Thank Your Board Treasurer

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Traditionally, Americans take this time of year to reflect on our good fortune. We spend a few moments being grateful. Publicly. We give our money. We give our time. We show gratitude and generosity to those we love and to those we want to help.

Last year, I asked you to thank your finance staff, this year I’m asking you to thank your Board Treasurer.

Because Board Treasurers volunteer to do all of the following and then some...

Keep reading...

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Posted 11/21/12 by Carol

Procedures Manual: Know Your Insurance

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Congratulations!!! If you’ve kept up with this Procedures Manual production schedule, you are 3/4s of the way to completion. If you need to catch up, you can start here.

After writing about insurance, only two sections will remain. Just in time to ring in the new year!

Insurance. Not the sexiest topic in the world. Until you need it. Let’s talk about a few types of insurance that many nonprofits carry.

Read on...

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Posted 10/31/12 by Carol

Webinar Recording: Managing Cashflow

Have you had to use your reserves in the last few years? Is cash becoming scarce?

Or maybe you've built reserves and want to maximize the interest you earn.

You'll learn:

  • when to use a cashflow report and when not to use it.
  • how to keep your cashflow report up to date. 
  • when to show the report to your board.
  • what to do about negative balances.

Click here to register. 


Check out these tools:

excel icon image Cashflow for Investing

excel icon image Cashflow for Emergencies


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Posted 10/3/12 by Carol

Procedures Manual: Annual Information Returns

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Now that you’ve successfully answered questions about providing financial reports to your board, let’s tackle the financial reports you must send to Uncle Sam and to your state government. When you finish this chapter, you will be 3/4’s of the way home.

As Benjamin Franklin said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except for death and taxes.”

I’m amending his quote for nonprofits, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except for proposal deadlines and filing tax forms.”

Complying with federal and state tax laws can prove a daunting task. Missing the filing date(s) can prove a costly mistake.

This chapter of the Procedures Manual will walk you through a series of questions related to each form. 

Continue reading...

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Posted 9/26/12 by Carol

Procedures Manual: Financial Reports

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Now that you have successfully written the chapter on Reviewing General Ledgers, it’s time to move to Financial Reports.

These reports communicate your organization’s financial health to the board of directors. Reviewing them, understanding them and discussing them enables board members to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility. Here’s how you can help them excel at their job.


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Posted 8/29/12 by Carol

Fiscal Sponsorship – Are You Ready, Willing and Able?

Last week we talked about the role fiscal sponsors play in the nonprofit world and why they are the right model for some organizations. Today, we’re exploring the world of being a fiscal sponsor. Should your organization think about serving as a fiscal sponsor?

Has your organization or agency been asked to serve as a fiscal sponsor?

Are you thinking about it but you don’t know how to do it or how to assess if you’re ready?

If the answers to these questions are yes, let us help you determine your readiness and willingness to assume this important role by using our handy-dandy step-by-step guide.


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Posted 5/30/12 by Carol

Don't Hate on Your Fiscal Sponsor's Fees

Often I hear comments about the financial cost (service fees) of being a fiscally sponsored project. I hear organizations say that they could do the work more cheaply themselves. That they could save money by keeping all of the accounting and compliance work in-house. I hate to burst your bubble but for the overwhelming majority of organizations it’s simply not true.  Before an organization decides whether to go down the fiscal sponsorship path or start their own nonprofit, here are a few things to consider.

Read on...

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Posted 5/23/12 by Carol

Do We Need a 4th Wave of Feminism for Nonprofits?

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As women across the world celebrate International Women’s Day, I thought I should take a look at the women in our part of the world. In the nonprofit sector.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that only 18.8 percent (75) of the chief executives at 400 US non-profits that raised the most from private sources in 2007 are held by women.

That same article references studies by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in San Francisco that show women make up about 2/3rds of the nonprofit work force and often run charities that are smaller than these 400 largest. And a study by the Association of Fundraising Professionals that found 3 out of 4 fundraisers are female.

That’s a lot of women working in social change, social service, the arts and education.

How well are women paid?

Read on...

