Budgeting Tips from Rock Environmental

Budgeting for nonprofits.

A nonprofit’s budget can be the bane of an organization’s existence. For organizations that rely on grants, this can mean even more uncertainty. This can mean planning years in advance and multiple revisions to a budget prior to board approval. The involvement of non-financial staff can serve to complicate the process even further.

At Rock Environmental, we have found a number of helpful ways to conduct the budgeting process.

Getting the proverbial “ducks in a row” is the first step to successful budgeting. Organization wide cooperation is key to a smooth budgeting process. All departments should be involved in not only aggregating the necessary financial information but contributing feedback regarding future budgeting needs.

Plan ahead when looking into the revenue streams. What are your organization’s short and long term goals and how can budgeting best serve these goals? Operating costs can take a significant amount of your organization’s budget so proper planning for allocating the non-operating costs can help to make the most of programming and community outreach efforts.

Take stock of the current revenue and ensure that planned expenses come in below this bar. Additional planned donations including pledges and other revenue sources can be taken into consideration but having a diverse number of revenue streams is important for creating a balance should one disappear.

Be concise when delivering the budget documents. The budget should be readable though, so keep notes to a minimum. Presentation is also important. Take time to organize all the information and make tracking it easy for everyone.

Understanding the year to year fluctuations is important so multiyear budgets can help with more long term planning, especially if operating costs are holding fairly steady. This can allow you and your board to plan ahead for future expenses as well as understand the baseline costs that must be accounted for.

Still feel overwhelmed?  Let Rock Environmental do the numbers for you or work with your existing staff to make sure you do have those duck in a row…

Consulting services from Rock Environmental offer comprehensive support for back-of-house services, including budgeting, capital campaign design and management, and other strategic financial planning. Contact us directly to learn more about these services via email at info@rockenvironmental.com.


Director of Development – Do you need one?

Hiring a Director or Development for your nonprofit.

In the world of nonprofits, donor development and retention is vitally important. Finding the right people, with the right skills, will help to achieve these goals. From donor relations campaigns to a new grant application, expanding the opportunities means making an investment. So, when is the right time to bring someone on board and what will this person bring to your organization. Britt Hosmer Peterson of Rock Environmental offers expert insights into her experience with Directors of Development.

A Director of Development essentially functions as the COO of a nonprofit. Priorities include managing and allocating funds as well as creating strategies to raise new funds for the organization. This position functions mostly behind the scenes building the structure and framework of a financially healthy organization.

When is the best time to bring these experts in? This can vary based on many factors.

  • Financially assessing your organization to ensure the viability of a new hire can be a challenge. You must consider the delay in ROI as new programs are implemented as well investing in new office space, training and other new hire expenses.
  • Seasonal bumps or slumps in donations can also play a part in your decision. Maybe you only need someone for a short term project to maximize on donor’s goodwill during a holiday season?
  • Examine the potential for growth that may currently be getting overlooked without a person in this position.
  • Be honest about scalability prospects. You may have staff working on fundraising and donor retention already but do these people have the extra time and skills necessary to put together a strategic plan? Development is key to continued growth and bringing experts on board when necessary is essential.

Are fundraising and writing skills qualities you are seeking in a Director of Development? A qualified candidate will have both. It may take extra effort to find this person, but this combination is the key to a well planned and executed strategy.

These items should considered before any steps toward hiring are made. Board and staff members should get the opportunity to discuss the state of affairs, both currently and with the potential growth after bringing on a new team member. Once a decision has been made about hiring potential and viability, the decision of who to hire is next.

There are two main options when it comes to hiring a Director of Development, in-house or consultant.

1. In-House Employee:

An in-house team member will function as a regular employee of the nonprofit. This type of position allows for full immersion into the nonprofit as well as a deeper understanding of the mission and goals. This is also a larger up front investment into workspace, tech and benefits. Depending on the job market and the size of your nonprofit, expect to pay a well qualified candidate $40-65k, plus the standard benefits of a full time employee.

2. Rock Environmental’s Solution:

Consultants offer a more flexible approach as well as a smaller investment up front. These people can be seasonal, fill in a talent gap as you search for a full time employee, or for a project-to-project basis such as grant research, management, and writing or for a major upcoming fundraising event. They are typically paid a flat (per hour) or predetermined monthly retainer for services rendered.

The growth and long term viability of a nonprofit rests in it’s effective use of funds. A Director of Development can be a key player in this arena. Considering the need for this role in your organization should be a top priority. Whether you choose to hire a full time employee or Rock Environmental, take the time to plan ahead by factoring in the cost of fundraising and do not expect the person to raise their own salary!  Fundraising is based on cultivating of donors and the person must focus on your mission, not securing their pay check.

Rock Environmental offers consulting services including back of house operations (strategic planning, grant writing, volunteer management, press release writing, social media, etc.) and has experience with a wide range of international organizations and US-based donor pools.

Rock Environmental offers consulting services that will bring your nonprofit up to the next level of financial stability and mission effectiveness.