When Should Nonprofits Outsource their Accounting?
In the TV show “The Office,” three desk-bound accountants handle the financial responsibilities for the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin. Minus the outrageous humor, the show’s portrayal of an in-house team of accountants reflects most people’s vision of how businesses and nonprofits operate. The reality, however, is changing.
Nonprofits in particular are increasingly moving away from the in-house model and are outsourcing some or all of their accounting and financial management responsibilities. For many nonprofits, the benefits—particularly the ability to focus employees’ time and energy on mission-critical activities—are too big to ignore.
When and How Much to Outsource
One of the advantages of outsourcing is its flexibility. You can outsource whichever tasks you want for however long you want, as in these common nonprofit scenarios:
- You need help preparing for an audit.
- An employee has left the office, is out sick, or is on maternity leave, so you need temporary assistance with monthly tasks.
- Your organization is growing, so you need support while you hire and train new employees.
- Your in-house team doesn’t have the legal or technical know-how to handle particular challenges, such as reviewing bank reconciliations.
Other nonprofits find that it’s more efficient to outsource their entire accounting and financial management operations. It’s often a cost-efficient move, and after the initial transition period, many hours formerly devoted to training and supervision can instead be spent working on essential tasks, such as donor cultivation, that directly affect the top line.
To decide whether outsourcing is for you, be sure to consider the key benefits of each approach. With the in-house model, you can hire a person who understands your particular needs, establish their daily tasks, and walk into their office anytime a question comes up.
Outsourcing offers a variety of other benefits. In addition to the time and cost savings mentioned earlier, you can:
- Access a team of experienced experts
- Take advantage of the outsourcing firm’s extensive resources
- Pay only for the help you need, scaling up and down as needed
- Get high-level analysis and advice without hiring a C-suite employee
Although virtual accounting firms aren’t literally down the hall, it’s worth talking with them about how they will communicate with you and how available they’ll be to answer your questions. Expert advice from the best firms should be only a phone call away.
Ready to Outsource?
Insero & Co. has been serving nonprofits—including foundations, arts organizations, environmental groups, and more—for over 20 years. We provide a range of services, including outsourced accounting support (budgeting, grant assistance, month-end close, and more), audit services, assessments and strategic guidance, and employee benefit plan audits.
Contact us to learn more about our relationship-based service and how we can free your team to spend less time on finance-related tasks and more time focused on your mission.