7 Best Accounting Practices for Your Post
As an officer of a not-for-profit organization, you—along with every other officer—have the responsibility to make sure that your organization complies with all applicable local, state, federal and international laws and regulations. Even if you are not the treasurer or a member of a budget or finance committee, you need to be aware of the fiscal and accounting responsibilities of the organization. Here are a few of the things that every officer should be watching for:
1. Adequate bookkeeping. For most organizations, this means an approved budget by the date specified in the bylaws and regular financial reports presented or published as procedures mandate.
2. Correct allocations. Revenue and expenses should be tracked carefully and associated with the proper activities.
3. IRS requirements. This includes accurately filing a Form 990 tax return each year and keeping the IRS apprised of changes in the officers of your organization. It also means carefully tracking donations of funds to ensure that your organization meets the public support test required by the IRS for public charities.
4. Timely audits. An audit of your organization’s books should be conducted annually.
5. Fundraising legalities. Do you know the state and federal regulations guiding your fundraising activities? Review the charitable solicitations regulations for your state at the National Association of State Charity Officials site.
6. Employment. Fraternal organizations are considered to be private employers subject to most of the aspects of Federal employment law. Make sure your organization is properly handling employee records, payroll, withholding, etc. for any worker who does not qualify as an independent contractor or volunteer.
7. Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance. Be sure your organization has secured D&O insurance to protect your officers in the event a suit is filed against them as a result of their actions or decisions as an officer of your organization. With all of these things in mind, you can help your organization ensure proper compliance with its own bylaws, as well as legal requirements.
Grant Procurement for Fraternal Groups
Fraternal organizations are often excluded from large corporate grant programs, but exceptions are sometimes made for any 501(c)(3) organization that can demonstrate that it provides value to the community at large.
The key is the projects that your organization contributes to its community. The Home Depot Community Impact Grants Program accepts proposals for community improvement projects that benefit veterans. Over the past few years, the company has awarded numerous large grants and supplied volunteers for renovations to local fraternal organizations.
Also, keep in mind the other community interactions your facilities may enable. It was noted in an article about grant-funded renovations to a fraternal group that their building is used as a meeting place by other community groups including Boy Scouts, Young Marines group and a group focused on supporting military troops.
Another group that aids not-for-profit groups is Good360, which matches retailers with nonprofit groups for a year at a time. Within that period, the business or store will notify the charity when goods they can use are available for pickup.
If you need funds for your organization’s building home and demonstrate how it will enhance your community, be alert to opportunities to apply for corporate grants even if they appear to exclude fraternal organizations.
How to Protect Your Organization When Renting Your Facility
Depending on the size and condition of your Post's home you may frequently rent the facility to members and other community groups.
Here are three important fundamentals to practice to protect your organization when you rent or lease your facility to a third party:
1. Begin with a rental/leasing agreement contract that spells out the specifics of the use of the space including date and duration, damage and cleanup policies, and includes an owner indemnification statement.
2. Make sure the staff members on hand for the event have completed risk management training, including liquor liability loss control, if applicable.
3. Carry General Liability and Liquor Liability Insurance coverage to address the risks that stem from any use of your facility, including negligence, injury or death, property damage and liquor liability.