Many not-for-profits are turning to their CPAs for assistance beyond auditing, financial accounting and filing form 990, providing CPA firms with great client service opportunities.
NPOs need CPAs' expertise when accounting for fund-raising and compliance with new substantiation rules, consulting potential donors on planned giving opportunities; complying with Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement no. 116, Accounting for Contributions Received and Contributions Made, and no. 117, Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Organizations; and planning employee benefit programs, just to name a few.
Barbacane, Thornton & Co., a CPA firm in Wilmington, Delaware, decided to pick the hottest issues facing the not-for-profit sector and sponsor a series of seminars to answer the questions of both current and prospective clients. A local not-for-profit umbrella association combined the firm's not-for-profit organization (NPO) client base with its own list and mailed the announcements. A local bank helped defray costs by underwriting a portion of the seminars. The firm spent around $500 to put on its seminars; all professional and administrative costs where incorporated into its marketing budget.
The results were exceptional. Attendance for the first two seminars averaged 50 people, and attendance for the seminar on FASB Statement nos. 116 and 117 was over 90 people (the total mailing list was less than 500). As a result, not only is the firm committed to continuing its series of NPO seminars, but it has other banks and businesses asking to be future co-sponsors.
Below is a summary of seminar results and how accountants can provide valuable services to NPOs.
FASB 116 AND 117
By far this was the most popular seminar. The firm invited representatives of the NPOs and local bankers, because banks are major users of financial statements. The seminar included an overview of the changes required as a result of the new pronouncements as well as a nuts-and-bolts session on how entries would have to be recorded in financial statements.
As a result of the seminar, several NPOs with less than $5 million in revenues opted for early implementation in order to get a head start on the new requirements and to show outside agencies and sources of support that they were fiscally responsible and well informed. Surprisingly, the firm found that several of the local branches of major funding agencies were not up-to-date with Statement nos. 116 and 117.