Harrington Group Blog

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In the world of nonprofit organizations, adaptation is a necessary skill for survival. Change is an inevitable aspect of life and there are a variety of factors that may cause a nonprofit organization to change. Some of these possibilities include leadership changes, a shift in the demand for specific services, world events (such as a pandemic, a weather disaster, ect) or even just an extended length of time. With the evolution of an organization should come a refreshed mission statement. A mission statement outlines the purpose or goal of a business or organization, what they intend to do for the community and whom they intend to serve.

One reason a nonprofit organization may need to change their mission statement would be to better articulate the goal of existing programs. It’s possible that not much has changed about the organization and the programs themselves have not changed, but there was a realization that the mission statement does not accurately or fully reflect your current operations. During this change, there are some factors you will need to consider:

1. Once the refreshed mission statement has been approved by the nonprofit board, the bylaws and articles of incorporation should be evaluated to determine if they need to be updated. There should also be a full “rebranding” launch of the website, social media and any marketing materials.
2. All changes to the mission statement must be reported to the IRS on Form 990 annual information report.

Another reason an organization may need to update their mission statement would be to reflect any changes to a program or the development or a new program. Steps one and two above will need to be taken. Furthermore, if the mission statement needs to be updated because the operations of the organization are changing in some way, you have two options on how to communicate with the IRS.

3. Tell the IRS directly (if you are confident that the changes are in line with your approved tax-exempt status as specified in Section 501 (c)(3)). This can be done by answering “yes” to Part III Line 2 of the Form 990, which asks if the organization undertook any significant program services during the year which were not listed on the prior Form 990. Fill out an explanation on Schedule O.
4. Ask for approval from the IRS (if the changes are not within the scope of the original tax-exempt purpose). You can request a private letter ruling in accordance with IRS rules and formatting.

If you are considering changing your mission statement, we hope this is helpful to you. When in doubt, consult your CPA!!
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When companies engage in activities that are dishonest or illegal, it is referred to as corporate fraud. Corporate fraud comes in many forms and ranges from falsified accounting to misrepresenting services or products. Without a system in place, it can be challenging to prevent and difficult to catch. Every business should have a strategy in place because avoiding fraud is much simpler than recovering damages after the fact. Creating proactive policies, implementing a system of checks and balances and through physical security, a company may limit the extent to which fraud can take place.

Some of the most common types of corporate fraud include asset misappropriation, falsified accounting, misrepresenting services or products, corruption and cyber fraud.


This type of fraud is internal and occurs when employees abuse the company resources. This type of fraud is extremely prevalent and can be very sneaky. It may include filing fraudulent reimbursement claims, directly stealing money or directly stealing company property (non-cash assets). The incentive here lies with individual employees and usually has to do with employee satisfaction or their own personal financial situation.


This type of fraud is also internal and often takes place at a higher level. A company’s financial accounting records may be altered to present an image of high revenue and profits. This false image might be for a variety of reasons, including to hide shortcomings such as a net loss, slow revenue, declining sales, or hefty expenses. The incentive may come from a company’s desire to look good for their investors or potential buyers and/or to protect stock or valuation from dropping.


This type of fraud is also internal and often takes place at a higher level. A company with faulty product may aim to disguise flaws and defects. This will happen because the company does not want to invest in repairing or redesigning the product, so instead they deflect. The incentive may come from a lack of finances to correct problems or the worry of driving customers away by admitting a mistake.


This type of fraud is internal and occurs when employees engage in schemes to leverage their influence in commercial transactions for personal gain. This action infringes their responsibilities as an employee of the company. Corruption includes bribery, extortion and conflicts of interest.


This type of fraud is external and employees at all levels should be on the lookout for this type of scam. It may show itself as an email or a call that looks to be from a reputable source but with the ultimate goal of convincing an employee to share sensitive information. As more transactions move to an online system, the risk for cyber fraud increases.

