Bookkeeper who defrauded non-profit avoids jail time

Here is another local example of the cost of not-having appropriate financial internal controls.  No one – including bookkeepers – should ever be able to initiate bank transactions (withdraw cash or make payments) without appropriate review and approval.

Click here to read North Shore News article dated 04DEC2017.


Fake Accountant Bilked BC Company out of $400,000

Here is another local example of the cost of not having appropriate financial internal controls:

First, he lied on his resumé and falsified his accounting credentials. Then, once he was hired by North Vancouver property rental company Unique Accommodations, Arthur Tat-Yue Wong used his trusted status as a supposed CGA to defraud the business over and over again — even while it was forced to lay off staff and close its Squamish, BC, office, the North Shore News reports. Between 2007 and 2010, Wong wrote about 75 cheques to himself to cover “expenses” and personal credit card bills, leased a Porsche and rented a storage locker in the company’s name, and faked letters of employment and T4 statements to qualify for a mortgage on a $775,000 Burnaby, BC, home and $200,000 line of credit. Wong pleaded guilty to the fraud and has repaid about half the funds he stole. At press time, he was awaiting sentencing; prosecutors are asking for a prison term of two to three years.

Requirement to Notify CRA of Changes in Directors

Many charities and not-for-profit organizations don’t realize that in addition to filing their annual T3010 (or T2 and T1044), they are also required to notify the CRA – on a separate form – for any changes in directors throughout the year.

Unfortunately, the director information that you file on the annual information returns does not update the Directors who are authorized to speak with the CRA about matters concerning the charity. As a result, unless you file the correct form to notify the CRA about changed in your directors, you can find yourself in the situation where no one is authorized to speak to the CRA from your organization.

Please read the following one-page article from Miller Thomson and print off as many copies of the form as you need to notify the CRA of any changes in your directors since the last time you notified the CRA of changes in your directors.

CRA Releases New Administrative Form for Updating Director, Trustee and Like Official Information

Form to File to Notify CRA of Changes in Directors

Charity Village Webinar: Critical Financial Controls for Small to Medium Non-Profits and Charities

Employee theft, fraud and embezzlement are surprisingly prevalent in the nonprofit and charity sector. Fortunately, this is almost entirely preventable – with the right internal controls. This webinar will outline the types of financial internal controls required to protect the assets and reputations of your organization and its directors.


On March 23, 2017, Humanity Financial President & CEO Gordon Holley will present a complimentary, one-hour webinar on the financial controls that small to medium size non-profits and charities should implement to minimize risk.

Charity Village is the Canadian non-profit sector’s largest and most-popular online source for recruiting, news and how-to information.

Who should attend? Board members, leaders and executives

Cost: complimentary and available through Charity Village

Topics included:

  • How employee theft, fraud and embezzlement typically happen.
  • Why many nonprofit organizations and charities are good targets.
  • The most common methods of employee theft, fraud and embezzlement.
  • Basic internal controls that most nonprofit organizations and charities should have in place to protect themselves.

*This webinar will be recorded and available for access on after March 23, 2017.

Canadian Charity Law Association Webinar: How To Read and Understand Financial Statements for your Small Non-Profit Organization

Humanity Financial President & CEO Gordon Holley will present a complimentary, one-hour webinar titled “How to Read and Understand Financial Statements for your Small to Medium Non-Profit or Charity” to the Canadian Charity Law Association on March 15th, 2017.

Who should attend? This webinar is perfect for board members and directors who want to build confidence in the financial reporting and analysis of their organizations.

Cost: complimentary and available through the Canadian Charity Law website.

Topics included:

  • Which financial reports should we be receiving as board members?
  • What is my role in reviewing financial statements and reports?
  • What do I need to understand in order to discharge my financial governance responsibilities?
  • What should I be looking for in a Statement of Financial Position (or Balance Sheet)?
  • What should I be looking for in a Statement of Operations (or Income Statement)?
  • How is a Statement of Cash Flows different from a Statement of Operations?
  • What roles do external accountants play in our financial reporting?
  • What roles do internal bookkeepers and accountants play in our financial reporting?
  • Are we required to have an Audit? When is it OK not to have an Audit?
  • Why is the Revenue Recognition Policy so important? How does it effect the financial statements?
  • What is a Reserve? And why should every NFPO and Charity have one?
  • What is the difference between externally restricted assets and internally restricted assets?

Gordon Holley Honoured with Community Service Award from Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia

In a ceremony held in Vancouver on February 17, 2017, Humanity Financial Management Inc. President and CEO Gordon Holley received the Distinguished Award for Community Service from the Chartered Public Accountants of British Columbia.

The award is given to CPAs who invest their time, leadership skills and accounting acumen to make our communities better.

A lifelong volunteer, Gordon was honoured for his recent work with the West Vancouver Community Foundation, the Ambleside Dundarave Business Improvement Association, Vantage Point and the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, among other organizations. He has served on the board of directors of each organization, helping to strengthen their capabilities and transform their services to meet future challenges.

The president and CEO of CPABC, Richard Rees, FCPA, FCA said “The philanthropic work of volunteers like Gordon brings a positive impact on communities and the lives of others. He is truly deserving of this award.”

Read more about the award on the CPABC website or in the official media release

Gordon Holley Appointed to Reconciliation Canada Board of Directors

In January 2017, Humanity Financial Management Inc. President and CEO Gordon Holley was appointed Treasurer of the Reconciliation Canada – A New Way Forward Society board of directors.

