By Deanna C. White
For most people, it's probably safe to say their routine stops on the way to the office usually involve little more than a quick dash into the local coffee shop for their morning cappuccino or a last minute pit stop to fill up their tank with gas.
But that's not the case in Lee County, Florida, where individuals working with local nonprofit organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and the Salvation Army have added free financial seminars on topics like fraud and risk management to their morning routine.
It's all thanks to the Fort Myers-based accounting firm Myers, Brettholtz & Company, PA
, which is currently presenting its fourth annual Sunrise Quickinar Series.
The free Quickinars, presented in partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the United Way, focus on accounting practices and requirements specifically geared toward nonprofit organizations.
Participants from other organizations have included the Florida Humane Society, Goodwill, and the Society of St. Vincent DePaul.
Jennifer Coleman, audit partner at Myers, Brettholtz & Company, says it's all part of the firm's overall culture of giving back to the community.
"As a firm, we have always supported a lot of nonprofits throughout the community, like Meals on Wheels and several Christmas charities," Coleman said. "But this was something we could do to provide free financial education to nonprofit organizations; a way to help them avoid some of the financial pitfalls they may face along the way."
This year's Quickinars include Fraud, Risk Management, 990 as a Marketing Tool, and Policies.
Coleman said the genesis for the Quickinar topics came from many of the routine questions they get from their clients on a regular basis - questions like how to develop an internal control system to prevent fraud; how to develop a plan to negate possible financial risks; and how to use 990 tax returns that nonprofits are required to file as a marketing tool to showcase their organization to potential donors.
The firm also provides information on the specific policies nonprofits must have in place, such as the whistleblower policy, to ensure the organizations can provide continuity in practice for their future boards of directors and staffs.
"We just want them to be aware of the different financial risks they could potentially face and have a concrete idea of different ways they can address these issues," Coleman said. "Again, internal control is a huge issue. We want them to be aware of the possibility of fraud in an organization and how to identify potential fraud. Even in small organizations it's critical to have a good internal control system."
Every January, Myers, Brettholtz & Company also hosts a daylong seminar to help nonprofits generate ideas on how to secure donations even in tough economic times.
And, Coleman believes, putting on the Quickinars has benefitted more than just the local nonprofit community - it has benefitted Myers, Brettholtz & Company as well.
"There's really no turnover here at Myers, Brettholtz & Company, and I think that's because of the culture we have," Coleman said. "Some firms just take from the community, but we give back. It's important to us. It's heightened our sense of loyalty to the community and to the firm."
Remaining seminars in Myers, Brettholtz & Company's fourth annual Sunrise Quickinar Series include:
- 990 as a Marketing Tool, Wednesday, October 10, Naples, Florida
- 990 as a Marketing Tool, Thursday, October 11, Fort Meyers, Florida
- 990 as a Marketing Tool, Tuesday, October 30, Sanibel Island, Florida
- Policies, Wednesday, November 7, Naples, Florida
- Policies, Thursday, November 8, Fort Myers, Florida
The seminars are held from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. ET. While the seminars are free, participants must register in advance by calling (239) 690-4250. Space is limited.