An Excellent Opportunity

A few weeks after becoming Welcome Inn’s Executive Director, Carly Gaylor received an email from the Hamilton Community Foundation (HCF) about an opportunity to receive financial coaching from the Community Forward Fund Assistance Corp. (CFFAC). She submitted Welcome Inn’s information for consideration with the Foundation and was thrilled to have her efforts result in financial coaching sessions, including an in-depth financial MRI.

Welcome Inn

Welcome Inn Community Centre of Hamilton is a charity located in Hamilton’s North End. It is a community centre with Mennonite roots that is governed by a Volunteer Board of Directors, and runs programming in line with its primary mission: to provide service to all people. Through a policy of unconditional love and encouragement it fosters community resilience in children and seniors, single people and families, and in so doing combats exclusion and loneliness, and nurtures its members’ self-esteem and self-respect.

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A Partnership Begins

That initial meeting in June 2011 served to give all participants greater insight into one another’s work. CFFAC’s considerable understanding of the financial and charitable/nonprofit sectors nonprofit leadership and management, financial restructuring and strategic planning provided a good basis upon which to analyze the information they had been given. Based on the analysis, they built ideas about how Welcome Inn might move forward on funding, operations and facilities.

As a new leader, Carly was grateful for a chance to discuss with experienced and trustworthy advisors the challenges that she saw facing Welcome Inn, and to have her ideas affirmed.

Following-Up

As a continuation of their previous conversation, in September 2011 Carly participated in a full day’s consultation with the CFFAC, and was impressed by the amount of preparation they had done for the meeting.

In the morning they discussed Welcome Inn’s board structure, programming, and financial situation; in the afternoon they covered organizational goals, and shaped the big questions facing the Welcome Inn, reframing them in helpful ways.

Talking about the issues facing Welcome Inn resulted in the development of effective strategies for taking the organization forward. Carly found this input and feedback very useful, and appreciated being given a safe space in which to explore a range of concerns and ideas.

Arlene Wortsman, CFFAC’s Director of Financial Coaching, notes, “These are exciting times at Welcome Inn with a new Executive Director and a plan in place for greater financial sustainability to support their excellent programming. We look forward to working with them as they achieve financial stability in these challenging times.”

Solid Results

These meetings with CFFAC allowed Welcome Inn to reframe the manner and form in which the organizations finances were presented. While it was a relatively minor shift, it helped bring clarity to the way they approached fundraising. They altered their financial reporting structure and overhauled the way they looked at income and expenses. They were given strategic planning tools, and advice about donations, fundraising, and their facilities. CFFAC provided Carly with a deeper understanding of how she might best engage her Board, and how she could empower its members to become more involved in Welcome Inn’s visioning.

Carly is perhaps most appreciative of CFFAC for its status as an objective, reliable third party that is able to deliver and nurture new ideas, provide affirmation, suggest next steps, and deliver clear insights. “The assistance could not have come at a better time: thanks to Arlene and Nora’s financial coaching in my first year of directorship, I now feel better equipped to move Welcome Inn forward over the next several years.”

She is also thankful for the follow-up documents Arlene sent to help with Welcome Inn’s current and future operations. These included:

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1. Summary Diagnostic: Listing of assets, liabilities, and programs with observations and recommendations

2. Program Profitability: A chart breakdown of Welcome Inn’s programs’ financial viability. The piece they added was separation of grants and donations from earned income, allowing a different look at sustainability

3. A summary of CFFAC’s observations and recommendations

4. Program Economics: A visual tool for graphing financial sustainability in relation to mission

5. Financial Summary: An analysis of the last few years and financing trends for Welcome Inn’s organization

6. Implementation Plan: A plan for next steps in several key areas