Raising the Bottom Line

Things Are Looking Up: Survey Says Manufacturers Are Optimistic for Future

Posted by Edward Thompson on Thu, May 25, 2017 @ 07:03 AM

business-arrow-up

In an industry that has had its fair share of hurdles to jump, manufacturers have shown a tremendous increase in optimism since the 2016 election. In the most recent National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Quarterly Outlook Survey, manufacturers polled across the United States overwhelmingly reported high levels of optimism, with 93% of respondents saying they felt positive about their company’s outlook. Only 56% said the same this time last year. According to NAM, this unprecedented level of positivity is a record-high in the outlook survey’s 20-year history.

On the local front, this increase in optimism could be attributed to the passing of the More Jobs for Marylanders Act in April. Taking effect on June 1, the bill is targeted to help restore Maryland’s economy and will provide tax incentives for Maryland manufacturers who create jobs in the state. Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland President Michael Galiazzo, Ph.D called the legislation the “most significant support from state government for manufacturing and for job seekers in decades.”

Headed in the right direction

When it comes to the direction of the country, more than half of manufacturers think the United States is headed in the “right direction,” a 34% jump from December 2016. Despite this increase, 31% of manufacturers report being “unsure” about whether the country is heading in the right direction. This could be an indicator of the uncertainty some business owners may hold about the current administration, said NAM, particularly in regards to policy on trade agreements and tariffs.

Top business concerns

Primary business concerns for manufacturers continue to be rising healthcare/insurance costs (65%), followed by attracting and retaining a quality workforce (64%) and an unfavorable business climate (58%). In regards to finding and retaining qualified employees, one survey respondent said, “One would think that with the so called high unemployment we should find people that want to work.”

However, unlike the blue collar positions of years past, manufacturers of today are increasingly seeking more highly-educated and technologically-savvy employees. This means manufacturers are now competing for labor not only within the industry but also with other sectors that are hoping to recruit the same type of professionals.

Get more data

While NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey is released on a quarterly basis, manufacturers can get up-to-date news and articles delivered straight to their inbox when they subscribe to our manufacturing blog.

subscribe-manufacturing-blog

Tags: Manufacturing & Distribution, Ed Thompson, manufacturing

4 Tips to Create Your Nonprofit’s First Succession Plan

Posted by Ernie Paszkiewicz on Wed, May 24, 2017 @ 07:49 AM

business-man-sunrise

Losing your nonprofit’s executive director is a lot like losing your trail guide in the middle of the forest – slightly terrifying, completely disorienting and leaving you wishing you’d spent more time watching which turns your guide had made along the way. For most nonprofits, executive level turnover can be a challenging and chaotic time for the entire organization, leading to operational and managerial speed bumps, uncertainty for the future and headaches for board members.

The majority of nonprofits have no plan as to how they will handle the loss of their organization’s director. This leaves them scrambling when inevitable turnover comes to pass because all of a sudden they have a limited amount of time to answer crucial questions like:

  • Are we going to promote within or look outside of the organization for our next director?
  • Who will lead the organization until a new director can be found?
  • Is our board prepared (i.e., do they have the right skill sets) to lead the search for a new director?
  • Who’s going to take over the auxiliary duties the old director has been overseeing for the past ten years and the new director isn’t qualified to undertake?

However, executive turnover doesn’t have to be chaotic. In fact, nonprofits can ensure a smoother transition from leader to leader by developing and maintaining a succession plan – a plan to develop and identify new leaders before a leader’s departure.

Get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox when you subscribe to our nonprofit blog.

In the nonprofit world, executive directors and board members can be hesitant to bring up succession planning, either because the director doesn’t want to reveal he or she is thinking of leaving, or the board doesn’t want to suggest they want the director gone. However, succession planning isn’t just for instances of turnover.

A succession plan can come into play even in emergency or temporary periods of absence, like if the director is in an accident or has a family crisis that requires a long period of time out of the office. In these instances, board members can rely on the plan they’ve created to know who will be responsible for what until the director returns.

