You have a number of options available to you when choosing contracted services. Generally, you will need to choose between an individual accountant or a full-service financial management vendor. Most would agree that the latter is advised. While an individual accountant may be able to keep your books in check effectively, they won’t be able to provide you with the opportunities and efficiencies that a full-service financial management company will be able to. They will be able to provide you with strategic financial planning, helping your non-profit organization save money and giving you the platform to reach your mission more effectively.
What to look for when choosing an accounting firm
Of course, if you want to experience all of the benefits that have been mentioned above, you will need to choose an accounting firm with care. So, what should you be looking out for?
- Value – Note the word ‘value’ and not ‘price’ – don’t simply look for the cheapest accountancy firm you can found. You need to find a company that is going to offer significant value to your organization, making you money in the long run. If you simply search for a company based on price, you could end up with a disaster on your hands. After all, you know how the saying goes; if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
- Experience – Make sure the accounting services firm has experience working with non-profit organizations of a similar type and size to yours.
- References – Ask for references, especially from other non-profit organizations. Reviews can be very telling, as these people were once in your shoes. It is also worth doing a bit of research online so you can find out as much as possible about the firm. Read reviews that have been left on independent review platforms so that you can be sure of their authenticity.
- Compatibility – Compatibility with the culture of your organization is important. This is something you will only get an understanding of once you speak to the firm. You need to ensure they respect your mission and the way your non-profit works, and that they will fit in line with this.
- Clarity – There needs to be absolute clarity regarding the division of labor between the provider and your organization. It is vital to be on the same page and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Find out whether there are any exclusions or additional charges for certain services.
- Scope of work – Last but not least, make sure the accountancy company is happy with the scope of work you require. Spell out in detail your expectations regarding deliverables and specific tasks to make sure the firm is able to cater to them.
All in all, outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping is something that all non-profit organizations should consider. On the surface, it may seem like an expense you simply cannot afford, but it will actually bring value and cost savings to your organization. Most importantly, it enables you and your staff to focus on your mission, instead of being bogged down in paperwork and back-office commitments. If you use the tips above regarding choosing a vendor, you should have no trouble finding the perfect firm to outsource to.