Price Paige is a CalCPA 100% Firm, which means that all of their CPAs are CalCPA members. The California Society of CPAs is an organization dedicated to increasing the value and promoting the integrity of the CPA profession. Membership with CalCPA is a mark of competence in the industry, and indicates that an accountant is continuing their education and staying abreast of issues in the accounting field.

As a 100% Firm, Price Paige has been named as one of the Top 150 Firms in California, and we are number three in the Fresno area of firms comparable to our size. We are proud to be a part of this organization, and to utilize the support tools within it to better serve our clients.

Financial statement audits are not just a compliance exercise, but also an opportunity to gain knowledge that can generate positive business results, according to a new survey.

In many cases, though, companies are not taking full advantage of the insights that audits provide, a survey of 300 executives and 100 audit committee members by Deloitte’s US audit practice revealed.

According to the survey report, which was published Wednesday:

  • More than three-fourths (79%) of executives and 91% of audit committee members say financial statement audits identify opportunities to improve business performance.
  • Almost half (46%) of executives and even more audit committee members (62%) say it’s at least somewhat likely that they would have missed important insights if the audit had not occurred.
  • Companies that regularly capitalize on information received from the audit are more likely to have achieved growth over the past three to five years that survey respondents consider “good” or “great.”


“Obviously quality is the foundation here. We’ve always got to do a good, quality audit to start with,” said Adam Weissenberg, CPA, the national managing audit partner-Clients & Industries for Deloitte & Touche LLP.

“If we’re also providing insights and using that as a way to help the company know about some things they didn’t know about, that should be a valuable piece of the audit, and our client would value that.”

Through audits, companies may learn new information about their industry and market, discover shortcomings in processes and policies, and identify inefficiencies and risks. Increased use of data analytics is helping auditors
look at large pools of data in a variety of areas to find information that could be helpful to clients.

Whether it’s journal entry testing, analyzing contents of many leases across a company, or gleaning information from multiple contracts, data analytics is giving auditors the ability to find anomalies and discover inefficiencies that might have remained hidden in the past. These insights can provide important information for audit clients to act on.

Nonetheless, financial statement audits often represent a missed opportunity for companies. More than one out of every three companies (35%) rarely or never use the information received from their financial statement audits to improve their business, according to the Deloitte survey. About half of executives (45%) and audit committee members (48%) whose companies don’t always use information from their audits do not have processes in place to make use of the insights that can be taken from an audit.

Weissenberg suggested that auditors, management, and audit committees can use the following tactics to make sure the client derives maximum value from the audit: Communicate. Management, audit committees, and auditors need to make sure they communicate frequently to make sure the company is aware of and taking advantage of the insights that auditors discover. By following up and checking in with management and the audit committee, auditors can make sure that their insights have been understood.

Train auditors on judgment and communication. ‘We have to continue to work on [developing] the skills in our teams so that they can deliver on this, they have the ability to communicate effectively, they have the ability to
take all these analytics and innovation that we’ve done and discern from that what kind of information
is important to share with the audit committees,” Weissenberg said.

The survey offers good news for those who continuously strive to make the quality of audits as high as possible, as 83% of executives and 83% of audit committee members rated the reliability of information provided during an audit as good, very good, or excellent.

“There’s an inherent trust that the auditors are doing their job,” Weissenberg said, “and that the auditors are doing a good, quality audit, and that audit committees would look at us as an independent source in doing what we’re supposed to do.”

−Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com (mailto:Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com)) is a JofA editorial director
© 2017 Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. All rights reserved.

Included below is a summary of applicable Federal and State payroll tax rates and rules for your reference.

REPORT OF NEW EMPLOYEES (DE 34)

You must report all newly hired or rehired employees within 20 days of the start-of-work date. If an employee returns to work after a layoff or leave of absence and is required to complete a new IRS Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (Form W-4), you must report the employee as a new hire. If the returning employee had been separated or removed from payroll records for at least 60 consecutive days, then you need to report the employee as a rehire.

All employers are required by law to report all newly hired or rehired employees to the New Employee Registry (NER) within 20 days of their start-of-work date, which is the first day services were performed for wages, NEWLY HIRED employees are those individuals who have not previously been included on your payroll. REHIRED employees are those individuals who were previously included on your payroll, left your employment, and were rehired after a separation of at least 60 consecutive days. The NER assists California’s Department of Child Support Services and Department of Justice in locating parents to collect delinquent child support payments. Employers must also report the actual start-of-work date (not the date hired) for each newly hired or rehired employee so that the NER data can be cross-matched to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit payment file. This will result in the early detection and prevention of UI benefit overpayments.

