Should I Seek a Fiscal Sponsor?

A fiscal sponsor is an organization that has already gone to the time, trouble, and expense to legally form a nonprofit, create a board, establish accounting records, establish operations, establish bylaws – all the admin stuff –

And when you do your fundraising, you have people donate to the sponsoring organization with those funds earmarked for your project.

That’s how their donations become eligible for being tax-deductible and also how donors have the experience of donating to a “legit” and accountable organization.

Then the fiscal sponsor passes the funds to you, minus an administrative fee. Amounts for this fee that I have heard are 6% and 10%. There could be other fee levels. It depends in part on what the organization is doing for you. The more they do (such as pay your vendors) the higher the fee.

A fiscal sponsor can either pay your authorized vendors directly or put the donated funds (less the admin fee) into a separate bank account that you have created for the exclusive use of this project. You’re required to report all of your project’s financial activities to your fiscal sponsor and you can get into h-u-g-e trouble if any of those funds are used for a purpose other than what was promised in your initial application for fiscal sponsorship.

A fiscal sponsor is obligated to report to you how much money has come in, and they are required to set aside those donations (less the admin fee) and they can get into h-u-g-e trouble if they use those funds for anything other than your project.

Fiscal sponsorship is an effective financial mechanism for good to be done in the world without red tape.

The Fee for a Business Plan for a Startup

The price for a business plan depends on a few things:

  • whether the plan will be used to raise investment capital (higher) or to make decisions while creating the company (lower)
  • how large and how quickly the founder plans to grow the business (larger & faster = higher fee)
  • how experienced the founder is in creating & launching successful businesses (greater certainty for the client can be parlayed into a greater fee for you if you’re really good at this, adding value & not just documenting…but greater certainty for the client can also result in a downward price pressure if he is just looking for someone to document his thoughts that he’s already confident about and not looking to be influenced)
  • relates to the above point – whether this is designed to be a project documenting what’s in the founder’s head (lower) or a process in which the business design is in fact generated based on powerful, illuminating questions with a suite of the options presented (higher). This latter choice is a process in which language is treated as a generative act, not a descriptive act.
  • what the startup will be left with when the engagement is complete – something genuinely reference-able, usable, inspiring? Or a 100-page book that’s going to get stuck on a bookshelf?

Accounting for PayPal Sales

Accounting for PayPal Sales
For an organization who uses PayPal exclusively for sales, it’s possible to import the transactions into the accounting system every month, for example via the Batch Enter feature available in QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition.
First curate the data in Excel to remove line items that never actually happened (invoices, for example), separate disbursements from deposits, import, gross up for merchant service fees, adjust for sales tax if any, and reconcile.
When a transfer happens between PayPal and the company’s bank account, and it’s sent from PayPal in one month and clears the operating account in the next month, record it as of the date it was actually executed. Clear it in the PayPal reconciliation and it’s outstanding in the operating account reconciliation.

Accounting Geek Alert! How to create a consolidation template

How to Create a Consolidation Template
[1] As a one-time exercise, create the financial statements the way you want to see them as a final product. Formatting, line items, headers.
[2] Export the trial balances of each company to Excel. In one separate tab but in the same workbook as your financial statements, paste them one above the next on the same tab.
[3] Create a column called DR (CR) with a formula that takes whatever is in the Debit columns and subtracts whatever is in the Credit column.
[4] Create a column called B/S Account and link to the desired line item on the Balance Sheet. I recommend using absolute references to save time. Remember that unless you have a Net Income line item on your B/S, you’ll want to map all revenue, COGS, and Expenses accounts to Retained Earnings in this column.
[5] Create a column called P&L Account and link to the desired line item on the Profit & Loss statement (appropriate accounts only)
[6] Don’t map the intercompany accounts or other accounts that need to be eliminated.
[7] On the face of the financial statements, where the numbers should show up, use the SUMIF function to pull the figures from the Trial Balance tab. Reference the entire column (i.e. ‘Trial Balance’!D:D) rather than a limited range of cells.
[8] Create an Error Trapping tab and enter formulas to confirm the obvious, such as Total Assets per B/S, Total Liabilities + Equity per B/S, Variance = 0.
Special note: If you want to present financials that are rounded to the nearest whole number, then in step [3] above, use the ROUND function to do so, and add a line item to each Trial Balance called Rounding, add a formula to balance the Trial Balance for that entity, and map it to an account of your choice. I have learned to choose A/P.
When it’s time to run financials again, just export a fresh Trial Balance. Make sure the T/B structure hasn’t changed (or insert/delete the occasional row) and then simply copy and paste the new amounts over the old ones.

