The CFO'S Perspective

Does a Not-for-Profit Need a 501(c)(4)?

There are 1.2 million public charities in the United States. Public charities are only one of 29 types of nonprofit organizations recognized by the tax code. Next in popularity to public charities are social welfare organizations (501(c)(4)--at last count, there were over 82,000.

In a world where everything seems to be politicized, it is no surprise that many not-for-profits are entering the political arena more and more. And while 501(c)(3) Public Charities can engage in advocacy efforts in generous ways, some organizations may be frustrated by the allowable activities, prompting them to form a 501(c)(4) – a specific type of not-for-profit organized to promote social welfare.

Topics: Non Profit Organizations Portland

How to Write a CFO Job Description

Have you ever tried to find something when you could not adequately describe what you were looking for?

Imagine going to buy a pair of pants and when the salesperson asks what you are looking for all you tell them is “gray pants.” How long do you think it will take to find exactly what you are looking for? And how likely is it that you will end up getting tired and frustrated settling for something that is not really what you wanted? In this example, the best outcome is that you find the perfect pair of pants after an arduous search, and the worst outcome is that you end up with pants that fit poorly or are too formal or casual for your needs.

Now apply that same scenario to hiring and think about how difficult it is to find the right candidate for the role when you do not have a clear vision of what you are looking for and what your expectations are for the role. The difficulty is ratcheted up and the likelihood of a negative outcome is much greater.

When the role you are hiring for is a senior leadership position a bad hire can derail the company’s strategic plans. A CFO is in an especially critical role to support growth initiatives, making a hire into this role even more critical to the overall success of the organization. As a result, a job description for a CFO should be customized to fit the specific needs of the business and incorporate the nuances of the role.

Topics: Recruiting CFO Hiring HR CFO Responsibilities

What is a Fractional CFO?

When you want to hire a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) you can hire someone on a fractional basis or into a full-time position. But before trying to understand your options for hiring a CFO, you first need to get to the very nature of the role:

  • A CFO is the position at the top-end of the spectrum of financial leadership that is outward-facing and forward-looking.

Once you frame the role in this way, you can start deciding how much time you need someone focusing on that area of your business.

A fractional CFO is basically a part-time or limited engagement CFO. Depending on the company’s needs, a CFO can either perform ongoing high-level financial analysis and oversight on a less than full-time basis, or financial management during a specific challenge or across a predetermined time. However, a fractional CFO may not provide enough support for an organization with more extensive financial needs.

So, when is a fractional CFO a better fit?

Topics: Recruiting Search Services CFO Hiring Leadership

A Roadmap to Hiring a CFO

Hiring a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a daunting activity for many organizations. Understanding when to bring someone on board, what kinds of options are available to fill the CFO role, how to look for the best candidate, and what to expect after making a hiring decision are complicated topics that weigh heavy on many CEOs.

This comprehensive guide to hiring a CFO aims to answer the most common questions we hear when working with new recruiting and executive search clients to find a fractional, interim, or full-time CFO.

Topics: Recruiting CFO Hiring Staffing Leadership

How to Strategically Invest in your Business During a Downturn

A recession or downturn in the market is one of the most demanding scenarios for senior leadership to weather because there are so many possible responses to consider. Each decision leadership makes during this critical time can have a significant effect on the company’s ability to come out on the other side at all, let alone seize available opportunities to grow in the process. So, how can you strategically invest in your business during a downturn to increase the likelihood that it will be able to emerge stronger?

It is critical to act swiftly instead of ignoring the warning signs that a downturn is coming, worsening, or may last longer than anticipated. However, that does not mean giving into kneejerk reactions. A Harvard Business Review article summarizes it best by saying,

“Inaction is the riskiest response to the uncertainties of an economic crisis. But rash or scattershot action can be nearly as damaging. Rising anxiety (how much worse are things likely to get? how long is this going to last?) and the growing pressure to do something often produces a variety of uncoordinated moves that target the wrong problem or overshoot the right one.”

Have honest conversations with your leadership team to solicit feedback on how to proceed while leaning on the data. Focus on efforts on strategically managing expenses, acquiring assets to achieve your goals, prioritizing customer relationships, and developing new markets while focusing on your core competencies.

Topics: Economic Trends Leadership Growth Risk Management Strategy COVID-19