Category Archives: NonProfits

Overtime Rules Update

The Department of Labor’s new Overtime Rules are causing a great deal of planning and decision-making very quickly, since employers need to comply by December 1, 2016 – just a few months from now.

These rules are predicted to cause 4.2 million employees nationwide to receive overtime pay who weren’t before, and to make it easier for 8.9 million people who already were eligible (but weren’t receiving overtime pay) to be fairly compensated.

One interesting note: this new salary threshold will not be static for several decades, like the last time it was set. Under this new regulation, the salary threshold will be reviewed and updated every 3 years.

Here is a handy collection of resources and responses.

The sources for these resources are from both the nonprofit community (MNCN website, which also includes several trainings) and the business community.

Here is the rule itself (with a video):   Extra Hours = Extra Pay

For further clarity, the US DOL issues some fact sheets to assist with implementation:

Brief Fact Sheet for the Non-Profit Sector

More Detailed Fact Sheet for Non-Profit Organizations and “white-collar” work including information on the duties test

Here is some additional information from AccountingWeb on these new rules.

And a variety of aspects from FastCompany:

 

There will be short-term adjustments and challenges, but we all do better when we all do better!
Further resources, helpful information welcome!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Community, NonProfits, Resources, Uncategorized

Strength & Vibrancy of Twin Cities

There was a display at the Cargill room in the Downtown Minneapolis Library a few years ago, celebrating the sesquicentennial (150 years) of Minnesota. It contained displays showcasing Minnesota’s inventions over the years. They included an extensive array: Medical (pacemakers, etc.. work by Bakken and many others), Computer, Food (wheat varieties created by Borlaug, credited with saving  the lives of millions; zillions of apples and much more at the University of Minnesota). Also random things like the Tilt-a-Whirl, Roller Blades, and Spam (which has, again, saved the lives of millions probably).

The University of Minnesota, one of the original Land-Grant institutions, has been doing everything possible to improve life for Minnesotans – and Everyone – since the 1850’s. I graduated with a degree in Accounting from there. I don’t know if you can tell. Anyway, even with the University’s various campuses and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system,  we have a wealth of smaller Universities and Colleges as well. Truly something for every interest and life path.

We have much more diversity here than others imagine. Minnesota schools  are helping kids learn English in addition to their own languages – 200 different languages are spoken in their homes. Our four main languages in Minneapolis are English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong. We are a vibrant community of cultures, ethnicities, neighborhoods  and communities.

We have a thriving arts community, more theater per person than almost anywhere else, storytelling, dance, live music and much more.

Politically, there’s just no end. But let me just stress our high voter turnout, and leave it at that. Except to also mention politics at its best – the Center for Victims of Torture, based in Minneapolis, doing everything possible to heal the human spirit.

That is one nonprofit of hundreds in Minnesota – part of a thriving nonprofit community that seeks to ensure the vitality and well-being of its citizens and address today’s challenges in coordination with government entities, foundations, benefactors and volunteers; in a way that is transparent and accountable.

We have a thriving technology arena with innovation and real-world application, new breakthroughs and efforts to bring technology’s benefits to as many as possible.

Our Minnesota State Fair is perhaps a good place to stop. For many on the coasts (the reason this post exists, see here and here), the State Fair justifies your belief systems about Minnesota. And, as I’ve said before, there’s a certain level of inevitability about all this which I accept.

Despite that, I’ll just say this: the State Fair is like life.

You have huge numbers of people, all of whom are doing what they want to do for their own reasons. Some have brought to the Fair the best of their years’ efforts – animals, artworks, recipes, large vegetables, seed art. Some have brought information and arguing points to try and change others minds and spark action. Some have brought items to sell, and/or money to buy. Many are artists and performers, there to incite joy, laughter and dancing. Many-many are present to take it all in and have a wonderful time.

There is a little bit of almost everything, and a zillion choices at every turn. You can – as in life – decide what experience you want to have, and then set about to have that experience. Things may go a different way, and you can adapt. There may be streets filled to the brim with unwashed masses – and alternate routes. Long lines at these times, shorter lines earlier/later. Coupons and deals to utilize. Extensive work and volunteer opportunites. Too much heat, rain, cold and blah days, disappointment, social goings-on with drama and heart break, families (in matching t-shirts sometimes) with best intentions, crying babies and their huge baby carriages always in the way, people moving about with assistive technology, people physically adjusting themselves to all those around them constantly, people who’ve been coming to the fair for decades, people who only recently landed in Minnesota and are still just their bearings, breaking technology and the newest in kitchen convenience. It’s all there, it’s all in the Twin Cities, it’s all the same in slightly different ways everywhere.

