Consulting Services Index

Descriptions of our current consulting services

For Nonprofits

Consulting & Advisory

Our nonprofit consulting & advisory engagements are project-based contracts spanning from a few weeks to a few years based on the nature of the work. Nonprofit organizations may engage us for a time-limited custom project or more extended transitional support during a period of change.

Find detailed descriptions of our consulting services below.

Planning and Analysis

BDO FMA consultants have been helping nonprofits plan for their financial futures for over two decades. Our team supported nonprofit organizations through the 2008 recession, and when the 2020 disruptions hit, quickly pivoted to provide accounting and consulting services to help nonprofits face the present and prepare for an uncertain future.

Read more about our approach and free resources to help you plan for the future here.

A sound budget provides the framework for informed strategic decision making. Organizations seeking to thrive understand the importance of developing a team-based budgeting process and annual operating budget. While involving non-finance staff in the process may not be intuitive or an easy sell, we have an excellent track record of building a strong cross-functional budget team.

With BDO FMA at the helm, you can be sure your budget process will include

  • A customized template using your expense structure, revenue mix, programs and other significant activities, and allocation methodology
  • Collaboration with senior leaders to estimate realistic revenues based on projected volumes, past funding allocations, or new expected revenue streams
  • Comprehensive expense budgets that account for staff salary increase percentages, fringe benefit rates, direct program expenses, and overhead calculations

Many nonprofits undertake strategic planning, but too few complete the process by linking it to a financial plan.

Multi-Year Financial Modeling bridges the gap between mission & programs, and the resources needed to deliver those programs. Our consultants understand that developing a financial model can be an intense, complex and time consuming process. We tailor our approach to suit your unique needs and provide hands-on, functional assistance. We’ll work with you to

  • Map out a process that includes a timeline and the roles of the board, management team, and staff
  • Clarify your programmatic and financial goals
  • Review your current financial, human, and organizational resources
  • Create program expense and revenue models based on well-supported assumptions

Whether you’re ready to take the leap to independence from a fiscal sponsor, or you’re considering joining forces with another organization, BDO FMA can give you experienced guidance and support from start to finish.

Our team provides critical analysis, advisory & due diligence to inform potential mergers, fiscal sponsor spinoffs, and wind-down of an organization.

Depending on the situation, you may need to find an Auditor, PEO, or select the right accounting software and other technology for your changing fiscal office. You’ll want to be confident you have the right staffing in place for the road ahead and may need to develop and document fiscal policies and procedures to establish critical internal controls.

We can help you with each of these, and even step in temporarily or permanently to carry out your financial management from bookkeeping to C-level strategizing, so that you can continue to focus on delivering your services.

While nonprofit leaders have always benefited from scenario planning, our current economic climate demands a lightweight and iterative approach focused on more immediate threats and opportunities in the short-term, building towards a stabilization plan with longer-term expectations.

In response to the disruptions of 2020, our scenario planning services focus on practical tools and guidance to support decision-making that will optimize programs and services deemed essential and will maintain business continuity. We ensure that considerations for workforce changes, cost cutting, and revenue fluctuations are integrated into scenario definitions, analysis and decision-making.

Read more & find tools & resources related to Scenario Planning

With pressures from today’s challenging economic and funding environment, nonprofits know the importance of planning for a sustainable business model. Our team works with nonprofits to analyze their current financial health and operations in order to establish a framework for the strategic decision-making necessary for long-term sustainability and growth. We can work with you to identify the true cost and operating results of your overall organization, programs, and activities — incorporating Allocations, Costs, Revenues, and Restricted vs. unrestricted funds.

Our analysis can cover the short-term and long-term sustainability of your organization’s business model, identify areas of financial drain, prioritize key decisions, and facilitate a team decision-making process with senior leadership to set you firmly on the path to sustainability.

Assessments

You know something is holding your organization back from its highest potential, but you’re not sure what it is. Or perhaps you have an upcoming or unexpected change in your infrastructure or staffing and you want to take advantage of the moment to pause and take stock.  BDO FMA’s skilled nonprofit accounting and management professionals can help you make sure your processes, procedures, staffing and technology are aligned with your strategy so your organization is poised and ready to make the impact you are passionate about.

A fiscal infrastructure review provides practical steps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the fiscal department, freeing management to focus on the analysis necessary to make more informed strategic decisions.

Our review provides guidance on improving communication between the finance office and other key departments in need of accurate financial information. Our approach consists of interviews and discussions with key fiscal, programmatic, and management staff with a focus on three key areas.

Staffing:  Is the right staff in place? Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined? Does staff receive the training necessary to be successful in their roles?

Technology: Is accounting software maximized to produce timely and accurate financial reports? Does accounting software integrate with fundraising and membership software as appropriate?

Policies and Procedures: Are processes developed with an appropriate balance of workflow and internal controls? Is there a structured monthly “closing” process? Is the organization compliant with all funder and government reporting requirements?  Were there concerns expressed in the last management letter issued by independent auditors?

Nonprofit organizations typically move through predictable stages of development from their inception to final transitions.  Many of our consultants have trained with the Nonprofit Lifecycles Institute and lead our team to employ evidence-based best practices that help nonprofit leaders understand their organization’s current stage and prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

We know your finance department doesn’t (or shouldn’t!) operate in a silo. Your HR, IT, and Administrative operations are intimately connected to fiscal operations. Our “Beyond Finance” consultants have been in your shoes and can provide a thorough, outside assessment of what’s working and where you have opportunities to improve systems, processes and communications that will strengthen operations and ensure strong internal controls.

