Are You Feeling Overwhelmed Performing Accounting and Tax Service for Nonprofits?

Are you feeling just a little overwhelmed performing your own accounting and tax services for your nonprofit?

A Forbes survey found that 14% of nearly 3,000 people surveyed worldwide feel chronically overwhelmed. If you are, you’re not alone. Feeling overwhelmed is common today.

Oh, and by the way – the age bracket feeling the most overwhelm? Those 41-50 years old, or roughly, the age bracket for most senior nonprofit financial management types.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re guessing you went into nonprofit financial management because you love finance, accounting, and the mission-driven culture of a nonprofit organization. You can rekindle that passion for your work again and manage that feeling of overwhelm with a few simple steps.

The Myth of Multi-Tasking

In the book “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”, authors Jeff and J.J. Sutherland provide insight into why many people feel overwhelmed. They are trying to multi-task, thinking it boosts productivity. Their studies indicate the opposite.

A chart on page 91 provides statistics that indicate that as one’s attention is divided, productivity decreases. Working on two projects at once means a 20% loss in productivity due to switching gears; three projects at once, and you lose about 40% due to context switching. Context switching leads to feeling overwhelmed because the mind is never at rest, confident it can finish a project. It’s always jumping to the next open action item – which in turn makes you jumpy!

Accounting and tax service for nonprofit providers and nonprofit financial management professionals aren’t immune to this lost productivity. They may actually be at greater risk for lost productivity due to context switching due to the amount of concentration required to process accounting and financial data.

In addition to the focus needed to do your job, something is always clamoring for your attention. Messenger apps, emails, phone calls, colleagues dropping by your office – it’s a never-ending barrage of items competing for your attention.

Focus on One Thing at a Time

Multi-tasking doesn’t work. It’s a lie. So why do we buy into it?

We think it should work because, after all, if you’re busy working on seven tasks, that’s seven projects underway. However, time and time again, studies demonstrate that it is better to have one open task, complete it, then turn your attention to the next one.

Commit to single-tasking rather than multi-tasking. Turn off the television or music while you work. Shut down the instant messenger apps and sounds that ping and bong when emails arrive. Focus on one thing at a time.

Build a Set of Rules

Do you have an open-door policy? That’s a useful and common management technique. However, it can lead to people interrupting you and breaking your concentration. It is helpful to build out a set of rules and guidelines for your team so they know when they can interrupt you.

Some managers choose to post ‘office hours’ or leave their door open as a signal to their staff that they may interrupt them. Another technique is to use a shared calendar such as Google Calendar or an Office calendar and post your office hours there while blocking out time for work requiring deep concentration. Experiment to find the method that works the best for you.

Yes, You Can Turn Off Your Phone

Nearly everyone carries a cell phone today. It makes it convenient to call someone for a quick answer, dial AAA when your car breaks down, or find your coworker after hours. It can quickly turn into an invisible umbilical cord connecting you to the office 24/7. Cut the cord. Tell your coworkers you plan to switch your phone off at night and follow through. Make the hours after 7 p.m. or whatever time you choose “off limits” so you get some downtime.

You Have Permission to Take Vacation, Weekends Off, and Holidays 

Nonprofit accounting and tax professionals often work long hours right before tax season. That may be inevitable. At other times of the year, those extra hours may be unnecessary. Take a vacation, weekends off, and holidays.

Workaholics are lauded in American culture, but they also get sicker faster and burn out. Don’t be a statistic. Close the office door, turn off your phone, and head to the beach or the mountains so you give your mind and body a rest. You’ll be better off for it, as will your nonprofit organization if you return refreshed.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company is an independent certified accounting firm offering accounting and tax service for nonprofits, nonprofit financial management, auditing services and more. Since 1987, we have helped many nonprofits in the Washington D.C. area and along the Eastern seaboard with their accounting and financial management needs. We provide audit, tax, accounting, and consulting service that addresses all aspects of a small to mid-sized nonprofit organization’s business. Contact us or call 703-834-0776 x8001.

Mythbusters for Nonprofit Budgets and Policies

Does a nonprofit’s budget have to break even?

Board members and staff who are new to the charitable nonprofit context may wonder, “Does a nonprofit’s budget have to break-even?” “Can there be a profit?”

