To manage all aspects of financial recording and reporting, and prepare tax returns.
Accounting responsibilities with urban forestry groups depend largely on the size of the organization. Smaller groups require annual financial reporting from a Certified Public Accountant and pay fees for the amount of work that is done. Knowledge of non-profit tax reporting is helpful.
For larger urban forestry groups, it may be cost effective to have a chief financial officer (CFO) in-house who will not only assume responsibility for all aspects of financial reporting, but also work with program directors to coordinate, develop and deliver programs. Serving on the executive management team and steering financial aspects of the strategic planning process makes an accounting position with an urban forestry group very satisfying personally.
At large urban forestry organizations, the CFO is expected to coordinate and lead the budgeting process, and direct billings on grants and government contracts. To qualify for larger grants, non-profits are audited annually, and the CFO is expected to coordinate the auditing process.
Even though all accountants adhere to generally accepted accounting principles, because trees are living organisms, their value is in constant flux (either increasing or decreasing) and communicating the worth of said assets at true market value is a real challenge. Creative financial reporting can be used as an edge when looking for funding and competing for grants.
Environmental literacy is a real plus for accountants working with trees and in urban forestry. Sincere enthusiasm for the organization's mission yields best results for the leadership team..
CFO qualifications include a four year college degree, CPA certification, good leadership, team building, management and communications skills. This combination will go a long way in making the accountant an integral part of the urban forestry movement.
Earnings are based on the size of the organization and the contribution of the CFO. Typically, for managing assets in excess of $1 million, a CPA can expect to earn in excess of $50,000 annually.