Balancing the Mission Checkbook

Clear the Fuzzy Thinking About Nonprofit Reserves

When I want to push nonprofit leaders to think about finances more comprehensively than their annual budget, I have a simple exercise that I use:

Imagine that a surprise gift arrives at your organization from a loyal and honorable donor, with no restrictions or strings attached, equal to 20% of your annual budget. What would you do with this windfall?

Communication is Key to Financial Leadership

If you’ve ever read anything about leadership development, you are well aware of how crucial communication is for leaders. They need to articulate their vision, discuss strategy, woo donors, and motivate staff. We know the difficult consequences that can arise when communication breaks down and how leaders often need to over-communicate in tough times to help turn things around.

Are you a mission cruncher?

In moments of indiscretion, some people have referred to me as a number cruncher. I understand. For non-finance folks, it’s easy to have the perception that those of us who work in nonprofit finance spend our days poring over formulas and spreadsheets (which, let’s be honest, is partially true). But the reality is, our passion for this work is driven by the missions of the nonprofits we serve and the broader causes they’re supporting.

IRS 990: What’s in it for me?

When nonprofit organizations complete the IRS 990, the standard federal reporting requirement for nonprofit organizations, most probably aren’t thinking about how they will use the form. The 990 is essentially a compliance document, explaining to the IRS the mission, governance, program activities and financial situation of an organization for the prior year. The IRS uses the form to not only make sure the organization still exists, but also to check to see that the organization is meeting the rules for charities, and basically doing the things that it said it would do.

Mind the Gap: True Program Costs

Imagine this budget planning conversation at a human services nonprofit:

“The county wants to expand our contract! Isn’t that great?”

The easy answer is: Yes! We can provide more services in our community! But the smart answer is: It depends.  In this example, we’d need to ask ourselves a couple financial questions:

Subscribe to Blog