Most nonprofits would agree that good financial management is essential for their success and growth. But many small organizations lack the resources and skills necessary to create a healthy financial infrastructure.
In response to this growing need, we commissioned Fiscal Management Associates, a consulting firm, to help us create a website that would help nonprofits strengthen their financial management and provide a number of easy to use templates and resources. The title of the site is, appropriately, strongnonprofits.org.
The genesis of the site arose from our work with 26 afterschool programs in Chicago, where it became clear that many of the organizations struggled with financial management. As our president Will Miller told the Wall Street Journal: “It became a theme that the lack of understanding of the financial realities of their own organizations was one of the things impeding them from being sustainable, successful, mission-fulfilling nonprofits.”
Looking to help train nonprofit organizations become “fiscally fit,” Strong Nonprofits contains a library of resources compiled in partnership with Fiscal Management Associates, which highlight four key elements of strong financial management: planning, monitoring, operations and governance. For each of these elements the site offers a variety of articles, resources and tools.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has highlighted the site’s Go or No Go questionnaire, which aims to help nonprofits decide whether or not go through with a proposed contract. This questionnaire serves as a good example of the many interactive tools available on the site. Also popular are the Out-of-School Time Cost Calculator and the Program Based Budget Builder that allows nonprofit staff to allocate their spending by program and personnel.
The demand for these resources speaks volumes about need. The Strong Nonprofits resources consistently rank among our top monthly downloads. And two of our most downloaded publications of all time, the Program Based Budget Builder and A Five-Step Guide to Budget Development, have accumulated 72,373 and 60,387 downloads, respectively, since they were published in February, 2013. Ultimately, what makes Strong Nonprofits so exciting beyond its ‘nuts and bolts’ subject matter, is its testimony to our research approach. Here, our afterschool work uncovered a gap in financial knowledge across many organizations, which led us to create additional tools and resources to fill this gap.