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A date by any other metric...

  • 1.  A date by any other metric...

    Posted 19 days ago
    Good afternoon, Colleagues:

    I'm sorting through a few questions about dates associated with gifts and how we could or should be reporting them. It is very rare to find an organization that has only one date associated with transactions as they are being entered into the database of record. At a minimum, I would say that two are most commonly used - those being the Gift/Effective Date and the Date Added/Entered. I would elaborate further here that my understanding of best practice around defining a Gift/Effective date necessarily needs to be substantiated in supporting documentation (date of check, date of letter, postmark, date agreement signed by donor or by all required parties, etc).

    In my experience, it isn't an extraordinarily unusual occurrence for the date a gift is added to the database to lag well behind how the institution otherwise defines and recognizes the "gift date". A check might be uncovered from someone's desk drawer many months later, or somebody in the organization managed to accept and deposit a check into their department account that was a gift and advancement doesn't hear about it until a year or so later when the donor is looking for their tax receipt. Lots of reasons this could happen and it can happen across fiscal years. I assume that Finance reconciliation reports from Advancement would need to reflect both so a distinction can be made about when the revenue actually was received at the organization vs. when Advancement recorded it. If that sounds off base I would certainly be interested in feedback. 

    My question is when it comes to reporting current fiscal year "fundraising totals", do you typically run by the Gift/Effective Date or the Date Added/Entered? If the former, then what - if any - steps do you take to compensate for the times when a recent gift added to the system has an effective date prior to the start of the current fiscal year?  If it wasn't actually "counted" in the prior fiscal year since it wasn't recorded would it be reasonable to "count" in the current fiscal year? Would you artificially overwrite the Gift/Effective date with a current fiscal year date in order for that to roll into current totals?

    Many thanks, in advance, for any and all thoughts and wisdom offered!

    -Amy

    Amy J. Phillips
    Director of Advancement Services, Gift Acceptance
    Division of University Advancement
    The Catholic University of America
    620 Michigan Avenue, B016 O'Connell Hall
    Washington, DC 20064
    Phone: 202-319-6919


  • 2.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 19 days ago
      |   view attached
    Speaking of dates, Happy Birthday, Amy!

    I find that many institutions (more and more, in fact) record a single date in their database - the processed date.  That synchronizes the Advancement date with the GL date and the deposit (usually) date.  You are then unburdened with a need to reconcile different dates.

    A "gift date" or "effective date" is irrelevant if you follow the above.  Following this rule also eliminates the fudging of end-of-year numbers by "holding the books open."

    I've explained this a bit previously in the attached paper previously posted on the list.

    If you must use multiple dates in your system, adjusting the effective date you describe is probably the best solution.  But then you have lost data integrity by making exceptions - which you never have to do if you use a processed date all of the time!

    John

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987




    Attachment(s)



  • 3.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 19 days ago
    Thanks, JT - 

    While I kind of understand the simple approach of "one date fits all", there is a part of me that really can't buy into that completely and I have difficulty envisioning how readily this could be implemented at larger organizations. If you only use a single date for recording and reconciling, I can imagine one or two Finance folks with whom I've worked over time who would be cranky because the day Advancement records a gift - even if there is a nightly posting process to Finance - isn't going to naturally tie out to instances where Finance sees the money first (like with wires, lockbox deposits, etc). One previous place of employment used up to 4 distinct dates; date on check, date received at organization (based on date stamp/log), date entered/added to database, and possibly even another "effective date" based on rules that I've long since forgotten. The rationale behind entering both date received and date entered was to be able to track lag times in entry and determine potential speed bumps that needed to be smoothed over. 

    And thanks for the Happy Birthday, too! Not too many big celebration plans this evening due to the pandemic constraints but I was treated to lunch today...  :-D

    -Amy

    Amy J. Phillips
    Director of Advancement Services, Gift Acceptance
    Division of University Advancement
    The Catholic University of America
    620 Michigan Avenue, B016 O'Connell Hall
    Washington, DC 20064
    Phone: 202-319-6919







  • 4.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 19 days ago
    FWIW, we implemented this at Duke University and NC State - and they are pretty big places :-).  Once in awhile there will be an exception.  But I promise you that this can be done and without much difficulty!