With the risk factor for fraud being so broad, it is important that companies set themselves up for protection. A fraud prevention strategy is critical for any business, large or small. Organizations can lower the risk of fraud by establishing certain procedures and controls.

1. Evaluate Your Employees

The quality of employees who you hire is a very important factor in preventing internal fraud. Constant employee evaluation and monitoring is highly recommended. Managers should connect with their employees and spend time getting to know them. Unethical people tend to exhibit behavioral characteristics that may reveal their disloyalty. It is advised that any employee in a position dealing with money or managing private clients undergo background checks.

2. Internal Controls

Internal controls refer to plans, programs or processes used to manage assets and detect fraud. Implementing internal controls is the easiest way to prevent fraud. These controls allow you to easily detect wrongdoing while also making it harder for the employees to commit fraud. Think of this as checks and balances. Segregation or tasks, and documentation review are essential components of internal control that can help to decrease the risk of fraud.

3. Have a Reporting System

Employees should be trained in the area of fraud prevention. They should also be made aware that management is monitoring any potential fraud. Sometimes just knowing that you are being watched can prevent an employee from committing an unethical act. In addition to this, set up a reporting system so that employees may report suspect behavior or activities by coworkers and customers.

4. Regular Auditing

This one is simple, the more regularly you audit the books, the less likely fraud is to slip through the cracks. Cash, refunds, product returns, inventory management and accounting activities should all be audited on a regular basis. Non-scheduled audits can also aid in the detection of fraud.

5. Trust Your Business Partners

Before entering a commercial partnership with another company or person that demands some amount of trust, make sure you have done your research on that potential business partner. Having references and knowing their name and actual address will be a big barrier to fraud. Research before committing should reveal enough information to determine whether they are an ethical business or not and how long they have been in operation.

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Here at Harrington Group, we see ourselves as a little family unit. We each play our own role and we come together as a strong team. This week, we are shining the spotlight on managing partner Carlos Davis.

Carlos was born and raised in Lima, Peru. By belonging to a family of accountants, his exposure to the accounting profession started early by performing physical inventories during his school breaks in the summer. After graduating from high school, Carlos tried to break the family cycle and was accepted into the Arts Program at the Catholic University in Lima. After two years, Carlos decided to follow his genetic calling and transferred to the Universidad San Martin de Porres’ to focus on accounting. After his first semester, Carlos began his auditing career by joining the CPA firm Pizarro, Coloma & Asociados. As a Staff Auditor and later Audit Manager, he worked on financial and operational audits of governmental agencies on behalf of the country’s Comptroller General.

Carlos A. Davis joined Harrington Group in 1999 from JLV Home Health Care Agencies, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, where he worked as an Accounting Manager. At JLV Carlos embraced the passion of working in the nonprofit sector and it is where he first encountered the need for individuals to receive services and closely witnessed the outstanding work that nonprofit organizations perform in order to fulfill those needs.

At Harrington Group, Carlos works closely with many of the firm’s government-funded nonprofits. His client areas include residential programs, foster family agencies, mental health service providers, non-public schools, vocational training agencies, child care agencies and legal services corporations. Fluent in English and Spanish, he especially enjoys interacting personally with people at all levels within his clients’ operations, and building relationships that extend far beyond the engagement at hand.

Since arriving in Los Angeles many years ago, Carlos has always been a big Lakers fan. Lakers paraphernalia is always guaranteed to be displayed by him during the season.  Carlos’ additional passions include attending soccer matches and Formula 1 racing events. Carlos’ perfect vacation is traveling to coastal cities with his wife, daughter, and son while relaxing on the sand “doing nothing” as a way to break from his daily routine.

Carlos is a member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

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The term empathy defines the ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings – which helps to recognize and relate to another’s perspective. At first thought, some might assume that empathy doesn’t have a place in business. Unending to-do lists, tasks and projects tend to overshadow the emotional well-being and personal needs of employees and employers alike. However, integrating empathy in business has many benefits, both internally and for customers and clients.

