I often arrange for accountants to give workshops to nonprofit board members on topics including the financial responsibilities of the board and how to read financial statements. Too often the speakers overwhelm the audience with detail or try to cover too much. Sometimes, they seem to lack understanding of the specific issues of nonprofit accounting and financial management. This is not the case with Presenting: Nonprofit Financials—an Overview of Board Fiduciary Responsibility. Author Thomas A. McLaughlin clearly understands the nonprofit sector. The topics covered are appropriate for an audience with little or no experience and the presentation concentrates on the most important concepts.
Presenting: Nonprofit Financials consists of a CD-ROM and short booklet, and is one of a series of CD-ROM presentation templates for board training published by BoardSource (formerly National Center for Nonprofit Boards).
The CD-ROM contains a three-part presentation with speaking notes. Part one introduces board members to the basics of nonprofit financial responsibilities and how these are typically managed. Part two explains financial and accounting terms that board members need to know to understand and discuss financial statements. Part three describes the purpose of an annual audit and explains how to review the audited financial statements.
Included on the CD (in Adobe Acrobat format) and in the accompanying booklet is a set of audited financial statements for a fictional youth services organization. These statements provide examples referred to in the presentation and are marked with flags to point out items that might signal fiscal danger.
The content is geared to novice board members, but the package is best used as a teaching tool by a trainer with some financial knowledge. The author has kindly placed the content in the public domain, enabling the presenter to copy or adapt it without permission. The presentation is provided in four formats: Macromedia, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word for Windows and Macintosh and in plain text. As several of the slides refer to accounting standards and forms used in the United States, presenters in other countries will be grateful for the text files and will still be able to make good use of the package.
The booklet explains how to use the CD-ROM but does not suggest how to plan the presentation. I can see two possibilities: presenting each part as a separate presentation or presenting it all at once. I estimate that each part could be delivered as a thirty-minute session at a board meeting. The full fifty-five-slide presentation could be delivered in a ninety-minute presentation at an orientation workshop.
I sure wish that I had had this package when I was an executive director! It would have been an essential element in my board-orientation program. But I’m glad I have it now. I will use it and gladly recommend it.
Nathan Garber is principal consultant in Nathan Garber & Associates in London, Ontario. His review is reprinted with permission by the author and by CharityChannel, on which it appeared previously online.