Gone are the days when a chief financial officer at a nonprofit was regarded as a mere bookkeeper. That was the message conveyed recently at the Nonprofit CFO of the Year awards luncheon at The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Northwest Washington.
Nearly 300 leaders shined the spotlight on three nonprofit CFOs, whom program organizers say demonstrated innovation in a position calling for them to increasingly grapple with budget cuts, higher demands and tougher financial transparency requirements.
“With revenues expected to decline or remain flat over the next few years, nonprofits are expected not just hold to on by their fingertips but have a plan for being robust and reliable financially,” said Robert Ottenhoff, president and chief executive of Guidestar, a nonprofit information service. “With money tightening and services increasing, the public is increasingly asking the question, ‘What is your organization trying to do?’… So many nonprofits have wonderful charitable missions at their core but have failed to take proactive steps to measure progress and chart their impact.”
Stanley Berman introduced new systems to improve management functions at Global Impact, an organization that raises funds for humanitarian groups. A CFO of the Year award recipient, Berman was recognized for his work changing the budgeting process from a traditional departmental structure to center on its four lines of business.
He also led the development of a new system that tracks staff performance, goals and competencies.
Jason Daisey of Associated Builders and Contractors won the Nonprofit CFO Rising Star award, which recognizes a distinguished nonprofit executive under the age of 40. Kimberly McKinnish of the National Beer Wholesalers Association won CFO Transformational Leader, recognizing work that led to drastic changes and innovations in the organization’s various operational areas.
Robert Egger, founder and president of D.C. Central Kitchen, exhorted nonprofit leaders to adjust aggressively to the changing demands in the new economic environment and to harness the “power” of nonprofit chief financial officers.
Following the awards presentation, a Q&A segment picked the brains of the three recipients, covering topics from working with board members to adjusting to Generation-Y expectations.
The luncheon was started six years ago by Tate & Tryon’s managing partner Charles Tate and real estate veteran Eric West, both of whom believed the executive function needed to be highlighted.
“The drive came from two things,” Tate said at the reception, “the recognition that the skills of the nonprofit CFO are really quite distinct and, as a group, those skills are not generally recognized.”
Sponsors included West, Lane & Schlager; Novick Group; Arent Fox; Anybill; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; EvensonBest; HBW Group; Senoda; and OTJ Architects.