Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Data (and the Donations) are in the Details

I recently spoke with a wonderful group for a wonderful organization, the Association of Fund Raising Professionals at their Lehigh Valley conference. The presentation was “Where Can Your Limited Funding Dollars Have the Most Impact: Communicating to Your Funders the Power of Their Investment in Your Organization”.

A lengthy title, but it reminds nonprofits that their funders are indeed investors. Prior to making an investment, investors will look at the investment and make sure that it delivers a good return on their money at a level of risk that is acceptable to them. What information do your investors need to determine that their money will make the most impact in your organization?

First you need to figure out where your funds have the most impact. If you have several programs you need to look at each program separately. What are the direct costs related to that program? How many people can you serve? What amount of staff time is required to deliver your services? Can you use your staff time or your facilities or your resources in a more efficient manner to serve more people?

Once you have the financial information and the data, you need to figure out the best way to communicate that to donors and grantors. Different audiences will need different types of communication. One grantor may be interested in investing in your organization because they can see that if they provide money for staff training, the staff will be able to serve 50 more people each week. Another donor may donate because you have explained that their donation of $500 will enable your organization to build a well that can bring water to 600 people every day. And another funder may appreciate your commitment to building a stable, healthy nonprofit that continually is a community resource and they are glad to add to your reserve fund because they can evidence of this stability in your financial statements.

Financial and data analysis will not only attract more donors, it will help you manage your nonprofit better. As the saying goes, “If you can measure it, you can manage it”

Friday, June 4, 2010

You Haven’t Lost Your Status Yet

If you are a small nonprofit under $25,000 and had not filed a 990 or the 990-N postcard with the IRS in the last three years by May 17, 2010 you were at risk for losing your status. However the IRS is willing to work with these small nonprofits, so go ahead and file, even if you did miss the deadline. Instructions to file and the IRS efforts to help the small nonprofits keep their status are on the IRS website in the charity section.

The impetus behind this provision is to clean up the IRS records. It is suspected that there are many nonprofits on the IRS listing that ceased doing business years ago. There is a good detailed article on this topic at Nonprofit Newswire (which is a great daily newswire service to subscribe to)

In the week prior to May 17 we looked up some area zip codes and contacted local nonprofits we knew, that were on the list in danger of losing their status. They were unaware of the IRS Form 990-N. The most common reason was that the Board Members had changed and it is likely that any IRS notifications went to a former Board Member. See this link to look up your area