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Career Story: Accounting Supervisor For A Charitable Organization

Accounting Supervisor For A Charitable Organization

Job Title: Controller Of Non-Profit

Type of Company: I work for a company that provides services to homeless and low-income individuals. We have shelters, job training programs, detox programs and programs for the mentally ill. We also own and manage affordable housing projects.

Education: BS, Accounting

Previous Experience: I worked for a Big Four public accounting firm for four years. I am a Certified Public Accountant.

Job Tasks: As controller, I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of our finance office. I oversee the accounts payable, payroll, contract compliance, cash receipts and general ledger accounting functions and deal with questions that arise about any of these. Questions can relate to a whole host of things: to reconciling an item or establishing the correct general ledger account to be used for a certain expense or a request for financial information from a funder.

Two significant aspects of the position are the annual audit and annual financial reporting process and the annual budget process. The audit process involves overseeing and reviewing the production of all year-end reports and account balances. I also create the financial statements from those balances and provide additional descriptive details in the notes to the financial statements.

The annual budget process involves producing and distributing historical information along with directives to the department heads so that they can submit departmental budgets. Those budgets are then reviewed in detail to determine if they are reasonable and follow-up with department heads occurs to gain additional information. Items are budgeted by line item for each expense category. The budgets of all department heads are summarized into an agency budget and additional changes will occur in order to balance the budget. Every month I produce budget-to-actual variance reports and review them with department heads.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I really enjoy my job. I especially enjoy the analytical aspects of the job and evaluating how certain changes can make a difference in the operating results. I also enjoy the management aspects of the position and working with the finance department staff.

The parts I like the least is when I have to get involved in dealing with difficult vendors and responding to various information requests from government agencies which tend to be time-consuming and do not offer value to my company (although they may be valuable to the government).

Job Tips:
1. If possible, get some experience in public accounting and if you are interested in non-profit work, try to find a firm that specializes in that area.

2. Don't be afraid to transition from a for-profit accounting department to a non-profit accounting department, but do so with a purpose. The learning curve can be steep.

3. Do as much research as possible on any companies that you are interviewing with. Their are many internet resources for information (guidestar.org). I am always shocked when people come in to interview with me and have only a minimal knowledge of what we do. That leaves a negative first impression.

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