***Aplos now offers FREE e-Filing for Form 990-N (e-Postcard). Click here for more!***
~ The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch. ~ Michael Armstrong
In the church or nonprofit world, you may not be building an arch, but you are building an organization. Every decision you make and the results of those decisions come back to you and your ability to steward your leadership well. People, resources, and finances are just a few of the areas where this weight may feel the heaviest. At the end of the day, you are responsible and accountability just may be your greatest asset.
If you feel like a giant weight was just thrown your direction, good! I strongly believe that individual responsibility is beginning to be taken lightly these days. Greed is a strong force that must be reckoned with on a personal level. The new Form 990 is evidence that accountability at a greater level is needed.
I recently came across a great article, “Accounting is where the nonprofit buck stops“, posted in Philanthropy Journal, that speaks directly to this issue. Great insight into the new Form 990 is given as well as the reasons why our government is cracking down. Below is an excerpt from the article.
The new Form 990
Nunn says solid accounting will be critical to provide the additional financial information nonprofits now must report in the new Form 990 they must file with the IRS.
The changes are designed to improve transparency, ensuring that “all information is there and accurate and anyone can access it,” she says, and to promote accountability, ensuring “this board should already have known about what is there, and there should be no surprises.”
Nonprofits, she says, “are holding a huge public trust given to them by government and individuals in society.”
Government recognizes that nonprofits “do work that we or business cannot or should not do,” she says, and in exchange allows nonprofits to operate generally without having to pay taxes, and allows individuals and companies to make contributions for which they can claim charitable deductions on their personal or corporate income taxes.
In return, Nunn says, government and donors expect nonprofits “will do with that money what you said you’d do.”
The new Form 990 requires that “information that is pertinent to this agency is information that can be trusted, that issues have been well vetted, that the board is informed about what is going on,” she says, and that the board has been “presented enough information to make an informed decision.”