State and local governments and nonprofits that receive federal money often must complete Single Audits, also known as OMB A-133 audits. These ensure monies are spent properly according to the different program requirements, and that the relevant organizations only have to go through one consistent audit event.
However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has proposed changes to the audit structure that could have direct and indirect impacts, including decreasing the number of organizations required to undertake a Single Audit.
“A lot of organizations may say, ‘this is great, I don’t have to pay for a Single Audit anymore,’” says Daniel L. Wander, CPA, director of assurance services at SS&G. “But if this does go through, they may need to react to it fairly early to determine what their funders are going to require in terms of any changes or additional procedures.”
Smart Business spoke with Wander about the proposed changes and their impact.
What are the proposed changes?
As of February, the OMB recommended that the annual spending threshold for federal funds that require an organization to have a Single Audit be raised from $500,000 to $750,000. This is partly because of inflation — the last threshold increase was in 2003 — and partly to increase efficiency. The American Institute of CPAs indicated last year that entities receiving less than $1 million in federal funds made up about 24 percent of the total Single Audits but only covered 1 percent of total expenditures. The audits for organizations receiving more than $3 million in federal funds, however, accounted for about 97 percent of total federal expenditures.
Once an organization determines it must undertake a Single Audit, major programs over a certain threshold undergo a compliance audit, at least on some kind of rotational basis, where the auditor renders an opinion. The OMB proposal also raises this threshold from $300,000 to $500,000.
Another change is the coverage rules for high risk and low risk auditees. Coverage means program dollars covered in the compliance audit as a major program. OMB is talking about reducing the coverage rules to 40 percent for high risk and 20 percent for low risk auditees, from 50 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
Finally, OMB wants to streamline the compliance testing areas from 14 to six, focusing on areas where money is going to be misspent, and putting a number of cost and administrative principle guides into one central document.
What’s the timeline on these changes?
The changes are still in proposal form, and the comment period has been extended to June 2. Therefore, the earliest the changes would be in effect would probably be beginning July 1, 2014, giving people a chance to plan.
What might be the impact of the changes?
The direct effect will be fewer entities required to have Single Audits. However, they will still need to follow federal rules and regulations, and could be subject to audits by either state or federal organizations that want to come in specifically.
A fallout may be more state or local entity involvement through audits or additional requirements in order to fulfill state or local monitoring responsibilities. Currently, these organizations get automatic easy oversight from receiving Single Audits each year.
What are some next steps for nonprofits?
First, if nonprofits have anything specific to say, use the extended comment period. Then, reach out at least to your major funders, usually state, local or county agencies, and open a dialog so there are no surprises. How do the funders think they will react? Will they be putting in additional requirements as part of their oversight?
A nonprofit’s costs may go down but it may need to reallocate. If a nonprofit is subject to a Single Audit, the cost can come from the federal portion of your budget. If somebody else is imposing certain audit costs, you’ll need to talk to that organization about where that’s going to be allowable. If Ohio is requiring something additional, it ought to be paid with state money.
Hopefully, no one begins to believe auditors won’t be looking at this anymore. You still have to comply with the federal regulations, and there’s a chance someone will look at your spending at some point.
Daniel L. Wander, CPA, is a director, Assurance Services, at SS&G. Reach him at (800) 869-1834 or DWander@SSandG.com.
Save the Date: You have until June 2, to provide comments on the proposed revisions to OMB Circular A-133 and related grant reforms. The OMB must receive comments electronically.
Insights Accounting & Consulting is brought to you by SS&G
Passion for a cause, a love for community and a set of specific skills that can be used to help others are all great reasons to join a not-for-profit organization's board of directors. But what can you do to ensure that your membership is effective and valuable to the organization and provides a rewarding experience for all parties?
Smart Business spoke with Susan D. Krantz, CPA, a Partner at Zinner & Co. LLP, to find out.
