[It’s No Secret; It’s Our Clients!]
Sometimes, we get wrapped up in the “accounting” part of our jobs. (We are accountants, after all.) We focus on spreadsheets and financial management platforms and forget about the enormous impact our clients (nonprofit and social enterprises) make in their communities and the world.
We forget that our work enables our clients to maximize their impact. There is a direct correlation between sound financial management and the ability of a nonprofit to provide broader and more in-depth services. This client case study proves it!
Our clients are change-makers for good. They provide services and advocacy for underserved and unheard populations. They protect the rights of animals and ensure sustainable food production practices. They work to improve and make more equitable the planet we call home. Can we talk about that as a motivating factor?
Our team recently visited Southwest Florida for our 2023 spring staff retreat. The trip was the perfect opportunity to be reminded how our accounting work makes a difference.
In addition to meetings and team bonding, we visited two long-term clients: STARability Foundation, including their STAR Store & Studio, and the Flint Pen Strand Trail, preserved and managed by CREW Land & Water Trust.
STARability Foundation Tour
Our first stop was the STAR Store and Studio in Naples, Florida. We saw first-hand how STARability Foundation transforms the lives of individuals with disabilities through social, vocational, and educational connections to the community. (That’s their mission.) In the STAR Studio, program participants make jewelry, candles, cards, and other gifts to sell in the STAR store. We met Chloe, one of the amazing STAR Studio contributors, and you could feel her pride and happiness as she told us about their work. Queue the goosebumps.
Driving to our next stop, STARability’s headquarters also in Naples, our CEO reminded us that our financial guidance helped the board and staff decide to open the STAR Store in 2021, and later that year, we also helped them ensure product profitability through some financial modeling and analysis. This year, STARability hopes to kick it up a notch with its store and studio, deepening its financial sustainability through its social enterprises. Again, we’ll be on deck to provide growth and revenue model support. This is our ripple effect in full force.
Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed Tour
Later that day, we met our families at CREW’s new hiking trail, Flint Pen Strand, to immerse ourselves in nature (and tire out the young kiddos).
CREW stands for Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed and is responsible for preserving the largest intact watershed in Southwest Florida. We’re talking about 60,000 acres of land that purifies drinking water, prevents homes from flooding, provides habitat for local wildlife, and offers a beautiful space for public recreation. CREW’s existence is essential to the future sustainability of Southwest Florida and, more broadly, the lower half of Florida. Guess who does their accounting? It’s us, and we are proud of it!
As we walked with our families on CREW’s newest trail, the Flint Pen Strand Trail, we took in the peacefulness of the surrounding land. Birds chirped, the sky was blue, and Florida slash pines stood high all around us. CREW’s Executive Director, Bob Lucius, gave us a bona fide guided hike and taught us all about the importance of preserving Southwest Florida’s watershed. Water is life.
Our CEO, Chantal described the day like this, “I’ve been coming to CREW for 10 years, and every time I do, I feel a sense of calm and peace come over me. We’re so lucky to have this special place to hike, walk, explore, and experience nature. Helping CREW protect Florida’s natural resources makes us all feel like our work makes a difference to people and the planet.”
Feedback from the retreat was that our team wants to participate in more immersive client visits and stay even more connected to client news, accomplishments, and impact stories.
It’s our client’s work that inspires us.
Our work may seem like “just accounting” some days, but our approach helps clients drive deeper impact every day.
Queue more goosebumps.
We invite you to meet our clients, our team, and learn more about our philosophy at Blue Fox. And if you know of any social-minded number crunchers looking for the perfect place to hone their financial talents, please send them our way!
READ: Her Statement on the Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Our team at Blue Fox is proud to announce that our CEO, Chantal Sheehan, is now one of the 150+ Florida business members of Equality Florida’s Equality Means Business Advisory Council.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization in Florida dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBT community. One of the organization’s focuses is to improve Florida’s national and international reputation as an inclusive place to live, work, and visit. To meet their goal, they established Equality Means Business. This program spotlights employers in Florida that have adopted comprehensive
non-discrimination policies and demonstrated their commitment to valuing and proactively including all employees.
