Thursday, October 14, 2010

Upcoming Payroll Changes: Get Ready!

The Affordable Care Act included a number of changes to payroll reporting.

• On your 2011 W-2’s you will need to report the value of the employee’s health insurance. The amount reported does not affect tax liability. These are the W-2's that you will file in 2012 for the 2001 year. However you should take some steps now to get ready for next year. You need to contact your outside payroll company or your financial software company if you prepare payroll in-house, to make sure that the health insurance expense for each employee can be captured and included in next year’s W-2. Also check with your health insurer to make sure you will receive a yearend report that shows the health insurance expense for each employee.

• Starting January 1, 2011, the cost of over the counter drugs cannot be reimbursed from a Flexible Spending Arrangement unless a prescription is obtained.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

20 Questions - Part III

You want to have a good system to track data so that you can use it easily in your analysis process. Here are some things to think about when you are tracking data.

Do we have a good system to track data?
14. What are the deliverables that we can communicate to the grantor? Are they outputs or outcomes?
15. How many people can we serve with the grant? How many units of service can we provide?
16. Can we clearly communicate statistics? Will charts or graphs help us pictorially represent our impact on the community?
17. Are we consistently reporting our statistics to the community? Number of people served; units of service. Is our definition of units of service consistent?
18. Are we already collecting data for other purposes that can be used for grant seeking purposes?
19. Are we protecting the integrity of the data? How is the information verified?
20. Can we use national, state, or local statistics to further communicate the benefit of the grant?

20 Questions-Part II

It can be tempting when you are desperate for funds to apply for every grant that even remotely seems close to your mission. However you need to make sure that the grant will not end up costing you more money in the long run. Here are four more questions from 20 Questions that Data and Financial Analysis can help you answer, that address this issue.

Is this grant the best fit for us?
10. If the grant is to fund collaborative work between two organizations will the collaboration be financial beneficial (or at least financially neutral) for both of the organizations?
11. If the grant is to start a social enterprise, will this social enterprise be financially beneficial to the organization?
12. If the grant is for a new program, can we afford to deliver the new program? Can it be sustainable beyond the grant period?
13. If the grant is provide a springboard to start a new program and we are expected to support the program on our own after the grant period is done (usually 2 to 3 years); what is the plan to become self supporting (sustainable)? How will we pursue donations from other sources for the program?

The last seven questions will be covered in the next post.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

20 Questions that Data and Financial Analysis Can Answer

A number of my posts have been about the information that you can gain to help you better manage your organization through the analysis of data and finances. Remember that data and financial analysis is part of the picture. Most donors give because of relationships; their commitment to the cause; and/or their values. However, data and financial analysis can help answer the following questions that you and/or your donors might be asking:

How can our resources best be used?
1. Where do we most need the money? What program will benefit the greatest from this investment?
2. Which programs will be able to increase services and the number of people they serve (increase capacity) with additional funds?
3. What is the power of investing with our organization?
4. What programs have the potential to attract more funding from other sources if we expand the programs?
5. Will this grant help us attract more volunteers or help us to use volunteers more effectively—adding to our capacity with both funds (the grant money) and people resources (the volunteers)?
6. Are we using our facility, staff, volunteers, specialized resources to their fullest capacity? Is there untapped capacity that we can develop with the grant funds?
7. Do we have a “wish list” of needs and the approximate dollar cost so that we can easily and quickly respond to grant opportunities?
8. How do we compare to other organizations offering similar services?
9. Why are we the best organization to receive the grant funds?

More questions will be listed with the next post.

Grantseeking Advice for a Challenging Economy

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of being on a panel sponsored by the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library, the United Way of Bucks County, and the Bucks County Community College. The event was held in Bucks County Community College's Lower Bucks Campus' beautiful meeting space. As panelists we were asked to offer advice and insight to help nonprofits strengthen their grantseeking efforts.

My advice will be discussed in the next few posts. I wanted to used this post to spotlight something that I learned from a fellow panelist. Linda Goodwin from the Bucks County Foundation encouraged the nonprofits to introduce themselves to the Foundations and make sure that the Foundation knows about your organization before you ask them for money. She recommended that you include Foundations in your newsletter mailings and invite them to events. This way the Foundations know something about what you do when you approach them for funds. Linda also emphasized the value of keeping in touch with the Foundations after they award you funds. They have invested in your orgnaization and want to see you succeed.