Nonprofits Need to Make a Profit, Too

Successful nonprofits understand that in order to create a stable, sustainable organization capable of filling its missions for years to come, that it must earn a profit.  Nonprofits are businesses just like for profits.  One major difference is that a portion of a nonprofits profits are reinvested into achieving its mission.  That mission is about making the world a better place.  Successful nonprofits are nimble and think entrepreneurially.

Steve Breitman is a CFO with a CEO perspective.  His hands-on work in operations sets him apart from traditional accountants.  He understands how business “really” works.  Steve can tell you not just what the bottom line is, but why and show you how to use the information to grow your business.

Steve trained as a CPA and has 28+ years of accounting, financial and operational management experience.  He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, Magna Cum Laude, with a BBA in Accounting.  Steve’s career path led him to work in public accounting and to hold a variety of management positions including CFO, Regional Controller, Corporate Director of Management Reporting, Executive Director and Regional Manager.  He had management responsibility for 6 business sites with 175 employees and $20 million in revenue as well as reporting responsibility for 25 business sites with $120 million in revenue.

Steve gives back to the community by volunteering his time.  In the recent past he served as a Board Member of the Better Business Bureau and was on the Finance Committee of the Better Business Bureau Foundation.


Read the Interview

Hugh Ballou: Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange yet again. We have a long-time friend and colleague, Steve Breitman, on the interview today. Steve is your quintessential financial CFO/CPA person. His first time we met, you came to a meal table. I was trying to get people jazzed up about their elevator pitch. You were very systematic and matter-of-fact. I said knowing that you’re a CPA, I would not expect my CPA to be gregarious. Do you remember that time?

Steve Breitman: I do. It’s been a long time. It’s been a few years. Burned in my memory.

Hugh: You represent your brand. Careful and meticulous. I appreciate knowing you and the projects we have been on together. You add a huge amount of value.

We are talking today about nonprofits making a profit. Before we get to that, that is an intriguing topic, Steve Breitman, tell people a little bit about yourself.

Steve: That’s a good question. I have had a journey in my career. I have done lots of different things. I started out as a traditional accountant. I got out of college and became an auditor. I worked for accounting firms for somewhere between three and four years. That gave me a really good solid base that every accountant wants to have, the basic knowledge of how you do things and understanding the rules. Then I took a different turn. I had a variety of different positions. Some of them were financial, where I was a controller and CFO for companies. But I was also a CEO. I ran some businesses, and at one point, I had 175 people I was responsible for. It was actually that experience that made me feel born again, maybe. It taught me how business really works because I had to do the marketing and the sales and working with people and creating strategy. That lesson gave me the ability to help people not only understand what their bottom line is, but also why, and then to show them how to use that information to grow their business. That is how I came to where I am today, with a few bumps on the road in between. Now I have Mindful Business Solutions, where I help small- and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits grow their business and get clarity in their numbers and help them to grow their businesses.

Hugh: I find that- I am going to group us all under the category of “social entrepreneur.” We are all changing the world, whether we are running a business or a so-called nonprofit. That word is problematic. You’re talking about making a profit. People who have been working in an organization for a long time say to me, “You’re not supposed to make a profit.” We hear this word nonprofit, and we put on our dumb hat. Speak to the issue of why do we need to make a profit? Is that breaking the law?

Steve: That’s a good question. Profit basically means you are making extra money, you are bringing in more money than you have to pay out to cover your expenses. It’s that difference that businesses, including nonprofits, need to pay their employees raises, to buy important equipment, to start new programs. Costs go up from year to year, so that goes to paying extra costs. It’s also important to be able to put some money away for a rainy day. Nonprofits, just like for-profits, are subject to the economy. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad; sometimes people want to donate a lot of money, sometimes they don’t. It’s important to have money put away for a rainy day to cover the time where the money coming in isn’t as good. The main difference between- Profit to me is not a bad word, especially when it comes to nonprofits. One of the main differences between nonprofits and for-profits is that money is used to build a sustainable business, a stable business, that can actually carry out your mission for years to come. Because nonprofits are mission-based, sometimes the word “profit” gets a bad connotation because we get the image in our head of profits taking advantage of people to get money. That’s not the case with nonprofits.

