Are you a for-profit accountant looking to put your skills to use for a favorite nonprofit cause? Then becoming a nonprofit treasurer might be a great fit for you and for the nonprofit. The treasurer position is a leadership role on a nonprofit’s Board of Directors. Board members have fiduciary duties such as overseeing the organization’s financial health which carry a significant amount of responsibility. It is not surprising that the role of a nonprofit treasurer can be one of the most challenging, and rewarding, positions on the Board.
What may come as a surprise to you, however, is that many nonprofits have difficulty finding treasurers that have accounting or finance experience. Being a trained accountant, and understanding organizational finance, will make you a highly valued member of the Board.
We previously discussed in more depth what makes a good nonprofit treasurer in our blog Understanding the Role of a Nonprofit Treasurer. You will find that many of the skills gained as a for-profit accountant will carry over into a treasurer role. A successful nonprofit treasurer will have the following qualities:
- Integrity: A nonprofit treasurer should be a person of high integrity. After all, the treasurer will have access to the organization’s financial information. For this reason, a treasurer must be a person of strong moral and ethical character.
- Transparency: Treasurers must value transparency, as keeping the Board and other stakeholders informed of the nonprofit’s financial status is a primary responsibility of the role.
- Detail-oriented: One of the best qualities a nonprofit treasurer can have is a keen eye for detail. This way, error in the organization’s financial reports can be uncovered and remedied.
- Communication: A nonprofit treasurer must be an effective communicator. A treasurer acts as a financial liaison between the organization and the Board and ensures everyone is kept informed.
- Organized: A nonprofit treasurer needs to be highly organized to ensure that important deadlines are met (such as annual tax filings) and financial reports are reviewed before each Board meeting.
- Nonprofit Financial Skills: Though a treasurer doesn’t need to be a CPA, they should be willing to learn the nuances of nonprofit accounting – the basics of which are in our blog What’s So Different About Nonprofit Accounting?
Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Treasurer
The treasurer of a nonprofit plays a pivotal role in the success and financial sustainability of the organization. An effective treasurer will ensure the sound financial management of a nonprofit by taking on the following duties:
- Financial Oversight: The primary responsibility of a treasurer is overseeing the organization’s financial affairs. Often, a treasurer must review and understand the financial statements at the same level of detail as upper management.
- Financial Reporting: Nonprofit treasurers communicate the key takeaways from the organization’s financial reports and present them to the Board. Additionally, treasurers are expected to alert the Board of any financial concerns and lead the strategy discussion necessary to meet the organization’s challenges.
- Oversight of the Budget and Cash Flow: Working closely with management, the treasurer regularly monitors the organization’s budget and keeps the Board informed of significant discrepancies. The treasurer should be reviewing cash flow projections to ensure that the organization has the funds to carry out its mission.
- Stewardship of Investments: In cases where the nonprofit has invested funds, the treasurer may be asked to lead the selection of an investment advisor and serve on and/or appoint an investment committee. A treasurer, therefore, must have a basic understanding of investments and nonprofit investing best practices.
- Strategic Planning: Helping to develop the organization’s strategic plan is an underestimated role of the treasurer. Being the Board member with the most in-depth knowledge of the nonprofit’s finances, the treasurer offers a critical perspective regarding the financial feasibility of any long-term planning.
- Reviewing and Presenting Key Documents: Nonprofit treasurers monitor the preparation and filing of the IRS Form 990 and the completion of the annual financial audit. Treasurers also review the draft Form 990 and the draft audited financial statements and present the documents to the Board for approval.
Nonprofits need treasurers who understand accounting and finance and are willing to learn the intricacies of the nonprofit financial environment. If you’re a service-minded for-profit accountant, making a shift into the nonprofit world might make sense for you. Though it may take some time to acclimate to a nonprofit treasurer role, it will be worth it once you are using your skills to support a mission you believe in.
Not everyone is well versed in nonprofit accounting. Why not engage a partner who has the expertise to help your organization with all its accounting needs? At Chazin & Company, we empower nonprofits through mission-driven accounting solutions. Whether you need expert accounting, consulting, or CFO services, our team has your back. Contact us for a free consultation so we can discuss your specific needs!