Assign to Many Actions, Custom Numbering, Time Limits and More Process PA Updates

Assign To Many Action Items

A highly request feature you can now assign an action to multiple members. Each on will get an email about the assigned action. The input works with type-ahead to prefill, or you can just click and select from the list.

The assignees are displayed inline during the meeting and in the Schedule with the outstanding actions.

Custom Numbering for Action Items and Motions

You now have the flexibility for numbering action items and motions to allow easy identification across meetings and the organization. It is composed of up to three parts Prefix-Date-Count:

  1. Prefix is any text
  2. Date is None, Day (e.g. 170218), Month (e.g. 1702) or Year (e.g. 17)
  3. Count is the incremental count of items starting from either
    1. Global, which is all items
    2. Year, resets to zero each year
    3. Meeting, which starts the count at each meeting.

For example, a Prefix
A, Date
Year and Count
Year would be A-17-008. The numbers are calculated at the conclusion of the meeting and will be seen inline in the minutes and summary tables. Carried over actions or motions will maintain their numbers in the next agenda for easy tracking.

You can configure them in the settings page.

Time Limits

We all want meetings to stay on time and to time. With that you can now set the end time for your meeting rather than the default of 1 hour. An very importantly for keeping things on track you can now set an allotted time for agenda items.

When scheduling the meeting you will now see the End Time available.

Set the agenda item allotted time by clicking the clock logo and will be seen inline and on the agenda. You can also set this on the agenda templates in settings and have it automatically applied to new meetings.

Committee Logo

For those who are members of multiple committees or boards on login to Process PA you are presented with the list of organizations you are a member of. You now have the ability to set the logo for your organization or committee. This is uploaded in settings and if you have not uploaded your logo you will see the message to upload in place of your logo.

Feedback

I want to hear from you. Were these features useful for you? How can they be improved? Is there something else that we could do to make your role easier? Where can we do better for you? Jump onto https://wantoo.io/process-pa/ideas/ and raise ideas, comment or vote on existing ones.

Utilize Enterprise-grade Office 365 with best practice setup for your small Nonprofit organization

Now that you have Office 365 at Free or greatly reduced cost, it is time to setup it up in a way to get the most benefit out of it. All don’t need to be done at the same time. Change is hard. Take one at a time and as you and your staff and volunteers become comfortable try taking on the next step.

Firstly, we need to setup users and mailboxes in a way that is managed, appropriately shared and manages continuity.

Adding Users

Each user should get their own login, like firstname.lastname@organization.com. You maybe tempted to create account with the roles that people have such as president@organization.com, or secretary@organization.com since they can then handover the account when they move on. That is not the recommended approach as it removes the auditability, history and is less secure than giving each their own login.

Adding individual users is an easy task in the Office 365 admin center. The steps are detailed clearly in Microsoft’s help Add users individually or in bulk to Office 365 – Admin Help.

When complete it should look something like this:

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Note the status column indicates the subscription they are assigned. Here we have most on the completely free Office 365 Enterprise E1 Nonprofits pricing subscription giving access to all Office Online (Word, Excel etc. online in the browser) which are assigned to our Executive Committee. Our staff members however, have the Office 365 Business Premium subscription at $2.80/user/month, which gives them all the online tools, and the local familiar install Office application like Word, Excel and PowerPoint on their computers (PC or Mac) and their devices (phones & tablets).

Coming Topics

  • Best Practice Email
  • Best Practice Online File Storage
  • Best Practice Team Communication

TechSoup Validation Token in Australia with Connecting Up for small Nonprofit Organizations such as Kindergartens and P&Cs

The TechSoup Validation token is required to utilize Nonprofit pricing on service like Microsoft Office 365. Connecting Up is the organization in Australia responsible for verifying eligibility and issuing token. Connecting Up provides other technology discounts and donations that are worth investigating for your organization.

Sign up with Connecting Up

  1. Go to https://www.connectingup.org/
  2. Click Sign Up at the top right
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  3. Enter your details and click Create New Account
  4. Complete the Organization Registration and Qualification form
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    If you are a Kindergarten or any Nonprofit registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) it will just take a couple of days for your qualification to be completed. If you are a P&C or other small organization however, you need to provide more information which will be requested as below:
    Your organisation is close to completing the registration and qualification process. We simply require evidence of your organisation’s charitable or not for profit status.
    Currently we do not have any evidence of your organisation’s charitable or not-for-profit status because it is not reflected on the Australian Business Register http://abr.business.gov.au/SearchByAbn.aspx?SearchText=55781012322

    It is a core requirement for the program that organisations are income tax exempt, you must fill out and return to us a self-assessing review worksheet for income tax exempt not-for-profits, which can be downloaded here: http://www.ato.gov.au/Forms/Income-tax-status-review-worksheet-for-self-assessing-non-profit-organisations/

    NB. The tax review sheet must be signed

    1. Please also provide us with a copy of your organisation’s constitution noting its not-for-profit and/or dissolution clause. You can find out more on the ATO’s website. If you don’t have a constitution let us know and we may be able to accept other documentation.

