There’s a dimension to your budgeting you might be missing: Organizing your budget so you know what impact your money is achieving for you, and you know the costs connected to your goals. Sarah Olivieri returns to help you course correct. She’s the founder of PivotGround.
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and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast. We have a listener of the week Cheryl McCormick, she’s ceo of Athens Area Humane society in Athens Georgia. Cheryl is a longtime fan many, many year fan of non profit radio she blogged about the podcast once, putting it in her top five, that was years ago, she’s been listening a long time, she was in my plan giving accelerator class, the very first one um in fact she was the first person to sign up for the very first class and we finally met in uh in Atlanta Georgia just a couple of weeks ago and she was so gracious, she took her her afternoon off to meet with me and we spent hours getting to know each other even better, catching up learning more. It was just a it was a real pleasure to meet this uh non profit radio super fan for many, many years. So Cheryl McCormick, thank you, thanks for taking all that time to to see me, you’re our listener of the week also happy Halloween. Now that’s a week late uh I need an intern to blame because I didn’t realize that, I mean I knew Halloween was coming up, but when I was doing the show I just didn’t realize it was gonna be published on Halloween Day the 30 obviously 31st so um you know, I you’re stuck with a lackluster host what can I say I hope you enjoyed your Halloween I’ll leave it with that I’m doing the best I can without an intern to blame. Hope you enjoyed your Halloween and I’m glad you’re with me because I’d be thrown into our neuralgia if you inflamed me with the painful idea that you missed this week’s show, align your money with your goals, there’s a dimension to your budgeting. You might be missing organizing your budget. So you know what impact your money is achieving for you and you know, the costs connected to your goals. Sarah Olivieri returns to help you course correct. She’s the founder of pivot ground Antonis take two does this show sound better? We’re sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. It’s a genuine pleasure to welcome back Sara Olivieri. She has over 18 years of nonprofit leadership experience. She was co founder of the Open Center for autism, Executive director of the helping Children of War Foundation and co author of lesson plan Ala carte integrated planning for students with special needs as the founder and heart behind pivot ground Sarah helps nonprofits become financially sustainable world changers. Her company is at pivot ground and at pivot ground dot com Sarah Welcome back to non profit radio Hey
tony It’s so great to be here.
It’s a pleasure to have you. Thank you very much and uh and thank you for sitting through that longer than usual intro to the show. I I had to shout out our listener of the week Cheryl and then I had to explain why I didn’t say happy Halloween next week last week. So thank you for sitting through that interesting through that. No
Now, you know I pronounced your name Olivieri,
you got it. But
do you just say Allah very,
no, no Olivieri
yes, thank you. Just lean into the italian sound. People think I’m italian because I kind of have a little bit of that look but it’s actually from the jewish side of my family but you know, I’m an honorary italian with an italian last name.
Absolutely. And you want to, you want to get every vowel sound in there. So thank you. Thank you for not doing olive very you’re
O L I V E I know you got to get the Olivieri.
Olivieri. Yeah, well the sarah kind of always wanted sarah that doesn’t sound italian sound not really, but I understand. All right. So you’ve got two great ones, uh, jewish and italian, I’m often confused for jewish people, people that I have a look that folks think is a jewish look. So I don’t mind it, we’re all suffering under our mothers. It’s all we all we all have the guilt from, from mothers so jewish or italian we share, we have that, we have that bond but let’s not, let’s not talk about oppressive mothering, let’s talk about organizing your budget, organizing you know what your money is doing for you so that you’re aligned with your goals. Let’s say high level, what could we be doing better?
Yeah. Well, first of all, so many nonprofit leaders are not like money. People, they don’t have M. B. A. S. They’re not like and their budgets scare them. So if you’re listening now and you’re like budgets like, please, no, I want you to know that we can make budgeting fun because high level your budget is like your financial strategy, right? It’s a map that tells you how your money can work and how well it is working, Right? So if you like things like having more money next year than you have this year, and if you like things like having incredible financial data to tell these amazing stories about the impact you are making and the impact you could be
you like to have money to pay your staff and equitable, you know, fair market value so that they’re not overworked and run down and living in poverty themselves. A budget, not just any budget is your very, very best friend. Because it’s the thing that if you know how to arrange it, will unlock the answers to how you get most of those things. And unfortunately most people’s budgets are not telling them those answers right now. And so hopefully we’ll be able to demystify that a bit today.
We absolutely will. Yes. We’re gonna we’re gonna achieve that. Hope. Alright. So, I should have called this budget is your friendly budget. Budget is your budget is fun and friendly.
Yes. Right. Love your budget.
