Nonprofit finance: No need to hide under the table anymore

headshot of author Nancy Bacon

By Nancy Bacon, Nonprofit Educator, Nonprofit Learning Center

You know that time in a board meeting: the treasurer starts sharing the financial report; they explain in number-filled sentences the lowdown on the balance sheet and where the organization stands on budget vs. actuals. After a period of time that feels infinite to at least a few people around the table, this person asks if there are any questions.



A few people lean closer to the table in an attempt to analyze the numbers. Someone eventually pipes up a question about the photocopy budget or event proceeds. The finance portion of the board meeting passes. Phew!

I’ve seen this dynamic at play within many boards. To be honest, I began my nonprofit career as that person who would gladly hide under the table until the finance portion of the board meeting ended, mostly because I didn’t understand the financial jargon that others seemed fluent in. As board members, we know money is the fuel driving our organizations forward and that talking about money matters. We get why it matters. We need opportunities to learn the “what” and “how” of nonprofit financial literacy and build our skills so we can confidently contribute to financial conversations.

I am a nonprofit educator who has spent the last ten years training thousands of nonprofit people on nonprofit basics. I created “Let’s Talk Money” to strengthen both the knowledge and confidence that nonprofit board and staff members bring to financial conversations. Imagine how much stronger our organizations would be if the following were true:

  • Every board member participates in financial conversations.
  • Key programmatic decisions are informed by relevant financial information.
  • Boards focus discussions on a dashboard of data that captures what matters most.
  • Board and staff members know what to ask to gauge if you are on the right financial track.
  • Nonprofits practice effective oversight to ensure money isn’t lost through fraud or error.

Leveling up a nonprofit’s financial literacy is a team sport. Many come to nonprofit work without a solid finance background. Fear of money and math are common. These folks will find “Let’s Talk Money” an inclusive, supportive, and even fun exploration of what to know about nonprofit finance. (Our fairy tale storytelling activity involving an income statement has been known to get a little out of hand!) Board and staff members who are fluent in finance and comfortable with money and math will learn how they can play a role in bringing this sense of inclusion and support back into the life of their organization.

On Thursday, September 21, Wyoming Nonprofit Network and the Natrona Collective Health Trust have invited me to present “Let’s Talk Money: What you need to know about nonprofit finance to make good decisions,” a 5-hour workshop for nonprofit board and staff. Our purpose is to expand the financial literacy of our nonprofit partners so they have the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to deliver their mission and protect their assets.

Follow this link for more details on the workshop and to register.

This session is presented by Nancy Bacon, a nonprofit educator and learning strategist who has created popular learning experiences that move people into action. Nancy is known for interactive workshops which leave participants ready to do things differently. She has worn every nonprofit hat possible, including board member, Executive Director, program director, and volunteer. A winner of the Golden Apple Award, Nancy writes books and blogs on topics at the intersection of learning and nonprofits.