Money Matters – Manage it Well

Updated: Oct. 12, 2018  |  Categories: Volunteers  

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Your chapter has a treasurer. Your money is managed. Right? Maybe. Could be. But then again… maybe not. Especially if they have no background in understanding financial matters. It becomes important to ensure that your chapter’s money person more than just knows their way around an excel spreadsheet. Considering this, it is recommended to have a bookkeeper or accountant to handle all money and tax-related matters. Some chapters may feel the need to go beyond volunteers for this role, hiring someone to complete these tasks. Each chapter should define its financial needs and plan accordingly.

For planning, though, it becomes necessary to understand that there is a difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant.

A bookkeeper is just as it suggests. They keep the financial records, though they do little more than that. Mostly they perform data entry tasks showing the money in and the money out. This may be in line with budget reflections of actual money spent or actual revenues made. For your traditional treasurer role, this person would be someone without a degree in accounting but has a strong comprehension of money tracking and the tools associated with doing this job. They may also perform basic payroll if your chapter has employees. They would handle making payments and sending statements for payments (including chapter dues). They would not likely know much about tax-related aspects of managing money, leaving these type of tasks to an accountant.

An accountant might be essential especially for large chapters. If the chapter has employees, this role becomes even more necessary. If your chapter must file taxes, it is best to have them done by someone with formal training. Accountants typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and possibly hold the designation of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This person would have strong knowledge in financial planning to ensure the financial health of your chapter. Often, a chapter might leave the day to day financial activities of a chapter to a bookkeeper, while employing a full-fledged accountant for more advanced needs, including taxes and data reconciliation.

Whether you have an accountant or bookkeeper at the ready depends on the need level of your chapter. Whichever way you decide, the benefits of such a person managing your chapter’s finances more than outweigh the possible downsides. Those benefits include the following:

  • Understands the material allowing for more effective utilization of funds.
  • Avoids problems and mistakes, which saves money (no fees).
  • Has efficient recordkeeping, meaning that you know how much money is available for chapter activities.
  • Ensures revenue-building to provide continued value to members through long- and short-range financial planning.
  • Allows your chapter to be prepared for those invariable unknown situations that arise from time to time.
  • Maintains a pivot fund for quick resolution of sudden changes.
  • Monthly reconciliation of bank account and credit cards, if applicable, ensuring that the organization is in a healthy financial state.

Bookkeeper? Accountant? That choice is an important one that your chapter must decide for itself, possibly with input of members through a survey. They are vested in the financial health of your chapter since their dues pay for the activities of your chapter. Everyone wins when the finances are kept in good order and member value is at the forefront of the financial decisions being made. These are responsibilities that your chapter should be able to accomplish and will set you up for growth and success.

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