The following options are available to report new or rehired employees:

  1. File online at https://eddservices.edd.ca.gov. It’s fast, easy, and secure.
  2. Obtain DE 34 forms from the EDD website at www.edd.ca.gov/forms.

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS (DE542)

Independent contractor information must be reported to the EDD within 20 days of either making payments totaling $600 or more, or entering into a contract for $600 or more with an independent contractor in any calendar year, whichever occurs first. This is in addition to your requirement to report the total annual payments to the Internal Revenue Service on a Form 1099-MISC after the close of the calendar year.

Any business or government entity that is required to file a Federal Form 1099-MISC for personal services performed must also report specific information to the EDD regarding any independent contractor providing services to you or your business. The Independent Contractor Reporting (ICR) information assists California’s Department of Child Support Services and Department of Justice in locating parents for the purpose of collecting delinquent child support. An independent contractor is an individual who is not a common law or statutory employee of a business/government entity for California purposes and who receives compensation for or executes a contract for services performed for a business/government entity, either in or outside of California.

Filing Options for Reporting Independent Contractors:

  1. File online at https://eddservices.edd.ca.gov.
  2. Obtain DE 542 forms from the EDD website at www.edd.ca.gov/forms.

Call the Employment Development Department at (888) 745-3886 with any questions you may have.


PAYROLL TAX RATES & RULES


(1) & (2) See Deposit Requirements below
** Amount is based on 2016 subject wages
*** See Payroll Update below

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER VERIFICATION

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers employers and authorized agents a service for verifying employees’ Social Security Number (SSN). For information on how to access the SSA’s SSN verification service, access the SSA’s website at www.ssa.gov/employer/ssnv.htm or contact your local SSA office.


DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS

Monthly Rule – Deposit taxes due on a calendar-month payroll by the 15th day of the following month.

Semi-weekly Rule – For payroll paid on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, deposit taxes by the following Wednesday. For payroll paid on Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, deposit taxes by the following Friday. For additional information, refer to the 2017 Circular E.

Generally, whatever method you follow to make federal deposits will be the same method you use for state purposes. Employers who deposit on a monthly basis for federal purposes and who meet the State PIT threshold of $350 must remit both PIT and SDI withholdings on the payroll tax deposit coupon (DE-88) by the 15th of the following month. State deposits are generally due at the same time as federal deposits. The PIT threshold for those employers who deposit quarterly is $350. For additional information refer to the rules contained in the 2017 California Employer’s Guide.


EDD UPDATE

In August 2015, California passed Assembly Bill 1245 requiring employers to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). This e-file and e-pay mandate will be phased in as follows:

  • Effective January 1, 2017, employers with 10 or more employees are required to electronically file and pay.
  • Effective January 1, 2018, all employers are required to electronically file and pay. Any employer required under existing law to electronically submit wage reports and/orelectronic funds transfer to the EDD will remain subject to those requirements. Feel free to call our firm if you have any questions.

The IRS is warning taxpayers and practitioners that a new scam uses fraudulent CP2000s to solicit money from taxpayers. The fraudulent forms look convincing, and shows balances due that are small enough that taxpayers just might pay rather than arguing the point.

However, upon closer inspection, these forms have telltale signs of fraud:

  • The instructions direct the taxpayer to make out a check to “I.R.S.” rather than to “United States Treasury;” and
  • The return address is “Austin Processing Center, P.O. Box 15264, Austin, TX 78761- 5264,” which does not match the address listed on the IRS website for the Austin Processing Center.

Tax practitioners should advise clients to contact them if any unexpected balance due arrives from the IRS, so that the correspondence can be verified.

The IRS has not yet posted an alert about this phishing scam variation, but information is forthcoming and it will be available at the following page:
www.irs.gov/uac/latest-news

If you receive a CP2000 from the IRS or you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact our office.


Many not-for-profits are transacting business with new electronic platforms that may leave them increasingly vulnerable to being hacked, said Michael Forster, CPA, CGMA, the CFO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. (Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images)

Not-for-profit executives and finance teams – and the boards that oversee those organizations – are facing challenging times.

In addition to the uncertainty of the upcoming U.S. election, they are confronting significant cybersecurity threats and preparing for the issuance of a new FASB Standard on not-for-profit financial statements.

