The CFO'S Perspective

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith is a high capacity financial manager with success in a wide variety of settings in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She is passionate about engineering process improvement and navigating transitions, resulting in sustainable efficiencies and cost savings. In addition to core accounting competencies, she is experienced at managing other support functions such as IT, Human Resources, and Operations.

Recent Posts by Nancy Smith:

How to Improve Your Accounting Software System Capabilities

All organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, use accounting software. All have varying degrees of complexity and features. Regardless of the available features, most of us still rely on exporting data into a spreadsheet to improve adjustability. In fact, most of us over-rely on this process. There are better ways to improve your accounting software capabilities.

Topics: Accounting Software Accounting System

How Much Cash Should a Nonprofit Have in Reserves?

An 84-year-old resident of Longview passed away this year, leaving $750,000 of her estate to three local non-profits. Relying on these types of unexpected donations is one way to build up your organization's reserves, but you can't count on these generous gifts.

Case in point is the Anacortes-based conservation nonprofit Pacific Biodiversity Institute, which just closed its doors due to a lack of funding. Whether flush with funds or struggling to keep the lights on, there’s never enough funding for a nonprofit to accomplish every initiative it would like.

Every organization needs to determine how much it requires for Operations, in Operating Reserves, and what can be dedicated to mission-focused initiatives. The answers to these questions are, of course, “It depends.”

The variables that must be considered include seasonality, worst case scenarios, and more. The key to developing a specific answer is knowledge - knowledge of the organization’s current financial state and donation history, as well as the data that is produced from a solid budget and cash forecast.

For those organizations that struggle, a plan must be developed to raise donations and reduce expenses. If you are fortunate enough to have a surplus of reserves additional questions arise. Where do you put those reserves? How should you safely manage them? While the answers vary from nonprofit to nonprofit, there are a solid set of financial best practices to follow and ensure that these questions are answered.

Topics: Non Profit Organizations Planning Cash Flow