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The Right Technology Keeps Global Organizations Connected

August 25th, 2014 No comments

Today it seems like we are sometimes over-connected with cell phones, social media, and instant access to news at any time. But believe it or not, there are occasions in today’s world where being connected is still a challenge. Today’s NGOs and multi-national nonprofits must stay connected with people around the world. They often cross geographical, cultural, and political boundaries to reach those in need. They manage people who speak different languages, manage funds in multiple currencies, and manage applications on diverse technical platforms. As they spread their cause globally, these organizations encounter hurdles and difficulties of every sort in an environment of increasing government oversight and shrinking budgets. Staying connected in tough!

This is where the right financial technology helps ease the struggles and allows NFPs and NGOs to focus on their mission at hand. To be efficient, effective and timely, here are ways your accounting software can help you stay connected.

Cloud, Portal or Replication Software Options for Accessing and Sharing

You must have access to your accounting system despite unreliable internet, insufficient bandwidth, or an intermittent power supply. In a global solution, look for cloud deployments, access to the internet via a portal or terminal services, or data replication between remote and central systems. This allows for sharing information, for instance when field representatives need to update grant administrators at the central office.

fund accounting for NGOs

Currencies

In every global organization, there is constant movement of funds from the grant manager at the central office to the field offices to the recipient. As the funds move across borders, they are likely to change currencies. A grant might be awarded in US dollars then sent out to regional country offices in Euros where it is used to purchase food with Kenyan Shillings. Your system should automatically convert funds from one currency to another at each step in the process. You need a system that can easily track, manage, and analyze funds in multiple currencies across each of the different entities.

Languages

At the same time funds are flowing downstream, information has to flow upstream. Details about services provided, funds expended, and constituents served must find their way from the field offices up to the central office on a timely basis. Workstations should be configurable with language options so two people sitting side by side can each access the system in their native language. If you’re not careful, you can quickly end up turning your organization into a virtual tower of Babel – where no one knows if the organization is moving in the right direction.

Data Monitoring

Regular data monitoring will help you make better decisions. You’ll want users to have appropriate access depending on their position in the central office, a regional office, or the field. Look for the ability to manage transactions, track awards and grants, allocate overhead, communicate with others downstream, create financial statements, enter transactions in local language and currency, and report clearly.

The right tools can help even the most widely distributed teams stay connected and work together. They can foster communication and help organizations avoid the roadblocks that can distract them from their mission.

For more detailed examples and diagrams, read a whitepaper for missions on the move!

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…

Leverage Existing Relationships to Increase Funding

March 22nd, 2013 No comments

Everyone will have a cause that’s close to their heart that they would have donated to at one point in their life. It’s vital for NGOs and non-profits to ensure that these donations are not one-offs. Developing relationships with these donors through retention, engagement and incentives will ensure repeated and sizable donations that can help make a difference.

Read more…

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Mission on the Move (part 6 of 6) – Bringing Everyone Together

November 30th, 2010 No comments

The right tools can help even the most widely distributed teams work together. They can foster communication and help organizations avoid the roadblocks that can distract them from their mission. They can bridge infrastructure gaps while freeing information to flow and users to serve. The right tools can resolve currency differences and make reporting across multiple locations seamless. They can bridge language barriers and serve up information that meets the needs of every user. With the right tools, you can stop worrying about committing an operational faux pas and devote your full attention to serving the needs of your global community.

We hope you enjoyed our series postings on how to keep your organization afloat when dealing with a global community. Feel free to share any additional tips you find helpful when working internationally!

Stay up to speed on all our Mission on the Move posts–catch parts 1 through 5 here: “Mission on the Move

Download the full whitepaper to start learning about international accounting and how to better share information in your global organization!

Mission on the Move (part 5 of 6) – Central, Regional & Field Offices

November 23rd, 2010 No comments

Once you have gotten team members to access and share information, you need to be sure they are using the information available to operate as efficiently as possible. You want them regularly monitoring data to make smarter decisions. That means each user should have the level of access appropriate to their role and their relative position in the information stream.

Users at the central office are likely to have very different needs than users in field offices. Their focus will be on control and consistency. They will want to ensure they can effectively manage awards and grants and then disseminate funds to field offices. Users downstream in regional or field offices will have a different set of priorities. They are more likely to be concerned with usability and accessibility; therefore, they will want a simple interface that pushes information to them. Your software needs to be powerful enough to accommodate the requirements of team members wherever they are located.

Central Office

The central office has primary responsibility for awards and grants and fundraising activities.

Staff must manage regulatory reporting and compliance and ensure activities are in keeping with organizational missions and objectives. Central office teams need an accounting application that can take care of the basics like cash receipts and disbursements, payroll, budgets, and financial statements, as well as the unique requirements of non-profits like fund management, overhead allocations, and award and grant monitoring. They need to be able to push information out in different currencies and languages while accumulating results from a myriad of sources.

Regional Office

Each regional office has to share information upstream and downstream. These offices accumulate information from field offices for reporting back to the central office. Consolidation and reporting features will be important to staff in these offices.

What to look for in a global solution:

Field Offices

Each field office expends funds and then reports back to regional or central offices. Staff in field offices, busy with the job of serving those in need, will want to spend as little time as possible in the software. That means they need an easy to use system that pushes information to individual users.

What to look for in a global solution:

Stay up to speed on all our Mission on the Move posts–catch parts 1 through 4 here: “Mission on the Move” and stay tuned for next week when we discuss Bringing Everyone Together.

Download the full whitepaper here to start learning about international accounting and how to better share information in your global organization!

