Trine students help shelter get clearer picture of finances

May 28, 2024

Shelter Audit
A group of Trine University students recently conducted an audit for the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County, the first in the organization’s history. From left, students Shay Ohtonen, Jacob Jones, John McClelland and Alex Sheets; Ingrid Rosales, shelter treasurer; Al Beatty, assistant professor in the university’s Ketner School of Business; and student Jackson Clark.
An audit can help an organization make vast improvements in its financial operations.

It also can cost a lot of money.

Wanting a financial audit but not having the budget, the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County turned to Trine University and its students for assistance.

The Trine group, made up of Jackson Clark, an accounting major from Fort Mill, South Carolina; Alex Sheets, an accounting major from Goshen, Indiana; Jacob Jones, an accounting major from Willowbrook, Illinois; Samuel Sering, an accounting major from Indianapolis; Shay Ohtonen, an accounting and finance major from Dexter, Michigan; and John McClelland, an accounting major from Oak Forest, Illinois, presented their findings to the Humane Shelter Board on April 22.

A first for the shelter

An audit had never been performed for the shelter, though Ingrid Rosales, who has served as the organization’s treasurer since June 2023, said its finances don’t meet the threshold for requiring to file a federal audit with the Internal Revenue Service.

“The new board of directors decided an audit would be beneficial to see what areas we could improve on,” she said.

Rosales, a Trine alumna who works in the university’s Advancement Office, suggested a partnership with the Auditing class taught by Al Beatty, assistant professor in the university’s Ketner School of Business.

“The audit project provided the next best thing to an on-the-job field audit,” said Beatty. “It was basically an internship.”

The six students volunteered for the project. Beatty said that, under Rosales’s guidance, the students planned the audit, investigated based on their planning phase and provided recommendations based on the audit.

Areas covered in the audit included accounts payable, accounts receivable, revenue and grants, cash, fixed assets and debt.

“My background is in governmental auditing; I helped audit nonprofits, villages, cities and townships in my previous role,” Rosales said. “We figured it would be perfect for me to oversee the auditing process. The students followed a real-world audit procedure where they planned an audit, conducted testing and prepared a report and presentation.”

The students stayed an extra hour after the Auditing class on Tuesdays and Thursdays for three months to review financial statements and test the shelter’s internal controls.

The audit will not be filed with the IRS, but in all other aspects was a regular audit, Rosales said.

“The students highlighted what areas the shelter is excelling in, and they also shared the weaknesses the shelter currently has,” she said. “The students also provided detailed guidance on improving our internal controls and having better financial clarity.”

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