Great Financial Management
By Sidni Shorter In Financial Leadership Posted December 24, 2013 0 Comments

Great financial management: the road to smart growth

Christy Ross is like so many of us who are drawn to the nonprofit sector. A connection to something greater than ourselves is what spurs us on every day. Ross was compelled to apply for her new position because she wanted to be part of the incredibly powerful purpose. Last year, she accepted a position as executive director for the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Outreach (AAAneurysm Outreach) national headquarters in New Orleans.

In 2000, AAAneurysm Outreach was founded by Sheila Arrington, who lost her father at a young age when he abruptly died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. His swift passing prompted Arrington to learn everything she could about the reasons for his massive rupture. She quickly discovered this type of aneurysm is a silent killer—in other words, asymptomatic. Digging deeper, Arrington found that easy, non-invasive screenings could be conducted to detect and effectively manage potential victims of AAA.

Soon thereafter, Arrington founded AAAneurysm Outreach to raise public awareness, provide free screening services to at-risk populations and create a support network for individuals and families impacted by or at risk for AAA. “My father isn’t here today because of AAA and I am passionate about increasing public awareness for this condition. As an organization, we’re very fortunate to be in a position to extend our reach nationally while empowering individuals and healthcare professionals across the country to take action against this silent killer,” shares Arrington.

Today, Executive Director Christy Ross and her team celebrate more than 10,000 screenings and are actively pursuing a national expansion to reach individuals who are at risk as well as physicians who are in a position to help AAAneurysm Outreach spread the word.

Arrington and Ross involved Execute Now! during a time when they felt the organization was poised to grow, but they also knew significant growth required a more strategic approach to managing the financials. “Sheila saw a story in the Baton Rouge Business Report about Erica Crenshaw and Execute Now! so she recommended we meet with her. During our meeting, we explained while we were currently small, our goals for expanding national screening programs were ambitious,” says Ross. Crenshaw explained Execute Now! customizes their services to meet the needs of both small and large nonprofits.

Ross found Execute Now!’s approach extremely helpful for their anticipated growth. “They did a great job of taking the reports and systems we currently had and adapting them to a more sophisticated and informative system. We not only have the projections and forecasting we need to make important long view decisions, but our day-to-day management of accounts is more efficient,” claims Ross.

Ross is also quick to explain that having a partnership with Execute Now! is like “having an objective second set of eyes.” Too often, nonprofits handle the blur of daily accounting responsibilities while trying to keep track of long-term projections. Overwhelmed, nonprofits can miss red flags or financial errors.

Another pivotal relationship in AAAneurysm Outreach’s move toward a national presence has been a connection with Medtronic. As a corporate partner, Medtronic has helped AAAneurysm Outreach in numerous ways. It has assisted with social media and publicity, leveraged other supporters, worked with the board and prompted AAAneurysm Outreach to think strategically.

When I asked Ross what she wanted to tell her fellow executive directors about financially managing a nonprofit, she said, “Two things: First, take your financial management very seriously—not only the day-to-day, but the long view. Second, call Execute Now! and explore what they can do for you. Whether you’re small or large, they can help you grow your organization.”

By Denise McMahan, CausePlanet


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