Director of Finance
Finance Professionals Network: New Connections to Financial Concepts and Other Leaders
Jolie Bou took her first CompassPoint finance training 28 years ago. In her current role at Samaritan House, she’s as committed as ever to keeping her skills and organization’s financial systems up-to-date. Since 2005, Jolie has participated in the Finance Professionals Network (FPN) and has benefited from the training and connections to other nonprofit finance leaders that it offers.
When asked what first compelled her to participate, Jolie says, “I was looking for a peer group for finance and a place where I could discuss some of the issues we face.” FPN has met these goals on multiple levels. As she describes, “I think what I’ve most valued is the connection to the real people, the other finance professionals in the field and throughout the Bay Area, doing the work – there’s nowhere else that I can get that. FPN absolutely has connected me to others for support. It has been a terrific resource to me.”
FPN affords Jolie the opportunity to see what finance directors are doing in other organizations, how they are working and managing things. “In finance and accounting you have obvious restrictions on how you can do things, but having access to folks with new approaches has allowed me to think about and do things in ways that I hadn’t before. The power of change can be really significant – being able to see things differently.”
This opportunity to share with the group and reciprocally contribute her expertise is an aspect of the program Jolie enjoys. “Two other members and I recently presented each of our organizations’ allocation plans with the group and we were all able to get really valuable feedback. I peruse the listserv daily to see if there’s anything I can learn from it, but I also look for anything that I can help answer or contribute for another member.”
In addition, the program offers access to financial management resources that she can apply to her work at Samaritan House: “I have been able to bring in some of the tools from FPN and from workshops – specifically things that Jeanne Bell has presented. I have used many of the budgeting concepts with my own staff, and shared the framework and tools from the Nonprofit Sustainability book. I have begun using it with our management team and finance staff.
“Initially, I was surprised as to how much CompassPoint and Jeanne understand and interpreted nonprofit finance. The realistic approach and candor with which they address finance issues is ‘Wow!’ – you don’t get that often from financial management trainings which teach you about finance and systems without addressing how it really is doing it day in and day out in your nonprofit. This realistic approach and the insights on how to apply the standards to operational issues have been great. Jeanne is my idol. I love how forward thinking she is.”
The timeliness of the information is a benefit that Jolie particularly values. “The best thing is being able to get information from other nonprofit finance staff who are actually doing the work and doing it in real time, in addition to being able to benefit from the content knowledge of trainers and consultants. I love that on the listserv you can get answers to your finance questions and issues quickly. When everyone is so busy, this is so important.”
Her last story about her connection to CompassPoint speaks for itself. “I have such fond memories of first getting into the field 28 years ago and taking my first finance training at the Support Center for Nonprofit Management [CompassPoint’s prior name]. Since then I have done a lot of workshops, but that first workshop hooked me – to finance and what CompassPoint does as an organization. It’s amazing having this longevity of knowledge and connection. CompassPoint’s commitment to capacity building is instrumental and so important to the field. Aside from CompassPoint there’s no other resource that personally goes back so far for me, and that says a lot. For all of this – that’s why I go.”