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5 min read

The Power of Synergy

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The Power of Synergy, The dream team: Finance and Philanthropy
Having spent almost thirty years in the nonprofit field, I have been asked more times than I can count how to ease the creative tensions between finance and philanthropy departments.  My answer is always the same – you must create synergy.  And the next question is always – how do I do that?  This is where the answer isn’t as obvious.  There are many paths to achieving synergy and, likely, no two organizations will follow the same one.

The two foundational components for getting started are that all parties understand the why and the how. 


Nonprofits rely heavily on both the finance and philanthropy departments to achieve their missions.  While the departments have different responsibilities, they are closely interconnected.

In the simplest terms, the finance department is responsible for managing the organization’s financial resources through developing and managing the budget, tracking and reporting on financial performance, ensuring compliance with financial regulations, and providing financial analysis and advice to leadership.  While the philanthropy department is responsible for identifying and building relationships with donors, matching donors’ passions to organizational needs through programs and services, building relationships with foundations and managing the grant-making process, and measuring and reporting the impact of donations to donors.


The Why:

When these departments work together, they can achieve:

  • Increased efficiency: By sharing information and working together on financial planning, the two departments can identify opportunities to streamline operations and save money.
  • Improved decision-making: By having a better understanding of the organization's financial situation, the philanthropy department can make more informed decisions about where to allocate funding.
  • Enhanced visibility: When the two departments work together to develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy that includes robust reporting on how the funds were used, they can reach a wider audience of potential donors and raise more money for the organization.
  • Stronger partnerships resulting in a culture of trust and credibility: By building relationships with donors and other stakeholders, the two departments can create a more supportive environment for the organization by demonstrating transparency and accountability.


The How:

Here are some specific ways that the departments can work together:

  • The finance department can provide the philanthropy department with data and insights into the organization’s performance. This information can assist the philanthropy department to identify and target donors who have passions that closely align with their needs. 
  • The two departments can collaborate on developing financial policies and procedures specific to philanthropy. This ensures that the organization is using its funds in a responsible and ethical manner and in accordance with donor intent. 
  • Philanthropy and Finance can determine how best to create a structure that will paint a picture of how donor funds are being spent at any point in time and also a structure that ensures that fund balances are available at all times.


Again, there is no one path that is better than another for achieving synergy between these departments.  The most critical elements are a CEO who understands the importance and makes it necessary for the conversations to take place, the willingness of all involved to have open minds along the way, and the curiosity to learn from one another. 

Now, go chart your path!


Tina Gentry,
Chief Administrative & Advancement Officer




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An organizational model that allows nonprofit hospices (Members) to leverage best practices, achieve economies of scale and collaborate
in ways that better prepare each agency to participate in emerging alternative payment models and advance
their charitable missions.