Here are a few tips on how to get started on your organization’s first succession plan.

1. Identify future leaders

Even if your organization’s executive director has no intention of leaving, it’s wise to keep an eye out for future leadership talent already working within your nonprofit. Remember, a succession plan isn’t always just about routine turnover, but also emergency situations that may require you to name an interim director or replace a director with little notice.

By identifying which employees would do well in an executive roles, you are able to start grooming those employees to take on more responsibility in your organization, better preparing them for future leadership opportunities.

2. Decide who is doing what

One key component of a succession plan is identifying who will be responsible for what until leadership can be restored. For example, your board treasurer may agree to take over any accounting responsibilities the director had on their plate until a new leader can be found. You should also consider less obvious responsibilities, like who will talk to the media, interact with building management, etc. if your director is responsible for those tasks.

3. Evaluate the responsibilities of the current position

In many cases, a long-term executive director has accumulated so much responsibility that it becomes difficult or impossible for them to focus their energy where it really counts – leading the organization. In the succession planning process, it’s important for leadership and the board to evaluate the current executive director’s responsibilities and decide whether it is strategic to make a hire or two to lighten the burden. This will make a tremendous difference when transitioning leadership, by ensuring the next director can focus on leading rather than spinning their wheels trying to accomplish unrelated duties they inherited.

Remember, while your current executive director may come from X background and therefore manages X tasks outside of his or her official duties, your next executive director may not have those same skills. By identifying gaps before transitioning, you are able to save your organization a lot of time and energy trying to segregate duties after the fact or trying to find a candidate who meets an impossible roster of qualifications.

4. Be prepared to revisit the plan

Succession planning is not a one and done activity to be undertaken at your next board retreat. To ensure your organization is well equipped to weather the storm of executive turnover, you must be committed to keeping your organization’s succession plan as up-to-date as possible. That means revisiting the plan on a regular basis to ensure that all of your bases are still covered and make updates where needed.

Where do I go from here?

Even the best nonprofit executives, board members and staff must commit to staying up-to-date on today’s best practices. To get new articles emailed to your inbox as they are published, subscribe to our free nonprofit blog. You can also catch up on our free nonprofit webinar series, starting with our most recent webinar, Secrets of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising.

subscribe-nonprofit-blog

Tags: Ernie Paszkiewicz, nonprofit, succession planning

4 Fundraising Questions Every Nonprofit Should Know the Answer To

Posted by Ernie Paszkiewicz on Thu, May 18, 2017 @ 09:26 AM

question-mark-business

When it comes to fundraising, nonprofits have a lot of questions. In a recent webinar hosted by our Nonprofit Group, “Secrets of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising,” presented by nonprofit fundraising expert Vince Connelly of Connelly & Assoc. Fundraising, LLC, we received several questions from nonprofits with concerns about all too common fundraising issues.

Here are just a few of the questions we discussed during the webinar:

Q: Do you have any tips on how my organization can build its list of donors, especially if we haven’t done solicitations in the past?

A: I think both the largest and smallest nonprofit in town should always be asking themselves this question – how can we start building or keep building our list? My advice is to go to the folks who are currently contributing. Go to your board chair, CEO, your organization’s staff and volunteers, and ask these people who they know who might be willing to donate to your nonprofit. Some folks may not be able to give you a single name, but some may give you ten names. The most important thing you can do is ask for that input.

Q: What if a group doesn’t have a specific program to solicit donations? Any suggestions on that?

A: If I’m understanding that correctly, it sounds like you’re trying to raise money for general operating support, which can be a little tougher. One of the reasons capital campaigns (like raising funds for a new turf field for your school, roof for your church, etc.) are so successful is because people like to give, for the most part, to very specific things.

Unlock the secrets to making this year your most successful fundraising year to date in this free on-demand webinar.

And I know it can be frustrating at times that it’s easier to raise money for a new building when you might actually just need the money for the folks walking in and out the front door. However, the important thing here is that you go to people and talk to them about what your organization is doing day by day. It might not be as sexy or as glamorous as a new building, but it can be very compelling.

