Heather Comstock Connects

Helping nonprofits and other volunteer organizations develop strong relationships and a clear voice in the community.

New Year To Dos!

IMG_3512Happy 2013 everyone! Break’s over and it’s time to get back to work!  January is a great time to tend to routine tasks for your organization.  Even if your organization works on a fiscal year rather than a calendar year, here are a few housekeeping items you can address in January.

Donor summaries and thanks –  Your donors are beginning to assemble documentation to file their taxes and now is a great time to send out a letter summarizing their contributions for the previous calendar year.  Be sure to tally up their contributions from January to December.  Take a few minutes to thank them for their support and describe how their donation helped you meet your mission during the previous year.

Employee Tax paperwork – if you have employees or contractors, don’t forget you need to provide the w-2’s and 1099’s by the end of January!

Review your organizational calendar – your organization should have a master calendar of when things need to be done such as annual meetings, by-law reviews, and elections.  Make sure you know your timelines so important tasks don’t sneak up on you!  Check your contracts too.  For example, if you host an annual conference, your hotel contract will have dates and deadlines for deposits, room block expiration, and final counts for food and beverages.

Put annual reports and filing due dates on your spanking new calendar – related to your organizational calendar, keep a master list of when your reports and other required filings are due to the government.  In Maryland, all corporations are required to file an annual Property Tax return with the Department of Assessments and Taxation which is due April 15th – regardless of your accounting period.  Not filing that one report can cause your corporation to be suspended.  Similarly, make sure you know when your 990 is due to the IRS and ensure you file it in a timely manner.

Inventory your files – do you have tons of files hanging around? Thinking of purging some of them?  Review your records retention policy for guidelines on when to destroy old files.  Don’t have a records retention policy?  Now is a great time to put one in place.

Insurance – now is as good a time as any to take a few minutes to review your insurance policies.  Do you have adequate coverage for all your activities?  Have the amounts been updated to keep pace with inflation?  Sit down with your agent to assess your needs.

Board member terms of office – do you have anyone who is leaving the board this year?  It is time to think about leadership recruitment and recognition of the service and contributions of outgoing board members and volunteers.  Alternately, do you have new board members?  Have they been through an orientation and do they have a mentor to help them become acclimated to your board?

By-laws and Policy reviews – read through your by-laws and policy manuals like you have never seen them before.  Are your current practices in alignment with the descriptions in your by-laws and policy manuals? Better yet, enlist that new board member to help you.  They will bring a fresh perspective and help you spot inconsistencies.

The holidays are over and winter is settling in.  These are a few tasks to help you stay on track for the coming year.  As I’ve said before, I am not a lawyer or an accountant and I don’t play one on t.v.  so be sure to consult a qualified professional for tax and legal advice if you have questions!

Have a great and prosperous 2013!

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