Helping nonprofits become stronger financial managers.

June 27, 2014

Know Where You Are in the Nonprofit Lifecycle and Get Ahead of the Game

I was able to get away for a couple of weeks this past month for some R & R, which included a short trip to Santa Fe with my wife, Carol, and a five-day bike tour with friends through Utah and Western Colorado. This much-needed downtime cleared my head and re-energized me to do better for my team members, clients and the nonprofit community.

I ran across a book, “Nonprofit Lifecycles,” by Susan Kenny Stevens, who has served as an organization development consultant, Board member and CEO for nonprofits. She does a masterful job of relating growth-stage theory to nonprofit organizations. Growth-stage, or lifecycle theory, has been around for a long time but is more often discussed and used in the context of small- to mid-size businesses. She outlines seven lifecycle stages that are clearly definable for nonprofits:

  •     Idea
  •     Startup
  •     Growth
  •     Maturity
  •     Decline
  •     Turnaround
  •     Terminal

Each stage presents its own set of predictable challenges. For example, the most dynamic stage is growth, the transition between startup and maturity, which is characterized by the mission and programs having taken hold in the marketplace, but where service demand exceeds the organization’s structural and resource capabilities.  Typical challenges include: too much to do, too little time, developing Board ownership, creating strategic focus, developing and identifying distinctive competence, beginning to formalize organizational structure, diversifying revenues and tracking financial results. To achieve and build capacity at each stage requires the complete balancing and alignment of the nonprofit’s programs, management, governance, resources and systems. Some semblance of this equilibrium is necessary for the organization to move onto the next stage.

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Please feel free to contact me at 303-367-1058 with any comments or questions.

Warm Regards,

Lee Bengston

Fraud Detection Tools Built into Accounting Software

In place of the financial management best practice of the month, let’s talk about fraud detection tools that are built into accounting software. These tools go beyond audit trails, which most software packages contain. Few have dynamic capabilities that constantly monitor actions and transactions by users and trigger alerts or launch preventive actions. In a previous best practices’ article, we focused on the accounts payable function as a high-risk area for fraudulent activity and suggested some investigative and preventive actions, which were mostly external and paper-oriented. Wouldn’t it be great to have this capability built into the system. For example, it would have the ability to automatically suspend access to the system upon employee termination.

Abila MIP Fund Accounting software users recently received the latest release that contains a number of features for detecting and deterring fraud. It represents an ambitious first step among the genre of robust nonprofit accounting software products that others will emulate. Per the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, nonprofit fraud accounts for a $40 billion a year loss, occurring in more than 20% of organizations over their lifetime (read the complete study). While the new capabilities are certainly no guarantee of total prevention, they should make an impact and continue to evolve and improve as the perpetrators become smarter.

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Download: How Can Your Organization Detect and Deter Fraud?

Articles of Interest

As an added feature to our newsletter, we list articles that we have run across which we feel are relevant to nonprofit financial management. They are not listed with any immediate editorial comment nor have we re-blogged them. Just click on the article to go to the source. You can go to our blog for a cumulative list of articles.
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Contact us for a financial management assessment and to find out more about how NFP Partners can help you.


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July 22, 2014 - 10:00am MT

How to Achieve Greater Fundraising Success!
July 8, 2014 - 10:00am MT

July 22, 2014 - 10:00am MT

Streamline Your Grant Management Process
July 16, 2014 - 1:00pm MT


Friday MIP Bash

Our first two virtual MIP forums were a success! In response, NFP Partners is moderating a third session on Friday, July 18 at 10:00am MT. Please be on the lookout for an invitation.

Colorado Nonprofit Financial Manager Peer Group

The Colorado Nonprofit Financial Manager Peer Group is an educational networking group for Colorado nonprofit finance professionals. Its purpose is to offer a forum for professionals in the field to network, exchange ideas and resources, and learn about best practices and new developments in the field of nonprofit accounting. Please visit the group's meetup site to register and view upcoming events.

Next Event:

CNFP Monthly Meeting - Federal Funding
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Location TBD
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If you have questions, please contact Jessica Taylor at


New Clients

NFP Partners would like to welcome the following new clients:

Community Connections, Inc. (Durango, CO) - MIP implementation
Community Development Corporation of Utah - MIP consulting
Denver Early Childhood Council - Interim accounting services

NFP Partners Offers Private Cloud Hosting

NFP Partners offers state-of-the-art, private cloud hosting services for accounting software through our affiliated Abila Business Partner, NonProfit Technologies, Inc. The service is available to licensed users of Abila MIP Fund Accounting and the QuickBooks desktop editions (Pro, Premier and Enterprise).

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