Financial Statement Assurance Services
Donors, foundations, government agencies and creditors often need assurance that financial statements accurately represent the true financial position of an organization. As such, these stakeholders have different levels of risk tolerance, so we provide three levels of assurance to meet your needs.
Within our nonprofit niche, the audit is our principal service. An audit is the highest level of assurance we can provide about an organization’s financial statements. Its primary purpose is to enhance the degree of confidence that intended users can place in the organization’s financial statements.
“Intended users” include many of those within the organization, such as the executive director, financial staff, the board of directors and board committees. They may also include certain parties outside the organization, like potential donors, granting foundations, government agencies and banks.
While many small- and medium-sized nonprofits are not required by government regulation to have an annual audit, some choose to do so either in compliance with their own internal policies, or as required by their regular grant applications.
We also perform the “Yellow Book” audits or “Single Audits” required of some nonprofits because of the amount of state or federal funds they receive or spend.
The audit process is driven by information gathering, obtaining an understanding of the organization’s internal controls and using a series of risk assessments to determine the necessary audit procedures.
An audit enables you to:
- reassure stakeholders, as well as the general public, of the credibility of your financial information.
- get valuable feedback regarding your financial policies and procedures. (An audit is often accompanied by a letter explaining internal control conditions needing attention or recommendations for improvements noted during the audit)
- facilitate the filing of an accurate and timely form 990.
- comply with banking covenants.
- help deter and detect material fraud and error.
If your organization has an annual audit, we would welcome the opportunity to submit a proposal for your next audit.
In the hierarchy of assurance services we can perform, a review is the next step down from an audit. It typically consists of analytical procedures we apply to your financial statement information, and various inquiries we make of your organization’s management team. As a result of these procedures and discussions with you, we develop expectations about significant financial statement account balances. If the financial statement information appears out of line with our expectations, internally inconsistent, containing obvious errors or omissions, or is otherwise questionable, we will perform additional procedures and make adjusting entries as necessary. Less comprehensive than an audit, a review doesn’t require us to study your organization’s financial controls or verify data with third parties or physically inspect assets like in an audit.
So why might an organization request a review engagement? Like an audit, a review report package contains a full set of financial statements and footnotes. It can be a good middle ground, providing the advantages of a CPA’s technical expertise without the expense of an audit.
Compilations are a good complementary service to 990 preparation. A compilation gives the organization a set of financial statements on CPA letterhead that can be used to accompany grant applications. Of the three levels of service we can provide a compilation entails the fewest numbers of procedures on our part. As with all reports we issue, however, we are required to follow-up on any financial statement balances that we notice as being both questionable and having the potential to make the financial statements as a whole misleading.
Please call if you would like to discuss the different types of financial statement assurance services or the level of service that may best meets your needs, or contact us to schedule a consultation. If your organization already knows the service it wants, we would like to be considered the next time you think about rotating accountant firms or comparing fees.
Form 990 Preparation
The annual Form 990 is a public document in which nonprofits report their activities to the government and to the public. It provides information that helps government agencies (the IRS and state charity regulators) enforce the laws that govern nonprofits. It also serves as one of the primary sources of information about any particular organization. How the public perceives an organization is at least partly determined by the information presented on its return. As a cornerstone in our firm’s nonprofit services, we’ve gained a great deal of experience in Form 990 preparation.
Form 990 has always been a public document, but it has become much more publicly available in the Internet age. For most charitable organizations, Form 990s are posted on the Internet by three nonprofits: Guidestar, the Foundation Center, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute. In addition, many charity watchdog organizations such as Charity Navigator and Charity Watch provide links to these 990 databases. In addition, putting your 990 on your website has become a best practice in demonstrating your organization’s commitment to transparency.
Form 990, or, as it is titled by the IRS, “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax,” is your opportunity to tell the IRS and the world about the work you’ve been doing. Some preparers approach the 990 as simply a compliance requirement that needs to be fulfilled. But not here, we recognize that the 990 is an opportunity to put your organization’s best foot forward. That’s why we obsess over every detail. Do we have all of the accomplishments for the year listed correctly? Are they complete? Are you sure this board of directors list is complete? Do the numbers you gave us make sense? It may seem like a lot, but we feel like the extra effort is important. Your 990 should stand up for the good work you did the past year and put you in the best possible position to compete in an increasingly competitive world for those precious donations and grants.
- Establishing or improving financial control procedures
- Advising startup organizations on compliance, administration and financial management
- Setting up QuickBooks, training you and your staff on its use, or assisting with full utilization of its features for tracking your programs and grants.
- Advising you on developing or extending the reach of your spreadsheet-based financial tools such as budgets, projections and project tracking
If you’d like more information about our consulting services, please contact us to setup a consultation.