Balancing the Mission Checkbook

Making Progress Together

Have you ever had the experience of talking with someone and you see their eyes light up with clarity and understanding? It is a seminal moment. To know that not only has understanding been bridged but also an impact has been felt.

Multiply that by 10, and that is the Financial Leadership Cohort experience. We gathered together interested strangers and seekers of knowledge. We went through a shared time and curriculum. And what has evolved is the most amazing dynamic.

A group of 10 nonprofit representatives committed to six months of ½-day sessions around financial management education and sharing. These are folks who are determined and striving every day. They care deeply about their missions and find their personal mission tied up in their daily work. Some are executives and program staff who work in various parts of the sector. They represent arts, housing and basic needs, they serve those in poverty and those experiencing different abilities and challenges. Together they shared their struggles and wisdom; and grew to trust each other.

They bonded. And have gone on to create ongoing working sessions after the cohort ended that deepen their relationships but mostly to get the work done creatively. It has been rewarding to see.  

The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation funded the cohort and shared in the celebrations at the beginning and end sessions. But no one can know how much it really meant to those who shared that time and experience together.

They received financial management training, ongoing coach/mentoring and have used that foundation to grow their financial leadership. Financial leadership is not the same as financial management. It is different. Financial leadership means:

  • Engaging financial knowledge to develop and implement strategies.
  • The ability to adapt to change and integrate financial applications to plans and goals.
  • Communicating financial information that highlights and inspires what is important for sustainability and opportunity.
  • Confidence to dig deep on the financial story of one’s mission to build partnership and clarity with the board, staff, community and other stakeholders.
  • Maintaining and balancing the drive to manage financial resources to accomplish the mission currently and in the future.
  • Recognize the relationship between strong infrastructure and strong programs.
  • Expect and require financial accountability and transparency.

The sector is stronger because these 10 individuals are clear and confident, and I am warmed knowing I was part of building capacity that no curriculum alone can outline. The relationships are ongoing and core to the work that matters in this sector. I want to say thank you for allowing me to be part of the inspiring work going on in the nonprofit sector!

And their words seem to echo this sentiment:

“The most useful thing I learned was to trust my financial leadership skills.”

“The cohort was invaluable! I will take lessons I learned here for the rest of my life!”

“I am not alone; other leaders are working on the same challenges.”

“This is directly beneficial to the whole sector.”

 

Beverly Bushyhead is committed to developing financial leadership and expertise as a way to equitably build capacity and support meaningful missions.