“We talk about a tug-of-war when it comes to managing and balancing how we allocate resources amid the various competing needs in an organization,” said Michael Forster, CA CGMA, and the CFO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Amid the uncertainty, for-for-profits need steady leadership from executives, finance teams, and governance bodies to continue their charitable work.

Here are six points for not-for-profit leaders and board members to consider, as articulated by finance executives at the AICPA Not-for Profit Industry Conference earlier this summer, as they try to plot a steady course in turbulent times.

Prepare for New Financial Statement Rules. FASB soon will issue a new standard providing guidance for not-for-profit financial statements.

The new rules will update the not-for-profit financial reporting model, reducing the categories of new asset classification from three to two. The standard will be designed to improve information for financial statement users about financial performance, cash flows, and liquidity, and to better enable not-for-profits to “tell your story.”

Implementation may be difficult for some organizations. “We will have our hands full,” Forster said.

“We will see significant change in presentation formats for our financial statements,” he said. “The new asset classes on the statement of financial positon are changing, along with a number of different presentations and disclosure requirements related to the statement of activities.”

The standard will require an analytical and methodical approach form finance teams, Forster said. He said it’s a good idea for CFOs and their teams to:

  • Look carefully at both their financial statement structure and their information systems structure.
  • Analyze how they capture data and how their data are organized.
  • Decide how they are going to deliver the data into new reporting formats to make sure they conform to the new standard’s requirements.

Maintain Focus on Cybersecurity. An emerging threat are hackers who will take over an organization’s systems, render it inoperable and hold it for ransom.

“People are hacking every single day,” said Stephen Howell, CPA, and CGMA, chief financial and administrative officer at The Nature Conservancy in Washington. “I think all you can do is hire good people, stay on top of it and then have contingency plans to deal with when one of these attacks happen.”

Employees are particularly vulnerable to hacking when they travel internationally, said John Kroll, CPA, senior adviser for finance and administration at the University of Chicago. When personnel from the national labs run by the university travel outside the country, they turn in their laptops to IT specialists for analysis before and after their trips.

“We do instruct people that when you do go overseas, there’s no question about it. You are going to get hacked,” Kroll said.

Many not-for-profits are transacting business with new electronic platforms that may leave them increasingly vulnerable to being hacked, Forster said. With new external-facing web applications, not-for-profits are accepting credit card payments form mobile phones and tablets.

The data involved in the transactions include donors’ financial and personal information.

“It’s imperative for us to make sure that as we collect it and store it, we do it in a prudent way, because there are downside ramifications, if that is hacked, for what you’re responsible for,” Forster said.

Forster said finance leaders may want to consider exploring outsourcing with “security-as-a- service” options that are similar to popular “software-as-a-service” models. In addition, he advised scrutinizing general liability insurance coverage to see whether it adequately covers information related to credit cards and bank card information.

If not, Forster said, it may be prudent to purchase additional insurance.

“We did that”, Howell said. “I think if you can afford it, it’s a smart move. Right now it’s not that expensive.”

Stay Calm Amid Economic Fluctuations. Within weeks of the stinging blow the world’s financial markets felt from the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote to split with the European Union, U.S. stock indexes rebounded to record highs.

The globalization of the world’s economy has created a roller coaster ride unlike anything finance executives have seen before, Forster said. This is a challenge for not-for-profits that are managing endowments and investments.

“We can’t think about our economy the way we used to think about it,” Forster said. “Thirty – and 40-year economic cycles are irrelevant because it’s different.”

Kroll said it makes sense to be patient during times of global economic turmoil.

“In terms of endowments, our approach has been to not panic,” he said. “We’re simply letting it ride itself out. We did that in 2008. It took a while, but it worked itself out.”

Opportunities Remain. Despite all the challenges, finance organizations have many opportunities to create positive results at not-for-profits.

Forster pays close attention to the cash-in, cash-out cycle to maximize the return on his organization’s money.

“Making sure we get it in as quickly as possible and spend it as late as possible without being late is what I’m doing to try to optimize,” he said. “One of the key benefits to our organization is all about whether we’re getting a little bit of interest or a little bit of return on our money, and obviously we can do that at a higher clip.”

Many not-for-profits also may be looking for costs savings as potential donors continue to struggle to find funds to contribute in the slow recovery from the financial crisis.

“Cost containment at our not-for-profit is going to be a primary area of focus for the next three years,” Kroll said. “We are currently looking at shared services where you pool everybody’s administrative services into one central area. This approach can be controversial and sometimes tough to do but worth looking at if you want to improve services levels and at the same time save money.”

