CFO keeps nonprofit strong so that it can help others

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

Stanley Berman leaves his office each day feeling good about his work at Global Impact. The Alexandria-based nonprofit raises funds in nearly 500 workplace-giving programs and manages two of the largest of these programs, the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area and the Combined Federal Campaign Overseas.

“Our mission is to ensure help for the world’s most vulnerable people. We have to focus on how much help we can raise and get it to these people,” he explains.

To do that, Global Impact has to be financially strong. “We need to have the wherewithal to be innovative and continue to take actions that will lead us to be more efficient and effective,” Berman says. “If we don’t have the reserves to make ourselves better, then we really can’t do our job.”

Berman, Global’s chief financial officer, has been working in the nonprofit sector for more than 25 years. He began his nonprofit career with B’nai B’rith International where he was chief financial officer. “I thought I would be there for five years and that turned into over 25 years,” he says.

In 2007, he moved to Global Impact. He was fascinated with the organization because “it raises and spends money differently from what I was used to, and it is governed differently.”

Global Impact is very strategic in its business practices. “That’s one of the things I liked about it,” Berman says. “I went from working with a board of 157 to a board of 14.”

Last year, Global Impact raised $131.9 million from 300,000 donors. Berman has helped the nonprofit remain financially strong despite the recession. As the economy weakened in 2008, he analyzed industry and economic data to identify cost savings and offset potential shortfalls.

He led the organization’s transition to a new fundraising-management software program and initiated key projects that make the nonprofit more efficient. Global Impact’s expense ratio is only 5.16 percent, well below the 35 percent guideline set by the Better Business Bureau.

Since joining the organization, Berman has conducted a top-to-bottom operational risk analysis that covered every facet of the organization, finding areas of concern and identifying ways of improvement.

He aligned the nonprofit’s budgeting process with its business strategy by focusing on four key lines of business rather than a traditional departmental structure. This change sets clear goals within each of the business lines and ties budget and expenditure directly to those goals.

“We were involved in four different ways of raising money,” he says. “I changed that to focus more on workplace giving, managed campaigns, distribution services and something we are launching called pooled giving where we raise money centered around causes or events such as the Haiti earthquake.”

Outside the office, Berman contributes to his profession. He is vice president of the Greater Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants and chairman of its scholarship committee.

One of Berman’s goals is to make the Global Impact run more efficiently. “We have to make sure we are operating very effectively with high integrity at a low cost,” he says, adding that the nonprofit doesn’t strive to have the lowest possible costs. “We have to do the job right. That takes an investment in good people, good procedures and good systems.  We have to be willing to pay that price to uphold people’s trust.”

He finds the professional challenges of the job invigorating. “We are very data driven, and I enjoy digging into data to see what it means, then setting a course of action and moving on it.” 

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