Time for us to practice what we preach and deliver a little stewardship to an organization that is truly building capacity in the not-for-profit sector. A huge thank you to The Wallace Foundation for their leadership in creating strong education in the United States – and most particularly for their newly unveiled financial management toolkit: StrongNonProfits.org. I admit that I haven’t personally discovered the Foundation’s motivation, values and philanthropic preferences but I think it’s not a wild guess to say that they value creating useful, practical tools for the non-profit sector.
They have done exactly that.
The financial management toolkit brings together resources in four key areas:
offering links to free-standing tools and resources from other websites (like another of our favorites: Blue Avocado) to help support best practice in a variety of areas where non-profit leaders – or Board Chairs, like me – may be looking for addition support.
Among my favorites:
- A Non-Profit Dashboard and Signal Lights for Board: this terrific resource from Blue Avocado has strongly influenced how my board reports and reflects on our progress in our strategic plan. It’s mighty useful too in identifying the most important metrics to be reviewing monthly. As Judy Vredenburgh, CEO of Girls Inc., reminds us: “We do what we measure.”
- Also in the Monitoring section: “Understanding Auditing Financial Statements” and “Understanding Indirect Costs”
- From the Governance section, one of the many valuable tools in this section: “Maintaining Operating Reserves: An Organizational Imperative for Non-Profit Sustainability“. This one wins no awards for catchy title but given the Kellogg Foundation’s findings in 2009 about on the “Quiet Crisis” that found that the vast majority of organization have fewer than three months cash reserve, this white paper is imperative.
- The Operations section is so chock-a-block with great resources, I couldn’t choose just one: accounting basics, choosing accounting software, internal controls, fiscal management activities calendar, and a program budget template – these are just a few from this section.
- From the Planning section: who would not welcome a “Five Step Approach to Budget Development” from Fiscal Management Associates?
My favorite of all? An interactive tool called “Go or No Go” – a tool that walks you through the steps to decide whether a contract or funding opportunity is a wise, strategic choice to pursue. This one also comes from the good folks at Fiscal Management Associates.
Wallace Foundation: you have done a great service with this fiscal management toolkit. You identified exactly what’s on our minds and delivered.
Everyone: go share this with YOUR board and use this!