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What to Look for in Accounting Services for Nonprofits
September 16, 2021 at 9:00 PM
Volunteers at a fundraising race for an organization that uses nonprofit accounting services.

When running a nonprofit, there’s immense pressure in providing precise, straightforward Form 990s. You must show fiscal accountability for the board, the IRS, and potential donors. All businesses rely heavily on their accountants for tax compliance, financial guidance, insight, and strategy. But a 501(c)3 also counts on their accounting services for nonprofits to uphold their reputation and build trust with not only the public but with future donors.

It’s worth the time and effort to do thorough research and vetting of accounting services for nonprofits. Even if your organization follows all requirements, any appearance of impropriety because of a less-than-reliable accounting service could damage your foundation. Here are essential traits that your nonprofit accounting service should possess, as well as red flags of which to be aware.

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Essential traits in reputable firms

Nonprofit accounting services aren’t concerned with profit and improving an organization’s bottom line. Instead, they’re focused on accountability of funds, tracing where the money goes, and keeping track of spending for a nonprofit.

They have experience working with nonprofits.

There’s no better teacher than experience. Accounting services with nonprofit expertise can offer you guidance with the benefit of hindsight, having experienced the same challenges with other clients.

They’re accessible for monthly budget meetings.

While the yearly budget and Form 990 are necessary, running a successful nonprofit requires frequent check-ins to evaluate spending and donations and adjust the budget as needed. An excellent nonprofit accounting service will make time for meetings as you need them.

They offer insight and guidance during financial audits.

Audits help nonprofits prepare their Form 990 and are an essential part of the checks and balances for 501(c)3 financials. Find a nonprofit accounting service experienced in performing audits that can offer clear feedback and guidance from information the audit provides.

Keep an eye out for common red flags.

Unfortunately, there are good and bad individuals in every profession, and accountants are in unique positions of trust with their clients. It’s not unheard of for accountants to steal from their clients––even nonprofits. Less nefarious mistakes can still damage your nonprofit or its reputation. Keep an eye out for these common red flags in nonprofit accounting services.

They aren’t discreet about their other clients.

Accounting services are in positions of trust and power. During an interview, accountants who are indiscreet about their clients’ financial information can be just as imprudent with your information.

They don’t understand nonprofits.

While bookkeeping services only require a daily accounting of expenditure and revenue, nonprofit accounting requires a different skill set and strategy. You’ll miss out on an expert resource if your accounting service only has experience with traditional business accounting.

They don’t give straight answers and dodge questions.

Accountants can offer more than tax filing and balanced books. They can provide clarity and insight into your operations, long-term goals, and budget strategies. Whether they’re in a rush, don’t understand, or aren’t being forthright, they’re not doing their entire job by avoiding your questions.

Work with Vilardi + Co. in NYC for experienced accounting services for nonprofits.

Vilardi + Co is a New York-based bookkeeping and accounting service offering outsourced number crunching. We enable small businesses and nonprofits to focus on the aspects of their business that matter by organizing financials into clean, understandable reports. Our clients are always confident about their organization’s fiscal future. Each of our clients works with a designated professional but benefits from the expertise of our entire team. Your goals are our top priority, and we offer guidance and insight for everything from workflow to operations budgets.

Whatever your charitable work, you need accessible, understandable financial reporting to make it happen. Entrust your organization to our nonprofit accounting services and get expert financial insight to continue to change the world.