pexels-photo-262550There are several misconceptions about the role volunteer treasurers fill in their organisations, and these persistent myths often make it difficult to recruit new treasurers. For example, some assume that being a treasurer is full of tedious and boring tasks, and that the treasurer operates solely behind the scenes of their organisation. Others assume that it is impossible for someone to be good at the job unless they come from a background in bookkeeping or finance. The following list includes some of the most important functions that treasurers perform, along with some of the qualities that make it easier for treasurers to fulfil their role.

A Watchful Eye on the Nonprofit’s Financial Health and Well-being

One of the primary functions performed by treasurers is that of financial oversight. Depending on the size of the nonprofit, the treasurer may have some staff members to take care of cash handling, deposits and check writing, and actual bookkeeping and record keeping.

Whether the treasurer completes these tasks themselves, or has assistance, they are responsible for keeping their fingers on the financial pulse of the organisation. This generally involves seeing that procedures and practices are put in place to record transactions; safeguard cash, information and other assets; and reduce the risk of loss of cash and other nonprofit property.

The Ability to Answer Financial Questions and Explain Financial Terms

While it’s not necessary to be a certified accountant to be a good treasurer, having a background in bookkeeping or accounting can make it easier for the treasurer to be able to explain financial information to the board. If the treasurer does not have a lot of existing accounting experience, they may need additional training so that they can understand what goes into preparing the required financial reports and how to communicate the information in them to the board.

Planning and Strategy

A great treasurer works with other board members and leaders within the organisation to help them be able to wisely use the NFP’s resources to achieve their objectives. One of the primary activities that helps them assist the nonprofit in realising their goals is creating the annual budget, which offers the board a roadmap of the planned revenues and expenses for the year.

In addition to playing a vital role in creating the annual budget, the treasurer is also responsible for measuring financial results, and keeping the board up to date on how well they are sticking to the budget. They keep members current about unexpected events that result in overages and shortages, such as a sudden increase in expenses, the loss of a major donor, extra successful fundraising campaigns and so forth.

They also act as a facilitator in helping the NFP prepare for an independent third-party audit, and act as a liaison between auditor and board to answer questions the board may have on the auditing process and any results or recommendations that the auditor makes.

The treasurer’s role then can be a very prominent and public one. It is one that requires financial knowledge the ability to process detailed information, but it also requires good communication skills. Above all, the treasurer’s role is the ability to translate specific knowledge about the NFP’s finances into language that others can easily understand and in formats that allow board members and other stakeholders to be able to make clear and informed decisions based on that information.

Do You Have the Right Stuff?

If you have an eye for detail, are good with “numbers,” can simplify and explain complex processes and would like to find a way to give back to your community, then you have all of the traits of a great volunteer treasurer!