Sparkrock Blog

5 Brilliant Tips to Avoid a Cash Flow Crisis at your Nonprofit

by   Nicola Dickinson on 06.20.17

Last year, 450 Toronto-area Goodwill workers were locked out  due to a "cash flow crisis" that led to a shutdown of the long-standing charitable organization, delivering a devastating blow both to staff and those who rely most on the non-profit organization.

The question is: why did this venerable Nonprofit, which earned $28.1 million - including more than $4 million from the province of Ontario - in 2014, collapse so suddenly? Goodwill CEO Keiko Nakamura did not provided clear answers, so we can only wonder what may have caused some of these issues.

Since we work with many Nonprofits - helping them leverage the latest in technology to manage their finances effectively - we've decided to pull together 5 ways that your Nonprofit can make sure you don't experience a "cash flow crises" of your own:

Topics: Finance

Why a Role-based Permissions Strategy is Critical for Human Services Agencies

by   Cait Abernethy on 06.02.17

Protecting your network and financial data, and ensuring the integrity of sensitive client information, rate high on the priority lists of every Human Services agency. In addition, more stringent privacy laws have imposed new levels of confidentiality on institutions that deliver health-related services, and as a result, permissions management has become a critical component in ensuring information security and access control.

Topics: Finance , Workforce Management

Greater Governance for Better School Boards: 3 Actionable Tips

by   Nicola Dickinson on 06.01.17

We know that good governance means you’ve got a good framework for decision-making, set responsibilities and roles for employees and constituents, and a mission to provide students with an education that will set them up for success.

But what about great governance? Taking that extra step towards peak performance boils down to two key factors: is your school board organized, and is your integrity always at 100%?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell. No two school boards govern the exact same way. Governance guidelines are based on anything from past practice, to by-law rules, to pure policy. There’s no baseline for what creating great governance looks like - only a set of expectations that you need to fulfill, and a checklist of results that should be coming to fruition.

So here are some actionable tips for maintaining great governance at your K12 School Board:

Topics: Finance

From the 'First Date' onwards: 3 Important Steps When Picking a School Board ERP

by   Cait Abernethy on 05.17.17

Picking an ERP system to implement in your school board is very similar to picking a significant other. You want them to be reliable, hard-working, easy to deal with, anticipatory of your needs, and – let’s be honest – visually appealing…you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them, after all.

You and your new ERP solution will (hopefully) be entering a long term relationship, so it’s vital that you choose one that meets all of your needs and makes your day to day role easier. Here are three important steps to take when entering into a relationship with a new ERP solution:

Topics: Finance , k12

Searching for a Single Truth: 3 Problems Solved by an Integrated Finance System

by   Meghan Holmes on 05.08.17

We know building financial reports for your organization isn't a fun task, especially when your data is stored in different systems. Having information in multiple systems means you now have to gather and compile financial results and budgets from different sources and then import that data back into your finance system for reporting. This can create a lot of unnecessary headaches for you and your finance team.

Luckily, there's a better way to handle your day-to-day finance activities that will ease your pains and provide you with a single source of truth - the one financial dashboard to rule them all (as Frodo might say).

Topics: Finance

Guide to Hiring an Exceptional Executive Director at your Nonprofit

by   Cait Abernethy on 04.26.17

Hiring an executive director is one of the most important actions that the governing board of a nonprofit agency will take. The board depends on its director to achieve the agency’s purposes and objectives within the constraints of its budget on a day-to-day basis—not an easy task to accomplish year in and year out. Also, the working relationship between the director and the board, the staff, volunteers, clients, funding organizations, and other service agencies can significantly influence the agency’s effectiveness and reputation in the community. But finding a great Executive Director can be a tricky process as they are senior positions, but tend not to be as well paid as in the private sector, meaning that hiring someone who is in it for more than just financial compensation, someone who is in it because of passion, is critical.

 

Topics: Finance , Outcomes-Impact , Workforce Management , Workforce

What's Keeping Nonprofit CFOs Up at Night?

by   Melissa Alvares on 04.03.17

 

In many ways the stress on Nonprofit CFO's is a lot more than their For-Profit counterparts. This is because any finance scandal in the Nonprofit world means that public funds are at stake and, more importantly, the people that were supposed to be helped with those funds do not get served.

Even though there have been some eye-catching headlines in the past with regards to reporting and misuse, in general finance professionals in the Nonprofit sector are highly skilled and have a strong sense of values. Many are also extremely innovative because with limited funds they tend to re-invent traditional business models in order to maximize the money they have to fund their mission.

In a study by American Nonprofits, more than 900 individuals who characterized themselves as CFOs or equivalents were surveyed about their job. Here are some of the key findings related to what's keeping them up at night:

Topics: Finance

5 Questions Every K12 School Board Should Ask their Technology Provider before Purchasing Software

by   Nicola Dickinson on 03.21.17

Ontario school boards do everything they can to keep their employees happy and create safe and effective learning environments for their students. At the same time, these boards operate with limited administrative budgets, so every penny counts and being productive is very important. This means that choosing the right technology partner for your Finance, HR and Payroll needs can be a daunting task. It takes a lot of time to evaluate vendors and trust that the company pitching you a solution is the best one for you. That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the 5 most important questions you should ask any solution provider before purchasing their software:

Topics: Finance , Technology , k12

Growth Driven Design: Critical systems need to keep up with the times

by   Melissa Alvares on 02.17.17

There's a lot of things out there to keep up with. Fashion trends change every season, that new Netflix series that "everyone" is talking about, the latest new smart phone, fun new apps - the list never ends.

While it's not that important for you to keep up with the new "mom jeans" trend, what IS important is that your technology keeps up with both internal and external changes.

Your organization is continually evolving, taking on new employees, new programs, new grants and funding sources. Then add on top of that external influences such as regulatory changes, new reporting requirements, and increased demand for your services. Your Finance, HR, Payroll and Case Management systems may be perfectly suited to your organization at the Go-Live date, but within a year, or even a few months things may be out of date.

Topics: Finance , Outcomes-Impact , Sparkrock

How to Map Out Your Nonprofit Software Selection Journey

by   Cait Abernethy on 01.11.17

Researching and selecting a new software solution for your organization is no small feat.

Statistics show that accounting software is only replaced every seven to ten years – it’s not something that a Finance Director does frequently. Likely, a lot has changed since the last time your organization considered new solutions – new regulations, additional sources of funding, dramatic changes in technology and software delivery, and an explosion of new choices.

To help you through the process, we’ve identified five phases of Nonprofit software selection process or journey to help Finance Directors as they prepare and research.

Topics: Finance , Technology

Mismanaging Financial Information Could Put Your Non-Profit at Risk

by   Kevin Dayno on 12.07.16

Based on the webinar by the Nonprofit Quarterly, “Creating High Functioning Nonprofits: Who Should Have What Financial Information?”

 You may have heard the saying “A plan without numbers is just a bunch of good ideas.” Although this may not be true in all cases, it is very true when it comes to strategic and financial planning. The importance of managing financial information cannot be overstated because if it’s not done properly it could lead to serious problems for your organization. This makes it essential that department managers and the executive leadership team are all on the same page when it comes to aligning your strategic and financial planning.

Topics: Finance