Looking Forward to 2017 with FMA

During 2016 the FMA team grew to more than 35 staff and continued to expand our national footprint with a new office in Los Angeles. We served more than 400 nonprofits and individual leaders with consulting, leadership development, training and outsourced fiscal management services and partnered with funders in more than a dozen communities including the San Francisco Bay area, Napa Valley, Chicago, Hartford, Newport, Pittsburgh and of course, NYC, just to name a few.

Areas of service were as diverse as the geography they covered, including

  • Youth Development
  • Social and Human Services
  • Arts and Culture
  • CDFI’s
  • Workforce Development
  • Immigrant
  • LGBTQ
  • Senior, and
  • Women’s Health

Our outsourced fiscal management services allowed us to partner with nonprofits in long term, cost effective partnerships, as well as provide critical interim services during vacancy periods in financial management leadership.

Our consulting work was delivered through cohort-based capacity building programs that combine workshops with coaching and consulting services; one-to-one consulting and advisory services; as well as leadership development training.

A proven, independently evaluated model for capacity building, (see The Wallace Foundation study of FMAs work in Chicago) –FMA’s cohort based capacity building model builds leadership team capacity for strategic decision making, following what has been referred to as a “blueprint for capacity building” in the sector.

Along with building the leadership team’s financial management acumen and decision making skills, these programs also helped groups build financial resilience by focusing on their financial management systems, from state-of-the-art budgeting, to forecasting, to cash flow projections to establishing the right reports and dashboards to track key performance indicators that lead to sustainability.  We also worked with the funding partners and participating nonprofits to implement tools and strategies critical in creating a common understanding of nonprofit financial health, and an improved dialogue between the funders and grantees.

Given the kind of work nonprofits do, the discipline of financial strategy and execution is, arguably, not the first thing that comes to mind, even for those intimately connected to the  sector, so we thank our funding partners including private and public foundations, community foundations, and local banks and trade associations for having the vision to see the value of creating a deeper sense of community for those working for nonprofit organizations in this capacity. In particular, in both NYC and the San Francisco Bay area we engaged in long term multi-year capacity building efforts in partnership with government funders including the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, and the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families – a new and exciting partnership opportunity for us and for the staff of community based organizations who don’t often normally have access to FMA’s services.

FMA’s Advisory Services, on an individual organization basis, builds the technical and leadership decision-making muscle.  This year we saw an increase of nonprofit leaders seeking support in turning strategic plans into financial models and concrete actions plans that matched growth or sustainability objectives. And, not surprisingly in the current climate, we helped groups understand cost-per-unit analysis to better inform fund-raising efforts.

FMA’s Outsourced Fiscal Management Services helps clients save money, work more efficiently and make better decisions through strong and timely reporting.  In 2016, we saw increasing movement to paperless environments throughout our client portfolio. From using an electronic bill paying system, eg. Bill.com, to implementing electronic tracking of expenses or accounts payable systems that are driven through e-signatures, we are helping our clients make great strides to implement technology that increases efficiencies while reducing costs and improving controls.

FMA’s Leadership Development and Coaching Services are designed to help leadership teams’ overcome organization-wide cultural and operational challenges through strengthening team dynamics and strategic team decision making capabilities.  During 2016, FMA worked with over 20 leadership teams as they addressed challenges like significant growth, weak financial management strategic decision making, leadership transition and problematic relational dynamics.

FMA’s Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional course:  One concern, increasingly on the minds of our funding partners, is the shortage of qualified staff to fill fiscal management positions in nonprofit organizations. FMA’s solution to this problem—the Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional course–has been steadily building momentum and national recognition for more than a decade.  We have now trained—in-person and online–more than 1500 graduates who occupy critical financial roles at organizations ranging from the smallest to largest across the county and, increasingly, around the world. In development now is a CNAP 2.0 course, expanding on the lessons of the original, as well as instruction in Spanish and the addition of in-person instruction in California and South Florida!

FMA’s Thought-Leadership: For nearly 20 years, FMA has pursued the counter-intuitive strategy of making our most valuable and useful tools and experience available to the public for free. This year, that effort extended to the audience of the Nonprofit Quarterly with a series of publications and webinars that have proved among the most popular in the publication’s history.  You can see these webinars and publications here.  The webinars, in particular, saw unprecedented registration numbers, exceeding 1000!

We are looking forward to continuing our work in 2017 sharing with you what trends we are seeing nationally.  We welcome any thoughts you might have as to other ways we might be of assistance.  We’re ready to talk! 

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Hilda H. Polanco, CPA, CCSA®,CGMA

Founder and CEO
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