The peonies are in full bloom, the weather is lovely, and I have taken my white capri pants from the back of my closet. That can mean only one thing, summer is close! There is nothing like the prospect of summer to bring a spring to our collective steps. Summer comes with the idea of vacation, extra time with family, and maybe even a baseball game or two. But, before you put on your flip flops and head to the beach, there are some tasks you should take care of to make sure that your nonprofit organization is well placed to run smoothly over the course of the summer and beyond.
Step 1 – Understand Schedule Changes
The summer months means summer vacations for both you and your staff. Without careful planning, this can lead to unnecessary fire drills and frustration. To avoid that, make sure that you have an organized calendar with expected deadlines and your team’s expected time off. If you have key Board members who participate in the business of your organization, make sure that they are included.
For many nonprofit organizations, the summer is a great time to take things with a bit of a more relaxed atmosphere and offer benefits such as reducing work hours to accommodate childcare, Fridays off, or even closing the office for a couple of weeks. These are great benefits, but the work still has to get done. Making sure that your team is prepared with all the information about what work is due and who will be off when, gives everyone the opportunity to to lean into stress free relaxation when they are off.
Step 2 – Review Your Budget and Projections for the End of the Year
We have talked a lot so far in this blog about the relaxation that happens during the summer. The flip side of that is that when September hits, it can feel a bit like a freight train. Particularly for those organizations whose fiscal year coincides with the yearly calendar, Fall can be a rude awakening!
The best way to avoid creating stress for yourself in September is to make sure that throughout the summer you are keeping an eye on your budget and projections to make sure you are on track. If your projections reveal that you will end the year materially different from your Board approved budget, it is time to revise your budget and strategize with your Finance committee on ways to address the changes. This is an important step to both prepare the Board and avoid surprises and to implement timely decisions that will help mitigate any income shortfalls or expense excess.
Step 3 – Brainstorm your end of year activities
Speaking of the oncoming freight train, don’t forget that as soon as the fall hits, you will want to have a good sense of what the calendar fourth quarter looks like for your organization.
For our mission driven nonprofits, it likely involves fundraising around Giving Tuesday and End of Year appeals. Start thinking about your approach and messaging. The more you can get done during the summer, the easier your job will be when it comes time to execute on those plans.
Raising money is great, but what about engaging with your stakeholders? With the pandemic behind us and our communities craving the in-person activities they missed out on for three years, this is a good time to plan for those in-person conferences, and other activities. Keep in mind that having an activity early in the new fiscal year can create havoc in the accounting system. If possible it is best to plan the activity to be completed either mid-year or right before the end of the fiscal year. That way it is easier to allocate both the revenue and the expenses in the same fiscal year.
The summer season presents a great opportunity for you and your team to enjoy some much needed relaxation! But with a little smart planning, it can also give you the space to position your organization for a strong end of calendar year performance! Are you ready to upgrade the work your organization does? At Lumix CPAs and Advisors, we help savvy nonprofit organizations create change by providing them the support and information they need to focus on the things that matter. Let’s set up a time to talk.