Blogs + Articles

Planning an End-of-Year Mailing? What nonprofits need to know before sealing the envelope

For many nonprofit organizations, the last few weeks of the year signals the race for the final appeal. Reminding donor-prospects of the December 31st cutoff date, the last ‘ask’ of the year, the urge to consider a pledge or establish a lasting legacy.

Nonprofit communications to reach donorsNonprofit organizations oftentimes rely on traditional ‘snail-mail’ to communicate their message as the appeal letter is accompanied by a return envelope and perhaps, a marketing piece. Some organizations solicit to their entire database, leading to a mass mailing of the hundreds or thousands. This equates to time and quite a bit of money earmarked for a successful campaign. But before you round up the staff for a Saturday envelope-stuffing session, consider if your nonprofit truly qualifies for nonprofit postage pricing.

According to the requirements as listed on the USPS.gov site: 

Organizations that typically are eligible for Postal Service nonprofit privileges include:
  • Agricultural
  • Educational
  • Fraternal
  • Labor
  • Philanthropic
  • Religious
  • Scientific
  • Veterans
  • Some political committees

Individuals are NOT eligible for nonprofit prices; also, not every organization is eligible, even though you may think it qualifies based on the list above. For example, business leagues, chambers of commerce, social and hobby clubs, and certain political organizations usually are NOT eligible.

Your organization may apply for and receive nonprofit authorization, but you’re not quite finished — there are restrictions as to what may be mailed at those prices. For instance, there are restrictions on the amount and kind of advertising you can do. It’s always best to check with your local Business Mail Entry Unit staff before you design and print your mailpiece.

In addition to your local Business Mail Entry Unit, Publication 417, Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail Eligibility provides complete information about nonprofit eligibility, including the types of materials that may be mailed at the Nonprofit prices and instructions for applying for nonprofit mailing privileges

  1. How to apply for permission to use nonprofit prices?
  2. Calculate your nonprofit postage
  3. How to prepare a nonprofit mailing

If you have questions about your nonprofit mailing, marketing for nonprofit organizations, or ways your nonprofit can leverage its brand in the marketplace to donors, donor-prospects, or grantmakers, contact us. We’re happy to help and ready to start the conversation.

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Is Your Board Fiscally Fit? Free Ebook to help you avoid theft in your nonprofit

Sure, you have a robust and well-respected Board of Directors, many of whom are industry influencers, pillars of the community, and rich with a connected network to help advance your organization. But while many board members serve graciously, lending time and talent without hesitation, some do not realize that despite not holding the title of “board treasurer”, they too are responsible for the organization’s financial position.

While not every board member need be a financial analyst, each must be engaged in the organization’s financial processes and be confident and comfortable to review financial information and to ask questions.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office report on nonprofit fraud, theft happens in large and small organizations, and often it involves individuals who are widely respected and valued within the organization, the report says. Often there is no rational explanation, other than perhaps greed, according to the report.

What can you do to avoid theft in your nonprofit? We’re pleased to share with you this free Ebook published by the Ohio Attorney General’s office and encourage you to contact Moda Communications to schedule our newest workshop “Effective Board Communications” for you and your Board of Directors.

Download the free Ebook Avoiding Theft in Your Nonprofit

Join Us: Build a Brand that Builds Your Business

Do customers recognize your nonprofit brand as different from others?

Do you know how to position your nonprofit as a well-respected and sought-after brand?

two men and two women standing on green grass
Join us for a two-hour Master Class to learn how your brand can help position your organization to become recognized and respected while generating prospects that lead to growth.

Join Moda Communications and visual identity expert Barry Edwards, CEO of Edwards Communications on Wednesday, November 7th beginning at 8:30am for a two-hour Master Class to learn how your brand can help position your organization to become recognized and respected while generating donor-prospects that lead to funding and engagement.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

Building your Brand

  • Identify common branding problems that keep donors, funders, and prospects away
  • Establish a brand identity that people will recognize and respect

Managing your Brand

  • Learn the importance of brand reputation and online reviews
  • Uncover the 3 ways your employees can tarnish your brand

Leveraging your Brand

  • Discover how to be the organization people want to do associate with
  • Learn how SEO and branding help search engines like Google prioritize branded listings in organic search results that drive interest to your website

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Nonprofit Executive Directors, Development Directors and Communications Officers
  • Business owners and managers
  • Professional service executives  (Physicians, Attorneys, Dentists, Therapists, Social Workers/Counselors, Realtors, Insurance Agents, CPAs)
  • Marketing professionals (managers, directors, vice presidents)

A well-thought-out brand and branding campaign can help position your business and provide favorable returns in online traffic, improve product or service sales, and create high visibility for your company.

Date: Wednesday, Nov 7th

Time:
8:30 am      check-in
8:45 am      session begins
10:30 am    session concludes

Location: Panera Bread • Meeting Room
6130 Kruse Dr, Solon, OH 44139

Hurry! Seating is limited (25 maximum)
$30 per person  |  Continental breakfast included


Plus, following this session, all attendees will receive the 2018 Business Branding Checklist that will help position your business for growth and industry recognition!


