CFO literally stands for Chief Financial Offer. This person is ultimately responsible for the financial activities of a business or charity. In general, a CFO analyzes the companys’ financial strengths and weaknesses and recommends and often deploys plans for improvement. Depending on the organization, the CFO’s duties can include budgeting, goal setting and oversight. He or she is also responsible for the implementation, oversight and audits of a company’s cash in-hand.
Outsourcing is a common practice utilized to reduce costs and increase efficiency and objectivity by transferring some responsibilities to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally.
My experience has shown the two leading reasons are:
- The flexibility to compensate an expert hourly, thus avoiding long-term financial commitments that increase overhead
- The avoidance of additional unnecessary expenses including taxes, social security, pension contributions, office space and other mandatory social benefits that accompany adding an employee to the payroll.
Every business and nonprofit organization requires financial leadership to ensure long term stability and growth. The minimum requirements for financial health are comprised of goal setting and intentional implementation.
Simply put, someone needs to exert financial leadership, even if just for the occasional brainstorming or goal setting.
The question to ask yourself is: If someone inside the organization is responsible, is this significant responsibility coming at the expense of other important tasks – like program development or product marketing?
It is of utmost importance to me to present solutions. This means that if there is any shadow of a doubt that my services aren’t the best fit for your organization, you’re going to hear it from me first.
While a true strategy can only be presented after a thorough analysis of a company or nonprofit’s business plan, budget, and expense report (among other things), there are three surefire ways I save my clients money:
- Vendor evaluation. Are your service providers delivering a product that is the best fit for the best price?
- Review of your current banking and credit needs.
- (Most important) Create a budget that:
- Dictates financial structure
- Educates you about your numbers
- Holds you accountable
- Fosters analysis
- Positions you for growth
The actual duties of a CFO vary according to the specific organization and I tailor my responsibilities to the needs of my individual clients.
Some companies need me to fulfill the more traditional CFO role of financial direction and goal setting. Others require my attention to oversee implementation and more general financial management. Others still require a liaison between staff and accountants or to provide donors and investors with critical financial data to make informed decisions.
I gladly work with my clients either on a per-project or an ongoing basis. I set no minimums and although I work with most of my clients as a long term partner, I am available for one-off projects as well.
My goal is and always will be to empower a leader and remove the obstacles to financial success.
My fees are always hourly. Projects are estimated at an hourly range and clients approve appropriate limits accordingly.
Successful financial management looks almost identical for for-profits as it does for nonprofits. Or as Author Jim Collins wrote in his seminal book “Good to Great” (page 30): “Great business corporations share more in common with great social sector organizations
I spent the last six years developing banking solutions for small businesses, with a focus for nonprofits. The questions, concerns, challenges, and tools are exceptionally similar.
With that said, there are some differences. For example:
- While nonprofits measure their success on impact, businesses look toward revenue.
- Whereas active participants in a charity can be volunteers who identify with the organization’s mission, involved parties in businesses most often have a vested, personal interest in the success of the venture.
The importance is recognizing when the two types of entities differ and creating solutions that utilize the same financial tools but whose formulas cater to the unique natures of both sectors.
A main concern of a client is to understand how his current rates compare with current market conditions. Towards this end, I keep abreast of current trends and maintain ongoing relationships with a number of different banks, though different branches even within the same bank can vary in terms of their expertise and rates.
Additionally, I prepare a list of questions and criteria to use when meeting with a potential bank; I often join my clients for these meetings. Like everything else I offer, the level of involvement is determined by the client.
While most credit needs can be answered through banks, there are a number of less traditional methods to obtain credit. These, obviously, can only be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Here too, the client determines the intensity of my participation.
Credit may very well be a core part of your business model. For example, a supermarket buys products and stocks its shelves way before consumers pay for the products. For most ventures, credit might be the only way to grow, such as a loan to invest in infrastructure. For others, it might be the result of unavoidable, unexpected circumstances, like a donor reneging on a committed donation or a sale breaking at the last minute.
Various credit options exist. I can help you navigate the different options, decide which is the best fit, and develop a repayment plan that works.
With that said, credit is not appropriate for everyone and the decision to take credit – either in the form of a loan or a line of credit – should not be taken lightly.
The client is in the driver’s seat. He or she elects my level of involvement.
For example, I can:
- Create the financial or business plan OR
- Additionally, I can present the plan to investors, donors, or staff OR
- Be your partner on an ongoing basis to oversee implementation.
Each is fine, it all depends on what the client wants.
The seminars I offer are comprised of lectures and a hands-on workshops to implement the strategies discussed. These seminars are drawn from over 50 articles I’ve written and accompanying research and from the literally hundreds of conversations with nonprofit executives and service providers:
- Getting a Grip on your Business’ Financial Health
- Business Banking in Israel
- Narrative Financial Reporting for Nonprofits
- Creating Successful Revenue Generating Activities for Nonprofits