Raffa Resources
Raffa Resources
Raffa Resources

News & Resources publications​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Publication Topics

  • Accounting

    One Dozen Good Reasons Why Accounting Outsourcing Is a Smart Choice

    ​By Elizabeth Eun​
    For some organizations, turning over vital business functions, such as accounting, to a third party can seem daunting. Executives need to be well informed about outsourcing arrangements and processes in order to truly recognize the value and benefits of hiring third party experts to manage day-to-day functions.

    Are Your Accounting Operations Aligned with Your Impact Mission?

    ​By Julie Jones, Partner, Raffa Managed Accounting Services
    Some nonprofit executives and board leaders get the connection between access to solid and timely financial information and mission results. Without good numbers, strategic planning, fundraising and more importantly fulfilling the organization’s mission can be futile. Leaders face two challenges: getting good numbers and understanding how good numbers and achieving organizational goals are connected.
  • Audit

    A New Look for Nonprofits

    ​By Eric Glantz, Partner at Raffa, P.C.
    It has been more than two decades since the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has significantly overhauled the financial statement presentation of nonprofit organizations.  First and foremost, it is important to understand that most of the changes included in Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-14, Not-for-Profit Entities, Topic 958: Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities, do not significantly impact the fundamental accounting utilized by nonprofits to prepare their financial statements; rather, most of the changes impact how nonprofit financial statements are being presented to the financial statement user.

    FASB Lease Accounting Standards Update: What to Expect

    ​By Caroline Judy, Audit Manager
    As part of an overall effort to increase transparency and comparability between organizations, FASB issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842), on February 25, 2016.  This guidance supersedes FASB ASC 840, Leases, and requires recognition of leased assets and liabilities, representing the rights and obligations created by leases with terms of more than 12 months, on the balance sheet as well as enhanced disclosure over the amount, timing and uncertainty of cash flows arising from leases.

    Can Low Audit Fees Translate to Higher Risk Exposure?

    By: Kimberly Robertson Pannell, Partner at Raffa, P.C.
    The major challenge with proposals is understanding exactly what you are getting from each bidder. The core deliverable may appear to be the same; audited financials and tax returns prepared, but how and why do proposals vary so much in pricing? And, is a lower fee really the lowest cost?  How do you compare audit fees when looking at proposals?  The easy answer is to select the lowest bid, but that makes for a pretty short and misleading article.

    Simple is Always Better: Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2015-12 Plan Accounting

    ​By Eric Glantz, Partner at Raffa, P.C.
    Our profession is not always known for its ability to take complex accounting rules and state those rules in simple terms. Nor are we known for removing overly complex financial statement disclosures when the value of those disclosures is in question, yet that is precisely what the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) accomplished with ASU 2015-12, a simplification of the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) (commonly referred to as generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP) for defined benefit plans (Topic 960), defined contributions plans (Topic 962) and health and welfare plans (Topic 965), collectively referred to as employee benefit plans (or EBP) for this article, and the simplification of EBP disclosures.
  • CSR

    The ROI of CSR: Three key areas where CSR impacts your bottom line

    ​By Carol Chin-Fatt (Engagement Leader) & Clifford Yee (Managing Director) CSR Services
    Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the commitment a business makes to operate ethically and to help address social issues important to its stakeholders. The most impactful CSR strategies are those that authentically reflect the business’ purpose, mission and values.

    Purpose Matters in Organizations

    Any organization can – and should – create a culture of purpose as every individual has the need that their life is in service to something good and that their activities have meaning. For the organizations that can attract and retain purpose-oriented individuals as their employees, a substantially higher level of performance will be achieved on several dimensions: productivity, innovation and happiness – all ingredients for long-term success.​

    4 Tips for Building Effective Nonprofit-Corporate Partnerships

    ​By Carol Chin-Fatt (Engagement Leader) & Clifford Yee (Managing Director) CSR Services
    Historically, companies and nonprofits have approached Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with limited expectations of the value they will realize. Many companies look to check the box with CSR: keep up with their competition to attract employees and customers and/or to meet regulatory requirements.  On the other hand, nonprofits look to CSR to provide them with critical financial resources to fund their programs.
  • Financial Services

    Gaps and Updates in Employee Benefits

    ​By Matthew Roberts, Director of Raffa Group Benefits, Raffa Financial Services
    Managing an employee benefits program used to be a lot easier, I think.  Most of us yearn for the good old days of rate stability, less onerous compliance and richer employee benefit programs.  Today’s dynamic environment means that the benefits consultant-client relationship is constantly and rapidly evolving.

