Making it look easy

From the Archives

Originally published May 10, 2013

It’s finally happened! The strain and stress associated with nonprofit accounting are hitting me after six months on the new job. And my boss says it’s my fault. Well, she shares in the responsibility, calling it our fault. And what fatal mistake did we make to cause these mounting pressures to press us to new limits? We made the job look too easy. It started when we closed the month of February within a week of the month’s end. And it continued when we responded to increasing – and even conflicting – deadlines without batting an eyelash or missing a beat. To an outsider, it probably really did look as if things were under firm control. Behind the scenes… Well, that’s another story for another time.

On the bright side, there are advocates everywhere – the board of directors, the finance committee, my supervisor’s bosses – who recognize what has to happen to work more effectively, validating my earlier rant on Twitter about nonprofit finance departments typically being understaffed. Because they see this and are conveying it to the powers that be, positive changes are coming in the foreseeable future. That doesn’t relieve the pressure of the moment, though it helps to know that the light at the end of the tunnel ISN’T a train bearing down on us at excessive speeds. Thanks for listening. Share your nonprofit woes in comments.

Update: Oddly, this happened again at the job I held after leaving this one. My supervisor – with the same first name as the one in the original post above – one day told me that our board of directors was insisting on financial projections and key performance indicators as a result of our newfound capacity to do so. She said that we made the job look too easy and were paying for it. Disclaimer: Neither of us really felt that the request was a punishment or a negative consequence of being the most efficient, effective nonprofit financial management team in the region. We both recognized it as a natural extension of producing good, solid work for a purpose in which we both believed.