August 2001

Grant Results

SUMMARY

In 1997 and 1998, James Management Associates (James), an accounting and management consulting firm specializing in health care in Nashville, Tenn., researched, assessed, and made recommendations on the issue of small nonprofit agency cash flow and financial management problems.

Small community-based organizations and nonprofit organizations are important laboratories for the development and demonstration of many of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) programs and interventions. Many such agencies experience financial difficulties.

The grantee organization interviewed staff from 20 community-based organizations funded under various RWJF national programs.

Key Findings
Project findings suggested the following:

  • Cash flow and financial management issues are more prevalent in newer or smaller community-based organizations or those operating in a changing environment.
  • These issues always affect the effectiveness of the community-based organization's programs, but the degree and extent of the impact vary greatly, from mild to fatal.
  • Resources exist in various regions of the country for assistance to community-based organizations; however, there appears to be a lack of information about the quality of these resources or how to access them.

Key Recommendations

  • Initiate changes to RWJF's internal processes and programs and increase core support funding for certain costs.
  • Assume more active development of grantee management capabilities.
  • Collaborate with other philanthropic organizations to pursue infrastructure development initiatives.

Funding
RWJF supported the project with a grant of $50,000 between December 1997 and February 1998.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

Small community-based organizations and nonprofit organizations are important laboratories for the development and demonstration of many of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) programs and interventions.

Many such agencies experience financial difficulties that may:

  • Interrupt service delivery.
  • Distract agency leadership from focusing on long-term goals.
  • Delay physical plant repairs.
  • Constrain expansion of services.
  • Stifle exploratory opportunities.
  • Threaten an agency's existence.

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THE PROJECT

The project's objectives included the following:

  • Validate perceived cash flow problems of RWJF's community-based organization grantees.
  • Assess the nature and scope of the grantee organizations' underlying financial management needs.
  • Identify available resources.
  • Propose short- and long-term recommendations for development and delivery of financial management assistance to RWJF grantees and the field in general.

The grant supported an interview process that gathered information from about 40 community-based organizations and other organizations familiar with cash flow and financial-management challenges.

The grantee organization interviewed staff from 20 community-based organizations funded under various RWJF national programs:

James also interviewed staff from other selected RWJF national program offices and grantee organizations conducting multi-site projects, along with staff from other philanthropies and technical assistance providers. See the Appendix for organizations interviewed.

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FINDINGS

Project findings suggested the following:

  • Cash flow and financial management issues are more prevalent in newer or smaller community-based organizations or those operating in a changing environment.
  • These issues always affect the effectiveness of the community-based organization's programs, but the degree and extent of the impact vary greatly, from mild to fatal.
  • Resources exist in various regions of the country for assistance to community-based organizations; however, there appears to be a lack of information about the quality of these resources or how to access them.

Recommendations

James suggested several actions that RWJF can take to develop and deliver financial management assistance to its grantees, including on-site advice/training and seminars/workshops for peer groups of community-based organizations:

  • Initiate changes to RWJF's internal processes and programs and increase core support funding for certain costs.
  • Assume more active development of grantee management capabilities.
  • Collaborate with other philanthropic organizations to pursue infrastructure development initiatives.

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AFTER THE GRANT

Under its own auspices, RWJF funded the Small Agency Building Initiative in early 2000 (Grant ID# 038292). Under a 24-month pilot program, the initiative will provide tailored technical assistance to 15 to 20 promising community-based health and social services agencies.

The goals include the following:

  • Improve the operational capacities of community-based organizations.
  • Strengthen their services and programs.
  • Encourage agencies to use their new expertise to strengthen other important strategies, such as building coalitions within their communities.

RWJF set aside $750,000 for this initiative.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Small Nonprofit Cash Flow Project

Grantee

James Management Associates (Nashville,  TN)

  • Amount: $ 50,000
    Dates: December 1997 to February 1998
    ID#:  033490

Contact

Kay L. James, C.P.A.
(615) 783-1713
jamesmgmt@aol.com

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

List of Interviewees

CBO Grantees funded under RWJF national programs
Apoyo Empresarial, Puerto Rico
Babyland Family Service, N.J.
Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Tribes, Ala.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, S.D.
Community Partnership for Child Development, Colo.
Community Partnership for the Homeless, Fla.
Enable, Inc., N.J.
Family Caregiver Alliance, Calif.
JCCA Adult Day Care, Mo.
Latino Council on Alcohol, D.C.
New Brunswick Tomorrow, N.J.
New Song Urban Ministries, Md.
RAIN, N.C.
Samaritan Hospice, N.J.
Sikora Center, Inc., N.J.
Stanley Street Treatment & Resources, Mass.
Stone Soup Group, Ala.
United Vailsburg Services, N.J.
White Mountain Apache Tribe Health Authority, Ariz.
Zaccheus Medical Clinic, D.C.

RWJF national program offices and multi-site grants
Community Health Facilities Fund
Corporation for Supportive Housing
Community Health Leaders Program
NJ Health Initiatives
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships
Partners in Caregiving
Practice Sights

Local Agencies & Community Foundations
Center for Management Assistance, Mo.
Cleveland Community Foundation, Ohio
Fund for New Jersey, N.J.
Fund for the City of New York, N.Y.
Greater Kansas City Foundation, Mo.
Self Help Community Facilities, N.C.

Other National Resources
Treatment Research Institute
Kellogg Foundation
Pew Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation

RWJF Staff
Peter Goodwin
Paul Jellinek, Ph.D.
Janice Opalski
Rona Henry
Marco Navarro

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Books and Reports

James Management Associates, Cash Flow Project—Phase I: Validate Cash Flow Issues and Assess Financial Management Needs, 1998. Prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Report prepared by: Jan Hempel
Reviewed by: David Kales
Reviewed by: Janet Heroux
Program Officer: Marco Navarro