Feeling a little overwhelmed and like you’ve time warped back to the 1980’s with all the paperwork that comes with running a non-profit? Unfortunately, some paperwork is necessary, but there are ways and means to keep it manageable. The best way to handle non-profit paperwork is to maintain a very organized paper trail by sticking to a series of routines. Let me explain:
Successful organizations have systems. Having a system ensures that information and paperwork is stored in a way that is easy to access later. These routines become your organization’s “controls”.
Having routines, or controls, ensures the accuracy of the information that is recorded in your system. This is also good risk management. For example, make it your habit that every time an expense is made, you put the receipt in a particular spot in your wallet. Immediately when you get to your desk, record that paper trail using the procedures outlined below.
Organizing Non-Profit Paperwork:
- Get a BIG 3 hole binder & hole puncher. This is no time to pinch pennies. You are going to be into this thing a lot. So get a good quality binder with a D-ring.
- Get 12 Month dividers. You can get these pre-labeled or you can label your own.
- Get 12 sheet protectors for each month (for receipts, etc.)
Now start your organizing. Open the binder. The first thing that goes in is the sheet protector for the first month. We like to put a label on it with the month name. If your fiscal year starts in January, this is January’s sheet protector. If it starts in July, it is July’s. Use the sheet protector during the month to stash all those little receipts and things that you are not sure are useful but you don’t want to throw away. This keeps them all together.
As you go through the month, continue to stash those little receipt things in the sheet protector and carefully add each completed Check Request form to the binder, most recent on top.
At the end of the month, add your Bank statements, bank reconciliations and Treasurer’s Report. NOW place the appropriate month divider on top, followed by the sheet protector for the next month. You are ready to go again. Reverse order is the organizational secret here.
Is All The Paperwork Avoidable?
Luckily, a lot of “old school” non-profit paperwork can be avoided with the use of a good non-profit accounting software program. A high-quality program can not only help you with banking and bookkeeping, but also a variety of other non-profit tasks like managing members, volunteers, schedules and donations. This is vital to avoiding unnecessary paperwork.
However, as with many for-profit entities, it’s difficult to avoid all paperwork for a non-profit. In fact, keeping a paper trail of receipts and expenditures is exactly what we recommend for preventing fraud in your organization. Grab that three-ring binder, pop those monthly items in, and keep it in a safe, secure place.