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Internal Controls

This year has been filled with “How do we” questions.  How do we elect a board, how do we fundraise, how do we fulfill the obligations of our board?  While there may be several different ways to make sure your goals are being accomplished this year, you want to make sure that you are doing what is needed to protect your organization and the money you have been charged with safeguarding the funds your school has raised and needs.

If you are not meeting with your board members in person, you need to make sure you are still making the financial records available and that the members are reviewing the documents.  It is more important than ever to be closely looking at each transaction that is on each bank statement.  Your internal controls will be what prevents a theft.

Look closely at deposits.  Two people should be counting money, but the other members of the board still have an obligation to confirm the amount deposited reflects the amount counted.  Do what  you can to use online systems for collecting funds, but if a deposit needs to be made, two people are going to have to find a way to count the money together.

Look closely at withdrawals and checks written.  Again, two people need to sign off on checks/withdrawals, and while that may be inconvenient, it is required.  In addition, it is crucial that all board members confirm that the correct amount was paid out.  Just like your personal bank account, fraud is always something to be wary of, so any unapproved payment needs to be addressed immediately.

Whether you have only a handful of transactions, or long list of transactions, oversight is key.  Most theft does not happen in one big payment, but many smaller payments made over a period of months or years.

If you are not receiving your monthly bank statements, your account balances do not seem correct, or you are see a payment that cannot be explained, do not wait.  Take action immediately to protect the funds your school and students need to be successful. 

Finally, if financial reconciliations are not your strong suit, recruit an independent parent with financial expertise, who is not a board member, to audit the records.