Newsletter

Essential Nonprofit Financial Governance – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We will cover 15 commonly asked questions and mis-perceptions of financial governance. Please provide this to your board and especially new board members and leaders to help educate them on the roles and responsibilities on Nonprofit Leadership and Governance. Please register for our November forum to review this topic in more detail and invite your board treasurer, finance committee, and leaders.

  1. How many board members should we have?  At least 5-9 members which are unrelated to each other.
  2. What should be discussed during a board orientation? Mission, organization chart, bylaws, audit and form 990, responsibilities and expectations including fundraising, and frequency of board and committee meetings.
  3. Are there best practices for planning and conducting meetings?  Draft agenda in advance and be strategic and focus attention on priorities.  A consent agenda can be a good tool to move through routine procedures and information that can be provided prior to the meeting.
  4. Do I have to have an audit or finance committee?  Organization’s benefit from a finance committee and may benefit from an independent audit committee.  It is important to have the right financial experts to move you in right direction.
  5. Do I have to have accounting or finance experience to serve on a board?   A successful board is generally made up of diverse individuals who are focused on furthering the mission of the organization.  Board members may need training to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities.   It might be best for these board members to not serve on the finance or audit committee however.
  6. Are Not-for-Profits supposed to have term limits?  Term limits seem to be a good idea yet make sure you have a staggered term process to support continuity and prevent large turnover of board members.  It might be import to change the responsibilities of long-term board members to keep them engaged and refresh their duties.
  7. Is it common for board members to have fundraising expectations?  Asking board members is very common and especially expected if donations is a major revenue source.  It is always a good idea to know the fundraising expectations and make sure you are comfortable with the commitment.
  8. What is a conflict of interest?  a conflict of interest arises with a board member has a transaction with the organization.  Transactions should be discussed and possible disclosed before they take place.  A robust conflict of interest policy covering the financial and non financial conflicts is a means to establish procedures that will offer protection against charges of impropriety involving officers or directors.
  9. Are not-for-profits required to have an annual audit?  It depends on many triggers that may cause or require an audit.  Receiving federal or state funds over certain thresholds can trigger audit requirements.  Some foundation grants may have audit requirements as well.    Some organization’s may choose to have an audit even when not required to demonstrate good financial stewardship and transparency.
  10. What alternatives exist to an annual audit?  A review typically costs 50-60% of an annual audit.   A compilation is another option but does not provide a basis for obtaining or providing assurance regarding the financial statements.
  11. What should board members know about the Form 990?  It is a public document and should be reviewed by the board before it is filed with the Internal Revenue Service.  Board members should fully understand and verify the information on the Form 990, and should feel comfortable asking questions until they are satisfied.
  12. Am I required to post my financial information on my website?  There is no federal requirement to provide your financial information on your website.  The IRS requires you to make your Form 990 publicly available.    In the interest of transparency, it is considered a good industry practice to post the IRS Form 990 and the annual financial statements.  The annual financial statements might be the audited financial statements and/or the annual report.
  13. Should we have an operating reserve?  An operating reserve is a valuable tool to manage changes to the finances.  By building and maintaining an operating reserve, an organization can better manage its cash flow on a day-to-day basis.
  14. How long do I keep my financial records?  There is no easy answer for this as many laws are state specific and federal government grants may have specific requirements for document retention.  A formal document retention and destruction policy is considered an important best practice.
  15. Are not-for-profits allowed to make a profit?  They should and a modest surplus maybe a good goal as well.  This will allow the organization to build up reserves and helps to contribute to long-term financial sustainability.    The term not-for-profit comes from the fact that the organization exists to benefit the public and has no owners.

Please be advised that this is only an introduction to financial governance and does not address all the areas that an organization should be concerned with.  We would be glad to assist your organization with training and make sure you meet the requirements of financial governance and leadership.

What is the best way to segregate financial duties in a small to medium sized Nonprofit?

Small to medium sized NPF’s struggle with segregating financial duties. Volunteers and Outside experts may play key roles in ensuring the proper segregation of duties. The best course is to segregrate duties to minimize risks and prevent fraud. The following reference charts are available for organizations with two, three, or four employees involved in the outsource function. If you only have one employee, we would recommend including our firm or another outside expert or volunteer to help with segregation of duties.

The following reference charts are provided to provide examples of segregation of duties.  Please contact us before you implement any of these suggestions.

Sample Organization with two employees

Sample Organization with three employees

Sample Organization with four employees

This would allow be good time to evaluate your financial department including updating your financial policies and procedures manual for the finance departments responsibilities.

