Non-profit organizations are a vital part of our economy, providing services addressing social, environmental, and other issues without the intent to earn a profit. Instead, running a non-profit organization focuses on its impact on the community over increasing earnings. Non-profit organizations face unique financial challenges; because they don’t sell goods and services, they rely on generating income for their work from outside support and donations. Operating on external gifts makes precise financial management particularly critical for these organizations. All About Businesses’ experts have outlined financial management practices that can help non-profits meet their goals sustainably.
Sticking to a strict budget is fundamental for a non-profit organization’s financial health. Cash flow in and out of the organization is often more varied in income sources and expense types than in for-profit businesses. Income comes from grants, donations, and sponsorships that are inconsistent in amount and timing. Income needs to be carefully tracked, and expenses should be accurately projected to avoid running out of usable cash when your organization needs it. Tracking money leaving the organization is just as important. We recommend assigning set, smaller budgets to specific programs so that individual parts of the organization don’t overspend and pull money from elsewhere in the company. Like for-profit businesses, keeping accounts receivable and accounts payable records, with help from an All About Businesses accounting expert, can give insight into when money moves in and out of the organization, keeping you up to date if you are sticking to your budget.
Employees and volunteers for non-profit organizations are passionate about the work they do to benefit society. Implementing a system of accountability over financial management can help them continue to have the funds required to perform their work. If members of a non-profit organization are tuned-in to and responsible for a portion of the organization’s spending, they can help keep budgets in check, catch errors in reporting, and prevent fraud. A program leader is less likely to overspend on their budget if they understand the entire picture of the organization’s cash flow. Processes such as an approval system for spending and guidelines for handling donations or deposits maintain financial integrity that aligns with the organization’s mission. Working with an external accountant from All About Businesses means you have a fresh set of eyes to catch problems with overspending and provide advice on mitigating any issues.
Planning for the Unknown
Funding for a non-profit organization can be unreliable, making planning for budget and spendable cash changes crucial. Non-profit organizations should prepare for their long-term success instead of directing all their money to current goals. Building a financial reserve is the first step for the longevity of financial health. When faced with challenging times, this acts as a safety net, allowing operations to continue without losing staff and programming to cuts. Additionally, organizations should look to diversify their funding sources; depending solely on a single source of income can put the organization at risk if that source dries up.
Use Your Tools
Various accounting tools on the market can help you stay current with your organization’s financial health. Organized books give you a clear picture of where money is being spent and aid in catching problems with your budget. All About Businesses’ accountant and bookkeeping team is experienced in organizing and maintaining financial records. We utilize QuickBooks for easy management and accurate bank reconciliation. We can also handle payroll to reduce mistakes and take processes off your plate.
Transparency about your organization’s financial health ensures trust with donors, volunteers, and the community. Publishing an annual report helps keep these stakeholders updated on how their donations are used. Transparency about your non-profit may prompt your supporters to further connect with the organization through financial contributions or volunteering.
Financial management is the foundation for running a successful non-profit. Understanding how to stick to a budget, remain accountable and transparent, make a long-term financial plan, and use available tools can set a precedent for methods allowing your organization to continue to make meaningful changes in the community. All About Businesses is here to help you streamline your financial process, handle financial complexities, and ensure your non-profit organization’s success!