Hugh: It’s a social benefit organization. One of the guests we had has a for-profit company. He said, “This is a for-purpose organization.” We are creating impact, results, in people’s lives. The life blood of any organization is the cash flow. Having more left over is what we term profit. There might be a better word in our sector. Excess revenue. In the business world, the excess profit is distributed for personal gain as dividends. We don’t do that in a 501(c)3. It’s not legal. Salaries and expenses and continuing education, we can support our people, we can market it. There are a lot of things we do in business that we think we are not supposed to do in a 501(c)3. We have a lot of standard best practices for running an organization. Really, there are more rules in a nonprofit than there are in a business.

Steve: One of the great advantages of being a nonprofit is that you’re not subject to income tax. You don’t have to pay federal income tax or state income tax. The reason is because nonprofits are there to make good in the world, to make the world a better place. That’s one of the rewards of having a nonprofit. What’s so great about that is it’s like getting free money, money that you can use to put toward your programs, to start a new program, whatever it is your nonprofit’s about. That’s important.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that nonprofits, because they are cause-based, everybody wants their cause to make a difference and to last a long time. In order to do that, you have to build a stable growing organization. Something that will last a long time. Part of creating that stable base is a financial thing. Being able to build a business that has the money to be able to grow, to withstand hard times, that’s an important piece of it. Going back to this profit, that’s part of what profits are used for, to build that base so you can be around for as long as you want to be around, as long as you’re needed.

Hugh: Let’s talk about some of the mechanisms that are needed to make really good financial decisions. We get a print-out and a P&L and it looks like we have money left over. There is a mystery to understanding the numbers. Instead of going into a deep lesson on ratios and balance sheets and cash flow statements, talk about the importance of having someone like you as a consultant and advisor to the company who gets paid, which disqualifies you from being a board member, but you are the contract person who is the external presence to look at the accounting systems and maybe even improve or give advice to the organization. Having a person as an external advisor, plus having someone on the board that has got financial experience and financial eyeballs to interpret those. Usually a nonprofit has a treasurer on the board, who is responsible for taking those printouts and interpreting them for the board members.

Let’s go back to the first part of this. What is the importance of having someone like a Steve Breitman? You’re a licensed CPA and have had business experience. You build the chart of accounts and the financial budgets, instruments from the strategic plan, as I recall. What is it we are going to do? What do we have to fund? Talk about getting the right kind of advice. How does someone qualify somebody to work with you?

Steve: I think there is a couple pieces to this. One thing that’s important I think is for nonprofits to take on an entrepreneurial view of things. You’re still working toward your cause. You’re still cause-based. At the same time, what an entrepreneurial view means is that in order to achieve your mission, you realize that sometimes you have to take calculated risks. Maybe you decide you want to start a new program, but you’re not really sure if it will work or not, but it fills a need you see, so you do it because you have the backing to do it. It also means understanding that you surround yourself with good, qualified, creative people who collaborate and cooperate with each other. It’s not a competition. We’re all working toward this cause. We all have ideas that we can contribute. Even a non-financial person can come up with some great financial ideas sometimes. Starting with that is an important place.

I have served as a board member of nonprofits. I have also had nonprofits as clients. I have one right now in Denver. The ones that I see that are most successful are the ones who take this approach to business. They are curious. They want to try new things. Those are the ones who I see as the most successful. Part of my goal is I am part of the team you create. Somebody like Hugh is an expert in forming the board, attracting donations, and creating the strategy. I am another member who can help you implement the strategy and know if you are staying on the right path, at least in terms of the financial side of things. It’s not just any accountant who can fill the role. Somebody who also has, in addition to having that good solid accounting base, but someone who has worked in business before and understand how business works. Perhaps they have worked in a nonprofit, or at the very least, served a nonprofit, either as a volunteer or as a board member or an advisor. They understand how nonprofits work.

Once you have that set up, part of what I’m doing is running a nonprofit is very similar to running any kind of business. It’s important to set up systems to track the things that are vital to your organization. Part of it might be cash flow. Are we bringing in more money than we are spending? Are we spending the money according to our plan? What things can we do to use our money more efficiently? Then there are also non-financial things you want to track that affect the bottom line or your cause, like how many volunteer hours do you have? There is a number of both financial and non-financial indicators you want to track and then have the ability to understand how all those things work together to produce your bottom line and where you’re going.

Hugh: That’s the most important sound bite so far. How do you create systems that work together? In my world, we create the strategy and bring the board members and empower the board. But they serve the strategy. You create a budget where you spend the dollar, whereas you create strategy. We have targets, milestones we are going to reach. Those all have dollars attached to them. Looking at where those dollars come from.