Q: We have board members who support our organization through the donation of professional services but are reluctant to get involved in the fundraising side, is this a potential problem?

A: Yes, this is definitely a problem. Being on a board is an honor and privilege, and it’s all about advancing the mission of the organization. I’m not saying everyone on your board should give X amount of dollars each year because with a good, diverse board, you’re going to have some people who can’t afford to give as much as the person sitting next to them. However, you have to have board members who are going to walk the walk and talk the talk and set that example of donating.

I’ll tell you right now, if you don’t have 100% board participation, and by that I mean, board members giving actual cash, writing checks or pledging funds, it’s going to make it very difficult to solicit money from many foundations and philanthropists. These outside funding sources will ask if 100% of your board is donating; and trust me, they’re going to follow up. While they probably won’t delve as deep to ask how much each individual board member is giving, they are going to want to know how much the board is contributing in total each year. The more impressive that number, the better.

watch-nonprofit-fundraising-webinar

When your board is donating, it shows their investment in your organization, and that your people are really behind your nonprofit. Gifts of services and gifts in-kind are definitely important, but honestly it’s going to be hard to communicate the true value of those gifts to someone who is not an immediate member of your organization.

Q: My organization is looking to start focusing more on individual donors instead of just foundations, what tips do you have?

A: I think part of this goes back to going to your board and stressing how important it is to start bringing in individual support. However, you have to be careful of putting all your eggs in one basket. A lot of smaller organizations have one big foundation donor, government grant or corporate donor, and they fail to get the necessary diversity needed to really secure their funding pool.

I would be very nervous if any organization was primarily funded through one type of funding (foundation, individual, corporate, etc.). Fund availability can change in a heartbeat. Diversifying is the right thing to do in every instance, and it’s very much the right thing to do in a fundraising arena. I would go to your board members and explain the importance of increasing your donor pool. Most likely they are going to understand and can give some names of potential donors who could help.

Get more answers

To learn more about how your organization can be successful in its fundraising efforts and techniques to get you there, check out our free on-demand webinar, “Secrets of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising,” presented by Vince Connelly. To start watching the webinar now, click here.

About Vince Connelly

Vince Connelly Headshot.jpgVince Connelly is the president of Connelly & Assoc. Fundraising, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in feasibility studies, and major gift and capital campaign coordination. Vince has over 30 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations in Baltimore and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Tags: nonprofit, fundraising

The Skinny on the Trump Administration’s 2017 Tax Proposals: What Do They Mean For You?

Posted by Paul Wallace on Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 11:35 AM

Trump Tax Proposal 2017.jpeg

The Trump administration, through Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. National Economic Director Gary Cohen, recently provided a brief outline of the much-anticipated tax reform and relief proposals it intends to pursue later this year.

Although Secretary Mnuchin described the plan as “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” and said it would have a significant impact on how businesses and individuals pay their taxes, the plan is, well, short on actual details.

Let’s look at what’s been proposed for individuals and businesses. Many of these proposals call for dramatic tax cuts for individuals and businesses, and are reminiscent of concepts promoted by Trump’s presidential campaign.

Tax Proposals That Affect Individuals 

  1. The highest marginal rate would be reduced from 39.6% to 35%, and the current seven brackets would be reduced to three (10%, 25% and 35%). The proposal does not provide the breakpoints for these brackets.
  1. The net investment income tax of 3.8% would be repealed.
  1. The alternative minimum tax would be repealed.
  1. The standard deduction would be doubled and most itemized deductions, excluding home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, would be disallowed.
  1. The estate tax would be repealed.

 Tax Proposals That Affect Businesses 

  1. The highest marginal corporate income tax rate would decrease from 35% to 15%.
  1. Business income from “pass-through” entities (e.g., LLCs, partnerships and S corporations) would be taxed at a rate no higher than 15% (vs. 39.6% currently).
  1. There would be a strategic change from the current taxation of worldwide income to a territorial approach.
  1. Corporations would be allowed to repatriate offshore earnings to the U.S. at a low one-time income tax.

