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Nonprofit Money, You Don’t Manage it Alone with Chyla Graham

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Nonprofit Money, You Don’t Manage it Alone with Chyla Graham

Chyla GrahamRemembering the Enron and Worldcom scandals, Chyla Graham never wants to see a nonprofit in their place. She’s adamant that financial transparency is vital to a healthy organizations and serves nonprofits so they understand what’s happening with their money, feel more confidently speaking about money, and can ask for the support they need.

Managing the finances isn’t just the job of the finance team. It’s a team effort from the board to the staff and volunteers. How successful it is starts at the top. With an engaged treasurer who sees the mission and is willing and able to go the distance and push your organization to do better, your organization is stronger and communicates more effectively with your donors.

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Hugh Ballou: Hey, it’s Hugh Ballou. Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Russell, I trust you’re doing well today.

Russell Dennis: I am. I have been able to stay out of my own way all day long and have been looking forward to this podcast and others like it. We are here for another edition.

Hugh: It’s a different take on things today. We have Chyla Graham. Chyla, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you are doing this important thing that you do.

Chyla Graham: Thanks, Hugh and Russell. I am Chyla Graham with Synergy Accounting Advisory. We are a virtual CPA firm based in Westminster, Colorado now. I work primarily with nonprofits because what I noticed was- I have an audit background. I used to be a financial statement auditor for nonprofits. Then I switched to the other side of the table and served as director of finance for nonprofits. No matter where I was, there was always a need. “I need to talk to someone about this thing,” or “I am waiting for so-and-so to give me this thing.” How could we streamline this? How do we bring all of these people together and help them see it’s a team effort? I’m counting on you. I need your help. This is how we do it. When we were talking earlier, I was saying one of my uncles didn’t want me to be an accountant. His thing was you will always be waiting on someone. It’s true. But I wanted to be able to connect with nonprofits and show them yes, someone is waiting on you, but if I can connect what they are waiting on to your mission, then maybe it will make it a little easier to get it to you. Maybe if you showed them it wasn’t just about the receipt, but it was about the connection to the mission, they would be able to get on board a little bit easier and faster and help everyone do a little bit better.

Hugh: Russell, you made the connection with Chyla. How did you do that?

Russell: I don’t know. I just do that amazing thing I do, and there are people floating around who know people I should talk to. When they say, “You need to talk to this lady,” I run. She is doing amazing things. We connected on social media. When I found out about what she was doing, I thought people needed to talk to her. One of the things that makes people uncomfortable is the subject of money. We have to talk about that in the social benefit and social good fields. We can’t avoid it.

Chyla: Not at all.

Hugh: Why don’t you start questioning our guest today? I usually start.

Russell: Chyla, what was it initially that really got you into doing this type of work? Why nonprofits in particular?

Chyla: I got interested in nonprofits in high school. I worked as a telegiver. Anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it is someone who is calling, “Hi, I am calling on behalf of SynerVision Foundation, and I’d like to raise $300.” I lasted all of three shifts before my supervisor said this wasn’t a good fit. She was right.

Part of getting into the role was learning what they do with the money that is being given. You tell the donors, “Every dollar, this is what goes into the community. If you give me $18, I could do amazing work.” To get from $300 to $18 was our mission. I went into school being like, “Okay, I want to work with nonprofits, but I don’t want to be a day-to-day accountant.” Once I got to college, it was this idea of Worldcom and ENRON. Do you mean like the accountants didn’t tell you, or you didn’t know? It was just a mystery out there. Oh no, this is not okay.

Because I had so many friends who were going to go into nonprofit work, I was scared they would end up with an accountant who wouldn’t tell them what was happening. They didn’t know what questions to ask. They were going to be on the news. I don’t want you to be on the news. You have a reputation to keep. This is your name out there when you are the leader of an organization. It’s so much harder as a nonprofit to gain the public’s trust and get their buy-in that any type of news could wreck it. Oh no, this is not how I want my classmates. They are going to say they went to the same school. We can’t have this. That’s what made me connect my interest in nonprofits to supporting them from the accounting standpoint.

