One of the saddest things we see is when a new client or association comes to us with a tale of deceit. These aren’t stories that hit the nightly news, although we could all cite a few of those. No, these are situations in which a combination of trust and inattention are explained as reasons for employee or volunteer wrongdoing going unnoticed. It might not even be criminal intent.

Since it’s most recent, we’ll highlight a large local club whose finances have always been handled by a longtime volunteer treasurer. This is “a nice old lady” who everyone knew had the organization’s best interests at heart. As the club grew and the years passed, she could not keep up with the volume of work nor the many regulations that now cover nonprofit finances. Not wanting to be embarrassed by what she knew was a mess, she just announced her retirement and soon after moved out of state.

As others on the board started to go through her “file” (two boxes, really) the seriousness deepened. Unfiled minutes with the state, unfiled tax returns for several years, and membership dues discrepancies that may not have indicated actual theft by her, but made unclear what the group’s finances really were.

We can’t give you the end of this particular story as it is in process. We are being brought in to assess the structure, put procedures in place, and to professionalize operations for the nonprofit.

Do you really know what your group’s finances are?