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Archive for the ‘Donor Management’ Category

Mission Leaders Conference Opens the Door to Learning & Sharing

October 13th, 2014 No comments

Serenic Software participated as an exhibitor in our first Mission Leaders conference, hosted by Missio Nexus in Atlanta, GA, September 25-27. Typically, a vendor’s goal at any tradeshow is to network with current customers, check out new competitors, and bring home plenty of sales opportunities. And while we were successful in those endeavors, we found ourselves spending much of the time marveling at the passion and dedication of conference attendees. Listening to the stories of missionaries who have travelled all over the world and learning about the experiences of mission-focused experts who volunteer their time to help train, mentor and certify mission teams, was far more interesting than talking about accounting software for nonprofits.

However, we did engage with several like-minded members responsible for accounting or IT services within their organization who were excited to learn more about how the Serenic Navigator financial management suite can enable them to have a stronger positive impact on their mission through sound financial management. These included Tim Case, Assistant Director of International Ministries with Elim Fellowship, a Christ-centered worldwide revival fellowship “committed to strengthening leaders so that the church will be equipped to reach the world.” In fact, we drew Tim’s card as the winner of the $150 Visa gift card we gave away as part of our participation in the event. Read more…

Understanding and Protecting Donor Intention and Grants

October 8th, 2014 No comments

Nonprofits and NGOs are in a delicate position because they depend on donors to uphold and support their cause and grants to fund their mission. At the same time, their donor counterparts and grantors are passionate and excited about imagesthe mission, and nonprofits need to respect the intent of the charitable donation or grant.

If donors were to find out their money was spent in a way contrary to their desire, future funding could be in jeopardy, not to mention the potential for a PR crisis. This is why clear communication with donors is extremely important for nonprofits and NGOs of any size. Adhering to donor intention doesn’t just protect your relationship with one particular donor or grantor; it also protects the overall mission of your nonprofit.

Understanding Donor Intention and Grant Restrictions

There are many layers of donor intent and three specific grant restrictions. Before setting up a grant or making a direct donation, philanthropists may have broad or very specific guidelines on how the funds should be spent. Terms and conditions of a grant or donation may include:

  • Unrestricted: without a designated use
  • Temporarily restricted: contains specific guidelines on how it will be used
  • Permanently restricted: must be held indefinitely (often with the intent to generate interest)

Even if a grant or donation is unrestricted, special care should be made to address the donor’s intent. This helps develop a relationship of trust that will hopefully extend far into the future.

How to Protect Donor Intent

The first step to protecting donor intent is to have a clear cut mission statement. You mission statement will not only help attract donors, it will help attract the right kind of donors—ones who are passionate about your cause. When you share the same goals, then most of the time donor intent will align itself naturally with your everyday processes.Capture

Along with a clear mission statement, your nonprofit or NGO should have a strong commitment to ethical behavior on all levels of the organization. Perhaps this goes without saying, but even the slightest deviation from honest business practices (intentional or not) undermines your entire organization. Even in cases where donor intent isn’t clearly defined, all funds should be allocated with complete transparency and a commitment to spend it according to your donor’s wishes.

Finally, your nonprofit or NGO needs the right accounting and reporting tools so you can actually show your donors that you’re spending their funds as intended. In Geni Whitehouse’s whitepaper for Serenic Software, Grant vs. Grantt, she states, “Grant managers have strict accountability and tracking requirements, specialized reporting and measurement needs, and complex revision tracking requirements. It should be no surprise, then, that grant managers need special tools to support them.”

Selecting the Right Grant Management Software

Haphazard grant management increases the chances of mistakes and misallocation of funds. To ensure that your nonprofit or NGO is compliant with all fund restrictions, you need dedicated grant management software that integrates with your nonprofit accounting software.

Your organization’s mission is best supported with grant managing software designed specifically for nonprofits and NGOs; learn more about Serenic Software’s grants management solution, AwardVision

Board Members: 3 Tips for Allocating Nonprofit Resources Objectively

September 17th, 2014 No comments

Nonprofit board members are usually unpaid members of the community given the strenuous and often controversial task of deciding where charitable donations will do the most good. The donors to your organization, as well as the public you serve, trust in your honest stewardship of funds and resources.

In order to maintain trust in your nonprofit’s mission, you need to remain objective in all your board duties, especially when it comes to allocating resources. Objectivity can be hard to achieve, especially with a diverse group of board members. Keep in mind that board members often come from drastically different backgrounds. You can use this to your advantage—embrace your board’s diversity and never forget your organization’s overall mission.

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Here are 3 tips to help you remain objective when allocating resources.

