‘Tis the Season for Audit Nightmares


It’s everyone’s favorite time of year!

No. Not Christmas. Not Hanukkah. Not New Years.

It’s audit time! And for some, ‘tis the season for AUDIT NIGHTMARES like these …

1) Disjointed Reporting and Data – Does this sound familiar? Someone you know (not you, of course) has cobbled together information from a variety of disparate sources and systems, and dumped it all into an Excel spreadsheet.

2) Inconsistent Reporting and Data – The kissing cousin to nightmare number 1, an organization’s inability to accurately and consistently produce financial statements and reports that are the same EVERY time is a big problem. (HINT: If you and your organization can’t consistently duplicate your results, neither can your auditor.)

3) Inconsistent Overhead Methodologies and Corrected Journal Entries –Your “creative” colleague decided to change the basis for calculation of a standard allocation four times this year AND reclassified all those expenses – twice. It seemed like a good idea at the time …

4) Internal Control Deficiencies – How the heck did that intern get access to payroll information, and why is it published on Facebook? Words that you don’t EVER want to hear uttered.

5) Improper Internal Processes – Does anyone know who approved this all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii for Charlie? Oh, Charlie did. Oftentimes organizations have proper workflow processes in place, but just aren’t executing them well, or are dealing with insufficient supporting documentation.

Nightmares like these can have a HUGE (negative) impact on your organization. Find out what you can do to avoid them. Download our Five Audit Nightmares You Want to Avoid whitepaper now.

What’s keeping you up this audit season? Tell us in the Comment field below.

Abila Customer Crushes its #GivingTuesday Goal! Find Out How

gtOur customers’ #GivingTuesday 2014 numbers are in, and boy, do they speak volumes.

The dollars transacted through Abila Fundraising Online during the third annual global day of giving, held Tuesday, December 2, increased a whopping 2,000 percent from the first #GivingTuesday, held just two years ago.

In addition, our number of transactions increased by 13 times since the movement’s inception, and even the average donation grew from $111 in 2012 to $199 this year.

But the numbers only tell part of the story.

At closer inspection, we learn that some of our customers knocked it out of the park, while others saw marginal participation. One of the big winners of the day is Wesleyan University, for which we transacted nearly $414,900 in online donations.

In just 24 hours, according to Deborah Treister, Wesleyan’s University Relations’ Director of Planning and Administration, the school received a record-breaking 2,000+ gifts totaling more than $500,000, plus a leadership gift of $100,000.

tiw_headerWesleyan Shares Secrets to its Success

The fundraising team extended a very specific #GivingTuesday challenge: If donors gave a collective 1,000 gifts, an alum/parent/trustee would establish a scholarship for an incoming freshman in the class of 2019. All the gifts given on December 2 would be added to this scholarship, helping fund four years of  Wesleyan for this new student.

The two-week, multichannel campaign spotlighted seven current students who have benefited from scholarships. The staff sent their alumni a series of 10 emails starting the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, and ending with five different emails throughout the day December 2, updating them on gift totals. They also used Twitter, Facebook, the alumni newsletter and school website to spread the word. Additionally, on the day-of, they enlisted the help of students to make phone calls to potential donors from noon to 9 p.m. and held a phone-a-thon in New York, manned by alumni and parents.

Treister attributes their success to several key strategies:

  1. The challenge was very specific and the message, consistent. “#GivingTuesday certainly has some cache,” says Treister. “We were able to build on that, relating the giving to financial aid, a huge topic on campus and the focus of a bigger, ongoing $400 million fundraising campaign.”
  1. The focus was personal. “The seven students featured in the campaign told very personal stories,” she says. “It was a group of very distinctive kids. Not just a single profile. So there was bound to be something in their stories relatable to everyone.”
  1. Participation of celebrity alumni. “We videotaped messages from celebrity alumni and embedded them in our emails,” Treister explains. “Additionally, one of our emails actually came from a celebrity alumnus.”

On December 3, Wesleyan sent out a thank you email to its #GivingTuesday donors, 150 of whom were lapsed donors and 100 of whom were new donors. They are now slicing and dicing their database, looking for affinities and determining “next steps” based on open rates, click through rates; what worked and what didn’t.

Treister says they will use this knowledge to develop a spring giving campaign and plan for #GivingTuesday 2015. The next challenge? Repeating this success.

Find out more about how Wesleyan is maintaining and growing its vital donor relationships by reading our Wesleyan University Customer Success Story.


‘Tis the Season to Embrace Moves Management

tis the season to embrace moves managementThis is a huge month for nonprofits! Donations collected during year-end campaigns typically raise anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of your total annual donations. And much of this money comes from newly-acquired donors.

Saying a proper “thank you” to these folks should be Job One. Simultaneously, however, you need to be setting into motion a plan to convert these new one-time contributors into long-term, loyal donors.

The most effective way to accomplish this is through Moves Management, accompanied by a strong CRM. Cornell University’s David Dunlop, creator of the Moves Management concept, describes the idea as “changing people’s attitudes so they want to give.”

There’s not a “one right way” to employ Moves Management; the key is tailoring it to your organization, systems, and available data. Additionally, it should be:

  • Donor centered – tailored to the donor (or donors)
  • Strategic – focused on actions that increase engagement, understanding and involvement
  • Documented – tracked and measured

Traditionally, Moves Management has been talked about only around major giving. However, online tools, like email, analytics, and donor databases enable you to treat all donors like major donors.