Vigilance Needed on Gifts. The continual pressure to find new sources of funding may cause development personnel to consider gifts that are outside the norms of what a not-for-profit would ordinarily accept.

This is where having a strong gift-acceptance policy – and sticking to it – is essential.

“There are times when you shouldn’t accept certain types of gifts,” Forster said. “See if it’s actually in your sweet spot and whether it plays to your core competencies, and then figure out how to tactfully push back on your program partners.”

Forster said it’s best to find a way to say, “No, but…” and suggest a different, more acceptable way to work with a donor.

Savings are Critical. In volatile times, building reserves is critically important, Howell said.

He said having ample reserves can help not-for-profits make long-term decisions during short-term crises.

“There’s nothing more expensive for us than having to lay people off and hire them back six months later,” he said. “If you are able to think about building reserves, that’s a great thing. And if you haven’t, think about trying to build some. It helps you get through these volatile times.”

−Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA editorial director

© 2016 Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. All rights reserved.

A strong foundation and structure can help organizations reach their full potential.

By Maria L. Murphy, CPA Journal of Accountancy May 1, 2016

Not-for-profits have different missions and goals than for-profit enterprises do, but both must have the right management team and business practices in place to function and grow.

“In a competitive marketplace, it is no longer sufficient to rely purely on government funds or donations,” said Dorri McWhorter, CPA/CITP, CGMA, and the CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. “The idea of people giving money because they are feeling sorry for others is an outdated notion that can’t be relied upon anymore. There must be leadership that can look at a not-for-profit organization differently to create a value proposition and new revenue streams.”

Funding and staffing constraints and limited management resources can make maintaining strong business practices a challenge in the not-for-profit sector, preventing organizations from reaching their full potential.

Here are eight top business practices that all not-for-profits should consider implementing: GOVERNANCE AND BOARD OVERSIGHT

Management and its governing board must have clarity about roles, responsibilities, and authority. This understanding should be formally documented in the not-for-profit’s policies and procedures and board training materials. Andrew Prather, CPA, CGMA, shareholder, Clark Nuber PS, suggested that a variety of not-for-profit governance philosophies and methods are available for research in books and online and that there is no one right method for all. “Reach out to affiliates and others in your industry, network, or association,” he said. “Talk to like-size organizations that are well run.” Resources for effective board governance include the AICPA Not-for Profit Section and interest area (aicpa.org/NFP), the Carver Policy Governance Model and BoardSource.

Attracting and retaining board members can be a significant issue. Prather recommended that when seeking new board members, the CEO and other board members should provide key areas of expertise needed (e.g., financial, legal, programmatic) based on the organization’s size and what it is trying to accomplish. A nominating committee can create an ongoing, formal recruitment process for existing board members to identify new board members.

It is important to train and educate board members on their responsibilities. The frequency and formality of the training will likely vary depending on the organization’s size and its board members’ backgrounds. CPA firms and other organizations provide resources and training on effective board practices. Training should include organization-specific matters, such as the entity’s programs, activities, mission and philosophy, strategy, finances, and the board’s relationship to the organization and its staff. Other topics that would enhance the ability of board members to fulfill their role include education on responsibilities of boards overall, such as fiduciary responsibility, legal liability, conflicts of interest, and independence; financial, tax, and regulatory matters; risk management; and public relations. Training could also include education on how to be a more effective board member, including interpersonal skills, problem-solving, dealing with conflict, and
personnel relations.


STRATEGIC PLANNING

Many not-for-profits operate without a formal strategic plan or one that only covers 12 months. Prather said that a good strategic plan includes areas of both risk and opportunity and covers the next two to five years. “Most middle-of-the-road charities do fairly well with risk mitigation but poorly with capitalizing on opportunities like growing capacity and achieving their mission,” he said. “Boards look to the CEO to identify opportunities, but the board needs to encourage the CEO to have vision and be mission-directed to make it happen day to day.”

Strategic objectives should be set using a team approach that incorporates every department of the not-for-profit. “Strategic objectives should not all be on the program side,” said Bob Mims, CPA, CGMA, controller and director of investments at Ducks Unlimited Inc. “It is important to form a consensus that includes programming, fundraising, and administrative [financial, IT, legal, human resources] core objectives to ensure buy-in from the whole entity.”


FINANCIAL AND CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

Financial strength is critical for any organization. “Not-for-profit status is a tax strategy, not a business plan,” Mims said. “The need for financial strength can be argued to be on par with mission delivery. If there is not a financially viable organization, there is no mission delivery.”