Alright. Alright. Love your budget. Love your budget. I love how you were going to demystify and uh be upbeat about something that could be very uh dull if we’re not doing it right. So, but I can tell that you’re doing it right. You’re have manufacturers enthusiasm around budgeting. Okay. Um Where should we start? We need to start with vocabulary or is that
like any bit of vocabulary just to make sure that nobody is kind of getting lost in the weeds because whenever we talk about budgets were starting to bring in a little bit of financial vocabulary and um I don’t want to need to be lost if we’re using that language or if you hear it. Right? So um
Okay. Yes. Plus All
right. We don’t want to be in
it for you to be in jail when you say, you know net profit or something. Okay,
that’s right. And you know what I want to tell everybody who’s ever nervous about budgeting vocabulary. Is that different people use it in different ways. So, my number one tip, when it comes to vocabulary actually what you write in your budget is def find what you mean in the budget because one’s person’s gross is not someone else’s gross. And these terms, you know, you’re like that’s gross. right? What’s net, right? It’s not the same for everybody. And you might find yourself in a disagreement about these terms. Um and you could both be right and both be wrong. So um I just encourage you to like really eliminate the jargon and just describe what you’re talking
about, define like define it in a footnote or something like that,
define it right in the line item, right? Just put it right in the line item. So um so first of all, most, a lot of the numbers in the budget are either money in numbers or money out numbers, Right? So they’re now we’ve eliminated all the dragon, right? Either it’s money coming into the bank or it’s money going out of the bank. And then we have another set of numbers which are called assets and that means assets is the amount of money that you have kind of stored away, right? That it was already put in and stayed in or things that are worth money, right? So if you have property that could be turned into money stocks, that could be turned into money, right? All those things are worth money. And so if it’s worth money or is money just sitting around that’s your assets
to the money in money out, right? Money in. We have some terms like revenue, gross revenue, net revenue. Um These are all ways of talking about our money coming in and usually money going out is a little easier because we talk about like x expenses typically, and there aren’t as many words that we throw around to describe expenses. Um And then the last kind of category that I’m just gonna call measures for today. These are the most important numbers that are usually missing from most budgets. These are the things like percentages in your budget that tell you how the money is working and that’s where the secret is. And luckily for you is, most of these numbers are less than 100. So smaller numbers are easy for our brains to like look at and think about. And so looking at percentages telling the story about how our money is working is really, really important and we can talk later about what some of those
are. In fact, if the percentage Is equal more than 100, then we have a problem.
Of our of our assets or our expenses are okay. All right. So do we need to distinguish between revenue and gross revenue? You mentioned those two.
Yeah. So at the end of the day, so you’re always gonna look at all the money coming in in a budget. That’s usually what we call top line revenue, because usually at the top line of the budget. Right? So you want to be thinking about the total amount of money coming in and then you also want to be thinking about kind of breaking down where the money starts to go out and then how much is left over. So gross and net are terms that to describe how much is left over after certain kinds of expenses come out. So what I want to know is what’s my top line revenue and then after I’ve paid for my programs, um and especially like money that I wouldn’t have to spend if I didn’t have that program. So I want to know how much is left over after I paid my program expenses. And then I usually want to also know what’s left over if I not only paid my program expenses, but also paid my staffing programmatic expenses, like how much is left over after that, right in
my right? Just staff program expenses.
So all the program expenses and the staffing expenses of the program
staffing, expensive program but not staffing of other other functions,
not staffing of other functions.
We’re not there yet. Okay.
And then I get this number, some accountants call it contribution margin. A lot of people have never heard that, but basically it almost sounds like
a contribution margin. Anybody says that I’m putting them in jargon jail,
right? You’re like jargon jail. Right? So, but but what we’re talking about is how much money is left over after everything came in and you paid for all of your programs, how much money is then contributed to the general operating expenses, which you will never ever hear me call overhead. I call them operations. And the language we use in budgeting really matters. Right. And we all heard, but just in case somebody missed it. Right. Overhead is a good thing. And the reason is because overhead is operations and operations are critical to operating, right? No operations, no operating.
It’s also investment in potentially future,
work maybe you’re reserving for for a future ambition for a future purchase, maybe you’re reserving so these are all, you know? Yes, it’s it’s it’s it’s absolutely operational, but I also see as investment for the future
the and that’s essential your sustainability for God’s sake. So if people on your board are complaining that you have a reserve for something, you know, ask them. Well, don’t you reserve for future for future future recessions, don’t you reserve for future investments and expenditures in in new markets? So please sir, you know, be quiet
Yes, you should have a reserve. And when you get to the very, very bottom, people sometimes call the bottom line at some point, you’re going to have a number that if you are a for profit business, you might label it profit profit margin margin. When we hear that word margin, I don’t want you to be scared. It just means how much is left after something else taken out right? That’s all margin is right. It means we had money in and we took some money out and then we wanted to know how much, how much pie was left. Right. Do we have one slice left, two slices left, you know that
give an example of something margin, flush it out please.