We are completely engaged in what we’re doing here. You are welcome to join us. It’s ok if you want to keep doing what you’re doing where you are. But we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing our own selves, in any case. Namaste.

2 Comments

Filed under Business, buy local, Community, Cooking, Entrepreneurship, Food, Fun, Infrastructure, Leadership, Local, Marketing, Minneapolis, Minnesota, NonProfits, St. Paul, Technology, Uncategorized

Workings – Accounting

Returning Online Message to the World. Hello World!

I do accounting, and I don’t talk about it. Almost ever anyway. The one time I do talk about it.. well, it’s this blog post! This is my sole episode of self-exposition, hopefully a foundation for the rest of my social media life going forward. There are links to this, so that other main posts can be as pithy as self-awareness suggests they be. I hope this is illuminating to those interested, while still not getting me in any trouble. (Maintaining that delicate balance is strenuous, hence the singularity of this event).

Accounting is a dynamic, variable, and intrinsically-confidential process that most people in the best of times are unaware of. In the current moment, the accounting process has been rendered even more invisible, because of the paradigms that have sprung up around it.

Talking about it in an interesting way that is relevant to others yet also maintains all necessary confidentiality is generally impossible. Despite that, I’m going to share some information about it this one time, in re-joining the social media world after a long absence.

In my work, I create and maintain accounting structures and practices that enable efficient, correct financial transactions; and that also result in those transactions generating a data trail. I do additional steps with sets of transactions at periodic or project-specific intervals, to put that transaction data into specific patterns. And then I turn that data into information, both to meet external requirements and to provide useful organizational and programmatic information to internal managers and staff.

All of that is done within the framework of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), as well as federal and state laws (regarding payroll, sales tax, and all sorts of other things), particular structures established within specific grants, and the body of established practice within each entity.

A significant part of the work is also engaging productively with the organization itself, participating in relevant decision-making, sharing information, and implementing change proactively; also helping with the organizational work itself sometimes.

All of that happened a certain way when I started out, in the mid- to late- 1980’s. That established ‘normal’ for me. I thought things would always be that way. I imagine now that, if they had, it’s possible I would have ended up in a certain comfort zone, a set of habits and practices within which I would have been content in a static way, and work would have existed within 9-5 and the rest would be my personal life.

Instead, things turned out differently.

These accounting practices in general have since been subject to a series of pressures that I did not at all foresee when I started out – as is the case with many work practices. I may write more about them at some point, but here’s a brief description.

Quickbooks – which I can honestly say I identified as a very mixed change agent right from the very beginning – operates on the basic premise that accounting as a theoretical framework or structured practice really doesn’t exist. Anyone can do it. There are qualifiers inherent in that statement over time, but that’s the basic gist. Anyone can do it, and any negative outcomes from that process are manageable. If outcomes are to be better managed, you can get help after the fact to fix it. (Stop rant now/)

And while I support all small businesses and entrepreneurs, and I know it’s been an effective tool for many to some extent, I am critical of the messaging and the implementation and the reaction to it by the other entities. (And that last part is something I’ll probably never talk about, which leaves a gap, but so be it).

Outsourcing of financial work has been another huge sea change. I only ever briefly worked for ‘Corporate America’ – but the shift from there of people looking for work has been substantive in the arena I do work within. It’s been just as impactful of the shift from the bottom up caused by the Quickbooks mindset. I was angry at India – you know, that one big entity that is India-of-Outsourcing-Fame – for a time; and then ended up in a discovery process with India, and became very fascinated and enthralled. More about that some time too perhaps. Not angry now (not directed there, anyway!).

And the last huge change has been the recession of course, which has had pervasive effects in the number of employment options for everyone everywhere in accounting, and the related pay scales. I know it didn’t affect me nearly as much as so many, but it’s still been quite a change agent in my life.

