A nonprofit internal auditors’ playbook

First of all I am going to confess that this is a selfish blog post. Selfish in the sense that I needed to write all these resources down and have it in a place where I can find it again! There…I got it out of the way!

My hope with this post is that it can be a useful resource for you in whatever role you have either internally or externally in serving nonprofit organizations. Additionally, I would love to hear from you in terms of the resources that are helpful to you and your ‘playbook’ in a sense.

When I started thinking about all the different resources that are useful to me in my line of work, I tried to categorize them in a logical framework and I immediately thought of the COSO Enterprise Risk Management framework that states the purpose of the framework is geared towards achieving the entity’s objectives set forth in four categories:

  • Strategic – high level goals, aligned with and supporting its mission
  • Operations – effective and efficient use of its resources
  • Reporting – reliability of reporting, and
  • Compliance – compliance with applicable laws and regulations

….that is what all good auditors do isn’t it? We need frameworks and parameters with which to establish some sort of standard with which to measure.

Given these four buckets of (i) strategy, (ii) operations, (iii) reporting and (iv) compliance, I tried to list the different resources that are helpful to me in making assessments in these four categories. Let’s start with compliance since it is the most ‘black and white’ one in a sense – keep in mind that these are by no means comprehensive since there are many, many, many compliance requirements applicable to nonprofits (operating in the U.S).  



  1. Federal and State regulatory authorities – Federal and State Law (employment and labor law, taxes, legal status as a corporation, fundraising, etc)
  2. Grant related – OMB Circular Guidelines
  3. Data – Payment Card Industry (PCI)
  4. Voluntary – ECFA , Better Business Bureau , Interaction, AERDO

Compliance Resources:

  1. State Secretary of State websites (e.g. Washington State Secretary of State)
  2. Compliance Week
  3. DavisWright Tremaine



  1. Accounting/Finance – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (FASB) , (AICPA), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) ,
  2. Tax – Internal Revenue Service  (for U.S. based nonprofits)


Frameworks/ Models:

  1. Decision Making – Stanford decision making quality course – My colleague recently completed this course and it is rich with tools to assist in management decision making
  2. Risk Management – ERM COSO /ISO 31000
  3. Operations – Six sigma/Lean
  4. Management – Compasspoint



  1. Auditing –  Institute of Internal Auditors, ACL, Picalo 
  2. Fraud – Association of Fraud Examiners
  3. Risk Management, GRC – Norman Marks Blog, Nonprofit Risk Management Center
  4. Nonprofit Industry – Inside NGO, Global Washington, Guidestar, Charity Navigator, Washington State Society of CPAs NFP committee, MFI Connect
  5. International Development – Staying for Tea Blog


Thought leaders:

  1. Stanford Social Innovation Review
  2. Harvard Business Review
  3. FSG Social Impact Consultants
  4. Bridgespan Group

Current Events/Thought Leaders

  1. Lucy Bernholz Blog

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you and again, these resources are by no means exhaustive. Given the number of resources and the multi-faceted nature of the different buckets of operations, compliance, strategy and reporting, the best tool I have found to stay current with all these resources is through Twitter. Most of these resources are on twitter and if you become a ‘follower’ on twitter, the easiest way to organize these is through using a tool like Tweetdeck.

Enjoy exploring and if you have time, I would love to hear of the resources that are valuable to you!


0 Responses to “A nonprofit internal auditors’ playbook”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


June 2011
« May   Jul »



Online Accounting Degree blog feature

%d bloggers like this: