Case Studies

Helping a Threatened Youth Program Survive

Client Profile: A Brooklyn-based non-profit organization, founded in 2005, that provides academic support and artistic development for disadvantaged youth through:

  • Academic assistance including homework help, tutoring, SAT preparation, counseling and parent engagement
  • Artistic development including participation in a marching band and on a drum line which performed at President Obama’s inauguration, and was the official drum line for the NY Nets and Knicks.

Presenting Challenge: When the executive director suddenly left, the very survival of the organization and the services it offered was at stake. The new executive director determined that outside assistance was necessary. The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) recommended that they turn to The NonProfit HelpDesk (NPHD) for help, with DYCD paying for NPHD’s services.

The organization was in crisis, with no bank balance, no 990 filings (placing the organization at risk with the IRS) and no fiscal or HR policies or procedures in place. There was no fundraising plan. The board of directors had met only once since 2004, and had no defined role.

NonProfit HelpDesk Solution and Results: The NPHD consultants recommended that the executive director carve out time to dedicate to fundraising, and helped him develop a fundraising plan, including how to approach multiple potential funding streams. As a result of this, the organization raised $75,000 in the first fiscal year and $150,000 in the second year.

NPHD helped the new executive director revamp his management and board and put a board development plan in place. New volunteer leaders were recruited. A new nonprofit structure was created with adequate fiscal controls, reporting and 990 filings.

As a result, children’s participation in the program returned to prior levels and above, and the scope of activities was expanded to two more schools.

 

Coaching Support for a City Agency in Transition

Client Profile: A large city agency going through a significant transition

Presenting Challenge: A new executive director was coming on and a major, multi-year modernization project was being initiated. The leadership team needed preparation for working together under conditions of higher ambiguity and change during modernization, and in a new leadership structure.

NPHD was asked to conduct an executive coaching program for eight agency program directors, to support the changes taking place in the agency.  

NPHD Solution and Results: The executive coaching programs were delivered utilizing the NPHD TREE® method for creating sustained behavioral change. Each director received a leadership assessment battery, and then completed a Strategic Development Plan based on the results of the battery. Each plan was reviewed and subsequently approved by the Executive Director.

Significant results were achieved both for the individuals involved and for the organization. All participants reported progress against their individual development plans. Directors developed their capacity for thinking and acting strategically, for creating innovative solutions for achieving business goals, and for driving performance through their own coaching skills, and reduced micromanagement.

Cross-functional collaboration was increased, directors showed greater comfort acting in a leadership role, and feedback to direct reports and peers was improved. The directors reported business impacts including improved productivity, better quality of work, and better customer service. They were highly satisfied with their coaching experience.

 

Cultural Sensitivity Training at a  Health Services Referral Center

Client Profile: An entitlement program assistance agency in Ocean County, NJ, serving 97,000 area residents, including approximately 20,000 seniors, a large portion of whom speak Spanish.

Presenting Challenge: The organization needed to maximize what they could achieve with the Federal funding they received.

NPHD Solution and Results: Staff members took part in an intensive interactive coaching program customized for their organization. The program emphasized interpersonal skills between employee and client, simulating scenarios where cultural sensitivity was needed. In between the two coaching sessions, bilingual signs were ordered and installed so that more of the clientele would feel welcome and assisted.

 

Ramping Up a Community-Building Organization

Client Profile: A Brooklyn-based non-profit organization, founded in 1998, dedicated to promoting community cohesion and increasing the quality of life. The organization offers community residents education programs and support with parenting, housing issues, immigration problems. They provide entrepreneurship programs and support to young people, including truancy intervention and pregnancy prevention programs.

Presenting Challenge: Before engaging with NPHD, the organization’s only source of funding was annual funding from the federal government. The organization had no fundraising plan. Management was occupied with day-to-day crises and had not been able to consider broader strategic and operational issues.

NPHD Solution and Results: The NPHD helped put a fund-raising plan into place, addressing both additional federal sources and private foundation sources. As a result of these efforts, the organization obtained:

  • Two new five-year federal grants
  • Grant funding that increased their budget almost threefold, from $350,000 to $950,000.

The NPHD also conducted an overall assessment of the agency, assuring that adequate time was carved out for strategic issues. The organization’s management acquired an appreciation for best practices in managing a non-profit. The NPHD also helped them develop a budget plan and process.

