There is no doubt that the world of non-profit finance is changing—but do you have the insight you need to drive innovation and transformation in your organisation?
Sage Intacct recently hosted a one-day virtual event focused on these and other trending priorities impacting non-profit finance leaders today. Here, they had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion where some of the best CFO’s in the non-profit industry shared ideas and practical advice for adapting to change, using technology to drive innovation, and maintaining strategic balance as a financial leader.
The panel included the following chief finance officers, who also happen to be Sage Intacct customers:
Michelle Naus is the CFO of Tri-County Mental Health Services (MHS), a nationally recognised behavioural health services organisation serving three counties in the metropolitan area of Kansas City, USA. Tri-County MHS provides comprehensive mental health and substance use and prevention services to about 9,000 individuals a year.
Shari Freedman is the CFO of Room to Read, an international nongovernmental organisation (NGO) that believes world change starts with educated children. Room to Read delivers programming to historically low-income communities around the world through 26 legal entities in 20 countries.
Karen Adame is the CFO of JumpStart, Inc., a nationally recognised non-profit that unlocks the potential of diverse and ambitious entrepreneurs to economically transform entire communities across the state of Ohio, USA.
David Korsak is the CFO of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national non-profit animal law advocacy organisation whose mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.
In this article, we share some big ideas from the panel discussion and panellists, titled What the Best Non-profit CFOs Do (And You Should Too), that took place during the 2022 Non-profit Finance Leaders Forum:
Historically, CFO’s had been confined to finance optimisation tasks and historical reporting. Today CFO’s find themselves becoming increasingly involved in the overall strategy of their organisations and serving as both a leader and team player in making programmatic changes.
Shari Freedman of Room to Read notes, “Foremost, I’m the financial leader…we’re always responsible for ensuring financial fiscal management worldwide, financial transparency, and global compliance. I mean, those things don’t change. That’s the what, but the how and the who has changed a lot as well as the strategic balance of where I end up spending my time.”
The panel discussed their challenges in dealing with daily distractions and keeping everyone on their team motivated and focused on the big picture—whether it’s how to build and maintain trust among remote staff or leveraging technology to confidently deliver financial data to stakeholders and make predictions about the organisation’s financial future.
Since the last two years presented a pretty big curve for us all in terms of how we work and the way we work, the panel also discussed how they used technology to learn new things and set their organisations up for success. Karen Adame of JumpStart, Inc. shared that when her organisation began the hiring process for a new IT Manager, the job requirements included technical skills of course, but noted they also wanted someone that focused on providing good customer service and was committed to continuous learning. Their organisation needs people who can be agile and figure things out as new possibilities open up.
Karen also shared, “I spend a lot of my day answering questions … so just being able to leverage our existing technology to easily respond to people and be very customer-focused I think is really what makes technology help us stay ahead and always be on the forefront of being able to be responsive and forward-looking.”
The panel shared these things to help guide non-profit CFO’s and other financial leaders as they navigate the enormous transformation taking place today.
Here are four things they said non-profit CFO’s should stop doing immediately (or never start doing in the first place):
Since we had time for more insights, each CFO on the panel was also asked to share one or two pieces of advice for non-profit financial leaders. Here are just a few of the things they shared:
The Akuna Solutions Team