Russell: It’s really important for the leadership to keep their eye on the money, especially board members. When you start talking about board members, very few of them are accountants. That is what we call their fiduciary responsibility to look at that. What are the things that you see that most leadership, whether it’s the executive director’s people in the organization, or the board members, what are the most common things they overlook? That’s not on their radar that is critical.

Chyla: One thing I see they overlook is the idea that they should be looking at their financials. Because most are getting into it from a mission perspective, they think of the financials as an afterthought, or they think if we talk about it for two minutes, it will be fine. We can cover that in two minutes. I’m like, Well, that’s really hard. If you have a question, and I only have two minutes to answer it, I will give you the most blanket answer I can so you don’t have more questions. That’s part of it. People aren’t dedicating enough time to talk about it.

They forget it’s part of their role. They forget I’m not just here to think about the mission. I’m also here to think about how we manage this. There are a number of organizations who don’t look at financials on a monthly basis. They will table it for next time. Then it becomes a crisis. We don’t have enough cash to manage. You didn’t suddenly not have enough cash. If we were looking at this and asking questions, we would know this. Them realizing that it’s okay to ask questions, when you join a board, you knew going in, I don’t have this experience. Whoever brought you onto the board knows that, too. Any questions you ask are fair because you come in with a perspective of trying to understand more. Every question is okay to ask. We know you don’t know, so you asking up front makes it easier. Someone else on the board who’s been there longer might be nervous about asking it. I have been here so long, so I should know this by now. You give someone the opportunity to learn more.

Russell: It’s a delicate balancing act. Some of your board members will be more experienced. Some of them will have experience with accounting. But how common is it for you to go in and find that as the nonprofit initially set the books up, it doesn’t always adequately cover the information they need to cover? Do you find a lot of nonprofits have difficulty setting up the books in a way that is going to be thorough?

Chyla: Yes. Part of that is because there is so much fear about money. Once they get it set up, they don’t want to touch it again. It was so much work that first time. What they should do is think about it again at the end of the year. They did this report. Give me the information I need. If I had the same questions over and over, does that mean we need to have more accounts, better descriptions on accounts? They can change those things. It’s a chart of accounts. It’s a skeleton that is growing with the body of the organization. A baby is born and has a skeleton. As it grows, that skeleton grows with it. Your chart of accounts operates that same way. Accepting I think we need some more, because no one wants a miscellaneous expense account. $20,000 can’t be miscellaneous. We couldn’t have spent that much on something. We have to know what that is.

Russell: One of the ways that a leadership group, particularly one without an accounting background, what is the best way to get them up to speed? Is there an approach, or are there ways they can learn a very minimal required amount of information that can keep them out of hot water?  

Chyla: I would say that depends on what area. What is the least they could know about the financials that could get them through on a monthly basis? I would say what questions are truly important to accomplishing their mission? How much cash do we have in the bank? Not just from a sum, but how much of that sum represents our expenses. Getting an idea of okay, on average, we spent $15,000. We have $50,000 in the bank, so we have over three months’ worth of money. That is a good barometer for them. They know if we drop lower than that, should we be concerned? Is there something going on? Are expenses too high? That would trigger more questions, like if fundraising is behind. Some people are focused just on how much cash they have. So if they think about it not just in terms of dollar number but what it represents, it will help them give a starting point to more questions. Then they will begin to think how to build it out to something they can get consistently so you don’t have to keep asking questions.

Hugh: I want to piggyback on his good questions. We do get money sometimes in lump sums for a nonprofit. Sometimes there is a death and a bequest in a lump sum. A couple questions behind this. We tend to look at cash flow analysis as where the money goes, the brake lights. You just described it. How do we set up a cash flow forecast? It’s sort of like a budget, but different. When are we going to run out before we need more? How do you help leaders understand this isn’t a big lump of money when you stretch it out over 90 days? Then it’s gone.

