With 30 years supporting nonprofit accounting professionals, we understand the need for you to be able to report the financial health of your organization out to your board, executives, and donors quarterly, monthly, or even on the fly. Do you have confidence in your ability to deliver on these asks?
If you’re using multiple tools to pull data and reports, you may be at a disadvantage. Ideally, you would have one tool that helps you communicate your nonprofit’s financial story easily and effectively. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
Data with Integrity – Start with this Checklist
Some nonprofits are fortunate to have the benefit of an IT or operations team to help them keep their contact data clean. Others, however, must roll up their sleeves and connect the dots, build pivot tables, and apply a process for maintaining their database. Here are several steps you can take to first baseline your data, especially if you’re in the middle of updating systems.
- DELEGATE A PROJECT LEAD – Cleaning or migrating data can be intimidating, complicated, and a time hog. You’ll want to choose a champion to manage the task cross-disciplines. This will give team leads a point person to whom they can take questions.
- SET CADENCE TO PREVENT MISCOMMUNICATION – When done properly, the cleansing, baselining, or migrating of data is a lengthy, laborious process. So, it’s worth the investment for internal operations to have confidence in the data. However, another cause for resistance from teams is when they’re not kept in the loop. Be sure to progress with transparency, over communication, and inclusion. Because all disciplines have requirements for the data and key performance indicators (KPIs) they use in their reports, their input should be considered.
- BUILD DATA CLEANSE OR MIGRATION PLAN IN PHASES – To keep your sanity and minimize team frustration, break up your plan development into stages. If you’re transferring data from QuickBooks, for example, to another system, each team will have requirements for the data they need. When you implement a process that addresses each team’s need per phase it will be a much more manageable exercise.
Ready for Reporting with Confidence
Now that your contact data is solid, and your accounting data is tied to your General Ledger, Accounts/Payable, Accounts/Receivable, budget, and other critical transactional information, you’re ready to report.
Again, ideally, you’re working with two or fewer tools to respond to reporting requests and/or cadence. Possibly, some of you may still be creating basic reports and dashboards in Excel. If that’s the case, or you’re fortunate to have an all-in-one accounting tool, you should have access to visual options to create useful reports.
A best practice for nonprofit reporting is to be clear on which reports to create, review, and share. Your stakeholders can never be “too informed,” but if you and/or your team are reviewing the below at least monthly, you should be in good shape.
- Financial statements
- Donor reports
- Annual reports
- Quarterly reports
- Monthly reports
- Payroll reports
- A/P reports
- A/R reports
- Purchasing reports
At the end of the day, nonprofit accounting professionals should be able to create customized report templates, create basic financial reports, add formulas and calculated columns to reports, customize report formats, and apply graphics to reports. However, if the data isn’t correct or in the right fields, the reports will reflect those gaps.
If you’re looking to streamline your nonprofit financial management process, join us for our next MIP Fund Accounting webinar. Learn about a true fund accounting tool that can help you manage your nonprofit and report out to stakeholders more efficiently and effectively.