Lakes and Pines Community Action Council is a nonprofit that offers a variety of programs to assist low-income families and individuals in achieving self-sufficiency. With a mission of building prosperous communities by helping those in their pursuit of self-reliance, Lakes and Pines serves seven counties in east central Minnesota.
When Lakes and Pines lost its fiscal controller of nearly seven years, as well as one of its primary accountants, an urgent need arose. It was able to hire staff, but those new employees hadn’t been through an independent financial audit. While the staff were navigating this steep learning curve of grant-funded accounting, auditors were asking for information Lakes and Pines’ staff didn’t know how to access or gather.
Lakes and Pines was at risk of losing its funding if it didn’t complete its audit, so it sought outside help. The organization contacted Wipfli because of our experience in working with Community Action Agencies (CAAs) across the country. Wipfli understands the programs CAAs operate, the accounting systems they use and what they should be looking for to prepare for an audit.
The primary solution Wipfli provided was technical assistance and guidance to Lakes and Pines. While we could have reconciled Lakes and Pines’ accounts and provided its auditor with the required information, that would have left the organization’s new fiscal controller in the same position, and Lakes and Pines would have continued to need our help for audits going forward.
Instead, Wipfli worked with Lakes and Pines’ fiscal controller on how to use the accounting system to reconcile accounts and prepare closeout reports, what to monitor going forward, how to look at and use the data in the system to analyze accounts and what other best practices to follow to put Lakes and Pines in the best financial position for the future.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
Lakes and Pines was able to be fully prepared for its auditors and, as a result, was able to retain its funding. With these funds being directed to serve low-income families and individuals, any reduction in funds would have had a direct impact on its services. In addition, Lakes and Pines’ fiscal staff are now well prepared for the audit process and will be able to manage it without intervention in future years.