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Does your Organization Have a Conflict of Interest?

Posted by Chris Valponi, CPA on Jul 25, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Many not-for-profit organizations struggle to find qualified financial leaders for their boards. Often individuals possessing higher-level financial experience are asked to take on multiple roles, begging the question, “can a board member be both the treasurer and the chair of the audit committee”? Does_your_org_have_a_conflict_of_interest-1.jpg

There is no rule, law or regulation barring a board member from holding both of these positions at the same time.  It’s very common, especially in small to medium sized not-for-profit organizations, for the same person to hold both positions; however, it’s important for the organizations to understand the roles of each position to ensure that if one person holds both positions, that person is able to objectively meet the requirements of each role.

The Role of the Treasurer

As an officer of organization, the role of the treasurer is to supervise the organization’s financial state of affairs and report on it to the rest of the board.

The primary duties of the treasurer include:

  • Ensuring that the annual budget is prepared and submitted to the board,
  • the accounting records of the organization are kept as required by law, donor stipulations and in compliance with grants, contracts and agreements,
  • proper financial statements are submitted to the board,
  • the accounts of the organization are audited by the auditor appointed by the members, and that
  • the organization has a proper financial strategy in place to meet future financial and financial reporting objectives.

In smaller organizations with fewer accounting staff the treasurer may take on expanded roles to include hands on tasks related to approving transactions, reviewing bank reconciliations and preparing the budgets.

The Role of the Audit Committee

The board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the organization. The board must be able to provide objective oversight of the management of the organization, including its financial state of affairs. The audit committee acts on behalf of the board in overseeing the organization’s financial reporting, the audit of the annual financial statements, risk management and internal controls.

The primary duties of the audit committee are to:

  • Review and recommend to the full board the approval of the audited financial statements,
  • Review the financial statements and external reports (including annual statements and reports to funders),
  • Review all aspects of the external audit, and
Oversee the organization’s internal controls and financial risk management.

For more information regarding board positions, not-for-profit structures or to learn your organization's roles may pose a conflict, please contact me at cvalponi@zinnerco.com or 216.831.0733. Myself or any of our professionals are ready to start the converation. 

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Topics: non-profits, non-profit reporting, Chris Valponi

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