In this article, Nonprofit Budgets Have to Balance: False! (Blue Avocado) covers all things budget, including: surplus budgets, break-even budgets, deficit budgets, and the misconception that a nonprofit’s budget has to balance at the end of the year.

Find out how easy it can be to set up your budget while increasing the value delivered by your accounting functions. Schedule a free consultation with the accounting experts when you contact Beck & Company CPAS online, or call us directly at (703) 834-0776.

Among the many nonprofit budget best practices discussed in trade magazines and industry circles, budgeting is often relegated to the back pages or as an afterthought. Sound budgeting is the fuel that runs the nonprofit engine, ensuring that every program has enough support to run for the year and that funds are allocated fairly throughout the organization. It’s an important aspect of the annual accounting cycle and an activity that touches on every department within a nonprofit organization.

How your nonprofit derives its annual budget and how frequently it checks and updates it is a good gauge of its financial health. A healthy organization tackles the budgeting process early in the cycle, leaving adequate time for zero-based or increase-based budgeting. It also sets aside regular periods to examine and adjust existing budgets. Let’s look at nonprofit best practices in budgeting and how you can apply these best practices to your organization.

Budgets as Guides

Budgets are guides that help your organization plan for the future and determine its present course of action. They should be thought of as guidelines for spending and saving rather than rigid, fixed numbers to reach.

Budgets are also external-facing documents for many nonprofits. Department leaders and staff refer to them to establish programs and monitor costs, but they may also be shared with the Board of Directors, donors, and members to establish how funds are being spent and to develop a sense of transparency about activities, expenditures, and how donations are used.

Cash vs. Accrual Method

Another aspect of nonprofit best practices is deciding which accounting method a nonprofit will follow: cash or accrual basis. Cash basis records transactions as cash is received or spent. The accrual basis means recording revenues when they are earned and expenses when they are accrued. Either method is fine, if kept consistently. Smaller nonprofits often choose cash-based accounting methods and budgeting, while nonprofits receiving multi-year funding may find accrual methods work best.

Budget Checklist

As you begin your annual budget cycle, the following checklist of nonprofit best practices for budgeting may be helpful.

  • Set and follow a timeline: To complete your annual budget in a timely manner, it’s important to create a reasonable timeline with deadlines, milestones, and checkpoints for your staff. Make sure you allow adequate time for budget reviews and feedback.
  • Agree on goals: Plans for each department, which include stated goals and how they relate to the nonprofit mission, should be included in the budgets. Gain agreement on which programs and activities will proceed before you start the budgeting process.
  • Review current year budgets and actuals: Check your current budget and actual against the budget. This will help you set the new budget.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities: Each group should determine who will build the budget, who will review, and how the money will be allocated. The accounting department should also establish procedures for budget review and approval.
  • Draft income and expense budgets: Build out your drafts and share them for feedback.
  • Review process and approval: Leave plenty of time to share the drafts with the appropriate organizational leaders for review and approval.
  • Document approved budgets: Document the approved final budgets. Implement the final versions and assign people to monitor them.

Free Resources

Did you know that the National Council of Nonprofits has an abundance of articles, white papers, checklists, and a downloadable guide to assist with nonprofit budgeting? Take a look at their complete list on the National Council of Nonprofits website.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company is a certified public accounting firm serving the greater Washington D.C. area and the Eastern seaboard. We offer consulting services, auditing, and software selection to help nonprofits with their accounting needs. Contact us today for more information or assistance.

Overview of Internal Controls for Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations aren’t immune to fraud. The Washington Post found that among approximately 1,000 nonprofits, losses due to fraud, theft, and embezzlement amounted to close to half a billion dollars in total.[1]

The report, based on tax returns from over five years in which nonprofits indicated losses due to fraud, is just the tip of the iceberg. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report in 2005 linked 12% of the fraud cases they had studied to nonprofit organizations.[2] No organization is immune to theft.

Among nonprofits, taking funds for personal use is perhaps the most commonly reported theft. And it’s the easiest to prevent. Unlike larger for-profit companies who report intentional errors made on financial reports as their biggest problem, nonprofits face a problem with a clear solution: internal controls.

