3 Ways to Ease Into Your Annual Nonprofit Audit

Lorraine Faithful, Operations Manager News, Stories

Is it “annual fiscal audit time” for your nonprofit? It is if your nonprofit’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year.  If you closed your fiscal year at the end of December, then you are most likely getting prepared for your auditors to examine your financial statements.  This can be a busy and stressful time for you and your financial staff, but with a little forethought and planning ahead, this process can go smooth and easy with these simple tips:

  1. Begin one year in advance to prepare for the audit! It makes a lot of sense to prepare on a monthly basis the general ledger activities and transactions that auditors need to review. This includes your balance sheet items like receivables, payables, prepaid expenses, fixed assets, etc. Create your monthly spreadsheets for all accounts, then record transactions each month. These reports will be complete at the end of the year and ready to give to the auditors.
  2. Keep all your accounting files in one designated place on your server or hard drive. This helps to stay organized and easily find files requested when the auditor is on site and hadn’t previously requested them. Also, keep either a scanned copy or hard copy of all items you provide to the auditor, and never give away original documents.
  3. Get to know your auditors! An audit should be a two-way conversation about your business and financial situation. Don’t be shy about asking for advice or assistance on fiscal matters during the year or during the audit. Auditors are more than happy to help solve issues as they occur which of course will make their auditing job easier in the long run.

New resources about nonprofit fiscal audits can be found in the Financial Management Resources area of our website such as:

See more nonprofit financial management resources.

Free Tax Preparation

Team NLC News

Did you know that anyone earning $66,000 per year (per household) can get their taxes done for free?

Complete your taxes electronically by going to myfreetaxes.com or call 2-1-1 to find the physical location closest to you to have you taxes done completely free by a trained tax preparer.

Tech4Good Free Events Coming Soon!

Lorraine Faithful Uncategorized

Have you heard about the Tampa Bay Tech4Good group and their free events to help nonprofits with technology/marketing education, strategy, website enhancements, etc.? They have several upcoming events, including ‘An Overview of Free/Discounted Technology Products from TechSoup’ and ‘Using Storytelling to Improve Your Content Channels!’ To attend these events, join their MeetUp group via https://www.meetup.com/Tech4Good-Tampa/ and RSVP to events that interest you, and their Facebook group via https://www.facebook.com/groups/tech4goodtampa/. Direct your questions to ewoods@apexsystems.com.

Mind Your Manners (and Other Practical Tips for Calling a Prospective Funder)

NLC trainer, Sara Leonard Stories

Republished with permission

Calling a prospective funder shouldn’t just be another phone call to quickly check off your to-do list. At the point of actually picking up the phone, you should be confident the funder is open to your communication (Call Me… Maybe: Determining If You Should Call a Foundation Prospect) and have spent time researching and preparing to make the call (Wait, Don’t Just Pick Up the Phone). Now (and hopefully only now) is the time to actually make the call.

Remember – this is not just any old call. This call could be the beginning or the beginning of the end of a great relationship with a funder for your organization.

Here are tips to make the most of the call.

Be Ready to Talk Now or Later

When you make the initial phone call, you may or may not get through. Be ready for either scenario. First, if you get through to the funder and they say, “Let’s talk now” be ready to go. This does not happen often, but you have to be ready for it every time. Conversely, if you get voice mail or talk to a gatekeeper, be ready to explain why you are calling and make an appointment to connect at a later time.

Location, Location, Location

One wonderful benefit of our modern, connected world is our ability to conduct business from anywhere – coffee shops, sporting events, and conferences. This however is not one of those times. Find a quiet, private place and make sure those around you know that you are not to be interrupted for the duration of the call.

Be Prompt and Respectful of Their Time

Place the call on time and be respectful of the time allowed for the call. If you asked the funder for 20 minutes, stick to that. When the allotted time has passed, you can ask if they are able to keep going, but be prepared for them to say “no” and conclude the call.


This might sound silly for a phone call, but it really matters. If you smile while you are talking, it will show in your voice. Practice this on a family member if you are skeptical. The smile in your voice projects a positive attitude and shows your enthusiasm.