For her council application, Chantal was asked to write a statement about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here is what she wrote:
I was recently honored to serve the folx living and working on Florida’s Space Coast on the Melbourne Regional Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. (And if you think "folx" is a typo, think again.) Our committee seeks to educate and support the advancement of DEI in business so that Space Coast industries, residents, and visitors of all walks of life feel respected, honored, seen, welcomed, and understood.
DEI is about creating an on-ramp to success for every individual, regardless of circumstance. I strongly believe every leader has a moral and spiritual obligation to have an inclusive mindset. Beyond that imperative, though, study after study shows that companies and communities that embrace inclusion see dramatic increases in innovation, worker satisfaction and retention, growth, and profits. As a business and community leader, and as a human who cares about other humans, commitment to equity and inclusivity is quite simply the best investment in my community that I could ever make.”
In addition to their advisory council, Blue Fox became listed on Equality Florida’s Open Doors Florida Pro-Equality Business Directory as a business that supports equality in Florida.
Open Doors Florida is a mobile-friendly statewide business directory that spotlights merchants, faith organizations, and other companies that have implemented LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination in their policies and practices of running their businesses.
Our team encourages you to browse the directory and work with these businesses and business owners that embrace belonging, fairness, and equal opportunity for their employees and customers!
We look forward to a time when we don’t need a directory to help us provide equity to all humans. To get there, we must all do our part and continue to break down barriers to inclusion in whatever ways we can.
An Update on Silicon Valley Bank: Steps you can take to protect your business in this environment
As you may know, on Friday, March 10, 2023, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was shut down and placed into receivership.
We strongly advise all Blue Fox clients, subscribers, and friends to ensure that the balance held at your bank(s) is at or below the FDIC-insured limits. The standard insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.
Steps to Protect Your Business!
[ The following guidance is provided by our trusted advisor and PEO Company, JustWorks ]
Even if you do not bank with SVB, here are some things for you to think about. Some of these may be seen as general best practices, but they also reflect what we’ve learned as we’ve helped impacted customers navigate the current SVB situation.
The Best Way to Track Income & Expenses for Tax Form 1040
Sole proprietors: get out your shoebox of 2022 receipts and let’s get organized. Our team at Blue Fox created this handy Schedule C Worksheet for your profit or loss record-keeping pleasure. If you’re wondering how to fill out the Schedule C Form 1040, this easy-to-use tool will get your financial ducks in a row. We highly recommend using it before you attempt the official IRS form. You may also download the 2023 Schedule C Worksheet and record your 2023 income and expenses as the year progresses.
UPDATE - 11/4/22:
According to an article by CNBC, Supreme Court again declines to block Biden’s student loan relief plan, "Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied an emergency application brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation to block federal student loan forgiveness... For now, student loan forgiveness remains on hold from a separate challenge brought by six GOP-led states after an appeals court judge in the 8th Circuit granted a stay...Close to 26 million Americans have already applied for student loan forgiveness."
UPDATE - 10/21/22:
According to this article by CNN, "A federal appeals court put a temporary, administrative hold on President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, barring the administration from canceling loans covered under the policy, while the court considers a challenge to it." The U.S Department of Education's application portal says that they will be reviewing applications during this pause so that they are ready to begin processing debt relief once the court cases are resolved.
On Monday, October 17th the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) opened the application for the Biden-Harris Administration Student Debt Relief Plan. The application will be open through December 31, 2023. According to the DOE, "The Student Debt Releif Plan is It’s a program that provides eligible borrowers with full or partial discharge of loans up to $20,000 to Federal Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 to non-Pell Grant recipients.
How to Apply for Federal Student Loan Debt Relief
Who is Eligible for Student Loan Debt Relief
Here are the facts according to the U.S. Department of Education:
Beware of Student Loan Debt Relief SCAMS!
Our team at Blue Fox is subscribed to receive updates about the Biden-Harris Student Loan Relief Plan and we will continue to share information as we get the facts.
Please read this message from the U.S Department of Education:
"Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts to protect yourself against scams as you prepare to apply for debt relief.