2018 Central Indiana Nonprofit Salary Survey is Available

2018 Central Indiana Nonprofit Salary Survey is Available

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

It is becoming more difficult to attract and retain talent.  Also, it is important to review your salaries and benefits compensation compared to the market.  It is becoming clear that long term-sustainability and staff retention with competitive wages are linked.  We have provided this resource through our free white paper so please feel free to download this resource.

We hope this resource will help to provide nonprofit leaders from all service sectors and sizes to explore compensation and benefits for over 25 typical positions with the ultimate goal or attracting and retaining the talent to achieve your organization missions.

We serve quite a few clients outside this service area so we thought we would share it to all as the sample size is almost twice the typical sample size and is provided at no charge by Charitable Advisors and their sponsors which we have been in the past.

We invite you to download ‘2018 Central Indiana Nonprofit Salary Survey

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.

Abila MIP Fund Accounting and Abila MIP Advance Version 2019. 1 Available and Current MIP Promotions includes FREE Payroll and/or HR

What’s New in Abila MIP Fund Accounting Version 2019.1

Tax Enhancements Completed:

  • New Jersey Tax Updates
  • Maryland Tax Updates
  • Illinois Tax Updates
  • MIP: Aatrix – Add Oregon State Transit Tax code #5666 to Maintain Other Taxes

Reporting Enhancements Completed:

  • MIP: Financial Statements – Includes an option to add the Unposted Transactions to the Balance Sheet and Statement of Financial Position reports to allow more flexibility and understanding of current financial state.

Security Enhancements Completed:

  • MIP: Attachments – Enhances the attachment encryption process when encrypting documents using a new, modern algorithm.
  • MIP: Added a reminder message to both Forms Designer forms when the Insert Picture (related to signatures) is selected and both ACH forms.

Administration Enhancements Completed:

  • MIP: Data Integrity Checks – The Organization Name has been added to the results message for clarification.

Payroll Enhancements Completed:

  • MIP: Employee Information – A change was made to the employee page where the Social Security Number is entered.  If not entered at this time, a warning message will be displayed but the user can continue onwards, in order to match the functionality in the HR module for increased usability.
  • MIP: Payroll – The Timesheet Reference field now flows through several parts of the application to allow tracking and reporting on large numbers of employees.  It will flow through the calculation and history processes, as well as thru the processing and historical reports. Additionally, in Forms Designer, “Add Timesheet Reference” will be made available as a Data field.
  • Changes made to address new payroll requirements in Arizona
    • MIP: Set Up Modules – Payroll – Added checkbox ‘Include Historical Pay Code Information on Stubs’ and changed Print Checks/Vouchers and Reprint Stubs to enable display of changes made for the AZ tax code payroll changes.

Resolved Issues

With the 2019.1 release, we resolved 18 outstanding defects, including three HR defects. Defects

included in DLL releases from 2018.1 to 2019.1 are also included in this list.

FA‐20024 An ARS session allows duplicate document numbers to be created. For those document numbers that are used twice in one session, AR reporting doubles the amounts on the report output

FA‐21915 Aatrix: Info in AUF not Sorted or Grouped Properly

FA‐22185 The posting process taking an excessive amount of time

FA‐22929 MIP Closes when attempting to export report to XLS using the Red Door

FA‐23145 Changing one Employee in Review/Modify for a Supplemental Payroll triggers all employees to be recorded in the Summary Organization Audit with no associated user ID

FA‐23149 Appending or Prepending to an Excel Worksheet Removes Decimals That End in 0

FA‐23201 After exporting a report to Excel, formulas create #VALUE!

FA‐23262 Hourly Rate Change on Salaried Employees Does Not Save

FA‐23281 Append to Excel files with file type XLSM Fails (macros)

FA‐23316 HR: ‘dg2_initializeLayout’ error when adding Certificates in HR 2 14 of the defects on this list were from the prioritized Support Top 25 defects list.

FA‐23320 Rename Employee is Creating New Employees Instead of Renaming

FA‐23339 HR: Payroll Check printing rather than voucher

FA‐23343 HR: Misspelling in Ethnic Drop‐Down Options

FA‐23376 Some Report Types Printed from Excel Exported from MIP are Improperly Formatted

FA‐23395 Electronic Funds files have wrong Object Count when filler rows not included on a Data File ending in a perfect 10 count

FA‐23437 Reprint Pay Stub subtracts Workers Comp from Net Pay

FA‐23445 Reprint Pay stubs Produces Incorrect YTD Earnings for Local Taxes

FA‐23605 After applying the DLL to fix FA‐23281, Running the Bank Rec report to screen causes MIP to close. It also replaces the ‘from’ field

with the name of the database rather than the email address of the user attempting to email a report.