My mother has worked in organizational consulting in the practice of nursing for several decades; familiarity with her practice and implementation of it has fueled my belief that I could adapt sustainably to this all, and keep going. And I have done that. Some aspects involved have been SWOT, Social Media, continual learning and the serenity prayer.

I’ve considered other options, and explored some, discarding them due to the long lead-in time required, market aspects, investment requirements, my own interests/skills/strengths and so on.

The main other area I was interested in early on, and partway through my college career – computer technology – has also been very over-populated; in addition it’s been dominated by monopolistic entities and the barriers to entry at this point are as high as my interest level today is low. It still works well for me to simply focus on accounting software, and to some extent the relationships with related other software packages, web technologies and operating systems, although I haven’t done as much with that lately.

Writing and everything about the written word – always a primary interest core to my being – remains as an internally-rejuvenating interest only, for the time being at least.

So as a result of those pressures, and those explorations, and every experience to date, I’m still in accounting but it’s quite different from how it was in the 80’s. Not only no more ledger paper (sigh), but organizational paradigms are very different, cost pressures are huge, and regulations/adherence monitoring is much more significant. It’s a 24/7 continually changing social-media-enriched client-focused experience, very different from how I thought my career would be way back when.

I’m continually grateful that I have been able to continue in the practice of accounting, in a sector of it that I’m happy to be in (nonprofits, and entrepreneurial entities), in physical locations that are often Downtown and always transit-friendly, with organizations that are doing great work and people that are truly wonderful.

The social media result is that I’m here, but talking about myself as others do gehts nicht – it’s not going to happen.

I’m thinking now, after being away for a while and within my current complex work situation, that I may write something once a quarter or so, about distillations and non-specific accumulations that might have relevance.

The whole rest of the time though, my online presence is about the goals of my work, which is to support entrepreneurs, creativity, adaptation, communities, and best possible futures. Sometimes that support lends itself to writing, such as new technologies or new impactful situations etc.. but I like to support the writing of others who have invested much time and energy in doing that well also – I respect their commitment to that process.

There, hopefully we’re all still standing and no lasting damage has been done.I know I feel Better.

So you see, my lack of original writing: it’s just the way my work is.

Although I know it’s true – the one constant in life is change!

Comments/feedback always welcome! Thanks for visiting.

1 Comment

Filed under Accounting, Business, Community, Entrepreneurship, Minneapolis, NonProfits, Social Media, St. Paul, Technology

Update: Starting up activity again!

Hello again!

Have been away for a while, just due to normal busy-ness and so forth. But things are starting to begin to commence simmering a little more easily soon, so I thought I’d hurry up and take advantage early accordingly.

I have an exciting post coming up soon, a literary interview in conjunction with CCLaP of Chicago.

In advance of that, thought I’d better stop back in, open the windows, let the place air out a bit.

And thought I’d start doing something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but haven’t yet: actually write a little bit about what I’m doing.

I’m currently working with 5-7 entities, providing accounting services. Some of the relationships are employment, some contract, some a combination (providing contract services as an employee of a service provider).

Needless to say, it all adds up to a strenuous work week. But I thought I’d note (for the record) that I really believe it’s important to keep striving for excellence, despite all the challenges.

I started out being employed as an accountant, in a company that consulted on the process of work. And the values of that company have stayed with me ever since. They include focusing on the overarching goal at all times, even when the task is a piddly one. Mutual respect, functional trust, eschewing pettiness, going that extra mile to get the job done.

These are challenging days for anyone in the accounting field. There is a sort of mania out there to pay the least amount, which often translates to doing the least possible chunk of work, which then often has effects that accumulate and multiply.

Instead I believe in gaining an understanding of what the optimal amount of work is – balancing outcomes with effort required – to meet the best needs of the organization, and doing that to the best of my ability within the existing constraints. The strenuousness of that is why I have not written very often lately.

I believe many in the work world today are facing similar challenges in different guises. I hope we’re all able to keep carrying on, and that better days will soon be on the horizon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Accounting, Business, Community, Entrepreneurship, NonProfits, Site-Members

Accounting Journal: The Absence of Normal

This is the first of a series of notes I would like to write about issues facing the business world – through the lense of accounting.

There are some particular accounting specifics I’ll mention, but mainly these notes will cover ideas widely applicable to anyone in business.

