The Development Professional and the Finance Professional of an organization need each other in order to be successful. However, they can’t communicate because each are speaking a different language.
I started off my week with a wonderful meeting with on of my area’s leading CPAs. She was conducting research on the nonprofit sector, particularly fundraising. She really wanted to understand how her expertise can add value to my profession (nonprofit fundraising). It was refreshing to have a conversation with someone who truly wanted to advance the nonprofit sector through partnership and collaboration!
Our conversation had some common themes, which I have outlined below:
- Developing a Common Language – Why is it that each professional needs to stick so sternly by their professional jargon? Let’s wave the white flag and meet in the middle…please.
- Reconciliation – The Development Office should conduct regular (e.g. quarterly) reconciliation with the Finance Office to ensure that all donations were received, acknowledged and recorded by the Development Office and vice versa. This is also a great opportunity to verify that all designated gifts are properly designated and used (see The Donor Bill of Rights).
- Designated Gifts – According to the Donor Bill of Rights – a gift accepted by an organization for a specific purpose must be used for that purpose. Jointly the Development Office AND the Finance Office are the entities that will ensure that activity happens properly. Both departments need to have a very good understanding of the Donor Bill of Rights and any Gift Acceptance Policies accepted by your organization.
- Identification of “Fundable” Projects – I have never had the luxury of working for an organization that did not need philanthropy revenue to fund operations. The CFO or appropriate Finance Officer can guide the Development Officer through the budget to understand what might be translated to program specific expense, which in turn can be turned into a grant application, a major gift request, or a direct mail appeal target. For more information, see my presentation on Raising Money for Operations.
I look forward to building more meaningful relationships with finance professionals. In the end, it is a partnership that will help my organization attain success.