October 23, 2023

Strengthening Your Nonprofit Finance and Accounting Team

By David M. Capossela, Manager, Advisory Services

Strengthening Your Nonprofit Finance and Accounting Team Nonprofit & Social Sector

Nonprofit finance and accounting teams are experiencing challenges in attracting and retaining talent, and for many, maintaining the same level of effectiveness in their staff development has been increasingly difficult.

As organizations work to adapt their methods for today’s hybrid workplace, many struggle to mimic the same growth opportunities that once existed in person, with staff development slowing as a result.

For some organizations, hiring and developing an individual with less experience, who is eager to learn and grow into the role needed, is often easier than trying to find the perfect fit at the right level in today’s sparse market.

Whether you are looking to develop your team within their current roles, further elevate team members, or seek to hire and develop talent, taking an active coaching approach will help to ensure your organizational needs are fulfilled.

Coaching vs. Mentorship

Coaching, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the act of instructing, directing, or prompting as a coach. Mentorship, as also defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is when guidance or advice is provided by the mentor, influencing the personal and professional growth of the mentee.

The critical difference between a mentor and a coach is who drives the relationship. In a mentor/mentee relationship, it is up to the mentee to drive the relationship, focusing on the mentor supporting the mentee with their goals. In a coaching relationship, the coach plays an active role in driving the relationship. They monitor and measure performance, and through instruction or demonstration, the coach proactively seeks to help their team member reach their full potential.

For organizational leaders, it is just as essential to be an active participant in developing the individuals on your teams as it is for your team members to wish to pursue development. By cultivating an environment of open communication, offering leadership opportunities where your teams feel ownership, and establishing a practice of providing opportunities for growth, today’s nonprofit leaders can build a strong and efficient finance and accounting team.

Open Communication

Having organic and impromptu conversations has long been a benefit of working in teams. This type of collaboration facilitates personal growth, technical development, and helps generate innovative ideas. Many people associate the phrase “organic conversations” with an in-person office space. In this hybrid world we now live in, it is important to find ways to continue having this type of workplace collaboration.

Even more than before, it takes being intentional to create opportunities where teams can have conversations, establishing open lines of communication between team members. This is essential to continue facilitating free-flowing conversations that prompt ideas and questions from your team.

Open and ongoing communication allows management to gain an understanding of where their team members’ strengths and growth areas are. Knowing these areas will aid in determining what forms of coaching and learning opportunities will be most effective for each team member to further develop within or beyond their role.

Talent development requires understanding your team. Once that understanding is established, leaders can facilitate open and ongoing conversations that will lead to individuals feeling more connected to your organization’s purpose and goals.

Cultivating Opportunities

Effective and efficient teams are made up of individuals who understand their tasks and how they fit into the roles and responsibilities of others within their organization.

Effectiveness is reached when everyone understands the tasks they perform. Efficiency is attained when each individual understands how their duties fit with the tasks performed by others on their team. 

To build this foundation of understanding, leaders should begin by identifying opportunities that can be provided to their team members to aid with expanding that individual’s exposure to other aspects within the finance and accounting operations.

Perspective is invaluable. Offering the opportunity to others to gain exposure to new tasks will provide them with experience that improves their understanding of how day-to-day work fits into the bigger picture or even help them develop their skills and advance within the organization.

Nonprofit organizations that take an active role in developing their teams will find that they are more capable of managing change and creating a more collaborative and inclusive workplace. As finance and accounting teams within the nonprofit industry navigate staffing shortages and the transition to hybrid work, this is more important than ever.

Talent development and active coaching are also valuable at all levels within an organization, including management. Marcum’s Client Accounting & Advisory Services group can lend a hand if you are unsure where to start. Our team is passionate about helping nonprofit organizations thrive and has years of experience offering best practice advice, internal control recommendations, and technology solutions. Whether you are looking to kick-start your path to organizational efficiency or are looking for coaching at the executive level, our team would love to hear from you.