CFO tips

Don’t let down your non-profit

If you’re like most CFOs, you are on the board of one or two non-profits; maybe on the leadership council of your place of worship.  You are considered an expert.  Don’t mess this one up.  When providing a receipt for cash or checks received from your donors the non-profit must comply with all of the following for donations greater than $250:

1)  It must be dated before the donor files their return, the due date of the return, or, if they obtain an extension, the extended due date;

2)  The date(s) of the donation must be listed.  If not listed, the donor may use a dated receipt or bank records;


3)  The statement must specify the value of any goods or services from the non-profit that were received by the donor.  This seems like a no-brainer, but if a place of worship does not state “the only benefits received are intangible religious benefits, such as admission to religious ceremonies“, the IRS may deny the deduction and the donor will have no recourse.  Likewise, all non-profits must make a statement of the benefits.  But, you don’t need to go overboard.  I donated money to the Kidney Foundation to have a brick placed with my Father’s name and I received a statement saying I received $80 of benefits that included the brick and a monthly newsletter I didn’t care if I received.  The IRS states that “”token” items and other certain membership benefits do not have to be described or valued.  This includes anything that cost the non-profit less than $9.90 (which I sure the brick did), and membership benefits like newsletters.  Check for details; don’t just take my word for it.  Do your due-diligence.

If you are a CFO helping out a non-profit, don’t let them down by missing important IRS requirements.  You may not claim to be a tax expert, but you represent your Company in the community and it will be assumed that you are capable, so either prepare yourself or don’t volunteer.


Stop doing extra work and get a big thumbs-up from engineers

Did you know some of your accounting staff spends almost a month of their year wasting time?

If your company is still requiring engineers to requisition samples while designing products or process improvements then you are spending too much time on non-value added work, inhibiting innovation, and generally ticking people off.  Bite the bullet and give the engineers p-cards so they can quickly order things on the internet, get them, test them, and make a go no-go decision.  If it’s a no-go you’ve saved the work of qualifying and adding a vendor who will never be used, or adding items to your procurement system that will never be used.  You can trust the engineers to make good decisions.  Take a leap of faith CFOs!   Regarding controls, set up a protocol for receiving items (usually UPS or Fedex) that includes delivery to the department, review of MSDS, and proper sign-off.  Your banker will supply you an upload file for your journal entry so the charges are populated to the proper accounts and departments.   If there is material abuse, it will show up in those budget to actuals your staff will now have time to analyze.

Meals and Entertainment – you may be missing deductions

Before filing your taxes, check your meals & entertainment account.  Did you know that meals provided for employees and consultants while working are 100% deductible?

Most companies lump all their meals together but it is smart to have a separate account for all that food provided while working.  Just call it employee expenses or something.  Depending on how often you provide those working lunches, or order in dinner for people who need to work late, you could be missing a big tax deduction that you can spend on more meals so your staff isn’t working grumpy on an empty stomach, or eating unhealthy snacks out of vending machines.

The care and feeding of your staff

It’s year-end, month-end, budgets, whatever.  And your staff is working lots of overtime.  It’s not only hard on them, but their families, too.  Sure the overtime pay is nice, but the spouse can wind up feeling like a single parent.  Think about sending him or her a token of your appreciation: a beautiful flower arrangement, a fruit basket, tickets to a basketball game, movie passes, or just a note of thanks.  Knowing the boss cares about the imposition being put on the family makes it a little easier to swallow.