Most not-for-profits develop annual budgets, but many do not consider building operating reserves or monitoring and forecasting unrestricted net assets and cash flows. “Keep an eye on reserves. At any point in time, you need a long-term strategy for how to ‘right the ship’ from a financial standpoint,” Mims said. “When the economy goes down, typically nonprofits respond by cutting spending in their budgets. Ironically, in falling economies, the mission or program needs become greater for nonprofits. We need a more balanced approach in good years to have and keep budget surpluses for future periods when the economy and philanthropy are down.”

Prather said he encourages not-for-profits to have a policy for setting aside surplus cash to cover seasonal fluctuations and downturns in giving, and for unforeseen events or opportunities that arise. There should be a written operating reserve policy, approved by the board that sets out parameters for how and when the reserves can be used and how they are funded. He suggested discussing recommendations in this are with peers and others in the industry.


DONOR AND CONTRIBUTION MANAGEMENT

Fundraising requires good practices and an investment in people and processes. “It costs money to raise money,” Prather said. “Fundraising is not a free activity and must be funded appropriately. Like a service company, it could take 12 to 18 months to generate any sizable revenues.” Not-for-profits should build relationships with significant givers, which can take additional time. In addition to the AICPA Not-for-Profit Section, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFPNet.org), a national organization with local chapters, can be a resource.

McWhorter and the YWCA created strategic partnerships to connect businesses to their constituents, make the best use of donor relationships, and increase awareness of their mission and values. “Not-for-profits must be able to demonstrate that they are able to deliver value in a number of ways,” she said. “Because funders are being more selective about who they partner with, we must make ourselves attractive on a number of fronts.”

The YWCA held a cross-marketing merchant sales events, launched an e-commerce platform for merchants to sell products, received a percentage of the sales, and introduced merchants to their donors and to each other. They trained construction workers to support a local utility’s workforce needs using a local industrial company’s supplies and introduced local suppliers to that company. McWhorter encourages leaders to look at their organizations differently. “There is a lot of value in an organization, outside of traditional programs and services,” she said. “Consider your different audiences and what could be of value to them.” The YWCA developed a nutritional education program for parents and children, based on one it offered to child care providers, and was able to obtain sponsorship and funding for it from a major food products corporation.

An important element if effective not-for-profit management in this area is a well-crafted gift acceptance policy (see the sidebar, “Gift Acceptance Policy Can Help NFPs Avoid Trouble”).


USE OF TECHNOLOGY

IT investment should be part of the strategic plan. There are many choices for systems and software, including cloud-based resources, available to not-for-profits in areas such as general accounting, donor management, records retention and management reporting. Subscriptions available for a monthly fee may provide hosting, better functionality at a lower cost, and minimal required IT support. In the past several years, the marketplace for cloud-based services has offered better quality at much lower cost. A number of cloud-based service providers offer discounts to not-for-profits.

Risk management and security over financial, donor, and vendor data are critical for not-for- profits, as for all organizations. Prather recommended due diligence to ensure service providers are reputable and able to provide periodic reports on their controls and data security. Much information is available in articles and through CPA firms on controls around use of the cloud and data security.

Not-for-profits must be able to gather new data and report it differently. “Donors, granters, and funders increasingly want to see data and statistics about results and measurable impacts related to an organization’s mission, not just hear that good work is being done,” Prather said. He provided the example of a foster care organization that 10 years ago measured its success in improving the quality of life for children by describing the backpacks and pajamas provided. The organization now additionally describes how its program supports foster children so that their high school graduation rate is on par with the rest of the high school population. “Refining the mission and having the data available to measure results can be challenging,” he said. “The data-gathering process could require new staff and systems.”


NETWORKING AND BENCHMARKING

Not-for-profit managers can learn a lot from sharing information and business practices with peers, CPAs, and other not-for-profits. Mims shared his experience of reviewing the participant list at the first not-for-profit conference he attended over 10 years ago and seeking out other CFOs in his peer group. “I learned of a group of CFOs and joined their ‘environmental round table,’” he said. “We meet several times every year to share best practices on topics like auditors, medical plans, and systems. We have developed friendships over time. Because we are partners and not competitors, we have a sense of accountability and transparency to answer each other’s questions and formulate best practices for our organizations.”

The group has developed an annual benchmark study that it completes, compares with other not-for-profits, and shares with its respective boards.

