That line has been used in a number of movies and is often recited when there seems to be something about to happen that no one is expecting. Is that the case with your not for profit?
As we move into summer, for many organizations, the pace slows a bit. Many not for profits have just wrapped up their fiscal year and for some, the results are now just coming to light. It doesn’t need to be that way. As a board member or executive, there should be little doubt as to where you stand financially and what the implications are towards your mission delivery programs at any time with reasonable certainty. Simple systems can tell you if you are on track or not, and alert you to any course corrections needed. One of my former bosses used a very simple cash report which helped him cut through all of the optimistic projections: Did the amount of cash coming in meet the needs of the organization in terms of expenses?
Forecasting is necessary and if you do it accurately, it is a great tool. As a board member, do you get regular forecast reports? Are they reliable and accurate? Do the reports just come from the executive verbally or are they in a documented format? What would you do in times of transition- if your executive left or was incapacitated for some time? Would you know if the organization was on track to achieve its annual targets?
As an executive who has worked with many boards, I would be sure to have a regular communiqué with at least my officers that outlined exactly where we were at- good news and bad news. Keeping informed about what is happening should be easier today with all of the vehicles for communicating, but sometimes we get lost in the myriad of mechanisms. If you are an executive, make sure you update your board or at least your officers on a regular basis. If you are a board member, make sure that if someone wanted to know exactly where your organization stood at a given time, you could provide a knowledgeable update and overview. Understandably- emergency situations happen where there may be information you are not privy to but in most cases, reasonable folks will understand.
Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments on effective techniques you have seen. There are many out there, but the key is finding one that works for you and your organization. For not for profits- no news is not usually good news!