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Test Your Financial IQ – Eight Essential Characteristics of Financial Brilliance for Nonprofit Leaders

Nonprofit leaders often make decisions about adding structure, enhancing staff expertise, or conducting advanced planning in response to a risk situation, or, as an afterthought. financialbrillianceSavvy leaders recognize the need to make periodic adjustments to processes, staff and technology resources if they want to stay on the path to financial brilliance.

 

Donors have many tools to assist with decision-making. GuideStar is a tool most sophisticated donors use. GuideStar is a public charity that collects, organizes, and presents the information in a neutral format. GuideStar publishes your 990, providing potential donors with full access to the information. Do you know what your GuideStar rating is? The process of adding the appropriate information to receive a Gold (the highest level) rating takes less than an hour and the return on that investment is providing transparency and financial clarity for sophisticated donors.

 

Take this quiz to see if you are on the right path to financial brilliance, or if it’s time for one of those adjustments, then tally up your score to see where you stand:

 

  1. Do you have a financial professional on staff? How often do you forego infrastructure development to save money? When you engage the expertise of a CPA on your team, the next six characteristics can become reality.
  2. Do you have an annual budget? Navigating the fiscal year without a budget is like driving down the interstate blindfolded. By reviewing past revenue and expense flows to forecast future income and expenses, you can create a budget to see where you are going.
  3. If yes, do you monitor actual vs. budget? The annual budget is a dynamic document, meant to be part of your monthly financial review process – planned versus actual expenses. It’s OK to make periodic adjustments, a process that helps you know if the company goals are on track.
  4. Is your G/L infrastructure meeting the need? If your monthly financial reporting: (a) is either non-existent, or (b) is not helping you run your business, consider a review and restructuring of your GL. Make it work for you – not the other way around.
  5. Do you have an endowment fund? If yes, ensure accountability with a documented Endowment Fund Management Policy and related procedures.
  6. Do you have restricted funds for operations? With the help of your financial professional, meet the obligations to record, report, and effectively manage restricted funds by understanding the requirements. Document how your company meets these obligations in your fund management policy and follow the practice in day-to-day activities.
  7. Do you have grants and loans with covenants? As with restrictions, part of monthly reporting should be key indicators on how the business is complying with covenants.
  8. Do you know the core financial data contained on your organization’s 990 and its GuideStar rating? Knowing the answers to the questions before potential donors is a must to maintain credibility and be in the best position to make the “ask”!

 

How many “Yes’s” did you score on the Financial Brilliance Meter?
0 – 3 – Financial Dunce
3 – 5 – Financial Aptitude
6 or more – You are on the road to Financial Brilliance!

 

Whether it’s creating your first budget, enhancing your general ledger infrastructure or reviewing and tightening up financial reporting, successful leaders ensure these characteristics are part of their culture. This financial clarity helps ensure stability to carry out your mission.
Raise your Financial Brilliance score, let Mindy Barker & Associates show you how. We can help you gain the financial brilliance that empowers you with the tools and financial information to improve company value, profitability, and cash flow. Contact me here.

Streamlined Month-End Reporting is an Investment in Your Business

Each month end, financial reporting packages are prepared in companies across the nation and promptly filed…somewhere. In most cases, the accounting team has prepared these analyses and turned them over to a senior leadership team who really does not understand how to use them to run the business. Reams of paper reports stand in piles, creating more of an environmental concern due to the use of paper, than the financial concern needed to effectively run the business.

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Even though the accounting department has included a tremendous amount of information that may help them prepare for the annual audit, have they contributed information relevant to the management of the business?

 

By implementing accounting best practices, such as streamlined processes and standard, relevant reporting, work effort can shift from processing to high value activities that invest in the business, such as special projects and guidance on improving the bottom line.

 

Time is money, and time spent to prepare irrelevant information is wasted. Month end packages should be concise and provide information about the relevant Key Performance Indicators identified by Management. Contact Mindy Barker & Associates to find out how we can guide your leadership team to discover, report and track monthly Key Performance Indicators that help you make timely and informed decisions in running your business.

How to Gain Financial Clarity from Month End Close

As a business owner, do you have timely information to run your business? Or do you feel like you are in jail, lacking the freedom to run your business with financial clarity? I admit it – we accountants can be very black and white. Some accountants feel the need to turn the monFinancialFreedomth end close process to a detail-mining analysis of minutia, requiring detail that is not relevant to the big picture and decision-making.  The time and expense involved with a long, drawn-out month end close is expensive, with the most expensive part being the opportunity cost of management not having the proper information to make the right decisions to run the business. I can show you that the month end close process should take no more than 5 days.  Each month a post-close meeting with all involved in the process can help identify areas to reengineer that will accomplish a 5-day time line.  Each Journal Entry should be analyzed to determine if it can be made earlier in the process.  In most cases, there are ways to accomplish this. Mindy Barker & Associates can assist with analyzing the process and helping you achieve a 5-day month end close.