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Connecting through the Noise

By Jeffrey Shields posted 5 days ago

  

CEO Notebook |

No distance long or short should divide you from finance and operations help when you need it. 

Jeff Shields
Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

“Don’t let any business officer reinvent the wheel.” This was my answer when the hosts of Through the Noise, a podcast about the business of nonprofits, asked me about NBOA’s mission. In other words, I explained in the interview published last week on their website, we continue to highly value and encourage members to share their best practices with independent school peers around the country and the world – their insights and experience, and their schools’ templates and forms. In fact, as I reflected on NBOA’s operations and evolution over the years, what stood out is the association’s ongoing mission to connect business officers with peers.

Did you know that before NBOA’s headquarters moved from Boulder, Colorado, to Washington, D.C., eight years ago, we considered relocating to St. Louis? It seems strange today to have thought a geographically central location would make connections among NBOA members easier, but it was a different time. We’re lucky now that technology allows us to reach out so easily. Geography is no longer a barrier.

Podcast host Ernesto Gluecksmann wanted to know what NBOA’s most valuable offering was, and I told him that my answer would have been the same nearly a decade ago when I became NBOA’s president and CEO: our website and forums that connect business officers to each other and provide a home for questions, answers, resources, and solutions. I like to say NBOA is a “digital native”; the association was born out of a listserv, and connecting our members through numerous advances in technology is still at the heart of our work.

I like to say NBOA is a “digital native”; the association was born out of a listserv, and connecting our members through numerous advances in technology is still at the heart of our work.

The podcasters also wanted to know what a business officer was, and after I described the umbrella of duties that fall to school finance and operations leaders (not just accounting, tax and finance but also risk management, facilities, HR, etc.), I said that the business office could be a lonely place. When so many employees at an independent school are educated, trained and focused on creating learning communities for students, it can feel like those in the business office are the only ones who see the school from a financial perspective — the importance of bringing in more dollars than you spend in order to deliver your mission in perpetuity.

This is likely never more apparent than in mid-summer, when most of the faculty has left campus and most of the business office remains at school, working hard on the audit, deferred maintenance and numerous other special projects. Should you hit a roadblock, remember you can find wisdom from your peers not just through Connect but also past webinars, the library, publications and Annual Meetings.

This week the NBOA staff is gathering for our second-ever offsite planning meeting, to brainstorm how we can better serve you in the year ahead. If you have ideas about how we can improve any of NBOA’s offerings or the ability for you to connect with each other in meaningful and valuable ways, please reach out to me or any member of the staff.  What was true then, is true now: Connecting you with each other is the most important aspects of our work.!

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Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, July 10, 2018. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.

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