What kind of jerk would steal from a nonprofit? The jerkiest kind of jerk, that’s what kind.
And, unfortunately, these jerks exist and they don’t just prey on major corporations like Target or Home Depot. Nonprofit organizations, big and small, are victims of fraud, too. In fact as part of its 2016 Global Fraud Study, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners asked respondents to provide demographic information. Of those who responded, 10.1 percent of victim organizations were nonprofits that reported a median loss of $100,000; 18.7 percent were government agencies that reported a median loss of $109,000.
The harsh reality is nonprofits often have unknown or unrealized risk factors that make them targets for fraudsters. Here are four risk factors that are likely happening within your organization right now, or could easily be lurking around the corner.
Nonprofit Fraud Risk Factors
Your team members are wearing too many hats. In addition to feeling pressure to perform on multiple fronts, the Nonprofit Finance & Accounting Study reports that nearly half of the nonprofit finance and accounting professionals identified interruptions from other departments as the number one most common challenge they face on a daily basis. Lots of conflicting responsibilities compounded by lots of interruptions can make an otherwise attentive, detail-oriented professional very unfocused and unaware.
Your nonprofit experiences high employee turnover. In the 2016 Nonprofit Finance Study, 88 percent of respondents say their organization is completely unprepared or only somewhat prepared if a key finance person was to leave. Simply put, many organizations are vulnerable to losing key finance personnel, and with turnover comes instability and possibly even inattention to risk.
You have limited or ineffective controls in place. Unfortunately, there are many nonprofits, particularly smaller organizations, that run an informal shop and don’t have prescribed controls in place. And, even if they do, they often allocate very limited resources to monitoring, enforcing, and updating them.
There are volunteers who are privy to confidential information. Because volunteers are such a vital component of nonprofit operations, they should be given appropriate training and oversight when they’re layered into your internal control systems and processes.
It’s natural to be shaking in your (very stylish) boots at this point. I am. Fortunately, you don’t have to sit back and continue to be a target of nonprofit fraud. Read The Perfect Storm: Protecting Your Nonprofit from the Devastation of Fraud to learn best practices for keeping your organization and its mission safe.