You mentioned in that little explanation cash flow. I find that’s one of the- I want to ask you what are some of the financial concepts that are hardest for leaders to get their heads around? I don’t think it’s specific to nonprofits, but we are focusing on nonprofit leaders. A lot of times, the organizations tend to undervalue the financial reporting. They just want to know how much money is in the bank. Can we do our next fundraiser? Installing really good- And the board is responsible for financial oversight, so how do we install good systems to monitor? This illusive thing of cash flow is one thing I see causes problems. One is you have a large donation, so you have this lump sum, this large amount of money. We are burning money, called a burn rate. Part of understanding cash flow is analysis. Where did it go? That is brake lights. Headlights is how long will this money last us before we run out? Cash flow projection. We write a budget. Are we basing the expenditures on the cash on hand? When will it run out? How do we create systems to replenish it before it runs out? Am I just babbling, or is that one of the big areas of blindness for nonprofits?

Steve: You mentioned several different things. In my experience, I find them important. I have another thing to add to that. The whole important thing is to have clarity. Clarity into the numbers. Numbers are the language of business. Even the non-financial things you want to track are based on numbers. How many volunteers do you have? How many hours have they worked? Those are important things to know and to track. What I found is that many of the nonprofits I’ve worked with don’t have that clarity. They don’t know exactly where their money is being spent, especially when- I have a nonprofit client right now. They put on five different really big events each year. Before I started working with them, they really didn’t know whether they were making money, losing money, or breaking even on these events. They brought in money by people paying admission or donating during the event. They had this blind spot. How do I know that what we’re doing, it’s supposed to be our signature event, whether that’s helping us to further our cause or not? Being able to track things like events, their profitability, or their programs, if you have individual programs that are separate business divisions, it’s important to know if they are making the money that you thought, if they are spending money the way you want them to. That’s an important piece.

One other blind spot I have also seen is being able to track and understand the money coming in. Most nonprofits that I have worked with don’t have a CRM system. I don’t know if your audience knows what a CRM system is. It’s a system where you can track your sales leads. In terms of nonprofits, it’s potential donors. You have made a contact with a person. They have said, “I like what you’re doing. I might want to give a donation sometime.” By putting them in the CRM system, you’re able to keep track of them and to know whether or not they have made a donation and make sure they don’t get lost in the cracks. Most of the nonprofits I work with don’t have that, so they don’t really, maybe on a napkin or a spreadsheet, know who is sitting out there who might be interested in giving money.

The other piece that’s missing is let’s say I met you today at an event. I said, “Hugh, I like your nonprofit. I’d like to give you $500. But I can’t write you a check today. I’ve committed. I am going to give you a piece of paper that says, ‘I am committed to giving you $500.’” At that point, in my view of things, you put that into your accounting system as a receivable, meaning money that’s due to somebody. I’ve said I am going to do it. If you put it in there, now you have a record of Steve Breitman giving you $500. Now you know that if I don’t send you a check in two weeks, you probably should give me a call. Maybe I forgot. That’s what I’m working on with this same client: trying to get their system more clean so we know who is committed or not. In their case, they also have memberships. Every year, they have people who renew. This is one way we can track to see: Who has not paid their renewal memberships yet? Is it because they forgot or they decided not to renew? If they decided hot to renew, maybe we need to go talk to them and find out why they decided not to renew. Those are the two big areas.

Hugh: The CRM system, contact management system, is both proactive for prospects, but it’s also responsive. Who donated, and how do we stay in touch with them? Our sponsor for this episode is Wordsprint. They do mail mail. Email gets lost. But they put something in the hands of your donors. For two decades, they have seen donations go up with all nonprofits they work for. We tend to thank them for their donation with a note, and the next time they hear from us is when we want more money instead of us telling them all the good things happening in between. I agree from you. We see lots of charities that don’t have any kind of contact management system at all. It’s staying in touch with the people who could donate and telling the people who donated what’s been happening. That’s a little bit about cash flow analysis. People give to impact. They want to know what has happened as a result of their money. I appreciate your bringing that up. That’s a really big one.

Are there more- Some people think that all of these numbers are smoke and mirrors. They don’t get it, so they tend to ignore it. It hurts. What are other concepts besides cash flow that are hard for people to understand?

