Nikisha Sanders 2015 Q&A: Finances, Group 2

When Elections was ordered to remove Nikisha Sanders from the 2015 Election ballot, the committee was told to erase all information about her candidacy from the website. However, Elections firmly feels that there is no situation in which candidates, whether former or current, should be silenced or erased from Election information. As in all circumstances, Elections’ policy is to only edit and/or post candidate-written information with candidate permission. Therefore, with Sanders’ permission, we have posted the Q&A responses she completed prior to her removal.

Can you describe your ideal setup for OTW finances going forward, given that many of you flagged the current situation as an issue?

I’ve talked at length about the structure I wanted to move us toward: Treasurer, bookkeeper, internal audit committee. I still think that’s a structure that can work for us as a transitional option, and then be followed up in a year to eighteen months with having a Treasurer who is not an elected Board member but a contracted CFO, backed up by a bookkeeper, tax accountant, internal audit committee, and external auditors.

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?

FinCom appealed to Board yearly from the close of the first fiscal year until 2011 for an internal or external audit. I asked for the ability to form an internal audit committee repeatedly. It’s something I feel we desperately need, especially because I was the one left in charge of the money and reports and I am not and have never been comfortable with that. I want my work checked and verified, along with that of the previous two Treasurers, and the currently sitting one.

I also think having an internal audit committee involving people from other committees will increase staff understanding of and agency over our finances.

Legally, it is a concern because we have passed the threshold for several states in terms of needing to register as a fundraising entity in those states. Some of them do require audits, and Board need to pick up the preliminary work I did toward those registrations as soon as possible, but certainly before the close of 2016.

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?

Now that the Treasurer is again a Board member, that is the case. It wasn’t when I served as Treasurer–I wasn’t involved in the decision-making process for expenditures. I’m of two minds about whether the lack of involvement is a positive or negative.

I’ve written in another answer about the ideal structure in terms of personnel. In terms of reporting, I’d start with reversing previous Board decisions to not post the 990 on and push for those to be updated as soon as possible. I had, as Treasurer, been working toward issuing quarterly profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and expense reports. Those for the first two quarters of 2015 were prepared for distribution when I was asked to resign. So, I’d also want to see those issued immediately and followed up with regular quarterly, public reports.

Historically, the Board has not reported out what expenses they’ve approved in the period between meetings. I think this is another thing that should be happening, and not left on the Treasurer to track, particularly given how many of those votes take place outside of the public meetings and the length of time before minutes are available. Between this step and regular reports, the transparency would increase greatly.

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 believe I actually flagged the hiring of a CFO on a contract basis in my manifesto answers. I’m also strongly in favor of hiring an accountant to file the 990 return, especially as we’ve advanced to filing the long form rather than the EZ and it’s far more complex than our previous years’ returns. So, yes, I would support outsourcing financial management and oversight in a heartbeat, because I know exactly how much work is involved at this point and it’s entirely too much to ask of a volunteer or even a group of volunteers.