Abila MIP Advance™

The focal point of the 2019.1 release was the debut of the MIP Advance™ Reporting module.  Extensive refinement to the UI along with the introduction of 57 previously unreleased reports are the highlight of the features included here. See below for more detailed information.

Reporting

New Reports ‐ Inclusion of 57 new reports to the Advance user interface. A list of report

categories and sub‐categories is included below.

 Aged Payables, Detail A/P Ledger, Invoices Selected for Payment, Summary A/P Ledger, Vendor 1099 Adjustments List, Vendor Activity, Vendor Information List

 Aged Receivables, Customer Activity, Customer Information List, Detailed A/R Ledger, Summary A/R Ledger

 Bank Reconciliation – Checks/Vouchers, Combined Reconciliation, Deposits, Other Cash Items, Suspense Items

 Budget – Budget Worksheet, Detail Budget/Actual Transactions, Posted Budget Transactions, Summary Budget Comparison, Unposted Budget Transactions

 Check/Voucher Register

 Financial Statement – Balance Sheet, Combining Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows, Combining Statement of R&E, Statement of Activities, Statement of Cash Flows, Statement of Financial Position, Statement of R&E, Statement of Revenues and Expenditures by Period

 General Ledger Analysis – Comparative Trial Balance, Expanded GL, Normal Trial Balance, Standard GL, Working Trial Balance

 Journals – Cash Journal, Expenditure Journal, Revenue Journal

 Lists – Account Code Combinations, Attachments, Chart of Accounts, Closing Account Assignments, Distribution Codes, Email Templates, Financial Statement Format, Group Information, Offset Account Assignments, Report Group Assignments, Security, UDF Default Sources, User Defined Fields, User Information List

 Transactions – Memorize/Recurring Transactions, Unposted GL Transactions, Posted GL Transactions

Current MIP Promotions:
Prospect Promotion:
Free Payroll, HR, or both for 1 year: On Premise only pays M&S after year one; Subcription gets 12 months free
Client Promotion: Migrate to Advance for on-premise clients with 3 months free with 15 month contract; Free Module with Renewal for 12 months and choose from select modules; Renewal Amnesty for clients 6 months overdue may pay only a 50% catch up fee.

Why your Nonprofit should consider using Nonprofit Accounting Software?

Why your Nonprofit should consider using Nonprofit Accounting Software?

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

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.

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.

Here are eight reasons Nonprofit’s should consider Nonprofit Accounting Software.

  1. Flexible report writer
  2. Grants Management capability
  3. Budget Management capability
  4. Cost-allocation functionality
  5. Strong audit trails
  6. Integration with payroll, fundraising, and other applications
  7. Expanded capabilities as organization grows
  8. Various financial segment or element tracking to include funding sources, programs, projects, locations, and other essential financial information.

Here are features and functionality of the software that can provide optimum efficiency.

The flexible report writer allows you to use the accounting software to meet the internal and external complex reporting requirements. Generating reports should be able to be varied to meet the board, program, and funder reporting requirements and easily modified to meet the changing program and funder needs. Accounting Solutions for your Nonprofit

The grants management capability allows you to track the financial results for each grant, and report back to the funder in the required format, using one accounting system.  Grants management helps to insure maximum reimbursement and reconciliation to claims including encumbrances.

The budget management capability allows you to manage multiple budget versions for board approved version and projections.  Easily make budget revisions and maintain budget trail to track various revisions.   Budget management allows you to distribute annual budget monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Cost-allocation functionality allows you to easily allocate transactions on a real-time basis to multiple programs and funding sources all within the system. It should allow to you to pool various cost pools like facilities and overhead and allocate these to the various program and funding sources to provide a full-cost accounting.  Allows the cost allocation basis like hours worked to be modified on a regular basis for more accurate funding source and program accounting.

Strong audit trails keep track of what users are doing within the accounting system. The system should allow you to provide your annual auditors and program monitors with the financial information they need to meet their requirements and reduce the chances of fraud. Those involved in the finance function should have segregated permissions in the accounting system to protect the organization and its staff.  Strong audit controls include the ability for management to produce the audited financial statements.