Who Will Reap the Benefits of the Proposed Tax Law Changes?

Practically every corporation and owner of a pass-through entity, large or small, that is profitable would reap some benefit from these business proposals, and the benefits could be substantial. Reducing the highest rate on business income to 15% could lower a business’s federal income tax liability by up to 62%!

High net worth taxpayers would most likely see their income tax liabilities decrease. Additionally, those families with taxable estates (e.g., married couples with joint net worth in excess of $10,980,000) would obtain significant estate tax benefits, allowing family wealth to transfer to children and grandchildren with no shrinkage from estate tax.

Subscribe to our blog to get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

For low and middle income taxpayers, the outlook is mixed. The doubling of the standard deduction will simplify or eliminate tax return filing for many of these taxpayers, but the loss of certain deductions (e.g., medical expenses, state and local income taxes, unreimbursed employee business expenses) could mitigate the benefit of lower tax rates, or even increase their taxes. We won’t know for sure until the proposed tax brackets are released.

Some Hurdles Might Stand In the Way

Politicians from both sides of the aisle have been in agreement that the U.S. tax code – consisting of a staggering 10 million+ words – is cumbersome and overly complicated, and many of President Trump’s proposals would succeed in making the law simpler. However, making the code both “fair” and “simple” could prove to be an impossible task.

Questions exist whether this plan could be revenue neutral (the administration hopes that tax relief will stimulate business activity and actually increase tax revenues). Additionally, even though most income tax is paid by high income taxpayers (and logically the majority of benefits would fall to them), providing tax relief to wealthy taxpayers at a time when the national debt is almost $20 trillion may be a tough sell. And while the estate tax provides relatively little tax revenue, its outright repeal could be problematic for the same reasons.

As the Trump administration continues to receive “friendly fire” from fellow Republicans and Democrats alike, it will be interesting to see how these proposals evolve in the House and Senate later this year. 

What’s Next for You, the Taxpayer?

Our tax department is monitoring potential tax law changes that might down the pipeline. In the meantime, we continue to help clients take advantage of every possible way to minimize their tax liability. Need help? We’re here. Call Paul Wallace, CPA, CFP, at 800.899.4623 or contact us online to evaluate your tax situation and plan for what’s coming down the road.

Subscribe to our blog!

Tags: individual tax planning, Paul Wallace, income tax, taxpayers, tax, business tax planning

6 Personnel Development Trends Maryland Construction Contractors Should Know [Infographic]

Posted by Steve Ball on Mon, May 15, 2017 @ 11:16 AM

Over half of Maryland construction contractors say finding and retaining good employees is their top concern for 2017. Personnel development has long been an issue in the construction industry, but as the economy continues to recover, competition for experienced labor is expected to get fiercer.

In early 2017, we surveyed Maryland construction contractors to get their take on personnel topics like:

  • The #1 reason employees leave their company
  • Top benefits offered to employees
  • Where they find new employees

The following infographic highlights results from the 2017 Maryland Construction Industry Survey. If you'd like to view a larger copy of the infographic, click here. (Psst…to get more data, download your free copy of the executive summary of the survey results.)

2017-Maryland-Construction-Survey-Infographic


Get more data

For more data and insights from the 2017 Maryland Construction Industry Survey, download a free copy of the executive summary of the survey results.

2017-maryland-construction-survey-executive-summary

Tags: construction, Maryland, 2017 Maryland Construction Industry Survey

6 Reasons Why It Makes Sense to Outsource Your Organization’s Accounting Function

Posted by Scott Handwerger on Tue, May 09, 2017 @ 10:57 AM

Outsource Your Accounting Function Blog Post.jpg

Even as a CPA firm, we’re not above admitting that while the accounting function is incredibly important in any organization, it is often time consuming and gets in the way of more exciting revenue-generating business initiatives.

If, as a business owner, you have toiled over internal accounting tasks when you could have spent that time on big picture items like developing an amazing new marketing campaign, you’re not alone. That’s why recent years have seen a growing trend in business owners outsourcing their accounting function to CPA firms.

