Many details go into planning a special event fundraiser such as the caterer, entertainment, venue, and raffle prizes. While those are important details, do not forget to consider the internal controls and accounting aspects of the event. Proper planning for the safeguarding of assets and recordkeeping will make your event run smoother, provide accurate information for reporting, and prevent theft from occurring.

Safeguarding Assets
Cash is a very popular form of payment at special events; therefore, procedures should be put in place to protect the cash that was collected. Management should establish cash handling procedures before the event and provide these procedures to anyone who will be handling it.

Procedures to consider:

Maintain a locked cash box with a documented start-up amount
Sell pre-numbered tickets, allowing for reconciliation
Have two people independently count cash immediately after the event
Reconcile inventory to sales and cash collections
Independently document auction bids and cash received and reconcile

In addition to receiving cash, organizations may also receive donated assets either to use for the event or to raffle or auction off. There needs to be procedures to safeguard these donated assets, as well. Consider separating the soliciting and collection functions of the donated assets, maintain an inventory list of items collected, and have someone independent of solicitation send out acknowledgement letters to the donors.

Regulation and Reporting Considerations
Be sure to consider regulations and reporting aspects surrounding fundraisers. Depending on the state in which the event is held, requirements vary and can include raffle licenses, liquor licenses, event permits, and potential tax considerations.

It is important to keep good records of income and expenses related to the event and not co-mingle with normal operating transactions. Also, be sure to give donor acknowledgement letters in a timely manner.

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Joe Nurmi
I joined the Hawkins Ash CPAs accounting and auditing staff in 2014. As a manager, I prepare audited, reviewed and compiled financials.

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