not-for-profit

Not for Profits – Do You Keep An Asset Register?

Asset register

An Asset Register is an important part of a not-for-profit’s financial records.

It’s used to record the details of all the fixed assets that your organisation owns or leases.  This can include assets you bought new, second hand or were given.  The types of assets you might include are:

  • office equipment
  • motor vehicles
  • furniture
  • computers
  • communications systems
  • equipment

So by fixed assets I mean assets that you use in your organisation over the longer term to produce income, but not assets that you would sell as part of your day to day operations (eg inventory).

A simple Asset Register may look as follows:

Asset register table

Include all costs incurred in making the asset usable – for example installation costs, computer cabling and delivery/transportation.

Don’t forget to review your fixed assets annually

Your accounting software may have a feature that enables you to enter these asset details, or you can draw up a simple spreadsheet using Excel.

An up to date Asset Register will help with depreciation, insurance, statutory obligations and assist with decision-making in regard to further investment in assets. Furthermore, an auditor may request to see your Asset Register as part of your annual audit.

 More tips and info on not-for-profit bookkeeping:

 

Happy bookkeeping…

 

 

Trying Accounting Software for Free

Trying accounting software for free

Choosing accounting software can be hard. Each product comes with slightly different features, looks different and the prices vary. Don’t think that you have to jump right in and purchase straight away – make use of a free trial and you can play around and have a good look at it before you decide whether to go ahead and purchase it. Even if you outsource your bookkeeping, you still need to be comfortable with finding your way around the software and getting access to essential information.

MYOB Essentials and Xero are popular cloud based accounting products in Australia. You also have Reckon One, Quickbooks Online, Sage One and Saasu. For tips on getting started with Sage One head over to Steve Bicknell’s blog and look at: How do you switch over to Sage One.

So I thought I would show you my experience of getting started with the 30 day free trial of Xero.

  • I went online to the Xero Australia homepage, clicked “Try Xero for Free” and filled in my name, contact number and email address.
  • From there nothing happened for quite a long time and I couldn’t move on to the next step. I refreshed the page a couple of times, which did nothing. I have “Ghostery” set up in my browser and I noticed it was blocking something – once I selected unblock I was instantly through to the next step. Success!
  • Entered my basic organisation details in the next screen. There is an option in this screen to convert your MYOB datafile over to Xero, if that is what you want to do. Xero had entered a default conversion date, which was not the date I needed. Not to panic – it also tells you on this screen that you can change the date via the Settings screen once you are set up.
  • Up and running – straight into my business dashboard.
  • Watched the 2 minute information video.
  • Went into Settings / General Settings / Conversion Balances and changed my conversion date.

And that was pretty much it! Ready to get into the finer details of setting up contacts, customising the chart of accounts, setting up bank feeds etc. You will need all your business accounting information handy for the next stages of set-up if you are taking it that far.Alternatively, there is a sample company file
Just a side note – I had a question about something which I had typed into the Xero website and less than 24 hours later a representative from Xero phoned me (yes – not emailed, but phoned) to discuss. I thought this was good customer service.

If you are wanting to look at MYOB, then the Student Edition of MYOB is a great way to sample the product – it costs $15.00 at the time of writing and you get the desktop product in CD-ROM format. There is a limit to the number of transactions you can enter (is still quite a lot) but there is no timeframe that you have to finish using it by, which is handy. Students at TAFE use this when studying accounting and bookkeeping.

Alternatively you can try the 30 day free trial of MYOB’s online products here.

For some more good info on cloud accounting products in Australia you might like to check out 2015 – The year that was for cloud accounting software.

How did you go about choosing accounting software for your business or organisation? Was it recommended to you or did you do your own research? Love to get your feedback.

If you’ve enjoyed this post feel free to share it on your Blog or Facebook.

My 3 most popular posts of 2015

My 3 most popular postsPosts about not-for-profit bookkeeping have topped my list of most viewed posts of the past year.  Followed closely by my more general bookkeeping posts.

In case you missed them (or would like a re-cap) here they are:

  1. Not-for-profits – 6 Ways Your Bookkeeping Differs from Other Organisations
  2. What Does a Treasurer Do?
  3. 4 Common Bookkeeping Mistakes

Thanks for your support throughout the past year.  I’m looking forward to providing more information and insight into not-for-profit and small business bookkeeping in 2016. Hope you can come along for the ride.

Happy bookkeeping…

 

 

 

2015 – The year that was for Cloud Accounting Software

As a small business owner or non-profit are you contemplating moving your accounting software to the cloud, or thinking of changing which product you use?

This is a really great round-up of significant improvements and changes in cloud accounting software throughout 2015, as well as some insights into where accounting software may be headed in 2016. Margaret of Cloud Accounting Buzz knows her stuff when it comes to accounting software, so I hope you might be able to get something out of this post. Enjoy!

Source: 2015 – The year that was for Cloud Accounting Software

Cloud computing and non-profits

cloud computingHave been using cloud computing to do non-profit bookkeeping for a while, so I thought this was a great article. In particular, being able to access information anywhere, anytime is a great bonus for non-profits. For example, with cloud based accounting software your bookkeeper and Treasurer can both access the business books whilst one is in the office and the other is at home.

Article is courtesy of Connecting Up.

