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Nonprofit Knowledge Matters


It’s Valentine’s Day. Will you be tweeting today to share your #npvalentines? For inspiration, check out the #NPValentines posted so far. We also share the articles below that highlight ways to “show some love” to board members, donors, and volunteers throughout the year. First up are resources especially tailored for board chairs. Next are insights into the new accounting standards (wait - don’t take a nap! This is actually really interesting!) that remind us all to respect donors’ expectations, help board members understand a nonprofit’s cash flow situation, and educate everyone about the true cost of a nonprofit’s operations. Our last article raises important issues about the relationship every nonprofit has with its volunteers, highlighting how policies that are rolling out in some states may change how the public – and nonprofits – understand and support the role of volunteers. We invite you to join us on Twitter today to celebrate #VolunteerLove #BoardMemberLove #DonorLove and #npvalentines!

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Show Your Board Chair Some Love

You Rock!

Thank goodness for board chairs! They can positively influence a nonprofit in a variety of ways, from the culture in the board room to higher job satisfaction of staff members. Research has identified characteristics that may make certain board leaders more effective, such as flexibility, a calm demeanor, humility, trustworthiness, and the ability to listen and find common ground. While many board chairs arrive in their seats through a thoughtful leadership succession planning process, others land in the chair position with as much serendipity as intention. Whether you are one of those board chairs who never expected to be the “chair,” or you have been prepping for this key role for a while, we think you deserve some special love! Thank you. Don’t miss these 10 great board chair practices. We also hope you’ll appreciate the practice pointers and resources we’ve gathered from our network to shine a light on the important relationship between board chairs and CEOs/executive directors.  

River Bend Chronicles



Piggy Bank


New rules issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) make three significant changes that we think can help nonprofit donors, staff, and board members understand the financial health of their organization. Since accounting jargon can be off-putting, we’ve created a new FASB resource webpage to help you to feel more comfortable understanding the changes. We’ve also recorded an “explainer” with Curt Klotz, Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Propel Nonprofits, who gives an overview of three significant changes to the standards that became effective for fiscal years after December 2017. In a nutshell, here’s why we are hopeful that the new standards will actually smooth the way for increased understanding about a nonprofit’s financial health:

  1. The new standards remind nonprofit staff and board members about the importance of documenting in writing how donors restrict their contributions. Clarity about how much money is restricted for specific uses or time periods will further protect donor intent and give board and staff a clearer picture of what funds are available for other uses.
  2. The new standards will also push us all to have a “liquidity plan” for surviving cash flow droughts by requiring the disclosure of what cash is available, as well as requiring disclosure in writing of whatever plan the nonprofit has to address cash shortfalls.
  3. Finally, the new standards change how functional expenses are reported and appear on the financial statements, enabling a clearer-eyed look at how much it really costs to advance the nonprofit’s mission. Implementing these standards should help nonprofits – including those nonprofits that do not conduct an independent audit – move towards stronger financial health.  All this and more is explained on our FASB resource webpage. You can also listen to the shorter “explainer” podcast for an overview and some useful tips.

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When you think of “volunteer” do you think of someone who is required to show up and spend 20 hours a week at your nonprofit in order to be eligible for government services, such as food stamps, housing, or Medicaid? Guess what: an increasing number of federal and state politicians are pushing to make that happen. Those in favor of the approach and those against it usually frame their arguments in terms of cost/benefits to individuals involved and society at large. But we have yet to see policymakers consider – or even ask – what this new type of “mandatory volunteerism” might mean for nonprofits. The requirements could mean new unanticipated costs for background checks, training, and supervision of individuals who may or may not be “voluntarily” volunteering. What will it do to the relationship nonprofits have always had with volunteers if governments start requiring people to non-voluntarily “volunteer” in order to have access to much-needed services? How will nonprofits absorb, adapt, pay for, and support this new category of volunteers? We’re interested in what you think.


To learn more about the new forced “mandatory volunteerism” being rolled out for implementation in the Indiana and Kentucky Medicaid programs, and being considered by several additional states, we encourage you to read this background on our blog.


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