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Pro Bono Blessings at Berkeley Hillel

By Adam Naftalin-Kelman, Berkeley Hillel Executive Director

I came to Berkeley Hillel three years ago holding two distinctive vocational skills: Rabbinic ordination and a CPA.  Some might think ‘what an interesting combination.’  Well, in running Berkeley Hillel, my training as a CPA seemed like both a blessing and a curse.  I knew there were financial processes and accounting changes that needed to be made, but I didn’t have the needed time or expertise to make them happen.  I wanted someone to do some robust financial consulting but it was cost prohibitive.  I couldn’t rationalize, with such a tight budget, spending over $10,000 on financial procedural consulting.

That’s where the Federation came in. Last year we had the opportunity to participate in a pilot program with the San Francisco based Federation.  The Federation asked us if there were any areas or needs that we had as an organization that could be provided through pro-bono work.  Throughout the year we have been working with a CPA firm, that has a partnership with the Federation,  that specializes in not for profit accounting and they have brought all our financial reporting and procedures in line with best practices.  Beyond the specific scope of the project, it has been invaluable to direct questions regarding our financial operations to a professional with expertise.

Now that we have improved our financial procedures we plan to tackle other operational areas of growth for Berkeley Hillel.  My rabbinical training tells me, ‘being a CPA isn’t a curse after all,’ and we definitely look forward to partnering with the Federation again soon.

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