Useful insights also can be derived from relationships with other not-for-profits in the local community, even if they have different missions.

PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT

Human capital is a significant resource for not-for-profits, but it can be a challenging area. Volunteers frequently make up a significant percentage of the staff, and budgets may limit compensation and training. “People are attracted to working at nonprofits because of their mission delivery, not just profit delivery,” Mims said. “They can spend their career having a good quality of life, along with feeling good about their work.”

McWhorter noted that not-for-profits may not have this mission-driven advantage anymore, as employers in all industries are providing different work experiences to a millennial generation that is seeking more fulfillment at work. She believes that “sentimental leverage” can be lost over time, so it is critical to understand what else drives people. “Create experiences that use their skills and abilities and appeal to their other interests, and provide good compensation,” she said. She recommended investing in an experienced human resources professional, who reports to the CEO. Training should be a high priority, including in leadership skills.

Succession planning is a hot topic. “Many grass-roots organizations are run by a founder or executive director with personal connections to key donors that are critical to fundraising,” Prather said. “As that person gets closer to retirement, it is difficult to discuss. But this should be one of the topics every year for board discussion with the CEO, and one of the key questions to ask the CEO should be ‘Are you planning to leave, and when?'” A plan for a leader’s departure can take years and may be less clear in smaller organizations. A written emergency succession plan should be in place if a leader can no longer fulfill his or her duties. In addition to the AICPA Not-for-Profit Section, the Leadership Network (leadnet.org) and networks in a not-for0profit’s industry area can provide resources on this topic.


MARKETING

Not-for-profits should use marketing only to educate the public about their mission but also to generate funding. “Marketing is extremely important,” McWhorter said. “Redefine marketing and the customer experience, and use their experience lens to determine how you present information and leverage media relationships.” She said not-for-profits should bring the right people together with the right skills, including those from outside the not-for-profit sector, for the most effective marketing.

Not-for-profits can face generational challenges, as new, younger donors may need to be educated about their mission and to volunteer. “Those in their 20s and 30s may not be as big givers as those in their 40s and 50s” Mims said. “They need to be attracted so that they are ready to give when they have the means and passion to give.” Some of the best marketing may be the cheapest because of the potential to use social media to deliver messages.

“Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing,” said Joe Stradinger, CPA (inactive), the CEO and founder of Edge Theory, which helps enterprises use social media for brand messaging. “An organization’s biggest asset is the conversations that influence customers who are not yet looking for them. Websites and search engines are only effective for organizations when people are looking for them. Not-for-profits need to own the conversation but let people talk for them.”

Not-for-profits can “create the conversations” for others by sending out emails (providing the content and asking others to share it); providing content for blogs; and enlisting supporters through social media.


GIFT ACCEPTANCE POLICY CAN HELP NFPs AVOID TROUBLE

Accepting gifts is not as easy for not-for-profits as gratefully taking possession and thanking the donor.

While one charity may advertise that it accepts donations of used cars that have outlived their usefulness, for example, many not-for-profit executives would cringe if a would-be donor left a broken-down jalopy in the parking lot with the keys in the ignition. The value of gifts given in the form of securities or real estate may change over time, and legal or administrative responsibilities associated with some gifts may be costly.

That’s why written gift acceptance policy is a critical component of effective not-for-profit management. Not-for-profits may wish to consult legal counsel for help in developing a gift acceptance policy. Such a policy generally would include guidance for the not-for-profit governing body, officers, staff and other constituents regarding their responsibilities concerning gifts to the organization. It also would provide guidance to prospective donors and their advisers for making gifts.

Gift acceptance policies vary based on the nature and resources of the organization but may include:

  • Explanation of the type of gifts that the organization will accept, conditions for the acceptance of gifts, and what kind of review needs to take place before a gift is accepted.
  • Descriptions of gifts that the organization will not accept, such as gifts that are too challenging to administer, would jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status, do not further the organization’s objectives, or could damage the organization’s reputation.
  • Description of criteria for acknowledgement and donor recognition and details of how such recognition shall be carried out.
  • A clause explaining when legal counsel should be sought in matters relating to acceptance of gifts.More information and a tool that can help not-for-profits create a gift acceptance policy are available to members of the AICPA Not-for-Profit Section at aicpa.org/NFP.─Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a JofA editorial director.

About the Author

Maria L. Murphy (emailmariamurphy@gmail.com) is a freelance writer in Wilmington, N.C.

© 2016 American Institute of CPAs – All Rights Reserved.