I know, your heart has quit beating – right? Mine too. These are words no nonprofit executive or board member likes hearing. But they are words that need to be said, conversations that need to be had.
To be certain, I don’t think there’s ever been a nonprofit executive or board who thought to themselves: “Let’s hire this person – they are likely to steal from us!” or “This volunteer should handle our funds, they seem really shady!” But are we as nonprofits doing a good enough job of protecting our organizations (and ourselves as staff and/or volunteers entrusted with funds)? Are we doing a good enough job at being good stewards of the funds entrusted to us?
We all know of examples of theft or fraud. It’s awful for the organization and those they serve, sometimes resulting in an organization closing its doors and unable to recover. But more often, the result is a damaged reputation and shaken trust of donors, funders and constituents. The good news is, there are excellent resources to help your organization avoid this awful situation. A recent article talks about what to do when funds go missing. But before that even happens, your organization can be proactive! KNN’s Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in KY and accompanying Planning & Implementation Workbook can guide you through preventative steps, background checks for staff AND volunteers handling funds are ESSENTIAL (and KNN can help you find the most affordable service for this) and a CPA can help you implement effective internal controls – even without an audit.
Yes, talking about theft and fraud is a difficult conversation, but it’s a conversation that has to be had. Remember, this isn’t about the people on staff or on the board, it’s about the people your organization serves. Addressing this issue and taking steps to protect the organization isn’t personal and anyone offended or insisting that “I’ve got this” is putting your organization at serious risk.