Among other benefits, internal controls are the safeguard against temptation for your employees and volunteers. While simple in concept and execution, they can prevent many instances of fraud and theft.

publication by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants explains that good internal controls are essential to:

  • Prevent loss through errors, misappropriation of funds, or theft
  • Prevent an “honest” employee from making a mistake that can ruin his or her life
  • Document the responsibility of the board as it safeguards the assets of the NPO
  • Assure that all transactions are properly authorized and recorded

While seemingly time consuming, the simple act of having two people present during the petty cash audit protects both employees and assets—a distinct advantage of using adequate internal controls.

A Clear Definition of Internal Controls

The National Council of Nonprofits defines internal controls as financial management practices systematically used to prevent misuse and misappropriation of assets, such as occurs through theft or embezzlement. Internal controls protect not just assets but reputations, as well. That nonprofit organizations maintain the highest integrity and ethical standards is critical to attract funders.

The objective of internal controls is to put “checks and balances” in place to protect the assets of the organization.

Potential Pitfalls

Once at a holiday party hosted by a University of Texas accounting professor, I found myself standing next to auditing professor Steven Kachelmeier. Using my Dale Carnegie powers of conversation, I engaged Professor Kachelmeier in a discussion of top 10 internal controls for nonprofits. He responded by saying, “Just consider what can go wrong.”

I scoured the internet to find examples of what can go wrong with weak or non-existent internal controls.   The following stories are true and could happen to you.

Situation:   Cash goes missing.

Suppose checks are merely kept in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet. An enterprising employee might take a few checks from the bottom of the stack, forge a signature, and cash them, stealing thousands of dollars before being caught.

Internal Control Solution: Secure the checks with keys held by two different financial managers. Ensure that bank reconciliations are performed by staff with no access to deposits or withdrawals. Bank reconciliation should be prepared monthly, at minimum.

Situation:   Employees add overtime.

A clever payroll employee adds overtime hours to pay himself or herself at time and-a-half.

Internal Control Solution: Timecards should be signed by managers. A second person compares the payroll totals to signed timecards.

Situation:   Fundraising for the wrong pocketbook.

During a fundraiser, a volunteer handled all aspects of the cash ticket sales, including depositing funds and reconciling the bank statement. Occasionally short on cash, she would borrow funds and then pay them back. Until she didn’t pay them back. This well-meaning volunteer “borrowed” around $10,000.   The event intended to be financed by the fundraiser was cancelled.

Internal Control Solution: Anytime cash is involved, the responsibilities should be divided among several people.  At least two people should be present when cash is counted. Separate people should make the deposits and reconcile bank statements.

Internal controls should be clearly documented.

Your policies need to be documented in a procedural manual and authorized by the board or governing authority of the organization. Discovery of theft or an embezzlement and the resulting investigation is hard on the organization internally, and the external damage to the organization’s reputation can cause loss of funding. Additionally, bonding insurance premiums could skyrocket in the event of utilizing the policy due to employee fraud, especially if it could have been prevented by using good internal controls.

Establishing internal controls protects both the organization and the board members, officers, and staff.   For more comprehensive reading, request a copy of our whitepaper, A Guide to Internal Controls for Non-Profit Organizations.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company can help with your nonprofit financial management needs. We are a CPA and business advisory firm dedicated to the nonprofit sector. Our many years of experience can help you update your financial compliance or handle all types of accounting for nonprofits. Please contact Beck & Company today for further details.



Technology Enhances Internal Controls for Nonprofits

Nonprofit accounting audit service company Beck & Company Shares tips for better internal controls

Have you heard the term integrated audit technique? As a nonprofit accounting audit service, we keep our eye on the latest terms and technology available to our clients. Something new that has entered the world of nonprofit audits is the integrated audit technique. We’ll share a little about what that means and what it might mean to you.

Integrated Audit Technique

What is an “integrated audit technique?” It involves the integration of an organization’s manual internal controls with the use of technology to enhance and facilitate controls. Financial and operational areas are typically included in an integrated audit technique.

The idea is to use technology to make the auditing process easier and to help you maintain better oversight and control of your operational and financial budget. Technology cannot replace human oversight when it comes to internal controls, but it can help you flag unusual account activity and other signs that something is amiss.

How Technology Can Enhance Financial Controls

Most new accounting and financial technology offers some level of internal control. Controls currently in place can help you detect misstatements and misdirection used to mask fraud. Some of these actions can cause financial statements to be materially mistaken. At their most basic level, many financial and accounting systems have, for instance, coding built in that alerts you when an account reconciliation is unbalanced or when receivables and bank deposits do not match.