Sure. So, um, you’re, so we just talked about contribution margin, right? That’s how much money is left after we took out program expenses and program labor, right? So if we take out all of our expenses, program expenses, labor expenses, operating expenses, everything what’s left at the bottom is also our margin. Some people call that net, but some people put net somewhere else. That’s just the total amount of money that’s left over after all of our expenses. Now we need that money and I want to reframe the way we think about that bottom line because people get like really focused on that bottom line, obviously you don’t want to be leaking money every year, year after year. However, it is okay to have less than nothing left over one or two years. If you spent that money to invest in something that’s going to bring in more money in the future, right? Not everything pays off in one year, right?
Staff, new staff, right,
new staff or building a fundraising department. Right? So if you don’t have a fundraising department
the people. So some people are making money, some people aren’t. So then at the very bottom, I want you to realize that, you know, kind of a rule of thumb I use is if the money left over, it needs to be at least equal to inflation, which on average is 3%. So if you don’t have 3% and what it was, what we have to define our terms, I’m always telling people define their terms. So this is where we get into those measures, right? So percentage is the amount of money that’s left over our margin, right at the very
Um, and what percentage of that
the total revenue that came in? Right? So if total revenue came in was 100,000, right? We wanted and we have $10 left, what percentage, you know, is $10
know, 100 or 100,000 whatever. So, and you know what, you don’t have to know how to do the math because any spreadsheet will do it for you. And I have a template that we can give away where the formulas are already in there. So, um, So, but that way we, we want that bottom bottom number to always be at least 3%, is the new zero.
It’s time for a break turn to communications. They sent their bi weekly e newsletter on message this week. And it had something that I think is interesting. It’s called three under the radar targets for your pr pitches and the three that they suggest our association publications trade and professional associations eager to hear about news regarding one of their members or latest advancements in the field, alumni publications and hometown newspapers. If your pitch is mostly about an individual, consider sending it to, uh, to uh, alma mater publications and, and hometown newspapers. And the third is e newsletters. They say you’ll likely have a few of these in your email inbox right now, like morning brew. Good, good, good. And the skim these folks published daily and offer the opportunity to get your news delivered to lots of loyal readers and they make the point that, you know, this is not the new york times or the Washington post or even the Chronicle of philanthropy. But you’ll get some, you get some coverage, you’ll get some exposure and you can use the, uh, use the content, repurpose it on, on your social channels. So linked to it, uh, that way also, and maybe on your blog as well. So it’s some coverage, right? I mean, it’s not the end all be all, but it’s three things that sort of are as they say under the radar and that is turned to communications. Clearly your story is their mission. Turn life into dot C O. Now back to align your money with your goals Folks in our high inflation period right now that we’re living in 2022, folks may ask, well, should it be higher now, should be eight or 9% or should it just be sticking with like 3-4 because that’s the average over over a long term and don’t have to worry about an annual fluctuation up or down. So
I think you know you can go either way certainly if we’re gonna have high inflation for a while, I’d be wanting more money left over right? But overall I want you to be trying to not have zero. Right? You if you have so 3% is the new zero. That means you’re just treading water. You want to be or you know if we’re at 5% inflation, you just and you’re at 5% you’re just treading water so you really want to be Probably and it will vary pro organization, I would want to be at least 10 to 15%. So that means I now have money to invest in next year. Right? So if I want more money next year than this year, I have to increase my operations around how I raise
means I have to put money into the money making machine so that it can make more money, right? Your fundraising function is a money making machine. And the fuel is money. You put money into the machine, you put a dollar in and you get a dollar 25 out or a dollar 50 out. Or maybe it’s even better. You get uh $2 out, right? But if you don’t feed the money making machine money so that there are people to run it. Um And materials and all the stuff you do to fundraise, you won’t have more money than next year.
Alright, alright, now some folks are gonna say so I just have to get this little thing out so you want you want rather than treading water, you want us to be doing a strong breast stroke?
Yes, right? Doesn’t that sound better? It
just felt like extending the metaphor
butterfly. If you feel like
you could do the butterfly, that would be that would be outstanding. Now some folks will say well, but the the the only way to there are two ways to increase your margin at the end of the year. Either increase revenue through feeding the fundraising machine or cut expenses.
now if you start getting into cutting expenses, what do you, you know, are we just cutting paper clips or are we cutting staff? Which could be very detrimental, cutting back on properties where we have outreach, you know, that could be very detrimental. So
put words in your mouth. So
No, no. So I I like to take all of my expenses and kind of mark them in my budget according to three categories. I like to be silly. I use three icons, I use a heart icon which means this expense is creating an impact. I use a money bag icon to say this expense is generating money, right? And then I use a picture of a toilet bowl to say this money, just goes out the door and it doesn’t make impact or money, right? And some things make impact and money and we want a lot of those, if you have an organization that all of your expenses are making impact and money are probably very, very healthy financially. So all the ones
right. Or you can put two icons in the one, you know, in the line. Now, if you start labeling the moneybag line items as your revenue generating expenses, if you want more money next year or the year after or tomorrow, you need to increase your revenue generating expenses. If you decrease your revenue generating expenses, what’s going to happen?