Reconciliation Canada is leading the way in engaging Canadians in dialogue and transformative experience that revitalize the relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. The organization develops partnerships and community outreach programs across the country, and was instrumental in hosting events to coincide with the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Read the announcement welcoming Gordon to the board of directors on the Reconciliation Canada website.

Free Webinar on Keys to Financial Success in Small to Mid-size Nonprofits & Charities

I’m looking forward to delivering a free webinar – The 4 Keys to financial success in small to mid-size nonprofits & charities – next week on Thursday, March 1oth. Introductory level. Great for board members, senior leadership and executive directors or CEOs at not-for-profit organizations, charities and social enterprises. Content will be presented in an easy-to-understand format.  Watch to learn how to build financial sustainability in your organization. Space is limited.  Sign up now.

Charity Village is hosting the webinar.  Thanks Charity Village!

Click here for details and registration

The Overhead Myth – Let’s End it Once & For All!

Last week, I was asked to record a 15 minute “Podcast” for Vantage Point on the Overhead Myth.

Historically, some donors and charity rating agencies have tried to evaluate and compare charities using the percentage of income that they spend on management and administration (overhead).

The main message of the podcast is to provide a summary of the research that has been done on this issue – virtually all of which supports the position that using this metric to evaluate or compare charities will likely lead to misleading results.  It is the wrong question to ask if you are trying to compare the effectiveness of different charities.  I also talk about what we can do as funders and as organizational leaders to help shift the conversation to impact rather than overhead.

If you are interested, you can listen to the podcast (or download it) by clicking on the link below:

The Overhead Myth – Let’s end it once and for all!

Five (5) Important Things You Can Do To Improve Board Meetings

Board meetings are often not much fun. Here are five things you can do to dramatically improve your levels of board member enjoyment and engagement and improve your Board effectiveness.

  1. Create an Annual Board Calendar

A Board Calendar is a single document that lists the 12 months of your fiscal year in columns across the top of the page, and all the things that you have to do as a board each year in rows along the side of the page. The annual “To Do” list is often organized into the following headings:

·         Financial Management ·         Strategy & Operations
·         Board Development ·         Board Committees
·         Executive Director Development ·         Monitoring and Policy Making
·         Stakeholder Communications ·         Fund Development

This calendar then serves as the basis for the Agenda’s for each of your Board meetings. Using a board calendar ensures that the Board doesn’t forget do to anything that it is supposed to do and it ensures that everything it is required to do is done on a timely basis.

  1. Keep a Decision Log

Without a single place to record all decisions the Board makes and all the motions that it passes, boards often revisit topics frequently and discuss the same old topics multiple times. Use a decision log – a single document that lists all of the board decision and motions by chronologically by month.

  1. Create Better, More Detailed Agendas for Board Meetings

Most agenda’s for board meetings aren’t very useful. Best practices have developed recently which can make agenda’s much more useful tools. First, use a Consent Agenda. Do a quick Google search and you will find that a Consent Agenda will allow you to approve routine committee reports, and items that do not require discussion or decisions at the same time as you approve your minutes from your previous meeting. This can significantly reduce the amount of time boards spend going over information items that directors have likely already read preparing for the meeting. It also allows more meeting time to discuss important issues and have more strategic and generative discussions. Consent agenda’s require your board to read and understand all information items prior to the meeting. If they have any questions, they should resolve those questions prior to the meeting so as not to waste everyone else’s time. However, Board members always have the option at the beginning of the meeting to pull an item out of the Consent Agenda if they feel it requires Board discussion

Second, use an Annotated Agenda. Annotated Agenda’s provide much more information that just a simple listing of topics. Annotated Agendas often provide background information on the topic as well as the desired outcome for raising it at a board meeting. They also show who will be responsible for leading discussion. Topics are often categorized according to whether they are for discussion purposes only or whether a decision is required. Annotated Agendas usually have a specific amount of time allocated to each issue. Annotated Agenda’s help focus discussion and often significantly reduce the time required for each item. Some organizations use a chart format with the following headings: Item Type (Information, Discussion, Decision); Item Name; Background, Attachments.

  1. End Meetings with One-Minute Essay

The One-minute Essay is an opportunity at, or very near, the end of a board meeting for all board members to fill out a piece of paper or slip with an answer to this question (or a question along these lines):

If we were to continue this discussion, or if the board meeting were to go for another 30 minutes, what would you say next?

Or alternatively: If the meeting were to continue for another 30 minutes, what additional items should be discussed, that did not get raised? What additional items or issues would you have liked to raise tonight?

The anonymous responses are collected by the chair, or someone, and can be used to craft the agenda for the next meeting!

One-minute Essays are a great way to ensure that all board members have an opportunity to voice things that they think are really important, but often do not get discussed in the normal course of events.

  1. Evaluate Your Board Meetings – Every Time

Board members like it when Board meetings:

·         Start on time ·         Allow everyone to participate
·         End on time ·         Are a safe environment to voice concerns
·         Have priority topics ·         Are well organized
·         Engage Board members in meaningful discussion ·         Are respectful of everyone

Meeting evaluations can take under 5 minutes at the end of every meeting and they give prompt feedback to Board Chairs. One of the Chair’s primarily roles is to create enjoyable board meetings where all board members have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions. Help your Board Chair make board meetings better. Insist on regular meeting evaluations.  Do a quick Google search and you will find a number of template to choose from.


Implementing any one of the above tactics to improve Board meetings will have a noticeable impact on the level of enjoyment and level of engagement of Board members. Imagine what you’re Board meetings would be like if you implemented all five!