Chyla: What I like to do is get the cash flow first. I look at the budget. I take the budget and say, “If we divided that by 12, this is what it would be.” Then we get to the practicality of that. It’s a team. It’s talking to the development team, or the ED puts on their development hat. Right now, if I were to look at all the grants we will apply for, we will not get all of it, a portion each month. Moving it to when the money is coming in, and what makes the most sense. Even though we are applying for a grant now, it might come in months from now. Plotting that out on the spreadsheet.

Then the same for expenses. One of the things I think people underestimate is the cost of fundraising. We have a fundraiser. We have $60,000 set aside. You don’t spend that entire sum right before the fundraiser. You spend it three months leading up to it, even after. Really thinking about if you sat down and thought about it from a month to month, not just in the big picture of things, really putting that in, that helps them see someone passed away, we got that bequest, oh great, that’s helpful, but because of the timing of when that other grant is going to come in, this does not actually save us. This is going to just help us realize okay, we have a little work to do. Are there expenses? Are there bills we will have to hold until that check clears? Having to think that through. I find it helpful because it helps them realize when to focus some efforts. Then you’re like, oh, if we don’t get that gift, we won’t hit payroll. It puts that sense of urgency and reality into things. I think it’s always a good practice.

Russell: We talk an awful lot here about strategy. All of that money needs to be tied to strategy so you know exactly what your costs going out are, be it program delivery, staff, services, equipment, materials, training, fundraising. That needs to be a part of your strategy. They all need to be a part of your budget for income and what goes out. Trying to work with the timing is very important, too. I think another area where people get confused is we have X number of dollars in the bank, and we can spend that any way we want to. That’s not necessarily true. There are different categories of revenues and expenses that come in. Can you talk a little bit about some of those and how that needs to be accounted for?

Chyla: Yes. For most organizations, there is the chance they will get a restricted gift. That will be a grant they say is restricted only to your reading program. I know you have a food program; they don’t get this money, only the reading program. Those are called temporarily restricted funds, and they are restricted only for that purpose. Or maybe they say, “You can only use it next year. We have the money now, so we are going to give it to you, but you can’t use it until next year.” That’s a time restriction. In cases like that, you have to think about we can’t spend the money. We have it. I think it’s a good practice when you’re looking at that cash balance to say, “We have $50,000. We know $20,000 is restricted for that reading program we are doing next spring.” Let’s take that 20 out. We had 50. It’s there. But 20 of that we can’t touch right now. We only have $30,000 to run with for the rest of the quarter. Helping them put that into perspective. Now we have dropped down from three months’ worth of money down to two months. They have to think, Okay, what do we need to change about that strategy that will bring us that money we need to get us through that third month, if nothing else changes? Unlikely that nothing else will change, but wishful thinking.

Russell: Part of that balancing act is in looking at fundraising and finding funds that will be used for multiple purposes. Having unrestricted funds that can be used for operations. I know a lot of people look at the word “profit” and think it’s dirty in some circles. What we call it for social enterprises is surplus. How do you have a conversation with leaders about surplus and the need to build that in as much as possible? Is that something that you find is a subject that a lot of people want to broach, or is there a hesitancy? How do you deal with the hesitancy when it’s there?

Chyla: Especially for people new to the nonprofit space, I help them to relate that so there is cash at home. If your rent is due on the 1st, and you said, “I have no money on the 30th,” your mortgage is still due. They have to think about the nonprofit’s bank account that way. Ending the year with no money means that starting on January 1, unless someone has money for you that day that is going to clear the bank that everything else will operate off of, you have to have some. It’s not a bad word. It’s making sure you can survive day to day. It’s not like you will never use it. The IRS won’t question why you have so much money. We need to exist tomorrow, so we still need to have money in the bank. Just like in your house you have to have money to cover the next month, you have to plan for that.