Cancellation Policy
Sessions are non-refundable but may be transferred no less than 3 days from the event. Please email Barry@edwardscom.net to transfer your reservation.

How to Be A More Effective Board Member

One of our favorite reads. This article appears on the Zinner & Co. blog page and was authored by Chris Valponi, CPA, Audit and Assurance Manager for Zinner & Co. CPAs and Management Consultants


Q:  I volunteer as a Board member for a mid-sized not-for-profit. At times, I feel that I am just going through the motions of reviewing and approving the balance sheet or the Treasurer’s report during our monthly board meeting. Are there duties that I could take on to be a more effective board member?
Pat M. – Volunteer board member, Cleveland

Great question, Pat, and one we hear quite often. For many, serving on a board is rewarding both for the organization and for the folks who generously give their time and talent. What some do not realize is, board members have a fiduciary responsibility, which is designed to protect and preserve the integrity of the organization. In order to meet this responsibility, one must do more than just go through the motions.

Let’s take a look at three things you can begin to do to become a more effective board member:

  1. On a regular basis, review the details of individual transactions or journal entries
    Routine board meetings present figures as compiled by the finance office. Yes, the hope is all is right and just, however, while it may feel like the status quo is a good thing, in reality, this opens the door for unwanted transactions related to fraud, theft, abuse, noncompliance, and simple human error.Request that the Treasurer or a member of the finance committee, on a regular basis, review and then report their findings to the Board at regular Board meetings. This simple monthly review of the general ledger (listing of all transactions) is a great way a Board member can become more effective in uncovering and deterring unwanted transactions.

Read more articles from Chris Valponi

young business people group have meeting and working in modern bright office indoor.jpegIt’s within the right and the reason for board members to review a general ledger for unusual transactions and activity, such as, but not limited to:

  • Unapproved vendors or customers (employees business, insolvent customers),
  • Unreasonable payments to vendors (rates and totals as compared to service descriptions),
  • Avoidable costs (unnecessary bank fees, transactional costs or interest expense),
  • Unusual compensation (bonus pays, fictitious employees, related party payments),
  • Misclassified transactions (items dumped in miscellaneous accounts),
  • Duplicate transactions (evidence of duplicated payments to vendors),
  • Unusual items (Expenses just under the threshold requiring a board approval),
  • Significant or new types of transactions (typically warrant further financial considerations), and
  • Descriptions relating to the wrong fiscal year.

Board members may even ask to review supporting documentation on an as needed or sample basis.  Aside from items noted above, a board may just select a sample of transactions every month to agree to supporting documentation, such as actual invoices for expenses, salary notices for payroll expense, and actual checks clearing the bank to vendor names in the accounting record.

At a minimum, this review sends a very important message to management….There is involved oversight at the organization.

  1. Analyze the relevance or usefulness of each report.
    We recommend the finance committee meet in session well ahead of the end of the fiscal year to discuss which reports are relevant to the needs of the organization and then bring their thoughts and recommendations to the board for discussion and approval. We see many organizations that generate routine (financial) reports or follow cyclical (fiscal) processes because “that’s how we’ve always done it,” rather than stepping back and assessing if it serves the needs for the direction the organization is headed. Routinely, Board members review reports compiled in a summary form or in a format that was defined by predecessors in the organization. As a Board member, one must ask “Is this report answering the questions we need or is it being utilized the best way for where we are headed?”

Additionally, the status quo for the classification of individual accounts in reports or financial statements may not hold true this year as it did one, two or ten years ago. The auto-pilot approach may actually misrepresent sources of funds coming in or going out of the organization.

Board members may not be aware that new accounts may have been added (by the finance office) and as a result, funds could be misclassified, resulting in an inaccurate or misstated reflection of the organization’s financial health. Simply seeing the reports once a month is not sufficient, one must access the details and relevance.

  1. Grab a cup of coffee and have a brainstorming session.
    Board members are often a great resource to the finance, programming and development departments of an organization, but they often are not aware of their full potential. Make it a goal to meet with leaders in different areas of the organization and learn about how each side can benefit from the other.  For example, board members often work with donors to secure contributions involving property, goods, or restricted dollars.  These types of transactions have special accounting considerations that need to be made known to the finance office and conversely, the finance office can inform Board members how to collect more useful information in the future.  Valuable information and opportunities can be lost when failing to just touch-base on occasion.

As you have read, while some board members just attend meetings and rely on the report data compiled and presented by others, your fiduciary role as a board member should include asking questions and digging deeper in the activity of your organization.

Become a Certified NonProfit Accounting Professional 

Board members who are not financial professionals should be comfortable asking questions about the finances of the organization, either at Board meetings or one-on-one with the finance staff or Board Treasurer.  Remember, not all board members are versed reading financial statements, but all hold a fiduciary responsibility.

Your active role as a board member helps to reduce the internal and external risks related to fraud, theft, abuse, noncompliance and simple human error.

This article appears on the Zinner & Co. blog page and was authored by Chris Valponi, CPA, Audit and Assurance Manager for Zinner & Co. CPAs and Management Consultants

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