NewsMay 20, 2022Case Study: Managing a Nonprofit Budget

Managing a Nonprofit Budget


Nonprofits shared an optimistic growth outlook in 2021 when it came to investing strategically in innovation and digital and technology initiatives to advance their missions in their communities, according to the Nonprofit Leaders Survey on 2021 Trends. Over two-hundred nonprofit leaders were surveyed, and not surprisingly, Financial Priorities was one of the top five concerns. In those surveyed, 19% were focused on operating reserves, 17% on cash flow, 16% on accurate reporting, and 14% on funding to expand. To Sara Jones, taking on her new role as Executive Director at the Great North Innocence Project (formerly Innocence Project of Minnesota), all these areas were of immediate concern.

Affiliated with the National Innocence Project, the Great North Innocence Project (GN-IP) fights diligently to give freedom back to those who are wrongfully convicted of crimes. GN-IP does this by providing free legal services to inmates through the post-conviction court process to trial. GN-IP staff, law students, investigators, and volunteer attorneys spend thousands of hours carefully analyzing these cases to uncover any new evidence proving actual innocence. Operationally, there are a lot of moving parts in managing donor funds correctly and transparently.

This can include handling expenses, fees, identifying and remedying, as needed, any common accounting weaknesses, preparing for audits as well as oversight, compliance, and more. When Sara started her role at the organization, one of her first goals was to review the health of their financial systems. “When I came into the position at the GN-IP, I was made aware that the bookkeeper wanted to retire,” says Jones. “This prompted a conversation about the internal processes and controls and how these job responsibilities could be both improved and become more efficient.”

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