Focus on the Core Business

As sources of capital, funders can unintentionally contribute to the systematic under-capitalization of the sector–encouraging the growth of programs without providing for a commensurate growth in capacity. Clara Miller offers advice for reversing this trend.

Is There Enough Overhead in This Grant?

Calculating overhead costs is a tricky part of grant proposal writing, especially since funders often want these costs kept to a minimum. Learn to determine the true overhead costs for a program idea, then decide if the proposal will genuinely benefit your organization or run you ragged because it included too little overhead.

Budget Cuts and Sudden Overhead Conundrums

Most nonprofits run with minimal administrative infrastructure, so when cutbacks strike, overhead usually rises in proportion to program costs. Emil Angelica offers practical advice for weathering the current “perfect storm” of economic hardship and for explaining our suddenly higher overhead costs to funders.


How I Cooked the Books and Why

We are happy to re-issue the following classic on April 1st. We have, over the years, received many outraged emails over the misdeeds of Phil Anthrop, but this particular instructive confession of his elicited the most by far.


Hidden in Plain Sight: Understanding Capital Structure

Could a $1 million challenge grant be a bad idea? If your organization isn’t staffed to raise the match, or if the grant comes with too many restrictions, it could do more harm than good. Understanding your capital structure is key to making wise decisions about any major change to your balance sheet. Clara Miller explains the elements of capital structure and why this often-overlooked element of financial planning deserves greater attention.

Welcome | Spring 2003

Legendary humorist Rube Goldberg rates an individual entry in Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary (4th Edition): “U.S. cartoonist of comically involved contrivances; designating any very complicated invention, machine, scheme, etc., laboriously contrived to perform a seemingly simple operation.”
One of our favorite Goldberg “inventions,” a Modest Mosquito-bite Scratcher, is a device employing springs, levers, an inebriated bluebird, and a cannon to soothe that annoying itch. There are times when developing a nonprofit organization’s budget is a little like creating a Rube Goldberg construct–picture a contraption able to juggle flaming torches, carving knives and bowling balls . . . 
We hear a lot about nonprofits struggling to decide whether to fold or to carry on despite near-catastrophic funding situations. The thing about budget cuts is that they tend not to respect core programs and mission priorities.