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GEO Conference Panel Discussion: The Skills to Pay the Bills

May 3, 2016 @ 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm

C02: The Skills to Pay the Bills
Tue May 3 2016, 4:00pm–5:15pm, Skyway A/B (Second Floor)

Supporting Nonprofit Resilience


Andrew Schwalm, Fiscal Management Associates, and Polly Singh, The Wallace Foundation


Sound financial management skills are critical for nonprofits that deliver high-quality services in any community. But can funders help build financial management skills of their grantees, and if so, how? The Wallace Foundation set out to answer these questions with its Strategic Financial Management initiative, offering financial management training to two groups of nonprofits in Chicago. A new outside evaluation by MDRC and Child Trends demonstrates positive outcomes in both groups and suggests some lessons learned. This session will share lessons and best practices from the initiative and present three “tiers” of investment participants might consider to improve nonprofit financial management in other communities. You will leave with an increased understanding of the forms of support nonprofits want and need most to strengthen their ability to manage their resources and increase their potential to achieve results.

Hilda Polanco, Fiscal Management Associates

As Founder and CEO, Hilda has led FMA to become the go-to capacity builder foundation and nonprofit leaders seek to address nonprofit financial management issues. Hilda was a founding member of the selection committee of the New York Nonprofit Excellence Awards. In 2014, Hilda was recognized by SmartCEO magazine as a Top Female CEO with a New York Brava! award. Hilda graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Accounting. She holds the Certification in Control Self-Assessment from the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Karen Walker, Child Trends

Karen Walker, Ph.D., is a renowned implementation evaluator who has worked with many of the leading foundations in the United States, including the Robert Wood Johnson, Annie E. Casey, and Wallace foundations. She specializes in designing, collecting, and analyzing data for multi-site, multi-method evaluations, many of which focus on collaborative efforts to improve the health and well-being of low-income populations in urban communities. Dr. Walker currently leads Child Trends’ implementation evaluation of Venture Philanthropy Partners’ SIF project, youthCONNECT, and she has designed and led large implementation evaluations of several after-school initiatives involving collaborations among public and private funders, local intermediaries, and social service organizations. She is also the lead implementation evaluator for WINGS for Kids, a social-emotional learning program for children. In addition to her work with collaborations and programs, Dr. Walker has evaluated efforts to strengthen organizations’ capacities, such as the Wallace Foundation’s The Skills to Pay the Bills: An Evaluation of an Effort to Help Nonprofits Manage Their FinancesDr. Walker is committed to improving understanding of the organizational structures and program practices that contribute to positive outcomes for vulnerable populations. She is developing a framework for implementation research that can be used to make useful comparisons among programs to expand our knowledge base. Dr. Walker is also working to enhance clients’ abilities to collect and manage data, enabling them to better understand their own programmatic activities both within and across multiple agencies.

Polly Singh, The Wallace Foundation

Polly Singh joined The Wallace Foundation in 2002 and was named a program officer in 2012. Since she began at Wallace, she has worked in the afterschool program area. Singh oversees grants primarily in after school system building, expanded learning and strengthening financial management initiatives. She also manages StrongNonprofits.org, a website that shares best practices in financial management for afterschool providers. Before joining Wallace, Singh worked at Morgan Stanley and The Century Foundation. She has a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College, and a master’s degree in public administration from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College.



May 3, 2016
4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
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