The CFO'S Perspective

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith is a high capacity financial manager with success in a wide variety of settings in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She is passionate about engineering process improvement and navigating transitions, resulting in sustainable efficiencies and cost savings. In addition to core accounting competencies, she is experienced at managing other support functions such as IT, Human Resources, and Operations.

Recent Posts by Nancy Smith:

Don’t Trust Your Accountant!

What would we do without our accountants? We rely on them for accuracy, reporting, transaction processing, analysis, and financial advice. For non-accountants, the discipline can be a mystery. So, we try to find a good accountant to add to our team and then we trust them to do their job. That’s what we should do, right?

Actually, no.

You shouldn’t trust your accountant. Well, hopefully, you can trust them, but you shouldn’t.

Topics: Accounting Fraud Risk Management

Implementing Paperless Accounting Processes (including getting the money)

Three years after, we all went remote. What do we keep? What are the workarounds that we are living with but need to have a more sustainable solution for?

Situation:  We went remote without warning and put in coping measures. This accelerated the adoption of paperless/electronic workflows earlier than previously imagined. The return-to-the-office has happened in fits and starts, delayed by new variants and (frankly) resistance from staff who have embraced the opportunity to telework.

And even if your office IS returning to full-time in-person operations, it is doubtful that you will be returning to the "old way" or doing things. And perhaps you shouldn't. On this 3rd anniversary, it is time to reassess your systems and processes and evaluate what we can keep and perhaps improve and what needs to be left behind.

Topics: Financial Process Technology

Moving Forward in Finance in a Hybrid Work Environment

As more people begin to get vaccinated, we are eager to return to what life was like in the "before times" to plan vacations, in-person meetings, even concerts and ballgames. When it comes to the workplace, there is no turning back the clock to how we used to do things. Wise leaders will capitalize on the innovations developed during the transition to continue remote operations by retaining the process improvements to be sustainable, regardless of what comes next.

Topics: Finance Planning

Beyond GAAP – Financial Reporting for Nonprofits

GAAP compliance in financial statements is an essential underpinning for nonprofits and for-profit businesses alike. It is essential to be in GAAP compliance for audits, funding applications, etc. However, the standard GAAP financial statements may not be enough to ensure your statements will match your cash position at the end of the month. Additional perspectives are required to quickly assess the organization’s financial performance.

Topics: Non Profit Organizations Financial Reports gaap

How to Improve Your Accounting Software System Capabilities

All organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, use accounting software. All have varying degrees of complexity and features. Regardless of the available features, most of us still rely on exporting data into a spreadsheet to improve adjustability. In fact, most of us over-rely on this process. There are better ways to improve your accounting software capabilities.

Topics: Accounting Software Accounting System

How Much Cash Should a Nonprofit Have in Reserves?

An 84-year-old resident of Longview passed away this year, leaving $750,000 of her estate to three local non-profits. Relying on these types of unexpected donations is one way to build up your organization's reserves, but you can't count on these generous gifts.

Case in point is the Anacortes-based conservation nonprofit Pacific Biodiversity Institute, which just closed its doors due to a lack of funding. Whether flush with funds or struggling to keep the lights on, there’s never enough funding for a nonprofit to accomplish every initiative it would like.

Every organization needs to determine how much it requires for Operations, in Operating Reserves, and what can be dedicated to mission-focused initiatives. The answers to these questions are, of course, “It depends.”

The variables that must be considered include seasonality, worst case scenarios, and more. The key to developing a specific answer is knowledge - knowledge of the organization’s current financial state and donation history, as well as the data that is produced from a solid budget and cash forecast.

For those organizations that struggle, a plan must be developed to raise donations and reduce expenses. If you are fortunate enough to have a surplus of reserves additional questions arise. Where do you put those reserves? How should you safely manage them? While the answers vary from nonprofit to nonprofit, there are a solid set of financial best practices to follow and ensure that these questions are answered.

Topics: Non Profit Organizations Planning Cash Flow