Nonprofit News

How Organizations Can Mitigate Financial Risks During the Health Crisis

By | Nonprofit News

By Bradley Bartells, CPA, MUN CPAs

The current health pandemic is going to create additional risks to the financial stability and well-being of not-for-profit organizations. With organizations sending employees home to work remotely, or potentially employees out with an illness for an extended period, the leadership of NFP organizations need to take additional steps and precautions to address the increased risks of fraud and/or errors to an organization’s financial information.

Some tips to mitigate the risk of a financial loss to your NFP organization:

  • Make sure expense payments to vendors continue to have appropriate reviews and approvals before payment. Fraudsters and scammers may be trying to get money from organizations who are distracted. Make sure your employees and finance team understand the importance of continuing to follow your organization’s policies and controls for expense payment approvals. It’s OK to be a little extra skeptical and cautious right now. Don’t shortcut!
  • Fraudsters and scammers are trying take advantage of your employee’s fears, confusions and unknowns. Be overly cautious of unexpected e-mails asking for information. Make sure your team is continuing to be skeptical of unexpected e-mails or e-mails from unknown sources. If in doubt, make sure your staff knows to pick up the phone and call to verify information. Even e-mails from a known co-worker or business associate should be scrutinized if the message or request is unusual or somewhat confusing.
  • With many workers potentially working remotely from home, make sure your finance team has regularly scheduled calls to keep your finance team on as normal of a routine as possible. Staying in regular communication when finance departments are potentially fragmented will reduce the risk of a task or issue being overlooked, which in turn will reduce the risk of a financial reporting error.
  • Create scheduled task lists for your employees working from home, to ensure tasks and responsibilities are not overlooked. When employees are accustomed to a work routine, and that routine is disrupted by having to work in a new location, normal tasks and responsibilities may get overlooked. Ensuring that your organization’s normal monthly financial close and reconciliations are performed timely will reduce the risk of a financial reporting error.
  • Create a list of employees who are backups to perform higher priority tasks, in case the primary employee responsible for a task becomes ill and is not able to work for an extended period.
  • Give all of your remotely working employees contact information for your IT provider, in case they have a problem accessing your organization’s network.

These tips will help to ensure your organization’s financial reporting remains consistent when we all get to the other side of this health crisis. Stay safe!

Bradley J. Bartells, CPA
[email protected]

Working with Conflict: How to Save Time, Money and Headaches

By | Nonprofit News

By Marsha Lang, MS, JD
Principal, Lang & Associates

Conflict happens. It shows up everywhere – in our families, our workplace and our community. It can be as simple as a difference of opinion, as confounding as a clash in values or as distressing as suffering racial inequities. How we respond can either exacerbate an issue or foster resolution. Without question, conflict creates opportunity for growth and change, and if left unaddressed will cost time, money and grief.

The expense of unresolved conflict is most commonly measured by excessive sick leave, time spent off task, personnel turnover rate, number of client complaints, and litigation fees. Dollars and hours aside, human impacts can include declining health, damaged relationships and the growth of apathy, resentment and bias—all of which have influence on group satisfaction, productivity and commitment.

Not only can conflict threaten both the financial health of an organization and human performance, but it can also sway public perception and deteriorate an otherwise robust client and supporter base.

When we look at the anatomy of organizational tension or “pain points,” it is helpful to consider that like most physical maladies, there can be several causes, symptoms and treatments. Our clients – ranging from government agencies to private sector business to non-profits – routinely tell us the source of their conflict is usually due to one or more of the following: poor communication, bad attitudes, personality conflicts, bias, misunderstandings, unclear roles and responsibilities, ineffective leadership, inadequate policies and procedures, and failure to include and appreciate.

Once untreated conflict gains a foothold, a variety of symptoms can develop, such as people stop communicating, complaints mount, cliques form, morale drops, tempers flare, gossip prevails and negative criticism increases.

As issues compound and without an effective intervention process in place, leadership is often tempted to ignore early warning signs and hope time will take care of the problem. Management might also isolate those involved from each other, direct the parties to work things out on their own and, one of our least recommended options, request they “not bring forward a problem until they have a solution, too.”

For decision-makers who encourage transparency and dialogue, they can also get mired in a protracted drama if their good intentions are not anchored in a deliberate and thoughtful process for how to define and sort issues. This situation gets even stickier if management is “part of the problem.”

