Setting Your Priorities in the World of Accounting for Nonprofits


accounting for nonprofitsEstablishing your priorities in an ever-changing world of accounting for nonprofits can be difficult. With each passing day, new regulations and requirements appear. Keeping up with these changes, implementing new ideas, and managing daily tasks can all seem overwhelming. When faced with many things to do, the mind often shuts down. It’s easy to feel frustrated if you do not establish your priorities.

Making mindful choices can help you feel more in control of your work. Setting daily, weekly, and monthly priorities for yourself and your team can make accounting for nonprofits much easier and less stressful.

Accounting for Nonprofits: Three Tips to Ease Your Stress

  1. Establish your purpose: What is your group’s purpose or mission? When you clearly identify your organization’s vision and mission, you will find it easier to prioritize the essentials. Once you know your mission, all other activities can be organized in order of priority to support your mission. If something doesn’t actively support the organization’s mission or vision, it can be placed lower on the task list.
  2. Diversify income streams: Avoid relying upon a sole source of funding. If anything happens to that source, you’ll end up scrambling to find new income, which adds to your stress level. Grants end; donors can take their money elsewhere if the economy Diversification of your income stream is equally as important as diversifying your investments. Diversification spreads out the potential risk if one stream dries up.
  3. Measure results: Measure the results of your work. Use both quantifiable means and quantitative means, such as case studies and success stories. Run data reports from your accounting and fund systems so that you can monitor campaign successes and progress towards goals. Learn how to read and use data derived from your systems to better manage your accounting for nonprofits.

Ask Questions to Set Goals

There are many questions you can ask to help prioritize around your organization’s mission. Train your team to ask these questions before taking on another project.

Ask yourself:

  • Are we doing this because we’ve always done it? It’s easy to get into a rut and continue activities simply because it’s what you’ve always done. Examine the success of each endeavor and don’t be afraid to shift priorities if something no longer works.
  • Are we clinging to “pet” projects? Just because something is a favorite of the director or the board doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It may take time to guide them away from their ‘pet’ projects, but if the data shows they aren’t profitable or useful, nor do they support the mission of the organization, then it’s time to rethink them.
  • Does this serve all constituents? Every activity undertaken by your nonprofit must serve its constituents and fulfill your charter. It’s easy to let good ideas pull you in different directions, but in the end, this does not serve your best interests, nor the interests of your constituents. Always ask who the activity will serve and choose those that serve your constituents the best.

Accounting for nonprofits doesn’t have to be stressful. With the right focus, you can create clarity of purpose and peace of mind.

RBP Methods helps right-brained people navigate a left-brain world. We provide accounting software, advice, and consulting for nonprofit organizations. Our financial management systems include software such as Abila MIP Fund Accounting and AccuFund Accounting Suite. These and other software solutions for nonprofit organizations provide easy to use, understandable and useful software to track finances for nonprofits, manage donations, and donor campaigns, and much more.  Contact us or call 503-648-9051 for a consultation.