Reflections from #CLA14 for Organizational Leaders

Posted by Matthew Thomas

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present a workshop called “Overcoming Four Financial Confusions” at the Christian Leadership Alliance Kingdom Outcomes conference #CLA14.This annual conference offers great speakers, powerful training and continuing education experiences, and broad opportunities for networking with many Christian nonprofit and church leaders. If you are a Christian nonprofit or church leader looking to network with other leaders and learn from a variety of experts in fields that strengthen your leadership, CLA’s conference is the place for you. Check out their website here for more information on the conference they have planned for next year in Dallas, TX.

In our workshop two weeks ago, the material I presented covered the “4 Financial Confusions Infecting Nonprofit Leaders” e-book by Design Group International CEO Mark L Vincent. (You can get your free copy of the e-book by clicking on the button below. The original series of articles is here.)

4 Financial Confusions Get the free e-book

The feedback from the 100+ people at the workshop indicated that the Four Financial Confusions are alive and well in executives of churches and nonprofits, no matter the size. A number of CFOs from a variety of ministries were in attendance, and indicated that while, of course, they understood these confusions, often times their CEOs, Pastors, and boards did not, and this creates organizational tensionabout how to move  forward. Several of the CFOs expressed that their organizational leaders often accuse them of a lack of faith because of their preference for using their accounting expertise to manage ministry’s finances. Having sat in both seats – as an executive and as a CFO, I have lived that tension from both sides, and I can certainly relate.

matthew-thomas-2In larger churches and faith-based non-profits, executive and financial roles, responsibilities and procedures are often well developed – by necessity, to maintain their optimal size. Nevertheless, the tension about the role of the financial leader vis-à-vis the rest of the executive team often still exists. Sometimes this is a personality conflict between the types of personality underlying visionary leaders and the typical accounting types; but many times it goes deeper than that: often it is truly a difference in theology of finances between the CFO and their financial staff on the one hand, and the CEO and the rest of the organization on the other. This tension is one we hope to address in future resources and articles.

In small- and medium-sized churches and non-profits, this tension exists alongside the additional complications of less role differentiation and often less developed financial procedure and process. These added complications often make it even more difficult to find the clarity to move their mission forward than for larger nonprofits.

For those organizations, we would like to offer two additional resources. The first is our Financial Roles Map, a resource developed a year or so ago that can help enterprises of all sizes determine the roles they need to fill – even if several must be filled by the same person to start with. It is available below.

Financial Roles Get the map!

The second is a brand-new resource, the Four Financial Confusions Workbook, that helps leaders working through the Four Financial Confusions material with examples and exercises to gain clarity around how they might move forward organizationally. It contains basic curriculum material tuned toward group process that works alongside the Four Financial Confusions e-book. We would like to provide it to our readers free, for a limited time. Click the button below to get your copy!

Get the Four Financial Confusions Workbook

Together, the three resources presented in this article can give you the capacity to strengthen your mission by clarifying your perspective on money and its management. We hope these resources are useful as you continue the valuable work you do.

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Topics: financial management confusion, financial confusion, Financial Leadership, Matthew Thomas, financial confusion of nonprofit leaders