As organizations look to be more efficient, it is important they look at software that allows them to integrate their critical functions like payroll, fundraising, human resources, and other areas. Nonprofit accounting software typically has this functionality built into its various modules or it allows for third party product integration. It is typically modular based, which allows your organization to add functions and capabilities as the organization grows and needs additional tools.

One of the most important reasons to look into nonprofit accounting software is the ability track financial information different ways.

For example, an organization may want to track its various funding sources to see what funds are available. It may want to track my various programs and projects to see what the programs costs are and how the organization is doing financially. It might have various locations and want to know how each location is doing. It might have donor and endowments restricted assets and wants to do a separate accounting for these donations to know what assets are left and make sure donor restrictions are met.

It is important, too, that staff remains efficient and effective, enabling them to focus on the long-term planning of the organization and not just keeping up with the day-to-day-accounting.

There are several purchase options that include direct purchase or subscription pricing to pay-as-you-go.

You will need to insure that you include software advisory services to include planning, implementing, and training. In some cases, you will need to also include data conversion and integration services.

Please contact us to help you determine if your organization will benefit from Nonprofit Accounting Software.  We will help you with your software evaluation and assessment project.

Assess Your Organization’s Vulnerability to Fraud

It’s a people problem, so combat it with governance.   

Purchasing schemes, cash skimming, and financial statement fraud are three very different types of fraud that nonprofits must prevent, detect, and insure against. Still, behind each of them – and every variety of deliberate, deceptive act against nonprofits – there’s a fundamental and shared dynamic at play.

Fraud isn’t just an operational or financial risk. It’s inherently a human risk, meaning it often crosscuts numerous functions and departments within a nonprofit organization. Not only that, but the people behind these acts are complex. They’re pressured by varying circumstances, motivated by different opportunities, and self-assured by their own unique rationales. Making matters more complicated, fraud isn’t always a solo act. In fact, a report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) found that 46% of fraud cases involve multiple perpetrators. When fraud occurs, the web of nefarious activity often extends to surprising depths within an organization.

To combat this threat, nonprofits face a critical need to address fraud, starting with more guidance and engagement from leaders and boards to create an anti-fraud environment and oversee a fraud risk management function. One of the most important deterrents of fraud is knowing that the organization’s leaders have no tolerance for it, will act accordingly to detect it, and will take appropriate action if they find it. Begin by focusing on these four steps:

1. Find a Catalyst

You need a high-ranking sponsor to get fraud risk management off the ground. This leader’s first order of business should be deciding whether the organization’s fraud risk management will be integrated into the existing risk management function (which typically focuses on strategic, operational, reporting, and compliance risks) – or whether it will be separate. Either way, the goal is the same: Embed a risk management element into the daily activities of all your personnel.

2. Create Responsibilities & Structures

With your management process in place, establish a governance structure for it, including designated oversight responsibilities at the board level, such as an audit committee. Keep in mind, this framework and the tools your organization uses should be scaled to fit both your size and your available resources. It’s impossible to completely “fraud-proof” any organization, so understand the weak points in your infrastructure and organization, and then work backwards to execute your anti-fraud processes. Also, while fraud prevention is ideal, many nonprofits have to weigh the costs and practicality of preventive processes versus detective measures.

3. Engage & Educate

Especially when faced with resource constraints, nonprofits should engage all their staff in an ongoing system of fraud deterrence. Above all, provide your employees with workshops and trainings in which you educate them on why people perpetrate fraud, which red f lags to watch for, and what resources – such as whistleblower policies, reporting systems, and hotlines – are available to them. Awareness throughout your organization can be the single most effective fraud deterrent and vehicle for detection, but it has to start from the top.

4. Craft Dynamic Risk Assessments

People are dynamic, so your risk assessments must keep pace. With roles and responsibilities identified, use your team to pinpoint which inherent risks exist. Then prioritize these risky situations based on their impact, likelihood, and the speed at which they’re apt to occur. Finally, use those priority rankings to map the best preventive and detective controls.

Source: “Assess Your Organization’s Vulnerability to Fraud”. Nonprofit World. October/November/December 2017. Vol. 35, No. 4: 20 – 21. Print.

Effective Grants Management

In order to provide effective grants management, we need to make sure that we are performing bookkeeping at the grant level.  Our grant accounting needs to properly allocate costs to the grants while maximizing our grant reimbursement and avoiding any cost disallowance.

Our board members and related governance should be knowledgeable and informed about grant budgets and compliance requirements.  The board should stay knowledgeable of grant administration trends, developments, and regulations.  The board should understand what the organization is committed to and are Its programs delivering what is required.

