financial leadership

financial leadership

Financial Sustainability

Financial leadership is essential to the health and vitality of nonprofit organizations, and it’s more than financial management. It’s critical to tie financials to organizational community impact and understand the true costs of program delivery.


Program Overview

  • A live webinar series offered once a year.
  • 8 virtual sessions, each 1.5 hours biweekly from 9-10:30 am. Webinars will be interactive where appropriate, with exercises to apply the principles of discussion and increase understanding. Each webinar will be accompanied by templates and tools.
  • Each session is led by Steve Zimmerman of Spectrum Nonprofit Services
  • Steve Zimmerman is the Principal of Spectrum Nonprofit Services, where he provides training and consulting for community-based organizations, foundations, and government agencies throughout the country.  For more information about Steve click here
  • Session Dates: August 8, 22, September 5, 19, October 3, 17, 31, and November 14. 
  • Session 1, August 8 will be in-person at the FVTC D. J. Bordini Center, Appleton, WI. Additional sessions participants may choose to attend virtually or in-person. 

    Our trainer will be joining us virtually. 

“Steve’s ability to engage an audience is worth more than his weight in gold!” Deborah Clark, New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits


“Steve demystifies nonprofit finances.” Brian Leone-Tracy, Fox Valley Literacy 


The program is designed for staff and board members looking to be equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to be financial leaders. We welcome all sizes of nonprofits. Whether you employ paid staff or are fully volunteer run, this program is for you!

Executive directors, finance staff members, board treasurers, or anyone looking to learn more about nonprofit finances will benefit from this progam.

Priority is given to nonprofits within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region service area.


Within our service region (Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, and Neenah/Menasha area of Winnebago County)

Cost per participant: $800 

Two participants from the same organization:  $1000

Outside of service region

Cost per participant: $1,200

Two participants from the same organization: $1500

Refunds are not given for missed sessions. 

Because of NPLI’s generous donors we are able to subsidize the cost of this program.


Course Overview

Financial Leadership

Let’s be honest, no (or very few) nonprofit leaders join organizations because they enjoy accounting. Senior managers and board members have an obligation to understand the financial drivers of the organization. This session will introduce and engage you in an in-depth discussion around the tenets of financial leadership and how you can embrace them. Discussions include how best to “staff” the finance function and the different roles and responsibilities between staff and board members. This session will end with providing you with information on identifying accounting policies and procedures and internal controls, offered in an easy-to-implement manner.

Templates include a draft accounting policies and procedures manual, job descriptions for the finance officer, and a charter for the finance committee of the board.

Understanding and Assessing Financial Health

To be a financial leader, you must be financially literate. This session is designed to increase your financial literacy by removing the jargon so you can read and understand financial statements. This session will dive deeper into understanding the differences between cash and accrual accounting, highlighting the importance of monitoring cash flow. You will use your financial statements to calculate key ratios to assess both immediate and long-term financial health. This will allow you to discover important trending tools such as the current ratio and quick ratio, define and highlight the importance of reserves and lead a discussion on an appropriate level for reserves.

Templates include a full set of financial statement forms and key ratios to calculate for your own organization.

Demystifying Expenses – Categorizing Expenses and Cost Allocation Part 1 (A two-part session)

There is rampant discussion in the nonprofit sector today about overhead rates. Determining overhead, however, starts with the mundane yet important task of coding expenses. This session involves pealing the onion of expenses so you can define the differences between direct expenses and shared or common costs. Cost allocation will be covered as it is a challenging subject for even the most experienced nonprofit professional, and especially important for those agencies that receive government funding. A case study will walk you through a cost allocation process splitting shared costs to programs and, eventually, to funding sources.  You will also learn how to allocate (1) administrative costs to demonstrate the true program costs for each program and (2) revenue to determine the profitability of each program.   

Templates include a set of financial statements that highlight the cost allocation process including a staffing plan, wage plan, shared cost allocation and administrative allocation along with a sample financial statement showing the profitability of each program.

The Art and Science of Budgeting

Organizational budgets are meant to be the numerical expression of the organization’s program plan for the coming year. To do so, they need to be created in an inclusive process. This session will walk you through the stages of budgeting including roles and timeline in putting together the budget. Additionally, you will hear about the latest thinking in rolling budgets and how to continually be communicating and thinking strategically about your budget.

Templates include budget templates and a process timeline for engaging the staff and board.

Telling Your Financial Story: Dashboard Driving

Nonprofit boards and senior management are bombarded with financial and programmatic reporting that they may or may not understand and are left to analyze on their own. This session aims to cut through the clutter with a clear, visual dashboard that will focus the discussion on items requiring attention. In particular, by the end of this session, you should be able to understand and explain the power of dashboard reporting, determine the metrics that are right for your organization, and implement a process for compiling your own organizational dashboard.

Templates include a dashboard and library of metrics.

Revenue Strategy

One of the biggest myths in “best practices” is the idea that the more revenue streams an organization has, the more financially sustainable they will be. This session seeks to end that myth and instead focus the discussion on the right revenue strategy for your organization. In this session, you will review the elements of the “right revenue” for your organization including which streams align with your organization’s values and programs and the desired mix for your organization. Drawing on the work in The Sustainability Mindset and the revenue theory of Dennis Young in his work, Financing Nonprofits, you will dive into the tools and learn how to analyze your revenue streams and make adjustments.

Templates include a spreadsheet for organizations to analyze their own revenue.

The Sustainability Mindset

Offered as a capstone to the webinar series, this session will incorporate all previous discussions and integrate the financial strategy with the impact strategy. You will be introduced to the matrix map, a visual depiction of an organization’s business model encompassing the dual-bottom line of mission impact and financial viability. Beyond just a picture though, the matrix map offers strategic imperatives to strengthen your organization’s business model and sustainability.