Articles From the March 1995 Unification News


If You Can Manage a Nonprofit Organization's Finances, A Central Assets Account Can Help With Your Recordkeeping

by Gary Barker

If you manage the finances of a nonprofit organization, a foundation, or a government association, you know that the demand for cost control and fiscal accountability is growing more intense every day. Each charitable donation, request or grant application requires more accounting procedures and support data than ever.

One economical solution to the need for accurate fiscal recordkeeping- aside from hiring a major accounting firm-is to open a central assets account.

A central assets account is an all-in-one money management tool that typically combines all of your investment and savings activity, your checking and cash access card transactions, and an optional secured line of credit, into one central account.

Tracking Gifts of Stock or Other Charitable Donations

A central assets account can work especially well in situations in which your organization receives stock or other charitable gifts or raises cash as part of recurring donor drives and does not need to immediately liquidate the gift.

When charitable donations are held in a central assets account, as the account manager you retain the final decision over how to invest these funds to maximize their return. In addition, you will also be able to choose to invest in companies or government entities that share the moral, ethical, or religious beliefs of your organization.

Your Organization's Assets Work Harder

Cash held in a central assets account is regularly swept by computer into a money market fund of your choice, so money from deposits, interest, dividends and sales of securities is always invested, earning interest and working for your organization. Checkwriting privileges will allow your group to meet regular or even petty cash needs by simply writing a check.

Help with Your Recordkeeping

Associations and foundations generally must make some regular report to their accountant or auditor as well as to diverse boards and trustees. A central assets account will provide your organization with comprehensive monthly statements. These statements can help you improve your tracking, reporting, and planning, and over time help you manage expenses and keep track of your cash flow.

At year end, a good central assets account will also offer a summary statement of the entire year's activity in the account. This review an save you the trouble of compiling information from various dividend and interest statements, securities receipts and checkbook records. This time-saving feature can translate into substantial savings in accounting fees or other professional advisor expenses. Just be sure to check that the year-end statement can be made available to you on your organization's fiscal year end.

Key Features to Look For in a Central Assets Account

* High Current Earnings. Look for a daily automatic sweep by computer that invests every penny from deposits, dividends, interest and securities sales into one among several money market funds of your choice. Don't forget to compare rates. An account with a low or no annual fee can turn out to cost more than one with a fee if it pays a lower rate of return.

* Check Coding System. Look for a check coding feature that helps you categorize checks, which will aid you in monitoring expenses, tracking cash flow and organizing deductible items at tax time.

* Securities Protection. Central asset accounts offer protection for securities held in your account ranging up to $30 million. Make sure your coverage is adequate.

* Checkwriting Privilege. Find an account with a competitively priced or unlimited checking privilege.

* Easy-to-Understand Reporting. Nonprofit groups report to diverse boards, trustees, chairpersons, and private citizens. Look for plain-English comprehensive monthly and year-end statements. An added plus: Some central asset accounts will mail duplicate statements to designated individuals each month at no charge.


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