Hugh: I have a follow-up question to that if I can butt in here. We learn the wrong things. We have this stupid word, “nonprofit.” I don’t believe it’s a nomenclature at the IRS. It’s tax-exempt, right?

Russell: Tax-exempt, not for-profit.

Hugh: It’s a 501(c)3. We like to call it a for-purpose organization. You’re right. We have this money shadow, as our colleague Dr. David Gruder calls it. We have this mindset of scarcity thinking that repels money. Then we say, “We’re broke.” That’s not a good place to be because there is abundance. We need to learn to use this money. The IRS has rules about how we use the money, but it will be used for the vision that we stand behind, and to provide impact on people’s lives. There is nothing shameful about that. We put ourselves in this negative thinking.

Along with that, a lot of the accounting, we look at a profit and loss statement. That automatically doesn’t fit. There ought to be another way to categorize things. Russ, maybe you have the answer for this. We look at this myth of overhead. There are necessary expenses that go into helping people. Do you have any way of helping us classify those? We’re really using the money to impact people’s lives. It’s not all overhead. How do you approach this topic of the percentage of overhead?

Chyla: I like to remind people that without people or depending on your organization, a space, you don’t have any impact. You can’t do your work without paying rent or your staff. They are not truly overhead. But it takes you taking the time to say, “How is that staff member spending their time?” Once you can talk about what this staff member does, this is how their work impacts our programming, you can say, “This isn’t overhead. This is a programmatic expense. Without them talking to the children, the children don’t learn to read.” You have to let people know I cannot do this without people. It’s a team effort. You have to engage these people. With that reminder, it forces you to know to think about how they spend their time, which feels like a lot of work at the beginning. Once you get a rhythm to it, it’s easier, and it’s worth it. I can justify their salary, or I can justify asking this grantor who only wants to support programs and not admin things. I can now tell you this is how this person is doing a program, and they’re not just administrative. If you are an executive director and the primary all things to all people, being able to justify how you spend your time is important.

Russell: It boils down to value. I don’t think value is a word provided in these circles. When you walk into a Neiman Marcus or a Chrysler plant or a Dell assembly factory, they have an accounting category called overhead. They are not saying these people are just access. Keep sending us the checks, and we will give you what you want. They are builders of value, and they build value. It has to be built in. It’s an investment. It’s not just a program. It’s a direct service. Everybody that goes in, you have dollars that go in to bringing that value. The bottom line they look at is profit.

There is a book out there by David Grant called Social Profit. It talks about measuring social profit. Everything doesn’t fit neatly into a pivot table on itself. There is other information and other factors that go into delivering that value and getting the impact. As you work with people, it’s important for those numbers not only to quantify things, but to be able to tell a story of how those dollars are used effectively. What are some ways you help people do that?

Chyla: One thing I would definitely emphasize is going back to that chart of accounts. It’s the structure; it’s the backbone. For most organizations, it’s how they will give their financial statements to an outsider. Making sure that is clear about what you’re doing. Making sure is this meals, or is this donor cultivation? Making sure you’re clear about why those names make sense so that when you talk to someone and say, “Hey, this is how much we need, or this is why we do the things we do,” they can see the direct connection to the finances. “Oh, you have to buy these supplies for the reading program,” so it’s not just about paper clips. No one wants to invest in your paper clips, but they want to invest in your reading program. Making sure those things are clear.

A lot of people take the standard in the system, which doesn’t fit you. That is why so many nonprofits exist because they are not the standard. They are fitting a totally different need. Making sure that reflects it, and being able to say it to people. What is a way that someone who is not in our accounting department would be able to understand? Once it leaves here, if no one else understands it, it’s not useful. You need to revisit it and figure out how all the people who are going to submit receipts or request an invoice or turn in a check understand what it means regardless of their role. It takes some fine-tuning, but in the end, it will be worth it because now you don’t have to tag along with them. These are the reports, and we have already talked about how we get here. They can feel empowered and so much more confident to say, “I totally understand. I am able to tell a funder or an auditor.” The auditors will ask you, “Why does someone do this thing?” If you don’t know, and they don’t know, and no one understands, it just makes it frustrating because then they ask if you needed it and if it was accurate. Making sure the titles capture the essence of what people need really helps that along.