    TIAA-CREF Transition to a Group Platform

    By Eduardo Gimenez, CFP®, AIF®, Raffa Retirement Services​
    The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor want 403(b) plans to operate more like 401(k) plans. This means that many 403(b) plans today may be subjected to ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act). For almost 100 years, TIAA-CREF has been a national leader in providing investments for the non-profit sector. TIAA-CREF 403(b) plans were set up as individual contracts, where the relationship was between TIAA-CREF and the employee. The employer was simply a facilitator for the contributions without any fiduciary responsibility other than facilitating contributions. Under the new regulations, the relationship is now expected to be between TIAA-CREF and the employer.​​

    The Major Impact of New Plan Design, Provisions

    ​By: Ed Gimenez, CFP®, AIF®, RPA, Director of Retirement Plan Services
    The upswing in the number of plans utilizing automatic features and the associated managed investments is having a dramatic impact on participant accounts. Auto features include automatic enrollment and automatic contribution increases. These are very often accompanied by a Qualified Default Investment Alternative that is managed on the participant’s behalf.​
  • Human Resources

    New FLSA Overtime Changes: What Your Business Needs to Know

    ​By Stacy L. Johnson,  Manager, Raffa HR Consulting
    December 1st is quickly approaching, and amidst all the usual year-end prep, employers must be ready for the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule revising the current “white collar” exemption regulations.   There has been some movement in Congress to delay the implementation of the revised rule to June 2017 to allow employers more time to adjust, but a prudent employer would proceed with the expectation that the final rule will be implemented eventually, and as early as December 1, 2016.

    Healthy Employees...Smarter Company

    ​By Jimena Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer
    Healthier employees are the foundation of a strong business. Without a healthy, able and available workforce, the US cannot compete in the global economy nor support a health care system that assures future availability of health care in the U.S.  Many companies focus solely on short term financial success often missing opportunities for long¬-term sustainability. So when insurance rates and other benefit costs go up, employers look to cut back on the number of programs, increase deductibles, slash benefits within a program.

    New DOL Overtime Rules Dont Panic!

    By Simone Putnam, Partner, Raffa Managed Human Resources​
    The Department of Labor (DOL) issued new overtime regulations in May 2016 which mean that many salaried employees earning less than $47,476 annually will automatically receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. What are employers supposed to do? Don't panic is our first response. The DOL has given employers six months to comply with the new regulations. This is a reasonable time period (in our opinion) for organizations to make informed decisions about what the right course of action is for their organizations to be in compliance with the new regulations.

    When Is HR Outsourcing Right for Your Organization?

    by Simone Putnam, Partner, Raffa Human Resources Practice
    Human Resources (HR) outsourcing can address some of the staffing and skill- related problems that plague small and budget-strapped nonprofits. For these organizations, staffing an HR department with the right combination of full-time employees who have the right expertise can be a tall order. As a result, these organizations’ HR departments may suffer from a dearth of employees or critical skill gaps. Read this article by Raffa partner, Simone Putnam, published in Nonprofit Quarterly.

    Understanding and Adapting to Change in the New Year

    ​By Nikki Lemons, Senior Generalist, Managed HR Services
    Last year, Raffa’s DC office underwent major renovations. While the end result is the beautiful workspace we currently utilize, the challenges faced leading up to project completion had a tremendous effect on everyone. The noises and smells were bothersome, but did not disrupt business.
  • Investment Advisory

    Fiduciary Compliance for Retirement Plan Sponsors:What it means in light of the new DOL Fiduciary Rule

    ​By Chase Deters, Director of Operations, Portfolio Manager at Raffa Wealth Management
    In light of the new DOL rule that expands the “investment advice fiduciary” definition under ERISA, fiduciary compliance for retirement plan sponsors has never been more important.  Harry Atlas of Venable, LLP and I have teamed together to educate nonprofits on the new rule and accompanying conflict of interest rules, recent litigation against retirement plan sponsors, and fiduciary best practices. 