Maintain a Proper Commitment
Through our experience at Zinner & Co. LLP, we have found that board member commitment has a significant and direct impact on the success of a not-for-profit organization. As work and personal commitments change, it becomes necessary to find that balance of time that allows you to properly support your organization.
Efficient and Valuable Communications
Communications among board members and between board members and the management team is one of the most important aspects of the position you hold. First and foremost, boards should meet monthly, or at least quarterly, with regular attendance and participation by all board members who should be familiar with the organization's major initiatives and mission statement. The board should have adequate skills in the areas of law, accounting, finance and personnel as it pertains to the organization's major initiatives, even though any one member may not be skilled in all areas.
Try stopping by the organization's offices unannounced for a friendly and casual visit with management. Join a committee. Board members can even have a presence in the organization without actually being physically present. Get out in the community and talk with people to gain a better idea of how your organization can better serve them.
Oversight and Approval on the Transaction Level
Board members should be involved in the oversight and approval of significant transactions and processes, such as new loans, property and equipment purchases, advances, payments to key employees and all other significant transactions. Proper board member review by designated members should include examining supporting documentation, such as purchase orders, invoices and vendor contracts, and the budget on regular basis.
Familiarize Yourself with External and Internal Factors
In the current social and economic environment, not-for-profit organizations face more risks than ever before. One of the major responsibilities of the board, as well as management, is to continuously assess and manage the risks facing the organization, both externally and internally.
The external risk assessment process primarily involves keeping up to date on changes in the political, social, economic and technological environment surrounding the organization and assessing how those changes will affect the organization's mission and funding. As a member, it will be up to you to be aware of the changes within your area of expertise in addition to the many multiple sectors of the environment the organization operates in, including new accounting pronouncement, laws and law revisions, social and administrative changes in the political landscape and compliance updates from regulatory and cognizant agencies.
During the internal risk assessment process, the organization as a whole must identify its goals and objectives in the major areas of financial reporting, level of service, and compliance. Internal controls are the key safeguards in meeting these goals. All effective internal control systems contain five attributes: a control environment that sets the tone of the organization from the top down, continuous risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring which make certain that all internal controls are operating effectively and as intended.
A knowledgeable board member who is both involved and present is in the best position to help an organization manage risks, make informed decisions and help achieve impact. With extensive experience in the not-for-profit field, Zinner & Co. plays a key role in helping organizations and their board members to overcome a wide range of obstacles and achieve their mission.
Susan D. Krantz, CPA, is a Partner at Zinner & Co. LLP. Reach her at (216) 831-0733 or email@example.com.
Medical Mutual 2011 Pillar Award
for Community Service — Columbus
Executive Director of the Year
Amethyst Inc. has made it its mission to serve women and children in the Central Ohio community who are most in need of a helping hand.
In October 2009, Amethyst ? led by co-founder and CEO Virginia O’Keeffe ? became the first addiction treatment center in Ohio to implement a supported employment program. The vision of the program, supported by funding from The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, Fifth Third Bank and the Wohlgemuth-Herschede Foundation, is to enhance the educational and socioeconomic skill development of Amethyst women. Supported employment at Amethyst has a dual purpose: to provide economic independence through the attainment of competitive employment and to advocate for social change by working with local employers to reduce stigma and raise awareness of the employment barriers Amethyst clients sometimes face.
Amethyst also focuses its efforts on the challenges faced by single-parent families dealing with addiction. Its programs focus on treating both moms and children who have been affected by addiction. Amethyst families are strengthened through education, behavioral modification, increased communication skills, connection and healing.
Strengthening the family through skill building promotes meaningful family dialogue, enhancing the children’s sense of connection and safety and improving their chances of success through the program. In 2009, the treatment model effectively strengthened 37 families participating in the long-term program.
SummerQuest, Amethyst’s nationally acclaimed summer day camp, is an extension of the family-centered program. Operating from June to August, SummerQuest is a 12-week intensive intervention day camp for children ages 6 to 14, whose mothers are involved in the long-term recovery program. The camp fosters healing and emotional growth through individual counseling, animal-assisted therapy, social competency development, prevention education and good, old-fashioned summer camp activities. In 2009, SummerQuest provided more than 13,000 hours of service, serving 35 to 40 kids per day, and about 50 kids over the course of the entire summer.
