Not-for-profit accounting is challenging. It has several unique quirks, and it is constantly evolving. These factors add increased complexities to an already difficult industry and put pressure on financial leaders of not-for-profits to keep current on technical trends and regulations.
One resource that I have found incredibly helpful in my career assisting non-for-profits with accounting issues is the Nonprofit Financial Group (NFG). The NFG is a volunteer-led organization that’s sole purpose is to encourage and educate nonprofit financial leaders. The NFG has two chapters locally, a Twin Cities chapter, and a North chapter. With members from numerous accounting firms (including, of course, Mahoney,) the NFG has the resources available to assist nonprofits with any related financial question.
Becoming a member of the NFG is quick and easy: Simply visit www.nfgmn.org/member-enrollment/ and complete the new member form. Membership for nonprofit employees is only $60 per person, with additional rates for student or vendor members. Numerous benefits and resources are available to members. For example, from September through June (excluding December), the NFG puts on monthly programs discussing a wide variety of accounting topics, including; budgeting and new accounting standards, as well as other topics , such as office conflict resolution, best practices, and more. In the past, these meetings have been held in-person, but have switched to an online format since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. These meetings typically occur on the fourth Thursday of every month and also provide CPE credit to CPAs.
Another benefit of membership is the opportunity to attend social events put on by the group. Recent events have included axe throwing, museum tours, and St. Paul Saints games. Events like these provide increased networking opportunities with other nonprofit financial leaders in the Twin Cities area. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these events have had to be postponed or moved virtually over the past year plus, but hopefully these can get back on the schedule soon.
The NFG also has a wide variety of resources available on their website detailing various nonprofit accounting topics, such as the Form 990, financial accounting standards and, information about federal awards. The website also features information on general nonprofit-related topics like State charities information from the Minnesota Attorney General and IRS information related to nonprofits. Resources like these can be a great place to start with any general questions related to the nonprofit industry.
Once you become a member of the NFG, you are added to their group email list. With this perk, you have the ability to ask the group questions related to any professional challenge. All you have to do is send an email to the group email address and all members of the NFG can see your question and have an opportunity to provide responses. Likewise, when other members send questions and answers, all members can see the responses sent. As a result, the list serve provides valuable information on questions you may never even thought to ask.
In conclusion, the world of not-for-profit accounting is challenging. However, having the right resources at your fingertips can make a huge difference in how you and your organization approach difficult situations. Joining the NFG is a great way to gain access to trustworthy resources. If you aren’t sure about full membership, members can bring a guest to meetings. Feel free to reach out to the Mahoney team if interested and we can sign you up as one of our guests for the next meeting.