Trust, but also verify, that's the main message of Monday's fraud education luncheon organized by the Kearney Area Community Foundation at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney.
Keynote speaker Anne Hindery of the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands shared her experiences and expertise on the topic, offering advice and suggestions to nearly 100 community members on preventing potential fraud and embezzlement.
"It's more the exception to the rule. I don't think that embezzlement happens anymore in a non-profit organization than it does in a government institution or a private sector business," says Hindery.
Hindery used an embezzlement case involving her regional organization to discuss strategies to both prevent and handle situations of fraud.
She also noted that audits are often inefficient in catching major problems. She says that cases like the embezzlement at the Grand Island Community Foundation, which police say is still under investigation, are exceptions to the rule. Instead, Hindery recommends that charitable organizations set up internal controls to prevent fraud in the first place.
"You want to have policies and procedures that are set up so the person that opens the mail isn't necessary the person that stamps the check and takes it to the bank. Whether that's staff or the board is engaged in that process, that's a pretty simply internal control to get in place," Hindery says.
Hindery also discussed the importance of transparency with donors and the community, as well as how nonprofits can protect their reputation in the aftermath.
"If you're open and transparent and honest, then really you're going to keep your donors, you're going to keep your clients, and really, keep most of your good board members and really, it's an opportunity, as painful as it is at the time, to really grow your organization and take it to the next level," she says.
A panel of local CPAs were also on hand to answer questions from the community.