The most important factors in communication, business or otherwise, are obviously talking and listening. So, how often do we pause and think about how well we are using our listening and communication skills? Let’s look at some details.

Listening may seem straight forward and like it is the easier half of the communication scenario. This is not always true. There are multiple levels of listening that we all experience.

(1) Ignoring – the lowest possible level of listening. The absence of paying attention. We do this to others, as well as ourselves.
(2) Pretending to Listen – A small step up from ignoring. A missed opportunity to connect and make another person feel seen and heard.
(3) Selective Listening – We hear only the parts that we want to hear. We pick up on the parts that reconfirm our own existing bias.
(4) Attentive Listening – Giving full attention but only paying respect to the intellectual. We miss the subtle levels of body language and tone. Our mind is bust thinking about how we will respond once there is a pause.
(5) Empathic Listening – The highest level of listening. We listen with our whole self. Goes beyond just listening to words to a place where we feel there is not much difference than the person speaking and us. A pure connection.

In a healthy communication scenario, we always want to strive for empathic listening. Now let’s think about responses. First of all, most people don’t want pity, we want to be intellectually, emotionally and energetically understood. Sympathy divides and empathy connects because sympathy creates a hierarchy between the speaker and the listener. Empathy is about pure connection and relating to the speaker, without pity. Unfortunately, many of us have learned and practiced some certain autobiographical responses (old ways of listening) that kill the spirit of empathy. Let’s have a look:

(1) Advising – Jumping in to fix someone’s problem. By doing this, you’re making it about you at that point and talking away someone’s ability to find their own solution, which is more empowering for them.
(2) Evaluating – Passing a judgement on what the speaker is sharing with us. Comparing their experience(s) with our own, which devalues and discounts the speaker’s experience.
(3) Probing – You ask the speaker many questions to get more information. The speaker may just shut down and go into a shell.
(4) Interpreting – We start jumping to conclusions, which can make the speaker feel misunderstood. We try to put the speaker in a box of what we assume they’re experiencing.
(5) The Empathic Response – We show the speaker that we truly understand them. We reflect back two key things, (1) that we intellectually understand what they’re talking about and (2) we empathetically understand the emotion that goes along with that intellectual content.

An empathic response is what we strive for. This may be as simple as “I understand how that scenario could be very difficult for you and that it may cause you a lot of stress.” Your goal is to make someone feel heard, in a judgement free environment. Along with this empathic response, ensure that your body language is also communicating your engagement. Keep your feet and body faced in the speaker’s direction. Try not to shake your leg, fiddle with your hands, scribble on paper or make any other distracting motions of movements. Maintain eye contact and a soft face. Keep your full engagement with the speaker.

Now that you have some information on both empathic listening and responding, what are some ways that you can integrate empathic communication in your day-to-day business scenarios? Let’s look at some tips:

Connect. For empathy to be successful in business, is must be prominent. Having genuine connections within your company is integral to forming bonds with clients and customers. It is apparent to clients when employees are happy with their work environment and when they are not. Make employee satisfaction a priority.
Understand Personality Types. Not everyone communicates in the same way. Some people may feel more comfortable opening up in one-on-one settings and others may thrive in groups. Your employees and clients are likely a mix between introverts and extroverts. Having a variety of options/methods for clients to reach out and give feedback will make the customer feel valued and like they have personalized options. The same goes for employees. Make sure you create space for a range of personality types to thrive, so that your business is inclusive.
Ask for Feedback. In order to increase transparency, you can ask for feedback from both customers and employees. This ensures that everyone is heard. You can achieve this through questionnaires, surveys or regular check-ins with employees and customers. When receiving less than positive feedback, avoid a defensive response. You want to learn from the perspective of others.
Respect. This one is simple. Treat everyone with equal level of respect. Whether they are a janitor, an intern, an exec, a client or a employee. See everyone as human and treat them accordingly.