    Does Recent Weak GDP Growth Spell the End of the Stock Market Bull Run?

    ​by Mark Murphy, Chief Investment Officer, Raffa Wealth Management
    The US and eurozone recently reported second quarter GDP growth that fell short of expectations with both posting 1.2% growth rates.  The results and other economic reports have led to economists reducing their expectations for growth over the second half of the year.  Given the recent weak growth by historical standards and meager future expectations, does this mean that equities are going to see weak performance over the near term?

    Preview of Study on Nonprofit Investing 2016

    By Dennis Gogarty, President, Raffa Wealth Management
    Launched in 2012, the annual Study on Nonprofit Investing (SONI) seeks to meet the need for timely, relevant, actionable data about how nonprofits invest their reserves and how those investments perform. The 2016 SONI revealed nonprofit associations have generally underperformed market benchmarks, but there is a silver lining: certain organizations have benefited by keeping things simple and establishing policies to instill discipline. More than 700 nonprofits participated in 2016. This preview offers some key findings from the SONI Associations and SONI Public Charities reports.

    Volatility Expectations

    In January we saw a return of the extreme market volatility that we saw in the late summer centered on global growth concerns and particularly at what pace China’s growth is slowing down.  Weak demand for oil is also factoring into investors concerns. 
  • Search & Succession

    Hiring a Nonprofit CEO: Increasing the Odds for Success

    ​​By Tom Adams, Director, Succession and Sustainability at Raffa, P.C.​
    Most nonprofit board chairs and boards know that hiring the organization’s CEO (Executive Director) is their biggest decision (or close to it). What is less clear to most board leaders is how the choices they make significantly impact the likelihood of success of the new executive. This article explores one of the big choices – do it yourself, get help and what kind of help to look for.

    Don't Make Me Write a Cover Letter (but if I must...)

    ​By Doris Kiser, Search Coordinator, Raffa Search, Transition and Planning Practice
    I would like offer tips from a self-proclaimed cover letter curmudgeon. I am not an active recruiter, but I do manage all the cover letters and resumes that come through our office, and have seen both terrifying and amazing cover letters.

    Succession Essentials for All Nonprofits: A Risk Management Best Practice

    By Melody Thomas, Senior Consultant, Nonprofit Search and Planning
    Succession Essentials, a written Succession Policy and Emergency Backup Plan, are critical for nonprofit board leaders and executives to adopt as an annualized best practice.​

    Nonprofit CFO Positions Are Not Created Equal

    ​Just as the term “nonprofit” doesn’t capture the breadth and depth within the sector, “CFO” is not a one size fits all position. When hiring CFOs, nonprofits need to keep this in mind: successful candidates for CFO positions need to have the right fit when it comes to experience, skills, culture and goals. One nonprofit CFO does not equal the next.​​

    Transition Success Factors

    Excerpted from an article by Tom Adams as published in Nonprofit World • Volume 16, Number 3 May/June 1998
    Executive transition is a powerful milestone for an organization and a predictor of its future effectiveness. Careers of departing and arriving executives and reputations of board leaders are directly affected by the outcomes of transition. Whether or not you’re currently involved with an executive transition, this article will help you manage one of the most difficult and unavoidable aspects of nonprofit life

    Chief Executive Transitions

    by Don Tebbe, published by BoardSource
    A comprehensive guide to help boards navigate the hiring process and oversee a successful leadership transition. It includes checklists, key questions board members will need to answer as they go through the process, and practical real-life examples. 118 pages with an accompanying CD-ROM that includes 13 helpful documents, including a resume scoring sheet, sample timeline, sample interview questions, and a sample 90-day entry plan to help ensure the success of the newly hired chief executive.

    Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide

    by Tom Adams, published by Jossey-BassLearn to harness the power of emotions in transition, how great founders lead stellar transitions,how to diversify leadership, how to capitalize on the three critical stages of transition, how strategic succession plans lift the organization, why you must prepare today for emergency leaves, and what to do when the leader says, it's time for me to retire. The result: A better-run, better-prepared nonprofit—the kind of humming organization that inspires ongoing success.​​

    Sustaining Great Leadership

    by Tom Adams
    This free guide, compliments of the First Nonprofit Foundation, offers a 10-step approach to sustaining leadership in your nonprofit.