How to reach: Amethyst Inc., (614) 242-1284 or www.amethyst-inc.org
At Ernst & Young LLP’s recent Strategic Growth Forum, the largest gathering of high-growth entrepreneurs in the world (more than 2,500), myriad issues facing business today were discussed.
The annual forum serves as an idea marketplace where the best and brightest minds share what works, what doesn’t and what’s next in the wild world of business and entrepreneurship.
One common theme that arose from participants during the forum was the importance of giving back to the community.
Entrepreneurs passionately believe it is their responsibility to help strengthen the communities where they and their employees live and work. They believe that since they have the means to do so, it’s important to carry that success forward and help those who are in need. And they believe it’s imperative to supports causes that align with the missions or beliefs they and their employees hold.
I was honored to spend some time at the forum with Amy Rosen, president and CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. We spoke at length about how NFTE works nationwide with inner-city schoolchildren to teach them entrepreneurial skills and create the next generation of high-growth businesses.
Many of you might not have made the connection, but here in Northeast Ohio, we have an affiliate of NFTE in Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU). This connection resulted from YOU’s merger with E CITY, a program that serial entrepreneur John Zitzner founded several years ago.
As you might have noticed, this month’s edition includes coverage of the 2011 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service. We received a record number of nominations — nearly 90 — which represents how companies are working with and supporting the nonprofit sector, how executives are donating their time, talent and money to causes on the boards of nonprofits and how nonprofit leaders are applying for-profit business savvy to make their organizations that much stronger.
We, at Smart Business, were so impressed by the record number of nominees and the work they are doing that we felt we would be doing a disservice by only telling you about the winners. Because of this, we have expanded this issue so that we could tell you about every organization that submitted a nomination.
As you read, we hope you walk away with the same level of new inspiration as we have received.
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and executive editor of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the uncertainty of today’s economic climate, many CEOs are hesitant to expand their organizations or invest in new ventures. But Dennis Allen didn’t grow his organization to what it is today by taking the safe road to success. Rather, as president and CEO of the nonprofit Hattie Larlham, Allen continues to advance his organization’s tradition of quality care by expanding its services year after year to better serve people with developmental disabilities.
When Allen joined the organization, it was providing services to 180 families. Today, Hattie Larlham has been able to expand those services to care for more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities. It’s initially small operating budget of $7 million has increased to a current annual budget of $32 million. This is the fourth time the organization has been honored by Cascade Capital Corp. for business growth. Today, the company’s more than 700 employees throughout Northeast Ohio continue to fill an important need by enhancing the quality of life for hundreds of people and their families.
Allen is a strong advocate for the idea that every individual, with or without disabilities, has the right to meaningful employment. With this vision in mind, he has taken the lead in continuing to challenge the social norms that say people with disabilities are not fit for mainstream employment. One of the key ways Allen has done this is through the creation and implementation Hattie Larlham’s social enterprise programs throughout Northeast Ohio. In the past five years, Hattie Larlham has significantly strengthened its focus on growing these programs, which offer employment opportunities to people with developmental disabilities. Because this group is a population that is predominately unemployed, the programs go a long way to help dispel common myths about people with disabilities.
While the goal of Hattie Larlham’s social enterprise programs is help people with developmental disabilities gain the skills needed to one day transition into the general workforce, it is not the only benefit for employees. Some of the organization’s current programs include Hattie Larlham Doggie Day Care & Boarding, Hattie’s Café & Gifts, and Hattie’s Vending Company, which services nearly 100 vending machines in Akron and the surrounding region. Hattie’s ability to provide these programs has indefinable value by helping give people a sense of purpose and the self-esteem that comes with having a job. As an example, one employee at Hattie’s Café & Gifts was extremely shy when she started, but as she expanded her responsibilities, she gained the confidence to take on a leadership role and eventually train other employees.
