Posts made in July 2018

Overlooked Benefits of Outsourcing Nonprofit Accounting

Overlooked Benefits of Outsourcing Nonprofit Accounting

By Jim Simpson, CPA and director, Financial Technologies & Management

In the nonprofit community, outsourcing typically means long-term delegation of key operation to outside experts. The accompanying expectation is improvement of the quality, strengthening effectiveness, and lowering or controlling costs.

A key difference in the nonprofit sector is not only controlling costs, but becoming a more effective organization. Finance and accounting departments are two essential back-office areas in nonprofit organizations.  Nonprofits typically outsource accounting already for payroll processing and audit services so it is not surprising that nonprofits are looking at other aspects of the the finance and accounting department to outsource.

With limited resources, a nonprofit can outsource some or all its financial functions, which can help a nonprofit efficiently staff and conduct its financial operations. It also respects the board and executives limited time or expertise to manage the finance functions, and allow more allocation of resources toward mission and program outcomes.

Here are eight overlooked, and sometimes unknown, benefits of outsourcing nonprofit accounting.

  1. Improved efficiencies. The less time internal staff members spend on duties that can be outsourced, the more time they can focus on mission and program outcomes. Typically, outsourcing also results in more timely and accurate financial information, which leads to a better operating organization. One way to assess this is to review how much time is currently spent weekly on accounting and finance to determine where this time could be better utilized with a better functioning finance department.  Bookkeeping and Accounting is time-consuming especially when dealing with multiple responsibilities like human resources, information technology, facilities, and other back office responsibilities.  An outsourced accountant allows your organization to focus on getting all of the back office function completed and work with program staff.
  2. Reduce costs. The organization can save money by outsourcing the finance functions that are not core to its mission. It is not uncommon for an organization to save 20 to 40 percent in total personnel costs and control these costs.  On-staff accountants often have to perform administrative tasks that could be performed by lower level paid staff.  By purchasing services and expertise for time needed by your organization, you can better afford the multiple staff levels an organization needs that includes bookkeeping, accounting, controller, and CFO service levels.  An additional cost saving is that services can be provided off-site, which can save facility costs and overhead-related expenses. Outsourcing can be used for major finance projects including the annual audit, budget preparation, software implementation, and other projects that drain internal staff’s time and energy. There are many intangible benefits to include timely and accurate financial reports, eliminated frustrations related to staff management and turnover, and saving management’s valuable time. If your accounting staff leaves for another job, the knowledge and expertise leaves the organization, as well, and is typically costly and difficult to replace.
  3. Reduce fraud threat. Segregating accounting duties between internal and external staff inherently reduces fraud risks. Outsourced accounting provides the organization with checks and balances along the proper oversight to prevent fraud. Many nonprofits rely exclusively on external auditors to detect fraud but these are not intended to detect fraud and only detect fraud it 3 percent of the time. The increased segregation of duties strengthens your internal controls and procedures, while providing increased transparency and accountability in the overall financial operations.  The Executive Director doesn’t typically have the time, desire, and expertise to manage the accounting function so using an outside expert maybe the best way to properly manage the accounting and finance function.  Most nonprofits only have one internal accounting staff that does all the accounting including all cash receipts, cash disbursements, and reconciling the bank accounts which increases your risks of fraud.  Outsourced accounting provides you with the checks and balances, as well as the oversight that you need to prevent fraud.
  4. Higher level of expertise. Many nonprofits can’t afford to employ a staff member who has controller and CFO skill sets and can perform the day-to-day bookkeeping and accounting needs for an organization. By outsourcing, you can take advantage of an expert team’s significant financial expertise, while staying current on the latest regulations and laws. Best practices and improved efficiency can result from the implementation and improve your accounting and reporting functions. The higher-level expertise provides a strategic and fresh perspective to identify deficiencies and add capacity to enable bookkeeping and accounting staff to complete day-to-day activities.  Outsourced accountant likely has a number of individuals they can consult to provide them with the knowledge and expertise they need to benefit the nonprofit they are serving.
  5. Ability to scale. A nonprofit organization needs the flexibility to increase or decrease the size of its finance department, a difficult task when you have allocated internal staff to the finance function. With outsourcing, you can scale your service level up or down to meet your current situation and needs. You can outsource certain finance functions or the entire accounting function. Outsourcing can be performed on-site or off-site, which also provides flexibility to the organization.
  6. Accounting software expertise. It is unlikely that the internal staff will be able to stay current and fully utilize the updated accounting software. Normally, an organization is faced with staff turnover and no training budget. It is likely that the internal staff has never experienced a new software implementation and is relying on how previous internal staff utilized the accounting software. Furthermore, internal processes and systems don’t change to accommodate new software features and enhancements so software utilization doesn’t improve.  An outsourced accountant with technology expertise will likely be current with technology from having multiple clients experiences and the necessity to be as efficient as possible.
  7. Better manage your finance and accounting function.  What type of information are your currently receiving from your accounting department?  Is it real time financial information and is it timely and accurate?  Does it help you with financial planning and decision making including managing cash flow and planning for budgeting and financial projections?  An outsourced accountant can help you better manage your finance and accounting function and help your organization get to the more important financial areas.   It will also provide better financial accountability and transparency for the organization.
  8. Stay current with regulations and laws.  Most organizations don’t have time to stay up with the constantly changing regulations, new accounting standards, Internal Revenue Service, and other oversight organizations.  An outsourced accountant will likely be current with these changes and will adjust service levels to meet the latest requirements.