Russell: I think part of the problem is these entities are so unique in so many ways. You have certain categories that would fall into your common chart of accounts. But some organizations are doing specialized work. As you go through and look at this thing, even program directors want to deal with finances as infrequently as possible. Is there any one thing in particular that you would point to to say it’s in your travels the thing that you see most organizations overlook from a financial standpoint? What is that one thing that doesn’t get enough emphasis that you see that may get folks into more difficulty?

Chyla: I would say people put things off. That is what makes it frustrating for those involved is the fact that we all have our phones, but I don’t think we truly maximize how they could be used. One client, what we had them do is create these Google Drive folders. “Every time you buy something, take your receipt and save it to the Drive.” You have Google Drive on your phone. Save it there, and name it. You don’t have to think about it again. Thinking about what can I do in this moment so that next week, next month, I don’t have to think about it again? That is one thing people don’t take advantage of. They are so worried about the receipts they will look at it later. But then they forgot. I’m a big fan of taking a picture now. It feels like so much work, but now you don’t have to think about it. That’s worth it. I will take the two minutes so I save myself the hour in a month when I don’t remember, and I’m looking at my calendar like what did we do that day? Oh, that’s what that’s for.

Russell: What we’re talking about is essentially setting up good systems and making sure you have good systems. There is an expert out there named Brendan Burchard who talks about how to develop programs. He had a program called Experts Academy. There was one big takeaway I had from that program that I always try to remember. If something is not easy to access, understand, and use, people won’t do it. What are some of the ways when you’re working with these organizations to help people set up systems that are easy to use and access so that it’s quick and easy for them to do the reporting that will keep the numbers up to speed?

Chyla: I typically ask them how you are trying to use these things so we have an understanding of their end goals. What is more common? What is easier? If people come to us and say they don’t have an accounting system yet, then I ask, “Are you going to use this on your phone or your computer?” It makes a difference. Understanding what is your personality type. What are you going to be more prone to? That will help configure what makes sense for you. Once we have that idea, we can say, “Oh, you can check out Receipt Bank, or let’s look at Zero versus QuickBooks online.” If we can understand what is easiest for you, that will help us figure out what systems to direct you toward. If they don’t use it, it’s no good to anyone.

Once those things are set up, it’s not done. I think that’s one thing people expect things to be is done. We did it already. It’s over. We signed off. Letting them know that in three months, if we know what you’re trying to track, let’s put in a mechanism to track that. If you’re saying we want to know how much money we’re spending on the reading program, are we using classes or functions? We track that for three months. When you see those reports, are those reports telling you the information you thought they would? No. We need to go back to the drawing board and talk about what it is that you thought you would get that you’re not actually getting. It’s that refining and fine-tuning that makes it feel like a never-ending process. Eventually, it will be done, or that part can be done, and you can move on to another area.

I like to say it’s never done because if you think about an audit. If someone has been through a financial audit, every year, they come up with some new finding. We fixed that other thing. But yeah, we found this new thing. There is always something that could be improved on. There is always room for improvement. Remembering that will help you keep a little calmer. It will be something different next year. It’s fine. It helps your system grow with the organization.

It helps you grow with new leaders. If your board changes, a new board member might have a different perspective and say, “Another organization I served on, we could tell this thing.” You can now integrate that without having a totally different set of reports. We are not creating new reports. We are not changing things in entirety. We are thinking about how to access a new type of information in the system we currently use without making it that much more work for everyone.

Russell: I’ve seen everything from people sitting down with worksheets to sophisticated systems. They just run the gamut there. I was thinking back to those early days when I was a new revenue agent and owned job training instructors for 30 years. They would give us new agents who were training cases. I was running the things. It was real head-scratching when I was sitting there and looking through it. And one of those guys would say, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before” after 30 years. There is always some type of moving target.

