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Money Matters: Understanding your organization's financial situation

By Catherine Beltmann

Nothing seems to intimidate or inspire fear in more nonprofit employees than the thought of having to read their organization’s financial statements–well except for those of us who actually know how to make those numbers make sense. At last week’s Emerging Leaders Network Lunch, we—with the help of Michael Anderson from Nonprofit Assistance Fund (NAF)—turned fiscal fear into projected growth.

I started working for the Citizens League in 2008, and only a month after being hired I found out—along with the rest of our staff—that an audit done by our new accounting firm had uncovered a deficit. It showed our expenses for the year would exceed projected income. How did we stray from the shallow end to deep financial waters? As it turns out, we’d done a really good job of raising restricted funds, but had not raised enough unrestricted funds to help cover general expenses. Our new firm determined that the financial statements we were using didn’t allow us to appropriately track our restricted and unrestricted balances.

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It: The Insider scoop

Since the landing of the economic hurricane in 2008, professional development has remained a prominent buzzword for young nonprofit professionals (YNPs). With an overwhelming number of professional development opportunities in the Twin Cities, it was great to get the inside track on some of the advanced degree programs, networking opportunities, and trainings and workshops at YNPN-TC's  Insider event.

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The World Cafe Model | A forum for gathering collective knowledge

main.jpgMy name is Catherine, and I'm an eventoholic. I LOVE events! Mention the possibility of attending an event, planning an event, or hosting an event, and I’m all over it. But this post isn't about me (or the potential events anonymous group I probably need to attend). This is about an exciting event trend I was first introduced to at a Torch event, and have continued to see at subsequent events: The World Café model.

What is it exactly? The World Café website explains this model as “an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work, or community.” So in other words, peer advice on anabolic steroids.

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A few good mentors

Emerging into your professional self is a lot of work. The through line isn’t apparent, and in that moment, it appears as if you’re just muddling along. But, you don’t have to muddle alone.

At the June Emerging Leaders Network Lunch  on mentoring, a friend who was in my cohort at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Institute identified me as one of her mentors. (I would have self-identified her as a peer with a certain skill-set.) Throughout our conversation about mentors and mentoring, it was clear that many of us simultaneously occupy both roles. 

In our jobs and as volunteers, we are often called on to help others. But at the same time we are also finding our way, developing and honing skills, and building our networks. This dynamic is one reason I find mentors and peer networks so appealing.

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