Managing Repair Cafe finances?

Hello everyone! I’m new here and am one of the coordinators for Repair Cafe Pasadena. We’ve been spending the pandemic getting a handle on the administrative stuff that has gotten away from us over the years. One of the stubborn problems we’ve run into is how to management our finances. We have cash from occasional donations and our current method of finances (cash-based, stored in a volunteer treasurer’s freezer) leaves something to be desired. So, I’m curious: how do other Repair Cafes deal with your finances?

Good morning (on the east coast). Repair Cafe of the Hudson Valley and Catskills is fiscally sponsored by a NGO, Sustainable Hudson Valley, but we also have volunteers with cash-in-freezer type stuff. If you are not affiliated with a nonprofit, there are in most states some kind of Association of Nonprofits that you can join and access fiscal sponsorship, i.e. they manage your money and typically take 5% for the service. Or find a friendly accountant who is part of your volunteer team and set up Quickbooks and bang out a simple version of rules for spending and tracking dollars?

On a separate topic, several of us discussed another open Zoom before the summer progressed too far. Now that things are hahaha renormalizing a bit, is there interest? Is there plenty to talk about on just the topic of reopening and how things are going?

Best to all -

Melissa Everett

Hi Melissa,

Thanks so much for your response! Some members of our lead team have talked about fiscal sponsorship, and it’s really good to know that another Repair Cafe went that route. I may also send out an email to see if we have an accountant amongst our volunteers. Due to our location near CalTech, we have a preponderance of engineers but surely there is someone who does money!

I would be very interested in a meeting about reopening. California just removed all restrictions on 6/17, and we are starting to plan our path forward.

Kirsten Hansen

Hi Melissa,

Warwick Repair Cafe will know this Friday June 25, 2021 if we can continue to use the Warwick Senior Center for our Repair Cafe. The Senior Center just opened up 2 weeks ago for the 2 Seniors groups to hold their weekly meetings. All our volunteers are eagerly awaiting our “GRAND” reopening. Masks will be worn by both volunteers and “clients” while in the building. We plan to have
a “publicity” blitz by getting the local newspaper to run a story on our re-opening. Warwick is lucky enough to have a drive in theatre that is open
and has 3 screens and hopefully we will have a 30 second spot to announce
the reopening. We also have a local radio station that “plugs” non profit events.
Will be in touch with you regarding the certificate of insurance as soon as we
get the ok to proceed.

Thank you

Joan Maxwell and Elizabeth Knight

I use Quickbooks for my private business accounting. It is a little complicated and a little expensive. I pay a freelance bookkeeper to keep mine up-to-date. You need to understand double entry bookkeeping and a Quickbooks Online license starts at about $150 per year (more depending on number of users and additional features). Quicken is another option at about $35/year. It’s designed more for personal financial management which might be enough. (I haven’t used it.)

For the small non-profits I manage, it is usually enough to keep an Excel spreadsheet as a ledger – just a few columns like Date, Description, Deposit, Withdrawl, Balance. Even better is a Google Sheet so that several key leaders can have a shared, real-time view of the numbers. This should also be easy to reconcile with a bank account if you get one. Small non-profits don’t need all the reporting capability that comes in Quickbooks. It is usually enough to say what went out, what came in, and what the balance is.

Many banks and credit unions offer low/no fee accounts for community organizations. Getting a proper bank account usually requires a corporation with an EIN number (like a social security number). The process of creating a non-profit corporation is not difficult but it does cost about $400 in one time fees to setup (my North Carolina experience, your mileage may vary).

Hi Kirsten, I hold our town’s Repair Cafe at a local church in Westchester County, NY where I am a member. They created a restricted fund account to hold the free will donations that we collect, and the treasurer disburses funds to me whenever I need reimbursement for any out of pocket costs, such as signage. They consider it to be part of their community outreach activity, so don’t mind handling the accounting.