Getting ‘Wow!’ insights in organizations with construction activities

organization with construction activities
Tracking categories. One of the glorious features of Xero is the ability to easily choose a batch of tracking categories. For example:
Tracking Category 1 = Property
Set up the names in the Property tracking category with a Site: Unit structure
Site A: Unit 01
Site A: Unit 02
Site A: Unit 03
and then
Site B: Unit 10
and so on.
When you run an income statement, you can show all of the apartments sides by side for a given site, or you can select Edit Layout, Column, Property, and then type Site A in the filter box. All of the tracking categories that begin with Site A will come up, and you can quickly combine them into a single column by checking them all off.
All this, and you still have Tracking Category 2 for some other way to slice and dice the organization. Perhaps by city or region, or General Contractor used, to see how profitability differs across cities, regions, or General Contractors.

Transform Small Donors into Major Donors

Your not-for-profit organization is making a profound difference in the lives of those served. You are busy, your staff is busy, your staff is busy, and it’s time to put the pedal to the floor and launch a Major Gifts campaign.

The organization has a strong fan base, and there are those who would like to really leave a legacy. But not everyone may be in a position to part with legacy-level dollars…

…while they are alive.

The answer: Life insurance.

Here’s how it works: A person can make a small or medium-sized donation to the charity of their choice. That charity uses those funds to purchase a life insurance policy on that donor, with the charity as the beneficiary. (The charity also creates a budget line item for the premiums in case the donations to cover the premium stop coming for whatever reason.) Upon the eventual passing of the donor, the benefit that the charity receives will be many times the sum donated over the years.

If it’s so straightforward, why aren’t I hearing about this all over the place? I hear you ask.

  • Certain institutions do this all the time, notably charities that promote medical research, United Way, and Jewish Federations. It’s also a common practice in estate planning. The word is spreading.
  • Life insurance is, plainly put, an underutilized way to help people leave a legacy.

A cautionary note: It is better for the not-for-profit to own the policy so that after years of paying premiums, the beneficiary doesn’t get changed by the policy owner. Make sure to run it past a lawyer because it has to be done in a certain way, to the benefit of everyone.

So help someone to hit the Good Deed button, they can make a difference in the lives of the people who will benefit from your organization!

We thank Steven Kobrin for his co-authoriship of this blog. Steve is a life insurance expert with over 25 years experience. He serves high net-worth individuals and business owners, as well as high risk and uninsurable “impaired cases.” Steven offers concierge life insurance process to ensure the policy is approved as it’s quoted. To learn more, visit his website, read his blog, connect with him on LinkedIn, or request a policy audit today by calling his office at (866) 633-1818 or by email at Steven is a contributor to Investopedia; view his profile here.

Our Accounting Services Can Help You Choose the Right Accounting Programs for Your Small Business

Running a small business probably requires more paperwork than you ever expected, but this kind of documentation of your wages, income, and transactions is essential to your business. Making sure your accounting is done properly is not only important to your success, it can help save you thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties, and fees later on. There are hundreds of software programs available to small business owners that promise to make accounting and record keeping a breeze, but how do you know which one is right for your business? Our accounting services can help you find the right software package for your business.

We start by getting to know you, your business, and your accounting needs. Our team looks for a software package that not only handles general accounting, but also reporting, payroll, and inventory so you aren’t jumping between multiple platforms to get the information you need. Our goal is to make your accounting process as efficient as possible so you can focus your energy on other areas of your business… because we bet you didn’t start your own business because you wanted to be working on accounting tasks all day long.

Tier One Services doesn’t stop at finding you the right software package. Our team will also install the software and give you ongoing support on its use. We’ll set it up, help you get records transferred over from old software and spreadsheets, and even train you on the use of the new software. We’re experienced with a variety of accounting software programs so we can get you and your team up-to-date on everything you need to know to make your accounting process a breeze. Want to learn more about what we can do to make your accounting process easier and more efficient for your small business? Get in touch with us today for your free consultation!

Why You Should Be Paying More Attention to Business Modeling

As a part of your business strategy, you’ll spend time on business modeling. This is the process of deciding how your business is going to create your product or deliver your service in order to increase profit. Some businesses skips this all-too-important step, and find themselves flailing later on down the road when they need answers to process questions. This can bring productivity to a halt, and forethought during the business modeling process could have not only saved time and money, it could have also increased output so the business would be moving forward instead of grinding to a halt.

Business modeling is important for large corporation and the smallest start ups. Setting up the process now will help answer “what if” questions and help you smoothly navigate unexpected bumps in the road along the way. Nothing goes entirely as planned when it comes to the business world, but a good model will point you in the right direction. If your business is badly in need of this kind of guidance but you aren’t sure how to get started, it can be beneficial to bring in an outside consultant to help you think through the process and create a model that will guide your business for years to come.

