Nonprofit Audit Committee Benefits: Why your nonprofit should have one

Nonprofit Audit Committee Benefits Summary

  • Best practice to have a nonprofit audit committee to provide accountability for organization’s independent audit
    • finance committee is responsible for monitoring the organization’s financial status
    • audit committee is given authority for overseeing the organization’s external audit process.
  • To ensure that the audit process is objective, an audit committee should be an “independent” body, meaning that no one on this committee is also employed by the nonprofit
    • Directly responsible for the selection, retention and oversight of the independent auditor
    • Having an audit committee lends to the transparency of the organization to the outside world via reporting on the IRS Form 990; all 990 tax returns for charitable orgs are publicly posted online.

Want to learn more? Read our article “Why Your Nonprofit Needs an Audit Committee.”

Time is Tight: Seek Accreditation Now for QRTPs [as Mandated by the Family First Prevention Services Act]

The new Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) has generated many questions about the timing of when each state will decide to implement the regulations and, in turn, when the new category of residential settings called Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) are required to become nationally accredited. Accreditation for qualified residential treatment programs has thus become a hot topic for such centers.

FFPSA is changing the face of child welfare by authorizing federal dollars to support prevention services for children identified as being in “imminent risk” of entering foster care. It also shifts the focus from relying on congregate or group care settings to keeping children in family-like atmospheres – specifically foster family homes.

Under FFPSA, with limited exceptions, states will be able to dedicate federal Title IV-E funding for children’s care maintenance payments in a residential setting after the first two weeks of placement. Approved settings, including the new QRTPs, must use a trauma-informed treatment model and employ registered or licensed nursing staff and other licensed clinical staff who are onsite according to the treatment model and  available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The law institutes other requirements related to formal assessments of children that ensure the appropriateness of the placement, family engagement and aftercare support for at least six months post-discharge. For additional information, visit:

States’ Decisions – To Delay or Not Delay?

FFPSA specifies that to be considered as an official QRTP, the program must be licensed and accredited by a Department of Health and Human Services-approved accreditation agency: Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or Council on Accreditation (COA) by October 1, 2019, unless a state requests a delay for up to two years.

States are presently weighing their options to request a delay or “opt-in” to comply with the new restrictions regarding reimbursement. States must submit their request to the HHS Children’s Bureau by November 9, 2018 if they intend to delay the effective dates of certain provisions in the Family First act. However, states may still change their decision after their plan has been submitted, so nothing is definitive at this point – except that QRTPs will need to become accredited.

A number of service providers are opting to wait and see if their state will delay the effective dates with the hope that this will provide additional time to become nationally accredited. However, a delay in accreditation for qualified residential treatment programs is a gamble on the service provider’s future.

“I recommend that non-family-based care providers like group homes or residential programs who wish to become a licensed QRTP, begin the process of accreditation now,” said Leslie Ellis-Lang, Managing Director, Child and Youth Services at CARF. “It is the safest action.”

Accreditation for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs

Most service providers require 12 to 18 months or more to become nationally accredited. With the initial effective date of October 1, 2019 one year away (unless a state delays enactment), there is still some time to complete the process.

To meet the FFPSA deadline, organizations must consider the time necessary to:

  • Select an accrediting body
  • Secure budgetary allotment and board approval
  • Develop accreditation-required plans, including an organization-wide strategic plan, among others
  • Prepare standards-compliant policies, procedures and protocols
  • Implement accreditation standards (both CARF and COA require six months of conformance with standards before an onsite survey may take place; Joint Commission does not require this “look back”)
  • Make operational, service delivery and facilities improvements, as necessary
  • Prepare staff and board members for the accrediting body’s onsite survey

Accreditors’ Efforts and Deadlines

Under such a sweeping federal mandate as FFPSA, thousands of organizations throughout the United States will apply for accreditation at the same time, which can strain the capacity of the accrediting bodies.

The good news is that each of the three (presently) approved agencies (CARF, COA, Joint Commission) have been proactively preparing for this onslaught of new applicants by increasing their operational staff and adding surveyors to conduct the onsite reviews.

Yet each accrediting body has its own timeline, based on when applications are due and the scheduling of onsite surveys. Regardless of which body is selected, an organization should generally estimate that it will take at least 12 months to achieve accreditation.

In order to complete the process and receive accreditation by October 1, 2019, organizations must submit their application and deposit by the following deadlines:


CARF recommends that organizations choosing to use the 2018 Child and Youth standards for their survey and wanting to be notified of their outcome prior to October 1, 2019, should submit their application by December 31, 2018.


COA’s application deadline for organizations working toward the October 1, 2019 benchmark is November 19, 2018.

Also, in October 2018, COA will provide an application fee refund (in the form of a credit against future fees) for organizations that are mandated by FFPSA and are pursuing accreditation for the first time. An organization must complete its initial application by October 3 and fully execute an accreditation agreement by October 31, 2018 in order to receive this benefit.

