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 firstname.lastname@example.org. FMA also tweets as @FMA4nonprofits.
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]
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]