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Year-End To-Do List for Nonprofits

Well, we are pretty much down to it.  There are only a few weeks left in 2011…and during much of that time, most of us will be preoccupied with all things Christmas.  But in all the hustle and bustle, there are a few things regarding your nonprofit that require your attention.

The following is a checklist of year-end forget-me-nots that absolutely require your attention.  Ready?  Here we go:

Financial records. What is the current state of your financial recordkeeping?  Good, bad…or ugly?  Hopefully it’s more good than bad.  If it’s ugly…well, you’ve really got some work to do.  The fact is, you have a legal requirement to maintain proper financial records.  If your bookkeeping status lies anywhere south of good, get it fixed.  If necessary, hire someone who knows how to do this.  The truth is, the legalities are not even the most important reason to get this right.  You cannot effectively manage your organization without consistently good financial recordkeeping.

Donors. Remember them?  They are the ones that make your nonprofit possible.  And in just a few short weeks, they are going to be looking for annual contribution statements.  If you are behind in getting these records in order, there is no time like right now to get started on it.  Don’t wait until the end of January and find yourself scrambling to get it done.

Payroll. Got staff?  If so, you’ve got some critical things that must be done very soon.  From tax deposits to W2s, deadlines loom.  And if you think donors waiting on contribution statements can get noisy, just be late getting an employee a W2!  Furthermore, you need to go ahead and have your staff members complete new W4s for 2012.  It is a best practice to have employees complete these annually.

Annual meeting. Here’s a tip:  If your board is only meeting once per year, your effectiveness is being majorly compromised.  That being said, your bylaws probably require at least one annual meeting of the board.  Your state corporate laws likely require that, as well.  Get it scheduled.  You don’t have to have it in December (unless you haven’t met this year), but you should.  It is the most logical time to wrap up 2011 and plan for 2012.  Don’t forget to properly document the proceedings in minutes.  The IRS is increasingly asking to see meeting minutes when they examine nonprofits.  Lack of documentation can even lead to fines and penalties levied against the board members!

Another thing to think about: We have always been passionate advocates of outsourcing the administration of things such as payroll and bookkeeping…even before we offered the services.  Why?  Because we know from experience that most nonprofits get it wrong.  And, mistakes and omissions are very costly.  They can even jeopardize your existence.  Let 2012 be the year you hand off this responsibility.  The Foundation Group provides assistance in both of these areas, so let us provide the help you need.

2011 has been a challenging year.  With 2012 shaping up to be equally challenging, take the steps necessary to put all odds for success in your column.

Greg McRay is the founder and CEO of The Foundation Group. He is registered with the IRS as an Enrolled Agent and specializes in 501(c)(3) and other tax exemption issues.

This Post Has 3 Comments

    1. Unfortunately, we do not. It is possible that we can help, since we provide compliance services to nonprofits across the country. Feel free to call and chat with one of reps to see if it is a fit for you.

  1. Great list! I would add get your website in shape. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is the BIGGEST online giving week of the year. If your nonprofit doesn’t have an easy-to-read, easy-to-navigate website, you’re missing out. And a big Donate Now button is a MUST. I’d suggest make it red and put it in the upper right hand corner of every page on the site. That way people can find it easily.

    Sandy Rees
    Fundraising Coach

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