Careers in Accounting for Nonprofits: Become an Internal Auditor


There’s a strong need in the nonprofit sector for more internal auditors. Accounting for nonprofits includes the role of the internal auditor, a staff member whose job it is to audit the finances of the organization but there are challenges in the industry to find good internal auditors.

According to a Deloitte study, only 13% of chief audit executives were happy with the skills of their audit teams. More than half admitted they were dissatisfied with their teams, which isn’t a good sign.

With 28% percent of CAEs also sharing how important the internal audit function is to their organizations, it’s imperative that more auditors enter the field. Here are some of the challenges CAEs face when seeking internal auditors, and some of the things the industry may do to counteract the issues.

Lack of Formal Degree Programs for Auditors

Very few universities offer a formal degree program for auditors. Instead, those who end up in the auditing profession typically obtain a general accounting degree. Many take general auditing or taxation but do not have specific courses on nonprofit internal audits.

There are more open positions for internal auditors than there are graduates prepared for the task. College graduates leaving school with an accounting degree have many opportunities in the auditing field, but few are prepared for the job.

Mid-Level Auditors Hard to Find

The situation gets even more difficult when CAEs look to fill internal auditor vacancies for mid-level employees. Finding someone with five to 10 years of experience in the internal auditing field is quite challenging. Relying on recruiters for help finding appropriate candidates still takes time.

The Right Skills

Part of the challenge is finding accountants with the right skills, the same survey reports. Among the desired skills for internal auditors are a strong analytical mind and the ability to work with data. Internal auditors must use extensive amounts of data. Being able to run reports and analyze such data is a vital skill.

Risk anticipation and data analytics, for example, are two areas that CAEs expect to see grow in the next three to five years. Yet few, if any, programs prepare internal auditors rigorously enough for these two areas.

More than half of internal auditors cited a lack of training as a stumbling block to advancing in their careers, so the problem of education for the job isn’t limited to college graduates. Internal auditors at all levels of their careers felt they needed better skills and on the job training.

Solving the Problem

You may not be able to encourage your local college or university to add an internal auditing major to their business department. You can, however, take steps to hire and train great people for the internal audit role.

A few ideas to help you solve the problem of finding great internal auditors include:

  • Working with recruiters to fill vacancies, especially mid to senior-level auditors.
  • Hire a consulting firm for the task if you only use internal auditors for a short period of time.
  • Find and hire people with industry experience, but not necessarily auditing experience. If they have an analytical mind, you can train them in the auditing function.
  • Promote open positions within the company, outside the company, and on social media.
  • Never stop recruiting. Develop a brand campaign to position your company as a great place to work to attract interested employees before you need them.

Accounting for nonprofits includes the internal audit function, an important role that’s difficult to fill in many organizations. The problems in the industry include lack of formal educational programs and an uneven demand for internal auditors. The solutions are finding employees before you need them through an ongoing recruitment campaign, hiring consulting firms to perform the internal audit, and hiring people based on talent and potential rather than known skills. It’s a strategy that you may need to adapt to your organization, but one that can work to fill the talent gap.

RBP Methods

RBP Methods helps right-brained people navigate a left-brained world. We offer nonprofit software and consulting services. We’d love to talk to you about your online fundraising or other needs. Contact us today or call 503-648-9051.