How do you know whether outsourcing the accounting function makes sense for your business? Let’s pose some questions.

  • Do you struggle to get reliable accounting information from your internal accounting department?

  • Are employee costs, such as rising salaries and rising health insurance costs, making it more difficult to hire qualified accounting personnel?

  • Have you spent significant money on robust accounting software that isn’t used to its fullest potential, or at all?

  • Are you spending too much of your time on back office functions such as payroll, and not spending enough time to grow your business?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then it’s time to consider outsourcing your business accounting function.

Many small- and medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of the growing trend of having a CPA firm handle their back office accounting function. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of outsourcing your accounting function.

1. You will likely save money.

By outsourcing your business’s accounting operations, you can actually save money by not having to pay wages and offer benefits to employees.

With the rising cost of employee benefits, such as health insurance, many small businesses can’t afford the cost of full-time, qualified in-house accountants. Instead, they settle for part-time employees or full-time employees who cost less but aren’t qualified to perform the job well.

By outsourcing your accounting function, you only pay for the hours needed to complete required weekly and monthly tasks, without being on the hook for employee benefits.

2. You will have a team of qualified accounting experts working for you.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a team of qualified accountants working for you? When you outsource your organization’s accounting function to a CPA firm, you are essentially hiring a team of professional accountants who have expertise in a variety of different areas.

Besides just getting a bookkeeper, you are getting CPAs who have expertise in accounting, tax, employee benefit issues, accounting software systems and financial planning.

The bonus? You’ll get a team with a wide range of expertise at a cost that is often less than one full-time, in-house employee who has little to no expertise in these areas. We’d say this puts your business ahead of your competitors. Wouldn’t you agree?

3. You’ll get a quality, accurate work product from people in the know.

Many small business owners depend on one or two employees to handle all of the accounting functions. Too often, those employees don’t have the time or expertise to produce accurate and reliable reports that give business owners the insights they need to make informed decisions.

By outsourcing your accounting function to a CPA firm, your financial information will be handled and produced by people with relevant expertise.

4. You’ll get way more out of your accounting software system.

Having – and correctly utilizing – the right accounting software system helps provide business owners with data-driven reports and information that lead to better decisions.

Many small businesses either don’t have the proper accounting software, such as QuickBooks, or lack employees who have the ability and skills to fully utilize an accounting software system.

The professionals at a CPA firm, on the other hand, will use the latest and greatest in accounting software to provide you with the financial information you need to make good business decisions. Chances are, if you have an accounting software system in place, the CPA firm that’s handling your accounting function can also train your staff to better use it.

5. You’ll get back more time to grow your business.

Too often, business owners and their accounting staff get bogged down with day-to-day problems like accounting input errors, reporting errors and software glitches.

Outsourcing your accounting function will free you up to focus on bigger picture items like business profitability and growth, rather than getting tangled up in an accounting mess.

6. You’ll get big picture insights from objective outside experts.

When you outsource your organization’s accounting function to a CPA firm, those expert accountants will be looking at your  financial information with an outsider’s perspective, which often puts them in a better position than you, the business owner, to spot irregularities and cost-saving opportunities.

The people from your CPA firm should be there to assist you in analyzing and interpreting your financial data and in turn, make objective suggestions for growing your business

Likewise, business owners can freely share sensitive information with a team of outsourced accountants that they might not feel comfortable sharing with employees.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Outsourcing your business’s accounting function to a CPA firm can result in you getting outstanding expertise, efficiency and objective recommendations, all at a cost that is equal to or less than what you are paying your in-house accountant.

Give Gross Mendelsohn’s Smart Accounting Support Solutions team a shout to discuss whether outsourcing your accounting function makes sense. Contact us online or call 800.899.4623. 

