Monday, December 29, 2014

Managing Resources in a Non-Profit World

By Kathryn Stokes

Managing financial resources is challenging in the private sector, ensuring cash-flow is sufficient to pay bills, fund research and development, market your products or services, reward your employees with a paycheck and maybe a bonus, and have a profit at the end.  Non-profits have limited sources for funding, which include grants, donations or, as in the case of the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC), through membership, award, and communications school registration fees.

Before I joined the board as treasurer a few years ago, the inner workings of a non-profit were very much like the Wizard of Oz to me.  Everything was performed behind a magic curtain and stuff just appeared to get done.  Nothing could be farther from the truth! 

NAGC has committees to deal with many of its operational activities; we have a committee that plans the communications school program, another that plans the BP&GS awards banquet, volunteers who judge the BP&GS entries, we have a marketing committee among others and in a few days we’ll be looking for volunteers for a website redesign committee.   A lot gets done by, already over-extended professionals, committed to ensuring the success of NAGC. 

We cannot do this alone.  To help, we have AMSII, our management team headed by Beth Armstrong.  Beth’s team helps us perform those day-to-day duties that keep NAGC moving forward. 

Beth has managed associations her whole career and her organization has been managing NAGC since I joined.  And, she has committed to not raise her management fee rates at any time since I’ve been on the board, which is about five years.  That commitment is something this former treasurer knows is not easy to do because Beth’s company is not a non-profit.  

Our management firm supplies us with the resources for the operational activities and the financial functions including contract negotiation for the school venue and vendors.  They also collect all the membership dues; collect the BP&GS entries, re-package them and send them to various judges, collect judging forms, order the awards and notify winners where applicable (Communicator of the Year).  Throughout the year they help committee chairs manage meetings, take notes and perform a myriad of follow-ups for the various groups.  They do all this while keeping an eye on the bottom line. 

Our monthly board meeting always includes a financial health-check.  I’ll admit it, there were times I questioned whether or not we would meet our annual projections.  Beth’s experience and counsel has always gone a long way to calm my bottom-line concerns.  We still struggle, but continue to squeak by.

We need your help!

Your NAGC board wants to hear any ideas and suggestions that bring value to our members.  Do you have ideas about how we can save money or generate income? We want your suggestions about presenters and topics for the annual school so that you find value in attending each year.  BTW, next year in Memphis looks to be another great school.  (SHAMELESS PLUG!)

When you attend the annual Communications School, be sure to listen for the financial report during the business meeting.  It is our account to you about the monies we collect throughout the year, how those monies are spent, and what our current financial health looks like going into the next year. 

Managing money is never easy.  But the challenges of managing money in a non-profit world, while stressful, are also rewarding every time someone says they loved the school, the award banquet or gives great feedback on their NAGC experience!

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