    John H. Taylor
    Principal
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987







  • 5.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 18 days ago
    We use the gift date. We accept gifts postmarked by the last day of the fiscal year (same goes for the end of calendar year). This year, we had a email campaign on the last day of the fiscal year, so it took some time to get all the gifts entered. However, we also run statistics on transactions entered, so we need a good idea of workload on the processors, which is where entry date comes in handy.

    Julie

    Julie Domel | Assistant Director of Advancement Services  -
    Reporting, Data Analysis, & Special Projects
    Alumni Relations & Development Division | 323 Stadium Drive
    Trinity University | One Trinity Place, Box 49 | San Antonio, TX 78212 
    jdomel@trinity.edu | office: (210) 999-8057 | fax: (210) 999-8489

    Now is the time to continue to make a Trinity education available to the best and the brightest students. Make your gift here.

     

    Businesses and organizations that want to receive assistance on short-term, remote projects from our students who are still looking for real-world experience here. 

     

    Send our graduating seniors some words of support here. #2020TUgether








  • 6.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 18 days ago
    Regarding your question:

    My question is when it comes to reporting current fiscal year "fundraising totals", do you typically run by the Gift/Effective Date or the Date Added/Entered? If the former, then what - if any - steps do you take to compensate for the times when a recent gift added to the system has an effective date prior to the start of the current fiscal year?  If it wasn't actually "counted" in the prior fiscal year since it wasn't recorded would it be reasonable to "count" in the current fiscal year? Would you artificially overwrite the Gift/Effective date with a current fiscal year date in order for that to roll into current totals?  

    RESPONSE: We report on the gift/effective date in the system which we populate with the date as illustrated by date on check or postmark.  The Date Added/Entered/processed is automatic and that has value for more internal processing.  We would not process a gift with a future date until that date (although rarely do we get those).

    and happy birthday!

    --
    Thomas Chaves
    Associate VP for Advancement Operations
    Office of Advancement
    Saint Joseph's University
    5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131

    O: 610-660-1255 | M: 610-316-6541 | tchaves@sju.edu
    SJU.edu





  • 7.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 18 days ago
    We report based on gift date, not date entered. At fiscal year end we have a cutoff date and time where once cutoff has been reached nothing else gets added to that fiscal year. Year end reports are then generated and distributed. However, lets say during the next fiscal year there is a valid reason to backdate a gift to the prior fiscal year (nothing gets backdated without my approval and we have reports that tell me if one was backdated). If that happens the gift obviously does not get counted this fiscal year and we do not regenerate prior year reports. Because we reconcile to the general ledger every month any gift entered in the current fiscal year but backdated to the prior fiscal year is reported in the general ledger THIS fiscal year. Our reconciliation report shows the discrepancy between Advancement and Finance and everyone moves on.






  • 8.  RE: A date by any other metric...

    Posted 18 days ago
    I would be interested to hear from anyone who has done a 'switch' of using an effective date and keeping the 'books open'
    to a process date as is the recommended best practice.  So much time is spent on the question "Are we done yet?" that it
    makes sense to go with a processing date and not have to worry about the onslaught of gift processing that has to happen
    over Christmas into January or in June and early July to get fiscal year end reports and a count of donors for alumni percentage.

    My concern with making a switch is the effect it would have on reporting the 12/31 and 6/30 totals as well as the change in
    alumni %.  I personally think that this would only be an issue for one FY and then after the cycle has had a complete year, all
    things would even out.

    What are the pitfalls?  How are boards educated on the switch and how it will only be an 'issue' for one FY?

    Thanks!
    T.


    ------------------------------
    Teresa Goddard
    Director Development Services
    DePauw University
    teresagoddard@depauw.edu
    ------------------------------