New Call-to-action

Tags: Scott Handwerger, accounting, business owners, outsourced accounting, Smart Accounting Support Solutions

Fraud in Focus: How Jonathan Schwartz Embezzled $7 Million

Posted by Richard Wolf on Tue, May 02, 2017 @ 02:02 PM

schwartz blog image.png

I recently read a letter published by former business manager, Jonathan Schwartz. “I am writing this open letter to you,” he said, “so that you can learn from my mistakes and never find yourself in the situation I am now in.” Schwartz recently pled guilty to embezzling $7 million from his clients, including celebrities like Alanis Morissette, and his business partners in order to fuel his gambling addiction.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, a trusted executive has been ousted in a big time fraud scheme, but despite the amount stolen, Schwartz’s story isn’t so different from other individuals who commit fraud on much smaller scales.

He didn’t have a criminal record

It’s human to make assumptions about someone based on their criminal history, or lack thereof. After all, that’s why we do background checks on potential employees. It’s often because of this small assurance, we are flabbergasted when fraud is uncovered at our business, with our money, by one of our employees.

The first thing you might be tempted to ask your hiring team is – why didn’t we do a background check? Only to be all the more confused when they respond, with paper proof – we did!

It doesn’t surprise me that Schwartz had no criminal record. In fact, in his letter he describes himself as having “a great family, a job that I loved and high-profile clients that I represented, partners whom I respected and respected me, and a reputation in the community for hard work, excellent service, and commitment to charities that helped the less fortunate.” He seemed to have it all, and this isn’t unique.

I won’t get into the weeds of the psychology of fraud, but I will say this – making assumptions that certain employees won’t commit fraud because they have no criminal history, a good attitude and seem pretty trustworthy, far too often leads businesses to trust people they shouldn’t.

He had a “dark” sidefraud-whitepaper

People can convince themselves to make terrible choices when it comes to money. Employers are often stunned when a fraudster is uncovered at their business, even more so when management has a close relationship with the individual and probably would have helped them if they’d just asked.

Fraud often starts small – $100 from the cash fund here and there, adding a few personal items on a reimbursement request once in a while – and often grows. Schwartz wrote in his letter, ”At first, I ‘borrowed’ a little from clients, with the hopes that I would pay them back if I won that night's bet. That snowballed, and as I kept losing, I kept stealing. I kept telling myself that I just needed one lucky break, and I'll pay them back. That lucky break never came…”

Protect your company and livelihood by learning the eight critical red flags that suggest fraud is already underway at your business.

Unfortunately, this justification is not uncommon. When we trace back the origin of fraud, we often find similar trigger points – big life changes (like divorce, an influx of new bills, etc.) or addiction. In the case of Schwartz, his gambling addiction was ultimately the catalyst for his fraud.

He stole from people who trusted him

Fraud is an ugly business. When a business manager steals from a client, let alone his own business partners, it forces each of us to ask hard questions like – do I really trust the person who manages my money?

Everyone wants to believe we’ve made the right choice with whom we trust our livelihood, but mistakes will happen. We like to convince ourselves that we are incapable of overlooking fraud at our business, but given that the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners now estimates the typical business loses 5% of their annual revenue to fraud, it seems we are not the deceit detectives we imagine ourselves to be.

In the case of Jonathan Schwartz, he was caught and now must pay the penalty for his actions. However, stories of fraud do not always have pleasant endings for businesses, who may not discover the act occurred until years later, after the employee is gone, and no one is left to hold responsible.

What now?

If you suspect fraud in your organization, you’ll want to sit down with a fraud expert as soon as possible. When it comes to suspected fraud, you want a seasoned investigator who has the expertise and knowledge to spot a fraudster and, if needed, perform a fraud investigation and help prosecute the offender.

To identify different types of fraud, you can utilize free resources like whitepapers and blog posts to beef up your knowledge of common fraud schemes and prevention strategies to stop fraudsters from targeting your organization. 

Tags: fraud, Richard Wolf

Room for Improvement: 3 Essential Areas Nonprofits Should Focus On

Posted by Tricia Thomas on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 10:32 AM

businessman-draw

No matter how successful your nonprofit is, there is always room for improvement. Nonprofits are businesses, and as such, are expected to operate as efficiently as their private sector counterparts despite having less resources, staff and funds to get the job done. This quest for efficiency often leads to cutbacks in essential areas, which, more often than not, ends up hurting an organization in the long run. But which areas should more nonprofits be paying attention to?