Technology controls are often split between general and application controls. General controls are, as the name suggests, broader and more sweeping in scope. They encompass the organization’s infrastructure and elements such as IT governance, network access, disaster recovery plans, and the like.

Application controls are more specific to the technology in use. When you understand all the application controls built into your system and how they work, you can use them to your advantage.

Areas of Concern

As you review both general and application controls, what should you be aware of? As a firm that provides nonprofit accounting audit services, we’ve seen some instances where an early detection of problems could have prevented many headaches later.

Some items to watch as part of your general financial controls:

  • Accounts payable
  • Inventory
  • Payroll
  • General ledger entries
  • Reporting
  • “Slush funds” or cash boxes (manual control needed rather than technology)

Areas of concern include duplicate entries, unauthorized access, and plain old common mistakes. One or two mistakes are easy to understand, but multiple mistakes made by the same person are cause for concern. This requires investigation, follow up, and potentially re-training and/or monitoring the person to help them correct their mistake.

IT Controls

Information technology is another area where having a solid control process in place is important. The technology behind your organization can help it run efficiently and effectively. The IT department must safeguard that technology. Part of the control process over the IT department includes:

  • Understanding who has access (and why)
  • Careful monitoring of system users
  • Written rules, regulations, and guidelines for technology use
  • Change management processes
  • Identification and routine updates of cybersecurity technology
  • Training for all employees on how to counteract and prevent cyber attacks.

Like financial controls, these are a few areas that nonprofits must manage carefully.

Financial and Technology Controls Need People to Manage It

Both financial and technology controls are important and can be used to help your organization avoid many problems. But the internal control process doesn’t end there. Before a nonprofit accounting audit service works with you, go over all your controls. Make sure that you are actively managing and monitoring controls.

The controls built into financial and accounting software, as well as the overall controls and management systems you put in place over your IT department, must work together to build the security of your organization. With active management and oversight, you can make technology your partner when it comes to audits and internal controls.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company is a certified public accounting firm serving the greater Washington D.C. area and the Eastern seaboard. We offer consulting services, auditing, and software selection to help nonprofits with their accounting needs. Contact us today for more information or assistance.

Accounting for Nonprofits: Close the Book on It!

Preparing Your Books for the End of Year Close

‘Tis the season – the season when nonprofits everywhere start thinking about year-end close. This year, vow that you’ll do all you can to smoothly and efficiently close the books with minimal stress to your accountant. Accountants everywhere thank you.

In all seriousness, there are many reasons why doing a good job preparing your books for the end of year close is important. Without closing your books for the year, you’ll have no idea if your nonprofit was profitable or not. Closing the books and reconciling them means that you’ve tallied up everything for the end of the year, put a period or end point on it, and start with a fresh slate in the new year.

Register for this Webinar Now: The Modern Day General Ledger – Leveraging Cloud Technology for Nonprofit Accounting.

Closing the accounts for the year reset the revenue and expense lines to zero. These ‘temporary’ accounts are now ready for the new year, a clean slate, and a new eye to profitability. Without closing your books, you’ll have a muddle of data to assess, and you won’t get a clear picture on how well your organization achieves its financial goals during the year.

Accounting for Nonprofits: Tips for Success

There are certain steps you can take to successfully close your books for the end of the year. This includes:

  • Keep your accounts updated: Schedule time monthly to reconcile expenses and income. If you let it all pile up to the end of the year, it will feel overwhelming. There’s also more of a chance to make mistakes and forget items.
  • Create a checklist: A detailed and thorough checklist that details every step for your year-end close is a helpful resource. Such a process can guide you through the close out each year and save time.
  • Ask questions during the year: Hopefully, you have a great certified nonprofit accountants to work with, someone who knows your nonprofit and is open to questions. Don’t let questions delay your routine accounting practices. Ask questions throughout the year so that you don’t let mistakes proliferate.
  • Schedule plenty of time for your audit: Dovetail your end of year close with audit prep, but leave plenty of time for your audit. By doing both at the same time – audit prep and end of year close – you’ll be well-prepared for the new year.

Pay Bills, Lower Receivables

Another useful end of year task to tackle before reconciling and closing your books is to pay off any outstanding invoices so that you carry fewer into the new year. You should also review your accounts receivable file, and attempt to collect any past due invoices. You can certainly carry these over, but it is always a good idea to avoid open receivables. The fewer receivables you have, the more income your nonprofit has at the ready.

