Case Study | California Humanities






Oakland, CA



Nonprofit Improves Reporting for Their Board of Directors with the Help of SD Mayer

California Humanities, a nonprofit group that wants
to foster a sense of shared diversity and culture
while watching the humanities thrive in California,
transitioned to an organized financial record system
that provided the transparency it needed with the
expertise of SD Mayer.

The Challenge

California Humanities initially came to SD Mayer for a financial assessment. The non-profit lacked a technical grasp of how accounting programs could increase management and efficiency and instead tracked financial information in Excel. This is a common problem for organizations, and it resulted in a frustrated board of directors. While California Humanities had a budget, it did not track it into the accounting system. California Humanities lacked proper accounting expertise and structure, and for this reason, could not accurately or knowledgeably report numbers that the board of directors and managers relied on. The financial reports being generated demonstrated poor system utilization and were also accompanied by poor explanations.

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“The team at SD Mayer helped to take us from early startup mode, running accounting with Excel and lump-sum journal entries, to proper audit-ready accounting practices. Highly recommended for a bootstrapping startup that needs to up their game. Great team to work with! Friendly, responsive and accurate. Just what you need.”

– Kevin Christy, COO, Lightsource

How SD Mayer Helped

SD Mayer understood the accounting problem facing California Humanities due to the financial assessment we conducted as our initial opportunity with the client. Being aware of the organization’s financial operations and the accounting procedures in place allowed our experts to create a well-tailored solution. We guided California Humanities through a transition to a new accounting system that had the budget built in. The inclusion of the budget provided key information for the board and allowed for quicker, thorough financial analysis. Furthermore, this system included specific class codes to track the different programs within the organization and manage the inflows and outflows. Especially with a non-profit, effectively isolating where money is coming and going is critical for financial planning.

We have worked with California Humanities for over two years, acting as financial analyzers and accounting consultants. Being able to implement a new accounting system with class fields and an internalized budget ensured transparency with the financials. This system allowed for automated reports that department heads relied on to make decisions about the organization’s financial and technical future.

The Results

In addition to the Outsource Accounting practice providing crucial updates to the non-profit’s financials, our Retirement practice worked as an advisor as well. The 403b plan that was currently in place was not set to last as currently implemented. SD Mayer served as the trusted advisor for this thanks to the strong relationship it had already established with California Humanities. SD Mayer is proud to be able to address a variety of client needs. The deep relationships we create with clients provides us with background knowledge on firm’s financials so that we can offer further assistance or advising. Our relatively small size ensures communication between different practice groups within the firm and promotes our sustained client relationships.