Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Resource and financial management
This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.
Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.
Resource and financial management
Wikimedia organizations with funding or other resources work to manage those resources effectively. Strategies in this area will be different for organizations with significant budgets, who should be developing strong financial practices appropriate to their contexts.
Recommendations for resource and financial management
If your organization wants to get better at resource and financial management, here are some concrete recommendations that may help your organization build capacity in this area. Some of these recommendations may be more or less applicable depending on your organization’s strengths and gaps in this area, and your organization's context. We realize many organizations are already using strategies like these.
For informal organizations and formal organizations with smaller budgets
- If your organization manages any money, you will need to appoint somebody to be responsible for managing your funds.
- Depending on what is allowed by local regulations, you might consider creating a separate bank account to store funds for your organization’s activities. Keep this account separate from other purposes.
- Wherever funds are kept, may be best to select at least two people with access to the funds, to prevent any one person from controlling the organization’s funds entirely.
- If your organization does not have capacity to manage funds, consider partnering with a fiscal sponsor organization that can help manage your funds for you.
- If your organization needs to build capacity in managing funds, consider recruiting a volunteer with expertise to help your organization out (pro bono assistance).
- If your organization receives donations or collects dues from members, be sure to have a way to appropriately recognize and thank contributors that works in your context. In some places, you will need to provide a receipt or a thank you letter to any donors.
- Keep track of the in-kind contributions your organization receives in addition to any money you track. For many small organizations, in-kind donations are a very significant or essential form of support.
- Maintain a simple system for tracking funds, such as a spreadsheet your organization’s leadership has access to, or a public funds tracker. Scan and store receipts documenting different types of organization expenses (may be required by funders and/or local regulations).
- If your organization maintains any assets like equipment for your organization’s purposes, make sure you have a system for transparently documenting where that equipment is located and how it is used.
For formal organizations with significant budgets
- Assign or vote on someone in the organization responsible for financial management and oversight. Create a job description for the financial manager so all the duties are completely transparent.
- Create an annual budget each year that is comprehensive and clear, so that your organization has a clear plan for how to use your organization’s funds. Regularly track your progress in revenue and expenses against these targets and reassess your plan as needed.
- Create an annual budget that emphasizes expenses that go to programs achieving the most impact. When creating your budget, evaluate the expense of different programs against their potential for impact. Consider staff costs in this calculation.
- Track your income, in-kind donations and expenses as they occur and create an annual financial report; share this publicly.
- Have a contingency plan in place for sustainability and stability of financial management, particularly if the individual responsible for this function is a volunteer with limited time. At least two individuals should have the ability to access funds, and formal organizations should be keeping funds in an organization bank account used only for the organization’s activities..
- Draft a policy for how funds can be used and consequences if the policy is not followed; make sure you communicate this policy to the entire organization.
- Conduct research on the local laws, regulations, and local best practices for funds management for an organization or group of your type, including external review where recommended.
- Closely track the expenses involved in discrete events or strategies so that over time, you learn what they cost and can more accurately plan your budget for the coming year/s. When exploring new areas, research what other organizations in your area may have spent on these activities.
- At the end of the year, when you create your financial report, measure your spending and revenue against your budget. If there is significant overspending or underspending, asses why this is the case and apply lessons learned to future planning.
- Note when an event or strategy costs much less or much more than you predicted, and discuss why this is the case. Use this information to make a better plan for resource allocation, in the future.
- Create a reserves policy for your organization. Consider if having reserves makes sense in your context and determine an appropriate amount for your reserves. Many types of funding may have restrictions that don’t allow your organization to allocate funds to its reserves, so consider how your organization could use unrestricted funding for this purpose.
- Work on diversifying the sources of your income so you have more flexibility, sustainability and independence. Create a list of potential donors your organization might target for funding requests and research these donors to determine if they may be a good fit for your organization.
- Not every grant application will be successful, so plan your revenues accordingly. Set a realistic target, and have a contingency plan in place for prioritizing your expenses and activities in case you don’t meet your target.
- Make sure you have reliable long term funding in place before your organization take on ongoing expenses such as permanent staff or an office space. Long term commitments could cause serious problems for your organization if your project funding dries up.
Wikimedia organizations with expertise in resource and financial management
If your organization has expertise in resource and financial management, please list yourself here and briefly describe your expertise that others wanting to build capacity in this area can contact you:
- Wikimedia UK has a range of experience as regards working with volunteers and welcomes contributions from Wikimedians further afield to our discussions
- Please add your organization’s name here, with a description of your expertise.
Here are some learning patterns related to this strategy. Create your own learning pattern here, if you have learning to share in this area.
Ongoing challenges in the area of resource and financial management
If your organization would like to share an ongoing challenge in this area, that is or is not addressed in these recommendations, please write it down here as a starting point. We can try to build resources in this area or help different Wikimedia Organizations connect to address the challenge together.
- Please add a description of your challenges in this area here.
Please add useful resources you know about, whether created by the Wikimedia movement or in another context.
- Example of a financial policy from Wikimedia Eesti
- Example of a reimbursement policy from Wikimedia Eesti
- Example of a travel policy from Wikimedia Eesti
- Free accounting tutorial (learn accounting for free)
- Free accounting tutorial (bean counter)
- Accounting course from Wikiversity
- Running a nonprofit
- Tools from the nonprofit resource center
- Resources from the council for nonprofits
Create a capacity building plan for resource and financial management
If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to resource and financial management, please create a table like the one below. The steps in this table can be part of your organization’s master capacity building plan, as suggested in the User Guide.
If you would like to share your capacity building plan publicly on Meta, you can use this button to create your capacity building plan.