When you are sitting down and looking at the type of information that somebody would need based on the types of funding they are trying to get, how do you help them pick a system that is going to grow and meet their needs for a considerable period of time? Some of these can be quite an investment. It needs to be something that can grow with them. How do you strike that balance between price, sophistication, knowledge level, and growth needs for the organization?

Chyla: One thing is to think about as you’re looking at any accounting system, who is going to be using it? Who is going to be using it now, and where do we want the organization to go? Not all people start a nonprofit with the idea we are going to be at $10 million and manage all of these things. If you don’t need to manage $10 million, maybe you don’t need MIP or a Great Plains program. Maybe QuickBooks will suffice.

Thinking about that first, and with the understanding that most larger systems can take your data from a smaller system. We will convert that. There will be a conversion process. It’s easier to grow up. You can fit into it eventually, but you don’t want to think about it in terms of, “Next year, we don’t need it.” Think of it in terms of “In five years, will we need it?” Then there are fewer changes. If you need to change every year, no one wants to do that. But if you are thinking in five years, will we need this? No, okay, we’re good. Then trying to project several years out.

Some conversions can take so long. I have a colleague who is having a conversion, and it’s two years in the process. The idea that for them, we’re finally testing, it’s great, we’re almost done. If you’re thinking about we should just go for the biggest and greatest, if no one understands how to use it, that’s not helpful. Really thinking about scaling. Can we use this for now? As we grow, would this be able to convert into a different software?

Russell: It boils down to people. Your key people would be your financial officer and your board treasurer. It has to begin with the leadership. Talk if you can for a moment about what makes a good board treasurer. This is going to be that person in that leadership role that has really got to have a pulse on the money. How would you go about picking a treasurer? What do you look for? What ways can the organization support that treasurer?

Chyla: When you’re picking a treasurer, I would look for someone who has some financial knowledge. They don’t necessarily have to have a nonprofit background, but an idea of finances and an interest in learning more. As they get more familiar, they will realize, Ah man, I really need to hone in on that or ask these other questions.

They should also be someone, because they will ask questions, who is not afraid to ask questions. They should not come in as a know-it-all. They are there to guide the organization. Because there is that delicate balance of the executive director and the contracted bookkeeper, that treasurer is the interpreter. They are trying to take what that accountant is doing and translate it for the executive director and for the board. They come in with an interest, they can really engage with that board and say, “Okay, I talked to the accountant. This is what happened. This is what that means for us.” They can lead the way.

Someone who is comfortable saying, “I know we have always done it that way, but we need to change that.” It happens. You get used to seeing the same reports. When a new person comes in with a new perspective, them being able to say, “These reports are not helpful,” which can be incredibly hard. But it’s necessary. I’ve seen organizations with 12 pages of financial statements. No one is reading this. No one is looking past the first page. That board treasurer has to be able to say, “This isn’t useful. I need something different,” and be able to talk through what that difference could be.

Some of the best treasurers are the ones who can do that themselves. Sometimes the board doesn’t know what they don’t know or what they need. Depending on the experience level of the accountant, they don’t know what they could be giving you. Having a treasurer who has seen the spreadsheet that looks like a thing, I will try to manipulate that. An explorer, a creative of sorts because they are curious. There has to be an easier way. Really tapping into that.

That widens the pool because you’re not just looking at people who have a strong financial background. They have to have a solid foundation, but they have to be willing to experiment and learn more. It will help your organization grow because a new perspective, we would never have thought about looking at it this way, so thank you? At the beginning, it’s hard, but it pays off in the end because this new perspective shaped and gave new life to the board.

Hugh: I encourage treasurers to do a dashboard report. Sketch your key indicators, how much cash you took in, how much cash you spent. I think as an education for board members to know what they are looking at. Is there an equivalent for nonprofits in the quick ratios in a business? Are there ratios that indicate good health that we have in nonprofits?

