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Case Study

Not-for-profit think tank gains efficiencies and achieves growth with support from Baker Tilly’s outsourced accounting and business advisory specialists

Handshake over table
Case Study

Not-for-profit think tank gains efficiencies and achieves growth with support from Baker Tilly’s outsourced accounting and business advisory specialists

Client need

Filene Research Institute, a not-for-profit think tank that mobilizes critical research to support credit union and consumer finance success, approached Baker Tilly for assistance with enterprise resource planning (ERP) system selection. Before engaging Baker Tilly, Filene’s executive director was responsible for overseeing the organization’s accounting needs — taking valuable time away from focusing on the execution of strategic mission initiatives. In addition, Filene’s Board was seeking further separation of duties by engaging an independent CPA firm.

Baker Tilly solution

Based on our strong working relationship with Filene and in-depth understanding of the organization’s structure and existing processes, our Baker Tilly team recommended the following services to help meet their business objectives and support growth goals:

System selection

Baker Tilly’s accounting and technology specialists worked with Filene to select, implement and optimize a financial reporting platform that would scale with the organization’s evolving needs. We analyzed factors such as the ability to integrate with Filene’s existing customer relationship management (CRM) platform and the flexibility of month and year end reporting processes.

Audit readiness

Our consultative audit readiness approach allows us to prepare assurance-related requests for Filene on both an annual and as needed basis. We work collaboratively to serve as a liaison between Filene and the organization’s external auditor, which includes being onsite during audit fieldwork to answer reporting questions and support the issuance of timely deliverables. Our review of the external auditors’ work and teamwork throughout the engagement eases the process for Filene’s Board, external auditor and internal team members. Ultimately, our audit readiness services provide the Board with added confidence regarding the independence and quality of Filene’s audit. It also ensures the external audit firm works within their quoted professional fees.

Outsourced accounting services

Like many not-for-profit organizations, Filene’s accounting resource capacity is limited. Baker Tilly provides monthly independent accounting support through general ledger/banking reconciliations and financial statement review. We also assist Filene with accounting procedural support and design.

Grant and donor contract consulting

Baker Tilly Advantage accounting professionals leverage the technical expertise of our firm’s not-for-profit industry specialists to perform grant and donor contract consulting services that clarify revenue recognition requirements for Filene’s contracts. While assisting in the design of the contracts, we analyze donation pledges and contribution contracts to determine how the organization should recognize revenue to remain in compliance.

International support

As Filene expanded their reach and support of credit unions internationally, Baker Tilly introduced the organization to Collins Barrow — a Canadian accounting firm and independent member firm of our Baker Tilly International network — to help structure their agreements and maximize the global opportunity.

Unrelated business income tax (UBIT) consulting

Leveraging the technical expertise of Baker Tilly’s not-for-profit industry team, we consult with Filene on UBIT guidance to help the organization design their programs and minimize any associated impact of UBIT activities.

Results

Filene Research Institute continues to drive initiatives forward, grow its membership base and receive increased contributions with the support of Baker Tilly. By pairing our Baker Tilly Advantage accounting specialists with the assurance and tax expertise of Baker Tilly’s not-for-profit team, we add value to Filene in the following ways:

  • Filene’s Executive Director has been able to spend more time executing strategic mission initiatives since Baker Tilly assumed her day-to-day accounting responsibilities. 
  • By preparing for the audit year-round, Filene is in a better position to demonstrate financial stability to board members, banks and donors. Baker Tilly supports adjustments to the organization’s financial reporting needs throughout the year — saving time and professional fees in the long-run.
  • Board members feel confident that financial reporting maintains independence and is both accurate and tailored to Filene’s unique needs as a not-for-profit entity.
  • Filene is able to effectively manage the tax liabilities associated with international agreements by working with our network of Baker Tilly International member firms.
  • Enhanced reporting capabilities and increased reporting efficiencies allow senior leadership to distribute financial reports more timely, which ultimately improves the Board’s visibility into financials.
“Since working with Baker Tilly Advantage, we’ve been able to scale our organization without a corresponding increase in finance full-time equivalents (FTEs). There is a seamless transition of accounting support and organizational knowledge…unlike the gap created when managed internally. The account team doesn’t look at our organization with a single focus — they look beyond the numbers to bring a broad range of ideas for how they can support Filene’s success.”- Patsy Stewart, Chief Finance and Operations Officer, Filene Research Institute

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly specialists can help, contact our team.

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