Budget Resolution

It happens all the time. A private-sector businessperson takes over as board treasurer and meets with the nonprofit staff to go over the new budget. In that meeting, the new treasurer finds that nonprofit accounting is a wee bit different from the for-profit world.

Treasurer: “So you’re projecting $270,000 in foundation and corporate grants. How confident are you about that number?”

Staff: “Well, you never know.”

Treasurer: “You never know what?”

Staff: “You just never know. We may get it all. We may get half of it.”

Treasurer: “And if we only get half of it?”

Staff: “We’ll have to improvise. Or hope something comes in over the transom. It usually does. That’s the only way we balanced the budget this year.” Continue reading

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Real Change

[This post was co-published in Inside Philanthropy on September 10, 2015.]

A friend of mine rolls her eyes whenever I speak skeptically about the value of charitable endowments. “You’re neglecting the future!” she tells me. She thinks that I’m being profligate and short-sighted by advocating for distributing charitable funds rather than letting them build up.

Actually, my skepticism about endowments arises precisely because I care about the future. And I’d like to illustrate my argument by describing the life of Congressman John Lewis – and the philanthropist who helped make Lewis’s achievements possible. Continue reading

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