Developing and maintaining healthy financial habits for community-based orgs

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Healthy Financial Habits for Small and Scrappy Organizations

Mayday Space is a collectively-run grassroots org in Bushwick Brooklyn that is an activism and organizing hub.

What folks here have experience with

  • Working at big big non-profits and tiny ones
  • Systems administration, supporting accountants
  • Collective budgeting
  • Public access TV

What is it like in your org?

Design Action: 12 person collective, 6 committees

  • plus a book-keeper and rotating financial committee
  • committees can make budgetary requests - how much money do you need, how much money have you brought in for this area of work, how much money do you anticipate bringing in for your area
  • recently raised our hourly rage simultaneously with raising top level of sliding scale fee, ongoing struggle to push back against austerity and fear
  • collective budgeting: committees put forth their own budgets, then smaller group goes back and synthesizes, refines

What questions are Mayday tackling right now?

  • the person who held the most financial literacy just left the collective, staff taking webinars with book-keeping co-op
  • need to build up this muscle in other folks
  • what practices have worked for you in buiilding shared financial literacy in your org?
  • ultimately, wanting to build habits of communication about a topic people don't like!
  • talking about budgets is not just about spreadsheets, it's a narrative
  • Critical Resistance: people are making decisions about finances that they are not actively involved in, doesn't feel great
  • what worked better: 4 general meetings: preparing folks with financial literacy education

1) financial values 2) spreadsheets 3) what are you options for engaging with the budget process 4) consenting on the budget and a fundraising plan

  • thinking about budgets as quarters is a good cadence
  • Critical Resistance and Design Action both do year long processes and review it after 6 months
  • Bookkeeper sending a spreadsheet with our earnings numbers every week, so that we consistently practice thinking about our financial goals
  • "a budget is a moral document"
  • telling a story about how the money is being spent is useful
  • Design action had class conversations to develop shared understanding about how we make and propose money decisions
  • knowing the "why" behind why we have to do certain things
  • having an organizational wiki - what the org uses and doesn't use, if we don't want people to use a thing (i.e. paypal) it says why in the wiki, feedback from people was: this works!
  • how do you establish the norm that people go to that document?
  • no quick fix! establish some hierarchy -- if you need to know about X go to Y person
  • use humor! get thru the emotional barriers to financial literacy. use bitmojis lolz
  • take the fear factor out of it if it feels more fun
  • helping ppl understand that the work is a thru line - programs and budgets woven together, like a sewing machine where two threads are being woven together from the top and the bottom