By: Ricki Sexton
While I do have many years of association experience, I have more years of accounting experience, which is why coming to work at Partners as a Member Services Manager was a new direction for me. Numbers, following procedures, checks and balances, and proper and timely recording is something I feel extremely passionate about.
While Member Services is not an “accounting” department, per se, since we don’t process accounts payable, handle payroll or most other accounting tasks, we are in charge of making sure that all of the cash for all of our associations and members is properly accounted for at all times, recorded correctly and in a timely manner. Associations report to a board of directors, on a time frame specified by the Association by-laws, so accuracy is essential. A Board of Directors expects their figures to be accurate the first time they receive them, not getting change after change after change. Without the proper procedures in place, accuracy is sure to fall by the wayside.
I’d like to share a few of the tips that I feel are essential to implement when planning the day to day accounting operations of your association.
- Consistency. In our particular business, we handle our clients’ payments in a variety of manners. We receive checks in the mail, credit card payments in the mail, payments through each individual association’s website, and even through faxes. We create Excel spreadsheets for backup for deposits, as well as using adding machine tapes. Producing the same backup for all of these types of payments takes the guesswork out for our staff, and eliminates errors when the paperwork is distributed for others to review.
- Check It Twice! I am someone that loves the sound of an adding machine going full force with numbers being punched in! I was told many years ago by an early supervisor – always run your tape twice to make sure you get the same result both times. This can save you an hour later in your day wondering why your deposit doesn’t add up to what you think it should. Everything is worth an extra 30 seconds right then, to eliminate time later.
- Checks and Balances. In our office, two separate people always handle credit card transactions. This eliminates the chances of a client being charged an improper amount, or potentially charged twice – two sets of eyes are better than one! Sometimes by the time we finish with a deposit, there has been five sets of eyes on it, but this ensures that when we send financials to our clients to present to their board, we are accurate.
Most associations follow the rules of Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), however, there will always be a need for consistency and checks and balances within any department. Maintaining these tips within what I like to call my “Member Services/Mini-Accounting” department, helps keep us on track throughout the day!