The Joint Commission:

To complete the accreditation process and receive a Joint Commission accreditation award by October 1, 2019, organizations are “strongly encouraged” to submit an application and deposit by December 31, 2018 with a request for onsite survey (“ready date”) of no later than April 1, 2019.

Regardless if a state decides to opt-in or delay the FFPSA regulation and requirement for QRTPs, all service providers are strongly encouraged to begin the road to national accreditation as soon as possible. No matter what a particular state decides to do, the mandate is here to stay. Don’t gamble on your organization’s future!


Accreditation Guru is available to assist in the accreditation for qualified residential treatment programs, child welfare and behavioral healthcare organizations nationwide as they navigate the road to accreditation in an efficient and streamlined manner. For more information, contact us at


2017 Blog Recap

Did you miss any of our Accreditation Guru blog posts during the past year? We published nearly 25 informative articles on topics ranging from accreditation preparation to nonprofit management to issues affecting the behavioral healthcare field. Below we have highlighted some of our most popular posts from 2017 that may be worth a second look for your organization as you beginning planning for the New Year. Thank you for being loyal followers in 2017. We look forward to providing you with more informative posts in 2018! Here’s to the happiest of New Years!


Nonprofit Management and Boards of Directors

Behavioral Healthcare

AG’s own Corporate Social Responsibility

And don’t forget our popular series “Accreditation in Action,” which highlights organizations across the country and how they benefit from being nationally accredited.

Happy reading!

Add “Donate Now” Button on Facebook in Time for #GivingTuesday

The giving season is right around the corner and now is the time to be sure that your nonprofit is ready spread your mission and acquire those much needed donations this holiday season!

Celebrating its fourth year on December 1, #GivingTuesday will bring people and organizations from around the world together for one common purpose – to celebrate generosity and to give. Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y, in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday now engages more than 30,000 organizations globally through the power of social media and collaboration. According to, since the first #GivingTuesday, online donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving have seen an increase of more than 470%! Nonprofits cannot afford not to get in on this extraordinary opportunity.

One way to do this is to take advantage of Facebook’s recently launched “Donate Now” call-to-action button available (free of charge) for nonprofits to add to their Facebook pages and link ads that will connect donors directly with an organization’s donation page, making it faster and easier to donate than ever before. Many nonprofits already realize and take advantage of the value of a strong social following; by adding the “Donate Now” option, nonprofits are able to more readily turn online engagement into meaningful monetary support.

Here are our tips for making the most of these two giving opportunities:

  • Planning and preparation are key – assemble your fundraising team and begin planning now to inspire generosity
  • Add a #GivingTuesday message to your nonprofit’s website, Facebook page and other social media outlets to build momentum and reach all of your followers
  • Use the #GivingTuesday hashtag in your nonprofit’s Tweets – this will make your organization discoverable to anyone searching #GivingTuesday
  • Don’t consider #GivingTuesday as a one-day event – begin December 2 by connecting with your newly acquired and existing donors sharing the results of their generosity and how it will impact those you serve – in other words, create goodwill
  • Always engage and thank your valued donors – not just on #GivingTuesday – but the whole year through; long-term relationships can last a lifetime
  • While monetary donations are crucial for nonprofits, we can’t underscore the importance of volunteer efforts – encourage donors to get creative and give time for volunteering; those who can’t afford a monetary donation may be inspired to contribute in this way, making it a win-win for everyone involved
  • Reference your “Donate Now” button in your Facebook and other social media communications and dedicate specific content that make users aware of the button and perhaps how donations will be used
  • Pay attention to who is taking advantage of the “Donate Now” option; as with any campaign, information is key and analyzing and understanding who these givers are will go a long way in helping your nonprofit build sustaining donors

Free tools and resources for #GivingTuesday can be found at


Using #GivingTuesday to Spread Your Message

#GivingTuesday is a day when people and organizations from all over the globe come together to give back. On the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving, people around the world will unite for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. For nonprofit agencies that want to spread the word about their mission and secure sustainable donors, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that has engaged over 10,000 organizations worldwide. Free to all nonprofit agencies, #GivingTuesday will provide you with all of the resources you need to take advantage of this extraordinary day.

Here are some examples of how your nonprofit can benefit from participating in #GivingTuesday:

  • Launch a new fundraiser or giving platform with national/international press to expand and generate greater funds
  • Celebrate efforts and announce totals on #GivingTuesday
  • Send online and direct marketing communications to donor community to inspire early giving
  • Activate your social media constituency – or start one! – for a social media campaign
  • Get a matching grant or offer something new (a new video or photos) for donors
  • Create a volunteer day for giving back in your community

The possibilities truly are endless. For additional information, visit

How do you plan to participate in #GivingTuesday? Please share your ideas here.