Empathy belongs in all aspects of life and definitely has a place in business. Improve your business communication by incorporating empathy.
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Do you have an idea for a nonprofit organization and are you interested in bringing this idea to life? The best and most needed nonprofit organizations begin with a founder’s vision to do something good for society. A budding concept that can serve a need not being met and hopefully change the world for the better. From the first moments of conceptualization, these types of philanthropic ideas can be magical and inspiring.

A founder may start out by riding the high of their initial vision. Ready to dive in and bring their concept to life. However, what many founders don’t realize is that founding a nonprofit organization is very different from starting your own for-profit business. Probably the most difficult thing to realize is that once you launch, you will no longer be in control, and you will not be the owner of this organization. As a tax-exempt organization, there is no technical owner - you will be accountable to the donors, the board members, the people that you serve, the attorney general and the general public. This lack of control can be a challenging aspect for some founders, as they feel deep passion for their mission and want to nurture and guide the direction in which it moves.

A founder is an important figure in the organization, as the passion and mission for the nonprofit starts with this person. So, as a founder, how can you best place yourself within the organization? You can choose to either be a part of the staff or a part of the board. If you are interested in being part of the daily activities and want to be super hands on in the evolution of your idea, you may want to be the first chief executive responsible for operations, management, and administration. This would place you on staff and would require you to report to the board, who will assess your performance and give you strategic direction. In a sense, you would act as a non-voting member of the board, providing a shield against conflict of interest. Although not receiving a vote on the board, you would work closely alongside them and would have a consistent opportunity to express your ideas and opinions.

On the other hand, if you want to ensure that you have a vote and therefore a direct say in the future of the organization itself, you may want to become a board member and decide to be the first chair. Although you will only get one vote as a board member (even as first chair), you will be able to form the initial board with members who are aligned with your thought processes and the direction that you would like the organization to move in. This ability to curate the board will allow you to connect with others who are able to devote their time and energy to serve your initial mission. The board must always speak with one voice when addressing the public, so if you curate wisely, this voice can be strongly influenced by your mission.

Regardless of which side of the organization the founder chooses to be involved in, passion for the concept is crucial. The more passionate you are for your vision and the better you are able to relay that to others, whether fellow staff and board or the general public and donors, the better your nonprofit organization will do.
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Accountants are professionally trained to help others manage money. So, it’s safe to say there are some wonderful financial habits to be learned from those who have chosen this career path. Now, we may be tooting our own horns here but we’re okay with that. We’ve gathered some of the best financial tips from the Harrington Group team members to share with you. So, if you’re ready to get your finances in order and have your money working for you, try adopting some of these healthy habits TODAY!


Managing your money without a budget is like cleaning a house in the dark. You can’t really see what’s going on and you may or may not be making an impact. It’s not completely worthless but it’s definitely not going to end up in optimal condition. Creating a monthly budget is like shining the lights on your spending and the breakdown of what happens with your money.

A budget is all about wants verses needs. Once you understand exactly how much “extra” money you can allot to things like eating out at restaurants, buying clothes, purchasing tickets to concerts, or engaging in any other recreational activities that cost money, you can combat the common issue of overspending on things that you “want” but don’t “need”. You should prioritize paying bills, getting gas, buying groceries, and saving some extra funds for unexpected expenses such as car troubles or medical bills.


An accountant is always cautious about expenditure that wasn’t budgeted for. A budget should help tackle the financial downfall that is impulse purchases, but it may not be enough. As humans living in a heavy consumer society, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements that act as temptation to spend (unnecessary) money. We get an urge that feels much like an itch, to buy something that we didn’t even know we wanted, until the second it is presented to us. So, how can you stop yourself from giving in to these urges??

Try setting up a procedure for yourself to follow each time you get the urge to impulse buy. A good rule of thumb is to wait it out. How about 24 or 48 hours to think about your potential purchase? This should allow enough time to let the initial allure ware off, so that you may come back down to earth. After your waiting period, if that purchase is still on your mind and feels equally as important as the initial urge, then go for it. As exciting as a purchase can feel in the moment, it can frequently turn out to not be all that important.


