Why You Need a Financial Team

Dear Christian Radio,

When you decided to join the radio industry did you dream of studying profit and loss statements, statement of cash flow reports, budgets, and balance sheets? Have you ever sat down to look at the mountains of Excel spreadsheets, charts, and graphs representing your organization’s financial data just to walk away feeling overwhelmed?

We can all become overwhelmed when we start digging into the financials of our organizations. Here’s a secret…that’s okay. Not everyone has a data-based personality. Not everyone has the skill sets required to really get into the weeds and interpret data.  Again, that’s okay.

The beauty of working with a team is that each member has their own gifts and strengths. For some, their gift is the ability to connect with listeners.  These individuals spend their time on the air as well as representing the station at community events. For others, their gift is programming. They spend time ensuring that the content of the station matches the needs of the target demographic. Thankfully, there are also those who are gifted in interpreting data. Their strength is in their unique ability to accurately interpret the financial data of the organization. It’s a specialized skill and one that every non-profit needs.

I want to introduce the idea of you creating a financial team for your organization. Doing so has many benefits.  For one, it empowers your data-skilled team members to do what they do best—read and interpret data. This information can then be used by leadership to create financial strategies that will lead your organization on a pathway toward achieving its mission and vision.

It almost seems too good to be true…the creation of this one team simplifies the process of understanding and acting upon data. What’s more, it significantly reduces frustration and stress among leadership that may either lack this skill set or not have the time needed to properly evaluate the data.

You will need to be selective when building your team. Ask yourself how their insights can be used to improve your organization. From there you will need to determine what type of information your team will be reviewing.  The following is a breakdown of things you will want to consider as you pull your team together.

Choosing Your Team
In order to build a truly successful financial team you must know who your data talented team members are. This doesn’t mean you grab your accounting team and consider it done.  We’ll talk about choosing those team members in a moment.  Right now we want to focus on the team members who could give your financials a fresh perspective.

Look for individuals who live and breathe data and spreadsheets. Don’t worry, they are easy to identify…they are the ones who enjoy getting into the weeds and details of a plan. They are quick to recognize a pattern. Most telling…they aren’t afraid to ask difficult questions. These individuals will be able to do the in-depth research of what has occurred and notice patterns within your financials. They will ask questions about things such as income and expenditures that are out of the norm.  They will be the first to see if traditional patterns begin to change or if new patterns start to emerge. Their fresh perspectives can provide you with the necessary push to reevaluate longstanding processes, procedures, expenditures, and income streams.

You will then want to round out the team by selecting one individual from the accounting department, preferably the individual responsible for reporting, as well as yourself. By including your reporting team member, you will allow the other team members ready access to answers regarding their financial questions. Also, by personally joining the team, you provide yourself access to discussion topics, ideas, concerns, and potential solutions.

Information to Review
With your financial team in place, information can be reviewed using informal discussions or formal meetings. Consistently updated reports such as bank account balances and statements of cash flow should be reviewed at least weekly to catch any alarming changes in performance before they become bigger issues. This allows the team to keep a watchful eye on your most fluid financial reports and alert you to any concerning factors as soon as they happen.

Formal meetings should take place one to two times per month. They should be reserved for the review of less fluid reporting such as your profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and budgeting. They require deeper discussions about questions or changes in the information. Have team members review the information personally before the meeting.  This saves time and better prepares each member for important questions, a review of financial highlights and performance, discussion of concerns, and the opportunity to brainstorm solutions to identified problems. This puts the translation of financial data into the hands of those who are best equipped to provide it.  As a leader, this process allows you to stay engaged, have a voice, as well as opportunities to problem solve when needed.

How to Use Financial Team Data
Informal updates, conversations, and formal meetings keep you in control, but out of the weeds. It’s the job of your financial team to both interpret and evaluate your organization’s financial data for you. You have placed this power in their hands because they are the ones best equipped to efficiently process the information and offer a well thought out perspective. It is also their job to regularly inform you on how the organization is performing, project where the organization is headed, and recommend next steps that will help your organization maintain financial security.

Never forget that this team is an asset. The information it provides allows you to focus your time on creating and implementing larger strategies for your organization. Having them aggregate the data saves you both time and frustration. They, on the other hand, love it—that’s a win-win situation!

Financial Team Benefits
Your organization will be able to see numerous benefits surface when you finally create a financial team. First, you will be building trust between yourself and members of your team by providing transparent access to the organization’s financial information. You are letting them know that you value them, their skills, and their opinions.

Secondly, you are putting the interpretation of some of your most valuable data in the hands of those most skilled at processing it. This will ensure that your organization is operating off of the most accurate interpretations of your financial performance as well as working with clarity regarding your future projections and strategy decisions. Finally, building a financial team eases stressors and brings satisfaction to your entire team. Your data-centered team members will be thrilled to work within an area in which they can put their skills and passions into action. Your donors will see improved performance moving forward. In turn, it will build their confidence in your organization.

Lastly, you will be given the freedom to focus on leading the organization rather than drowning in reports and spreadsheets. Put the right people in place and you’ll reap the benefits of time and clarity.

Dear Christian Radio…

1) Empower your data-centered team members – Let them analyze your organization’s financial data rather than struggle through it on your own.
2) Be a part of your financial team’s discussions – Be there to hear about their ideas, recommendations, and insights into how your organization is performing.
3) Be open to using the information – Your team is there to help you make informed strategic decisions. Trust them.

  

ENCW –

Debra Bourne
Director of Accounting & HR
Positive Alternative Radio

Debra invites you to share your questions and comments at debra@parfm.com.

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