Yesterday, I was wandering the interwebs looking for US-based conferences dedicated to nonprofit finance. Know how many I found? 1. Precisely – 1. Whaaaattt??? That can’t be right! Can it?!
In an effort to be charitable (haha – pun intended!) to any conferences I did not find, let’s handicap the wide world web’s results and offer that there could be some conferences out there that didn’t come up in a Google search due to some SEO-related reason. Let’s say there are 10, just for argument’s sake.
Now anyone, in any industry, but especially a leader in the social impact space, must know that there are 1000s of conferences every year. Indeed, there are ad nauseum lists online of the Top 10, Top 15, Top 20, even Top 65 nonprofit conferences each year. And yet, only a handful (or 1!) is dedicated to the financial-layperson-cum-nonprofit-leader?!?!
Reconcile that with constant hum in the social impact space that chants, “Be sustainable. Earn revenue, don’t just solicit donations. Insure your organization’s future. Be responsible stewards of your donor dollars.”
How do those two things line up for you? It’s a paradox, wouldn’t you say?
If you are a nonprofit or social enterprise leader, you know the value of a trusted accountant, bookkeeper, or board treasurer. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these magical, numerically gifted unicorns in your life, you know you need to treat them like gold.
That’s because without a good financial manager in place, your organization operates at its own peril. The wheels of the bus take no time to come off if you don’t understand your financials and are blindsided by unforeseen events.
So why, oh why, Sweet Universe, are there not more gatherings focused on nonprofit finance and financial leadership?
I offer two possible reasons:
The ironic thing about our avoidance of finance as a topic is that the avoidance only serves to deepen our dysfunction with money and increase our feelings of incompetence. Nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs who fail to build their own capacity in finance are tying their own hands and blindly trusting someone else with “the numbers.”
Is that right? Is it healthy? Is it okay? I’m not one to judge. But it’s certainly not functional.
Major donors and institutional investors/funders everywhere want to see the impact of their investments. They encourage their grantees to network and learn how to be better leaders, better fundraisers, and better managers.
But, alas, no money, no mission. No money, no leadership needed.
Times are flush again for nonprofits. But remember about 10 years ago when they weren’t? Remember when organizations were shuttering and merging at breakneck pace? Remember when every funder didn’t want to be your only funder, and when “social enterprise” and “sustainable revenue streams” first came into nonprofit parlance?
The Great Recession spurred innovation and scrappiness from an already scrappy nonprofit sector. But where are we now? Where is the capacity building grant for financial education? Where is the investment in helping nonprofit leaders become A+ students in finance?
Answer: I have no idea.
Happily, that’s why I launched Blue Fox. Financial services for nonprofits and socially responsible business leaders and coaching to level up your financial knowledge. It’s all here.
You’ve come to the right place… What we can do for you?
Author: Founder & CEO, the Original Blue Fox, Chantal Sheehan, MS, CFP(r)
Company Info: Our team at Blue Fox provides customized, boutique financial and back office services for social impact organizations. Services range from standard bookkeeping and payroll services, to coaching and consulting, to full-blown virtual CFO services. Our mission is to disrupt the traditional accounting model through technology, innovation, and a radically client-focused approach that truly empowers nonprofits and social enterprises. For more information call (321) 233-3311, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.YourBlueFox.com.
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