Could your nonprofit benefit from a CFO?

Regardless of size or mission, every nonprofit organization must manage its resources
Could Your Nonprofit Benefit From A Cfo

Local nonprofits might serve the greater good, but their balance sheets and operations can be just as complicated as any for-profit business’s. When it comes to finances, nonprofit organizations face the same daily challenges as big corporations. Regardless of size or mission, every organization must manage its resources.

“Nonprofits can be just as complex as corporations, and yet they don’t always have the same resources to address their financial needs,” says Steve Sauer, director at BKD, a national CPA and advisory firm that has served clients across a wide range of industries since 1923.

With nearly 3,000 employees spread across 40 offices in 18 states, BKD works in every major market, with specialized teams and resources serving clients in almost every industry, including not-for-profits.

Most accountants will tell you that handling finances requires mastery of the details to provide reliable information to inform decision-making. With their mission-driven agendas and expectations, many nonprofits struggle to attend to important, high-level financial functions. Nonprofits need more than just bookkeeping. “Bookkeeping is the first step,” says Sauer. “To really thrive, an organization needs to understand the complete financial picture.”

“While most nonprofits could benefit from a CFO, many can’t afford to allocate valuable resources to get one,” as Sauer puts it. A CFO, or equivalent, can provide much-needed financial oversight, effective budget management and resource allocation, operations management, input for key decisions, and direct involvement in internal controls.  A good CFO can steer an organization through the always-changing economic landscape – even unprecedented times like our current economic environment. The result is that the organization’s executive director and operations teams can focus more exclusively on the mission, the strategy and the constituents it serves.

“This is where BKD comes in,” Sauer says.  “BKD’s Not-for-Profit Advisory Services can help organizations fill a key role in their organization at a fraction of the cost, by not only assisting with the recurring bookkeeping but also serving in a more strategic and operational role.  We can serve as both the financial team and the quarterback,” explains Sauer. “We can keep the books while also helping identify financial risks, leverage their financial and programmatic assets and connect them with experts on our team who can assist with the array of financial needs.”

From budgeting, audit preparations and internal controls assessments to strategic planning, financial forecasting and software implementation, BKD’s Not-for-Profit Advisory Services can serve in many different functions.

By contracting out its CFO or related functions, an organization can outsource some of the risks that come with unexpected or abrupt turnover, a CFO’s lack of familiarity or experience, and even vacations all while cutting administrative costs and achieving high-level financial services. Those elements really appealed to Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado Springs when it engaged BKD’s advisory services in the Spring of 2020.

Formed 65 years ago, Pikes Peak Marathon (PPM) is the second-oldest marathon-organizing group in the U.S. The famed Pikes Peak Marathon and Pikes Peak Ascent are among the internationally recognized events it hosts.

“We started as a very small organization, but with the popularity of the race growing to international status, we really had to look at our business model,” says Pikes Peak Marathon President Ron Ilgen. “The way we do business had to improve to that of a more professional organization, and with that came the financial side of the house. We reached out to BKD for their thoughts, what they could do.”

Over the course of several meetings, Ilgen became convinced BKD had the right solutions for the nonprofit’s needs. Those solutions included setting up a budget-friendly framework of what the organization could keep in-house versus what should be outsourced.

“They were very good about listening to us and what we were after and what we needed,” Ilgen says. “Also our budget. We worked together to come to a good agreement on how they can fill our needs at our budgeted amount. I was just very impressed how they took the time to customize their offering to our needs.

“BKD really showed us how they could be a partner in our efforts of ensuring accurate financial reporting and budgeting,” Ilgen continues. “Overall, we feel this will help guarantee the future viability of the organization.”

By offering highly customized solutions, BKD’s Not-for-Profit Advisory Services team endeavors to build an organization’s capacity, maximize its resources and assume some of the  risks while freeing up valuable resources to allocate to the most important mission — the people it serves.

(This sponsored content was provided by BKD CPAs & Advisors.)


  • Steve Sauer, BKD director:
  • Wendy Neal, nonprofit consultant:
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