CPA Firm Considerations
A CPA firm that focuses on religious organizations will be much better prepared to handle any complex accounting issues that come up. And they will be able to provide better guidance more quickly and efficiently on items specific to the nonprofit/religious entity space. Finding a CPA firm that has current clients that are somewhat similar to your organization can be very reassuring.
Fees are sure to be one of the largest considerations for churches or other religious organizations seeking out a CPA for audit or other work. Especially if pledges or other income streams have decreased due to Covid 19. We recommend getting multiple proposals from CPA firms so you have a range in fees to compare and provide to the board. And if a proposal seems "too cheap," it probably is, and may end up being even more expensive in the long run.
Consider how responsive and professional a CPA firm is throughout the initial contact and proposal process. Some firms maybe very busy at times, especially during tax season, but they should still be responding to you in a reasonable time period. If the firm isn't calling you back or responding to your email, they are either too busy to take on the additional work or not very interested in the additional work.
Finding the perfect CPA firm at an affordable rate is no good if the firm can't get the work scheduled and completed on a schedule that works for the client. Be sure to let the CPA firms know when you would like the work to get started and when you would like the work completed. And certain loans or grants may require audited financial statements by a certain date that cannot be missed.
The accounting industry had been pretty slow to adopt remote work until Covid forced the entire industry to go remote almost overnight. But some fieldwork will still need to be done in the field. So selecting a firm that is closer rather than farther can reduce fees, as CPA firms will bill out the travel costs, if they aren't already built in to the fee.
Considering compatibility can involve a lot of intangibles. But one simple consideration is church size and CPA firm size. They don't need to be the same size. But in general, a small church might be a perfect client for a small CPA firm. A larger church with more programs and assets can be a good fit for a medium sized CPA firm. While a megachurch or an archdiocese for a major metropolitan area may want to go with a national or even a big 4 accounting firm.
CPA firms will be conducting some due diligence on your organization and you should conduct some on any CPA firms you are considering hiring. Has this firm been penalized by any state or federal regulators or law enforcement? Has the firm been featured negatively in the news? What comes up during online searches for this CPA firm? Is the firm licensed to practice in your state? And lastly for CPA firms that issue audited financial statements, you can ask for a copy of the firm's most recent peer review report.