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Nonprofits


Reduce Nonprofit Admin Costs With Streamlined Bookkeeping

June 6, 2019 / by Tom Ross posted in Bookkeeping Services, Kansas City, Nonprofits

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Most nonprofit organizations have multiple revenue streams. Tracking all those funds and their associated expenses can easily overwhelm the administrative staff, particularly at smaller organizations. Or, to put it another way: Admin costs often consume a disproportionate amount of a nonprofit's budget, measured in both money and time.

Here's how you can streamline your nonprofit's bookkeeping to cut admin costs:

Stay Current
Instead of allocating revenue and expenses as they occur, many nonprofits wait and assign them to funding sources as a separate process. But with so many buckets and so many costs, it's a poor use of time to do all that scrubbing, trying to back every dollar into where it needs to be. It can also be stressful, especially if mistakes or discrepancies start piling up.

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Case Study: Modernizing a Mature Nonprofit's Bookkeeping

May 28, 2019 / by Indre Bauza posted in Northern Virginia, Nonprofits, Case Study Blogs

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When he became Executive Director at Arlington Thrive in March 2016, Andrew Schneider encountered a problem common among mature nonprofits: "Over time, as in any organization, internal systems develop that make sense to the people who are operating them but might not make sense to new people coming in."

In fulfilling its mission of providing same-day, emergency financial assistance to residents of Arlington County, Virginia, the organization relied on a steady flow of cash. A legacy bookkeeping system, coupled with a nearly indecipherable method of donor classification, threatened to disrupt that flow. Schneider needed to resolve the problem quickly. Supporting Strategies | Northern Virginia and Managing Director Indre Bauza delivered a solution.

A Clearer View
Supporting Strategies took a proactive approach to solving the problem — from modernizing the bookkeeping system to establishing monthly conference calls with the finance committee. The result? Real-time financial reporting, enhanced communication, and greater financial transparency.

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Understanding the New Accounting Standards for Nonprofits

April 25, 2019 / by Gianluca Santinelli posted in Nonprofits, Wilmington, DE

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Change has become a constant in the nonprofit sector. Recently we saw new regulations under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that eliminated certain deductions. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has also been hard at work instituting sweeping changes in procedures aimed at reducing complexities while making it easier to understand nonprofit financial information — notably, updates to the accounting standards in 2016 (impacting 2018 financial statements) and in 2018 (impacting 2019 financial statements).

Here's a summary of the most significant revisions.

New Revenue Recognition Standard Focus Clarifies Contributions
You might think that, when it comes to charitable giving, a dollar is a dollar. But in the nonprofit sector, it's important to determine the giver's expectations in providing that dollar. Are the expectations nonreciprocal and unconditional, meaning the nonprofit can spend that full dollar however (and whenever) it sees fit? Or does the giver expect something in return of equal (or "commensurate," in FASB parlance) value, thus an exchange transaction? That return could range from "membership" status to branded merchandise, like a pin or a mug, to funding clinical drug trials, performing public services or conducting scientific research under a grant.

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Case Study: Empowering a Nonprofit to Pursue Its Goals for Growth

January 17, 2019 / by Jen Ellermeyer posted in Reno - Tahoe, Nonprofits, Case Study Blogs

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The Sierra Nevada Children's Museum, a popular family destination in Truckee, California, is poised for growth with a projected 80% increase in visitation over the next 20 years. To keep pace with this growth, the museum needs to boost fundraising to finance building a larger facility.  

Working with a complex chart of accounts and item list, combined with a slow, server-based software system, occupied much of Executive Director Carol Meagher's time. She wasn't able to fully focus on fundraising and community outreach — which were vital for the museum to keep pace with its projected increase in visitation.

To compound this problem, the museum's bookkeeper decided not to return from maternity leave, and a prospective replacement didn't pan out. In order to reach its potential for growth, the museum needed to establish a strong foundation in bookkeeping that included special events tracking, operational reporting, grants management, and preparing financials for the board.

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New for 2018: Less-Charitable Laws for Charitable Giving

March 6, 2018 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island, Business Advice, Nonprofits

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Individuals and tax preparers need to be aware of a significant impact on charitable giving that likely will result from a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

While the consequences of the law, passed in December 2017, might be unintended, they are no less real for taxpayers — especially for charities. Vikki Sprull, President and CEO of the philanthropic network Council on Foundations, projects the new law "will result in a decrease of $16–$24 billion in charitable giving every year."

