Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Random Reminder

It’s been some time since these guidelines were passed with Sarbannes-Oxley but we still run into non profit organizations who don’t realize that this applies to them. So here is a reminder.
Document Destruction - all organizations should have a written, mandatory document retention and periodic destruction policy. Such a policy also helps limit accidental or innocent destruction. The policy should include guidelines for handling electronic files and voicemail. Electronic documents and voicemail messages have the same status as paper files in litigation-related cases. The policy should also cover back-up procedures, archiving of documents, and regular check-ups of the reliability of the system.
Whistle-Blower Protection - all organizations should develop procedures for handling employee complaints. A nonprofit must establish a confidential and anonymous mechanism to encourage employees to report any inappropriateness within the entity's financial management. No punishment - including firing, demotion, suspension, harassment, failure to consider the employee for promotion or any other kind of discrimination - is allowed. Even if the claims are unfounded, the nonprofit may not reprimand the employee. The law does not force the employee to demonstrate misconduct; a reasonable belief or suspicion that a fraud exists is enough to create a protected status for the employee.
The National Council of Non Profit Organizations has a nice sample policy at these links. for a whistleblower policy and for a document destruction policy.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Like Mother, Like Daughters

People often wonder—how do I promote volunteerism in my child? Another way to phrase this—how do I develop a heart for the community in my child? The difference—the heart connotes an internal change that will naturally produce the outward actions. Aiming to provide your child with volunteer opportunities will certainly influence the way they feel about their community. In the process though you need to make sure they truly care about what they are doing. Their community involvement is more likely to last into adulthood if this has been cultivated.

So how do you develop this heart? The old adage-children learn by example-is the key. Our marketing director, Liz Vibber has volunteered for numerous organizations. She assists with the school’s annual fundraiser, was instrumental in securing funding for new playground equipment for the school, and organizes the school’s after school club program. Is it any surprise that her daughters have started philanthropic endeavors of their own? Just this year, as part of a Brownie project, her 3rd grader wrote a note to the office to ask them to purchase candy to raise money to buy supplies for the local animal shelter. However, the candy wasn’t the typical box of fundraiser candy—it was her own Halloween candy. After raising the money and purchasing supplies, in good fundraising fashion, she wrote a thank you note “You are an angel to the animals”. Her other daughter, a 7th grader, approached the principal of their school with a friend. They wanted to start a reading program for the younger children at the elementary schools.

These are just two of several examples of the girls’ concern for their community. Why? Because of their mother’s example.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What I did with my snow day

There is something magical about a snow day--even when you are a grownup and spend the day working from home. We had been eagerly anticipating the first snow day. Our school district had not even experienced a two hour delay yet, this school year. This storm looked promising—snow, changing to a wintry mix of ice. And indeed it was. School was closed. There was enough ice to convince me to stay in and work from home. Thanks to the wonder of technology I accessed the office through the VPN, signed on to AIM in case anyone from work needed to “chat”, and worked on and off throughout the day.

Being at home had its advantages, I made heart shaped pancakes in honor of Valentine’s Day for my two teenagers who still appreciate corny sentimental stuff like that; I reminded my son to shovel the driveway before my husband got home from work (thank you to the neighbor across the street who used his snow blower to clean out the end of the driveway); and I helped my daughter with some history questions in preparation for her midterm on Friday. As the kids have gotten older and busier, it was nice to be together for the whole day.

I was also able to get this blog started. Our CPA firm,
Bee, Bergvall & Co., P.C. has been working with non profit organizations for over 25 years. About 6 years ago, with the encouragement of our enterprising marketing director, Liz Vibber, we started a non profit newsletter and a non profit management seminar series. This past summer we launched the Bucks County Center for Non Profit Management. Through the seminar series we have met many wonderful non profits and have been energized by the exchange of ideas. A number of us at the firm serve on non profit boards and are always asking each other questions and sharing ideas. Clients talk to us about accounting and tax issues; auditing issues; strategic planning; and grant writing issues. We talk about how we want our kids and teenagers to develop a heart for the community. The benefits to this exchange of information increases exponentially.

So with this blog we are taking these discussions to the web in hopes of sharing information that will help other non profit organizations; inspire individuals to make a difference in their corner of the world; and generate discussion.