Meredith Driscoll is the Director of Finance & Operations at MiracleFeet. She gives us a behind the scenes look at what it takes to keep a nonprofit running smoothing.
When most people think about a nonprofit, they think about its mission and vision: What does the organization do, and why does it do it? Here at MiracleFeet, we exist to increase access to proper treatment for children born with clubfoot in developing countries through partnerships with local healthcare providers. But what many people don’t consider, however, is what goes on behind the scenes to make this important work possible.
That’s where I come in. As MiracleFeet’s director of finance and operations, I make sure that things run smoothly on the back end so our staff can focus on doing their jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible. This can be simple, like approving vendor invoices, or it can be complex, like adhering to the myriad laws and regulations that apply to us at the local, state, federal and international levels.
Some might consider this boring. I do sit behind a desk most of the day, creating spreadsheets, reviewing policies, monitoring compliance, and researching best practices. But I’m never bored. One minute I’m monitoring our cash flow, another I’m interviewing a prospective hire, and then I’ve moved on to reviewing the lease for our new office. I love the behind-the-scenes work and seeing multiple facets of the organization, all while knowing that I’m ultimately helping children all over the world.
MiracleFeet is a lean organization. We spend about 80 percent of our funds on program activities, a widely debated but fairly standard metric in the nonprofit sector. At the same time, we should invest in staff development, maintain up-to-date technology, ensure appropriate insurance coverage, and cover other expenses necessary to let our staff work efficiently and sustain the organization for years to come.
I keep an eye on that balance to ensure our administrative expenses are low but effective. While we want most of our funding to go directly to programmatic expenses so that as many children as possible can be enrolled in treatment, we also need to invest in a solid infrastructure so that MiracleFeet’s operations run smoothly and so we can scale our programs over time, ultimately enrolling many more children in treatment.
My behind-the-scenes role is an important one within our small, fast-growing organization. At the same time, I know I’m doing a good job when no one notices what I’m doing!