In case you may be considering becoming one
Since NFP Partners‘ business is centered on helping nonprofit organizations become stronger financial managers, we focus on what makes a prospective client a good fit for our consulting services. Will a prospective clients get to know us, like us, and trust us? And, if they are satisfied with our services, will they recommend us to other organizations?
First of all, let’s stipulate that the ideal client prospect recognizes the need for help in the financial management area, or there would be no reason for consulting assistance. As discussed in the June article, “Know Where You Are in the Nonprofit Lifecycle and Get Ahead of the Game,” all organizations progress through distinct stages of growth – from inception to maturity – with each stage characterized by different needs to fulfill prior to moving forward. An early-stage organization has different needs and priorities than an organization in a later stage. Our sweet spot is with growth-stage organizations that need to manage this dynamic transitional period. Our goal is to assist them in reaching the mature stage with professional management in the key functional areas and the appropriate organizational, human, financial, and technology resources. After reaching maturity with permanent resources in place, the need for our services diminishes and is characterized by occasional special projects and strategic advice.
We recognize the qualities that propel an organization from startup to maturity within the context of financial management, ultimately making our working relationship a fulfilling experience. Here are the main qualities, based on our experience with many types and sizes of nonprofit organizations over the past eight years. Again, let’s assume that there is passion and commitment to the mission.
- The leadership — ED/CEO and Board — values strong financial management, acknowledges what they don’t know, and acts to achieve a level of financial literacy appropriate for their position, along with providing the necessary resources for the finance function.
- The leadership is accountable for performance and financial results and shares them with the stakeholders.
- The accounting and financial reporting is accomplished by competent personnel with necessary budgetary and internal controls to ensure accurate, relevant and compliant results, and to deter fraud and embezzlement.
- At least one Board member with a strong finance background oversees the finance and accounting function and actively participates in strategic decision-making.
- The leadership recognizes that the challenges of growth will require changes in organizational structure and personnel, and will make the hard decisions.
- The client treats outside resources with respect for their expertise and professionalism while maintaining realistic expectations and accepting full responsibility for results.
Some of you are likely questioning if this “ideal client” is even attainable and you have a good point. Human institutions are flawed. As consultants, we see ourselves as helping organizations move toward that ideal realizing that complete fulfillment is a moving target.