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7 Ways to Get your CFO on Board

Bob McDonald
Published:  03/22/2019

Ways to get your CFO on boardAdapted from the session 7 Ways to Get Your CFO on Board presented by Jena Pado, CFRE and Betsy Chapin Taylor, FAHP at the 2018 AHP Annual International Conference in San Diego, California.

Getting your organization’s finance department on board with philanthropy can be difficult, but not insurmountable. These seven tips can help your CFO believe in philanthropy as a legitimate part of your organization’s budget.

  1. Make the business case for philanthropy as an alternative revenue source for your organization. Nurture your relationship with your CFO just as you would a prospect or donor. Everyone in your C-suite needs to understand the significance of a foundation’s return on investment. Prove to your CFO that philanthropy should be looked at as revenue. “Steward” your CFO by showing the impact of philanthropic funds within the budget.


  2. Ensure everything philanthropy pays for is in the hospital budget. Institutions are best served by capturing the usage of dollars in the organization’s budget and then specifying the source – this can benefit philanthropy! Demonstrate where and how philanthropy affects the budget. Make it easy on the CFO to see how philanthropy can contribute to the bottom line. Merge items that are funded by philanthropy into the overall budget, and match philanthropy revenue with expenses. Inventory everything that philanthropy currently funds and present it to the CFO.


  3. Position philanthropy to fund the most important priorities. At many organizations, philanthropy is still funding the “fluff,” not the things that help the organization reach its highest potential. Maximize philanthropy’s opportunity to make a difference for the organization and strategically align project selection by ensuring donor priority and hospital priority overlap.


  4. Limit who can access philanthropic funds. It’s important to narrow down who has access to funds to keep things both strategic and compliant. To ensure strategic use of dollars, limit the number of decision makers with rights to access and use charitable funds. Consolidate decisions on the use of charitable dollars to a strategic circle comprised of C-suite executives, foundation board members and the foundation executive.


  5. Deploy charitable resources before hospital resources. Spend philanthropic money first instead of stockpiling funds. Practice first in, first out fund inventory management. Mobilize donor funds as soon as donor intent can be met.


  6. Engage your board in advancing holistic stewardship. Your foundation board can be active in raising, managing and deploying assets, not just protecting them. Your CFO doesn’t need board members to sit on an investment committee or set restrictions on gifts. Your board members can help make and keep your donor connections without creating more work for your CFO.


  7. Reconcile production counting and GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). Earn goodwill and trust from your accounting department by involving them in your finance. Differences between GAAP and the development profession’s accounting methodology are a frequent source of conflict between finance and foundation. Strive to achieve a common understanding on accounting with your CFO and finance department to create a more productive partnership and to maximize the potential impact of charitable funds.

Through open communication, transparent accounting, demonstration of impact and mobilization of funds, hospital finance can better understand the importance of philanthropy. Help your CFO realize the impact of fundraising and you will be set up for a more successful foundation-CFO relationship.  

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Meet The Author

Bob McDonald
Bob McDonald
Digital Content Coordinator
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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