Part of the decision of setting up a non profit is committing to a bit more than minimal effort when it comes to keeping track of the money. We’re still early days on that journey but I thought I’d share some of what we have set up so far.
We have one bank account with one debit card. We try to pay any expenses using the debit card and where possible we leverage our tax exempt status (doing so requires a copy of the exemption certificate, a credit card issued to SQLOrlando, and the name on the card matching your drivers license). Reimbursements or payments are done by sending a check via the bank – we have no printed checks to track or worry about. No fees on the bank account for a non profit. We’ve enabled every alert they have because the account is dormant most of the year and it would be easy to miss a problem.
Money is collected via PayPal or Eventbrite right now (over time maybe we’ll use others). We process any refunds from those accounts if needed, then when the event is complete we transfer the final net earnings to the bank account. This has a couple of advantages; we don’t have to process 200+ lunch payments into the account and we don’t risk spending the money before it’s totally earned (the event is complete). It does require having enough liquidity to pay expenses out of cash on hand – a happy place to be! [Note that right now we’re just tracking the net deposit, which means we don’t show the fees charged. Not a huge issue, but not perfect accounting either]
There are lots of accounting packages out there and I only looked at a few. Most of the online solutions run $10-$30 a month. For now we’re using Wave Accounting which is free. It’s basic, but usable. You can import transactions from the bank directly and reconcile them. You can categorize expenses but it doesn’t support sub-categories so we have SQLSat2017 and SQLSat2018. For classes it’s something like ‘Class-20181005’. Not perfect, but doable. There’s a phone app for importing expenses which seems to work ok, but you have to remember to process those first or you’ll wind up with dupes in the transaction list when you import from the bank. There’s a merge button to fix those if you do. Strangely there is no way to directly attach a receipt to an expense. Not perfect, but good enough. Once a month I process any pending receipts, import from the bank, reconcile, then upload the bank statement to a folder on Google drive (the bank only shows the last 36 months online).
For the 2017 tax filing I had my accountant do it, but they confirmed it’s just a “postcard” filing and I’ll give that try for the 2018 tax year.
For our annual Board meeting I log in to the bank account to show everyone the balance, open any or all of the statements, and give them a chance to review. Maybe over time we’ll do more, I could see sending out the statement monthly or perhaps setting up a read only login (to the bank and/or the accounting system), but right now this seems like enough.
I also took a few minutes while writing this to create a process document that covers all of this in bullet form so that when the time comes to transition to the next person it’s not all tribal knowledge.
Most of this is just being organized and diligent, but I see the transparency part as really important. Board members should be comfortable with how it’s managed and we should always be in a place where we can ‘open the books’ for review.
Looking ahead, I’m thinking we might setup a Square account that we could use to process lunch fees at SQLSaturday or to sell branded SQLOrlando stuff.