Yet Allen seeks not just to improve and build on the organization’s current successful social programs. He is constantly looking for opportunities to pioneer new programs, as well. The company’s latest social enterprise program, Hattie’s Garden, expands the organization’s employment training options to include sustainable agriculture. Partnering with Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, Hattie now can have its job coaches work with Crown’s knowledgeable staff to teach employees with disabilities about using sustainable farming methods.
Under Allen’s leadership, Hattie has made significant progress both in expanding its scope of services and its impact, making major strides in creating vocations for a largely unemployed sector of the work force. In just the past year, the organization has not only launched Hattie’s Garden, but also opened three new Hattie’s Café and Gifts locations as well as a new location of Hattie Larlham Doggie Day Care & Boarding, added more vending machines to Hattie’s Vending Company and moved the operation of one Hattie Larlham Doggie Day Care & Boarding location to a larger site.
Allen’s hallmark focus on innovation, particularly in these programs, will continue to be instrumental in the future of the organization and Hattie’s delivery of its mission in years to come. Today, Hattie’s social programs expand across a wide range of industries and occupations, giving people with developmental disabilities who participate in them the chance to gain valuable skills in rewarding work environments. Currently, there are 158 employees with developmental disabilities working in Hattie Larlham’s social enterprise programs, many of whom have been able to move successfully into mainstream jobs since.
How to reach: Hattie Larlham, (330) 274-2272 or www.hattielarlham.org
In the past, the leaders of nonprofits set budget and goals, and everyone got in line. But that doesn’t work anymore, says Teresa Schaffer, CPA, director in assurance services at SS&G.
“Today, nonprofits have to use their budgets in managing their business toward outcomes,” says Schaffer. “Instead of the executive director and the chief finance officer developing what they think the annual budget should be in a silo, the directors of the individual operating units and/or cost centers need to first establish their best estimates of achievable results, to build a realistic budget from the bottom up.”
Smart Business spoke with Schaffer about how nonprofits can build their budgets from the bottom up and how to keep people accountable to the goals.
What are the components of planning a budget?
The management team of an organization needs to set objectives by asking themselves, ‘What will our core programming be in the coming year; what is our development goal; and what will our major fundraising event be?’ After considering these objectives, management should then evaluate the fixed and variable cost structure necessary to support and achieve the desired objectives.
Where do you begin developing the budget?
Budget planning should begin about six months in advance of the next fiscal year. The actual budget process typically begins approximately four months in advance of the next fiscal year. The process should begin by developing a complete vision with your executive team, including the board of directors. Management and the board should consider what they desire the organization to look like in 12 to 18 months, and what the outcome of this year’s budget will be.
Based on that overall vision, the individual cost center managers or departmental directors should then outline what costs they need to incur to achieve the overall goals, and what expected revenues those costs will produce. Those individual plans will serve as the basis to build the budget from the bottom up. Given that the budget process begins four to six months before the current year results are known, the budget should continue to be revised to reflect actual current year operating results as much as possible, to ensure that the starting point for the next fiscal year is consistent with the end point of the current year.
The benefit of building a budget from the bottom up with consensus of all management is that it improves accountability. When each department has input in the budget, each department is accountable. People need to be accountable for results, because otherwise the budget gets lost and becomes meaningless. Adhere to the budget, hold your team accountable to those results and use it to adjust.
How can an outside expert help a nonprofit through the process?
If a nonprofit organization has never completed the budget process from the bottom up, management may want someone with experience at the table on the front end of the process to get the organization thinking about all the ways budget goals can be eroded. This person can help an organization think about the best way to disaggregate the organization into responsibility centers, and also can help think through the little areas that can incur costs — elements as simple as office supply expenses and postage. Also, someone external to a nonprofit organization can ask the difficult questions, such as, ‘Do the net results from certain events really demonstrate the benefit to the organization, or is it time to re-evaluate some traditions?’