An accountant’s job is to work with people and/or businesses to help manage their money and keep them on a good track. This outside accountability works for a reason. A budget is a wonderful place to start. However, the issue with budgeting is that it relies on individual accountability, and no one is perfect. In the same way that we hire personal trainers or link up with work out buddies to keep our physical fitness on track, we can benefit from hiring an accountant or using the buddy system to keep our finances in check. If you are not in a place where you can afford an accountant, try using to this buddy system to secure a source of outside accountability. This person could be your significant other, a close friend, a family member or even a business partner. You share financial information with each other, run large purchases or impulse purchases by one another before pulling the trigger and generally watch over the other person’s financial goals to make sure they are moving towards them. Sharing the excitement of getting closer to your financial goals with someone you are reciprocally supporting is a big motivational factor.


Do you often forget to pay your bills on time? Do you get hit with late fees, even if it’s just a little here and a little there? These can add up over time! Enabling automatic bill pay for monthly recurring bills came be a game changer. We all have hundreds (at least) of small decisions to make each day and so many things to keep track of. Give yourself a break and take this task off your plate. It’s one less thing to think about and it saves you money on pesky late fees.


Credit cards are a double-edged sword. You may think, don’t I need to use credit cards to build my credit score? To a certain extent, yes. Although your score will also be built in other ways – paying off a car loan, paying off student loans, paying your bills on time, etc. Responsible credit card use will benefit you, but it must be managed wisely. Keep it to a minimum. Maybe you only have one credit card. You pay it off ever month and don’t use it for big purchases that you know you cannot pay off. Avoid racking up high-interest debt by avoiding purchases that you can’t financially handle in the moment.

Even better, switch from credit to debit. Debit cards have a natural stopping point for your spending. A more realistic sense of finances. When your account runs out of money, that’s it!


Does your money just sit in your bank account(s) every month, doing nothing for you or your future? You would benefit from taking care of your future self by investing for retirement and other future needs. Many employers will offer employees a match on their contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. If this isn’t an option for you, you should still be investing. Open up on IRA or Roth IRA and make contributions regularly.
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Here at Harrington Group, we see ourselves as a little family unit. We each play our own role and we come together as a strong team. This week, we are shining the spotlight on managing partner Sean Cain.

Sean came to California from New Jersey at the age of 13. He and his 3 siblings were raised by a single mother, instilling in Sean an energetic work ethic, as well as a healthy ambition and a strong commitment to family from an early age.

This work ethic came into play as he put himself through a California State University to earn a degree. Soon after, he began working for the United Way in San Bernardino, California and then earned his CPA license at Harrington Group. Sean joined the company in 1996 and was invited into partnership at the age of 33 by his mentor and firm namesake, Joe Harrington. After joined the company, Sean has never looked back. His steadfast belief in the firm’s core values of “knowledge, service and respect” has catapulted him into a position of value to all of the clients who receive his service.

Sean is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). He is also a proud member of the Pasadena Rotary Club, where he serves on a number of committees and was selected as the incoming treasurer for 2014/2015.

In addition to Sean’s professional commitments, he is a devoted husband and father. With 2 growing teenage boys, family days are spent camping in the desert, zooming through sand dunes or some other weekend adventure. Luckily, Sean’s love of cars and motorcycles is shared by his boys and sanctioned (most of the time) by his lovely wife.

Sean is proud to work exclusively for the nonprofit sector and for clients who serve their communities every day. Sean’s expertise in auditing and consulting works in concert with his passion for service to those who do for others.

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Although the absolute necessity of virtual events is starting to slow down as we continue to move forward from the pandemic, there will always be a place for virtual events in the world to come. The convenience of attending an event from the comfort of your home is almost too good to pass up. In addition, the lower overhead costs that go into hosting virtual events is also a big pull for organizations to continue incorporating them.

