Newsletter by Hawkins Ash CPAs
In this edition
May 2018

Fundraising Event Considerations

Client Feature and Executive Director Q&A:
Green Bay Botanical Garden

Company Credit Cards and Employee Reimbursements: Is Your Organization Safe?
Fundraising Event Considerations
Many details go into planning a special event fundraiser such as the caterer, entertainment, venue, and raffle prizes. While those are important details, do not forget to consider the internal controls and accounting aspects of the event. Proper planning for the safeguarding of assets and recordkeeping will make your event run smoother, provide accurate information for reporting, and prevent theft from occurring. 

Safeguarding Assets
Cash is a very popular form of payment at special events; therefore, procedures should be put in place to protect the cash that was collected. Management should establish cash handling procedures before the event and provide these procedures to anyone who will be handling it.

Procedures to consider:

  • Maintain a locked cash box with a documented start-up amount
  • Sell pre-numbered tickets, allowing for reconciliation
  • Have two people independently count cash immediately after the event
  • Reconcile inventory to sales and cash collections
  • Independently document auction bids and cash received and reconcile

In addition to receiving cash, organizations may also receive donated assets either to use for the event or to raffle or auction off. There needs to be procedures to safeguard these donated assets, as well. Consider separating the soliciting and collection functions of the donated assets, maintain an inventory list of items collected, and have someone independent of solicitation send out acknowledgement letters to the donors.

Regulation and Reporting Considerations
Be sure to consider regulations and reporting aspects surrounding fundraisers. Depending on the state in which the event is held, requirements vary and can include raffle licenses, liquor licenses, event permits, and potential tax considerations.

It is important to keep good records of income and expenses related to the event and not co-mingle with normal operating transactions. Also, be sure to give donor acknowledgement letters in a timely manner.
Author: Joe Nurmi, CPA
Direct: 507.252.6673
Client Feature and Executive Director Q&A
Green Bay Botanical Garden
Green Bay Botanical Garden is a 100% community supported nonprofit organization that connects people with plants in an environment that engages, inspires and refreshes. First opened in 1996 and now featuring 47 acres of display gardens and natural areas, the Garden touches the lives of more than 140,000 visitors annually from Northeast Wisconsin and beyond. 

This summer, Green Bay Botanical Garden will be the first and only Wisconsin venue to feature Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks by Sean Kenney, an award-winning New York City artist. The exhibit features larger-than-life plants and animals crafted entirely from LEGO blocks. In total, 16 nature-inspired sculptures will take up residence throughout the Garden— from a hummingbird on a trumpet flower made with 61,107 LEGO pieces, to a peacock created with 68,827 pieces.
“Nature Connects fits perfectly into our mission with its focus on educating visitors about the natural world through these amazing sculptures,” says Executive Director Susan Garot. “Not only will the exhibit provide visitors the opportunity to see the larger-than-life sculptures, but we will be providing interpretive programming that allows people to connect with nature on a deeper level by giving them a greater understanding of the role of plants, animals, pollinators and themselves in protecting our world."

Susan Garot has served as the Executive Director of Green Bay Botanical Garden for 10 years and has held nonprofit leadership roles in prominent organizations that include the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.

We took the opportunity to ask Susan about some aspects of being and becoming a nonprofit leader.

What are some things you know now that you wish you knew when you first started as a nonprofit leader?  
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a strong relationship between the Executive Director and the Board. Board recruitment and development is probably one of the most important roles of a nonprofit leader. And it is ongoing.

What has been your biggest source of pride as executive director?  
My greatest joy is in developing the 47 acres of beautiful gardens. We are only about half-way there, but the visioning, planning, fundraising, construction and programming of this fabulous piece of land has been so much fun over the past ten years!

What are your three biggest accomplishments in your career as a nonprofit leader? 
First is building a team of professionals and volunteers that have taken Green Bay Botanical Garden from its founders’ early dreams of attracting 20,000-30,000 annual visitors to closing in on 150,000 visitors this year, and 200,000 by 2020. Then, leading that team to continue to grow and evolve the Garden and its programs to meet the needs and expectations of our community. Finally, providing opportunities for everyone in our community to enjoy the benefits the Garden offers, without the barrier of admission fees. We offer free event days throughout the year, removing any reason people may have for not enjoying this community asset.

What are the dominant challenges that you see nonprofit organizations facing and what do you think would be viable solutions?  
The dominant challenge of all nonprofits is finding the resources needed to resolve the problems we were created to solve. Being able to effectively tell your story and finding ways to engage with your community, especially those with the resources to assist in achieving your mission, are essential tools a nonprofit manager must master.

What aspects of nonprofit accounting do you find most challenging?
Everything! But I have a wonderful finance manager on staff and excellent volunteers on our Finance Committee that have helped me learn and understand what I need to know.

We are happy to work with this incredible community resource, and we encourage you to visit the Green Bay Botanical Garden! Learn more at: 
Company Credit Cards and Employee Reimbursements: Is your Organization Safe?
Employee theft occurs in all organizations. It can range from taking home company supplies to embezzling money or falsifying documents. Two areas where occupational fraud is frequently committed is the use of company credit cards and employee reimbursements. As with all fraud, an employee is motivated to commit the crime when he or she:

  • Has a financial need that cannot be solved
  • Has a perceived opportunity to commit the act and believe that it will go undetected
  • Rationalizes that somehow the act is justifiable 

Out of these three factors, the only factor that an organization can defend against is to stop the perceived opportunity to commit the act in the first place.  

Guarding against the opportunity to commit employee credit card and expense report theft begins with a strong policy that clearly defines the expectations that must be followed when using the organization’s credit card and/or submitting a request for an employee expense reimbursement. The policy should contain the following specific guidelines: 

  • The responsibilities of the cardholder
  • The types of expenditures allowed
  • The requirement that all supporting documentation for the expenditure be turned in on a regular basis and that cash advances on the card be strictly prohibited

It may also be prudent to set a dollar limit, where pre-approval is required before the purchase is made. The policy should also clearly state the consequences for any type of abuse. The policy should be signed by the employee to acknowledge that they have read and understand the content. The signed policy should be kept in the employee’s file. 

Management should also review and assess the need for the employee to have a company credit card on an annual basis and set limits on the card that are appropriate for the employee’s duties.  

A reconciliation of the credit card statement to all purchases should occur monthly and any discrepancies should be investigated and resolved timely. Someone who holds a credit card should not perform the reconciliation process. The reconciliation should be signed, dated, and reviewed by a member of management.

A similar process should be performed for employee expense reports. The report should be turned in timely with all supporting documentation. It should be signed, reviewed and approved by the employee’s superior. Any discrepancies should be investigated quickly and missing documentation should not be reimbursed. Someone who is requesting or approving the report should not be the person who reconciles the reports. 

As with all policies, to be effective, the importance of it must be regularly communicated, monitored and enforced. 
Author: Sandra Jensen, CPA
Direct: 608.793.3126
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