    Monographs on Executive Transition Management

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund have developed a series of monographs on executive transitions management.​

    Do We Need an Executive Search?

    By Tom Adams, Director and Karen Schuler, Managing Director – Search, Transition & Planning at Raffa, P.C.
    When a nonprofit executive announces her/his departure, the question of whether there is an internal successor or strong internal candidates is front and center for the Board. In the best case, the Board and executive have had an ongoing dialogue about executive and board succession and there are no surprises. Unfortunately this is not always the case.

    Does Executive Transition have to be a Drama or Disaster?

    By Tom Adams, Director of Succession and Sustainability at Raffa, P.C.
    Are executive transitions complex and challenging? Certainly. Anytime a group of volunteers with varying understanding of the work and direction of the organization are asked to manage the departure of the current executive, define expectations for a new executive, hire that person and get off to a positive start, there are challenges.

    The Big Question for Seasoned Executives:How Long to Stay?

    ​By Tom Adams, Director of Succession and Sustainability at Raffa, P.C.
    Nonprofit executives share the desire to have a great ending when they step out of their executive role. This is not an easy question for most executives and is particularly challenging for those who have devoted a significant part of their professional career to building and/or transforming an organization.  So how does an executive answer the big question?
  • Tax

    New Tax Return Filing Deadlines

    By Debra Hildreth, Director, Raffa For-Profit Tax
    Accountants have long advocated for a better chronological flow of tax deadlines.  When Congress found that these changes could help finance federal highway and transportation spending, new tax filing deadlines emerged as part of The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015.

    New Deadlines to File 2016 Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC

    ​By Kristin Burnett, Supervisor, Nonprofit Tax
    As part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH) of 2015, January 31st is the new  deadline to file government copies of Form W-2 (Employee) Wage and Tax Statement and Form 1099-MISC Miscellaneous Income for nonemployee compensation. Therefore, beginning with 2016 Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC, copies must be (1) delivered to the service providers, and (2) filed with the government by January 31, 2017. While various payments are reported on Form 1099-MISC, we recommend a simultaneous review of all payments for proper classification to ensure compliance with the new deadline.

    Coming Soon: Big Changes for Political Nonprofit Organizations in New York

    By Aaron Fox and Su Chung, Raffa Tax
    The State of New York may soon be passing an ethics reform plan which brings about significant changes and new compliance requirements related to political campaign finance law. The plan will create several compliance and disclosure requirements for 501(c)(4) organizations engaging in political activities in the state of New York.

    FinallyTax Extenders You Can Put Your Money On!

    ​​By Rebecca Merrill, Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    A strong financial future begins with solid tax planning. Unfortunately, when favorable tax legislation is passed in the last weeks of the year, few can take advantage of those tax incentives so late in the game. Taxpayers and tax practitioners have criticized some of the prior extender bills as too short-lived for any meaningful tax planning. On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed into law P.L. 114-113, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (“PATH Act”), and unlike past legislation for tax extenders, this time many of the provisions are permanently renewed and certain tax benefits and credits have been retroactively reinstated.

    Too Much Private Benefit? Say Goodbye to Your Exemption!

    By Aaron M. Fox, CPA - Senior Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    Even one instance of private benefit can jeopardize the exemption of a not-for-profit organization. Because they apply to most tax-exempt organizations and are broad in scope, it pays to understand how these rules work and avoid the risk.

    Increased Compensation Scrutiny Coming From All Sides

    by Kay Vollans, Raffa Tax Manager and Frank H. Smith, Raffa Tax Partner
    The Internal Revenue Service is not the only authority taking a deeper look at executive compensation reporting. Lawmakers, state attorney generals, the media and watchdog groups are seeking more transparency surrounding compensation paid to the nation's top nonprofit executives.