    All documentation may be scanned then emailed to customercare@connectingup.org or send a faxed copy to 08 8311 5213.

    For a P&C you will find information on P&Cs Qld website in a document, Fact Sheet: P&C Non-Profit and Charity Status, where it states, “A P&C is considered a ‘non-profit’ organization by the Australian Taxation Office”.
    The two documents you will be required to return are the Income tax status review worksheet for self-assessing non-profit organisations and Constitution.

TechSoup Validation Tokens

  1. Once your organization is qualified login to Connecting Up, https://www.connectingup.org/user/login.
  2. Go to My Account, select TechSoup Validation Tokens
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  3. Click Add New Token, fill out the form and you will have a token generated for you
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Next Step: Registering Office 365 with Nonprofit pricing for small Nonprofit Organizations

Registering Office 365 with Nonprofit pricing for small Nonprofit Organizations such as Kindergartens and P&Cs in Australia

There are a few steps and parts of the process have to wait on others to be complete. It is best to have a quick review over the steps before getting started to see if you need to get some other things sorted first (like a domain name).

  1. Go to Nonprofit plans and pricing page, https://products.office.com/en-au/nonprofit/office-365-nonprofit-plans-and-pricing.
  2. Click Get Started
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  3. Here you will see 4 steps. Firstly is eligibility and availability. Kindergartens & P&Cs in Australia are acceptable.
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  4. Get your TechSoup Validation Token. This is a process in itself and will take a few days to acquire.
    Clicking the Register with TechSoup will take you to a page to find out who the register provider is. In Australia, it is Connecting Up.

    Side Step: Get your TechSoup Validation token small Nonprofit Organizations such as Kindergartens and P&Cs

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  5. Sign In with your TechSoup Validation Token
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  6. Verify the details are correct and click, Yes, this is correct. Continue to check my eligibility.
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  7. Continue to configure Office 365 under the Cloud Services item
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  8. Fill out the Office 365 Registration form. You’ll see that it configures it for Office 365 Enterprise E3 (Nonprofits Pricing) Trial which may not be the subscription you want, but you can change it later.
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  9. Setting up Office 365

    Continue through the setup as guided and you will be taken through the wizard to verify your Nonprofits eligibility again with Microsoft. If you choose to skip the setup for later it can cause delays in the eligibility process.

    1. Firstly the anti-discrimination status
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    2. Domain name. Note: If you do not have a domain name you may not need to add one. It will be required however that you raise a support request with Microsoft to validate your Nonprofit pricing eligibility. If you do not have a domain name, you can get one very easily at GoDaddy, Namecheap, Crazy Domains or many other providers.
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    3. Confirm ownership of your domain name. The instruction provided my Microsoft make this task easy for the major providers. It may be intimidating at first, but you’ll find it straight forward just following the steps.
      image[123]Note: This will take a few days before eligibility is confirmed and you have the option of purchasing (free included) Nonprofit pricing subscriptions that are not trials. If it has taken a couple of weeks, raise a support request before your trial runs out so you can maintain continuity of service.

Next Step: Utilize Enterprise-grade Office 365 with best practice setup for your small Nonprofit organization

How to Set Up FREE Office 365 for small Nonprofit Organizations such as Kindergartens and P&Cs in Australia

Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription service giving you access to the Office application and productivity tools and services from Microsoft at a much lower price than buying outright, while always being up to date and containing supporting cloud services. The great news for Nonprofit Organizations is that Microsoft have a technology donation program which allows you to subscribe to Office 365 for free or at a greatly reduced price.

Unfortunately there is quite a few steps to getting this setup. I’ve split it into steps to make it easier for anyone to get started but it is recommended to have a quick review overall to know where you have days wait in between during process and what things you will need.

What is Office 365 and Nonprofit pricing?

Office 365 refers to Office applications and other productivity services that are Internet enabled via subscription plans. The image below gives quick overview of the breadth of productivity tools and services available upon logging into Office 365. Some tools will be familiar, like Word, Excel & PowerPoint, others like PowerApps, Flow and Teams are likely new to most.

Office 365 Welcome Screen

There is actually even more available than shown above like Skype for Business and this highlights on of the biggest issues getting started with Office 365 is the complete overwhelm of options available. With a little guidance however, we can start taking advantage of the offerings that you know and slowly expand as you become more comfortable. These can be rolled out to staff and volunteers to benefit the entire organization.

