What you don’t know will hurt you, sooner or later. Nonprofit organizations are supposed to follow state and federal finance laws and use accepted accounting procedures. Board members are legally responsible to make sure ensure their organizations are in compliance with those regulations and filings. But all too often this is the stuff that gets pushed to the corner of the desk; the consequences can be dire and expensive at worst and a first class pain in the butt at the very least.
Nonprofit accounting and the 990 are very special animals and can require specific knowledge that not all bookkeepers, accountants or executive directors may have. To best avoid having to fix something, re-file and go backwards with records- more time away from your mission- review this list and find help before something you didn’t know hurts you.
Below are the top reasons nonprofits can get into trouble with their accounting:
- Having Inadequate books and records,
- Filing and incomplete or incorrect Form 990,
- Failure to report changes in officers or operations to the IRS,
- Treating employees as independent contractors, avoiding payroll taxes,
- Non-compliance with your state’s requirement to register as nonprofit and pay fees annually,
- Improper, incomplete or not timely donor receipts and proper disclosure statements.
None of these needs to be a surprise or emergency, but often seem that way. Take the time to get the books set up properly, find someone that knows what they are doing for the complicated stuff and don’t procrastinate on the bureaucratic stuff. It may be tedious but isn’t it nice when you know that it is done?