I had trouble getting excited about writing this tip, but I kept at it because despite the fact it is not very exciting, it is very important. An often overlooked and under-appreciated part of every campaign is the campaign treasurer.
The campaign treasurer or “chief financial officer” oversees the financial and accounting aspects of the campaign. He or she monitors all contributions and expenditures, keeps up financial records and is responsible for compliance with the election finance law.
Additional roles and responsibilities are dependent on the structure of the individual campaign. In some campaigns treasurers have the responsibility to approve expenditures and assist in the preparation and of the budget. They may also work with the finance team to make sure that invitations and contributions comply with finance law.
Medium and large campaigns will want to provide the treasurer with software or services like NGP to track contributions and handle reporting. These companies usually offer free training and if they don’t, do not sign a contract with them! Also, most states offer some kind of training in finance election law. It is vital that your treasurer completes this training.
Who makes good treasurer? Smaller campaigns can get away with a volunteer who has a background in accounting or bookkeeping. However, having been the volunteer treasurer for the local little league or church does not mean someone is qualified to be a treasurer for a campaign that plans on raising significant sums of money.
Larger campaigns or any campaign with an aggressive fundraising strategy should hire a professional accountant. If possible try to get someone with campaign experience. That is not always possible, but paying for a good campaign treasurer can save you money in fines and lots of embarrassment.
One last note on treasurers and campaign finance laws: from my experience, state election finance staff is there to help you not screw you over! Your treasurer should be in regular contact with any issues that come up. So if there are questions ASK FORHELP! Don’t wait for the letter saying that your campaign is going to be fined for doing something wrong.