Normalcy provides solid ground, a foundation for strategizing and taking action. For most of our careers, it was probably assumed to be present, like gravity. It permits shortcuts and abbreviations – both in writing and thinking.

These days though, as well all know, hardly anything is normal. There are obvious consequences of that which we all are aware of. They vary among us.

But I suggest it’s important to look beyond those immediate consequences, dig deeper, and uncover other ways in which your thoughts or practices are based on a situation – normalcy – which no longer exists.

We always limit our attention, according to what matters to us, what we want, what we don’t want. Those limits are based on prior experience and long-standing patterns. Now, all those past indications are much less relevant.

One big area is relationships – whether it’s co-worker’s, managers, customers, suppliers, competitors: in every case, taking anything for granted isn’t as valid. It needn’t take long, but checking in with the folks in the periphery of your day could inform you of situations you weren’t aware of. The highly-effective among us check in with a wide swath of people regularly all the time already, but many of us are normally more relaxed, and fall in to a rut. Time to reach beyond that are reconnect more widely.

It also is a good time to widen your circle of people as possible. Whatever important vendors you use – check out their competition. In case something changes with someone you rely on, you want to have beginnings of relationships already in place. Know who is the best among the rest of the folks. Know who would not be a good fit for you, no matter the circumstance.

If your business or organization has seasonal variations in your activities, and you normally prepare a certain way for that next season – try to check in more extensively and earlier before making those plans.

Your contingency planning – that one area that is already based on the absence of normal – even that can become outdated or lax. Review those assumptions. What if your alternate location itself was unavailable? Are the resources needed in that scenario readily available? Are your current staff and any important contractors all as familiar with your plans as they need to be?

Staff redundancy/cross training is always useful. In these days, even more important. The time-worn preference that employees have for making themselves invaluable to increase their power is really non-optimal for the company/organization. You want the ability to continue in any circumstance. You want all the necessary information from every employee/contractor necessary to have that ability.

In accounting land, I’ll just mention two areas of consideration very briefly. If you would like the longer version, please contact me.

In terms of accounting, there are relationships between the balance sheet and the income statement that are relatively stable. The balance sheet – a snapshot in time – contains the results of the income statement – which shows results of a period of time.

Balance sheet accounts – snapshot data – is supposed to be accurate at every interim point. Oftentimes the various accounts also vary in the extent to which that is true. Some accounts are really only accurate at year end, but the variations during the year are small enough that everyone is comfortable with that. Accrued vacation/pto payable and accrued salaries are two of those accounts.

If, however, your staff size and/or your programs/sales are changing, then you may want to reconsider.

Going about things the normal way when operations are shrinking can overstate your expenses during the year, and misstate the detail revenue/expense data to a degree that you might notice if you pay close attention to those things.

Accrued vacation – if you have a significant % of your staff leave, and they are taking PTO payouts, and they had a large amount of that pto already accrued at the beginning of the year – consider booking that payout to the liability account rather than the expense. That makes your expense this year smaller, and the balance sheet more accurate.

Accrued payroll is a more complicated consideration, for those of you with payroll period that don’t match the calendar months. It’s complicated because for you, accrued payroll – to be accurate – would be different every month, but nobody does that. Payroll is so important though that making any change from actual is a big deal. So again, please contact me if you’d like to know the rest of my spiel about that.

The accounting reality though – of the balance sheet / income statement relationship being complicated – is similar to many business realities.

It is similar to the ongoing differences we all have between how we want to be, and how we are. Our intentions and our actions. ‘Mind the Gap’.

During periods of rapid transition such as this one, that gap can change dimension and depth and have an impact on us unexpectedly. For that reason, it is useful to look more closely at these areas we normally ignore, to become aware of small shifts in time to respond effectively.

