Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Your Board Focused on Your Organization’s Sustainability?

In a book, “Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability” by Jeanne Bell, Man Masaoka, & Steve Zimmerman, sustainability is defined as being both programmatic and financial:

* Financial sustainability – the ability to generate resources to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future.
* Programmatic sustainability – the ability to develop, mature, and cycle out programs to be responsive to constituencies over time.

Financial oversight is absolutely critical, but is not sufficient alone to achieve sustainability. Boards of directors charged as stewards of an organization have to be fundamentally knowledgeable about and actively engaged in the business models of the organizations they govern. Essentially, everyone (all board members) is responsible for understanding the financial statements of the organization so that the board is able to converse about mission impact and financial return.

Once per year, all board members should receive a one-hour refresher on how to read and interpret the organization’s particular set of monthly financial statements. The Nonprofit Assistance Fund is an organization that can provide custom training for your organization or check out their website for tools, resources and webinars. You may also contact Bremer’s Nonprofit Resource Specialist for complimentary guidance.

Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

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