If you work in the nonprofit sector, there is an event coming up this month that could help you further your career or enhance the operations of your organization. HW&Co., CPAs & Advisors is hosting its annual event “An Executive’s Guide to Nonprofit Success” in Columbus on Nov. 19 and in the Cleveland area on Nov. 21 at the DoubleTree in Independence.
“We touch on topics anywhere from the latest and greatest accounting to what is going on in the tax side,” says Brandon Miller, a principal with HW&Co. who helped build the firm’s nonprofit business. “We also touch on other topics like board responsibilities and board oversight issues.”
The half-day event is designed to give nonprofit leadership practical tips and strategies necessary for success. There are two tracks: one for financial executives such as CFOs, controllers, vice presidents of finance, etc.; the other for board members and executives such as executive directors and CEOs.
The financial side will cover the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other 990 issues on giving and in changes in nonprofit accounting, while the nonfinancial side will deal with the state of nonprofit giving and what executives and board members should know about the 990 issues and financial statements. Following the two sessions, everyone will come together for a final segment on succession planning in nonprofits. Like many other business topics, succession planning isn’t just for private companies and corporations. Nonprofits have boards and directors that need to be considered in any business decision, especially succession.
HW&Co. is recognized as one of the leading CPA business advisory firms for nonprofits in Ohio. Although it has a focus on family-owned or closely held, private mid-sized companies, its nonprofit business has grown to one of the largest in Ohio. Miller, who has been with the firm since 1997, played a large role in the company’s growth into the nonprofit sector.
So, it only made sense to have an accounting and advising firm that was working mostly with privately held family businesses to also have a nonprofit service area.
In the early 2000s, HW&Co. started to focus more heavily on the nonprofit sector, starting with health care and then spreading its wings into other nonprofit arenas, including arts and cultural institutions, social service organizations, foundations and others.
“When I took over our nonprofit practice, obviously one of my goals was to grow our clientele,” says Miller. “At the same time, I also approached a lot of people here internally and told them to get onto the boards of nonprofits or volunteer.
“We needed to get our people out into the community to understand how nonprofits operate, how they function and the issues they have to deal with every day. So, when we work with nonprofit clients, we can relate and we know how to deal with their issues and concerns.”
Miller also saw the need for an annual event that addressed the specific concerns of nonprofits.
“When we first started our annual event 15 years ago, it was only about five or six clients in our conference room,” Miller recalls. “But, today we probably get anywhere from 80 to 100 participants just in the Cleveland area alone.”
Similarly, HW&Co.’s nonprofit practice has grown to include more than 100 nonprofit organizations throughout the state. The company’s growth has mirrored the growth of the nonprofit sector, which saw explosive growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Miller is recognized as one of the nonprofit sector’s leading financial analysts and advisors. He recently gave a talk at the Business Volunteers Unlimited event last month that focused on the combining and collaboration of operations between nonprofit entities.
“The collaboration and combing of nonprofits is an issue that is being driven by foundations and granting agencies,” says Miller. “If you are an organization looking to fund a certain philanthropic mission, you might find six or seven nonprofits that do the same thing in the Cleveland area alone. So, when these nonprofits go to the same foundation or granting agency, that organization sees that it doesn’t make sense to fund six or seven organizations, but it might make sense to have those organizations work together from just one pool of money.”
Like other business entities, nonprofits can also realize synergies in operations, as well as executive structure.
“That is why a lot of nonprofits are combing or collaborating,” Miller says. “But like a for-profit company going through a merger or acquisition, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed by a nonprofit.”
An example is board makeup when the two entities combine or the executive structure when job titles and responsibilities overlap.
“We have experienced a lot of what nonprofits have gone through, so our firm can offer a lot of consulting services as it applies to those kinds of combinations.”
If you would like to attend “An Executive’s Guide to Nonprofit Success,” the cost is $50 for the first person from a nonprofit, and $40 for each additional person from the same nonprofit. Advisors such as attorneys and bankers will be asked to pay $150. Visit hwco.com/calendar for information.