While closing out your books may not be top of mind as you celebrate the holidays, tackle the tasks early enough in the month so that you can get them done while people remain in the office. Note when your accounting team may be taking time off to travel or celebrate the holidays, and work around their schedules. You can complete your end of year close with plenty of time to enjoy the festivities of the season.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company provides nonprofit accounting and audit services in Washington, D.C and Virginia. Founded in 1987, we specialize in the world of nonprofit institutions, helping them to navigate the complex world of finance and accounting. Our services are always personalized, and cost-effective for your institution. We welcome your inquiry or call.  Contact us today or call 703-834-0776 x 8001.

New Mobile App Helps Nonprofits Reach Potential Donors

If you’re like many nonprofits, your mailing list and email list is bulging with inactive accounts. These are people who, for whatever reason, signed up to receive messages from your organization but who haven’t donated in a while. They may still be interested in your cause or your activities, but you can’t be sure. Yet removing them from your lists seems counter-intuitive. After all, you worked hard to attract them in the first place.

A new mobile app, called LetsAllDoGood, promises to change that dynamic and reach inactive list members via their smartphones. According to the Pew Center for Internet Research and Technology, 68% of all adults own a smartphone, and that number is anticipated to climb until smartphones become as ubiquitous as wristwatches. LetsAllDoGood capitalizes on this phenomenon by offering an app that pushes partner notifications out to people who have downloaded the app.

How It Works

The app works on the same principle as Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. There’s a constant barrage of communications available, and the average person doesn’t read most of their emails. Instead, they scan headlines and top news to find out what is going on. Sites like Facebook offer messenger apps and alerts that push notifications from the system to a user’s desktop, tablet or phone. LetsAllDoGood works by the same principle.

Users installs the app on their smartphone. LetsAllDoGood signs up nonprofits, who then feed messages out from their organization. The app “pushes” these messages out, which pop up on the screen of the smartphone. It instantly cuts through the clutter.

The app bridges the gap between email, social media, and the users. Each helps communicate important updates with your constituents, but may not reach everyone all the time. It would be wonderful if people opened and clicked on emails to read stories, but they don’t. With the app, messages are pushed right onto the screen, making sure that people see them. This makes it easier to click and read more, click and donate, or share with others.

How the App Can Help You Reach Donors

Some of the people on your current list may be receiving your emails and donation requests, but may not open them. Gmail, for example, pushes what it perceives as advertising or promotional emails into a separate folder, thus hiding them from the average user who scrolls through their list of active emails for important messages. Your email messages may be relegated to this or other folders on many systems.

LetsAllDoGood changes this dynamic by enabling pop up messages on phones. Most people are glued to their smartphones anyway, using them for everything from online banking to finding a restaurant. It’s a simple step to make a donation from their phone using the app. A crisis call for funds, a special event and other triggers can be more successful using the app.

Nonprofits and Tech: The Trend Continues

This mobile app is just another in a long string of technology trends affecting nonprofit organizations. Using email marketing, social media, and other web-based applications and systems to generate interest, enthusiasm and awareness for your mission continues the communication in new and exciting ways.

Until then, learn about LetsAllDoGood on the company’s website. It is free for nonprofits to partner with LetsAllDoGood.

The technology works on Apple products only at the moment. It is expected to be available on Google Play soon.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company is an independent certified public accounting firm located in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1987, we specialize in the world of nonprofit institutions, helping them to navigate the complex world of finance and accounting. Our services are always personalized, and cost-effective for your institution. We welcome your inquiry or call.  Contact us today or call 703-834-0776 x 8001.

Add Processes to Improve Nonprofit Operational Efficiencies

Nonprofit Financial Management for Improved Performance by Adding Process Roadmaps

How many times have you started on a project or a task only to have that sense of déjà vu? Perhaps you had to perform that task last year, or a similar task last month. Unless you documented how you went about performing this task, however, it’s unlikely that you’ll remember the exact steps. That leads to duplicate efforts and re-creating the same task over and over again. In other words, you end up reinventing the wheel.