Find out how by attending our upcoming webinar Converting Year-End Donors into Long-term, Loyal Donors set for next Tuesday, December 16, from noon to 1 p.m. Central Time.

Improve Member Experience with New Preferred Payment Processors

payment processing blogMicrosoft founder Bill Gates once said, “Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.”

Now, we’re banking on your success being based on strategic partnerships we recently formed with payment processors Vantiv and Sage Payment Solutions. Their all-in-one payment management systems provide netFORUM Enterprise customers with highly secure, integrated payment processing options.

Discover how our new preferred payment processors can help you improve your member experience and make better business decisions. Register for our upcoming webinar, “Perks of the Preferred Payment Processors,” scheduled for this Thursday, December 11 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (12 p.m. Central).

#GivingTuesday Was Great! Now What?

gt #GivingTuesday 2014 charitable contributions climbed by more than 60 percent over last year, according to early estimates from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Case Foundation.

The university’s report says 15,000-plus nonprofits benefited from more than $45 million in contributions made during this year’s event, held this past Tuesday, December 2. The total number of donations more than doubled over last year to nearly 300,000, and the average amount per donation increased by 6 percent.

Wow. These results clearly indicate that this global movement – in just its third year – is growing in both popularity and impact. This is fantastic news for nonprofits the world over. We love new donors, right?

But … now what?

In fact, answering this question is WAY more important than what happens during the 24 hours that is #GivingTuesday. Now’s the time to develop a solid plan to further engage and nurture these valuable new supporters. Check out these four tips for guidance:

  1. Think “Donor Loyalty” – This is defined as “the ongoing process of engaging with your donors so that they contribute with donations and time to your organization over the long term.” A mere 10 percent improvement in attrition can create a 200 percent increase in projected value, according to authors Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang in their report, “Growing Philanthropy in the United States.”
  1. Go Beyond Confirmation – Leverage this opportunity to say “thank you” by asking donors for small favors, such as liking you on Facebook, registering for an upcoming event, signing a petition, or volunteering.
  1. Plan a Follow-Up Email Campaign – A series of emails automatically sent to your #GivingTuesday donors will help them get to know you better over time. Also called a “Welcome Series,” this is an easy way to increase your touch points, educate about your organization’s mission and impact, and engage first-time givers.
  1. Never Stop Saying, “Thank You” – Thank your donors! Surprisingly, many are not (21 percent of donors say they were never thanked), so it’s a great way to stand out. Thank them right away, and then thank them repeatedly throughout the year. Show them the impact you have been able to make with their help.

These tips transcend #GivingTuesday, applying to any donation drive, including your upcoming year-end campaigns. For more on this subject, register to attend our upcoming webinar, “Converting Year-End Donors into Long-term, Loyal Donors,” scheduled for Tuesday, December 16 at 12 p.m. Central Time.

And stay tuned to Forward Together! Next week, one of our customers shares its #GivingTuesday success and how it was achieved.

Getting Your Thin Mint® Fix Has Just Gotten Easier!

Girl ScoutsAs if looking directly into the face of a sweet, smiling Girl Scout and saying “no” to her cookie offering isn’t hard enough. Now, the Girls Scouts of the U.S.A. (an organization we’re proud to have as a customer) is making it even tougher to resist its $4 boxes of deliciousness.

During the upcoming cookie-selling season, a large majority of the organization’s two million Girl Scouts will be using “Digital Cookie,” a new platform on which they can sell and ship their (in)famous cookies like Thin Mints®, Caramel deLites®, and Peanut Butter Patties®.

Girl Scouts can invite buyers via email to their personalized cookie websites or take orders using a mobile app. This new digital marketing strategy is expected to boost the nearly $800 million raised in annual cookie sales. Additionally, it’s intended to teach girls valuable lessons in online marketing and e-commerce

Even if you’re not a Girl Scout, you might be thinking about how you can improve your online fundraising. If so, our Fundraising Academy might be just what you’re looking for. This six-part webinar series is specifically designed for nonprofit organizations interested in maximizing their year-end fundraising results.

Increasing Member Engagement in 2015

As we head into the end of 2014, it is time to start analyzing this past year and begin planning for an even more successful 2015. Abila and its partners are collaborating to host, New Year’s Know-How, a free, four-part webinar series designed to give associations practical, actionable strategies and tactics for a more engaged 2015.

We’re kicking off the series next week as the dust settles from the mid-term elections, focusing on how you can improve member engagement through online advocacy. Our next two webinars center on your number one communication tool: your website. We’ll discover five trends for reinventing your association’s website to stand out among the competition; as well as the importance of integrating your website with your Association Management Software to offer a seamless and consistent experience for your membership base. Finally, we’ll end our series concentrating on putting year-round member engagement at the center of your marketing activities.


We hope to have you join us and our partners in one of these live webinars as you prepare to increase member engagement in 2015.

BOOST YOUR MEMBER ENGAGEMENT THROUGH ADVOCACY                                             Tuesday, November 18 with Votility

FIVE TRENDS FOR REINVENTING ASSOCIATION WEBSITES                                                 Wednesday, November 19 with Vanguard Technology

THE BENEFITS OF INTEGRATING YOUR WEBSITE WITH YOUR AMS                                           Tuesday, December 2 with AmericanEagle.com

365 DAYS OF MEMBER ENGAGEMENT                                                                                              Wednesday, December 3 with Charity Dynamics

Learn more about the New Year’s Know-How webinar series>

Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofit Organizations and Associations

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