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Authors
Andy Robinson &
Nancy Wasserman

ISBN
1889102436

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Other Books by
Andy Robinson

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How to Raise $500 to $5000 From Almost Anyone

Great Boards for Small Groups

 

 

 

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The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances

Everything You Need to Know in 1-Hour

by Andy Robinson and Nancy Wasserman, 111 pp., $24.95 (Click here for quantity discount information.)

So many of us are afflicted with Finance Phobia.

You know, it’s that anxiety you feel when anything financial comes up.

Fortunately, most of us get by even when our checkbooks don’t add up.

But Finance Phobia is more than a malady for America’s nonprofit organizations, and especially the board members governing these 1,017,712 organizations.

If our 17 million board members can’t tell a balance sheet from a profit and loss statement, if they can’t evaluate a report on how their organization is faring financially, well, that’s when the words “looming deficit” and “dissolution” and “embezzlement” creep into play.

BONUS! Bring this book to life for your volunteers

When you order FIVE or more copies of The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, you’ll receive Books Alive!, a set of hands-on activities Andy and Nancy have developed to help your board overcome their fears. Each is tied to a chapter in their book.

The authors use them with the boards they train, so they’re field-tested and practically guaranteed to work for yours.

And we’re not talking about a $30 overdraft penalty.  When a nonprofit fails to deliver on its mission, due to poor financial practices, real lives are often at stake.

A new book has just been published to cure Finance Phobia.  It’s called The Board Member’s Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances and is written by two of the most experienced board consultants in America, Andy Robinson and Nancy Wasserman.  They aim to eradicate the disease.  And, no, it won’t take years, say the authors.  In fact, they can rehabilitate America’s board members in ONE hour.

Hear the authors on Nonprofit Radio

That’s right, it only takes 60 minutes to read their book.  It’s like a therapy session - one anxiety after another is identified and dismissed.  “See this profit and loss statement?  Let’s go through it.  You’ll see there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

What the authors have done is nothing short of extraordinary.  They’ve taken something a majority of us have a block about, applied warm words of instruction, and melted away our unfounded fears.

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About the Authors

Andy Robinson (www.andyrobinsononline.com) provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, board development, marketing, earned income, leadership development, and facilitation. Over the past 16 years Andy has worked with organizations in 47 U.S. states and Canada. He specializes in the needs of groups working for human rights, social justice, environmental conservation, arts, and community development. Andy is the author of several books including How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyoneand Great Boards for Small Groups, both available from Emerson & Church.

Nancy Wasserman is the principal of Sleeping Lion Associates (www.sleepinglion.net), a consulting firm that works with mission-driven ventures to identify, analyze, and address strategic questions and develop plans for implementing new programs or ventures. She has helped businesses, nonprofits, cooperatives, and government agencies better understand their financials, prepare feasibility analyses, and develop business and program plans. Nancy has extensive experience with groups working in social finance, sustainable development, energy efficiency, agriculture, and affordable housing.

Watch Andy Robinson in action: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnptquUZgPc

Table of Contents

  1. What Every Board Member Should Know… and Probably Doesn’t
  2. When Things Go Horribly Wrong, Part 1: Where Did All the Money Go?
  3. When Things Go Horribly Wrong, Part 2: Where Did All the Money Come from?
  4. Managing Money is Managing Mission
  5. Learning a New Language: Financial Management Isn’t Really about Math
  6. A Three-Minute Guide to Measuring Your Organization’s Financial Health
  7. It’s Easier than You Think: Creating a 1-Page Financial Dashboard
  8. Managing Risk, Part 1: Diversify Your Income
  9. Managing Risk, Part 2: Financial Controls
  10. Managing Risk, Part 3: Insurance and Other Necessities
  11. How Much Control is the Right Amount? Finding the Best Altitude for Financial Oversight
  12. “Do We Really Need a Finance Committee?”
  13. It’s Not Your Money: Financial Conflicts of Interest
  14. Where Do We Stand, Where Have We Been?” Understanding and Using Financial Statements
  15. Budgets as Maps: Planning Your Future
  16. “Are We Heading in the Right Direction?” Managing the Budget
  17. Big Ticket Purchases: Capital vs. Operating Expenses
  18. How (and Why) to Read an Audit
  19. Your Tax Return: Surprise, It’s Not Just about Money
  20. Money in the Bank: Reserve Funds, Endowments, and Lines of Credit
  21. Yes, This is Everyone’s Job: Training the Board
  22. Developing the Next Generation of Nonprofit Financial Geniuses (Like You)

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Excerpt This article is excerpted from The Board Member's Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, by Andy Robinson and Nancy Wasserman, ©Emerson & Church, Publishers. To obtain reprint permission, call 508-359-0019 or email the details of your request.

What Every Board Member Should Know … and Probably Doesn’t

I ran into a friend in the grocery store recently. We were hanging out in the aisle, chatting about our neighbors and families, when the conversation turned to a local nonprofit.

“Aren’t you on the board of Neighbors Helping Neighbors?” I asked.

“Yeah, about a year now.”

“I know a little about them, but I’d like to know more. How big’s your budget?”

“Last year, about $325,000. We’re aiming for $350,000 this year.”

“And you raise the money how?”

“Well,” she said, “about half comes from the state, a quarter from the city and county, and the rest from foundations and individual donors, including 5 percent we raise at our annual dinner. Would you like to buy a ticket?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course,” I said, laughing. “But first, tell me where the money goes.”

“We’re a social service agency, so the biggest line item is salaries. It’s about 70 percent of the budget. The rest goes to rent, utilities, accounting, staff development, the usual stuff. We also pay mileage for volunteers, because they do a lot of driving. We like to say 85 percent of the money we raise goes to program costs.”

Since fundraising is my business and she was asking for a gift, I pressed a little further.

“Do you have a reserve fund?”

“Not formally, but we try to have money available to manage our cash flow,” she said.

“Our goal is to have enough cash in the bank to cover expenses for three months, in case our government funding is reduced or delayed. We’re a little short of the goal, but if our event is a big success, we plan to rebuild our reserves. Now about that ticket ....”

•••

As you might have guessed, this conversation never really happened. But as nonprofit advocates and consultants who have spent a collective fifty years working with a variety of organizations, we still dream about the perfect trustee – and when it comes to financial management skills, our fictional board member comes pretty close. We can debate all the dimensions of board leadership – strategic planning, program oversight, serving as ambassadors on behalf of the organization, and so on – but one essential aspect is written into the law governing nonprofit organizations: fiduciary responsibility.

These are big words, and they don’t mean simply approving a budget or signing off on an audit. In the deepest sense, accepting fiduciary responsibility means integrating financial thinking, including stewardship of your assets, into every aspect of board governance. If you don’t know the financial information by heart – if you’re not steeped in the numbers and understand why they’re important – it’s impossible to exercise that responsibility.

So imagine we bump into each other and I start asking about your organization. Could you answer the following questions – or would you turn and run?

-What is your organization’s annual budget?

-What are your current sources of income – and what would be the best mix of income for your organization?

-What are your largest expenses? What percentage of the budget do they consume?

-Does your organization have a reserve fund? How much is in it, and under what circumstances can it be used?

-What is your biggest financial risk?

-How do you use financial management tools to measure your impact? Does your organization compute the cost per unit of service, for example, for each client you help, or audience member you entertain, or acre you protect?

-What would help you understand your organization’s financial situation more clearly?

If you can answer these questions with confidence and clarity, and do so without shuffling through a pile of papers, please pass this book along to a colleague – and consider mentoring that person in the joys of financial management.

If you can’t, please keep reading.

 

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