For Nonprofits Microsoft currently offer the following pricing, as seen at https://products.office.com/en-au/nonprofit/office-365-nonprofit-plans-and-pricing.

Nonprofit pricing

 

Compared to the standard business pricing, they are the same plan just free or significantly cheaper.

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Benefits of Office 365

Knowing these are the same tools large enterprises are using to be more productive and efficient one must wonder if for a community group or small organization, is this overkill? This is where the benefit of Cloud software fully comes in. Enterprises have been benefiting from these tools for decades, but the time and expertise for configuration, support, servicing, updating etc was expensive, yet still worthwhile. With Office 365 that is all management is handled by Microsoft as the service in the cloud. This gives you centrally managed Email, Document storage, Collaboration and Communication tools, something previously out of reach for smaller organizations without the skillset available.

 

Next Step: Registering Office 365 with Nonprofit pricing for small Nonprofit Organizations

New to a committee? Found it a mess? Here’s the first 4 things you need to do!

Committee reflects the organization

There is probably nothing more mortifying than entering a dysfunctional committee in charge of an organization. It is a reflection of the organization. A quick look at how the committee is would give you a good idea of how the whole organization runs. If you are new to a committee that has devolved into a mess, then this is an advantage. Having someone new, most often, provides fresh ideas and programs into the table compared to letting someone who is already dragged into the mess fix the problem.

How do you fix the mess?

Here are the first 3 things that you need to work to jumpstart your efforts of salvaging a dysfunctional committee:

1. Evaluate roles

One of the main reasons why committees fall from being effective and efficient is because of its members lack of role responsibilities. They might not have the proper set of skills and but commitment with a set of responsibilities will work wonders.

2. Review the strategic plan

Review the purpose of the organization to the group’s goals and targets. Are they still aligned? Bring the focus back to the purpose and ensure it is clear to all members via a written strategic plan or at minimum goals and expected outcomes.

3. Work the Agenda

Check on how the next meeting runs and observe if the agenda covers the strategic goals. If it isn’t followed properly then set guidelines and time frames to ensure that everyone follows the agenda. After the meeting follow up on action items that were discussed to ensure progress is made.

4. Do small changes

It is always hard to make big changes, so make sure you take small steps first. Ensure each step is in the direction of your goals. Things take time, but with consistent small steps they can yield big positive results.

Summary Tables, Configurable Roles, Tutorials and more Process PA updates

Continuing Mission

It’s February already and school is back into full swing. Over the school break we’ve been busy improving Process PA to continue to take the tedious work and continuity risk out of managing your committees and boards. We’re focused on reducing effort with cloud automation, reducing paperwork with digital efficiencies, reducing continuity risk with one place and one process for your important records and reducing compliance risk by providing transparency, accessibility and good governance.

Here are a few of the features we’ve put in place towards that mission.

Summary Tables

You voted for it and it’s now available. Summary tables of Actions and Motions appear at the end of your agenda and minutes. The goal is a quick view to know what needs to be done and what decisions have been made, so we can see progress and results from our meetings. It’s a first step and there is more to come, so please tell me what you like, what you don’t and what we can do to make it more useful for you.

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Configurable Roles

Another highly requested item you can now add, remove or rename your roles. So you can add Past President, Life Member, Chief Wrangler or whatever you required. This is simple and quick to configure from the Settings page.

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Getting Started Tutorials

In line with our goal to maintain continuity this now makes it easy for new members coming on to take up roles and have a quick overview in Process PA and to be up and running quickly. At any time hit the ? in the top right to run through the quick help or link over to the details help pages here.

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Handovers are inevitable, but with Process PA we are hoping that people stay in the role longer, because of the greatly reduced administration burden, and handovers are simple as the Process PA helps take care of it.

More Defaults

You can now set the default Name and Location of your meeting types. Go into Settings and select the Agenda Template.

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Email Only Permission

Previous members could have two level of access into Process PA, Admin or Normal. Now you can add users who will only receive emails and have no access to login to your Organization to view the history.

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Feedback

I want to hear from you. Were these features useful for you? How can they be improved? Is there something else that we could do to make your role easier? Where can we do better for you? Jump onto https://wantoo.io/process-pa/ideas/ and raise ideas, comment or vote on existing ones.

Responsibilities of a Secretary on an Incorporated Association in Queensland

An association secretary is not to be confused with the office secretarial work. An office secretary is someone who is employed to assist with correspondence, keep records, make appointments and carry out confidential or similar tasks. The word itself was derived from the Latin word “secretaries” which means “confidential officer”. When talking about a association secretary we are referring to the duties like a company secretary which in essence is making sure records are correct for the company.

