New Study Finds More Investment in Management Needed

July 23, 2008
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erin Brownfield
Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation
(212) 251-9861
ebrownfield@wallacefoundation.org

 

NEW STUDY FINDS MORE INVESTMENT IN MANAGEMENT
NEEDED TO HELP OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME PROVIDERS
TAKE PROGRAMS TO THE NEXT LEVEL

NEW YORK, N.Y., July 23, 2008 – Organizations providing out-of-school time (OST) services for children need additional investment in administrative management capacity in order to most effectively support, develop and expand their programs, according to a new report just released by The Wallace Foundation.

The report, “Administrative Management Capacity in Out-of-School Time Organizations: An Exploratory Study,” was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, based in New York City, and conducted by Fiscal Management Associates, LLC (FMA), a New York-based consulting firm specializing in providing fiscal and administrative capacity-building services to not-for-profit organizations. It is available without charge in the Knowledge Center at http://www.wallacefoundation.org/Knowledge-Center/.

According to the report, which was based on interviews and site visits at 16 high-performing OST-providing organizations in New York City and Chicago, many organizations lack the financial resources to invest significantly in administrative staff, facilities needs, IT infrastructure and support, and transformational purchases such as improved space.

While the programs included in the study all provide high quality services, and the data do not portray organizations in danger of collapse due to weak management, the “less than optimal” administrative infrastructure observed among these agencies does have real consequences, notably at the program level, the report finds. Front-line OST staff are often required to do more “administration” to make up for gaps in infrastructure and support, and organizations’ leaders are constrained in their ability to manage their programs in a way that is forward-looking and truly strategic.

At a time when successful programs are being encouraged and funded to serve more and more young people, the study provides important and realistic insights into the administrative and management challenges being faced by OST providers, according to The Wallace Foundation. “Communities around the country are recognizing that young people benefit in many ways when the hours after school are times of opportunity, rather than times of risk,” said Nancy Devine, Director of Communities at The Wallace Foundation. “But this study from Fiscal Management Associates tells us that as out-of-school time providers are being asked to serve more kids with quality programs, many are being stretched to their limits. I hope city leaders and funders will find this report useful as they consider how best to support their community partners in reaching their full potential.”

The report’s lessons and observations are relevant to the broader nonprofit sector as well. Hilda Polanco, Managing Director of FMA and an author of the study, says, “Many of the management challenges we discovered, such as the intense recruiting needs associated with seasonal and part-time positions or the challenges of being housed in a public school, are somewhat particular to after-school programs. At the same time, our experience as consultants has shown us that many of the challenges we identified in the study are widespread throughout the nonprofit sector, including issues associated with government contract compliance, managing and monitoring cash flow, and accurately budgeting for the full costs of programs.”

Among the specific observations and conclusions of the report were the following:

  • Many top OST-providing organizations operate on a thin margin of cash and their ability to manage cash flow is therefore crucial.
  • Administrative compliance with government contracts for OST services is a formidable challenge requiring significant time and effort.
  • Many organizations lack the budgeting and monitoring systems to fully understand the true costs of providing their OST programs.
  • There is often insufficient human resource support in OST organizations due to a lack of trained HR staff.
  • Information technology infrastructure and training is often limited, as is strategic and long-term planning around the IT function.

The report also includes a series of recommendations to leaders of OST-providing organizations as well as funders and other relevant stakeholders, suggesting steps to improve the administrative management, and ultimately service-delivery, capacity of out-of-school time providers.

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Fiscal Management Associates
Fiscal Management  Associates’s mission is to empower not-for-profit organizations with the knowledge and skills to successfully serve their constituents and fulfill their missions. FMA offer a range of fiscal management, accounting, organizational and technology consulting services customized to the specific needs of each organization. For more information visit www.fmaonline.net.

The Wallace Foundation
The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; enhancing out-of-school learning opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts. More information and research on these and other related topics can be found at www.wallacefoundation.org