revenue, Right. So I think, and once those words are so powerful because watch somebody try to cut a revenue generating expense once it’s labeled like that, right? They’re not gonna do it now all of a sudden it makes perfect sense. And I, I saw this mistake happened at the beginning of the pandemic. I’ll never forget the first time I sent out an email to my list at the beginning of the pandemic, I got back all of these like auto responder emails of people who had were gone because they had been fired so many nonprofits cut their fundraising
that was like, that’s like cutting off your own feet, right? You need to increase. And as true with many, many disasters, you know, it turned out the pandemic was actually quite a good time for fundraising. All of my clients did better financially, not worse. And they were investing in revenue generating expenses in a time when they were going to need more
revenue. Yeah, it was a short time. It was a short term panic. Uh, and unfortunately there are organizations that and for profit as well, corporate as well that reacted panic wise, you know, knee jerk and um, and that I think in the, in the medium to long term that hurt all those, all those who did that. Um, yeah, that’s
rough times. Well, let’s get back to fun things like budgets. So here’s a big tip when it comes to lay out, right?
Just for fun friend. Remember that
my fun friend.
Budget a mere friend. This is your one of your fun friends. Okay. Yeah. Yes, We’re back to budget. All right.
So maybe I’ll just a little P. S. A a little budget advocacy to take us into happy times is I want your budget to be for you, right? The I. R. S. Has a version of your numbers that they want to see. And if you we get grants, foundations may have a version of a budget that they want to see. But first and foremost, I want you to feel that your budget the way it’s laid out is a tool for you, the nonprofit leader, right? That’s what it’s there for. This isn’t just something we need to throw to other people and yeah, you can have somebody rewrite it. So it satisfies somebody else. But I want you to really love it as the tool for you and lay it out the way it starts to tell you a story.
That’s right. You love your budget?
Yes. Budgets. Budgets are budgets are people too.
That’s right. So one of the ways I like to get my budget telling a better story that I don’t see anybody doing it. So simple is I like to take all of my fundraising revenue and expenses because your fundraising function is kind of like a business inside a business. Right? And I like to move it to the very, very back autumn of my spreadsheet. So I have revenue that comes from programs at the top. And then I take out the expenses from the programs and then I take out the operating expenses and then I get the true cost without fundraising of my nonprofit. And it might very well may be negative. It kind of depends if it’s appropriate for your non profit to be generating funds from its services. I do by the way, count, um, restricted grants that our first specific program as program revenue. Right? Because if you didn’t have the program, you wouldn’t have that revenue. That’s how I kind of divide the line. And then, so I get this, this is the true cost. So my nonprofit is negative. 200,000 to run all of our programs. Right? So we now know now we have, our true fundraising goal are true fundraising goal is, You know, 200,000 plus three
Right? And now, because have you ever been in front of a budget? I bet you’ve seen this tony where like, you know, you’ve seen various versions and they’re just kind of like monkeying with the fundraising numbers at the top. It’s like a game to make the bottom number go zero, right? Like it’s not necessarily based in reality, I’ve seen that happen on lots of
you know, budgets being presented to boards. So now we have the true, you know, fundraising goal and the true cost of running our nonprofit without fundraising. And then I have this little section where I have fundraising money in revenue, you could call it if you want, but we have the amount of fundraising money coming in is unrestricted money. And um, and the amount of money going out. Right? So what is our fund Raising staffing costs? What are, are you know, marketing expenses, communication expenses all around fundraising. And then I see how much is left over. Right? My fundraising margin, if you will. Right, this is so this is do I have $200,000 coming out to match my bottom line or let’s say if we have 200,000 at the bottom we want 300,000 out of fundraising. So now I know if it’s going to be enough, right? And what do I do if I want more, more fundraising money, I gotta, put
the machine, you
gotta feed the machine, you gotta put dollars in the machine. And then I also, there’s, this is where those measures come in and it’s harder to talk about these Over the radio. But, um, that to 300,000 out, I want to make sure that that’s a healthy percentage of how much I put into the machine, right? So I want to know is my machine working well, right? Do I put a dollar in and get a dollar out or do I put a dollar in and get 50 cents out? Now? The truth is, unfortunately, people measure this in different ways. So there isn’t like, you know, an industry norm that’s really well calculated for you to assess on, but certainly if you’re putting a dollar in and getting a dollar out, You’re not fundraising, right? That’s, that’s zero, that’s a total sum of zero. And, but what I really want you to watch then is year over year or even month over month. Um, is that, is that percentage increasing? Like, so maybe I put a dollar in last year and I got a dollar 50 out and then this year I put a dollar in and I got a dollar 75 out and then next year I put a dollar in and I got $2 out, right? So double your money is always pretty good. I like to benchmark against some other things like what’s the average return on investment, right? There’s another jargon term, right? Just means return is how much money comes out of the machine, Right? So your return is I put a dollar in and my return is $2 out. So I compare that to the stock market. You know, would we be better off just putting money in the stock market on average compared to our fundraising department? Can they beat the average? I’d say they should be able to beat the average otherwise just don’t have a fundraising department and invest in the stock market. Right? Um, um, so you can kind of benchmark around some other things, but really you want to be investing in and making a healthier and healthier money making machine and that percentage is how healthy you are.
