Reporting and Operations

Writing Checks

Size of Organization: 
Small

The more people involved in processing transactions, the less likely it is that a problem will occur. For small organizations with limited staffing, this issue is particularly troublesome. In some cases, the best answer lies in having members of the board of directors serve as check signers. This option is usually most viable if there are several board members living in the area of the organization’s office.

At a minimum an organization should have two people involved in this process. The process can be broken into several parts with only two people involved:

  • The mail is opened by administrator.
  • The invoice is checked for accuracy by the administrator.
    • Does it add?
    • Does it match the packing information if the items were delivered?
    • Does the price match the contract?
  • The invoice should be coded by type of account and department/program/grant by the person who ordered the service and/or has responsibility for the budget being charged.
    • For example, an invoice for supplies for the conference should have a notation to that effect on the invoice.
  • The person who authorized the purchase or service should approve the invoice in writing, preferably on the invoice.
  • The check should be written by the administrator.
    • If a computerized system is used, the check writing should be automated.
    • If a manual check is written, an entry should be made into the accounting system (general ledger).
  • The unsigned check and the supporting documentation should be given to the check signer (manager).
    • The signer should be someone other than the person writing the checks.
  • The checks should then be mailed.
  • A copy of the check should be attached to the invoice and filed by the administrator.
    • As an alternative, the check number can be written on the invoice.
      • In this case, the invoice should be marked as paid.

For more ideas for your organization, try these links:

www.labyrinthinc.com for basic information for small nfpo’s and state registrations
www.businesstown.com/accounting/basic.asp Lists control considerations
www.oncampus.richmond.edu/connect/nonprofit/finance/finance-acctg.html General control information
www.josseybass.com Financial and Accounting Guide for Not-for-Profit Organizations
www.uky.edu/Regs/BPM/E-2-2.html Internal control section of a Business Procedures Manual
www.genie.org/pubs_reviews_controller.htm Reviews publications on controls for different size organizations
www.geocities.com/ywca_berkeley/BYL/mod3sc6.html “Financial Systems that Protect Not-for-Profit Organizations”

WIRE TRANSFERS

The processing of the request for payment is the same whether writing checks or making wire transfers. However, the method of making the payment differs.

When making a wire transfer, all of the documentation and authorizations necessary for any disbursement should be obtain prior to making the transfer. Further, a wire transfer form should be developed showing:

  • The payee
  • The name of the payee's bank
  • The account number for the payee
  • The amount of the wire
  • The date the transfer takes place
  • The initials of the person making the transfer
  • The initials of the person(s) authorizing the transfer

These transfers can be requested in person at the bank, by telephone call or online.

Transfers made online appear to provide the highest level of control. The program can be set-up in a manner that requires one or more approvals before the transfer will be released. For example, one employee will input the transaction. A second, and perhaps a third employee, will review the transaction. The second and third employee will have authorization codes that will need to be posted before the transaction will be released. This process ensures that the transaction has been properly authorized prior to its taking place.