The Financially Empowered Nonprofit

by Carrie Roberts

Today I had to write about Financially Empowered Nonprofits for a nonprofit management class as part of my PhD work at Walden University (  This assignment made me stop and really think about how many nonprofits I encounter each day, and whether the nonprofits I work with are financially empowered.

First, you may ask, what does it mean to be a financially empowered nonprofit? According to Brinckerhoff (2009) a financially empowered nonprofit is one that has the money available to pay for its mission. That is a powerful statement!  Does your organization have the money available to pay for your mission? A lot of nonprofits quite frankly don’t.

It isn’t that a nonprofit should be controlled by money, but if your nonprofit doesn’t have a plan to obtain funds, it gets stuck in a game of survival. A nonprofit necessarily uses money to provide programs for its constituents. Brinckerhoff goes on to state an obvious but really compelling edict for nonprofits: “If you want to be around doing good service in ten years, you had better work toward financially empowering your organization, starting today.” (pg. 196)

Nonprofit Development Requires Financial Empowerment

In my estimation many organizations don’t take the time and energy to focus enough on proper financial empowerment. They continue to struggle fiscally, and never really actualize their services at optimum levels.

Becoming financially empowered as a nonprofit is not easy, and it takes the commitment of all involved.  It’s unfortunate that so many nonprofits are unable to see the value in being fiscally empowered and how that helps them create better programs.  With myopic focus on program delivery, a nonprofit overlooks its own fiscal health. It’s a shame because doing this well – empowering itself financially – is so critical to the long term success of the nonprofit.


Brinckerhoff, P. (2009) Mission based management: leading your not-for-profit in the 21st century. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley.

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For the Charitable Community

Beverly Molander of Unity Online Radio interviewed Carrie Roberts on the air. Carrie talked about the financial challenges that nonprofits face and she explained important issues for nonprofit start-ups. Carrie and Beverly discussed the mission of For The Charitable Community, and Carrie explained what makes the upcoming Fearless Fundraising webinar unique. Listen here: Unity Online Radio Interview.

For The Charitable Community in the news: Our own Carrie Roberts was a guest on The Jerry Doyle Show. Listen here: Jerry Doyle interviews Carrie Roberts.

Carrie Roberts interviewed on Blog Talk Radio: Social Networking for Women. Learn more about our mission.

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