June 3, 2022 | 4 min read
Welcome to the first edition of the Friday Five, a weekly post aimed at providing simple and impactful tips for non-profit management. Every Friday we will share 5 tips across a variety of topics: accounting, fundraising, operations, and some surprises along the way. Today we’re discussing grant management with a focus on accounting.
Grant Management is essential to nonprofits, and the paperwork associated with accounting can be overwhelming. The painstaking process of shuffling files, filtering and finding emails, and tracking down receipts to ensure proper documentation for the accounting to work is more than a handful. It’s hard work, on top of all your other hard work.
We spoke with our accounting team to find ideas to help mitigate all this administrative hassle and came up with five tips to help improve your grant accounting process.
Comment and share which Friday 5 tip is your favorite!
It’s important to really understand the type of grant(s) you have. Before you apply for any grant, check for restrictions. It’ll save you time and headaches in the long-term. Restrictions come in three forms: time, purpose, or both. For time, grants can either be temporarily or permanently restricted. Knowing if there are specific functions needed will make sure you continue qualifying in the future.
Set up a good recording and documentation process. We recommend virtual folders as they are easier to keep track of and share. A great way to start would be creating a folder for every month. Then, when it’s time to prepare your report / voucher packet, all the documents are organized and easy to take action against.
Templates save time! When executing commonly repeated actions, templates will ease the repetition and speed up your process.
Pro tip: This is not solely applicable to grants. Payroll and benefits are great for templates too. Creating templates for these helps speed up the process of allocating expenses. You’ll improve accuracy, gain efficiency and feel less bogged down.
Now that you have a great documentation process – use it! Sounds simple, but how many times do you work out a great system only to have noise take over and start abandoning the process? All it takes is an urgent email or unexpected request to let clutter collect on your desktop or allow for unorganized files – files you probably will need – to fill your downloads folder.
Take a breath and a few minutes to stay organized saving time and avoiding headaches when it comes time to prepare the reports / vouchers. The reality is adherence to the process and regular maintenance are needed to make this work. You put in the work to build it, so use it!
Software is great, until it’s not. Far too often we seek to have software solve a problem only to create a workaround here, there, and everywhere. Software tools have become so intertwined in our everyday life that it can be hard to remember a time without them, which is why we need to be smart about which ones we use. Before spending the money and time implementing another system, take time to think through critical paths, the problems being solved and the administrative work associated with a deployment. Try to find tools that work easily and reliably with one another, and don’t take a software engineer to configure or manage. Software used wisely can save you time and energy, but the wrong tools, in any quantity, will have the reverse effect.
We hope you found this helpful, and most of all enjoyed! Have a favorite tip or think we missed something? Come join the conversation with us on Facebook or Twitter.
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DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.
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