The very idea of a for-profit company existing without a reserve operating budget would send investors running for the hills. So why is it that there is so much pressure on nonprofit organizations to scrape by without even a hint of a reserve operating budget?
Despite the pressure to constantly face their imminent demise, the smartest nonprofits—the ones that are best positioned to make a long-term impact on their mission—carefully build and manage a healthy operating fund, as well as an ample operating reserve fund. By protecting their organizational finances against sudden or dramatic cash flow changes, these organizations can continue to provide services in the toughest times.
Having a healthy operating budget provides your nonprofit with a more solid base by setting aside unrestricted net asset balances and investing them in the organization’s programs. The greater this reserve, the greater your organization’s ability to grow current programs and promote your mission.
The operating reserve portion—the portion set aside for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances that negatively affect your financial operations—protects your employees, and your mission in the direst of circumstances.
Unfortunately there isn’t one set benchmark for how much money a healthy nonprofit should have set aside as an operating reserve budget.
To help your organization determine a healthy reserve fund, we’ve gathered the following resources from across the web.
The Importance of Operating Reserves for Nonprofits- Read the article here.
Nonprofit Operating Reserves and Policy Examples- Visit the webpage here.
Maintaining Nonprofit Operating Reserves- Download the whitepaper here.
Reserves Planning: A step-by-step approach for nonprofit organizations- Download the whitepaper here.
For more information on strong financial management for your nonprofit, we suggest these resources.
Budgeting “Best Practice” Tips for Nonprofits- Download the PDF here.
Financial Management- Visit the National Council of Nonprofits financial management resource list here.