Steve: That’s a good question. We already talked about the receivable side, the donation side. I think to reemphasize on the donation side, it’s important to have a system so you can track who is interested in giving and make that if they are really truly interested, they follow through.

What I try to do in working with clients is I understand that everybody has different levels of expertise when it comes to numbers and finances. Not only that, but people have different preferences for how they think about things. Me, I am a logical kind of person. For me, looking at the numbers is easy. But other people are more oriented toward relationships with other people, or maybe they are like executive directors of nonprofits and usually tend to be more visionary, thinking about the big picture. How do I make things happen? Then there are other people who are into processes. How do I do this? What are the steps for doing this? Those people, things that are obvious to me when it comes to numbers are not as obvious to them. Part of what is important in building your team is to have these kinds of people on your team because they see it in different ways, and making sure you are able to communicate numbers to those people in ways they can understand it. Some people like charts or pictures. Some people like to see a row of numbers. Some people like to hear you say it and speak it. Some people like to see it in writing. You look like you want to jump in and say something, Hugh.

Hugh: Yeah. You show up and pass out the financials at the board meeting. There is a P&L and a balance sheet. We want to see this profit thing on the P&L. What is the money left over? Neither one of these talk about cash flow. These give you a picture. What kinds of things should people be looking for? You look at an income statement. We have this much left over. Boom. What should we be looking at? The percentage of expenses? Should we be looking at the relative percentage of line items? This is why somebody needs a person like you. This is how the chart of accounts is laid out and how it shows up on the reports. What are the top three things for us to look at in an income statement and a balance sheet? Those two go together.

Steve: I want to say one thing first. Part of that is it’s important to be able to put your numbers in context. If I look at an income statement, and it says I made a profit of $50,000, how do I know if that’s good or not? $50,000 seems like a big number. But what happens if the plan that I had made with Hugh, we created this strategic plan, what if we were supposed to make $100,000 this month? Well, the $50,000, it’s great that we made a profit, but we didn’t do as well as we wanted to. So part of it is always trying to put numbers in context. When you just lay out a number in front of you, it doesn’t have that much meaning. You know if it’s positive, it’s probably good; you know if it’s negative, it’s probably bad. But that’s not always the case. You also don’t know how good or how bad that is. Being able to compare things to things like your budget is important. Being able to compare things to how you have done in the past, is this an improvement? Am I doing better this year than I did last year?

I also note that for some nonprofits or for-profits, there are organizations that gather financial data and can give you benchmarks for somebody in your industry. You can look to see how other nonprofits who do something similar to what you do are also doing financially. That’s a way to compare it.

Hugh: Let’s go back to this benchmark. One of my careers was running a regional camera store. I belonged to a trade association. We could buy reports. They would group financial statements by region, by volume, and by particular specialty. There was a certain amount of cost of goods sold. There was a certain amount that was normal for gross profit and net profit. Oddly enough, the larger the business, and the more northeast they were, the smaller those numbers were. It was kind of like the grocery store makes less margin, but they turn it over more frequently. Unless you are running a thrift store and don’t have any cost of goods sold. This doesn’t apply. We don’t really need to think about turnover, but we do need to think about cash flow. Looking at those statements, how do we in the nonprofit world know that what percentage ought to be salary?

One thing donors look at, and there is difference of opinion on this, is overhead. I am giving you a dollar. How much of that dollar is going to pay for overhead? Interpreting overhead, and I don’t know if I know anybody who has created a system where nonprofits can report overhead. SynerVision for instance, 100% of our work is overhead. 100% of our work benefits other people. So the overhead in this instance is the work we are doing. It’s passing through that money and giving people in-kind donations. The overhead is 100% or zero. It’s all how you show it on your financials.

Talk about how we understand those. A church would be different than a community-based charity would be different than a community foundation, a membership organization, a chamber of commerce. How do we go and find out what are typical salary levels? What percentage should salaries be? What percentage should rent be? Those normal things. There are benchmarks for an industry standard. Or am I all whiff?

Steve: No, you raised some good questions. One thing that is common for all nonprofits is that you have three broad categories of costs. You have what I call program costs, meaning you are spending money to do whatever your vision is, whatever your nonprofit is about. That’s the part that donors and potential donors want to know that you are spending the vast majority of your money in that area because that’s what you’re about.

Then you have fundraising costs, so in order to raise money, whether it’s a donation or a grant or some other things, you have to spend money to make money. We want to know how much we are spending to make money and how effective we are in soliciting donations and grants.