1. Board development

Board development is crucial to the success of a nonprofit, yet many organizations push their board toward the bottom of their priority list. Board members are an essential part of your organization, and as such, you must focus on maintaining your board and encouraging members to remain engaged and accountable.

Remember, each of your board members serves as a vital resource to your nonprofit, often helping to:

  • Spread the word about your organization and its mission
  • Hold your organization accountable by overseeing the work you’re doing
  • Raise funds by donating as a prerequisite of their membership or soliciting new donors

No two nonprofit boards are the same, meaning you must take your individual organization and its mission and vision into account when making decisions about your board, its size, the committees you have, etc. Nonprofits often make the mistake of basing their board on another similar organization, which causes issues like:

  • Having too few board members to foster a healthy debate
  • Creating an overwhelming burden on paid staff by having too many members
  • Failing to have the space or logistical funds to accommodate all members

 2. Financial management

Nonprofits must be accountable for the numbers in their books. While your bottom line may go right back into supporting your organization’s mission, your goal should be more than just breaking even. Good financial management leads to a more certain future for your organization, and the more stable your finances, the more attractive your nonprofit will be to potential donors.

Get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox when you subscribe to our free nonprofit blog.

To stay on track with your finances, your organization should work with a qualified advisor to ensure your nonprofit is taking advantage of every available financial opportunity. While your nonprofit may not be required to have an annual audit or review (check out Maryland’s assurance thresholds here), the assurance provided by an auditor on your organization’s financial statements can serve as a beacon for donors (and especially grantors) that your organization has its financial ducks in a row.

3. Fundraising

Even though your nonprofit may not place the same emphasis on money that a private business does, ultimately, it is money – typically raised through fundraising – that pays for the staff, building and technology you rely on every day. The majority of nonprofits are hyperaware of their need to secure a consistent source of donations, but many organizations struggle to find their feet when it comes to what it takes to actually be successful in their fundraising efforts.

Nonprofits should always be cautious that the majority of their fundraising dollars don’t come from one kind of source, whether that be individuals, corporations, grants, etc. Diversity in your donation sources better prepares your organization for economic speed bumps – like a downturn in the economy, a cutback in government spending or the dissolution of a big-time corporate donor. As a result, the more diverse your fundraising income, the less of a financial risk your organization becomes and the more attractive your organization becomes to donors.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Even the best nonprofit executives, board members and staff must commit to staying up-to-date on today’s best practices. To get new articles emailed to your inbox as they are published, subscribe to our free nonprofit blog. You can also catch up our free nonprofit webinar series, starting with our most recent webinar, Secrets of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising.

subscribe-nonprofit-blog

Tags: Tricia Thomas, nonprofit

A Major Triumph for Maryland Manufacturers: More Jobs for Marylanders Act Signed Into Law

Posted by Ernie Paszkiewicz on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 11:33 AM

SB317 Maryland.jpg

Big tax incentives for Maryland manufacturers are coming on June 1, 2017. On April 11, 2017, Governor Larry Hogan signed the More Jobs for Marylanders Act (SB 317), a bill targeted to help restore Maryland’s economy and increase the number of jobs in the state, into law.

What benefits does the More Jobs for Marylanders Act provide for manufacturers?

As a result of the legislation, new and existing manufacturers will be eligible for tax incentives to create new jobs in Maryland. The act also includes additional workforce development initiatives for manufacturers. New manufacturers who open businesses in high-unemployment counties and create at least five jobs will receive:

  • A 5.75% wage tax credit
  • A state property tax credit
  • A sales and use tax credit for ten years
  • An exemption to paying any state filing fees

Existing manufacturers who create at least five new jobs anywhere in Maryland will receive the same wage tax credit.

Get email updates on issues affecting Maryland manufacturers by subscribing to our manufacturing blog.

