“When you build a bridge, you insist it can carry 30,000 pounds, but you only drive 10,000 pound trucks across it” – Warren Buffett
All organisations need cash to live, breathe and operate on a daily basis. Cash is very much like oxygen, not really a big deal until you don’t have any and then it’s a really big deal, really quickly. Furthermore it doesn’t matter how healthy you are, if you’re without air for a short period, you’re in trouble.
Organisations are exactly the same. An organisation can be extremely prosperous for many years but become unstuck if they are left without the required cash to meet their commitments for even a short period of time. How long will employees be willing to work without pay? How long will suppliers continue to provide their services on credit?
We’ve all heard of the expression – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a valid expression with merit. If you earn all your income from just one source and that goes away, then it’s highly likely that your organisation will go away too. So does that mean you should diversify your income? Not necessarily.
Before we jump into whether or not you should diversify the income of your organisation, we should cover what diversification of income is.
Income can be diversified in two ways
1 Different providers of the income
These are the actual people and organisations who hand over their money to your organisation. The two extremes here would be one customer vs thousands of customers. It worth noting that we are talking about people and organisations that provide income to your organisation and as such this includes grants and donations. Another way to look at this may be one annual grant vs 20 annual grants.
What does your finance team look like? Some of you might be asking ‘what team?’ As a core cost that is rarely funded under grant programs, financial management is often an ‘add-on’ to another admin role within small organisations, whilst larger, complex not for profits often have a full team with a range of skills to manage day-to-day financial transactions as well as planning for the longer term.
So, what your team looks like will depend very much on the size, nature and financial structure of your organisation. But no matter the size of your team, there are some financial skills that all not for profits should have access to – whether that be in-house or outsourced. Below we’ve put together our top five.
What role does your finance manager (or person responsible for your finances) serve on your leadership team? Are they ‘just a bean-counter’, watching the budget, worrying about revenue and keeping expenses down, or do they play a more strategic role?
I saw some promotional material recently that asked if your board knew the difference between cash and profit. The question gave me cause for concern. Not for profit (NFP) boards hold ultimate responsibility for the financial viability of their organisations so, while this is clearly a legitimate question, such a fundamental gap in financial understanding at a board level represents a significant risk for any NFP.
Just recently, the team at CBB were asked the question of how much money an organisation should put aside as reserves in the event of having to wind up or cease operations. These reserves need to be enough to satisfy all liabilities should this worst-case scenario arise.
Two scenarios where this may occur are a) a complete organisational shutdown, or b) a departmental shutdown. Each one has varying implications. Continue reading…
By Jane Arnott, General Manager, Consulting and Business Services
We recently held an ExecNet in Adelaide with the title of ‘Selling Without Selling Out’. The shift to fee for service funding – particularly in the NDIS and aged care environment – means that not for profits are having to engage with end consumers as the purchasing customer and to compete with each other for that customers’ dollar. The shift to a sales culture is hard for many as it is perceived to represent a departure from the core values of the sector. For staff working in not for profits, the reality of this change is evident all around them, but not for profit directors may have further to travel to get into a more commercial headspace.
Unfortunately, fraud occurs in not for profit organisations far too often. Many studies have demonstrated that fraud is real and devastating to those affected. Fraud can occur in any NFP organisation with the perpetrator being undetected for quite some time. Often the fraud is only detected following either a financial abnormality being identified, OR the perpetrator being careless through their own complacency.
Fraud can take many guises with the perpetrator often being the most innocuous person associated with the organisation. Yes, these are generalisations – but the point is that anyone could be committing a fraud within your organisation. Continue reading…