Chyla: There are ratios. Depending on your type of organization, you still might be looking at quick ratios, or what is our cash turnover? If you are getting a lot of grants, you got the award letter but no check, you might have some days that you are wondering when is that coming. Or maybe you have pledges. There are always ways to adjust the standard business ratios to how it applies to you. That chart of accounts, if you are taking it straight out of the box, all those account names are the same. The ratios all work. It’s just trying to think about which ones make the most sense for your organization.

I like to tell people to look at things in terms of percentages. The main ratio I would say is what is your cash on hand, or days of cash available. After that, I would say to look at things in terms of percentages. How are we here as opposed to our percentage of our budget? I have a dashboard I set up for people sometimes. I will do a this is what percentage we should be at based off of the time of the year. Because they have that, we’re in August, so we should have 75% of the budget spent, or 75% of the money should be in. Then I’m seeing, where do all these percentages fall. They can now say, what does that mean? It’s usually a cash flow reason. Is it a timing issue? Did we underbudget or overbudget? Having that as a guide makes it a quick look to say, “Okay, we said 75. We’re actually at 95. Should we be concerned?” If they don’t see that percentage, you don’t know. That number looks nice. But it’s that number in relation to what. Really thinking about that.

Knowing those dashboards are living things. Does this capture what we need it to capture? One of the reasons I love Excel is you can say that. If program service revenue is not where your focus is, then we don’t need it in the dashboard. If that is not critical to us, if we are more about corporate donations or grants, let’s put the things we deem are important there. The board has to say what’s important. That’s part of that duty is to say this is important, this would change the decision we make. Adjusting that accordingly.

Hugh: Love it. We have three minutes for one more question. Russell, do you have a zinger question for her?

Russell: There is a number because this is such an interesting subject that can go in so many directions. It’s really important. If there is one thing that nonprofits don’t make maximum use of, in other words, if there is something that is under-utilized as a resource for managing your finances, what would that be?

Chyla: I would definitely say your volunteers. I think volunteers are the unsung heroes of most organizations. We don’t always capture their skillsets. If you are a small organization that can’t afford to hire one more person, tapping into your volunteers and asking, “How could we use you better?” Seeing if there is someone who has this interest who would help you in this process. One of our clients has an amazing volunteer who helps with the filing of things. We know when it’s near month-end. Is she in this week? They will be like, “Yes. We know things will be there on time.” When they gauge is this of interest to you, they took the time to train them. Making sure you take the time to tell people this is how it needs to be done makes a difference. Everyone wants to help. They want to do the best job possible. You just have to give them those skills. You tell them how to file it. This is how you use the scanner. Whatever that missing piece is, giving it to them so they can do the best they can.

Hugh: A lot of useful information, Chyla, thank you. You make it so understandable.

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Let’s go back to Chyla. What thought or tip or challenge would you like to leave in people’s minds after this very helpful interview?

Chyla: I would like to challenge your audience to ask more questions. At their next board meeting, look at the financial statements and think, “If I had to make a decision, could I do it purely based off of this information?” If they can’t, ask for more things. Say, “Hey, could we do a dashboard?” If you already have one, can you change it? Those are the things I would recommend.

We have a resource on our site. Go to Synergy Accounting Advisory. We have an assessment you could do. Based off of that assessment, are there questions we need to ask our treasurer or our accountant to make sure these financials hone in on what we need to do. It’s a team effort. If the board members are looking at it, they can give feedback, and everything could be improved.

Russell: That’s important to look at. Go look at that. SynergyAccountingAdvisory.com. Find out more about the tools that Chyla has that can help you move your organization forward. It’s really about tracking the money. Good stewardship encourages people to contribute to what you are doing because we are making good impact when we are good stewards of the resources entrusted to us. Thank you so much, Chyla for taking time to sit with our audience today.

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