What do manufacturers think about the legislation?

Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland President Michael Galiazzo, Ph.D called the legislation “a huge step forward” for the Maryland manufacturing industry. Galiazzo praised the act as a means of putting more Marylanders to work and bringing even more high-quality products to Maryland consumers. “This is the most significant support from state government for manufacturing and for job seekers in decades,” Galiazzo said.

What about workforce development?

In order to ensure Maryland workers have the skills needed to fill newly created jobs, $1 million in funds will be provided in Workforce Development Scholarships for students enrolled in job training programs at community colleges. The legislation also includes measures to encourage high schools to include additional vocational training and also requires state agencies to evaluate their current apprenticeship programs.

How can I take advantage of these credits?

Details about the legislation is still emerging, but manufacturers would be wise to seek individualized advice from a CPA firm who specializes in working with manufacturers. If you have any questions about this new legislation and how it affects your business, call 410.685.5512 or contact us online.

subscribe-manufacturing-blog

Header image courtesy of the Executive Office of the Governor Larry Hogan | www.govpics.maryland.gov

Tags: Manufacturing & Distribution, manufacturing, Maryland

5 Reasons Why Every Nonprofit Needs a Strategic Plan

Posted by Richard Wolf on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 @ 08:02 AM

strategic planning blog promo march 2017.jpg

Strategic planning is one of those activities most nonprofit leaders know is important, but don’t always make the time for. Let’s face it – with limited resources, you often have to decide whether to put out today’s fires or plan for the future. We’ve all been there. Most of the time we need to, and do, put out the fires.

If you have that nagging feeling that the future should be getting more of your attention these days, you’re probably right. As you weigh the benefits of going down the strategic planning road sooner rather than later, it’s worth looking at some of the benefits your organization will derive from the strategic planning process.

Benefits of Strategic Planning

1. Allows you to control your organization’s future

Following a well-documented strategic plan will help you be proactive instead of reactive. You can only do this if you have a plan in place. While you’ll still have fires to put out along the way, your strategic plan offers a clear direction for the organization and can be a roadmap to keep you on course.

2. Improves your stakeholders’ understanding of the organization’s mission and capabilities

Everyone who is involved in the strategic planning process will gain insight into your organization’s mission and capabilities. You will be able to answer questions like, Do we have the right people on board to fulfill our mission? and Do we need to expand our capabilities in order to execute our strategic plan?

3. Encourages wise business decisions

Your strategic plan will identify the core areas that are critical for accomplishing your organization’s mission. When there is a clear understanding of what those critical issues are, you’ll know how you and your staff should invest your time and which projects you should invest in.

Ready to take on your next strategic plan? Check out this non-demand webinar to learn tips and best practices of nonprofit strategic planning.

4. Develops consensus

Your organization’s future isn’t just about the executive director’s or the board’s strategy. When you involve multiple stakeholders – from the board chair to the membership director to the bookkeeper – in the strategic planning process you’re not only getting fresh ideas, but you’re also gaining buy-in from many people who have a vested interest in your organization.Start watching this on-demand strategic planning webinar for nonprofits

Be especially wary of “groupthink.” When you have a strong leader at the helm of your organization, there can be a tendency for people to go along with whatever that person thinks and says. By giving others a voice in your organization’s future, you will get everyone on the same page and working toward the same mission.

5. Increases satisfaction among valuable resources

When you involve people in your organization’s strategic planning process, you are giving them a voice. You want your employees, volunteers and donors to share a passion for your organization and its cause. Involving these valuable resources who aren’t necessarily leaders or decision makers in your organization will help re-energize them, and give them new focus and an increased reason to show up each day.

Need Help?

Whether you’re still on the fence about going down the strategic planning road or ready to get started, our strategic planning experts are standing by.

Contact us here or call 800.899.4623 to talk over your organization’s situation. Not quite ready to talk? Learn more about strategic planning by reading some blog posts or watching a webinar.

Tags: nonprofit, strategic planning, Richard Wolf