All board members share the responsibility for a nonprofit organization’s financial health. The treasurer is an officer of the board. Like other board officers, the treasurer has additional responsibilities. It’s important for the treasurer to manage the financial matters of the nonprofit appropriately. In addition, the treasurer must make sure that fellow officers and volunteers also understand the organization’s financial policies and procedures.
Nonprofit organizations help bring communities together for the benefit of a common cause. Nonprofits that follow all laws and regulations earn the trust and respect of their communities, which means they must be responsible and accountable for the organization’s money management.
The treasurer must be certain that all accounting records and books are up to date at all times to avoid any suspicion of wrongdoing. In addition, most nonprofits limit the length and number of terms their board directors and officers serve, so it’s important for current treasurers to get things ready to transfer duties to a new treasurer. The outgoing treasurer will want to make sure that all financial matters are current and clearly laid out so that it will be a smooth transition for the incoming treasurer.
National nonprofit organizations that have state and local affiliates sometimes have electronic portals set up for financial standardization and accountability. Organizations usually provide training for the treasurer or membership chair in these situations.
Standard Practices for Nonprofit Treasurers
Most nonprofit treasurers find it helpful to keep a calendar of important dates. Automatic electronic notifications help to identify important upcoming tasks.
It’s common for nonprofit organizations to have a policy that the treasurer must deposit checks within a week of their receipt and not receive cash back from the transaction. Another helpful policy is for the treasurer to endorse checks with a statement of “for deposit only to ABC Bank, account #1234” or to use an inked stamp with the same information.
It’s also customary for nonprofit boards to have a policy that the treasurer either receives and reconciles bank statements or has check-writing privileges, but not both.
For the purposes of accountability, it’s good practice for nonprofit organizations to require two signatures, which are usually the signatures of two officers. Most treasurers also require outgoing checks to have a corresponding invoice, receipt or voucher.
Checklist for Nonprofit Treasurers
- There are many annual and regular duties that the treasurer takes care of. The previous treasurer usually does a thorough review of all responsibilities and expectations for the role with the new treasurer before leaving office. Officers of the nonprofit serve as a check and balance to make sure that all legal and fiduciary duties are followed through.
- The annual audit usually takes place around the same time of year. The bylaws will state when it should be done and whether it requires a third-party auditor. The treasurer will want to get this date on the annual calendar and notify other board directors as soon as possible. The treasurer sometimes plays a central role in this duty. At a minimum, the treasurer should be available to answer any questions that arise during the audit.
- Typically, nonprofit boards authorize two officers to have check-signing privileges. As board members leave the board or discontinue as officers, the treasurer must review who has check-signing privileges and alert the board if they need to make changes. This change may require the treasurer to correct the signature cards that the bank has on file for the organization’s bank account.
- The treasurer must keep all transactions current and up to date on an ongoing basis. Anyone needing to obtain current financial information will want accurate information.
- It’s important to have plenty of supplies on hand. A treasurer should take inventory of banking supplies such as checks, deposit slips and the bank stamp.
- The treasurer should have, or know where to find, the IRS Form 990/990EZ/990N. Also, the treasurer should find out the date that it has to be filed and place that on the calendar.
- It helps to compare this year’s calendar against last year’s calendar to make sure important deadlines are accounted for. Look to make sure there is a date for D&O insurance premium payment, audit date, Form 990 deadline, annual meeting, website and domain name renewals, anti-virus software renewal, membership renewals or registrations, etc.
- A new treasurer should get started paying any outstanding bills right away and place any dates for installment payments on their calendar.
- The old and new treasurer should review any NSF and outstanding checks, as well as any new or unusual circumstances.
- The outgoing treasurer can be a huge help in going over the current or last-term budget together. The outgoing treasurer can show how things have been recorded and accounted for in the past. The new treasurer might try to learn some tips and tricks for meeting deadlines and keeping things in order. This is a great time to find out if there were any issues with officers, board members, employees or volunteers that made things difficult and learn how to overcome them early on.
- A new treasurer should start looking for a qualified replacement right away. The term may go faster than anticipated and the treasurer won’t want to be scrambling at the end of the term trying to help find someone who is capable of and interested in being the successor.
- Make sure that there is absolutely no intersection or interchange between the personal finances of the treasurer and those of the organization. All of the organization’s records and bank accounts should be kept separate from the treasurer’s own personal financial matters.
- Some nonprofits are well-organized and have things streamlined and well-planned. If not, many other organizations have templates of treasurer checklists that the treasurer could use or modify as a template for a checklist. Review this checklist from the Georgia PTA as an example.
Thoughts About Wrapping Up Your Nonprofit Treasurer Checklist
Treasurers should be as involved in every financial matter as they possibly can. If possible, it’s good to be present or be directly involved in every transaction. If they can’t be involved, it’s good to be visible enough that others know that they’re staying on top of all financial matters for the organization. It’s wise to spend much time early on in setting up practices and procedures to make regular duties easy.
Keep in mind that depending on the organization and current situations, treasurer duties sometimes last for a short term while others last for many terms. Either way, many of the treasurer duties are fiduciary duties, which all treasurers should accept with the utmost integrity and seriousness.