I can’t believe I am saying this, but one of my favourite parts of my new role as Executive Director has been the finance and accounting side. Yes, me….the girl who was a high school honour roll student with C’s in just math. The same girl who repeated Introduction to Economics *cough* amount of times in university is loving the numbers, financial planning, and discussions on market competition in the non-profit sector. I don’t know how this came to be (could be that I eventually did become good at economics), but I kind of love it!
We knew early on when I joined the organization that focusing primarily on finances would be a top priority this fiscal year. We set annual goals at our first management retreat that were entirely
finance-focused. We were dealing with all the uncertainty that the pandemic had put on the delivery of our work. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable really fast! As a result, Finance Fridays were born. Every Friday would be completely finance-focused: I meet weekly (now biweekly) with the Board Treasurer, meet weekly with our bookkeeper and attend biweekly the finance committee meetings.
(Am I a sucker for punishment for setting up the meetings on the driest most exciting subject matter on Fridays? Yes.)
With the assistance of #TeamFinance, we created a project plan to help get our new financial policy and procedural documents ready to go ahead of the upcoming fiscal year. We have already tackled two of the biggest activities on that plan with a few tweaks here and there to come. This effort ensures we have the inputs/investment needed for the outputs we want to deliver. This includes our advocacy work being led by our new Communications and Advocacy department. If we want the feminist future we deserve at CCGSD, we need to fund the tools to build it.
One of our overarching objectives is to identify pathways for funding diversification. The growing obstacles that Covid-19 has put in our sector were the catalyst that pushed us to rethink our current financial processes and our sources of funding. The goal is simple and exploratory without overly ambitious KPIs attached. We quickly realized that looking into being more donor and gift-giving focused aligns well with our need for new strategies and ways of working for us at CCGSD. Of course (I love being self-reflective with these kinds of goals) we had to ask some important questions: Why do we want to diversify our funding? Why focus on donations and gift-giving specifically? Why now?
For me, the answer was simple: it’s about damn time.
We are using this Giving Season to analyze our donor approach in the past and find lessons learned to improve things, like our communications, in the future. We are retroactively thanking past donors and making sure new ones know how much they are appreciated. We are actively looking for best practices (thank goodness for digital marketing webinars and tools) to execute a small GivingTuesday campaign in which we share the stories of the people who keep us going: volunteers and supporters like you!
In creating a community-centric fundraising strategy, we also improve our engagement with our most important stakeholder: the communities we serve. Being community-centred is at the heart of my activism and I am weaving that into my role at CCGSD by always bringing things back to our mission . By adding a streamlined approach to our development, we create a community based-lens to our programming and advocacy. Our work cannot be done through a top-down approach. We need to lead the
conversation nationally based on what our community wants and not the other way around.
With this approach to fundraising, we show up for each other. It should always be this way and luckily is it not too late for us to start.
Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah (she/her)
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Let’s chat! Send me an email to let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @d_owusuakyeeah
Our charitable registration number: 863207981RR0001