1.     Encourage robust and open dialogue

Time is often limited during board meetings, especially if you only meet once every month or every quarter. Even if you’re working under a time crunch, high quality dialog and debate in the boardroom is vital. If you don’t allow for dissent and vigorous debate, you may be missing out on a crucial perspective you otherwise wouldn’t have addressed.

Nonprofit boards, because of their charitable mission, are sometimes wary of conflict. It may be necessary to encourage “conflict” at times, with the intent of getting board members engaged in open dialogue.

2.     Discuss possible conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest come up all the time in nonprofit board meetings. Board members are typically volunteers who are active in the business community, and it’s only natural that their professional and personal lives will sometimes conflict with the nonprofit’s processes.

The best way to handle conflicts of interest is to have a written conflict of interest policy as well as a process for addressing potential conflicts. In fact, IRS form 990 requires you to have both a written policy and a process for managing conflicts.

A conflict of interest policy should:

  1. Require disclosure
  2. Prohibit members from voting on matters where there is a conflict of interest

Your process for managing conflicts should encourage disclosure and discussion of possible conflicts of interest within your board meetings. You may also discuss hypothetical situations and promote awareness of potential problems.

3.     Be a patient risk takermedium_5204322722

If you’re used to taking risks in the private sector, the slower pace that nonprofits often function at may be frustrating. But even for smaller organizations, nonprofits are subject to stringent guidelines and laws that can make it difficult to get things done right away.

An organization’s nonprofit status depends on vigorous financial reporting and transparency. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take risks—your mission depends on you using your business acumen and entrepreneurial skills in order to succeed. Just keep in mind that you’ll be required to exercise patience in order to enact meaningful change.

Remember: the mission is your bottom line

Bold moves and giant risks are often rewarded in the private sector, as long as they improve the bottom line. But the bottom line of your nonprofit organization is its mission, not profits. Your charitable mission should be at the forefront when making any kind of decision about funds and resources.

Your nonprofit’s mission is as unique as its individual board members. Each board meeting should be a rewarding experience, as long as you are dedicated to open dialogue, addressing potential conflicts of interest, and taking the necessary risks to help your organization succeed.

2nd photo courtesy of DCLG

Categories: Donor Management, Nonprofit, Payroll Tags:

Empowering Democracy Through Transparency and Accountability

August 27th, 2014 No comments

Serenic Software’s tagline is “Empower Your Mission.” We believe that our software solutions are instrumental in helping nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations pursue their missions throughout the world.

And while each of the organizations Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.18.53 PMwe work with has a unique mission, all share a passion for the democratic process, as exemplified by their strong desire to provide transparency and accountability to the people they serve. As Rick Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly put it, “Nonprofits, we hope and believe, are the bedrock of democracy and mechanisms for democratic participation.”

In a world where the economic elite and special interest groups hold the greatest sway over politicians and policy decisions, nonprofits play a vital role in promoting democracy and empowering individuals to exercise their right to be heard.

Nonprofits and Philanthropies Can Exert Political Influence

The Encarta Dictionary defines a democracy as “the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the majority of the people.”

Even though all nonprofits and philanthropies are not politically focused or motivated, all are perfectly suited to enhance democracy, in large part because they so often encourage people to participate in government. For example, Rock the Vote does an excellent job of fostering democracy without subscribing to any single political ideology.

The structure of nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations is also decidedly democratic, allowing input and direction from all levels, along with a strong commitment to transparency and accountability. And because of the grassroots nature of nonprofits and philanthropies, change can be enacted swifter than in government and the for-profit business sector.

Technology Has Revolutionized Accountability

Advances in technology have given average citizens another set of tools they can use to demand greater accountability, not just from government, but also from private businesses and nonprofit organizations, thereby increasing their individual influence on the democratic process.

“Inside every device and every piece of software is the DNA of both democracy and transparency,” wrote Chris Gates, Executive Director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), in the forward to “Philanthropy and the Limits of Accountability: A Relationship of Respect and Clarity.”

By taking full advantage of nonprofit accounting software, nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations can hold themselves to a higher, more democratic standard.

Accountability to the People Nonprofits Serve

Transparent reporting is vital to fostering relationships of trust with donors, but accountability is equally important to the very people nonprofits serve. Through transparent accounting, nonprofits can make themselves accountable not only to donors, but to the communities they operate in.

Accountability is perhaps the most important factor in a democracy—without it, citizens can’t effectively exercise their voting rights to enact change within their communities.

Accountability also helps nonprofits adjust and improve their own operations, ultimately empowering them to better achieve their mission. For more information about how Serenic can help “Empower Your Mission” with transparent accounting, explore our fund accounting resources.

How Transparent Reporting Fosters Lasting Donor Relationships

August 13th, 2014 No comments

Transparency is not just a best practice; it’s an expectation with donors.