Be Enthusiastic

Avoid the trap of being “all business” and not letting your passion come through during the conversation. Make an effort to find the inspiration that you need. Consider a photo of the ultimate beneficiary of the mission – that might be an animal that will be rescued or a child that will be educated.

Manners Matter

You’re building a relationship and first impressions matter. Remember the little things:

• say please and thank you,
• don’t interrupt,
• listen carefully to their answers,
• speak in a clear voice.

Take Good Notes

This conversation is where you can ask for answers and clarification to the questions left unanswered by your research. As you ask your questions, take good notes. Make note of any questions the funder has of you and be sure to record any promises you make or any information you need to provide following the conversation. If you are asked a question you can’t answer, don’t panic and just be honest. Explain why you don’t have that information and offer to find out and follow up as soon as you can.

Ask for Clarity

If you are asked a question you don’t understand, speak up and ask for clarification. The nonprofit sector is filled with jargon and the funder might use terms you haven’t heard before, ask for a definition. Sometimes we are afraid to admit we don’t understand something for fear of making a bad impression. It’s much better to understand than to answer incorrectly on the application when the funder feels they told you what they wanted.

Finish Strong

As you conclude the conversation, review anything you promised to provide and confirm your next steps. Hopefully, you have determined that they will consider your grant application so confirm the deadline. If you determine that a grant application is not appropriate, restate any follow-up action that is appropriate. No matter the outcome of the call, thank them for taking the time to talk to you.

Follow Up

A thank you/nice to meet you note is always appropriate to send after a call. If the funder requested information be sure to follow up and provide it within the agreed upon timeline. If someone else has the information, contact them immediately and confirm that the deadline is appropriate.

The funding community is smaller and more connected that most people think. So while it’s true that if you know one funder, you know one funder – they also talk and a good impression on one can translate to introductions and a good reputation among many funders. Taking the time to do your research about the funder’s process; researching what you can on your own while preparing; and making the most of your time while on the call can make a big difference not only on this particular opportunity but perhaps even more opportunities in the future.

3 Ways Leaders Make Emotional Connections

Scott Edinger, Edinger Consulting Group Stories

When I first started working in then-Big Six consulting firm Coopers & Lybrand, the partner I was assigned to was a gentleman named Chris Abramson, and he had an enormous scale of responsibility. Yet whenever I talked with him, which was not that often, he gave me his undivided attention. He talked with me about my goals and my development opportunities. He shared stories about life (both his and mine) outside the office. Even in our short conversations, in which he frequently was directing me to do something, he injected some kind of personal remark or comment.

Chris Abramson excelled in one of the most important — and most misunderstood — of leadership skills: making an emotional connection.

Leadership has everything to do with how you relate to others and the quality and texture of those relationships. The higher up you go in an organization, the less important your technical skills become and the more your interpersonal skills matter. I’ve seen this confirmed in my work with hundreds of leaders and in reviews of 360-degree feedback data on thousands more.

The ability to make an emotional connection is so often misunderstood because it’s not about being emotional or showing emotion. It’s about making a human connection — one person to another. Chris Abramson had the ability to connect on that level with me, with teams, with an entire office of over 600 associates — to show us how important we all were to him and that there was more to our relationship than just the job at hand.

He was a natural, but there are some things the rest of us might do to forge these kinds of connections.

  1. Like Chris, give people your undivided attention. This sounds simple, but it’s easy to lose sight of. When I feel overloaded in the midst of ringing phones, e-mails by the hundreds, and a gazillion other things to do, I’ll sometimes think about how Chris unfailingly engaged with people in this way, and the energy he brought to and created in those interactions as a result. He made us want to do more because we didn’t want to let him down.
  2. Be aware that emotions are contagious. Research has shown that a person’s mood can be affected even by three degrees of separation from people they don’t even know. So imagine your impact in the workplace on those who report to you directly. Whether positive or negative, your emotional state has a significant influence on those you work with, especially when you’re the boss. We all have our bad days, but we don’t have to multiply their ill effects. If you’re feeling particularly anxious or negative, make an effort to quarantine yourself — do more of your administrative tasks, avoid situations that might trigger even more stress, take the afternoon off (you may do more harm staying on the job). On the other hand, when you’re feeling especially buoyant, make an effort to spend more time with direct reports, go to more meetings, reach out to others in the organization. Use this time to your advantage and multiply your positive emotions.
  3. Develop your sense of extraversion. Make no mistake, this is easier said (or written) than done, especially if you’re naturally an introvert. But if you’re a leader, you simply have to develop the ability to reach out to others, engage them in discussion, and actively provide feedback. You’re the one who has to be out in front, taking the lead in developing these relationships. Even introverts can muster the energy to do these things and relate to others. (And then, when you’re exhausted from it, you can sit quietly with a book.)

