Should I Serve as a Nonprofit Board Treasurer?

Madison Gerdts
Supervisor & CPA Candidate

 

 

The success of a nonprofit organization is largely determined by the passion of its board members and personnel towards their mission. Few opportunities are more challenging and rewarding than serving as a board treasurer. It’s a way to make a fiscal difference for an organization that you’re emotionally invested in.

What does a board treasurer do?

The role of a treasurer requires a unique combination of both technical and communication skills. The treasurer serves as liaison between the board, finance committee and accounting personnel to ensure fluid communication of inter-organizational goals, concerns and ideas. Treasurers often need to translate fiscal information to fellow board members who have limited technical knowledge.

A treasurer must also possess a thorough understanding of financial reporting and procedures. The role frequently includes serving as the finance committee chair, which involves reviewing periodic financial statements, drafting and presenting an annual budget, overseeing expenditures and assisting external accountants when undergoing review or audit procedures.

Board service is serious and demanding, and often done on a volunteer basis. The success of a nonprofit is largely determined by the passion of its board members and personnel towards the mission they so tirelessly work to achieve. This yearning to enhance the world around them, in conjunction with financial expertise, strong communication and leadership skills are all necessary attributes of a great treasurer.

At Whisman Giordano, our accounting professionals specialize in nonprofit organizations, working alongside many different treasurers. Here are some key traits and practices observed from successful nonprofit board treasurers.

10 Essentials a Nonprofit Board Treasurer Should Know 

  1. Communicate with the former treasurer to gain an understanding of their experience.
  2. Introduce yourself to staff members and volunteers outside of the board and be sure that employees know how to reach you. Meet with management and accounting regularly so they can provide you with adequate insight as you settle into your new role.
  3. Focus on the long-term goals of the organization and reconcile that with fiscal responsibility and strategy. The best nonprofits are run like businesses—keep a close watch on both revenue generation and expenditures.
  4. Obtain a thorough financial history of the organization, including details for the major fundraising events. This includes understanding donor restrictions so that all funds are applied to the donor’s intent.
  5. You may be required to make tough decisions to promote fiscal stability. Embrace your leadership position and take pride in the impact you have on securing the future of a meaningful cause.
  6. Discuss matters that pertain to the annual audit and/or review engagements with the staff financial director.
  7. Attend seminars for nonprofits and governance to acquire the latest accounting pronouncements for your industry.
  8. Familiarize yourself with Federal Tax Form 990. It is the treasurer’s responsibility to review and approve prior to filing.
  9. Protect yourself. Be sure to ask if the organization has both board and director insurance.
  10. Understand the time required for a treasurer will likely be more than other roles on the board.

Whisman Giordano has been serving the region since 1973. This local, family-owned business not only takes particular care on being technical experts, but also in developing extraordinary relationships with clients. To learn more about the role of a nonprofit treasurer or how Whisman Giordano may be of service to your nonprofit with audit, tax or business advisory services, call (302) 266-0202 or contact Madison Gerdts, [email protected]or Julie Morgan, CPA,  [email protected].


About the Author

Madison Gerdts is a supervisor at Whisman Giordano and a current CPA candidate with 10 years of accounting experience. Her passion lies in working with nonprofit organizations. She’s a self-proclaimed exercise fiend who loves traveling and hiking with her dogs and fiancé.

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