No ifs, ands, or buts; nonprofits need to follow best practices

With swimsuit season just around the corner, you’ve probably begun drafting your list of gym excuses; I don’t have the time, I don’t know how, I have better places to be. The same mantra is echoed by nonprofits when dealing with best practices; we don’t have enough money to pay staff, we don’t have enough time to acknowledge donors, we don’t have the resources to file our taxes on time.

Although we will not lecture you on your fitness habits, the excuses that organizations make for eliminating or foregoing necessary nonprofit best practices need to stop.

If you listed all the excuses nonprofits give for not sending appeals in a timely manner, updating their website regularly, giving staff regular reviews, and even following the law it would surpass even the IRS call-wait time.

Here’s why the time for excuses is over:

Engaging Donors

Donors, the lifeblood of your organization, need to feel important. They need to be contacted an appropriate number of times each year, asked for money, thanked, acknowledged and they certainly need to feel that your organization is one they want to continue to support.  

Excuses Equal… Disappearing dollars. Like any relationship, if you don’t treat your donors right they will find someone else who does- in this case, they will give to another nonprofit organization.

Supporting Employees

Employees, the other lifeblood of your organization. They need to be treated fairly, paid a decent wage with decent benefits, feel they are valued, acknowledged for their contributions and be given performance reviews on a regular basis.  

Excuses Equal… High employee turnover. Another example of relationships gone bad. Your employees will move on and take the skills and talents they gained while working for you to another organization.

Timing Awareness

All your messages- appeals, newsletters, facebook posts, tweets- need to be timed appropriately in order to reach your target audience. As you have read before, timing has an enormous impact and can result in meeting or missing fundraising goals. Intelligent and informed timing of social media in conjunction with appeals can have a great positive impact.   

If a grantor asks you for something, respond right away instead of waiting until the latest deadline to get back to them. Letting them know you are engaged and involved reflects positively on your organization.

Reconcile your bank account as close to the end of the month as you can.  This allows you to discover and deal with any problems with charges to your account, and to have accurate financial records which allow the organization to make informed up-to-date financial decisions.

Excuses Equal… Lost dollars and looming trouble. If your timing is off, you are leaving money on the table. Inefficient timing can also waste time in the long run, as you scramble to deal with financial issues that arise that have been easily resolved earlier.

Legal Forms and Filing

File everything when it is supposed to be filed- deadlines exist for a reason! If you are not using a payroll service, get one. Payroll tax filings are complicated; let the professionals do it. They take on the liability, are up to date on the most recent laws, and are quite cost-effective.  

Workers comp audits are easy to do if you take the time. If unemployment gets in touch with you, answer them immediately to resolve any issues before they snowball. Another easy task that is often neglected is to make sure you have all pre-employment paperwork filled out and filed before an employee starts work.

Excuses Equal… Penalties! You will be penalized financially for failure to submit legal documents and in worst case scenarios could lose your 501(c)(3) status. Even if penalties aren’t that severe, this is a headache that is easy to avoid.

For more information on how DSA can assist you in eliminating your excuses, contact us at

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