And, and if the, if the margin is not where you want it to be. I mean, there are other reasons to have fundraising outreach, building long term relationships with corporate funders, individual donors, ultimately, hopefully leading to planned gifts. So there are, there are reasons why, as you had said earlier in the, in the short term, your margin may be negative on fundraising. You’re, you’re working to turn that around as relationships grow, whether institutional or individual, uh, as maybe events grow. Hopefully you’re not too event depending if
you measure those events, probably their margin is, you know, their percentage is probably much lower than your other activities
gets hard. Events get hard to measure then you should be measuring the staff time that goes into the events
that’s where you know your bake sale type events are not not sustainable. Not certainly not going to sustain your nonprofit. Um
so I just you know I just want to flush out a little bit when you said you know you may as well be in the stock market if you’re if you’re fundraising margin is zero but you’re building towards something.
much much more robust than you’re you’re working with now in the in the immediate term.
And probably you can make your fundraising department work way better than the stock market, especially in the long term. And that goes back to your budget being for you. It does not have to just be an annual budget. In fact I always encourage organizations to be looking at least three years into the future, right? Like real life doesn’t function on the calendar year, right? Like real life things develop over time and they don’t have to fit into that 12 month box. That’s for the I. R. S. Right. But your real budget should really consider like when is a reasonable expectation for us to be seeing that money coming back when we know it takes the you put the money in the machine. It’s not instantaneous. And some things like you know used to plan giving right? Plan giving has a really long time line, you put the money in the machine And it might take years. It might take 10 years, 20 years, but you could put a dollar in and get like $200,000 out, right? Like
huge. Um Let I I want to get to connecting your you’re connecting your goals to you, to your budget. But I but I want to make sure is there anything else that we should talk about around, you know, organizing the budget and seeing the impact of your money before we get, you know, specifically two goals.
Yeah, I think just that, you know, just like we talked about, right? That that percentage margin, right? That’s the the percentage of money that’s left over compared to how much came in is the number you can use over and over in your budget. That’s the number that tells you how well is this working? Right? So, if you want to know, so, you know, maybe you have three programs and you want to know, you know, how good is each program at making money, right? And they don’t all have to make money because we’re primarily trying to make an impact. But you can then take say how much money, you know, does this program being bring in and subtract all the program expenses including the people and then say what percentage of the money left over compared to the money that it brought in, Right? And then you can say, okay, out of these three programs Program A is great at making money. Program B is so so at making money And program de just, you know, eats money. It doesn’t bring in any money. It’s always in the negative. But that’s okay. And then like what we’re about to talk about measurement, but we might then say, well, pro program A is good at making money and it’s good at making an impact. So let’s do a lot more of Program A program B is so so at making money and you know what? It’s also so so at making an impact. Maybe we should consider getting rid of it, right? If it’s not really doing either. And program D. Maybe it’s gushing money, but it makes such a big impact. You’re like, this is totally worth it for the impact. And we can make up the difference with our fundraising.
Why do you go A B. D.
Oh, I don’t know. Abc I’m getting over from Covid. I may still have a little brain fog, right? You know, your
your numbers person, not a
not alphabet. The alphabet will work on work on the A. B. CS. And another in the next
okay, let’s connect all this to our goals.
it seems to me that’s something that you you seem to emphasize that folks are not not aligning the two, you’re budgeting with your costs with your goals.
Yeah. So one is like, you know, if you can measure your your money and how well you’re making money, right? Where are you able to make money either in programs or through fundraising? You can line that up now, right? Do you want to expand a program? Right, So that’s a common goal, right? We want to expand program d my favorite, maybe program C right? Program.