Why use cloud computing for your not-for-profit

Happy bookkeeping…

Figures & thoughts – registered charities

charity definition

Have been looking over the latest figures provided by the ACNC in relation to registered charities in Australia.

  •  1,045,676 employed staff
  • 1,806,495 estimated volunteers
  • Total income $101.9 billion

Our small charities in Australia rely more on donations and bequests, receiving 32% of their income from those sources, compared to the largest charities which receive only 2% of their income from donations and bequests. That’s a big difference.

Smaller charities are receiving 2% of their income from government grants, compared to 44% for the largest charities.

What I also thought was interesting was that the smaller charities are spending 10% of their funds on employee expenses, compared to the largest charities spending 57% on employee expenses.

What do you think of these latest figures? Do you work or volunteer for a registered charity? Do these figures surprise you?

Love to hear your thoughts.

4 common bookkeeping mistakes (re-visited)

I was reading back over my previous blog posts and thought this particular one may be helpful to the small business owners and non-profits that follow my blog. It covers some key bookkeeping concepts that can easily be overlooked and can cause some real headaches if not picked up.

Hope you can find something useful in it…

4 common bookkeeping mistakes

 

How a Business Plan Can Help You Run Your Business

Source: How a Business Plan Can Help You Run Your Business

I came across this great post from Katiesfavors. It gives a good overview of business plans and how they can be utilised by different types of organisations – including not-for-profits.

Hope you enjoy.

 

7 interesting facts about not-for-profits

group charity 3Working for a not-for-profit organisation can be a great experience – most people involved are contributing their time, effort and money because they believe in the cause and have common interests at heart.

The bookkeeping for non-profits can be challenging, and I wrote about some of the differences in my post Not-for-profits – 6 ways your bookkeeping differs from other organisations.

Just because they aren’t operating to make a profit for owners, does not mean they are not financially accountable. In fact there are usually many different stakeholders to be accountable to – including Board members, government, volunteers, staff, members and donors.

I personally love the challenge of bookkeeping in the non-profit sector and have worked with wonderfully supportive board members and volunteers.

I thought I would share some interesting facts about non-profits in Australia.

  1. There were 56,894 not-for-profit organisations in Australia registered with the ATO at June 2013.
  2. At present it is estimated there are approximately 700,000 non-profit/community groups in Australia.
  3. Not-for-profits employed 1,081,900 people in 2012-13 with social services employing the most people.
  4. Charities must have an ABN (Australian Business Number).
  5. To be a registered charity, your organisation must be a not-for-profit that has a charitable purpose that is for the benefit of the public.
  6. A public benevolent institution (PBI) is a type of charitable institution whose main purpose is to relieve poverty or distress (for example, sickness, suffering or disability).
  7. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the independent national regulator of charities in Australia.

Have you been a Treasurer, bookkeeper or accountant in the not-for-profit sector? What differences and challenges did you face compared to other sectors?

What does a Treasurer do?

CommunitySo maybe you are thinking of taking on the role of Treasurer at a not-for-profit organisation. But you want to know what you are getting yourself in for first? Read on for some of the more common tasks of a Treasurer.

It is the Treasurer’s job to keep the finances of an organisation healthy – so the organisation can achieve its mission. It’s an important role and, depending on the size of the organisation, it could involve an hour every month or several hours a week.

You don’t need to have an accounting background to be a good Treasurer. An eye for detail certainly helps, together with a basic knowledge of how the organisation works and knowledge of how money flows in and out of an organisation. If you do have an accounting background, you may like to read my previous post Not-for-profits – 6 ways your bookkeeping differs from other organisations.

You will need good communication skills as you will need to attend meetings and explain financial reports to committee members who may or may not share your enthusiasm or knowledge of financial matters.

Financial Reporting
This includes recording all financial transactions of the organisation and preparing financial statements at regular intervals. It also includes budget preparation and keeping an eye on whether groups are spending within their budgets.

Larger organisations may employ a staff member to record transactions, however the Treasurer will need to keep an overall eye on the finances.

Some organisations may use computer software to record transactions & prepare financial reports, however small organisations may use spreadsheets.

Procedures
Written financial procedures need to be reviewed and updated regularly. Anyone else should be able to walk into the role and pick up where you left off. It is also provides a degree of protection for the organisation and its people.

Correct authorisation of transactions is a key issue, as well as having strong internal control procedures in place to prevent theft or fraud. You may need to assist with audits.

Fundraising
You may be asked to prepare funding proposals for grants, with the assistance of other board members.

Risk minimisation
Part of keeping an eye on the finances of the organisation is alerting board members to potential risks such as low funds or future, large expenses.

Taxes and Industry Specific Legislation
The Treasurer should educate themselves on the main legislation that applies to the particular organisation. For example in Australia this could include GST, PAYG withholding and ACNC requirements.

So that is the basics of what you may be asked to do as a Treasurer. Depending on your work background it may be quite a large learning curve for you, however don’t underestimate the satisfaction you can get from devoting your time to a worthwhile cause. It is also a great opportunity to get together with people who share your interests and passions. Don’t forget to add it to your resume and make use of the networking opportunities that being on a committee can bring.

Have you been a Treasurer before? Was it a positive experience for you – please add your comments below.