Nancy Devine, Wallace’s director of learning and enrichment, writes in The Foundation Review about a study of a Wallace initiative to help nonprofits strengthen financial management. The study, The Skills to Pay the Bills: An Evaluation of an Effort to Help Nonprofits Manage Their Finances, finds that well-designed training and support can help nonprofits better manage resources and improve organizational stability.

Studies have found that many nonprofits lack strong financial procedures and expertise and are often torn between the organization’s needs and the reporting requirements of governments and private foundations.

Wallace’s Strengthening Financial Management initiative sought to determine whether training and support could help 26 afterschool nonprofits change that picture—and whether the results could be affected by the extent of the support the organizations received. Fourteen organizations received high-intensity, individual consulting services tailored to their specific needs. The rest received lighter-touch group training. Both groups were given a common core of content.

The evaluation showed that the investment worked, Devine writes. Twenty-three of the organizations made “meaningful, quantifiable progress toward best practices.” Further, improvements in both groups were comparable. This result, says Devine, “demonstrates to us that well-designed training and coaching initiative can be almost as effective as—and potentially more cost effective than—a significantly more resource-intensive model.”

Resources to help bolster financial management in nonprofits are available at StrongNonprofits.org.

Points of Interest

  • Well-designed training and support can enhance nonprofits’ ability to manage their resources for improved program planning and management and organizational stability.
    Training and support can help #nonprofits better manage their finances for program quality and stability.
  • Top-level support is a key factor in successful efforts to build financial management capabilities in nonprofits
    Top-level support: a key factor in successful efforts to build financial management capabilities in #nonprofits
  • Effective efforts to strengthen financial management at nonprofits require not just consultants and trainers, but also funding to pay for staff time, software systems and other infrastructure.
    Expertise alone insufficient to build #nonprofit financial mgmt; also needed: $ for staff, software, infrastructure