Many nonprofits fall into this trap simply because they are under-staffed. Their current staff is busy completing their assigned task lists, thinking ahead to next month, serving constituents, and doing all of the myriad tasks it takes to keep a healthy nonprofit organization humming along. It can be difficult to carve out time to draft a process roadmap, and still even more difficult to develop a plan to store such roadmaps and transmit them to others during the employee onboarding process. Still, without such roadmaps in place, valuable time is wasted. Nonprofit financial management can improve operational efficiencies by creating a process roadmap.

What Is a Process Roadmap?

Roadmaps are going the way of the telephone book, but they still provide a good analogy for documents around the office. A process roadmap maps out the path from start to finish that you take in order to complete a task. It includes vital information such as who performs which task in the process, what resources may be needed, and when the task should be completed.

Such a document need not be lengthy or cumbersome. In fact, the simpler and easier it is to read and understand, the better. Some companies require process documents to be one page or less to ensure they are as simple as can be.

Once a process is documented, it can then be replicated by anyone in the organization or delegated to someone outside of the organization. It is a great time saver after the initial time is invested into creating the document.

Uses of Process Maps for Nonprofit Financial Management

Let’s take a look at two common tasks nonprofits face and how process roadmaps can help:

  1. Annual charity event: Many nonprofits hold annual fund-raising events such as golf tournaments, sales, open houses, and the like. These events are frequently process-driven and require that multiple people pitch in and ready things for the date of the event. The date is usually set far in advance, so that a timeline can be easily mapped out from the event date back to the first tasks in the process, such as securing the venue. When a process map is in place for an annual event, it can be delegated to multiple staff members, volunteers, or outsourced partners.
  2. Audits: An annual financial audit is another event that can be transformed with a basic process in place and mapped out. You know when the audit will take place, and which documents must be gathered for the auditors. Specific resources may need to be earmarked for the auditing process, such as conference rooms reserved, personnel available, files organized and so on. Once a process is mapped and in place, the audit can go smoothly each year if the process is followed.

Organizing Your Processes

The most efficient way to organize processes is to create a template. The template can include:

  1. Name of the process
  2. Date when the draft was created
  3. A brief explanation of the process
  4. Goals and outcomes
  5. Timeline and deadlines
  6. Materials or other things needed
  7. Step by step instructions, tagged with the role assigned to each step.
  8. List of resources

A shared network drive or cloud-based system such as Google Docs, free to use with a standard (and free) Google account, makes it easy to organize all of your processes and provide access to staff at any given time.

Include Training

Lastly, be sure to include some basic training once the processes are in place. A process can only be used if it’s efficient and if people are aware it exists. Training familiarizes everyone with the steps in the process and provides a valuable opportunity for feedback to adjust the process.

Having your most important projects and events mapped out using a process roadmap saves you a great deal of time and effort. It enables you to transfer knowledge to new employees or volunteers and to smoothly and successfully navigate the path yet again. It is a great tool for organizational efficiency.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company is an independent certified public accounting firm located in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1987, we specialize in the world of nonprofit financial management, helping you to navigate the complex world of finance and accounting. Our services are always personalized, and cost-effective for your institution. We welcome your inquiry or call.  Contact us today or call 703-834-0776 x 8001.

Nonprofit Financial Management Tips [Free Webinar]

Why Nonprofits Need to Learn More About ASC 606 and IRFS 15

Nonprofit financial management includes keeping abreast of FASB changes, and examining your accounting methods to ensure they coincide with the latest recommendations. In May 2014, FASB issued Topic 606: Revenue from Contracts with Customers. In it, plans were unveiled to require all entities, both public and private, to change how they accounted for revenues. Revenues were to be recognized when the entity satisfied the performance obligation with the customer. This usually means that when goods or services are transferred to the customer, the revenue can be recognized.

While much of the work of a nonprofit doesn’t fall under the new ruling, some of it might, which is why you should pay attention to the changes and evaluate your revenues accordingly. Activities typical of a nonprofit that might be considered under the new ruling include membership fees, conferences and seminars, subscriptions, tuition, products and services, advertising, licensing, sponsorships, royalty agreements, and federal and state grants and contracts.

Nonprofits seeking to learn more about the law should sign up for the forthcoming seminar from Intacct: The Impacts of ASC 606 on Subscription Businesses. This webinar will take place on Thursday, November 3rd at 11 a.m. PST/ 2 p.m. EST.

If you are currently using spreadsheets to manage your accounting, it will be almost impossible to comply with this law and IRFS 15 compliance, the effects of which will begin in December 2016.