The program staff needs to be involved in the data collection and reporting responsibilities including the proper reporting to the correct grant budget categories.  We need to establish and schedule future grant deadlines to insure timely grant report submission.  We would suggest sharing the grant agreement with the program staff to insure all grant requirements and deadlines are met.

Federal grants are governed by the super circular which is also referred to as the uniform grant guidance.   Auditors audit based on these requirements with the assumption that the nonprofit is knowledgeable and informed about this grant guidance.  Federal grants and awards are specifically identified and require a financial management system that identifies the source and application of federal funded activities.  Federal grants typically require written procedures around payment requirements, allowability of costs, procurement procedures, and standards of conduct.  For example, procurement procedures need to be written with good procurement records and follow the guidelines.

The grant audit requirements include the ability for management to prepare the Schedule of Federal Awards (SEFA) and it should be reconciled to the accounting records.  If the SEFA is a required part of the audited financial statements, the auditor will issue an opinion if the SEFA is fairly stated as a part of the audited financial statements.

Cost allocations are an integral part of effective grants management.  Effective cost allocations will allow to report and recover the fully loaded program costs to facilities and administrative costs.  Some organizations could benefit from documenting their cost allocation and federal programs may require a formal cost allocation plan.  Some acceptable methods of cost allocation would include hours worked for variable costs, and square footage for fixed costs like facilities.

Grant advance would be for grants that provide advanced funding.  It is important that you don’t spend these restricted funds on other activities and you can keep track of restricted expenditures and restricted grant cash balance.  You may want to track these advances by grant and as deferred revenue to show how much of the cash or accounts receivable balance is restricted.

Cost reimbursement for grants require you to submit reimbursement request timely to minimize cash flow delays.   Your grantors typically believe you have already paid these costs when you submit your reimbursement request.  You may want to obtain a line of credit for reimbursement delays and disclose the possible longer payment terms with your contractors and vendors.

The grant reporting needs include grant budgets which match grant budget line items with financial reporting.  Grant reporting should be able to report total grant spending including direct and indirect cost allocation.   Proper grant reporting requires a grant reconciliation to insure internal and external reports agree and that you are maximizing the reimbursement along with minimizing over and under grant spending.

Grant close out requires you met the compliance requirements and make any final grant budget revisions.  You will want to make sure you make any budget revisions in a timely manner to make sure you have time for any grant budget revision approval that is required.

Your accounting system should be able to meet your grantor reporting needs including their budget line items.   This typically requires segment tracking to track your grant as a separate fund including tracking by program.

Some examples of lack of effective grants management would include grant findings, monitoring visits, spending issues, and lack of a grant budget and related projections.

It is important that you continue to strive for effective grants management within your organization.  Our firm is here to help your organization perform more effective grants management so please let us know if we can be of assistance.

FASB proposes clarifications to accounting for grants and contributions

FASB proposes clarifications to accounting for grants and contributions

At a glance

A new FASB proposal will become effective in 2019 and will require nonprofits to account for grants from the government differently and may affect the timing of revenue and expense recognition for both recipients and funders of condition grants and gifts.

What happened?
On August 3, the FASB proposed rules that would require some grants received by not-for-profit entities (NFPs) to be accounted for under the contribution accounting model instead of the new revenue recognition standard. The proposed changes could also alter the timing of recognition of revenues or expenses for conditional grants and gifts under the contribution accounting model. While accounting for contributions primarily affects NFP entities, the proposed amendments would apply to all entities, including business entities that make contributions or grants.

Five-step approach for revenue recognition

The core principle of the new standard is that revenue recognition should “depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services” (ASC 606-10-05-3). To accomplish this objective, reporting entities are to apply a five-step approach:

  • Identify the contract with the customer.
  • Identify the performance obligations in the contract.
  • Determine the transaction price.
  • Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract.
  • Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.

Key provisions
The differentiator between a contribution and an exchange transaction is whether there has been an “exchange of commensurate value.” The exposure draft proposes enhanced guidance for determining when such an exchange has taken place between the parties to a grant or gift arrangement. In an exchange transaction accounted for under the new revenue recognition standard, reciprocal benefits flow directly between the parties to the arrangement. If benefits ultimately flow to the general public, rather than to the funder, the proposal would require that the arrangement be accounted for as a contribution, rather than as an exchange transaction. This might occur when, for example, a government agency uses a grant arrangement to outsource its own obligation to provide certain benefits to the public. Because NFPs and business entities generally account for federal grant awards as exchange transactions today, the proposal would be a significant change for NFPs. However, business entities would not be affected, because transfers of resources from governments to business entities are outside the scope of the contribution accounting guidance.

