Once you have made the decision on hiring an outsourced accounting firm and have signed the contract what can you expect? Here are the main things:
An outsourced nonprofit accounting provider should perform the work accurately, timely, and within budget
This is the most essential expectation that must be met, further characterized by:
- Personnel who are competent for the tasks performed with adequate supervision
- Internal controls implemented and documented that are scaled to the nonprofit
- Accurate, compliant, and relevant financial reports
- Timely, honest and meaningful communications and dialog with the Board, executive management and staff
- Overall consistency and predictability (e.g. NO SURPRISES!)
The outsourced nonprofit accountant should make use of the appropriate technology
Expect your outsourced accounting firm to utilize, or recommend, the technology that is reasonable. Further, this technology should be scalable to the size and complexity of the nonprofit’s accounting. One size does not fit all. Meaning, deployment of new technology should meet the test of providing added benefits and pay for itself (e.g., leading edge, not bleeding edge). To learn more on how your nonprofit can select the appropriate accounting software, click here.
An outsourced nonprofit accounting firm should maintain professionalism
This term has several attributes:
- Competency of personnel assigned at the various levels from bookkeeper to CFO
- Continuity of personnel assigned with pre-notice of changes when necessary and transitions that do not add to the cost of the engagement
- General personal bearing, dress, and manners
- Openness and honesty in communications (e.g., recognizing potential problems and offering solutions before growing out of control)
- Expect and actively seek feedback on performance
- Punctuality and promptness in responding to phone calls, texts and emails
- Not getting involved in office interpersonal rivalries and intrigues
- Confidentiality with outside parties
The outsourced nonprofit accountant should know when to withdraw from the engagement
Although most nonprofit outsourced accounting engagements are long lasting and positive, they usually come to an end at some point. Some end earlier because of the client’s failure to comply with the terms of the engagement. More specifically, with payment issues, merger or acquisition, terminating operations or growth that necessitates a full-time in-house staff.
Occasionally, some nonprofits find it difficult to adapt to not having a full-time internal accounting staff on-site. However, others may find utilizing modern technology difficult. Whatever the reason, the outsourced accounting firm should be expected to withdraw gracefully and provide for a smooth transition.
For more information on outsourced nonprofit accounting services, contact us today or visit our Ultimate Guide to Outsourced Nonprofit Accounting.