Job descriptions were created for the first time, making the agency’s staff more efficient and helping them better serve the community. The sum of these changes allowed management to ramp up to an “I can “ attitude that helped propel further success.

 

Building a Financial Foundation for a Girls’ School

Client Profile: An Orthodox Jewish school for girls in Brooklyn, New York

Presenting Challenge: The school’s Program Director had been given responsibility for fiscal management, and was presented with the challenge of preparing for her first audit. She had no background in financial services.

NPHD Solution and Results: NPHD conducted an initial assessment of the organization’s fiscal situation, identifying specific training needs for the Program Director. We also found that not all money allocated in contract for the fiscal year was spent.

NPHD’s fiscal trainer provided training for the Director, including homework assignments to give her real-time experience for the audit and for accounts management. The organization’s QuickBooks setup was tightened up and customized.

Training in many aspects of bookkeeping was so successful that the impact was immediate: A successful audit, improved budget modification process, and proper accounts management. The Director was able to handle fiscal management on her own and was also able to expand the organization’s program based on the organization’s improved fiscal health.

 

Assuring Appropriate Financial Management for an Arts Organization

Client Profile: A Bronx nonprofit providing art education, studio and exhibition space to encourage artistic vision and leadership to their urban community.

Presenting Challenge: When the organization lost their bookkeeper, the office manager had to step into the role. While she knew the basics of bookkeeping, she needed stronger skills to provide the organization with effective financial management.

NPHD Solution and Results: NPHD trained the office manager in automated accounting, the use of cost centers, financial reporting, and budgeting. The organization is now better positioned to procure additional funding because financial reporting is more accurate and comprehensive. Reporting is now available on a program and funder-specific level.

The client saved the annual cost of a bookkeeper because the office manager was able to take over financial responsibilities.

 

Providing the Underpinnings for Growth

Client Profile: A Queens community organization that links community, cultural, and economic objectives. The aim is to promote tourism and development, and to strengthen community ties using the inclusiveness inherent in the arts.

Presenting Challenge: Due to staffing constraints, the nonprofit’s Executive Director had to prepare the organization’s financial reports. They needed to put stronger financial systems in place and implement the use of financial software.

NPHD Solution and Results: NPHD showed the Executive Director how to make effective use of QuickBooks, and provided oversight for one year, reinforcing proper financial reporting and maintenance via QuickBooks.

The Executive Director was able to produce financial reports for the Board of Directors in less time with more confidence, and “talk to the board using the accounting terms they understand.” With QuickBooks producing the reports, grant reporting was much faster, funding cycles and monthly reporting were easier to handle, and the Executive Director could focus more attention on her programs, not her bookkeeping.

Since NPHD provided the service, the organization has grown to serve a 40% larger population.

 

Helping a Nonprofit That Helps Nonprofits

Client Profile:

A large organization dedicated to advocating for New York City nonprofits at the State government level. Since 1991 they have strengthened thousands of nonprofits’ organization and outreach capacity.

Presenting Challenge: At the time of the consulting engagement the organization did not have a full time CFO. The organization was exposed to financial and regulatory problems due to the very strict and sometimes complicated system of funds management required of nonprofit organizations.

NPHD Solution and Results: The NonProfit HelpDesk provided a part-time financial consultant to work with the auditor and to take ownership of the books. Accounting systems were realigned to be more efficient. The consultant established a system of manageable codes that helped to avoid compliance errors, preventing additional audits and possible funding lapses.

The impact of “worrying less about the books” allows them to concentrate on their mission of providing services for 185 nonprofit members who in turn serve hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers daily.

 

Implementing a Database to Support Outreach and Donations

Client Profile: A historic religious organization that has been serving their diverse LES community for many years. Their headquarters has landmark status, and their staff is made up primarily of volunteers.

Presenting Challenge: The client wanted to modernize their outreach operations, and needed a database system that would help them manage mailings and donations, and properly track the tasks to build a thriving concern.

NPHD Solution and Results: The NPHD’s consultant recommended that the client install SalesForce, and provided them with the customized installation they needed. They reported an immediate increase in efficiency of operations and were ready to launch a brand new outreach campaign. The database also supported their fiscal operations, resulting in hours of “found” time per week to direct towards other objectives.