The Nonprofit CFO’s Survival Guide

Nonprofit Survival Guide - Best Practices and Tips

Tips and best practices from the nonprofit finance leaders

Nonprofits all too often find themselves in survival mode. One of the reasons why is inherent – when you’re not in business to make money, it’s harder to make money. With all the challenges nonprofits face, their CFO’s are under constant pressure. As a CFO for a nonprofit, how can you reduce that pressure, maximize your organization’s impact and direct more resources to your mission?

We spoke with industry experts and successful nonprofit CFO’s to find out what they’re doing that works. Their insights — along with some of our own — are gathered in the Nonprofit CFO’s Survival Guide. Here’s a preview of what’s inside. You can download the complete guide here.

Centering on core financials

Even the seemingly simple tasks associated with core accounting are more complex for nonprofits. For example, in many organizations, revenue recognition must be decoupled from cash receipts and disbursements. And all nonprofits need flexible ways of looking at their accounting transactions, such as by geography, project, timeframe, and funding source. Most “simple” accounting applications simply weren’t designed for this complexity, leaving CFOs and their teams to manage critical tasks offline.

“The accounting system must be designed to present information from a variety of dimensions, such as geography, project, timeframe, and funding source.”

Vigilant internal controls and cash management

Centralized internal controls with decentralized planning and responsibility may be the secret formula to help nonprofits remain vigilant, transparent, and agile. Entry-level accounting applications lack the security and transparency crucial to nonprofits, and they cannot accommodate the nonprofit’s need to manage their monies by grants, donors, programs, geographies, and other dimensions.

Zeroing in on funds and grants

Funds and grants are the lifeblood of nonprofits. Each funder has their own demands, and when your organization has dozens — or even hundreds — of funding sources, you could be preparing dozens of monthly closes and hundreds of monthly, quarterly, and annual reports. Without an automated way to do that, CFOs and their teams face a massive amount of low-value work that doesn’t advance the organization’s mission.

“Every funder wants to see their own information in a unique way. If you don’t have an automated way to do that, you’re looking at a massive amount of low-value work that doesn’t advance the organization’s mission.”

Raising insight and visibility

Nonprofit’s books are under constant scrutiny by many sets of eyes. As CFO, you must be able to “know and show” what’s happening in every aspect of the organization with both speed and clarity. Uncovering insight and demonstrating transparency are capabilities that need to be built into the way you operate, across every entity, funding source, location, and program.

“Transparency is a non-negotiable best practice for leading nonprofits today.”

Tools and best practices to help you survive – and thrive

The responsibilities of a nonprofit CFOs are complex and far reaching. You must work to automate processes, improve productivity, create greater levels of transparency and visibility, enhance the governance of the organization, and strengthen the team’s decision-making and strategic focus. All those efforts are made easier with the right tools in place.

“Cloud financials are absolutely key to running a nonprofit today. We can eliminate lots of manual work, be more productive, and eliminate all of those capital investments.”

One of those tools is a Cloud-based financial management solution designed to meet the specific needs of nonprofits. We spoke with nonprofit finance experts and CFOs who are successfully leveraging the power of Cloud accounting software to better lead their organizations and help them not simply survive — but thrive. Read how they’re making it happen in our free Nonprofit CFO’s Survival Guide.