Mission on the Move (part 4 of 6) – Languages

November 16th, 2010 No comments

At the same time funds are flowing downstream, information has to flow upstream. Details about services provided, funds expended, and constituents served must find their way from the field offices up to the central office on a timely basis. Every person involved in the flow of information— from recipient to grantor—could conceivably speak a different language. Teams at the central office might speak English, while each regional office speaks another language and each local office speaks yet another language. If you are not careful, you may quickly wind up turning your organization into a virtual tower of Babel–with no one knowing if the organization is moving in the right direction.

Your software needs to support multiple languages so information can be shared with everyone on every team.

What to look for in a global solution:

Stay up to speed on all our Mission on the Move posts–catch parts 1 through 3 here: “Mission on the Move” and stay tuned for next week when we discuss Working with information – Central, Regional & Field Offices.

Download the full whitepaper to start learning about international accounting and how to better share information in your global organization!

Mission on the Move (part 3 of 6) – Currencies

November 9th, 2010 No comments

In every global organization, there is constant downstream movement of funds from the grant manager at the central office to the field offices to the recipient. As the funds move across borders, they are likely to change currencies. A grant, for example, could be awarded in US Dollars then sent to regional country offices where it is changed to Euros, then used to purchase food in Kenyan Shillings. Your system should be able to automatically convert funds from one currency to another, at every step of the journey. You need a system that can easily track, manage and analyze funds in multiple currencies across each of the different entities.

Your system should also make it easy for you to update conversion rates and to comply with foreign currency reporting requirements, while handling VAT or sales taxes as needed. In short, you need a system that is built for international use and equipped to handle multiple currencies as well as the reporting and compliance challenges of a global organization.

What to look for in a global solution:

Stay up to speed on all our Mission on the Move posts–catch parts 1 and 2 here: “Mission on the Move” and stay tuned for next week when we discuss global solutions for dealing with multiple languages.

Download the full whitepaper here to start learning about international accounting and how to better share information in your global organization!

Mission on the Move (part 2 of 6) – Sharing Information

November 2nd, 2010 No comments

Once everyone has access to your system, the next challenge of a global organization is to get information from the person at point A to the person at point B in a usable form. Most projects are initiated at a central office. The central office handles administration, promotion, and fundraising in support of services that are delivered by teams of volunteers and staffers in the field. Some organizations have regional- or country-based teams that support the local field offices, while others provide direct field office support.

Since grant administrators and the staffers who deliver services are rarely at the same location, it can be an arduous task to disseminate information among the entire team—especially when you are crossing countries and even continents. Every time the baton passes from one person to another, you are in danger of losing information or spreading misinformation, so you need a system that can translate across multiple currencies and multiple languages.

Stay up to speed on all our Mission on the Move posts–catch part 1: “Accessing Information” and stay tuned for next week when we discuss global solutions for dealing with multiple currencies.

Download the full whitepaper to start learning about international accounting and how to better share information in your global organization!

Mission on the Move (Part 1 of 6) – Accessing Information

October 26th, 2010 No comments

In order to use or share information, you must have access to the system that contains it. In many cases, field workers and aid recipients are in remote areas with limited or spotty internet connections and unreliable access to power. Unless you plan to drive around the globe in a mobile IT van, you will have to rely on local connectivity to keep the information flowing. And that isn’t always easy. You can’t rely on either a centralized network or stand alone software applications to meet your needs. In order to get information to and from workers in these conditions, you will need a number of different deployment options. You want a centralized, robust database that can send and receive information in a number of different ways.

You might encounter any of the following infrastructure scenarios at a field or regional office:

1. Reliable Internet access, acceptable bandwidth, and a reliable power supply

2. Reliable Internet access, acceptable bandwidth, and an unreliable power supply

3. Limited Internet access, insufficient bandwidth, reliable or intermittent power supply

Rather than delivering a one-size fits all solution, your provider should offer deployment options that best utilize the resources available at a given location. Ideally, you want a solution that can be deployed via the Internet and also offers Portals and Terminal Services, as well as replication capabilities.

Download the full whitepaper to start learning about international accounting and how to better share information in your global organization!

Mission on the Move – International Accounting

October 25th, 2010 No comments

It’s hard enough to communicate with team members across the room, but many of today’s NGO’s and multi-national non-profits must stay connected with people around the world. They often cross geographical, cultural, and political boundaries to reach those in need. They manage people who speak different languages, manage funds in multiple currencies, and manage applications on diverse technical platforms. As they spread their cause globally, these organizations encounter hurdles and difficulties of every sort in an environment of increasing government oversight and shrinking budgets.

As Richard Gere learned during a New Delhi awards show, a single cultural misstep can ruin your relationship with an entire country. Likewise, a single operational misstep can be the kiss of death for an organization striving to make a difference in a given country. No one wants to miss a delivery, deploy the wrong supplies, or send electrical equipment to a location with no electricity. It is the mission of these organizations to get the right aid to the right people in the fastest possible way. To do so, they must wade through a ton of details, manage paperwork, and disburse funds while keeping everyone informed. Fortunately, today’s software can help global organizations maneuver around the roadblocks that are likely to appear on the way to global success.

In the weeks to come we’ll be taking a closer look at global organizations and their relationship with information—how they access, share and use it. In each area, we’ll examine the ways in which technology can help these organizations stay connected and avoid the kinds of operational faux pas that can prevent them from accomplishing their mission.

Stay tuned to this blog series “Mission on the Move“– a six-part series where we’ll be releasing posts every Tuesday, starting tomorrow. As always, we hope that you’re able to put this information to work for your organization–we’re here to help you, so let us know how you feel about our content!