Can you describe your ideal setup for OTW finances going forward, given that many of you flagged the current situation as an issue?
Quite honestly there isn’t a good answer I can give to this. What I currently know about our finances is gathered mostly from our Annual Reports and our 990 tax forms. There is no available documentation about how our bookkeeping is done or of any other finance-related issues. To actually have an idea of how to go forward, I would first have to have a better understanding about the current situation. Ideally, I’d start with spending a long weekend alone with our books to get an idea of what our needs are and what, besides the plainly obvious, needs to be remedied.
I’m not entirely sure if reinstating the Financial committee in some form is a viable solution at this point. It depends on what the actual situation is at the moment, but also on the fact that we may have trouble finding volunteers who are not only qualified, but also willing to commit to the amount of work that would be needed in setting up the committee. If we can’t find the volunteer power needed, then at least in the short term I believe we should consider outsourcing some of the work.
There is currently no internal or external auditing structure checking the OTW’s bookkeeping (no legal worries, here: the Delaware state laws do not require annual auditing from nonprofits). If you join Board, is this something you would like to change? If so, how?
I already mentioned in a previous answer that I would certainly like to take a very close look at our accounting myself before being able to form any concrete opinions on what needs to be done; similarly, an internal audit would help map the current situation and identify steps that need to be taken. An audit on its own will not fix problems; however, it is true that an internal auditing structure would help identify problems with our accounting, and be a step towards further transparency. While setting up a structure for audits would be nice, it would not solve the most crucial problem, because an audit would not change the fact that all the accounting related tasks would still be done by one single person, even though it would add a measure of oversight to that one person’s work.
I recognise the fact that it would improve people’s trust in our finances if we could show an outside opinion of them. However, an independent audit (that is an outside audit performed by a certified public accountant) is something I’m a bit more reluctant to commit to, at least on an annual basis. It is a significant cost, it is not legally required and, just like an internal audit, it will not correct problems on its own but will simply tell us how well our accounting reflects our actual financial position. If we do need to have an outside opinion, there are alternatives to a full audit such as a less extensive independent review of the finances, which like a full audit is also performed by a certified public accountant.
Our finances are currently being overseen by only one person with actual decisional and content-producing power, which is concerning in terms of transparency, and efficiency. If elected, how would you go about building a sound administrative Financial structure for the Organization?
I’ve already mentioned the complete lack of internal documentation in regards to our finances, which is troubling on a personal level because I feel like I’m basing my opinions on conjecture, but is of course a bigger issue as well, especially since we have also just gained a new Treasurer (the sole person in charge of the finances, as mentioned in the question). I’m rather worried about how much information might be lost in the transition from one Treasurer to another.
The truth is that I can certainly outline ideas for what could be done to build a better financial structure, but with my incomplete knowledge of the current situation and not having consulted the newly appointed Treasurer on the issue, there is no way to make a concrete plan at this point. Some of the crucial things in any structure we implement is to make sure that there is more than one person with access to the relevant information (such as passwords, bank accounts, bookkeeping material), that bills can be paid by more than one person and that bank statements should not be reconciled by the same person signing the checks.
I saw many concerns about finances in the candidates’ statements, but I did not see outsourcing financial oversight mentioned as a solution. I’d like to know what the candidates think about outsourcing (paying for) some responsibilities, in particular engaging a company with a background in financial services for non-profits.
I’ve already mentioned in another answer that outsourcing some of the work is something that should at least be considered. However, I’m not certain if it is currently financially viable for us to engage the services of something like an accounting firm or other similar company on such a large scale, as such services can be very costly and not necessarily needed for a nonprofit of our size, where for example a single contracted bookkeeper might be enough for our purposes. Of course we would have to investigate the options in more depth, take stock of our current needs and get quotes from accounting firms and contractors, to see what would be the best choice for us.