Outsourcing accounting provides nonprofit organizations with a team of experts who have multiple client experiences which benefits its clients and the nonprofit organization’s it serves.

When considering outsourcing any accounting function, make sure you work with several staff including a manager or partner who’ll become familiar with your organization.  This will help with the continuation of services and provide additional resources and expertise to the board, finance committee, investment committee, treasurer, and Executive Director.

Having the right team in place allow you to focus more resources on your mission and related program outcomes while having a better functioning finance function. It is important that you have the right expertise with an outsourcing firm that you trust and enjoy working together so that a long-term relationship can develop. Keep in mind the organization will still be making the financial decisions, but should be able to make better decisions with the financial advisor performing the role and making recommendations to assist with the organization’s decision-making. Look for a firm that will tailor to clients’ needs and become an extension of the organization’s team regardless of the service levels.

Common Audit Pitfalls and Misperceptions

Common Audit Pitfalls and Misperceptions – FTM Nonprofit Forum for September 26, 2018

Nonprofit Forum Agenda for September 26, 2018

11:30 to 12:30-Financial Management Topic
Common Audit Pitfalls and Misperceptions

Click here to register

While not required by law, one reason a nonprofit might conduct an audit is to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to financial transparency and accountability.

And while a nonprofit can spend considerable resources for its annual audit, it is important that it consider the following to ensure the audit is a success:

  • No delays: An audit needs to avoid any major delays.
  • Minimal accrual and year-end adjustments: The nonprofit needs to ensure that all accrual and year-end adjustments are completed prior to the start of the audit.
  • Minor board and management comments: It is a good idea to have an exit interview after the fieldwork to review the audit’s results.
  • No material weakness or significant deficiency: This is a deficiency in internal controls that could negatively impact financial integrity.
  • Nonprofit should prepare audited financial statements and related disclosures: The organization should have the ability and accounting systems to prepare the audited financial statements and related footnotes and disclosures.
  • Fraud detection is not purpose of audit: While nonprofit leaders may believe the annual audit will uncover fraud, it is very unlikely this will occur.
  • Auditor does not guarantee financial statement accuracy: While auditor does issue an opinion on the nonprofit’s financial statements, the auditor does not certify or guarantee its accuracy.
  • If your nonprofit has one of these audit pitfalls or misperceptions, you should take action to bring expertise and capacity to your organization to remedy it.

This webinar will help Executive Directors, Finance Directors, and finance staff to develop and use a financial policies and procedures manual. Savvy nonprofit leaders know that effective financial audits can be the difference between good and great performance.

Those attending the forum will receive handouts.

Click here to register

Are You In Need of a True Fund Accounting Solution for Your Nonprofit Organization?

Are You In Need of a True Fund Accounting Solution for Your Nonprofit Organization?

Are You In Need of a True Fund Accounting Solution for Your Nonprofit Organization? Yes, No, or I Don’t Know?

We’ve got a quick survey that you can take:

Y N Don’t know – Do I have specific restrictions that I must apply to funds?

Y N Don’t know – Can I easily measure the performance of a program or activity?

Y N Don’t know – Am I able to create reports for varying fiscal years?

Y N Don’t know – Do I have funds that need to be recorded as encumbered?

Y N Don’t know – Can I perform allocations of indirect costs by grantors?

Y N Don’t know – Can I easily tailor reports for each funding source?

Y N Don’t know – Does my current solution incorporate nonprofit-specific accounting rules?

Y N Don’t know – Can I easily manage and report on multiple budgets?

Y N Don’t know – Can I easily show how money is tracked or budgeted?

Y N Don’t know – Does my current solution integrate with other software?

Are You In Need of a True Fund Accounting Solution for Your Nonprofit Organization?

If you answered “Yes” to all these questions, congratulations! You are in very good nonprofit accounting technology shape. If you answered “No” to any of these questions, it may be time to contact FTM for a free consultation.

We invite you to download the article ’10 Reasons Why Nonprofits Need True Fund Accounting

Financial Technologies Management LLC (FTM) has been serving the accounting services and technology needs of nonprofits since 1999. Our exclusive focus on nonprofit organizations means we have the experience and proven track record to guide you to the best combination of accounting resources to provide the optimal capacity, utmost stewardship and ability to fulfill your mission.

Are You In Need of a True Fund Accounting Solution for Your Nonprofit Organization?

