Avoiding Murky Data Reports

Tuesday March 9, 2021 comments Tags: nonprofit, accounting, shenanigans, audits, investigation

Any accounting business and tax advice contained in this podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of specific issues. Nor is it a substitute for forming information. Nor is it sufficient to avoid tax related penalties. If you have specific questions that you need advice for, be sure to schedule a strategy session and not solely rely on information in this podcast. All right, back to the episode. Are you a nonprofit leader, wanting to get a better handle of your finances and how the mission and the money are connected? Check out Impact Basics. It's a 12 week course that combines an online learning platform with live instruction. So you'll have your modules that you can go through at your own pace and then there are office hours where you can bring any question from the modules or what's happening in the day to day for your organization that we can work through together. The next cohort starts soon so be sure to check out the link in the show notes to get more information. 

Hey, it's Chyla Graham from CNRG Accounting Advisory. Welcome to another episode of the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast. This is another episode about data. So last week, we talked about data like hey, making sure that people are submitting your reports. This time our story about shenanigans, so shenanigans are misappropriations misleading mismanagement of funds based off of news articles. So we're not digging into whether or not this thing happened or not like, we're not digging into the factuality of it, but we are talking about how you can prevent your organization from falling into this pit, from falling into being one of these people in the news. 

So this one, it's a Georgia organization, Georgia nonprofit Companions for Heroes Under State Investigation. So this is a case where what happened is the organization is not consistent with how many people they say they served. So this is an organization that is providing service animals, or pets to veterans. This is something that most people are going to get behind people love animals, people love veterans I come from a military background so there's a very strong support for the work they do. Sometimes organizations get distracted and they feel like they have to prove their numbers and this is what's going on here. 

In this article, we have several different numbers that are being propagated. We have in one case, they're like, hey, we've served 3500 plus nationwide. And another they say like we've saved 502 pets and saved over 4000 lives. Then we have another one where they say oh, We've helped over 5000 veterans, another they said we've rescued over 7000 dogs and paired them with veterans. Another says that they've paired 634 dogs with veterans. So, we're going from 500 pets to the potential of 7000 pets within the same supposedly timeframe. Why is this a problem? The lack of consistency leads to a lack of trust. How do you stop this lack of consistency? You have to have a shared way of communicating. What counts as a rescue? Does the rescue only count once you get them placed with a veteran or does the rescue count from the time you have picked them up? So regardless of what ends up happening to them, when does it count as we've rescued? And when does it count as we've helped the veteran? Does the veteran returning the pet count? Being clear about what that means is how you make sure you have the same consistent data.

So in the accounting world, it happens very often, the idea of what the development team says they raise versus what accounting fundraise. There has to be some sort of communication back and forth so that's consistent. So even if you say the different numbers, you can back into one another. So you can say, oh, because we're using this date that's how we get to that number. And the other team is saying, Oh, well, we're looking at this information and that's how we get to that number. But that way you have a consistency and a way to report back when you can say like, Hey, I'm a little confused, what happened? It's very easy to say upfront like oh that department, this is how they report that and it doesn't feel like one person has seven stories. So if your organization does not have a consistent way of reporting your data, get one. 

Really consider who you might need to work with. We will put some contacts that we have. So, you know Amanda Wallander Roberts, I'm probably always sharing something from her. She also in addition to grants does some data work. I'll put her contact information and you can reach out to her. I'll put her website and also put out the website for Paul Collier who does Cole Effects. They also do some data work and so check out him to see if he might be the person who supports and make sure that you are being consistent with what you're saying you have done. Alright, then have a good day. Bye. Thanks for tuning into another episode of the Nonprofit Nuggets Podcast.


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Link to Article: Georgia Nonprofit Companions For Heroes Under State Investigation