Running a non-profit organization is no small task. A nonprofit organization takes as much planning, budgeting and work as a regular business, but is more difficult to maintain due to the “nonprofit” part of the organization. A lot of the resources, time and workforce will be volunteered, which will help boost the organization’s funds and generate loyalty among the volunteers but is also unpredictable or uncertain. Not knowing how many workers you will have or what budget to expect can ruin any long-term plans and stunt the organization’s growth and effectiveness. There’s also the long laundry list of rules and regulations that your organization is required to comply with before it is even classified as a non-profit by the government. There is a myriad of concerns that can make your nonprofit organization a great success or a struggling failure. Here are a few things to keep in mind for a successful nonprofit organization.
Maintain IRS status
Nonprofit organizations have specific features that classify them as nonprofit to government authorities such as the IRS; as the government has implemented these organizations more, the list of regulations to keep the label “non-profit” has grown. One of the first things you should check about your nonprofit is your status with the IRS. There are separate tax filing systems for non-profit organizations. For instance, with one form you are considered a charity, and your organization will be tax-exempt, but for another form, your contributors can write off their donations for a tax deduction.
There are other IRS regulations to consider, such as membership, board and committee votes, and so forth. These by-laws can be followed without too much complication, but you do need to know they exist before you can abide by them. Meet with your attorney to make sure you understand exactly what is required for your company to be classified as a non-profit organization.
Resources are vital for a non-profit organization: unfortunately, since a lot of the resource income is donated, it is also very difficult to keep track of where everything goes. You may not have a consistent income, employee hours, or even location hours. You cannot afford to notice a decrease in funds only after the entire quarter has passed. Your organization is working for a great cause – don’t waste the resources people give by using them inefficiently! Resources include money, goods, products, volunteer hours, and services. Applied for a government grant? Make sure you know where it’s going. Someone donated a box of supplies? Don’t lose them!
Track employee hours
One technique that has become more important in the last several years is tracking your employees’ hours. This includes both volunteer hours and paid staff hours. This will help your non-profit organization in several ways. First, you will know exactly how much manpower is needed to run the organization, and how much you can consistently depend on. When the board of directors meets and need to know if they can hire or fire anyone, where investment is needed to spur growth, or possible changes in procedure or stock, having a record of employee hours will solve their questions. Second, having an accurate record of employee hours will make the tax filing process a lot smoother, for both you and the employees. Even the volunteers will benefit from tracking their hours – they can use that information for their own legal records or programs such as community service or internships. Additionally, by offering incentives after milestones of time volunteered, you can generate more loyalty from your volunteers and potentially gain them back the next year. There are many free nonprofit time tracking programs available online.
You Can Do It!
Non-profit organizations are not easy. Are they worth it? For all those who are helped by non-profits, yes. It is a selfless way to give back to the world and help those less fortunate than ourselves. With careful preparation, your non-profit organization can make all the difference for them.
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