The webinar is led by Tony Sondhi, a member of FASB’s Emerging Issues Task Force and an expert on revenue recognition. This is a unique opportunity not only to learn first-hand about 606 and IRFS 15 compliance but to learn from a well-known expert and member of the FASB task force.

At this seminar, you will learn more about the changes begun by these rulings, as well as information on how you can interpret and implement them for your organization. You will also learn more about the financial risks for subscription businesses. Many membership organizations rely upon a subscription model, which is directly impacted by these rulings.

According to the FASB document, “The core principle is that an entity should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of 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.”

The AICPA has put together a good paper that outlines the requirements and delineates the steps to take under each. There are five basic steps to comply with the new regulation:

  1. Identify the contract with the customer.
  2. Identify the performance obligation within the contract.
  3. Determine the transaction price.
  4. Allocate the transaction price.
  5. Recognize the revenue when the entity satisfies the transaction.

Typically, step 5 occurs when goods or services are delivered satisfactorily to the customer.

The goal, of course, is to protect customers and to make it simpler and clearer for entities to recognize revenues. Many organizations are already using similar protocols, and for those organizations, making adjustments to satisfy the requirements should be simply. For others, it may take a deeper look at the way they are recognizing revenues, and shifting some of their processes.

Do You Need to Make Adjustments?

All nonprofits should assess their accounting practices and see how their revenue streams compare to the new rules. Organizations should also consider what, if any, impact this may have on their financial statements. It is a wise move as part of nonprofit financial management.

Keeping Abreast of FASB Changes

We have previously shared details of the proposed FASB changes taking effect in 2016. Any changes that impact your business should be noted and researched as soon as possible. Nonprofits, like other business entities, must comply with all requirements. Failing to do so can put your nonprofit at risk for losing its nonprofit status. You also risk falling behind in compliance issues, an important part of accurate nonprofit financial management.

More seminars are available to provide updates on various issues pertaining to accounting and nonprofit accounting and finance. You may view our complete list online.

Beck & Company

Beck & Company is an independent certified public accounting firm located in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1987, we specialize in the world of nonprofit institutions, helping them to navigate the complex world of finance and accounting. Our services are always personalized, and cost-effective for your institution. We welcome your inquiry or call.  Contact us today or call 703-834-0776 x 8001.

Reacting to the Unexpected: Filling Senior Accounting Roles

It’s the phone call nobody wants to receive: a senior level staff member at your nonprofit organization has a personal emergency or has fallen ill and is in the hospital. Not only are you worried about them, but you’re also worried about fulfilling their obligations in light of an impending annual audit or year-end close. There’s a lot to do and you’re short a critical staff member’s talents.

While your team member is recovering or dealing with personal issues, you can fill that vacancy in several ways. The first thing to remember is that no matter how stressful things seem, there’s always a way to solve a problem. You can’t replace someone, but you can fill a vacancy.

Replacing Senior Financial Positions

Your organization’s controller, chief financial officer, or other senior-level accounting or finance person is likely responsible for many tasks. She is responsible for overseeing the accounting and finance teams, for apportioning funds, and for general fund accounting. She may be responsible for investments and for leading the end of year close or audit. All of these tasks are vital for the health and well-being of your organization.

First, decide how long you’re going to need someone for the temporary vacancy. If it’s just for a few days, someone from within the department is likely able to step in and lead open projects. If it’s weeks or months, however, you’ll need something more permanent to keep the work moving along.

Consider whether or not a consulting firm can fill the gap. Consultants offer many advantages over temporarily replacing an open position. A consulting firm can offer expert advice and insights that not only help you over the current bump but may provide long-lasting benefits for your organization.

You have several options to fill the gap left by an unexpected vacancy. You can:

  • Temporarily promote from within: Is there someone on the current team who can step into the role, even if it’s just temporary? Often you’ve got a star player already on the team who understands what needs to be done and who can lead the charge. Look within first to see if anyone fits the bill.
  • Work with a placement firm: Some placement first specialize in filling temporary finance positions. These firms screen senior and mid-level executives for you, and can find a consultant to fill the role. It may take that person a few days to fully understand the organization, and there may be cultural gaps as they learn the ropes at your nonprofit, but this can be a good measure if the position will be vacant for several weeks or months.
  • Hire a consulting firm: Firms such as Beck & Company can step in and lead the team temporarily. We can help you prepare for end of year close, a nonprofit audit, or an upcoming board meeting. We work as business consultants as well as accountants and have a team of CPAs, financial and business experts in the nonprofit world, ready to work with you.