A consultant can also help you develop metrics for performance. Sometimes a budget in whole dollars doesn’t make sense, especially for organizations that deliver units of service that are reimbursed. If reimbursements fluctuate, whole dollars may not tell the entire story when comparing budget to actual. Management needs to consider the key indicators of performance; for example, units of service, number of employees, hours of overtime incurred, etc. A budget prepared on the basis of whole dollars alone may not be helpful if management loses sight of the indicators.
What else do you need to consider when planning?
An annual budget is not just income and expenses, but capital outlays, as well. When planning for a given fiscal year, keep the capital budget in mind. Should management fund infrastructure investments for new software and systems? What will the organization’s information and technology goals be three and five years from now, and how will the organization achieve those goals?
Once the plan is finished, is the work done?
Too often, a strategic plan is completed, and it sits on the shelf where everybody forgets about it. Then, in year two or year three, the budget starts to take a course independent of the strategic plan. There might be a new capital project that management wants to pursue, or there might be new technology in which management wants to invest, yet the plan said nothing about those strategic concepts.
An organization can veer off course if it doesn’t keep the strategic plan at the forefront of the budget process.
What would you say to nonprofit executives who say they are going to keep doing business as usual?
I would argue that organizations can’t afford to loosely manage operating results. Management needs to think of the community of donors like SEC companies view their shareholders. If the community gets the sense that dollars are loosely managed or mismanaged, support of the organization will decrease.
A nonprofit that doesn’t keep its eye on the horizon is not sustainable in today’s economy. Management can no longer guess at the fundraising goal or use it as the ‘plug’ to break even; the goal really needs to be realized now. As a nonprofit organization, anything you can control, you have to control now.
Teresa Schafffer, CPA, is a director in assurance services at SS&G. Reach her at (440) 248-8787 or TSchafffer@SSandG.com.
As nonprofits plan for growth in a struggling economy, they must take a careful approach to change. Failing to do so could result in a loss of donors, a missed opportunity in structuring their boards, or the potential misuse of social media, says Herzl Ginsburg, CPA, manager, not-for-profit group at Skoda Minotti.
“As nonprofits look to grow, it is critical that they not lose sight of the key resources and assets that they already have in place,” says Ginsburg. “It would be a real shame to lose something of value in your efforts to grow the organization.”
Smart Business spoke with Ginsburg about the keys to successful growth for nonprofits.
Is there a process that is critical to allow for growth at a nonprofit?
It is vital to identify your key resources, the risks to those resources as you grow, and strategies that allow you to mitigate those risks. For example, if launching a new marketing campaign might alienate a key donor, have you identified this donor and this risk? Have you planned for this risk as a part of your campaign? As appropriate, consider engaging your staff, donors and board in this process. Ask, ‘What really matters to us? What could we not do without?’ Whether that is a key donor, staff person or piece of property will vary. But the process always involves asking those questions and having a meaningful discussion around them. Organizations are working hard to change in order to meet the current economy. In that mindset, it is easy to lose sight of the related question: ‘As we grow, what will we do to safeguard our key resources and people?’
What role should professional service providers play as nonprofits looks to grow?
Your service providers should serve as your advisers. They can best fill that role when you keep them informed of what your organization is doing and planning.
You do not want to surprise the banker with financial issues, or the attorney with legal issues. Give your advisers the opportunity to plan rather than react. But beyond that, if you are working with the right advisers, they should be offering suggestions and challenging the details of your plans. The more discussions your advisers have with you, the easier it is to see where the organization is trying to go and to identify the risks it will face along the way. At that point, with the path forward clear, you can work together to plan for successful growth while mitigating your risks.
What opportunities and challenges does the use of social media present to nonprofits?
