Website of the Month: Nonprofit Finance Fund

Article excerpt

The Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) is a community development institution with a 30-year history of providing financial resources and management advice to nonprofit organizations. NFF, whose motto is "where money meets mission," uses its financial knowledge to offer loans and grants, consulting, and group education for free or at low cost. CPAs who advise nonprofit organizations, serve on boards of directors, or volunteer their expertise and services can find some excellent information and tools on the organization's website, www. nonprofit financefund.org. It offers access to free online resources such as articles, case studies, surveys, worksheets and checklists, web chats, and webinars.

The home and main pages rely on a common main menu sidebar that lists the website's major categories: services, initiatives, resources and articles, NFF news, events, FAQ, and the NFFs four regional offices. The menu links to the main pages offer a secondary index of category-specific topics and materials. The homepage highlights some of the site's resources, such as news articles, recorded presentations, a link to annual survey results, and topics of recent blog posts. The NFF website makes it very easy to access the organization's contact information; email addresses and telephone numbers for its eight offices are included at the bottom of every webpage.

As an example of the high quality and on-point financial guidance provided on the NFF website, the following is a quote from the website's "Guide to Navigating Changing Times:"

The recession . . . reveals the precarious state of a sector that is continually asked to do more with less. This crisis presents funders and government with an opportunity to substantively change practices that perpetuate inefficiency and stymie innovation and growth. ... This recession is forcing the issue of how to better invest in what works for the benefit of society.

Publications

NFF conducts an annual survey of nonprofit managers and makes the results freely available in a variety of formats, such as executive summary brochures, slideshow presentations of the general findings, detailed respondent comments, and spreadsheet summaries of the data. The 2011 survey revealed that the economic recovery has been slow for the nonprofit sector and constrained resources have made it difficult to meet ever-increasing demands for services. More than half of respondents did not believe their organizations could meet demand in 2011. Even more concerning is the 63% of "lifeline" nonprofits that expected to be unable to meet demand. Half of all survey participants indicated that the type of support they most needed was unrestricted general operating funding.

The aforementioned "Guide to Navigating Changing Times" presents frequently asked questions and answers, which often contain links to additional resources. The same materials are available throughout the website, but the guide saves users time by identifying items from sections of the website that CPAs might not normally investigate. For example, the question, "What is the impact of recession on the nonprofit sector?" provides summaries of the annual surveys mentioned above. Another question, "What should my nonprofit consider doing during this financial crisis?" offers links to a self-assessment worksheet and questions to assess and address risk. Finally, "How should my nonprofit handle a facility project during the recession?" includes a link to an NFF webpage on the New Markets Tax Credit program.

The website's research and guides section contains case studies, planning guides, studies and reports, survey results, tips, videos, webinars, and worksheets. Many of these resources would be quite useful for CPAs working with non-accountants at nonprofit organizations. Case studies include "Appreciating Depreciation: Thinking Strategically About Fixed Assets," which addresses the need to fund regular maintenance and renovation, items that are often not provided for by capital campaign donations. …