In our work as neutral mediators and facilitators, whether called in to mediate a two-party dispute, consult on organizational development or facilitate team problem-solving, we often discover that basic communication and “common problem resolution” (CPR) skills are lacking. Couple that with highly mobile employees generally and the non-profit world specifically, the ability to maintain a proficient workforce becomes a recurring challenge.

The capacity to independently communicate and problem solve is a key to productivity across the board. With any communication practices that are developed, understood, and implemented to streamline workplace interactions, a dispute resolution tool kit and process accessible to all definitely impacts the bottom line and vibrancy of any organization.

A workforce that can effectively and efficiently manage disputes sooner rather than later saves time, money and headaches. Additionally, this ability builds cohesiveness and establishes cultural norms for how to intentionally work with and not against conflict each time it shows up.
[email protected]

Big Changes on the W-4 Form

By | Nonprofit News
Published Wednesday, January 1, 2020

On December 4, 2019, the IRS released its final version of the 2020 Form W-4. Although the IRS released new withholding tables in 2018, the W-4 remained unchanged until now.

Significant changes to the W-4 were made to bring it in line with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which changed tax rates, deductions, credits, and personal exemptions. The TCJA changed the value of personal exemptions and dependency exemptions to zero.

The Most Significant Changes Include:

  • No more withholding allowances
  • A new Marital Status — Head of Household (with associated tax tables)
  • Lines to claim exemptions from withholding have been removed
  • New sections have been added to allow for adjustments relating to multiple jobs in a household
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Volunteer Engagement Is a Two-Way Street

By | Nonprofit News

F. Duke Haddad– NonprofitPRO

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a quarter of Americans volunteered through an organization in 2015.  Without volunteers, there are staff limitations. It is also true that people are positively impacted when they volunteer, so volunteerism is a win-win situation for nonprofits and volunteers.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, many organizations run with no paid staff at all, which makes volunteers essential to their mission. Volunteers gain flexibility, problem-solving and ability to take initiative when they volunteer. Many people volunteer due to a perceived happiness effect. Others do not volunteer because this opportunity does not speak to what they value, or they do not have time.

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Nonprofit of the Year: Friends of the Elk Grove Animal Shelter

By | Nonprofit News

Elk Grove Citizen

The city of Elk Grove’s long-awaited animal shelter opened last October, thanks to several years of advocacy by local animal lovers like June LaVine and her husband, Arnie.

During the shelter’s 2018 groundbreaking ceremony, she recalled when the city ended its contract to have Elk Grove’s stray dogs and cats taken to the Sacramento SPCA’s shelter in the Florin area.

Local animals were then taken to the Sacramento County’s shelter at Bradshaw Road.


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Federal Judge Holds Freelancers To New California Labor Law

By | Nonprofit News

CBS Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge will not temporarily exempt freelance journalists and photographers from a broad new California labor law, saying they waited too long to challenge restrictions that they fear could put some of them out of business.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles denied the temporary restraining order sought by two freelancers’ organizations while he takes more time to consider their objections to the law requiring that many be treated as employees instead of independent contractors.

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California Goes All Out to Boost College Completion Rates

By | Nonprofit News
December 10, 2019

December 3, 2019; NBC News (produced by CalMatters and the Hechinger Report)

On average, only 58 percent of college students get their degree—and that even allows for extra time, in a six-year window. The graduation rate is below 40 percent for two-year community colleges and four-year for-profit schools.

Why don’t students finish college? The roadblocks are many and varied. It costs more the longer it takes to complete a degree. Some degrees cost more than a student’s expected income in their chosen field. Some students don’t fill out the complicated federal financial aid form, which then locks them out of funding opportunities such as scholarships, meaning they can’t keep up with tuition even if they work while attending classes. And there are expensive textbooks, credits that don’t transfer from one school to another, and food and housing that financial aid doesn’t cover.

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Thieves loot $15,000 in laptops from Sacramento non-profit

By | Nonprofit News
Sacramento Self-Help Housing focuses on trying to help get homeless people off the street.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thieves struck the local non-profit Sacramento Self-Help Housing over the weekend, making off with an estimated $15,000 worth of laptops and equipment.

The organization has been left reeling, trying to figure out how it will serve its many homeless clients during one of the busiest times of the year.

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TechSoup’s Nonprofit Tech Trends for 2020

By | Nonprofit News

“We predict that it’s going to be a big year in nonprofit technology in 2020. In just fundraising alone there are a ton of new innovations that you’ll have to know about. GoFundMe Charity will be a game changer, smart speakers will become an important fundraising medium, and the controversial new ImpactMatters rating system will cause some spirited debate on the value of your nonprofit.”