Why Non-Finance People Can Make the Best Treasurers…

So you can’t get a CPA or a finance person for your Board Treasurer position. Now what?

In the realm of non-profit organizations, the role of a treasurer carries significant weight in managing financial affairs. Historically, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) have been favored for this position due to their finance expertise. However, in recent years, with fewer people volunteering, and the increased liability that CPA’s face, fewer CPA’s are available or willing to fill these roles.

Then, we would look to finance or business people who understood book keeping or financial statements. As their numbers too dwindled, the unthinkable started facing boards everywhere: perhaps it was time to bring in a non finance person to fill in the role of Treasurer..

Why Non-Finance People May Make the Best Treasurers…

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Treasurers are really important to a board, why would you bring in someone who does is not trained to do this job?

In this context, it is important to acknowledge the unique advantages that non-finance professionals can bring to this role. Non-finance individuals can excel as non-profit volunteer treasurers, offering fresh perspectives, holistic decision-making, effective communication, flexibility, adaptability, learning opportunities and are less likely to wander into operations. They make as good, or better volunteer finance roles than a traditional CPA. Here’s why:

Fresh Perspective:

  • Non-finance professionals provide a fresh perspective on financial management within non-profit organizations. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences offer unique insights, fostering innovation and the introduction of new strategies.
  • By thinking outside the box, non-finance treasurers can challenge conventional practices and drive positive change within the organization.

Holistic Decision-Making:

  • Non-finance professionals possess a broader skill set beyond finance. This enables them to consider various aspects of the organization’s operations and align financial decisions with the overall mission and goals.
  • Their ability to integrate financial considerations with other organizational needs, such as program development and community engagement, leads to more effective decision-making.

Effective Communication:

  • Non-finance professionals are often skilled communicators, capable of translating complex financial information into understandable terms for board members, volunteers, and other stakeholders.
  • Their ability to bridge the gap between finance jargon and layman’s language fosters better understanding and collaboration among team members, ultimately benefiting the organization’s financial health. If you can get other non-finance people to understand financial terms and reports, you are more likely to get team champions who can communicate between departments.

Flexibility and Adaptability:

  • Non-finance professionals who volunteer as treasurers bring a level of flexibility and adaptability to the role. They are accustomed to wearing multiple hats and handling diverse responsibilities.
  • Unlike CPAs who may have a more specialized focus, non-finance treasurers can readily adapt to the evolving needs of the organization. They can contribute in various areas beyond finance, such as fundraising, program development, or community outreach.
  • This flexibility allows non-profit organizations to leverage the treasurer’s skills and expertise across different aspects of their operations, leading to a more holistic and integrated approach.

Learning Opportunities:

  • Serving as a non-profit volunteer treasurer can be a valuable learning experience for non-finance professionals seeking to expand their skill set. It offers them an opportunity to gain practical knowledge in finance while contributing to a worthy cause.
  • By taking on this role, non-finance professionals can enhance their professional development, which can be beneficial in their future careers or personal financial management.

Less Likely to Get Into Operations

  • CPA’s by our very nature, are details people. We want, and need to know all the sordid details of how you do everything. If we are trying to encourage board members to focus on governance, we need to stop, create systems that work and then get out of the way and let our staff do their jobs.
  • This is much harder for a CPA. We want to run things, be involved and sometimes even micromanage a process. Non-finance professionals are less likely to care how you calculated that number on a spreadsheet, and more likely to be interested in the process you used and the assumptions you made to generate the monthly board report — the very definition of governance.

While CPAs and finance people do possess specialized financial knowledge, it is vital to recognize the unique strengths that non-finance professionals bring as non-profit volunteer treasurers. In the absence of a CPA or other finance professional, their fresh perspective, holistic decision-making approach, effective communication skills, flexibility, adaptability, learning opportunities and desire to stay out of operations, make them valuable assets to non-profit organizations. Leveraging their diverse skills and experiences will lead to sound financial management and contribute to the overall success of the organization’s mission.

If you found value in this blog, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact hello@pharononprofit.com to give us feedback, ask questions or leave your comments.
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