When to Pay for Expertise?
Despite the quest to keep operating expenses low, it is often best to avoid the inherent risk of utilizing key services of companies/individuals who are not licensed in their field. Time, expense, and even litigation can result from employing well-intentioned individuals who have not obtained certification and/or a relevant degree. Foundation Logic, LLC only utilizes the services of Certified Public Accountants in assisting clients with obtaining 501c3 status from the Internal Revenue Service and/or answering questions of IRS compliance with accounting practices. Professionals with certification have an assumed level of expertise as well as accountability to industry standards of continuing education.
In any state, a search for “board of accountancy” will usually generate a link to Certified Public Accountants. To search for CPAs in Texas, see: http://www.tsbpa.state.tx.us/php/fpl/indlookup.php. CPAs have different areas of concentration and have an ethical obligation to direct you elsewhere if they are unfamiliar with your specific area of nonprofit accounting/IRS compliance concern. If a situation is more complicated, the CPA may direct you to a nonprofit attorney.
Another area of expertise is website design; online presence continues to increase in importance. An internet search is typically the first step for potential supporters and what they find has intangible significance. Much like real estate professionals emphasize yard maintenance to ensure “curb appeal,” prospective nonprofit supporters will wonder what might be internally amiss if they find a website with unprofessional content, glitches, stale information, etc.
Rather than seeking specialized certification or degrees, nonprofit organizations should be looking for web designers with a good track record, who are willing to display clients on their own web page. Those clients should be pleased to speak to the response time of web designers as well as to how effectively their mission and brand are captured in the web pages created for them. Paying for expertise will increase the likelihood of having a user-friendly, professionally-maintained website. Foundation Logic, LLC can provide website designer recommendations for organizations in their infancy and/or those who are frustrated with their web presence and responsiveness.
The bottom line is that avoiding professional fees frequently results in greater expense over time and will often cause your brand to suffer as well. The intangible damage of missteps is often difficult to calculate; conversely, penalties and interest and forfeiture of exempt status are painfully clear. Your cost/benefit analysis of paying for expertise needs to consider these factors; proactively research your options for professional assistance.