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April 19, 2022

6 Key Responsibilities for Not-for-Profit Finance Committee Members

The Finance Committee is a vital part of any not-for-profit organization but serving on a Finance Committee often comes with some uncertainty of its members. Determining responsibilities as a Finance Committee member is necessary for securing the financial health of the organization. Members have a fiduciary duty to ensure the financial matters of the organization are in line with the mission of that organization. Below are six of the main responsibilities of Finance Committee members:

1. Maintaining accurate and complete financial records

The Finance Committee’s most important role is to ensure the records of the organization are accurate and complete. It’s important to review all available information. Typical reports that are useful are current period operating results, year-to-date results that include a budget to actual comparison, and other useful benchmarks for that organization. These should be reviewed monthly, and committee members should ask questions if the data is not in line with what is expected. The budget is a roadmap of where expenses should go, so start your expectations with that budget.

2. Preparing and presenting accurate, timely and meaningful financial statements to the board

The board is tasked with making decisions that affect the operations of the organization, so it is important that they have the latest and best information. Relevant and accurate financials allow them to make decisions properly with a proper amount of time to react. Outdated information does not allow the board to act timely, as new circumstances have already arisen, and there is a possibility it is too late to correct something that could be harmful. The Finance Committee should ensure that the full board has access to the financial information.

3. Helping the board understand the organization’s finances

In addition to presenting information to the board, the board needs to be able to understand the finances of the organization. Some financial reports provide a great deal of data, and it can be helpful for the Finance Committee to highlight important information. Finance committee members should disseminate the useful information to the board. Helping the board interpret the numbers will allow them to ask more meaningful questions. A deeper understanding of the finances helps the board plan for the future more accurately.

4. Budgeting and anticipating financial problems

The budget is a blueprint for the upcoming fiscal period, and sets a guide for spending in the upcoming year. The Finance Committee should receive input from all decisions makers to allow the budget to carry out the mission of the upcoming year. It’s also important that the Finance Committee anticipate costs that may not be mission related, but be necessary for operations, and plan accordingly. Budgeting can be a difficult task in a not-for-profit organization, as revenue from an accounting standpoint often varies from cash flow. For example, promises to give that extend multiple years are recorded when the promise is made, but cash comes in multiple years. Often the expenditures for these contributions fall outside the year received, all creating challenges for the budgeting process.  Finance Committees should create budgets that anticipate these differences and reconcile and explain the impact on cash flow to the Organization.

5. Safeguarding the organization’s assets

The Finance Committee needs to ensure the assets of the organization are properly maintained. This can be done by implementing proper accounting policies and procedures, and incorporating internal controls. The internal controls procedures need to be regularly reviewed so they are working properly to safeguard assets. Policies should be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.

6. Complying with federal, state and other reporting requirements

There is the potential the organization has multiple reporting requirements, and the Finance Committee is responsible for making sure all requirements are met. These requirements can affect the organization’s tax status, eligibility for grants and contributions or have other legal and financial implications.

Becoming a member of a not-for-profit Finance Committee is a great responsibility, but the most important thing is to ask questions, review everything thoroughly and don’t hesitate to ask for help to understand your role. Learn more about the Anders Not-for-Profit Group or contact an Anders advisor below to find out how we can help your organization.

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