See that. So program, see we love program, see it’s helped 400 people this year, and we really want it to be helping more like 4000 people buy in the next three years, Right? So we want to expand that. So in order to expand that, we need to, you know, how much money are we gonna need to expand it? Right? And it always costs more to grow than to maintain, right? So for expanding, I’m always thinking extra money, extra money, not just the cost to run it. Um, And then we can say, okay, how do we, you know, is this gonna generate money as it goes to fund itself, its own expansion? Or do we need to simultaneously be boosting up? You know, improving the fundraising machine so that it can fund this expansion. So now you have kind of, you’ve connected the finances to the goal and you can start to make decisions like, okay, I don’t just need to write if you just said, oh, I’m gonna write a grant and pay for the expansion of this program. Well that always sends off red flags for me because I’m like that program, if it I need to know first, if it’s not gonna pay for itself 100% and its own growth, then I’m gonna get the grant, I’m gonna launch the program and then the grant’s gonna end and the program’s gonna be in trouble. Right? So I know that while the grant might be icing on the cake, I really need to invest in boosting up my fundraising machine, making it more more effective, efficient feeding it more money. I need to be putting money in there so that I can now expand and have another program. So every time I like to call a mission pie, right, there’s your programs and your money pie, that’s your money machine. So every time you want to make more mission pie, you probably also have to grow your money pie capabilities. And so a lot of people don’t do that. And then we get like huge programmatic operating costs and we don’t grow our fundraising capabilities simultaneously. So that’s one example,
it’s time for Tony’s take Two I think this week’s show sounds better. Am I in both of your ears this week instead of only your left ear or both speakers. If you’re on your desktop instead of only your left speaker, Pretty sure that I am and I am sorry about the past many weeks in august I upgraded audacity, which is the program that I use for post production, Like adding intro and outro and these Tony Take 2s and sponsor messages and cheap red wine. Of course you gotta gotta add cheap red wine, right That all that all gets added at the end later on in post production so that I’m not interrupting what I hope is a valuable conversation with guests. Right? No interruptions. I had the stuff later and something changed in the new version. After I upgraded audacity. I knew what was wrong. I knew it didn’t sound right, but I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Uh, and then finally I researched and I experimented and I did find the problem. So now the music is in both ears, The talk is in both ears and the problem is fixed and now things are back to normal. Uh, it had been quite annoying. I know to listen in one year but those days are over, we’re, we’re, we’re now in november and the technology, Well the technology has an advanced, the user has caught up with the technology that’s what’s happened. So that was annoying as sh it as I was listening to it and I was frustrated but the frustration is in the past brighter days now, starting in november. That is Tony’s take two. We’ve got boo koo but loads more time for align your money with your goals with sarah olivier t another
another is around. yeah. Around how we tell our donors and ourselves how good of an impact we make and whether or not it’s the best way to do it. Right? So this is where you’re in your budget and in the template I have, it’s fully laid out like this. You want to have kind of a a separate tab. Hold on. Let me start. Let’s
make sure we get this out. Where can listeners find the template?
We will let me see if I can tell you the link right now.
Is that pivot ground
pivot ground dot com. And I may have
you just click resources or something like that
if you click um free resources from the homepage. If you’re following along. Um, and there are a few places we can that you’ll have several resources.
Okay, what’s the template called that? We
template is the ultimate nonprofit budget,
nonprofit budget. It’s at pivot ground dot com. And click on, click on free resources. Okay. You needed that. You need that little parenthetical. Ok? Please please continue. I want to make sure folks can find this.
Okay, so let’s say, you know, let’s deal with you know, programs. See again, we’ll give it some more love. And we’ve started to measure its impact. Right? So, and this is tricky, right? There is not a direct correlation. Oftentimes, especially in human services measuring impact. You know, we’re kind of triangulating? It’s not like, oh, X number of people served well, how well did you serve them? Right. Was this like a life changing service or was this like you’re not homeless last night kind of service. Right. Um, so, but what, however way you can, can measure it and you can measure it in multiple ways, how many people you served in a day in a week, Right? Um, you can now then take those program costs and say, you know, divide, divide them by how many people you served and find out how, how much it costs to serve one person. And the math is all in the templates. I don’t want people to get like nervous about math, but there’s lots of examples. So, um, now we know
maybe, uh, maybe a little uncomfortable with math, but they definitely have their alphabet down.
That’s right. Which I clear I’m good with the math. Just not, not
properly radio listeners, very savvy, very savvy group. We have, we have the abc, we’ve mastered that recently, but we’ve mastered
it. Good for you. And I say,
we, I’m including myself in this.
That’s right. We’ve
mastered the alphabet. We can, we can rely on that baseline.