As leaders, by definition, we do our work through other people, and yet how easy it is to lose sight of that, to focus on the amount of work — the tasks, the output, the jobs to be completed. The irony is, the more you focus on the quality of those connections, the greater your quantity of output is likely to be.

Shared with permission by Scott Edinger.  Originally published on HBR.com.  Scott Edinger is the founder of Edinger Consulting Group. He is an expert in helping organizations achieve measurable business results. Scott is a consultant, author, speaker and executive coach who has worked with some of the most prominent organizations in the world including AT&T, Harvard Business Publishing, Bank of America, Lenovo, Gannett and The Los Angeles Times.  Connect with Scott at www.Twitter.com/ScottKEdinger.

The Future’s So Bright….

Team NLC News, Stories

Over the years, Team NLC has built a tradition of sharing our thoughts on the close of the old year and the dawn of the new….


For 2019, I want to live a simple life, free of stress and worries.

I would like to have a restful sleep every night, live in the moment, and be mindful at work and at play. I will daily remind myself with written notes to collect memories instead of stuff, to spend more time with friends and family, and more FaceTime with grandkids who live in other states. I want to spend more time on my back porch watching birds visit my 3 bird-feeders. I will seek joy in all that I do. I want to practice kindness every day in some way.

These may make up a very tall order but are certainly worthwhile and worth my daily efforts. Finally, I wish to remind myself that if I have a pulse, I have a purpose (thank you Kathy Lee Gifford for sharing that tidbit!)

–Lorraine Faithful, Operations Manager


2019 will be the biggest year of my life; my world will be changed in a way I can only imagine. I’ll be given new eyes to look at everything around me, and my perspective will shift in ways I can’t even begin to see. My priorities and responsibilities will alter. hope to grow patience, compassion, awareness, time-management, and a love. In 2019 my wife and I will be welcoming in our first-born son and my world will be changed forever. And I can’t wait for 2019 to begin!

 –Andrew Rametta, Fellow in Fund Development



2018 has been euphoric. I got my permit, became a Sophomore, started taking AP classes, expanded my artistic and creative abilities, and much more. Honestly, I cannot wait to see what’s in store for me in 2019, but all I can do is sit back and enjoy the adventure that will occur next year.

So far, I do know that I am going to Ringling College of Art and Design, over the summer, for their pre-college, which is astounding. I will be taking their painting class, which consist of oil-on-canvas paintings. Now it’s something I’ve only done once, but I wanted to test my artistic skills to see where I am at and continue from there.

Other than just going to pre-college, I will also be selling my own artwork in a variety of places like Ybor, New Tampa, and maybe even Temple Terrace. I’m unsure of the details, but I do know that I am selling my art to get my name out there. Why not start young?

Aside from those two huge things going on next year, I still have the rest of it to figure out. Is it going to be a long and bumpy road? Sure, but I don’t mind the bumpy roads; they’re something I can truly learn from.

I’m genuinely looking forward to what next year has in store for me.

 –Taghi Wells, Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program student


2018 has been an amazing year personally and professionally. I can’t wait to see what unfolds in 2019, but I know that I will be focusing on nourishing my body with my new food-as-medicine perspective and would like to challenge it to get back to half marathon-running capacity.

I’m also committing to shaking up my routine a bit more this year; Hubby and I used to take off on impromptu day and weekend trips but fell out of that habit in 2017 and much of 2018. I want to explore as we used to.

