Stuff happens–staying agile. 

Joan M. Renner, CPA, CGMA, Director 501(c)(fit!)

How about an extra week of vacation?  That’s just what happened to us during the recent hurricane.  Fortunately, we were in Aruba, far South of the tragic devastation of hurricane Irma.  It did take a week for us to get a flight out of Aruba to come home.  An extra week in Aruba?  Complaining about that would be like saying there’s not enough icing on my birthday cake.

You know what it’s like before you go away.  We worked hard to handle everything we could think of before leaving.  We just didn’t know what we didn’t know.  When we found out we weren’t going to be back when expected, we had to change some plans quickly.  Fortunately, we have a great team and everything worked out fine at the office, in our volunteer work and at home.  Ultimately, we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to get a breather. 

Our bonus week gave me a chance to think a little about how this relates to financial leadership. When unexpected developments affect your nonprofit, how can you be agile enough to ride the wave and come out on top?

What can we learn?

Network for impact.  Stay informed about what your community needs and what resources you can mobilize to meet those needs.  Cultivate contacts in your government, with neighboring organizations in your field and with service and funding partners in your community.  When a new need arises, you’ll be ready to partner with those in your network for maximum impact.

Build your followers.  Communicate regularly with your supporters through email and social media.  When a new need arises, you’ll be ready to deliver your message.

Assess your risks.  Engage your Board in a risk assessment process to identify your organization’s most severe risks and prepare to address them.  Learn more about how to facilitate your organization’s risk assessment process.  (

Flex your budget.  Break down your budget by month in QuickBooks.  If current circumstances change, you’ll be prepared to see how you expect the rest of the year to go, and make new plans as needed.  Prioritize programs and initiatives in case you need to put off a less important project to make room for a new impact-related need.  Learn more about budgeting in our 501(c)(fit!) live 2-day financial leadership training seminar session, Building Your Budget—and putting it to work.

Prepare to oversee the finance function.  Learn more about our Financial Leadership Training for Emerging Nonprofit Professionals.  Our live 2-day 501(c)(fit!) seminar prepares new nonprofit leaders to exercise their oversight responsibilities over the finance side of the organization in areas such as governance, financial reporting, streamlined accounting systems, budgeting, controllership, nonprofit tax and more.  Registration now open for upcoming fall sessions in Alexandria, Richmond and Virginia Beach . 

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