SSP Basic Fiscal Structure and Process Hacks

Fiscal Professional Help

Though organizations can do their own bookkeeping and tax filings, it is often both easier and more transparent to hire a professional. The four primary types of fiscal professionals that might be useful to an SSP, from least to most expensive, are:

  • Bookkeeper – bookkeepers are hired to keep accounting records for the organization. They usually have a certificate that is the equivalent of an AA degree.
  • Enrolled Agent (EA) – an EA has passed a test and earned a certificate from the federal government to file federal taxes. EAs who are not CPAs are often bookkeepers.
  • Certified public accountant (CPA) – CPAs can do everything that a bookkeeper or EA can do, and also provide independent audit reports and financial advice. They have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree and are, by default, enrolled agents.
  • Tax attorneys – tax attorneys are licensed attorneys and have all of the training of both a CPA and a lawyer. They can provide legal advice, practice law, and represent clients in litigation.

When deciding what kind of professional help to get, keep in mind your needs and budget and look for professionals familiar with non-profit accounting. To find a competent professional:

  • Consult the Hacks vendor list.
  • Ask around! Friends, board members, leaders of other organizations etc.
  • Don’t be bashful about vetting! The person you hire needs the correct credentials, and they need to understand nonprofits generally and your organization specifically.
  • Check references and testimonials.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount, sliding scale, or pro bono assistance.
  • If you speak with a professional who sounds good but can’t help you, ask them for referrals! Professionals of all kinds often have a robust network and are happy to help.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource

External Resources

Collected from around the web
There are a number of external resources that contributed to the development of Harm Reduction Hacks. Here are a selection relating to this section:


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

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