Though the Blue Fox Den is virtual, Florida is our home state. Southwest Florida (SWFL) in particular holds a special place in our hearts - it’s where we got our start, served our first clients, and hired our first team members. The devastation we see from Hurricane Ian's destructive path is hard to process. The effects are unbelievably tragic, and it will be a long road back to anything remotely normal in Southwest Florida.
We stand with our team and our community to do whatever we can to help.
If you are looking for ways to aid recovery efforts, please see the list below that includes organizations that are making a direct impact in SWFL (the boots on the ground). If you have time, talent, or treasure to contribute, please do!
We’ve also included some resources to help those affected stay connected and updated
How to Support, Give, and Connect
Statewide & General Relief
Southwest Florida (Boots On the Ground)
Volunteer Florida is the state’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service. This organization has compiled a variety of opportunities through its Volunteer Connect platform. Click here to find ways to volunteer and assist those in need from the devastation of Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian Direct Impact Assistance
If you were directly affected by Hurricane Ian, this section is for you.
Thousands of FEMA and federal personnel are working alongside Florida National Guard and other state response and emergency managers to support recovery from Ian. Here is more information on how FEMA continues to respond to Hurricane Ian.
Apply for Disaster Assistance
If you have been affected by Hurricane Ian in Florida, apply for assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
Call the FL SAIL - State Assistance Information Line - for up-to-date information on state assistance at 800-342-3557.
Small Business Administration Disaster Support for Businesses in Affected Areas | disasterloanassistance.sba.gov
Disaster Distress Hotline
Mental health resources are available. Survivors experiencing emotional distress can call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990. The national hotline provides free 24/7, crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Deaf and hard of hearing ASL callers can use a videophone or ASL Now.
State and federal officials have made it easier for storm victims to apply for unemployment aid. Work search reporting, waiting week and registration requirements for Reemployment Assistance claims have been temporarily waived in the counties declared disasters.
Updates & Information
Stay up-to-date on announcements by accessing government and public safety organizations at the county and state levels (this list may not be exhaustive):
Brevard | brevardfl.gov
Charlotte | charlottecountyfl.gov
Collier | colliercountyfl.gov
Duval | coj.net
Flagler | flaglercounty.gov
Hillsborough | hillsboroughcounty.org
Lake | lakecountyfl.gov
Lee | leegov.com
Manatee | manatee.hosted.civiclive.com
Monroe | monroecounty-fl.gov
Nassau | nassaucountyfl.com
Orange | orangecountyfl.net
Osceola | osceola.org
Pasco | pascocountyfl.net
Pinellas | pinellascounty.org
Polk | polk-county.net
Sarasota | scgov.net
St. Johns | co.st-johns.fl.us
Seminole | seminolecountyfl.gov
Sumter | sumtercountyfl.gov
Volusia | volusia.org
Official Florida State Website | myflorida.com
Florida Division of Emergency Management | floridadisaster.org
State of Florida Power Outages | floridadisaster.maps.arcgis.com
Support Blue Fox Clients in Florida
Welcome to the Blue Fox Blog! A fairly entertaining source of info and news related to our company, nonprofits, social sector trends, and, of course, accounting. Enjoy!
Back to Basics: How to Set Up Your Nonprofit Chart of Accounts
How "Small" Payroll Mistakes Cause Multi-Year S#!t Storms for Nonprofits
Behind the Scenes, New Client Onboarding Call
When to Hire a Tax Professional - 10 Factors to Consider
40+ Ideas to Light a Fundraising Fire Under Your Nonprofit Board Members
Why Outsource Your Nonprofit Accounting to Blue Fox? Ask One of Our Newest Clients
Client CASE STUDY: One of The Most Financially Sustainable Nonprofit Orgs We Know
The Magical Nonprofit Financial Ratio Matrix
10 Reasons to Outsource Your Nonprofit Accounting
How to Make Your Nonprofit Recession-Proof
How to Engage Your Board of Directors in Financial Conversations
QB Tip of the Month: How to Use Classes for Painless Grant Writing
When to Hire an Accountant for Your Social Impact Org
Are You Paying Too Much for Payroll?
Blue Fox Teams Up With Bloomerang to Develop Nonprofit Resources
Blue Fox Earns Better Business Bureau Accreditation
Blue Fox Launches Protected By Logo
Blue Fox - The Origin Story