I’m also taking the word “joy” for my mantra for this new year. I want to celebrate even the tiniest moments of joy as they happen; I’m training my eye to see the things that bring me joy, my brain to truly acknowledge it, my heart to fully experience it, and my mouth to communicate it to others.

—Jennifer Dodd, Director of Education & Communications



As I reflect on 2018, I am filled with gratitude for all that I experienced. I am grateful to be ending the year with a strong mind and a healthy body. And that those who I care for and who care for me are ending the year the same way.

— John Loblack. Director of Strategic Solutions






Wow! What a year! Usually the memo is 2019 is going to better than 2018, but 2019 is going to have a challenge, and it might not be able to top 2018. But I sure am going to miss those unforgettable memories.

2019 is going to be filled with hard work, determination, and wisdom. I’m going to make 2019 my year. It’s going to be filled with hopefully even better memories, and it’s also is going to be filled with lots of lessons–good and bad. 2019 IS MY YEAR!!!

–Alexis Maldonado, Cristo Rey Corporate Work Study Program student





I’ve been thinking about balance lately. Clearly, nature has a lot to offer by way of lessons in that department as the ultimate example of circular, regenerative design. Nothing gets lost, just repurposed—plugged in somewhere else in a way that feeds the system again.

This year I’m keeping an eye out for opportunities for sustainability, both on a grand scale and on a much more personal level. How can I begin to close the loops in my home, workplace and community in a way that promotes equity, well-being and balance? Because if your solution to a problem only creates more problems down the line, especially for someone else, what have you really accomplished?

I’m not sure I can tackle this kind of “resolution” without challenging my own assumptions about my place in the cosmos, how to measure success, and what’s really important. The cool thing is that I’ll need lots of joy and good times to counterbalance all the serious stuff going on in my brain this year. Woo hoo!! Honeymoon Island, here I come!

–Laurel Westmoreland, Education & Data Manager




I am a planner, a list checker, an over thinker. It has served me well, both personally and professionally. Who wants to forget something or someone? Who wants to be caught short, unprepared, speechless? Certainly not me.

But in a moment of reflection this busy season, thinking about important life moments or stories, it is those that go off-script or are totally unplanned that resonate the most.

Picture this: in 2008 my 9-year-old, Florida-born son had never seen snow. While vacationing in Portland, Oregon, to celebrate a big birthday, my husband wanted to take windsailing lessons on the mighty Columbia River. We made all the arrangements, but never gave a thought to what Josh & I would do while Jim was risking life and limb and all but certain hypothermia in the Columbia River. Since we knew that this June was the coldest on record in Oregon (called January by the locals), Josh and I set off in search of snow at the top of Mt. Hood, a mere 20 miles away. Viola, a snowy landscape filled with skiers, ample snow for snowball fight with mom and an unplanned slide down a slippery slope teaching an important lesson to a Florida boy about the unpredictability of traction on ice. An hour or so later we were back on schedule picking up a happy though cold husband/dad from the river banks. It doesn’t get better than this.

In 2019 I will look for these moments each day and relish them always.

–Emily Benham, CEO


Team NLC Wishes You & Yours a Wonderful Christmas!

Team NLC Stories

Team NLC is thrilled to share with you the cover art of our 2018 holiday card: “Hang Your Heart on a Limb,” a pencil and ink piece by our dear friend and tireless volunteer Chris Schombs.

Of this piece, Chris says, “It’s meant to draw us into the act of giving and receiving. Having retired (the first time) in 2014, I found in Nlc a place where I could volunteer my talents and participate in the on-goingness of sharing our selves, teaching others, and inviting all the rest to reach out to heal the world.”

We thought Chris’ art and this quote paired beautifully, and they became the cornerstones of this year’s holiday card:

“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

Our wish for you is to enjoy and fully experience the meaningful moments of this holiday season!

Beware the “Culture of Nice”

Guest Post by Kathy McDonald, NLC trainer News, Stories

It was important to Melissa* that she create an inclusive culture where all voices were heard. Yet, as a chronic conflict avoider, she was unwittingly building a “culture of nice,” where getting along was valued over getting things done. (*Names have been changed to protect identities.)