Does your nonprofit organization have an interest in hosting virtual fundraisers? Have you started implementing them due to the restrictions of the pandemic and realized that you want to keep them in the mix? Either way, we have some tips for you on the logistics of these web-based events and how to maximize your success.

1. Put Effort into the Invite Process

You’re hosting a virtual event so logically you would just send an e-vite and be done with it, right? Wrong. Even though you will need to send electronic invitations and reminders with direct links to your live stream, you also want to entice more people to attend by reaching out in different ways.

Think of how you can make the invite process more personalized. Perhaps you put together a list of donors who have supported you in the past and make direct calls. You can also send a beautifully designed post card or invite in the mail. Or just a letter reminding donors of your virtual event and directing them to an online RSVP location. Making multiple points on contact and addressing your donors by name will make them feel more connected to your cause.

Make sure to also post links to your event all over your organization’s social media platforms. Give teasers to any speakers or presentations that may be taking place during your virtual fundraiser. Reach out to any participants and ask them to re-post on their platforms to widen your reach.

2. Choose a Streaming Platform

A big step in hosting a virtual event is making sure you have the correct software and setup to do so. Appoint one or more team members to look into software options, as well as streaming platform options and do a compare and contrast. With the increase in digitally hosted events over the past year and a half, there is also in increase in available information on the topic. If it is within budget, you can also outsource this to a vendor who specializes in this technology and have them help you get everything set up, as well as give tutorials so you may be proficient with the process before the date of your event.

3. Secure Sponsors

Just because your event is virtual, doesn’t mean you should treat it much differently. You will still want to secure sponsors for your fundraiser so that you can offset the costs of hosting. You may find that some of your usual sponsors have been hit hard by the pandemic. Fortunately, there are plenty of others who have continued to thrive and have been looking to increase their philanthropy in a time with the world really needs it. Cast a wide net throughout the connections of your employees, volunteers, donors and all of those who are in the circle of your nonprofit organization.

4. Focus on Production Quality

Again, you will want to treat your virtual fundraising event as if it were still an in-person scenario. Quality of production should not suffer and actually should have even more emphasis. Cohesive graphic design, smooth transitions, hosting and overall glitz and glam should be a focal point of your planning process. You want to grab your audience through the screen.

Ensure that you host a dress rehearsal before the actual date of your event to work out any kinks, such as tech logistics, lighting, camera angles, sound etc.

5. Speak with a Purpose

Ensure that you are not supporting the concept that a virtual fundraiser might feel less formal than an in-person event. You want to keep your audience engaged in your mission and your cause. Speak with a purpose and ensure that you convey gratitude towards your donors, letting them know how much their contributions (big and small) mean to your organization and to your overall cause. You can use actual dollar amounts to communicate this message – as little as $5 can accomplish …showing the donor the power of their money.

Throughout your event, speak about the accomplishments of your organization. How many people have you helped? How have you served the community? Keep your attendees emotionally invested in your organization.

6. Keep it Interesting

The last thing you want is a boring event. Due to the lack of in-person interaction, you will want to ensure that your virtual event is engaging and that it doesn’t drag on. Depending on the number of speakers/presentations and the overall layout of your event, you may want to aim for anywhere between 45 minutes to a few hours. If it’s packed with engaging information and attention-grabbing content, you can get away with a few hours. If you have less information to get across, stick to a shorter event to ensure the best impact.

Incorporate fun transitions, perhaps a comedy-based host, a theme….anything your organization can think of to keep your virtual fundraising event entertaining and enjoyable.

7. Say Thank You

Live streaming an event allows you to reach our audience on camera and express your gratitude directly to your donors and supporters.

Flash names up on your screen of big donors an anyone you want to thank. Maybe email out a graphic with a full list of donor names. Any way that you can make your supporters feel special and appreciated will do you good.
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Like any other business, running a nonprofit requires that you annually prepare and submit paperwork. You need to submit to your employees, your Board of Directors, the Social Security Administration and the IRS. Each year, you should also take the time to evaluate your organization and its progress. Take a look at your successes and your failures, go over a strategic plan for the year to come and just do an overall wellness check. This annual wellness check helps to keep things moving, in addition to fulfilling business requirements.

