Podcast Episode 25: Financial Resilience for Nonprofits – A Conversation with FMA’s Hilda Polanco

Hilda Polanco is one of the most influential thinkers about nonprofit financial sustainability. Beginning in 1999, her firm, FMA, has grown from 4 employees to nearly 10 times that number. FMA, in turn, has grown into a powerhouse for financial agility within the nonprofit sector. She joined us for a conversation about nonprofit financial leadership, nonprofit risk management, and long-term resilience.

You can contact Hilda on the internet at hpolanco@fmaonline.net. FMA also tweets as @FMA4nonprofits.

 

About FMA

Hilda you’ve built FMA into a real powerhouse for nonprofit finance. Tell us the story of when, how, and why you founded FMA. [0:57]

If you have a clean audit, do you need risk management? [3:53]

These days, are there any particular characteristics you look for when you’re trying to decide whether you will work with a nonprofit client? [7:27]

Is a resilient organization a reflective organization? [8:55]

Do you see FMA changing its range of offerings to address new services that nonprofits need? [9:42]

You have offices not only in New York City, but a number of other places, right? Where do you have physical locations? [12:48]

 

Planning

You have said you like to help nonprofits “build a planning muscle.” What do you mean by that? [14:26]

Why would a nonprofit need a strong planning function? [15:40]

What concrete signals would one of our listeners look for within her organization to know that it is time for her to build a stronger planning function? In other words, what pain points should the nonprofit be experiencing? [17:17]

Why is it hard for a nonprofit to build its planning function totally on its own? [22:05]

 

Threats and Opportunities

Among the nonprofits you work with, what do you think their greatest threats and opportunities are right now? [23:05]

 

How Does a Business Model “Work Financially”?

On your website, you asked the question: “Do you wonder if your business model works financially?” Please unpack that question for us a little bit. What does it mean for a business model to “work financially”? [28:43]

What would be two or three significant red flags that should make a nonprofit wonder about the viability of its business model? [31:35]

Are there any core financial metrics that you advise nonprofits to follow on a regular basis? [33:45]

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