Neither extreme is helpful.  But Melissa failed to see how her culture of nice was hurting the team. She avoided giving important partner input to a peer organization that meant more work for her team. She put off providing constructive feedback because she didn’t want to hurt the feelings of an underperforming employee, leaving others to pick up the slack. Resentment started to build among her dependable employees that left them feeling undervalued.

When “nice” trumps “no” at times when “no” is appropriate, you’ve got a problem.

What are some signs a manager is being too nice?

  • The manager avoids constructive feedback with an underperformer. There are times when all team members need feedback, especially when they’ve missed the mark. If a manager fails to provide constructive input to an underperformer causing others to have to pick up the slack, resentment is bound to grow. In the end, in sparing an employee’s feelings, the manager is robbing the employee of an opportunity to grow. The employee may not even know that they are coming up short. As author Brene Brown says, “Clear is kind.  Unclear is unkind. It can be hard (to say what you need to say) but people value it.”
  • The manager fails to enforce deadlines.No need to be unreasonable about it.  There are times when it’s appropriate to move deadlines. But when deadlines routinely slip it leaves team members feeling anxious, not knowing who and what they can count on. It also keeps those who miss deadlines from building the skills necessary to become more reliable.
  • The manager fails to hold a standard of quality. When a manager lets work go that should be improved just to avoid being perceived as difficult, it affects the brand of the entire organization and creates an environment where average work becomes accepted as good enough. Over time, standards slip and they are at risk of losing good employees. As the saying goes, “A” players want to work with “A” players.

All work requires occasionally asking the tough questions that help an organization grow in important ways. If leaders avoid conversations because of the conflict that may arise rather than building the skills to effectively deal with different points of view, they do so at the organization’s peril.


For more management strategies that strengthen your team, join us in the training room for Management 301: Hiring, Managing, and Succession Planning. The third installment of this 3-part training series, on Feb. 22, 2019, will cover topics that include avoiding a culture of nice, how the 5 levels of listening offers more than just active listening, and succession planning so that you are prepared when key employees leave. If you’ve not yet attended Management 201: Productivity Hacks & Team Recognition Strategies, you can join us for this second session on Jan. 25th.

Kathy McDonald is the assistant director for network partnerships for the Florida College Access Network. Kathy has helped individuals, leaders and teams find and leverage their strengths for the last 18 years. She is an experience workshop leader and speaker, developing adult professional development programs for numerous organizations including Accenture, PwC, the City of Chicago, and the Hillsborough Education Foundation.

She is co-author of CREATING YOUR LIFE COLLAGE: STRATEGIES FOR SOLVING THE WORK/LIFE DILEMMA (Three Rivers Press). Kathy holds an MBA from Northwestern University and is a certified leadership coach from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. Happily married for 25 years, Kathy is the proud mother of two teenagers and currently 3 dogs (small, medium and large) and is an avid gardener, though she admits gardening in Florida is a contact sport.

Kathy’s training approach is to ensure participants walk away with actionable tools and resources while creating a space that encourages learning and growing together.



Reinvent Your Personal Brand

Scott Edinger, Edinger Consulting Group Stories

Like so many of you reading this blog, my “to read” stack is piled halfway to the ceiling. Some books and longer articles that I want to read, and others, that for one reason or another, I need to read. Add to that stack the deluge of emails, daily periodicals, and of course, blogs like Forbes and Harvard Business Review, and I sometimes wonder how I’ll get through my stack. The books are all good by virtue of having made it into my stack, so I prioritize my stack from “must read now,” because of valuable information that I presently need, to “read eventually.” This month, the book that made it to the top of my stack is Reinventing You, published by Harvard Business Review Press written by my friend and colleague, Dorie Clark. The criteria for me was that, like so many of you, I am continually looking for how to improve my brand and I always find Dorie’s writing, in her blogs on Forbes.com as well as Harvard Business Review, to have great pragmatic insights.

 Here are a few of my key takeaways from the book.