Tier One Services provides businesses with business modeling consultations. We can help you make sure you have thought through the what if questions and implement the modeling that will drive your business towards success. Want to get a model locked into place for your business? We’re ready to get started. Contact us through our website today and let’s start a dialogue about how we can help create a business model for your company.


CFO Services That Can Help You Plan Your Business Expansion

If you are a business owner, one of the scariest prospects you face is expanding your business. You know it could result in more business and a bigger bottom line, but if it isn’t done in a fiscally sustainable way, you could be facing a disaster. As a small business owner, you might think you don’t have the same access to resources that big businesses have that could help you make responsible expansion plans. But with our CFO services, you have all the help you need.

Our services are designed to meet the needs of small businesses. Now you’ll have an expert CFO on hand to help you make important business decisions, including a plan to expand your business in a way that’s sustainable and fiscally responsible. You’ll know what you need to do and what kind of money you’ll need to spend to get your business to the place you want it to be. Whether it is an expansion of your current business model or location or if you are ready to take your business nationwide, our CFO services will help you create a plan that gets you there.

Give us a call today and learn more about what Tier One Services can do for your business. We can help strengthen your business ecosystem and create a business model that fuels profits. Learn more about the services and benefits to working with our team by browsing through our website. Then get in touch with us by giving us a call or using the form on our website to contact us. We’re looking forward to working with you to expand your business and help you reach your goals!

Music and Business: Finding the Measure

While I was enjoying the networking portion of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Shutterfly’s new facility in Fort Mill, SC last week, I had an interesting conversation with someone. Her area of expertise includes bringing together professionals from the fields of education and business to create new possibilities and new opportunities for the students.

As we were discussing the similarities and differences in the two industries, she asked me what precisely was my instructional field prior to becoming a CPA.

“Music!” I replied.

She said regretfully, “Oh, well, that doesn’t have much to do with business…muzak, maybe.”

I said, “I’ve actually used a lot of my underlying musical knowledge in business, just without the music itself. There are small things that make a big difference.” She looked curious so I illustrated.

Picture yourself in a choir rehearsal. The conductor stops everyone and says, “Let’s go back and practice this section again. Please begin on measure 2, in the third system, on page 5.”

Now everyone has to hold these three pieces of information in their heads and employ additional processing to spit it back out in the reverse order. When you’re acting on the information, you have to find the page, then the system, then the measure. And by the time you get to looking for the measure, half the choir has forgotten it. The flow of the rehearsal is lost as pages are being flipped and re-flipped, the conductor is reduced to repeating the instructions instead of giving the downbeat, and choir members are asking each other , “What system?” “What measure?” instead of singing.

Why make the brain work so hard? Any good choral, band, or orchestral conductor will tell you that effective instructions are conveyed in the same order that they will be processed by brains of the listeners: “Page 5, system 3, measure 2.” Notice the use of “measure 2” over “second measure.” Same idea.

So how does this show up in a business context?

Take a quarterly meeting between a CPA and business owner who is new to the idea of reviewing the company financial statements.

CPA: “Look at that 25K.”
Business owner: [scans documents for 25K, feeling out of sorts and somewhat addled with all of these columns and columns of numbers] CPA: “Yeah, the 25K, in Office Expense, on the P&L.”
Business owner: [Holds information mentally, processes it to act on it in the reverse order…] “Which amount? Where?”


The business owner should be leaving these meetings empowered and with clarity in what to do next. Instead his experience of himself is “schmuck,” his experience of financial statements is “inaccessible” and his experience of the CPA is “unrelatable.” He loses out on the valuable business intelligence contained within those financial statements and decides that he’s better off with the “gut” technique. Actually, instinct is the most effective when it is powered by actual facts.

Instead, how about:
CPA: “Let’s have a look at the P&L to see the results of operations this quarter.”
Business owner: [Turns to the P&L.] CPA: “In the Operating Expenses section, about halfway down, is Office Expense. Check out the third column – there’s a 25K increase over last quarter. Tell me the story.”
Business owner: “We created new marketing collateral for an upcoming expo. It’s classy and really shares the opportunity of working with us!”
CPA: Oh, the Chamber expo next month? Sounds exciting! Have your bookkeeper move these expenditures to Marketing Expense instead. Let’s talk about what you’d like to have in place to be able to measure your return on your investment in the expo.”

All because of the order in which information is presented.

“Wow,” said my networking partner. “Musical techniques apply more than I’d realized!”

In which other types business conversations do you imagine that this technique facilitate an amazing and profitable result?