For many nonprofits, maintaining a full in-house accounting staff is too costly. Instead, many nonprofits often assign accounting functions to an employee who has other administrative duties, or in other organizations, key-decision makers will take on the role for themselves instead of delegating those projects to a professional accountant.
Leaving your accounting functions up to a team member who lacks an accounting background may cost your business much more in the long run. Quality of work, time and money are all at stake.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a full-time accountant, consider outsourcing your accounting functions altogether. Outsourcing provides the same assurance and quality as hiring an accountant for your business at a fraction of the cost. Having someone on your side with a background in accounting can help your nonprofit streamline processes to gain efficiencies and reduce costs, allowing your organization to focus on programmatic goals that further your mission.
SO, HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACCOUNTING FIRM?
- EVALUATE YOUR OUTSOURCED ACCOUNTANT LIKE YOU WOULD A POTENTIAL EMPLOYEE. Think carefully about their experience and take time to reach out to references and past clients to get an understanding of how they provide services.
- KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR OUTSOURCED ACCOUNTANT. Outsourcing doesn’t mean sacrificing all control. The best way to ensure that everything is being handled properly is to communicate with the accountants. If you’ve picked a reputable firm, the chances are that their team members will strive to maintain contact with you in the first place. This also opens the window for your outsourced accountants to provide insight into ways your organization may be able to improve what you are already doing.
- CONSIDER THE PROCEDURES THE ACCOUNTING FIRM USES TO SHARE INFORMATION. There are two aspects of information sharing to consider: responsiveness and security. Ask questions to determine if your data will be secure and if communication processes are in line with the way your own business operates.
MEET THE EXPERT
Donna Conte is a Principal in Warren Averett’s Finance Team Support Division and the Service Area Leader for the firm’s Accounting Services Division. She has more than 20 years of experience in small business advisory, taxation and outsourced services.