David Anderson is principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation, forensic accounting and marital dissolution services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.
While non-profit organizations and charities spend most of their time helping people and providing valuable services, fraudsters often are busy helping themselves to the valuable financial assets of these groups.
The leaders of these houses of worship, youth sports teams, volunteer fire companies and other such groups, in most cases, focus on their mission and leave the financial operations to volunteers, said David Anderson, principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation and fraud deterrence programs in the Delaware Valley.
Since these volunteers, Anderson said, often have other commitments, they generally are able to devote only a limited amount of time towards these duties. This, he said, puts these organizations at a much higher than normal risk of fraud.
As a result, they must rely on a few trusted employees and volunteers to oversee their operations and to handle their finances. With such limited resources, explained Anderson, a Philadelphia forensic accountant and principal of David Anderson & Associates, a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of fraud investigation and fraud deterrence programs in the Delaware Valley, most small to medium-sized non-profits are not able to effectively implement the necessary internal financial and accounting controls to adequately protect against fraud.
Furthermore, he added, most organizations such as these are often unable to afford an audit or other external examination of their books and records.
The result is that certain unscrupulous employees and volunteers can take advantage of these weaknesses and embezzle funds. Here are just three examples:
- The bookkeeper for a Montgomery County, Pa., church was convicted of embezzling more than $150,000 from the church.
- A 45-year non-paid member of a Chester County, Pa., volunteer fire company was convicted of embezzling more than $300,000 from the fire company.
- The chief operating officer of a Philadelphia non-profit for the homeless was indicted for charging more than $75,000 in personal expenses on the non-profit’s credit cards.
So, what can a small to medium-sized non-profit organization do in order to protect itself from fraud? Here are a few suggestions:
- Arrange for at least two members of the internal financial review committee to receive copies of the organization’s bank statements directly from the bank before any reconciliation takes place;
- Require all checks to receive two signatures;
- Seek help from volunteers who are in government or law enforcement, or who are attorneys, to conduct background checks for new and existing employees (in accordance with the law);
- Create an internal financial review committee of three or more knowledgeable people (with backgrounds in forensic accounting, accounting and/or business finance) to review the finances of the organization on a regular basis, such as quarterly or semi-annually.(Steve, make this the first “bullet” point)
- Whenever large amounts of cash are collected (for example, weekly offerings collection or concession stand sales), require two or more people to jointly oversee the counting of the cash and preparation of deposit slips;
- When employees of volunteers resign or leave their positions, immediately remove them from computer system access and from bank signatory cards/credit cards/debit cards, etc.;
- If fraud is suspected, immediately engage outside counsel. Such counsel can best advise the organization as to the steps to take to protect itself from potential litigation and to properly investigate the suspected fraud, which may include retaining a forensic accountant to conduct the investigation.
If you require the services of a Certified Fraud Examiner in Philadelphia or any other forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, please contact the Philadelphia forensic accounting firm of David Anderson & Associates by calling David Anderson at 267-207-3597 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About David Anderson & Associates
David Anderson & Associates is a Philadelphia forensic accounting firm that provides a full range of forensic accounting services in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. The experienced professionals at David Anderson & Associates provide forensic accounting, business valuation, fraud investigation, fraud deterrence, litigation support, economic damage analysis, business consulting and outsourced CFO services. Company principal David Anderson is a forensic accounting expert in Philadelphia who has more than 30 years of experience in financial and operational leadership positions and is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Valuation Analyst and a Certified Fraud Examiner in Philadelphia.