The ability to keep donors in the loop, not only with regular reporting but with clear, understandable, and meaningful metrics, is the key to developing long lasting relationships. The better your donors understand your organization, its mission, and how you spend their money, the more likely they are to trust you enough to continue giving.

For many of the nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations that have taken advantage of Serenic’s software solutions, a commitment to transparency has paid dividends in helping to achieve their critical missions. With the right set of tools, transparent reporting isn’t a burden—it enables you to achieve a more positive impact on the world.

Donors Expect Transparency

Transparency isn’t a luxury for nonprofits, NGOs and public sector organizations. Donors expect their money to be put to good use, and they’re demanding accountability from nonprofits.

“Accountability and transparency are becoming more and more critical to NGOs as donors become more educated and critical about where they are giving their money,” said Ann Quandt, Vice President of Finance for Partners in Health (PIH).

In PIH’s case, transparency has paid off in a big way. Their commitment to transparency helped them secure a $60 million grant from Unitaid this June. The new grant will allow PIH to bring life-saving drugs to 17 countries that have been stricken with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Transparency Builds Trust with Donors

Medair, a humanitarian organization that provides relief to remote and devastated communities across the globe, has been using Serenic Navigator since 2006.

Since 80% of Medair’s funding comes from government partners, transparency is of the utmost importance. “The biggest risk financially is loss of confidence,” said Jim Ingram, CEO/Finance Director of Medair.

Serenic Navigator helps Medair manage over 120 grants and 120 funds. They operate across the globe, and so they deal with multiple currencies.  The accounting tools in Serenic Navigator allow Medair to stay up to date on exchange rates, automatically figuring them into their reports.

Tools for Effective Transparency

Serenic’s suite of nonprofit accounting software provides you with more than transparent reporting. Our flagship software, Serenic Navigator, is a table driven system that gives you the tools to analyze and report your data:

  • Compelling Charts
  • Full integration across multiple platforms
  • Three-dimensional analysis
  • Customizable account schedules
  • Much more

Your organization’s success depends on the relationships of trust you build with donors. Find out more about our software products, and how we can help you achieve your mission.

Categories: Donor Management Tags:

Do Your Donors Feel Appreciated & Included?

April 22nd, 2014 No comments
NFP Guide to Donor & Volunteer Engagement

Building Community Infographic

Donors and volunteers provide the backbone for your nonprofit organization. It’s critically important that you treat them with the respect and professionalism that validates their investment of money and time. They trust you to do everything in your power to execute on the mission of the nonprofit.

We’ve created an infographic to help you build the framework to support for a strong, solid community of donors and volunteers.

At Serenic, we developed DonorVision to give organizations likes yours an easy-to-use community building tool. No IT resources are needed to support this cloud-based system powered by Microsoft Dynamics® CRM. Fully integrated with all the familiar Office tools, you and your volunteers will be up and running fast.

Read more…

5 Tips for Donor Retention

April 2nd, 2014 No comments

Fundraising is at the heart of every nonprofit. Once you’ve secured some donations, how are you going to keep donors in the giving cycle? Here are some tips to help you along the way:

Optimize Your Donation Page

If you’re going to get one thing perfect, it should be your donation page; the beginning of your donor relationship. It should be easy and simple for prospective donors to gift your organization. Ask yourself these questions and work on improving any areas with a negative response.  Read more…

Fundraising – 4 Ways Nonprofits Utilize the Rise of Social Giving

February 26th, 2014 No comments

Social media has changed the way we communicate. It’s no secret that smartphone usage is increasing, leading to the evolution of the mobile web. All these factors present new opportunities for  Coins philanthropic organizations to explore new donation avenues. A key sector trend, we also touched on this subject in January.

Online charitable giving has already seen an increase in the last decade or so, with the establishment of organizations such as Kiva, JustGiving, IndieGoGo and GiveMob. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are popular, simple ways for organizations and individuals to send and receive donations for projects and causes. Further to this, Facebook recently implemented the Donate button, and PayPal offers the opportunity for donations both on your own website and across third-party websites. Nonprofits can take advantage of these opportunities to enhance their fundraising activities with minimal cost, implementation and management.   Read more…

Four Ways Nonprofits can Support International Disaster Relief

November 22nd, 2013 No comments

The biggest natural disaster since Japan’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 is the recent devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan. Still playing out across global news networks, aid efforts continue. It seems like large scale destruction occurs across the planet more frequently than ever, but the good news is that modern technology has created a global community that can be reached as news breaks, and is amenable to giving. Read more…

Impact Reporting Tips for Nonprofits

November 11th, 2013 No comments

A vital factor of managing a nonprofit is transparency, and one way in which this can be relayed to donors, board members, and grant funders is through impact reporting. Each will want to know how and where their donations are spent and the impact of the initiatives they support.

Read more…