Infrastructure Development

Fresh off of an infrastructure assessment and ready for next steps? Already know what’s missing? We can help fit your infrastructure updates to your organization’s mission and goals. And to ease your team’s transition to new procedures, policies, roles and responsibilities, we’ll take care of the implementation and assist with the training and communication.

The Chart of Accounts is the backbone of your accounting system, and out-of-the-box systems often don’t fit the complex needs of nonprofit organizations. Our experienced consultants–some of whom are former auditors!–thoroughly understand the importance of employing a strategic, appropriate methodology in establishing your CoA. We’ll work with you to understand your internal and external reporting requirements and ensure the development of a framework that meets the needs of all your stakeholders.

Read about General Ledger Systems implementation

Well-designed dashboards give your leaders accurate insight and support purposeful actions based on reality.

When customized to elevate your organization’s unique needs, dashboards provide compelling visual representations of the financial, programmatic and fundraising information executives and boards need to make strategic decisions. BDO FMA will work with you to identify your organization’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and we’ll provide hands-on, functional assistance throughout the process. Besides designing a customized Excel-based financial dashboard, BDO FMA can also provide the following support, as needed:

  • Train your staff to make updates and tailor the dashboard to changing needs
  • Orient your staff and management teams to understand dashboard goals, outcomes, roles, and responsibilities
  • Train your staff and management teams how to determine the right organizational metrics and indicators
  • Prepare your executives and board members to understand and get the most out of their dashboards

Written documents outlining an organization’s fiscal policies and procedures reduce the risk of inappropriate use of funds while also ensuring that consistent processes are followed even during periods of staff turnover or transition.

BDO FMA can walk you through the entire process from developing the fiscal policies and procedures you need, to documenting them in a comprehensive, easy-to-use manual. Beyond just making sure you have the right words on the page, BDO FMA goes further by supporting implementation of any new procedures. We will orient staff to any new roles, responsibilities, or processes and follow-up with you down the road to ensure key processes are working as intended.

Operational inefficiencies drain valuable staff and financial resources.

They also leave nonprofits vulnerable to poor audits and potential threats to funding. The members of BDO FMA’s process re-engineering team are skilled at helping nonprofits save time and money while improving operations and creating better systems for data gathering–making life easier for your staff and helping you do more for your mission.

Our re-engineering process involves the fundamental rethinking of an organization’s financial operations in order to improve consistency, efficiency, and productivity. We will work with you to evaluate and redesign your operations to better meet the needs of internal and external stakeholders, identify and eliminate frustrating, time-wasting steps, incorporate technology solutions that increase efficiencies, and help implement a data-driven approach to ongoing fiscal management.

We help you let the machines do what they do best — so you can do what they cannot: make strategic decisions, take care of people, and make the world a better place.

Lots of software companies are out there vying for your loyalty and resources. But there are key differences between them including ease of use, customizability to a nonprofit’s needs — and specifically your mix of funding streams and reporting needs, compatibility with your other software systems, and availability of knowledgeable technical support when the inevitable problem arises.

BDO FMA’s consultants have experience with a wide swath of nonprofit accounting software platforms, as well as the other systems they must talk to, like payroll and development. We can assess your current systems, your reporting needs, and compatibility requirements to help you narrow down what you’re looking for. Then we can support you through as much or as little of the process as you need, including developing an RFP,  conducting a marketplace screen, reviewing proposals and demos, and analyzing the options to find the best fit.

Of course, we can also support your implementation process as well.

Read about implementation services

Read about our software assessment services

FREE Resource

Selecting Financial Management Software For Your Nonprofit: Download this free report developed by BDO FMA with Idealware (now TechImpact), providing a landscape view of the current market of accounting and financial management systems.

Other Operations Development

Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) provide comprehensive outsourced HR services, and may be an appropriate cost-saving solution for your nonprofit. Whether you need support deciding whether it’s right for you, or you’ve already decided and are ready to move ahead with choosing a provider, BDO FMA’s experienced consultants can help you make an informed choice and a successful transition.

We’ll work with you to understand key factors including your current benefits package, states where employees are located, balance of nonexempt to exempt employees, your timesheet system, any pain points in your current payroll process, and areas of required HR compliance.

Armed with that knowledge, we can support you in as much of the selection process as you require — from managing it beginning to end, to providing occasional coaching to get you over any hurdles.

As public policy issues climb to the top of more and more priority lists, many nonprofits and foundations are considering creating a (c)(4) arm to carry out political activism work.

Our consultants can help you think through how your current practices, policies and systems will need to shift in order to ensure the budgeting, audit, and 990 processes properly account for shared services between entities, with consideration to both effectiveness and legal compliance.

For the new entity, we can support you in setting up time-tracking software, policies and implementation; expense and travel tracking and credit cards; transfers of funds between entities; consulting arrangements; communications and donor management channels; document management; governance; and strategies for tracking against election limits, ballot initiative support and lobbying disclosure requirements.

Taken together, our team has filled nearly every seat around the board table — nonprofit leader, auditor, general board member, or finance committee/Treasurer.  We’ve collectively been to thousands of board meetings and provided training to dozens, if not hundreds, of nonprofit boards to deepen their confidence and skills around their fiduciary responsibilities to the organizations they serve.

In addition to providing these individual training sessions, we have developed or selected a significant library of tools to support a vital, healthy relationship between your organization and your board.