In 2000, Mary Ann Passi, CAE, took over the
executive reins of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), the association representing the professional interests of nutrition
educators in the U.S. and internationally. At the
time, the group had only $17,000 in the bank.
Fast-forwarding the clock to the close of the
most recent fiscal year, and the society’s financial outlook paints a much different picture.
While Passi, currently executive director of
the Corporate Housing Providers Association,
wouldn’t classify herself as a financial guru, she
certainly helped pave a new path of sustainabil-ity for the SNEB. The organization also serves as
a solid example that when it comes to financial
turnarounds, faithfully applying some relatively
simple, yet often overlooked, association management concepts can make all the difference in
Where does developing a management level
of financial acumen start? Answer: With a task
often dreaded by the financially timid - the budget! It has worked for SNEB and countless others. It can work for you.
So stop dreading the process. There’s no
need to be intimidated.
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone
Far too many executives hole themselves up in
their office at budget time, refusing to make
contact with the human race until they pound
out their association’s financial road map for the
next year. While some certainly have a knack for
number crunching, many of us lack that gene,
and there’s no need to barricade yourself in your
own personal stress cave to prove your financial
prowess. In fact, even for those with the gift, you
are arguably doing your organization a disservice
by developing an operational budget in a
When Jackie Williams, a CPA by trade,
assumed the executive role for SNEB in 2008,
The result is a board and staff team that is
more apt to be on the same page when it comes
to financial needs and performance, from devel-
opment through execution.
Yes, the CEO may have ultimate accountability
for the organization’s operational success, but
positive results are far more likely when there is
a sense of ownership and responsibility at the
departmental level. Truly owning financial performance at the staff level, however, isn’t likely
to happen by merely telling your staff to make
it happen. The staff needs to feel invested; they
need to be able to appreciate the impact they
can have. That is far more likely if their input is
sought from the beginning.
Staff members know the needs of their respective areas better than anyone else since they
are immersed in them every day. What they may
not understand is the direct correlation of their
piece to the whole financial puzzle. Take the
time to share regular financial information with
your staff so they better understand how revenue
and expenses flowing through their department
impact the bottom line.
Similarly, don’t assume your board understands how decisions in one area can have lasting effects on overall financial performance.
4,900% cash increase and a reserve goal established and met in
just over a decade. Not bad for a 50-year-old organization struggling
to make ends meet just 16 years ago. A