Associations, Don’t Forget Accounting!

The experts at SST love working with associations. They’re full of hardworking, passionate people who want to serve others, but they are operationally different from other types of nonprofits.

Associations often have four or five revenue streams that can vary from one another in terms of what they provide and how they provide it. Each of the revenue streams could have their own application where revenue is tracked, but, more often than not, these individual applications don’t integrate with the association’s main accounting system. The funds may also come in from a variety of sources and flow into the bank differently. One revenue stream could deposit in one lump sum, others may trickle in throughout the month, and some are likely mixed with deposits from multiple sources of revenue.

The accounting/finance department at your association or your outsourced accountants are responsible for understanding these process flows, reconciling the receipts from the source application to the bank and recording them correctly.

When considering a change in a process or how payment is received, it is important to include your accounting/finance team in the discussions early. This even includes something as seemingly minor as deciding to use a Square terminal to process silent auction receipts, as the accounting team will need to retrieve or receive reports from Square showing all the purchase details individually. That may mean some upfront setup needs to take place or that the staff accepting payments need to enter specific information about each purchase. Equipping your team with this information early can help prevent unmet expectations between departments or financial reporting delays.

These are just a few examples of the many instances in which associations should include the accounting team early:

  • A new application, such as a learning management system, new revenue or new reporting methods need to be discussed early to ensure accounting can get what they need efficiently
  • Membership dues increase – dues are usually allocated among several types of revenue and general ledger accounts
  • Changes in number of departments or their names
  • Changes and cancellations of meetings and conferences throughout the year, as there are registration, sponsorship and booth refunds or deferrals for another year

Additionally, many deposits for meeting venues are being held until 2021 or later. Make sure your accounting team is up-to-date on any refunds coming, deferred deposits or any penalties involved with cancellations.

Association accounting is often complex and can include obtaining information from multiple applications. By including your accounting/finance team in discussions about process changes early, you can work together more effectively to achieve the best results for your association.

For in-depth assistance with your association’s needs, contact SST today.

Thanks to SST CAAS Manager Leslie Shannon for providing the content for this post.