So let’s say, you know, it costs, you know, $500 to serve one person for one day. Now there’s a few things we can do with this, number one. We can tell a fundraising story. Like, hey, it costs $500 to serve one person for one day, how many people do you want to save? Right. Like, um, do you want to say one person half a person. Right. And we started actually just had this conversation with a client the other day. They help victims of domestic violence and the real costs of supporting somebody to leave their house. Often it’s women who are leaving with an average of two Children and leaving everything behind and now have a giant legal battle ahead of them as well as rebuilding their entire life from scratch. The cost to save a life of a victim of domestic abuse is very, very high. It’s in the many hundreds of thousands, Right? Um, so you can start to get a grip on what does the impact you’re trying to make cost? So, but besides telling a donor story, you can, and I really think you should start asking yourself, is there a way we can get the same result with spending less
Right? Because if we can do that, then we can get that result more and more and more. That’s how we begin to scale. That’s how we begin to say, Okay, last year $100,000 could get this amazing result for 100 people this year. The same $100,000 because we’ve changed the way we have designed to get the same result now serves 100 and 50 people right? Isn’t it better to serve 100 and 50 50 then 100 as long as the result is just as good. I’m certainly not suggesting we like fun results. Um, just to save money. Um, that’s not what we’re talking about, but, but we really want to ask that question like, you know, and just like we compared to the stock market right? Like is this help we’re providing that cost this amount of money? What else could we do for that money? You know, does this really make sense? Is that a really good amount of help? And you know, there’s, um, I think they’re called give directly, they’re a nonprofit that just gives cash. Um, they serve poor communities I think around the world and they’re very good at measuring this kind of thing. And they’re always comparing, you know, if we’re trying to solve this problem, like, um, you know, starving Children in this community, Is it more effective to open the soup kitchen and start feeding the Children or is it more effective to just give their parents cash or give the kids cash? Right. And again and again, you know what they find is just giving people cash free and outright no restrictions solves the problem at just as well, if not better for less money than building a whole
if you don’t know those numbers, you’re not gonna have that answer. There may be an easier way. There may be a better way, but you’re not going to know that if you can’t start measuring this kind of thing,
that’s also where investment in technology might be able to make a difference for you in terms of, you know, the way your scheduling, uh, the way you’re in taking, you know, maybe maybe your intake folks to use your client example of domestic violence victims. Uh, maybe your intake folks would be better served with tablets than paper or, or laptops and tablets or, you know, or, or phones than laptops. So, investment in technology may help, um, investment in processes or the designing processes. So that takes time. That’s, that’s a lot of introspection. That’s a lot of time because again, you know, you don’t wanna you don’t want to diminish the impact and you don’t want to treat your, your certainly your, your beneficiaries as anything less than people deserving respect. So I’m not saying hand them a tablet, but there may be process ways, technology ways, um, maybe different staff organization, but you know, it takes introspection to try to reduce, reduce friction, reduce costs and, and keep impact the same.
And that’s where you then get all of your, um, you know, I like to kind of like your, your tactical, your, your tactics related to your goals. So the goal is, um, you know, so I break goals down into like what’s the outcome that we don’t have control over and then the kind of related goal that we do have control over. So if the outcome goal is we want to now see if we can serve 150 people instead of 100 without spending any more money. And then the thing that you do have control over. Well let’s test, let’s set a goal to test new technology. Let’s set a goal to test new processes. Let’s set a goal to work with a consultant to improve the way we do intake. Um and then let’s see if these things start to have the the the total impact that we are hoping for. Um I had that with a large client human service organizations like 45 different programs and they had no central intake process or process to kind of move people between their different programs. They were mental health organization and a lot of people needed to go from one service to another, like maybe first they needed addiction recovery and then they needed peer support and housing support and then they needed job job support, right? So they really need to be taking a journey, but they didn’t have a way to take people on a journey. It was just kind of a free for all the person had to be their own guide. And so we kind of really went through with a fine tooth comb. How do people come in, what service are they coming in for? And then how do we begin to take them on this journey? So that because the more people who go on a complete journey the bed, the result is right. That’s how we go from making somebody just not homeless last night to making a lifelong impact for someone who now is in stable consistent housing, has a job and has become self sufficient and is able to manage their mental health and whatever other issues on an ongoing basis.
Um Let’s um let’s talk. We’ve we’ve you’ve identified some, but let’s let’s let’s identify some some of these important metrics. Like let’s kinda um I don’t mean summarize because we’re not necessarily finishing, but I’d like to put them all in sort of one place where people can say, well, these are important metrics for me versus you know, versus not so much more vanity or less important. Can we identify some of those?
Yeah, I think, you know, all the metrics around,
good are we at, right? The metrics that answer, how good are we at? So for you, whatever question you wanna ask of your budget, right? The budget is like, you know the secret Jeannie, you want to ask it? How good are we at making money? How good are we at serving? You know, people, how you know, how efficient are we at it? So um to kind of summarize to give you the answers. The budgetary answers, where to find those answers really is. How good are we at making money while you can find that answer per program by taking the income and all the expenses out and then seeing the percentage that’s left over. Right? And the dollar amount, right? Having $100,000 left over. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s bad. Right? But if we look at percentages, then we can really compare year over year. So we may not know if it’s good just by looking at one year, but if it’s improving year over year, then we can say, oh, improvement is good. We know that that’s good. Right? Um, we can then also
as a percentage of what what we’re spending on the program.
Right? So the percentage
exactly. So the percentage that you’re spending of the total amount that’s coming
That’s where we look at percentage. How good are we at fundraising? Right. You just look at the total fundraising income, subtract out the fundraising expenses and say what is left over, Right? So we can say how are we improving? Then we’re gonna look at that percentage year over year. We can look at that percentage and compare it to other things in the world that make money.
then we can also look at the total dollar amount. And answer the question of are we is our fundraising machine making enough money to cover our expenses?
Right? Making enough
right? Making enough So not how good is it? But is it making enough? That’s where we start to look at the total dollar amounts. Is it enough. Is it enough
subsumed in what you just described is the often cited cost of raising a dollar?