At Beck & Company, we can help you get back on your feet when an unexpected vacancy stops progress on accounting and business projects. We can help you sort through the stress of an impending audit or help you figure out what needs to get done. Our consultants specialize in the world of nonprofits. We provide independent auditing, accounting, tax services, and consulting to help keep your organization’s finances running smoothly. Fund accounting is just one of our many specialties. Contact us today or call 703-834-0776 ext. 8001.

Outsourcing to Boost Operational Efficiencies

“You can’t be everything to everyone.”

Have you heard that saying? It’s an old proverb that has a deep ring of truth to it.

Many people try to cut corners and save money by doing everything themselves. Sooner or later, however, you realize that you can’t do everything well. By trying to be everything to everybody, you fail to be the best you can be in one specialty area. Your organization can suffer as a result.

Nonprofits often suffer from this problem. Founders try to handle their marketing, fundraising, and operations, as well as the mission of the nonprofit. Faced with ever-increasing duties, burnout is common as too many tasks pack into the same 24 hours. And since you can’t be great at everything you set your hand to in a given day, something, somewhere, has to give.

The Flip Side: Hiring Too Many People

Faced with such a dilemma, many nonprofits turn instead to hiring people to fill specialized roles. They hire someone to handle fundraising, and someone else to manage grants. Before long, they have many employees, but now feel the pinch of not enough cash because it’s all going to salaries. While they’re getting more work done, efficiencies suffer as organizations become staff-heavy.

What’s a nonprofit manager to do?

Outsourcing for Operational Efficiencies

Outsourcing is a great option for nonprofits to improve operational efficiencies. In today’s virtual, digital world, you can outsource almost any role at your nonprofit. Of course, the actual work that you do may be hands-on; visiting nurses must still care for patients, teachers must teach, and an animal shelter has animals that need to be fed. But many other roles, like communications, marketing, fundraising, and even accounting can be outsourced.

Outsourcing improves operational efficiencies by:

  • Reducing overhead and staff redundancies.
  • Finding and working with highly experienced specialists in their respective disciplines.
  • Offering flexibility so that you can tap into expertise when you need it, rather than hiring someone full time.
  • Providing access to top talent without the expense and time of recruiting, hiring, and training.

Outsourcing provides you with the flexibility to find and work with the best people in the nonprofit world. It also frees up your time so that you can focus on what’s critical to your organization.

Everyone’s core strengths are different. When you can work solely with your own strengths and outsource other tasks to someone else, your entire organization benefits. Not only is your time better spent on what you do well, but you can tap into a wealth of information and experience when you outsource specialized tasks.

Finding the Right Outsourcing Partner

Once you’ve made up your mind to find a company to outsource work to, it’s time to make some phone calls or emails. You can find potential vendors through a variety of channels.

  • Ask other nonprofits for recommendations. Many are happy to help out a fellow organization by recommending great companies, consultants, or individuals to you.
  • Review trade association memberships. Many associations include fine companies that provide outsourced services to nonprofits.
  • Search online. Be sure to read testimonials, case studies, and other third-party reviews of the organization.

Evaluate several companies so that you have an apples-to-apples comparison of their experience, approach, and other critical information about how they work and how they approach their projects.

Outsourcing is a great option for finding experienced professionals to help you with tasks that aren’t your strong suit. It can save time as well as add value to your organization. Whether you outsource fundraising, grant writing, or accounting, finding a great outsourcing partner is a step in the right direction.

Measure Your Results

How do you know that your nonprofit is working efficiently? Measure your outcomes. Leading nonprofits use outcome measures to demonstrate success to donors and stakeholders. Learn more about specific outcome metrics for nonprofits at this free webinar, Outcome Measures: Metrics that Matter for Nonprofits held Friday, September 16 at 2 PM ET.

Beck & Company

Established in 1987, Beck & Company is a CPA firm serving the Washington, D.C. and Eastern Seaboard area. Our services are personalized to your organization’s needs. We provide independent auditing, accounting, tax services, and consulting to help keep your organization’s finances running smoothly. Fund accounting is just one of our many specialties. Contact us today or call 703-834-0776