Managing Financials

Directors are stewards of a charity’s financial and other resources. The Internal Revenue Service encourages the board, either directly or through a board-authorized committee, to ensure that financial resources are used to further charitable purposes and that the organization’s funds are appropriately accounted for by regularly receiving and reviewing up-to-date financial statements and any auditor’s letters or finance and audit committee reports.

  1. Financial Statements
    Some organizations prepare financial statements without any involvement of outside accountants or auditors. Others use outside accountants to prepare compiled or reviewed financial statements, while others obtain audited financial statements. State law may impose audit requirements on certain charities, and a charity must ensure that it abides by the requirements of state law. Many organizations that receive federal funds are required to undergo one or more audits as set forth in the Single Audit Act and OMB Circular A-133. However, even if an audit is not required, a charity with substantial assets or revenue should consider obtaining an audit of its financial statements by an independent auditor.

    The board may establish an independent audit committee to select and oversee an independent auditor. An audit committee generally is responsible for selecting the independent auditor and reviewing its performance, with a focus on whether the auditor has the competence and independence necessary to conduct the audit engagement, the overall quality of the audit, and, in particular, the independence and competence of the key personnel on the audit engagement teams. The Internal Revenue Service encourages all charities to take steps to ensure the continuing independence of any auditor that conducts an audit of the organization. Organizations that file Form 990, will find that Part XI, Line 2, asks whether the organization’s financial statements were complied or reviewed by an independent accountant, audited by an independent accountant, and subject to oversight by a committee within the organization. And, Part XI, Line 3 asks whether, as a result of a federal award, the organization was required to undergo an audit as set forth in the Single Audit Act and OMB Circular A-133.
  2. Form 990
    Although not required to do so by the Internal Revenue Code, some organizations provide copies of the IRS Form 990 to its governing body and other internal governance or management officials, either prior to or after it is filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Practices differ widely as to who sees the form, when they see it, and the extent of their input, review, or approval. Some, especially smaller organizations, may provide a copy of the Form 990 to the full board for review or approval before it is filed. Others provide a copy of the form to a portion of the governing body, or to a committee or top management officials, before it is filed. Still others provide a copy to the board, a committee or top management officials, but not until after it is filed. Organizations that file Form 990 will find that Part VI, Section A, Line 10 asks whether the organization provides a copy of Form 990 to its governing body, and requires the organization to explain any process of review by its directors or management.