Nancy Devine, Wallace’s former director of learning and enrichment, wrote in The Foundation Review about a study of a Wallace initiative to help nonprofits strengthen financial management. The study, The Skills to Pay the Bills: An Evaluation of an Effort to Help Nonprofits Manage Their Finances, finds that well-designed training and support can help nonprofits better manage resources and improve organizational stability.
Studies have found that many nonprofits lack strong financial procedures and expertise and are often torn between the organization’s needs and the reporting requirements of governments and private foundations.
Wallace’s Strengthening Financial Management initiative sought to determine whether training and support could help 26 afterschool nonprofits change that picture—and whether the results could be affected by the extent of the support the organizations received. Fourteen organizations received high-intensity, individual consulting services tailored to their specific needs. The rest received lighter-touch group training. Both groups were given a common core of content.
The evaluation showed that the investment worked, Devine writes. Twenty-three of the organizations made “meaningful, quantifiable progress toward best practices.” Further, improvements in both groups were comparable. This result, says Devine, “demonstrates to us that well-designed training and coaching initiative can be almost as effective as—and potentially more cost effective than—a significantly more resource-intensive model.”
Resources to help bolster financial management in nonprofits are available at StrongNonprofits.org.