CPA Audit

Contact a CPA to audit your financial statements. Accuracy is very important, especially for maintaining tax-exempt status of your nonprofit organization. Having audited records is ensuring the validity of your finances and adds an additional level of credibility. Contact us today if you need help!

Form 990

As a not-for-profit organization, the government monitors your financial activity to ensure you are adhering to guidelines that allow you to keep your tax-exempt status. In order to keep them informed, each year you must submit the form 990 (an annual information report) to the IRS. This form lays out all the financial activities of your organization. It highlights your financial strengths and weaknesses, sources of income and how you’re spending money.

Annual Payroll Reports

Submit annual payroll reports to the Social Security Administration, IRS and your employees. Form 941 is due no later than January 31. W-2s, W-3s and 1099s are important and must be accurate.

Organize a financial plan for the year ahead

It is recommended that you look forward and plan out your next year. Organize a task force within your organization and assign them the duty of reviewing numbers and strategies. Have this team assess budget costs and do a benefit analysis of each line item.

Organize goals for the year ahead

Goals can shift and change as your organization grows and evolves. Take an annual look at your progress, cross out goals that have been achieved and continue to develop new goals for the coming year(s). Bring up this adjusted goal list at your annual board meeting.

Employee Appreciation

Maintaining a happy staff is just as important as maintaining financial security within your organization. A happy and developed staff are able to carry on the day to day and year to year practices smoothly. Take time to celebrate your staff each year for a job well done.

Declutter your office

A tidy workplace is a productive workplace. Don’t hold on to old files and paperwork or any misc items that have gathered around your office. Take the time to annually (at the least) declutter your office and prep for a fresh start in the new year. Clearing clutter makes your job easier, saves time and increases productivity. It’s important to know where everything is and to be able to quickly access whatever you need, when you need it.
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In life, all things are temporary. This includes the current appointed leadership within your nonprofit organization. Eventually, a leadership role must transition and if there is not an adequate succession plan in place before this happens, it may cause some waves within your organization. It’s best to have a comprehensive written succession plan in place. Seem overwhelming? Let us help! Check out these tips for a smooth transition:

1. Maintain a well-rounded team and train employees within. With a knowledgeable support staff in place, hiring for a leadership position can be much easier. Junior staff members who prove to be hard-working and capable should begin training for leadership roles ahead of time. Even if an outside hire is selected, this support staff can help to bridge the gap of transition.

2. In addition to a strong support staff, strengthening systems and procedures will also aid in a smooth leadership transition. Ensure these policies and procedures are well-documented, as well and being clear and concise. This organizational knowledge will be crucial for a new in-coming leader.

3. Evaluate your organization from the present moment. Is the out-going leader lacking in any areas? Are there qualities in a new leader that would benefit the growth of your nonprofit? Don’t assume that you should look for a new person with the same qualifications. A fresh set of skills and perspective can be beneficial.

4. Ensure that your succession plan accounts for sudden departure. How will you communicate this transition to clients, donors, your board, staff and even press? Planning ahead will allow this process to be well thought out, as opposed to feeling rushed. Consider having an appointed junior staff member who is skilled enough to bridge the gap during a sudden departure transition.

5. Lean on your advisory board. Boards are full of knowledgeable members who can act as strong resources to a nonprofit organization. They may have recommendations, advise and input during leadership transition. Make sure you maintain a strong board for this, as well as many other purposes.

6. Prioritize employee satisfaction. Having well-trained employees is useful in its own right but employee satisfaction is equally important. A happy staff is a helpful staff is a loyal staff. Building an environment where employees feel comfortable, appreciated and integrated is crucial for employee retention. This is a huge benefit when it comes to ensuring a smooth leadership transition. Teamwork!
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