A Nonprofit’s Recipe for Success

Fed Fellows learn about the ins and outs of nonprofits

This month’s Fed Fellows meeting offered the participants a wonderful opportunity to dive into nonprofit finances and the relationships between lay leaders and community professionals.

Holden Lee, Chief Financial and Investment Officer at the Federation, began the session with a great presentation entitled Finance 101. He explained the basic differences between a Balance Statement, Income Statement, and Cash Flow. Of particular interest in nonprofit finance is a look at restricted versus unrestricted assets. Restricted assets are donations (or other assets) that are earmarked for a specific use or in a specific time frame (or both). An unrestricted asset is something that can be used on any expenditure. Balancing these cash flows is extremely important for a nonprofit, as a cash inflow may not actually be used on an immediate expense, and therefore could create financial problems when balancing a budget.

Holden spent some time enlightening us on the IRS Form 990 – the tax filing for a nonprofit. When assessing an organization’s health in funding and operations, a look at its 990 can be hugely valuable for a potential donor or board member to review. Lastly, Holden spent a few minutes discussing what it means to invest "Jewishly." Given the Federation's large endowment, the Federation's board has put together a task force to understand what this could mean for our local community's funds.

Following Holden's time with the group, the Federation’s director of Leadership Development, Katherine Tick, joined us to discuss the relationships between lay leaders and community professionals. The group walked through two case studies that helped illustrate best practices for improving relationships between lay leaders and professionals (or even among lay leaders) when conflicts arise. Highly passionate and devoted individuals may be supporting an organization for various and, sometimes, conflicting reasons. We learned that setting expectations, delivering on goals and objectives, understanding roles and responsibilities, acting honestly, and showing respect are all tools that can lead to improving relations within a board and any organization. Katherine recommended that we all seek to better understand our roles by not being afraid to ask questions of other lay leaders or staff.

As we head into the holiday season, on behalf of the Federation Fellows, I want to thank those who are helping us make an impact on our Jewish community. It’s people like Katherine, Holden, and our group's leader, Molly Stern, who are ensuring our continued development in an effort to most effectively give back.

Kate Kastenbaum is an HR manager at Certain, Inc. She spends her time volunteering with Jewish Family & Children Services' Chicken Souper program, walking her dog at the beach, and stand-up paddle-boarding. She is thrilled to be on UpStart’s board as a Fellow.

Federation Fellows is a two-year leadership building program that develops the next generations of leaders for the Jewish community. Learn More

Categories: Leadership


November 30, 2016


Kate Kastenbaum