Social media offers what may be described as a double-edged sword to nonprofits. On one hand, it provides a relatively inexpensive way to reach out to a large audience, which is enticing given the cash shortfalls that many nonprofits are facing. On the other hand, there is a potential pitfall in embracing social media, that the messages will not go through the same checks and balances that traditional marketing would. For example, if a nonprofit were putting out a flyer about a new fundraising campaign, its staff and executive director would likely spend time drafting the flyer, reviewing it, ensuring everything is spelled correctly and checking that it includes the correct information. That process will need to be modified to properly and effectively capture your message in your use of social media. Nonprofits should think about this issue — balancing the ease of the message with its quality — and have processes and policies in place as they grow and use social media.
What role should the board play in its nonprofit’s plans for growth?
The board should be viewed as a pool of resources and talent, to be cherished, nurtured and grown for the benefit of the organization. Board members have talents and experience, such as in financial and legal matters, which prove beneficial to the organization. These skill sets may allow the organization to forgo, or at least curtail, the expense of a third-party adviser in the organization’s growth process.
Given this role, this impacts the selection of new board members. As you identify critical areas for the organization where additional expertise would help, take stock of your board members and how they can participate. If the need is not met by existing members, consider targeting future members who have the needed skills. Much as you develop a job description when hiring an employee, draft a description of your ideal board member, including what background would benefit the organization, as you begin your search. You may choose to select a person with passion for the organization over someone with a particular skill set; planning out the process will better equip you to weigh the factors involved and make an informed decision.
What advice would you offer nonprofits regarding employees and volunteers?
Your staff may be your strongest and most important asset; treat them that way. Given tight budgets and uncertainty in existing funding sources, many nonprofits have staff performing multiple roles, freeing up funds that would otherwise have been spent on salary. Over time, this can prove taxing for your people. You should know if your staff is overburdened, and they should know you care. Make a point of checking in and talking with each staff person on a regular basis. When I meet with nonprofit executives, I enjoy asking them what their vacation plans are. The question is innocuous and friendly; more often than not, the response is innocent as well. However, when the response is, ‘I really cannot take a vacation; I am needed here,’ we have a heightened risk of this person burning out and we need to plan for it.
Some questions to consider: If this person is essential to the organization, what can we do to remove some of his or her burden? As we are attempting to grow, will we be asking too much of this person in the process? Do we have an alternative approach we can try? Particularly when nonprofits are looking to change and grow, care should be given to their staff — and all of their key resources — to not harm them in the process.
Herzl Ginsburg is a manager of the not-for-profit group at Skoda Minotti. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 449-6800.
David Simpson joined Hospice of the Western Reserve as executive director in 1985, when the agency served only Lake County and had just 18 hospice patients.
From that beginning, Simpson, who now serves as CEO emeritus, has created the fourth-largest nonprofit hospice organization in the United States, the 10th-largest hospice organization of any kind in the United States and an organization that is pre-eminent in the conceptualization and delivery of end-of-life care.
Hospice of the Western Reserve now serves 6,000 patients annually in six Northeast Ohio counties, cared for by more than 900 paid and 1,200 unpaid employees. Under Simpson’s leadership, Hospice of the Western Reserve has formed groundbreaking programs for pediatric, prenatal, AIDS, dementia, veterans and cardiopulmonary care.
Simpson has created a hospice and palliative care program that is viewed not as a competitor but as a partner by the three largest health care systems in Cleveland, all of which recognize that Hospice of the Western Reserve is a world-class leader in its discipline.
Simpson has guided the organization through numerous mergers, acquisitions and facility openings, most notably, the opening of Hospice House, a 42-bed residential facility on Lake Erie and the first inpatient hospice facility in the Greater Cleveland area. Hospice House took eight years to complete and offers bedridden patients access throughout the building and outdoors thanks to oversized doorways. Individual rooms at Hospice House were built to look and feel as much like a home as possible.
In the 11 years that Hospice House has been serving Northeast Ohio, more than 10,000 patients have been cared for there. In January 2011, the board of directors of Hospice of the Western Reserve unanimously voted to rename the facility the David A. Simpson Hospice House.
How to reach: Hospice of the Western Reserve, (800) 707-8922 or www.hospicewr.org