Need accounting help but unable to find and hire candidates with the appropriate skills? Contact FTM. Many Executive Directors have discovered that outsourcing their accounting to FTM is affordable and immediately connects them with an expert accounting team to manage activities and provide insight. Many have found that this is the perfect solution when there’s not enough budget nor need for a fully staffed in-house accounting department.

Do you have a fully staffed accounting department but need better reporting and integration with other mission-critical solutions in use within the organization? FTM works with all leading nonprofit accounting software solutions and can guide you to the solution with the perfect fit. We’ll be your resource from evaluation to selection to implementation to support and training.

Part 3 FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements White Paper

Part 3 FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements White Paper

We’re pleased to make available the third and final segment of the three-part white paper series on FASB ASU 2016-14:

Click here to access FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements for Not-For-Profit Organizations White Paper Series Part 3 of 3.

This 8-page document is a project plan to help you and your organization focus on task oriented items detailed in all three phases: understanding, preparing, and implementing.

Haven’t accessed Part 1 or Part 2? No problem! Use the links below.

Part 1 – Understanding. Preparing. Implementing. FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements White Paper

Part 2 – Understanding. Preparing. Implementing. FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements White Paper

Financial Technologies Management works exclusively with nonprofits – providing affordable accounting services, software, and technology.

With the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issuing a new accounting standards update specifically for nonprofits (ASU 2016-14) to improve the current net asset classification requirements and the information presented in financial statements and notes about a nonprofit entity’s liquidity, financial performance, and cash flows, this is considered a big change.

In fact, this is the first major set of changes to nonprofit financial statement presentation standards since 1993.

Part 3 in our 3-Part White Paper Series on Understanding. Preparing. Implementing. FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements for Not-For-Profit Organizations is an active project plan to help you and your organization focus on task-oriented items detailed in all 3 phases; understanding, preparing and implementing.

Feel free to edit and alter this to make it work for your unique nonprofit environment. Not every task will apply to your nonprofit, and there will probably be tasks you will need to add. Part 3 is meant to help guide you and your team as you embark on satisfying the new FASB ASU 2016-14 reporting requirements.

If you don’t want to go it alone – the team at FTM is here to help. We’ve been serving nonprofits exclusively since 1999. We work with nonprofit to select and implement leading nonprofit accounting solutions.

We also provide accounting services, including outsourced accounting, for organizations that understand that professional attention to the organization’s financial accounting is a prerequisite for proper stewardship.

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider Using Nonprofit Accounting Software?

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider Using Nonprofit Accounting Software?

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider Using Nonprofit Accounting Software? – Your organization like every other nonprofit is feeling the pressure to deliver more transparency. The demand for more timely information is coming from a multitude of interested parties: board members, major donors, potential funders, and watch dog organizations.

Join us online Wednesday, August 29 11:30 – 1:00e
Click here to register

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider Using Nonprofit Accounting Software?

The goal of transparency can’t be easily accomplished without sound nonprofit accounting software-financial reporting is the foundation upon which transparency is achieved.

As the number of nonprofits have proliferated, accounting software is more tailored and can help manage these complexities. But taking the time to select the right software for your nonprofit is critical.

Before your purchase, start with a software evaluation and assessment to see if you’re a good candidate for nonprofit accounting software. The software evaluation and assessment will review your current system to determine its level or utilization and functionality. It is probably a good idea to perform a software evaluation any time there is a major change within the organization either positive or negative.

We will review at least seven reasons Nonprofit’s should consider Nonprofit Accounting Software.

This webinar will help Executive Directors, Finance Directors, and finance staff to use and select the proper software for their organization.

Overlooked Benefits of Outsourcing Nonprofit Accounting

Overlooked Benefits of Outsourcing Nonprofit Accounting

Overlooked Benefits of Outsourcing Nonprofit Accounting

Has your organization ever looked at outsourcing all or a portion of its accounting? If not, it is because you’re not sure how the organization would benefit from this decision?

Since it is not a common practice for nonprofits to outsource its accounting, we will discuss the process and discuss the overlooked benefits of outsourcing your Nonprofit Accounting.

Join us online Wednesday, July 25 11:30 – 1:00e
Click here to register

In the nonprofit community, outsourcing typically means long-term delegation of key operation to outside experts. The accompanying expectation is improvement of the quality, strengthening effectiveness, and lowering or controlling costs.

A key difference in the nonprofit sector is not only controlling costs, but becoming a more effective organization.

Outsourcing accounting provides nonprofit organizations with a team of experts who have multiple client experiences which benefits its clients and the nonprofit organization’s it serves.

We will review six overlooked, and sometimes unknown, benefits of outsourcing nonprofit accounting.

We will answer this and more. We will review and provide you with a candid conversation of the benefits and disadvantages of outsourcing nonprofit accounting.

Immediately following the presentation on benefits of outsourcing nonprofit accounting, we will host a discussion on how to have the best possible accounting system.