The last part is what you were talking about, which is the overhead. There are some basic costs that every nonprofit and business has to incur in order to keep the doors open. It’s not directly about the programs. If you have an office building, you have to pay rent on that. You have office supplies and Internet and some employees that are not going to do programs. You might have an office manager who is managing the business side of things. It’s important to have a system so that you can track each of those categories. The rule of thumb I have heard about spending money on your programs is you want to be spending 80-90% of your money on programs. You have to be able to track that to show people. On the overhead side, I think, it’s hard to say there is a rule of thumb about things because things like rent, it depends on where you are. Rent in New York City is going to be different than rent in Des Moines, Iowa. Part of your costs are determined by your location and the cost of living. It’s important for you to know wherever your location is, what you’re spending is reasonable for that area.

The same thing with salaries, too. You want to hire the best people for the job. In order to attract the best people for the job, you have to pay competitive salaries. One advantage nonprofits have is they are cause-based. Most of the people who work for nonprofits do so because they want to, because they want to help with that cause. They are willing to take a little bit less money because their work has more meaning for them by doing that.

There are all kinds of resources now on the Internet where you can find out what different salaries are for different positions. There are also nonprofit organizations that track those kind of things that could tell you what do you normally pay for a fundraiser? What do you normally pay for a grant writer in your location? You can use those as guidelines as to what people on average are paying. You have to decide as a business. Are you willing to pay more than the average to get somebody? It’s using those resources, especially with the Internet. There is so much out there now that you can get for free or virtually free.

Hugh: I want to talk about bookkeeping online. Before we do that, there is this fallacy that we are nonprofits, so we go to this scarcity thinking rather than having an abundance mentality. We think we can’t spend money on marketing. We think we can’t pay people a decent salary. We ask people to do a lot of work for very little pay. Therefore, the burnout rate for nonprofits is almost 50%. That’s the ones that admit it. There is this reciprocity. We want to treat people fairly so they don’t have to stand in a line for food stamps just to work for us. There is a different mindset.

Part of the underlying message today of what I’m hearing you raising the question about is our mindset, understanding the rubrics of business and installing those into your nonprofit and modifying the application based on the fact that we are a tax-exempt organization. The board is responsible for the money. They have to be educated in knowing what is going on in the numbers, especially there is a lot of theft that happens in the numbers. People take money from the nonprofits because we let down our guard. We don’t have approval processes for checks. We don’t have oversight on bank accounts. The person who requests the check is different than the person who signs the check. The person it’s made out to is not signing the check to themselves. We fail to put some of those safeguards in place. Having really good financial reporting lets the board get their head around this. Are there some signs you have seen that something fishy is going on with the money? Is there something people can look for in the financials? I don’t know the answer to this; I’m just wondering if we’re talking here. If the board is active and looking at financials, how do they make sure everything is kosher?

Steve: I personally have not had the experience of finding someone who is embezzling money. But I have certainly read quite a few articles in the paper where that has happened. Every time I read this, I keep reading and reading. How did this happen? Then I get to this point in the article where I know somebody was, the same person was writing the checks and signing the checks. They were writing checks to a fake, fictitious vender, and they were cashing it into their own personal bank account. Part of what’s really good about nonprofits is they have lots of oversight. You have the board of directors. You also may have a finance committee. You have the executive director. You have a lot of layers of people who are looking at it. It’s important to put in the right controls to look at things. Part of what I do when I review the books for clients is I am looking to see if I can see something unusual. Maybe an expense is really high this month, or maybe it’s low. Maybe I see some large checks written to a new vendor this month that I have not heard of. They may all have plausible/reasonable explanations, but they raise questions, so you have to follow through and do the investigation.

Hugh: Your program, and I have been using QuickBooks because I don’t know anything else, and you have been telling me for years to go online, which I finally did. My CPA can log on and fix things and make those end of year adjustments that need to be made without me having to figure out how to do it in QuickBooks. Doesn’t matter if I am on a Mac and they are on a PC, they can still log in and do the work. The numbers transfer automatically from credit cards and bank accounts, which works a lot better. Is there any reason for people to stay with the traditional laptop QuickBooks rather than going online?

