Good Governance

Team members assembling puzzle pieces to create a whole

Understanding What ‘Operational Capacity’ Means for Your Salesforce Project (Part 2 of 2): Managing Salesforce Throughout Its Lifecycle

By | 501Partners News, CRM & Salesforce, Data Management, Good Governance, Nonprofit Management, Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Tech, Operations and Development

In our previous post, we introduced the idea of the organizational capacity model and the graph of decision variability over time that helps illustrate the idea. In this post, we take the same graph but break it down differently, to reflect a project’s lifecycle.

The first takeaway in this series is that knowing your current organizational capacity can help you align the type of Salesforce projects you pursue for optimal success. You can read about that in more detail here.

Takeaway Two: Your technology enforces your organization’s business processes, which puts a burden on your organization at the same time it offers efficiency gains.

Graph displaying decision variability over time
Everybody wants technology that fits them perfectly—technology that helps them do their work faster and better while alleviating pain points. When you adopt an enterprise system such as Salesforce, you have access to a powerful platform that can be made to automate just about any business process you can think of. In our ebook on the Data Maturity Model, we explain why that should be approached with some understanding of what your organization can support. In this post, we want to further explore the lifecycle of a Salesforce customization, and illustrate both the types of skills you may want to look for outside of your organization, and the tasks your organization should be prepared to take on for a healthy, well-maintained custom project.

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Staff brainstorming ideas

When Should You Automate in Salesforce?

By | 501Partners News, CRM & Salesforce, Data Management, Good Governance, Nonprofit Management, Nonprofit Resources

…I have observed that people want the magic new thing more than they want improved management to fix problems. Managers need to carefully determine the areas in their business where new technology is the right choice and other areas where a back-to-basics management approach may be more effective.

- Temple Grandin, quoted in Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferris

Is Your Organization Truly Ready to Automate?

Nonprofits are in a unique position with their technology needs. With complex program delivery and ever-changing funder requests for new and different data, it is often a struggle to map an organization’s processes, let alone find the right technology to support those processes.

In my role as 501Partners’ senior solutions architect, I’ve had the opportunity to build or design dozens of interesting, complex technical solutions for a range of organizations using Salesforce. Needless to say, I’ve learned some important lessons along the way.

Lesson 1: Assess internal capacity. It’s critical to align internal capacity with technology selectionthis is so important that it became the subject of an entire ebook.

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Investing in Nonprofit CEOs

By | Good Governance, Nonprofit Management

CEO image“How do you up your game as CEO?” Some years ago, a CEO Coach asked me this question and I really didn’t have an adequate answer.

I read bunches of books on leadership and management, but I didn’t really have a structured approach for improving my performance as leader of an organization.

Fortunately, the company where I worked could afford to hire a Coach for me. Over the next five years, she would come in once a month to teach me better CEO skills and work “on” the business. This created a powerful impact on the organization and we were able to successfully navigate huge disruptions in our industry.

As I’ve become immersed with nonprofits, I consistently wonder what ED’s and CEO’s are doing to “up their game”. I’ve spoken with leaders who have engaged in executive peer groups, but most of them are relatively unstructured, or the cohort of peers doesn’t “get” nonprofits.

Others would like to hire an Executive Coach, but almost universally, there isn’t money to fund this.

When you think about the impact of great leadership in the nonprofit community, it seems like investing in their constant improvement should be a priority.

So the question is – How do you “up your game” in nonprofit leadership?

I Used to Hate Audits But Not Anymore

By | Good Governance

I always tell my kids “Hate is such a strong word”, but in the case of corporate audits, it really seemed appropriate.  We had to pay a bunch of money for outsiders to come in and nitpick over our books, which resulted in a document that was ancient economic history by the time it was produced.

What a waste.

Now that I’m a Treasurer for a nonprofit, however, I feel totally different about audits.  We just completed our audit and its been distributed to the Board for approval at the next meeting.  And the document is a source of celebration!  We got a “clean” Management Letter.  There were no Material Findings, and the Auditor’s Report said the financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position” of our nonprofit.

Why the turnaround?  It’s because having complete financial integrity and transparency are essential for your nonprofit constituencies.  Grantors and donors demand this or they won’t give you more money. Clients, members and volunteers also need to know that your organization has financial integrity.  And of course the Attorney General needs to insure that the public interest of your tax-free status is upheld.

Keep Your Donors Out of Trouble with the IRS

By | Good Governance, Information Technology

In her terrific book Keep Your Donors, Simone Joyaux sums up the process as “Give, ask, send thank you notes”. Of course raising funds in the nonprofit world is more difficult than that, but the “thank you notes” need to be more than being politely grateful.

The IRS recently won a summary judgment against a couple that disallowed their charitable deduction for gifts made to their church. According to a recent newsletter from Leimberg Services, the tax deduction for the donation was disallowed because the church “lacked a statement regarding whether any goods or services were provided in consideration for the contributions”. Even after the church confirmed that no consideration was involved, the IRS disallowed the deduction because the acknowledgement was not contemporaneous.

So, according to the National Council of Nonprofits, your gracious thank you letters to donors should contain:

  • A statement that the nonprofit is a charity recognized as tax-exempt by the IRS under Section 501(c)(3);
  • Either (a) amount donated (if cash or cash equivalents); or (b) description of the property donated (the nonprofit should not attempt to assign the cash value of the property in your letter – that is the donor’s responsibility);
  • The date the donation was received;
  • Either:
    • (a) statement whether your organization provided any goods or services in return for the donation, such as, “No goods or services were received in return for this gift“; or
    • (b) if the gift was $75 or more and the nonprofit did provide something of more than insubstantial benefit in return for the gift, (such as tickets to a special event or a dinner), then the charity must include a good faith estimate of the value of the goods/services provided (such as the market value of tickets to the event or the actual cost of the dinner – even if it was donated to the charity).