Being Treasurer According to Robert’s Rules

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP

Robert’s Rules outline the roles of the treasurer. You’ve got a big job on your hands if you’re the treasurer. Before you accept this position, find out exactly what it entails. Regardless of the size of the organization or the number of figures to the left of the decimal on your group’s bank balance, your basic job description includes the following:

  • Serve as custodian of the funds of the organization, keeping careful records of all receipts and making no disbursements without the authority of the assembly (including established authorizations found in the organization’s rules).
  • Prepare financial statements and report to the board and members.
  • Take responsibility for any and all reports required by taxing authorities.

That list may look like a short one, but each of the three items can carry a pretty significant workload. Fortunately, the bigger the job, the more likely there are to be sufficient resources to do a little outsourcing. In other words, if the membership is small and the budget isn’t very big, you probably won’t be faced with more transactions than you can handle.

But if you’re dealing with a large membership and tracking dues and a major budget, you’ll probably have some professional help. In any event, when it comes to taking care of somebody else’s money, you definitely need to know what’s involved before you agree to take over the position.

Robert’s Rules suggests that any officers who handle an organization’s money be bonded at the expense of the group in an amount large enough to protect it from loss. The decision to obtain a fidelity bond is one for your membership, and the choice depends on the group’s actual finances.

Small organizations don’t necessarily have inconsequential finances, as far as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is concerned. You’re mistaken if you think your group is automatically a nonprofit or tax-exempt organization because it isn’t organized as a business. The point? If you’re the officer responsible for taking care of your group’s money, don’t assume anything.

Before you sign any checks, ask a professional if your organization is required to file any kind of tax returns, and get the answer in writing. Whatever the professional says, be smart and take the advice.