NFP Partners has looked at common opportunities to avoid financial pitfalls through our article series. We’ve looked first at the core of successful accounting systems and financial reporting, the chart of accounts. In this article, we will look at more procedural or organization best practices. Many of the recommendations we discuss below are important to formalize, as they impact individuals and departments outside of the finance office.
Filing or Keeping Track of Your Nonprofit’s Documents
Have you ever wondered, where you filed a vendor contract for services? Or where did you save the treasurer of the Board’s approval of the monthly bank reconciliation? A filing system, electronic or paper, is key to ensuring efficiencies within the accounting department of a nonprofit.
Do you have programs that provide information to you, consultant contracts, or grant awards? Do you have a single common location to save them so everyone has access to the latest information? Most nonprofit organizations are moving to electronic storage of documents making that single common location much easier to attain. Files should have the same terminology if you are storing items, reports, and backup documentation electronically so it is easily identifiable with the source document.
A filing “map” of your electronic systems will help to ensure the system doesn’t go off the tracks. It is critical to have backup documentation accessible. Doing so helps everyone understand what project is affected and who is responsible. Furthermore, backup documentation provides insight on how much is allowable and who can authorize to sign.
Also, don’t forget to attach your backup documentation to what you are filing. Remember back to the day you had those stacks of paper on your desk and you didn’t know where to file them? Make sure your electronic system doesn’t end up the same way.