Connecting to Philanthropy: Demystify your nonprofit’s financial health

As a membership organization committed to supporting and promoting effective philanthropy in Wisconsin, the Donors Forum of Wisconsin (DFW) provides resources that help funders perform more effectively and efficiently. DFW provides a network for grantmakers (i.e. funders) from across the state. As Wisconsin’s premier resource in philanthropy, DFW is committed to advancing and promoting the philanthropic sector.


Your nonprofit organization will likely begin the budgeting process for 2015 soon. During this process, it is important that you communicate your financial health to your board of directors and funders. Through the year and during the budgeting process,  you and your board review many reports – such as the balance sheet, income statement, statement of functional expenses, and cash flow statements. However, do you know what the numbers in those reports mean? Are you and your board members seeing your organization’s financial picture clearly? If you are unable to answer the following questions quickly and confidently, you should consider attending the DFW workshop on “Communicating Your Financial Picture”.

*Will your organization have an operating surplus or deficit this year?
*How are your resources allocated across programs and supporting services?
*Do you know your organization’s liquidity?
*How long can your organization’s operations be covered with liquid operating reserves?
*Do you know how many months of operations can be covered with your available cash?    

Recently, Wisconsin grantmakers attended a DFW workshop on how to assess your nonprofit organization’s financial health. Your funders received a financial assessment tool that utilizes the numbers in financial statements to measure organizational performance. This financial assessment tool helps funders assess the financial health of your nonprofit and aides in the decision making process when awarding grants.

In collaboration with the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, DFW is excited to offer this same interactive workshop to you. Nonprofit attendees will work through this financial assessment tool that your organization can utilize as part of financial reviews and future funder applications.

This financial health workshop will be held on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014 at the Manpower Group Headquarters in downtown Milwaukee. This is a great educational opportunity to obtain the same financial assessment tool that Wisconsin funders use when assessing grantees. Using this tool, you can confidently answer the above crucial questions for your organization. You will also learn strategies for improving your nonprofit organization’s financial health. Plus, you will be able to better communicate your financial picture to funders, board members and donors.

This workshop is presented by nationally known and highly regarded, Andrea Mills, director at Fiscal Management Associates. Mills has extensive experience working with nonprofits in helping them make critical and often challenging fiscal decisions.

To learn more and register for the workshop, visit the “Communicating Your Financial Picture” event page here.

In addition to workshops and programming opportunities, DFW also provides research and knowledge sharing services. As the field of philanthropy becomes increasingly complex, it is essential for grantmakers to stay informed. DFW offers not only information on Wisconsin issues, trends, policies, and best practices, but also on how national trends and issues play out in the state.  This information is critical to our members in their role as effective Wisconsin philanthropists.

Watch for the upcoming DFW 2014 Wisconsin Gives Report, which provides a detailed look at charitable giving in Wisconsin and the United States. This report aims to deepen the public’s understanding of Wisconsin philanthropy by capturing trends in giving while framing the vast scope of the philanthropic community. The Donors Forum of Wisconsin strives to provide Wisconsin grantmakers and community leaders with valuable information they need to make more informed grantmaking decisions. A complimentary copy of this report will be available to download from our website at in mid-October.

In next month’s feature, discover the tools needed to craft your organization’s story for maximum impact through the power of storytelling.
Contributed by Jill Van Calster, President and CEO, Donors Forum of Wisconsin

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