The proposal would shift revenue recognition for many grants received by NFPs from an exchange model to the model for “conditional contributions.” Consequently, the FASB also proposes changes that would clarify the accounting for conditional contributions.
Those changes would also affect donors and donees in gift transactions. When a gift or grant is conditional, neither the giver nor the receiver can recognize expense or revenue until the condition is satisfied. The proposal would redefine a “conditional” gift or grant as one that specifies a barrier that must be overcome to be entitled to the promised funds, along with a requirement that the funds be returned (or the promisor released from its obligation) if the barrier is not overcome. Unless a gift or grant includes these more restrictive provisions, gifts or grants deemed to be “conditional” today would no longer qualify. As a result, recipients would recognize contribution income, and grantors
or donors would recognize contribution expense, earlier than they do today.

Effective date
The proposed amendments would have the same effective date as the new revenue standard. For public business entities and conduit bond obligors with publicly-traded debt, the proposed rules would be effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2017. Other entities would have an additional year.

Why is this important?
The proposed ASU would provide a more robust framework to determine when a transaction should be accounted for under the contribution accounting model or as an exchange transaction accounted for under other guidance (for example, ASC 606). In doing so, it seeks to harmonize the revenue recognition model used by NFPs for government grants, foundation grants, and charitable contributions. However, NFPs and
business entities could end up applying different revenue recognition models to similar grant transactions. The proposal also underscores the FASB’s intent that accounting for contributions should be consistent from the perspective of both the maker and the recipient of a contribution
or grant. Thus, the proposed changes for determining whether a contribution is conditional would apply equally to both resource providers and recipients.

Year End is the ideal time to document your financial policies and procedures

We have discovered that around fiscal year end might be the best time to document your financial policies and procedures.  We are usually preparing and implementing budgets and starting our audit preparation so we are usually in the planning and reviewing mode.

You can document your financial processes and see where you can make improvements.  You can look to see where you can implement new software and automate systems to reduce manual processes.

The written policies should document board and staff responsibilities and related segregation of duties.   You should consider what errors or irregularities could occur and what procedures would detect these errors or irregularities.  You should focus around cash disbursement, cash receipt, and payroll controls at a minimum.

Your financial policies and procedures should lay out clear expectations and encourage adherence.  Your financial policies and procedure manual should include audit, budget, and record retention policies.  Please contact us if we can help you document your financial polices and procedures.

Hiring an Accountant for your Nonprofit Isn’t Gettting Any Easier

Overall unemployment levels are historically low at 3 – 4% which is approaching full employment.   Robert Half reports that unemployment for accounts is actually below 2%.  As a result, hiring qualified talent is becoming more difficult if not impossible to achieve.  Nonprofits make double the number of errors compared to for profit businesses due to the complexity and under investing in the nonprofit accounting function.  Most nonprofits use accounting software that is not designed for nonprofit accounting.  This might be the perfect time to explore outsourcing a portion of the accounting depending on what types of activities you need internal staff to perform.

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.  FTM has a team of nonprofit accounting experts to assist your organization with its accounting and finance function including hiring and training your internal staff.

You should look for the following in any accountant candidate that you are considering hiring for your Nonprofit:

  1. Your accountant should be able to keep your finances organized and under control.
  2. Your accountant should be able to enter your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities into accounting software.
  3.  Your accountant should understand the IRS requirements and generally accepted accounting practices to insure financial reports are properly prepared and accurate.
  4. Your accountant will make sure any employer taxes and tax filings are completed timely.
  5. Your accountant should be familiar with fund accounting and used fund accounting software.
  6. Your accountant should be familiar with reporting and be able to answer questions efficiently and effectively.
  7. Your accountant should be a resourceful problem solver.
  8. Your accountant should be self-motivated.

As difficult as it is to hire a good accountant, hiring an incompetent or incompatible person is even worse.    Competition for strong candidates can be challenging.  You can recruit applicants by asking us, your auditor, advertise in different places, and announce broadly.  You will want to assess the technical skills, communication skills, and timeliness of task completion of the applicants.    You will need to spend time on reference checks and be sure to ask about relevant nonprofit accounting experience and familiarity with your accounting software.  If cash flow is a significant problem in your organization, discuss it with the finalists.  When deciding salary, you might want to check with salary surveys or other organizations to see what they pay.

There are many right ways to hire a great accountant, and as you do so remember to balance your need for technical skills with someone who will help you strategize what are the best decisions for the organization.