NPO Blog

Benefiting from Compumentor

I worked as Operations Manager for Low-Income Families' Empowerment through Education (LIFETIME) for two and a half years.  LIFETIME is a constiuent run organization that helps low-income families pursue their higher education and training goals and graduate out of poverty. 

I was fortunate to be able to speak at Compumentor's staff meeting http://www.compumentor.org a couple of months ago and share about my experience as an Accidental Techie using their services. Below is my personal experience with Compumentor and their services.

1) Compumentor Tech Support:

Bulk Mailing Made Easy

  <p class="MsoNormal">It must be Fundraising mailing time!&nbsp; I&rsquo;ve received several questions this past month about the dreaded bulk mailing process.&nbsp; A couple of years ago I discovered the software www.Postagesaver.com.&nbsp; It literally saved me time and money for my organization. For $25 you can download this software, then easily upload your mailing list (from excel) into it and it creates a sorting guide as well as prints out the necessary forms for the post office.&nbsp; </p>  

Types of Insurance for your nonprofit

<p class="MsoNormal">When I started working for Aspiration I went through a process of making sure that we had the necessary types of insurance needed to protect us as a nonprofit organization.&nbsp; It is interesting how many people I talk to who are interested in forming a nonprofit who don&rsquo;t think they &ldquo;need&rdquo; insurance or it isn&rsquo;t a priority to get insurance. &nbsp;</p>  <p class="MsoNormal">I always knew insurance was important, however I didn't realize how important having insurance is until I attended the Nonprofit Risk Management and Finance Conference in San Francisco, September 2005, and was shocked to hear statistics presented from the Insurance Alliance of California about the number of law suites against nonprofit organizations! </p>

How to improve your nonprofit operations in under two months!

<p class="MsoNormal">I had the opportunity to attend Tech Soup&rsquo;s Net Squared Conference in San Jose on May 30<sup>th</sup> and 31<sup>st </sup>2006.&nbsp; Aspiration&rsquo;s own Allen Gunn facilitated several sessions at the conference and I had the opportunity to learn a lot about Web 2.0 and all the exciting new things that nonprofits are and can do on the web <a href="http://www.netsquared.org/">www.netsquared.org</a>. </p>  <p class="MsoNormal">I also had the opportunity to lead a small Q &amp; A session during the Tips and Tricks part of the afternoon session titled <strong>&ldquo;How to improve your nonprofit operations in under two months.&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp; I came up for the title for my Q &amp; A session because I recently noticed a trend I take when I start working for an organization.&nbsp; I follow a sequence of steps during the first two months of working for an organization to improve its operations and ultimately save the organization MONEY. Its not that the organization is running their nonprofit poorly, its just the organization can do things to improve its operations, save the organization money, which in return will help it to better achieve its mission.&nbsp; </p>

A couple Nonprofit Start Up Links

Here are a couple of nonprofit start-up links that I found on some of the listservs that I subscribe to.

  • The Things You Gotta' Do to Start a Nonprofit Organization. The Checklist Project of The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC).
    http://www.npccny.org/checklist.htm
  • "From Vision to Reality" A great book from Community Resource Exchange. Through worksheets, model documents and plain spoken explanations, this 250-page handbook will guide you on how to design an effective program, create a budget, raise money, form a board of directors, hire staff and take all the steps you need to launch a successful nonprofit.
    http://www.crenyc.org/
     
<p class="MsoNormal">(Originally posted on nyc@lists.ynpn.org, http://www.ynpnnyc.org/)<a href="http://www.rain.org/mailman/listinfo/nonprofit"></a></p>

A few nonprofit accounting tips

I am certainly not a CPA but here are a few nonprofit bookkeeping tips and advice I have learned along the way.

1.  I am very glad that I can enter my programmatic budgets into Quickbooks. First, I associate each program with a class in QB. For example, Aspiration's Field Community Building program is a class. Second, I associate each project within each program as a subclass. For example within the Field Community Building program there is the Penguin Day class.

2. I also designate in QB each Foundation that funds my organization as a customer:job. 

3. Furthermore, I use the Unified Nonprofit Chart of Accounts that the California Assocation of Nonprofits provides http://www.canonprofits.org/  

Nonprofit Office Space Searching Tips

A few years ago when I had the task of finding a new office space for my previous organization, I jumped into that process I wondering what steps do I take?  I forged ahead and learned as I went along. However, I am now going through that process again with my current organization and wanted to provide a few tips to make it easier for nonprofits who are also currently looking for office space.

1. I signed up for the Northern California Community Loan Fund's (NCCLF) www.ncclf.org Space Matching service. NCCLF sends out a monthly Space Matching e-mail that lists office space specifically for nonprofits and also nonprofits looking for office space in the Bay Area. Mary McNamara administers this list.  I have been very happy with this service and "found" two offices through the list that have come to fruition.

2. I contacted my commercial real estate broker.  A couple of years ago I found Dave Berry from GVA Whitney Cressman http://www.gvawhitneycressman.com/x379.xml through Craigslist.org.  He frequently works with nonprofits and he helped Compumentor to find their current space.

Great Nonprofit Communications Toolkit

I recently revised Aspiration's communications plan.  During this process I found Cause Communication's "Communications Toolkit: A guide to navigating communications for the nonprofit world" to be a very helpful resource. I ordered my free copy of the book/binder on Cause Communication's website. www.causecommunications.org

I enjoy working with attorneys at my nonprofit

Being an Operations Manager I have come to appreciate working with lawyers.

I personally have benefited greatly from my lawyers' advice and council which has potentially prevented organizations I work for from expensive law suits or having to pay unnecessary fees if I tried to do certain legal things myself. Ultimately, I feel that I am saving my organization money by working with these attorneys.

I found my first lawyer, Linda Gulledge www.workinglaw.com (an employment law attorney) through the San Francisco Bar Association's www.sfbar.org Volunteer Legal Services Program. Linda helped my organization on a volunteer basis revise our personnel manual and keep it up to date with California employment law. I learned so much through this process, that I decided to retain Linda on a monthly basis to provide advice to my organization on employment related issues or situations.  She is so helpful, especially in stressful situations when I am trying to deal with disgruntled employees!

A few tips to know when looking for a Bank Account for your nonprofit

Recently one of the organizations that Aspiration fiscally sponsors asked me questions about finding a bank account. Here are a few tips, I told her.

You can get a Wells Fargo business credit card with just your nonprofit tax-id number. You don't even have to have a bank account there.  You do have to have positive net income on your 990 form from the previous two years, which may be challenging for some nonprofits who receive multi-year grants so one year net income is positive and another year it is negative.

Each Citibank branch gives money to local nonprofits so it is good to establish a relationship with your local Citibank branch manager.  In addition, Citibank has a great benefit and gives employees of any small business free financial planning and seminars through Citipro.

Bank fees are the killer, all banks have a minimum balance for Business Checking and Savings Accounts. Choose one bank and stick with it. I have hesitations about choosing small local banks, they may say they work with nonprofits in reality they are just saying that in hopes to get your business.

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