Subtraction by Addition
The bad news for charities came about as a result of what was supposed to have been good news for taxpayers. Under TCJA, the standard deduction doubles to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples.

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Better Bookkeeping Practices for Nonprofit Organizations

October 10, 2017 / by Tom Ross posted in Bookkeeping Services, Kansas City, Nonprofits

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To maintain good financial health, nonprofit organizations should adopt the same bookkeeping best practices as for-profit organizations.

Here are some simple bookkeeping tips to help keep your nonprofit on the plus side of the ledger.

Get with the (Software) Program
There's no shortage of bookkeeping software you can use at your nonprofit. However, you should also consider applications that will integrate with your accounting software to drive operational efficiencies through workflow automation. If you haven't already graduated from using basic accounting software, now is the time to do so.

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Bookkeeping for Nonprofits: What Constitutes a 'Fundraiser'?

September 7, 2017 / by Mark Wald posted in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Business Advice, Nonprofits

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Not all events that raise funds are fundraisers. If you operate a nonprofit, it's critical that you know the difference. Because holding an event that isn't properly identified and recorded appropriately in the general ledger could cause problems for you down the road.

Here are a few things you need to know.

Is the Event Tax-Deductible?
Nonprofits have lots of ways to raise money. Awards banquets, raffles, "fun runs" — there's no shortage of creative ideas.

Whether you call an event a "fundraiser" matters less than whether any of the amount guests pay to attend is tax-deductible. Organizations should always publish a full disclosure (on invitations, electronic media, etc.) of all information related to tax-deductibility. This is usually done through fine print with wording such as this: "Amounts over $xx are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. (Organization name) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, federal tax ID number xx-xxxxxxx."

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Streamlining a Nonprofit’s Operational and Financial Processes

August 1, 2017 / by Mark Wald posted in Santa Monica, Bookkeeping Services, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Nonprofits, Case Study Blogs

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Meals on Wheels West (MOWW), a nonprofit based in Santa Monica, California, was looking for something more than data entry from its bookkeeping services provider. As a nonprofit, it needed someone who understood the nuances of bookkeeping for nonprofits, could implement systems to streamline the audit process, and prepare detailed financial information for their Board of directors.

MOWW delivers more than 80,000 healthy meals and services per year to the coastal communities near Los Angeles. Supporting Strategies | Los Angeles assigned their Nonprofit Practice Leader, with 30 years of nonprofit expertise, to evaluate MOWW’s needs.

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Presenting Financials to a Nonprofit's Board of Directors

July 11, 2017 / by Tom Ross posted in Kansas City, Business Advice, Nonprofits

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Nonprofits pose a special challenge to providers of bookkeeping services. The financials are complex and multilayered — and they must be presented to a board of directors that often lacks financial expertise and experiences frequent turnover.

Because maintaining a variety of funding streams (public, private, grants, events, etc.) is vital to a nonprofit's survival, the ability to make clear, easy-to-follow presentations is critical.

Strike the Right Tone
A good nonprofit financial presentation is a tightrope act. You have to balance a high-level overview with enough specifics at the individual program level for the board to carry out its fiduciary responsibility and achieve the organization's mission.

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Be Careful with Those Not-For-Profit Allocations

December 6, 2016 / by Sandra Bowman posted in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Bookkeeping 101, Nonprofits

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One of the stickiest aspects of accounting for not-for-profit (NFP) entities involves allocations — how these entities account for where they spend the funds they receive.

For-profit businesses don't have to worry about this too much. If you have a pizza parlor, it doesn't matter if you use the profits from your pizza sales to pay the rent and the profits from your soda sales to pay the utilities (or vice versa). The customers don't care what you do with their money, as long as they get their pizza and their drinks.

It's not so simple at an NFP entity.

How You Got the Money Can Determine Where You Spend It
Many NFP entities receive funds that are earmarked for specific purposes. For example, let's say an organization receives a grant expressly to provide wheelchairs for the physically challenged. The organization can't use that funding to sponsor an event instead. They have to spend it on wheelchairs — and they need documentation to prove they did. (This is called "direct identification.")

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