    The IRS Gets Specific with Tangible Property Guidance

    by Ariana Warren, Senior II and Aaron Fox, Senior Manager
    In an effort to address a long-standing area of disagreement with taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service (the Service) has been devoting special attention to the depreciation deduction and the application of MACRS. In September 2013 the Service released IRS Bulletin 2013-43 (T.D. 9636) addressing capitalization policies, their application, and providing examples which include definitions of terminology used to describe some tangible property. The effective date is September 19, and is required for all fiscal years that begin on or after January 1, 2014. The guidance provides final regulations under sections 167 and 168, but do not remove the temporary guidance under section 168. These regulations impact all organizations that acquire, produce, or improve tangible property. Accordingly, it is important that tax-exempt organizations understand and properly implement these new requirements to ensure and maintain their compliance with the tax code.

    Get Smart About Art Donations

    By Aaron M. Fox, CPA - Senior Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    The majority of non-cash giving in the U.S. comes in the form of donated household goods, like gently used clothing, books, and blankets. But according to the Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income Bulletin, many taxpayers are donating higher value items like real estate and automobiles as well as art and collectibles.

    Considerations When Creating a For-Profit Subsidiary

    By Aaron M. Fox, CPA - Senior Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    Creating a for-profit subsidiary was once considered unusual and niche but it has become somewhat mainstream and even standard for tax exempt organizations in the past few decades. This arrangement emerged as a solution to the various challenges tax exempt organizations face regularly. Those range from managing an unrelated business activity, separating activities from the exempt parent that stray from the original exempt purpose, protecting the assets of the organization from legal liability, and more.

    Tax Exempt Application Changes: Good or Bad? Only Time Will Tell

    By Kay Vollans, Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    The 1023-EZ, much like the 990-EZ, is a fraction of the size of its full form version and significantly reduces the amount of questions and preparation needed by aspiring tax-exempt organizations choosing to file it. The IRS has said it will regulate these organizations with compliance checks and field audits post filing. Many practitioners think that this deferred compliance is a short-sighted move by the IRS. While the IRS appears to be cleaning up the application process for tax exemption by rolling out the interactive 1023 form, and more recently releasing the new Form 1023-EZ, some practitioners and advisors in the field are less than impressed with the recent changes.

    Legislation Passed Assessing Sales Tax on Certain Services

    By Aaron M. Fox, CPA – Senior Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    Effective October 1, 2014, DC sales and use tax will become applicable to some specific services at the rate of 5.75%. If your organization was already registered to collect sales and use tax, it should start collecting on these services. If not, the organization will need to register first. That can be done by going to www.taxpayerservicecenter.com or by filing Form FR-500 which is available online. During registration, forms for remitting the tax are provided.

    Extension of Key Tax Provisions for Exempt Organizations

    By: Aaron Fox, Jonathan List and Ariana Warren
    The 113th Congress is currently reviewing Bill H.R. 5771, which includes key provisions for exempt organizations that may have a material impact on the treatment of certain financial and reporting decisions.

    501c3 versus 501c6 Organizations Examined

    By: Aaron M. Fox, CPA, Senior Tax Manager at Raffa, P.C.
    Why are the number of 501(c)(3)s exploding while the rest of the sector appears to be stagnating or receding? To help put that question in context, this article covers some of the key elements of what a 501(c)(3) organization is compared to another popular 501(c) vehicle, the 501(c)(6) organization, and why it is gaining further popularity.

    Reimbursements Under Accountable Plans | Tax Publications

    By: Ariana N. Warren, CPA, Tax Senior at Raffa, P.C.
    In the non-profit world, its commonplace for Board members and top Executives to travel on behalf of the organization and to be reimbursed for these expenses. However, before these reimbursements are made, it is imperative for the non-profit to recognize the difference between accountable and non-accountable plans.
  • Technology

    Defending from the Ransomware Threat

    ​​By Nate Solloway, Raffa Systems Engineer/Outsourced IT Manager
    Malware and specifically ransomware have become big business.  You might have seen this happen to a friend or colleague.  They visit a website link or open a spam email, and rapidly thereafter important documents on their computer are no longer available.

    Shoot for the Cloud(s)

    ​Outsourcing has been enabled by newer technologies like ‘cloud’ and ‘virtualization’ so that they CAN be offered on a bureau basis very effectively. Modern platforms are secure, reliable and much easier to adopt.​​