  • You already have a brand, and in order to take control of it, you need to fully understand what it is. That’s easier said than done, because we’re all inside our own heads 24/7 – so you need to enlist key allies to help you gain perspective. Dorie suggests conducting your own “360 interviews” to get the perspective of your colleagues, boss, and employees to understand your strengths and where you can grow. She also proposes a fascinating concept – doing your own “focus group,” where the focus is on you. You can recruit a friend to moderate, and then invite 8-10 people over to talk about how they see you and what they can envision for you; you’re only allowed to listen and ask clarifying questions. That’s the kind of perspective it might take you years to learn on your own.
  • You don’t need to – and shouldn’t – jump into a “reinvention” without planning, but there are ways to minimize your risk. Dorie profiles people who served on nonprofit boards and gained new skills that allowed them to change careers, and provides case studies about professionals who cleverly expanded the definition of their current job to stretch their boundaries and move into new areas that fascinated them. That’s something we should all ask ourselves: what can I donow to make my current job more fulfilling and interesting?
  • Creating your “narrative” is critical to the reinvention process. If left to their own devices, most people will continue to think of you the way they always have, meaning their perceptions are often erroneous or out-of-date. After all, you’ve been learning and growing in the intervening years, but they may simply not have noticed. So you’ll need to create a narrative that explains, clearly and succinctly, where you’ve been and the value only you can offer. With creative examples like a poet who became a management consultant, and an Army helicopter pilot who transitioned into corporate America, Dorie makes this point eloquently and shows us how we can all do it.
  • You have to “demonstrate your value.” Whether it’s taking a leadership role in professional organizations or creating online content (like blogs or podcasts), it’s essential to show others how you think and what you can do. As knowledge workers, there’s no other way for them to get a sense of our abilities. And if you’re the one creating intellectual property, you’re able to set the agenda – and others will soon be talking about, and citing, you.

Defining and developing a personal brand is no easy task but Dorie Clark’s writing brings the process to life and makes it accessible to all of us. A brand is a promise of uniform quality and performance. What promises are you making? Read Reinventing You to get clear on those promises, and learn to do what is needed to deliver on them.

Shared with permission by Scott Edinger.  Originally published on HBR.com.  Scott Edinger is the founder of Edinger Consulting Group. He is an expert in helping organizations achieve measurable business results. Scott is a consultant, author, speaker and executive coach who has worked with some of the most prominent organizations in the world including AT&T, Harvard Business Publishing, Bank of America, Lenovo, Gannett and The Los Angeles Times.  Connect with Scott at 

Setting Expectations through An Out of Office Message

Ashley Pero News, Stories

Repost from 2011 — timely given the upcoming holidays!

Are you getting ready for some time out of the office? It is important not to forget to set your out of office email and voicemail messages. You can easily set a task reminder for the day of your departure to pop up in Outlook. And, if you do forget it is worth a trip back to the office (or a quick remote in) to get it set. An effective out of office message can save you time when you get back to the office and also lets people know why they haven’t heard back from you. These people can be coworkers, donors, clients, volunteers or that all important potential donor – you don’t want to leave them thinking you are unresponsive or don’t care.

You can craft an effective out of office message by answering a few simple questions.

  • When will you be out of the office and what day will you return?
  • Will the office be closed during any of the time your away?
  • How can you be contacted (if at all)?
  • Who can they contact while you’re away?

An email out of office example:

Hi! I will be out of the office with no access to email until (day of the week), (month and day). I will respond to all emails upon my return.

If you require immediate assistance please call our office, (888) 888-8888, and someone will be happy to assist you.\

The office will be closed (dates office will be closed).

Thank you.


Your voicemail out of office can be similar, but try and keep it short with just the important information.

  • You could also have limited access to email/voicemail or available only by cell phone – if that is the case let them know how long they should expect a response to take.
  • If there is a particular person they should ask for in your office list that person’s name, email and phone number. If there are certain people for certain issues list them all (being mindful while recording your voicemail out of office).

And one last thing, if you are using Outlook make sure to set both the internal and external message (both tabs). The same message can work, but you customize both depending on your office size and office requirements.