Top 3 Things I’ve Learned Working at a Non-Profit

Monica Perez is Hope for Haiti’s Director of Finance. Below, she shares the top three things she’s learned since joining our team – and the non-profit sector –  in 2015.

1. Mind shift from profits to financial stability – Coming from public accounting, I focused a lot on P&L statements, looking at profits and how my clients could make the most out of their bottom line. When starting with Hope for Haiti, I needed to switch gears and instead of focusing on profits, look more at financial stability. As with all businesses, a key to financial sustainability includes a healthy cash reserve to help them in time of need. One thing I’ve learned is how to create a budget that helps build financial sustainability. Instead of budgeting all of your expenses based on fundraising, we should focus on expenses first, then back into revenues in order to cover the expenses and build in your reserve. This will give you a better picture of how much money we’d need to raise in order to meet our expenses and set aside for reserve. Tools such as a cash flow forecast will help you analyze the inflows and outflows of cash so you can see where cash is tight and make any necessary adjustments sooner rather than later.

2. It’s all about relationships – Working in the nonprofit sector, I quickly learned that engaging with people who can connect with our cause is very important. People don’t want to be seen as a transaction; they want relationships. One way we like to show our appreciation is a Holiday Thank– A–Thon. Each year around Christmas, our team calls past donors to thank them for their support and to wish them a Happy Holidays. The call isn’t to ask for funds, it’s to show that we remember and appreciate them. This year, we actually received more than two thousand dollars just by wishing donors a Merry Christmas!

3. Storytelling is everyone’s job – Telling an organization’s story and other aspects of fundraising isn’t just the Development team’s job. Being able to get out there and share your organization’s story as much as possible allows you to connect and inspire others. Making sure your team can talk about the organization’s mission and highlight your programs can expand your reach to potential donors. You never know when you’ll need to have your elevator speech ready! As the Director of Finance, I’m proud to say I’ve been able to lock in two of our major sponsorships to our latest Food Packing Party by constantly sharing our organization’s stories and leveraging relationships. It feels great being an honorary Development Team Member!