Yes. Yes. Now, you know the nonprofit space likes to use that amount and I think it’s helpful because it’s kind of very tangible, like, oh, you know, what is your cost to raise a dollar? But I like it less for two reasons compared to the percentage method because um, it’s hard to do the reverse math. So if I said like, hey, tony like if my cost to raise a dollar is 75 cents, How much money do I need to put in the money machine? If I want $250,000, Like it’s just not easy math, right? So, um, it starts to get easier if you look at percentages. Also, the for profit world doesn’t really use cost to raise a dollar, they use the percentage return on investment. And so if you want to, because there’s lots of other ways to make money. So if you want to compare how good your way of generating money is to another way of generating money. Like if you really are asking like, do we invest in our fundraising machine or do we invest in the stock market? Right. Um, that may be a real question at some point. And or not for all of your money, but for part of your money and um, you then, you know, need to have apples to apples, right? And so the percentage is that kind of apple that the for profit world uses to talk about, how good are we at making money. Um And so it’s easier to compare. Does that make
sense? Also you gave me long enough to calculate that.
If it costs 75 cents to raise a dollar and we want $200,000, we would need to put $150,000 recorders. Um Okay. Other other metrics. This is where we are metrics. But
yes, I think
we should know. Yeah.
So um so we covered how good are we at doing this? Is it enough? Right. And then when you get into per program, how much does it cost to make a unit of impact? Right. So one person and I recommend you maybe even kind of when I think about, you know, it’s hard to measure impact at nonprofits. But most recently I kind of like to break it into like levels right? Low level impact help somebody for a few days, medium level impact like made you know, a year long type of change and then high level impact like life changing and you could have multiple levels. And so you might want to kind of break your levels of impact into that. But you know, how much does it cost to make one unit of impact? That’s one metric, You know, and then is that good? Right. Is that, can we do better than that? Um and there that’s where we need to like compare the cost year over year. And we also need to look at um, metrics where we want to think about, are we able to scale this up? Are we able to grow this dramatically? So you mentioned bake sales earlier, bake sales are highly profitable typically. Right? Like people donate all the food, all the labor, you know, as long as your staff, you know, if it’s like a, you know, P. T. O. Type bake sale and you get to keep all the profit right? Cost is almost zero. profit is almost all that money that comes out. That’s your profit That’s the margin.
If everybody’s a volunteer, sure
if everyone’s a volunteer, but if you were to scale up a bake sale to the size of a county fair, not everybody can be a volunteer. You know, I have to have security and ticketing and a special location that can handle all those people all of a sudden our profit the money coming out of the machine comes way way, way, way, way, way down because bake sales are not scalable. You can’t grow it to a large amount. You can’t just say, you know, $1 in, gets me $2 out. Now I’m gonna put in $100,000 and get $200,000. No, no, not if you’re fundraising machine is a bake sale, your fundraising machine will break if you try to put, you know, 200,000 in. So you wanna be mindful as you look at, how good are we at Making money with our money machine you want? And this is the same for delivering an impact you want to be mindful of, would this work if we put 10 times as much in? Right. If we grow it 10 times as big, would it
break or we,
would it work? Right. Would we sink the ship? We break the machine? Would we overwhelm it? Or would it work? And you can ask the same question about your programs, right? You’re able to serve 100 people now? Well, what if 200 people showed up your door? What if 10,000 people showed up at your door? Could you, would you just, you know, 10 times as much or, you know, however many times as much of what you use to serve people? Right? You just scale up your machine, will it still work? Not always. Right. So, you wanna be mindful and you may see as you track your budget that how well something is working is getting worse and you’re like, but we’re doing more and more, why are we getting worse at making money? Let’s say. Um, and that’s because the thing your machine needs some tending to, because your machine is not designed, you know, to go that fast. It’s not designed to work at that level. And so that’s another thing we have to be mindful of,
Okay, anything else that we haven’t talked about that You want folks to know about our, our new fun friend, our our budget,
you know, I think just you know, in summary, right. The the answers of is this good, are we improving? Is it enough? It’s the same kind of calculation over and over again. And that’s why I want you. What I want you to take away is it’s not like we have to do a jillion different kinds of fancy things with our budget. It’s the same type of math and it’s the same type of questions. But those are very, very powerful questions. Is it enough? Is it getting better? Is it the best thing we could do Right? Those are things that your budget can tell you. And we’re basically using the same kind of formula is the same calculations again and again and
So it’s it’s simple. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll start to see, oh I can apply this here and I can apply this there and it becomes relatively easy.
Sarah Olivieri, pivot ground uh company is at pivot ground and at pivot ground dot com you’ll find her template and other resources at pivot ground dot com. When you go to free resources, Sara, thank you very much. Terrific. I have a new fun friend.
The the budget
budget. Well, you’re you’re a long time fun friend?
thank you again next week. Corporate funding with Lori’s Osk Roscoe. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I Beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. We’re sponsored by Turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c. O. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff shows social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott Steiner Brooklyn. Thank you for that. Affirmation Scotty. You’re with me next week for nonprofit radio big non profit ideas for the other 95% go out and be great.