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Tools for Nonprofits

My most useful experience with nonprofit organizations comes from serving as president of the Greater Community AIDS Project (Champaign, Ill.) and ART 180 (Richmond, Va.). On the administrative side, it's been helpful to have run a small consulting business organized as a subchapter S corporation.

Both of the above groups were small, young, and overflowing with energy. They also encapsulated two challenges typically faced by nonprofits:

  1. How to focus the energy of impassioned volunteers in ways that advance the organization's mission. This is a complex area tied closely to strategic communications--a skills and knowledge base often lacking at the executive level.
  2. How (often with a small staff and small budget) to get the administrative side in order, especially if the staff has no related experience. Sally Patterson and I took a stab at this in the "Core Needs: Develop Mission Anchors and Critical Capacity" section of an article we co-wrote, A Framework for Sustainable Nonprofit Organizations [pdf].
  3. Our treasurer at ART 180 developed an Excel spreadsheet that gave board members the financial information we needed to plan effectively. I'm happy to offer it here for adaptation by other nonprofits:  Cashflow Spreadsheet [xls].