Big Picture:

Regardless of the size and success of your organization you mind find a point or two listed here to take you to the next level of financial success.  While there is a usual order of items to build upon, some may not be as useful or necessary for you.  Some may be more important to do before others.  

Keep in mind, the big picture of your organization.  

Assess Current Activities:

Use this checklist to gather information about your current processes and decide what next step would benefit you the most.

Monthly reconciliations

  • 1
    Data entry by one person with oversight by another?
  • 2
    All accounts where a statement is provided (checking, savings, money market, certain loans, etc) are reconciled monthly?
  • 3
    Unreconciled items in the register are reviewed and addressed within 3 months of creation date?
  • 4
    Restricted items are clearing tracked
  • 5
    Board designated items are clearly tracked
  • 6
    Expenses are tracked for funcationality and by nature of usage to the level of detail to satisfy FASB standards and program measurements.
  • 7
    Internal controls clearly define accountabilities of each person involved in financial procedures
  • 8
    Accounts receivable reviewed
  • 9
    Accounts payable reviewed
  • 10
    Financial assumptions clearly state policies for financial procedures

Review

  • 1
    Someone in charge of data entry and categorization
  • 2
    Someone other than who entered data is reviewing reports after reconciliations
  • 3
    A timeline is set for reconciliation, review, and availability to the board
  • 4
    Finance committee in place to oversee larger financial matters
  • 5
    Someone in charge of contracts
  • 6
    Someone in charge of grant submissions
  • 7
    Someone in charge of inter-account bank transfers
  • 8
    Someone approves all program budgets and expenditure
  • 9
    Someone in charge of reimbursements
  • 10
    Someone reviews and approves all bills and payments
  • 11
    Someone manages petty cash fund. Cash payments are the exception not the rule.
  • 12
    Someone in charge of categorization and release of restricted funds
  • 13
    Someone in charge of donor thank you letter acknowledgements
  • 14
    Annual review of paid time off and payroll
  • 15
    Review income statement for each program or cost center
  • 1
    statement of activities (profit & loss)
  • 2
    statement of financial position (balance sheet)
  • 3
    budget vs actual
  • 4
    narrative of budget vs actual
  • 5
    restricted balances
  • 6
    designated balances
  • 7
    event profitability
  • 8
    program profitability
  • 9
    cashflow
  • 10
    accounts payable
  • 11
    accounts receivable

Board Oversight

  • 1
    What the net loss/(gain) was for a specific time period
  • 2
    How much money has been restricted for a specific account
  • 3
    How much money has been designated by the board for a specific commitment
  • 4
    Whether an expense was related to fundraising, programs, or administration
  • 5
    Understand the profitability for each program
  • 6
    The financial position (liquidity) of the organization
  • 1
    Each board member reviews monthly reports
  • 2
    Each board member asks questions about financial reports
  • 3
    Each board member understands the basics of financial reporting
  • 4
    A big picture review of financials of the organization
  • 5
    Review and sign off of 990
  • 6
    Review and sign off of next year budget
  • 7
    Review and sign off of scenario or multi-year budgets
  • 8
    Risk management and mitigation conversations annually
  • 9
    Reviews Executive Director's performance annually and establishes the salary
  • 10
    Two members of the board are appointed by the board to be authorized signers on bank accounts
  • 11
    Reviews and advises staff on internal controls and accounting policies and procedures
  • 12
    Determines whether the organization should have an audit

Considerations:

Checking a task off a list is one thing but what does all of it mean?  How do you use the reports to interpret your data and make better decisions?  

Below are a few considerations.

Documentation of the Financial Process :

Documentation of the financial process is especially important when you have a few people covering multiple roles.  It allows for others to continue these important processes if someone should leave permanently or temporarily.  It creates an easy way to train new staff and ensure clear communication of each person's contribution.  

Review your processes annually and refer to them regularly to ensure that policies are maintained.  

Do you want to go all in or try something out?

Consider whether or not you have full buy-in from your employees?  People tend to not like or welcome change.  Often, to be worthwhile the potential gain has to be twice the potential loss of trying something new. 

An easy way to work around this is to have an experimental period.  For a change that you think would make a meaningful positive impact on your business, consider if a trial run of the product, service, or new procedure will win people over.  

The benefits of doing an experiment rather than rolling in a big change are:

  • demonstrating that things don’t have to be perfect
  • give you solid data specific to your situation on whether it will work or not
  • it's easier to say yes to a trial - easier to get people (even yourself) on board
  • allows you to change your mind

When doing a trial experiment keep in mind

  • continue the practice long enough to know if it is worthwhile but not a waste

  • experiments have no risk 

  • use resistance as an opportunity to experiment

You don't have to start from scratch.

Which of the tasks below are possibilities for you?  

  • 1
    We know what data is valuable to our business, where it lives, and have a plan for the future.
  • 2
    Documents live in ONE location (or specific types in one location like Dropbox and other types in Google Drive)
  • 3
    Documents can be accessed by one person at a time or updated by multiple people simultaneously - no more emailing back and forth
  • 4
    Training documents for new hires include language about data management
  • 5
    We have an index of company information and everyone knows where to find it
  • 6
    Our information is organized into the most intuitive locations
  • 7
    We annually review data creation and storing to ensure that protocols are being followed and kept up to date
  • 8
    Our data has been scrubbed for accuracy and is being used fully

Set priorities and make a plan to accomplish your goals.

As a leader, there are many actions you could take each day to grow your team and organization.  Looking at the big picture and prioritizing must be a regular part of your process.  Determine where the most value for your time investment will be recognized and will progress you towards your objective.  

Once you have set a priority it is time to create a plan so that what you want will actually be realized.  

Other ideas to consider:

  • 1
    Goal and Action Plans
  • 2
    Organization Objectives
  • 3
    Time Management

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