Steve: Well, there is two different ways you can go online. One is doing what you just said. QuickBooks has an actual web-based software that you can subscribe to and use. I have some clients who use that. I also have a lot of clients who have the traditional QuickBooks, but it’s hosted on a server in the cloud. We access it in the same way that we might access QuickBooks online. It’s secure because it’s in the cloud. Somebody’s backing it up, somebody’s watching it, and you get all the benefits of having the desktop version because it is very different than the online version. Depending upon what it is you want to do, one software might be better for you than the other. I think that it’s important to, for security’s sake, for safety’s sake, you always want to have your books in some place that’s safe, whether it’s your own server that you have your own IT people watching, or you have an online version, or it’s on somebody else’s server in the cloud. Having it on your laptop in your office is not the most secure. I had a client several years ago who did that, and his laptop got stolen out of his car. Lucky for him, he had a backup. Wasn’t a recent one, but he had a backup. We were able to recover what he had and then work forward from that. could have been worse.

Hugh: Yes, security is a big issue. Have some safeguards in place. we are going back to talking about the board of directors being educated. The whole process of understanding that everybody is responsible for the money. Getting the money and overseeing how the money is spent. The boards you have served on or worked with, what is the biggest gap in understanding that boards need to close?

Steve: The boards that I have been on are for small and medium-sized nonprofits. The kind of people who are on the board are not, if you work for Red Cross, the people who are on the board of Red Cross are going to be high-powered, knowledgeable businesspeople who may have been CEOs of their own companies. When we are talking about smaller nonprofits, while the people may be highly educated and intelligent, they may not have the same kind of business acumen that a board member on a larger nonprofit might have. Part of it is helping them to understand their role when it comes to the finances and what their fiduciary responsibility is, and how they should be working with the CEO/the executive director because some of those board members, this might be their first time on a board. They may not know exactly how they are supposed to interact with the CEO. Some people think they should be micro-managing them, which is not what we want; it’s more of an advisory/oversight role. Part of it is having some kind of training for new board members, and even existing board members, so they understand what their role is and how they work with the CEO and the CFO and everyone else in the organization. I understand that’s part of what you do.

Hugh: It is. It’s part of what you and I both do. Your business is called Mindful Business Solutions?

Steve: It is.

Hugh: How did you decide on that for a name? That’s a good brand.

Steve: It’s a combination of how I approach business and how I approach my life. I want to make decisions consciously. I see a lot of businesspeople who make decisions based purely on emotion or knee-jerk based upon what is going on in the moment, or purely sometimes on intuition. Part of what I like to do is separating from the emotion. Yes, there are times for intuition, but I think it’s important first to come to this place where you’re as objective as you can be and make your decision from that place rather than being ruled by you’re mad or you’re sad or whatever is going on in the moment. Part of it has to do with how you make decisions, how you work with your people. I like to be collaborative and cooperative. Part of it also has to do with creating clarity in the business itself. What I do is creating clarity in the numbers, understanding what numbers you should look at, understand what they mean, and understand how you use them to grow the business. Taking that approach provides longer-lasting results than doing it a different way.

Hugh: That’s great. Steve Breitman. That’s his business. We are coming down to the last minutes of our interview, Steve. I am going to do a sponsor moment and then give you a chance to leave a tip or closing thought in people’s minds. Steve Breitman is in Denver, Colorado. Mile High City. You work with people locally and around the country. Mindful Business Inc.

Is there something I didn’t ask you that I should have asked you so far?

Steve: We have covered quite a bit. I guess the big takeaway is build the business for the long term. Build the business so that you can have your mission have lasting effects that go beyond next year, beyond even maybe as long as you are going to work there. Part of that is by building a strong financial foundation to help make it last.

Hugh: We will give you a chance to come back to that.

*Sponsor message from Wordsprint*

Steve, you talked about building for the long term. Give us a couple of ideas of what we need to think about in order to do that.

Steve: Create an important strategy. Translate that strategy into numbers so you can actually track your strategy to make sure you’re staying on track. Be creative in how you report to yourself and your team. There are a lot of things that are important to keep track of. Be creative in what you look at and how you present it, whether it’s a chart or some numbers or a dashboard or a report.

Hugh: Love it. I will mention you mentioned those in order. If you are going to build a budget, you need to know what you are building it for so the strategy comes first. This is what we want to accomplish. Then you can come in and create the financials for it, including the budget. We agree on that. Steve, it’s been great reconnecting. I have a few people to introduce you to in the next few weeks, so you will be hearing from me again. Steve Breitman, thank you for sharing your wisdom on The Nonprofit Exchange.

Steve: Thank you. It was fun.

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