In this way there is more likelihood all of us coming through this transition period as optimally as possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure, NonProfits, Resources

MN Grant Info: FSRs on egrants

Given the extreme pressure right now to bill/request an advance prior to the shutdown, I’m sharing a copy of my notes on the new egrants system that replaced WEGO.
*************
IntelliGrants site aka egrants
Introduction
–Terminology:
Task = Grant
Related Items = FSR’s
–Notes:
Grant ID numbers in this system may be different from what you have in your other documentation. If you have multiple grants, you’ll need to determine which is which by looking at the grant budgets etc..
—**Important: Within the FSR process, the lines that you bill on are identified differently. In particular, if you have a line per position, those lines don’t include the position name. Instead what is provided is the total budgeted amount per position. So you’ll want to indicate that on the sheet you’re billing from, for easiest processing.
You probably want to have your grant budget handy the first time you go through this process on this site. The line descriptions may relate best to the budget, instead of what you’re used to seeing.
Good News –> This site doesn’t time out after the slightest delay! I haven’t had it ever time out on my so far. So you can take the time needed without concern for that (but still save often!).
Process for creating FSR
1. Under View My Tasks, click on TASKS box
2. Choose the grant you want to work with.

New ‘Main’ page opens, with additional choices. You want the last choice on the bottom:

3. Examine Related Items

This will show you the FSR’s filed in the past, and last item in the list is

4. ‘Initiate new FSR’

New ‘Agreement’ page opens, click on ‘I agree’ to create new FSR

Back to ‘OJP FSR Menu.’ You want to

5. View Forms

OJP FSR Menu – Forms menu, and a box, with one choice in it:

6. Financial Status Report Type

Then it opens a screen in which you choose whether to file an Expense or Advance type:

7. Expense or Advance – click radio button (round one), then click ‘save’ at top of window
Then it tells you that the info has been saved, but you’re still on that same page. (tricky!)

8. You have to click on ‘Forms Menu’ yourself to move forward in the process.

(That selection is in grey, and the other things around it are distracting. Above it, in orange, is the grant ID number. Below it, also in bigger, darker letters is ‘Financial Status Report Type’. But you want the small, light gray lettered option – Forms Menu. Have to select those words on that line, not the ‘OJP-FSR Menu’ option in the middle of the line.)

If you are creating an Expense-Type FSR:

You will see the OJP FSR Menu – Forms screen, with a box in the center. The top of the box includes the words ‘Financial Status Report Type’ (does not indicate which type you chose), and the name of the logged in user and the time.

Below the border in the middle of the box are two options, similar to the WEGO system:

10. FINANCIAL STATUS REPORT/PAYMENT REQUEST LINE ITEMS
9. FINANCIAL STATUS REPORT/PAYMENT REQUEST SUMMARY

They are in reverse order in these instructions because that’s how they are on the screen.
I didn’t do detail instructions for this process, because it is very similar to the WEGO process. Just have to look at the line info when you first open the detail lines, and make sure you know what each line corresponds to in your budget and your biling.

Like in WEGO, you can do the summary first, Main Contact (from a pull-down list), whether it is final or not, the period covered (I’ve done 6/1/2011 to 6/22/2011 for instance, for this emergency expense request).

Then you can do the detail lines. You want to hit ‘save’ often (especially when there might be high volume on the server). Hitting save updates the total, and it also opens up new lines. (Note: the ‘save’ button and that menu bar floats at the top of your screen, is always visible even when you scroll down).
Like in WEGO, the data from the detail line entry fills in to the Summary page.
After you have all your detail entry done, you can print both pages (in the line with ‘save), at the top of the page.

Process: I like to take that detail print out and manually add up all the detail numbers for each line, to confirm that that matches the amount I entered in the total box, since Excel has that goofy pennies-off problem. After printing you can still go back in and change the detail info or the line total as needed, then re-print.

After you’ve printed both pages, there is one more task before you are done filing your FSR.

You need to click on the Left/most part of that main grey line:

11. Advance/FSR Menu

Then you are again on that main page, with 3 options, and you choose the middle one:

12. Under: ‘Change the Status’ — > View Status Options

It then opens the Advance/FSR Menu – Status Options window, where you can submit or cancel your document.

To do that, look below the box, and it says:

Payment Request Submitted

With a box below that which says ‘Apply Status’.

13. Clicking that ‘Apply Status’ box is the final step in the process.

Once you have done that, in the box it will show this message: ‘Payment Request in Process’. This is the final sheet you may want to print to document the billing process. (The Floating menu bar isn’t available at this point, have to print from the browser command.)
Unlike in WEGO, this last sheet does not indicate the period billed, the amount billed, or even the grant info very well.

Hopefully more of the old functionality will be added in yet!

If I can help further at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Hope this helps you and your organization spend more time on the important work you do!

Leave a comment

Filed under NonProfits, Resources