The business of doing good: How to manage your non-profit’s finances
Colorado Springs boasts some truly beautiful scenery. But did you know this scenic city is also home to nearly 2,000 non-profit organizations? Recently UMB hosted a group of almost 40 representatives from some of these local non-profits to talk with them about a variety of financial management tips for non-profit organizations. A panel of UMB experts shared information on topics like treasury management, purchasing cards, investment management, and endowments/foundations.
The non-profit sector is a growing field, not only in Colorado Springs but across the country. Non-profit organizations give back millions of dollars to their communities each year, but they’re also important to the local and national economy. Public charities made up 12% of the 13.24 trillion GDP in 2010 (Urban Institute Press‡). In fact, non-profit employee numbers went up during the financial crisis, when much of the private sector full-time employee (FTE) numbers were going down.
The organizations that thrive combine streamlined fundraising processes, supporter/employee enthusiasm and buy-in, a strong relationship with their bank and a sound financial structure to manage the funds for the organization. Today I’ll address the fundraising component.
Is your donation and collecting process easy? Your supporters will appreciate simple donation methods, making them more likely to donate again. Streamlining the process to collect funds can save money to go back to your organization and enhance the work you are doing to better your community. Here are some ways to simplify your fundraising process:
- Consider a multi-channel electronic billing and payment solution. You can speed up the cash flow process and possibly increase recurring donors by giving them flexibility with how they can donate. For example, you could use a mobile phone application to gain followers who will then regularly donate to your organization. The increasingly popular text-to-give or text-to-donate programs are an excellent example of this.
- Look for a program with a high level of automation to streamline the fundraising process and reduce cost. A program with more automation is also likely to have reporting capability. Fundraising reporting provides valuable information you can use to track donation trends and find your strengths and weaknesses in the various channels you use to collect funds.
- Give your supporters plenty of options on how to donate in addition to electronic solutions. This can be something as simple as a donation box at your next event. Don’t ignore low-tech forms of giving in an effort to chase the next big technology trend. Smart phones are more widely-used all the time, but don’t assume that you should invest all your efforts into mobile giving apps. People like to have options and you never want to inhibit your supporters’ ability to donate.
Fundraising is a top priority for any non-profit, but smart and streamlined fundraising is what will take your organization to the next level.
Be sure to check out my upcoming blogs that will cover supporter and employee enthusiasm, strong bank partnerships and finally, sound financial structure.
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Mr. Doyle is community bank president for UMB’s Colorado Springs region. He is responsible for guiding strategic direction in the Colorado Springs region as a member of the Colorado management team. He joined UMB in 2011 and has eight years of experience in the financial services industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. and a master’s degree in business administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.