Responsibilities of a secretary on an incorporated association in Queensland

In an incorporated association in Queensland, a secretary’s duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • keeping the register of members
  • sending and receiving letters, emails or other documents
  • advising the president or treasurer about urgent matters that arise from letters or other documents
  • taking nominations for the committee
  • telling members about meetings by giving plenty of advance notices
  • calling and convening meetings
  • arranging the meeting venues
  • preparing meeting agendas
  • gathering and presenting relevant documents
  • taking and keeping minutes of meetings
  • making the minutes available to members and other related tasks

Secretaries can either do this manually using hard copy paper works or virtually via computer software designed to automate general and specialized tasks.

For further reading see:

https://www.qld.gov.au/law/laws-regulated-industries-and-accountability/queensland-laws-and-regulations/associations-charities-and-non-for-profits/incorporated-associations/running-an-incorporated-association/incorporated-association-management-committee/what-committee-does/

https://publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/28652d53-7a53-4690-afd6-4abc77a2c7d7/resource/5a17161f-2866-4c2c-8e03-37fc0f6512f8/download/incorporatedassociationsmartguide.pdf

How to Measure Meeting Effectiveness

Meetings are essential to any organization especially to associations and not-for-profit management committee and boards. This is the breeding ground for innovation and decision making. They consume a significant amount of time as well which is why improving how it is done is equally important. Measuring the effectiveness of a meeting is a powerful way to make sound decisions and wise use of time. It is also a useful tool in improving the meeting experience for the benefit of the organization and for its members.

Metrics

Deciding which metrics to use during the evaluation of the effectiveness of your meeting can be tricky. Starting somewhere is better than not starting and it can be evolved overtime. Here are basic ways on how to measure the effectiveness of your meetings:

1. Survey and Feedback Forms

Start by using simple survey forms that are distributed and answered by the members of the meeting. This is a good way to gauge the sentiments of your attendees. You may place the following questions or points in your form:

  • What is the main goal of the meeting
  • Rate the place, time and agenda
  • What will you do differently after the meeting
  • What do you think are the benefits of the meeting
  • Comments and suggestions

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2. Action Items

During the meeting, action items will be discussed with deadlines. You may use this time frame as gauge whether the meeting was effective if the action items were carried out on the specified deadline. Good tracking the status, following up and completion of action items, is a clear indicator of effective meetings resulting in positive action.

3. Attendance

Attendance is a metric itself. If you have a large membership, high engagement of your members by attending meetings is a good indicator on how much value members put on the meeting. For small groups, up to 10, you should really be getting full attendance. With meetings of groups up to 30, 80% attendance is a good target. Checking the arrival time of the attendees versus the starting time of the meeting can also be telling.

4. Agenda

Note the number of topics discussed that weren’t related to the agenda and how well the agenda was followed. If topics are constantly brought up that are not on the agenda then it is a sign that the proposed agenda isn’t covering what people are concerned about, or that discussion is not be controlled adding unnecessary time to the meetings.

Paper is not as reliable as you think!

We cannot deny that the digital era is here to conquer and stay. There is a major proliferation of smart gadgets like phones, tablets and cameras that makes everything easier for you with just one click. This is especially true for those who have a ton of documents to file and wants to do it efficiently.

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Digital over Paper

Documents and filing has always been under the umbrella of paperwork. A lot of people are still counting on this method to date and we will outline general ways on why it is time to switch your gears to digital mode:

  1. No to Losing Documents

Compared to paper filing, losing documents in digital form is so much harder. This is because you can store a single document in multiple platforms, do it via cloud, your email or through an online storage provider. People still have the fear that computers will fail and documents will be lost. Although this can happen, with a good system in place, it is far less likely than paper. How many receipts do you have that are now blank with the ink faded? How many times have you looked for notes you jointed down on paper? Digital is more reliable, albeit for most less comfortable.

  1. File Documents Easily and Save Room Space

All you need is a laptop or a computer to store files. You don’t need to dedicate an archive room for it like how people used to do. Moreover, it is easier to tag documents in categories using a computer compared to printing and pasting labels on folders.

  1. Search for Files Faster

When looking for a digital file, all you need to do is type the file name or put keywords on the search feature of your gadget, no need to go over piles of paper for hours. It will only take you seconds to do this which saves you time to attend to other important matters.

  1. Clean

Having your files online or on a digital platform is so much cleaner aesthetically. There are no dusts or ununiformed tags. It is more presentable especially if you are in a department that is heavy in meeting clients.

  1. On the Go

Take your files with your wherever you are on the globe! Literally! Scan paper files if you need to and bring them with you during a meeting or a trip abroad.

 

Are you still running your association or not-for-profit on paper? It’s time to make the move to an easier more reliable way. Check out how Process PA makes all the paperwork easier without paper.