piggy-2889042_640Becoming a volunteer treasurer can be somewhat frightening if you haven’t previously served in this capacity. The size of your organisation will usually determine whether your role will primarily be one of oversight, or, if you will need to be very hands-on and directly involved with daily activities.

The following is a list of traits that most successful treasurers share, along with a few tips to make it easier to perform your duties.

Prior Experience isn’t a Requirement

Your learning curve will most certainly be shorter if you have some prior experience with bookkeeping and finance, but it’s not an absolute necessity. You should, however, feel comfortable handling cash, be proficient in basic math skills, be highly organised and be able to take a highly methodical, straight-forward approach to completing tasks.

Your Values and Sense of Personal Integrity Matter

To be a good treasurer, you must be able to act ethically, always, regardless of the situation, or any temptations that you might encounter. You should be honest, responsible, forthright, and, determined. Of all the positions that one can have in an organisation, serving as treasurer means that everyone places their trust in you to keep watch over your NFP’s revenues, expenditures and cash flow. Even a very simple error, over time, can lead to severe consequences for your nonprofit’s finances and reputation.

Be Patient, and, Have Great Communication Skills

The treasurer is also responsible for providing input during board meetings, presenting a monthly report that explains revenues and expenditures to the board, creating a budget, and, offering opinions, advice and clarification to board members. Being able to simply difficult, abstract, concepts in simple, easy to understand language is a very helpful skill for treasurers, as is the ability to be patient, remain calm under pressure.

Meet with Prior Treasurer to Get Started on the Right Footing

If you haven’t already done so, schedule a meeting with the prior treasurer so that you can find out what, if any, existing system was used to keep records, process payments, record transactions and other routine bookkeeping and cash handling activities. Find out if there are any outstanding invoices or other unfinished business that you need to be aware of before the existing treasurer becomes unreachable so that you know where your organisation stands financially before you take over.

Schedule an Independent Audit

Any time that a treasurer or other major officeholder leaves a nonprofit, an independent audit of the books should be scheduled so that you have a clear picture of your nonprofit’s finances, and accounting practices. Use the results of this audit to identify areas where your internal processes can be improved to create greater accuracy, efficiency and security.

Don’t be Afraid to Make Changes

Over time, many organisations become steeped in their own traditions, while this practice does create stability and can generate bonds of loyalty, don’t feel that you are bound to keep things exactly as they were under the old treasurer. If your nonprofit is currently using an ineffective record keeping system, by all means upgrade it.


Finally, you don’t have to complete every single bookkeeping task or procedure yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask board members or others in your organisation for help with specific tasks, particularly if you are serving in a nonprofit that is rapidly growing, it’s okay to delegate specific tasks. If you don’t have enough help to assist you with your work, recruit volunteers or consider hiring some staff members, at least part-time, to assist with the more routine tasks and procedures. That way you will have enough time to devote to budgeting, fundraising and other strategic activities to help your NFP advance its mission forward.