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Posted 3/8/12 by Carol

Five Things to Do to Prepare for 990s

Before you get too immersed in the excitement of a new fiscal year, schedule some time now to organize the documents you will need to file your Form 990. Whether you prepare this tax form in house or hire an accountant to complete it, gathering the documents directly after the fiscal year closes will ensure greater success.

The filing deadline may seem far in the future*. But if you wait until a month before the deadline to get started, the financial and programmatic activities of the previous fiscal year will live in the far distant past. If you start today, these activities will be fresh in your mind.

To help you get started, take a look at this list of five things to do. You’ll be happy you did.

Continue reading...

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Posted 2/1/12 by Carol

GJ Entry #18: Banish the Ghost of EDs Past

All you executive directors out there. Are you tired of hearing the stories about the days of yore when money rained down from the sky and the streets were paved with gold? Are you comparing yourself to the previous executive director(s) who spent their time depositing big fat grant checks?

Well, I’m here to lay that ghost to rest right now. 

Continue reading...

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Posted 12/21/11 by Carol

Upcoming Webinar: Fun with Finance Committees

 Thursday, December 22nd at 1pm ET/12pm CT/11am MT/10am PT
Do you even need a finance committee? If you have one, what should they be doing? This webinar will focus on the role of the finance committee and what they should and shouldn't be doing.

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Posted 12/14/11 by Carol

Webinar Recording: Recordkeeping & Reporting

Recordkeeping & Reporting Webinar

This training is perfect for finace staff who are new to nonprofits and for groups that have been fiscally sponsored and are thinking about becoming an independent nonprofit.

Topics covered:

  • Federal, state, and local reporting requirements for nonprofits
  • What financial records to keep and for how long
  • What to keep in personnel files and what NOT to keep in them

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Posted 11/24/11 by Carol

GJ Entry #15: Give Thanks to Your Finance Staff

Thanksgiving is the time to be grateful for…

your finance people. That’s right. Finance people deserve your gratitude. On this day. and everyday.

It’s their job to make sure you have the right financial information to make sound decisions about your organization’s health and well-being.

Your finance people may not have the sexiest job on the planet. They may not appear on the frontlines, receive the applause at the awards ceremony or bask in the media spotlight. But I would argue they have one of the most important jobs around.


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Posted 11/16/11 by Carol

GJ Entry #14: A Holiday Shopping List for Grantmakers


Most organizations couldn't write this letter. So I did it for them.

Dear Grantmakers,

The holiday season starts earlier and earlier every year. Retailers want you to start shopping before Thanksgiving. So before you make your list. And I know you want to get us something we’d really like. Check out the only item on our list. Remember, you’re the only one who can give it.

1. Base zero percent of your grantmaking decision on our financial information. No, that’s not a typo. It says zero %.


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Posted 11/9/11 by Carol

GJ Entry #13: Why should you care about the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

Dow Jones Industrial Average Chart

With protesters Occupying Wall Street, understanding the Dow Jones Industrial Average may not be your top priority. But the truth is that your nonprofit's financial health may depend on how well Wall Street does. Yes, you read that correctly. Read on to learn why...

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Posted 11/2/11 by Carol

Webinar Recording: 3 Keys to Financial Health

3 Keys to Financial Health Webinar

Learn the fundamentals of nonprofit financial management including:

  • What are reserves? 
  • How you can calculate your organization's reserves.
  • What's the board's role in the budget process?
  • How to use your budget to plan for and manage your reserves.

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Posted 10/24/11 by Carol

GJ Entry #11: Track Your Lobbying

Keep track of your lobbying activities to easily report on your form 990.

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Posted 10/19/11 by Carol

GJ Entry #10: Finance Committee, Who Needs It!

Boards of Directors love to form committees. Committees can efficiently and effectively complete the work of the board. In some cases, that arrangement and construct makes perfect sense. Here’s one that doesn’t. The Finance Committee.

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Posted 10/12/11 by Carol

GJ Entry #9: Funders: Stop Asking for Budgets

This message is for funders. Listen up. I know that you are rarely told what to do by grantees. That wouldn’t be prudent. And other funders would never suggest how you should run your foundation. So I am stepping up to the plate with a very firm suggestion for all funders.

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Posted 10/5/11 by Carol

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