PFund Foundation is the regional LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) grassroots community foundation investing in bold LGBTQ leaders and thriving communities in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Its advocacy and grantmaking support LGBTQ and allied organizations and individuals as they break down barriers and strive to change attitudes and systems to create healthier, thriving LGBTQ communities. PFund Foundation is committed to addressing disparities; therefore, PFund Foundation’s current elevated priorities are: queer and indigenous people of color, transgender and gender non-conforming communities, and LGBTQ North Dakotans and South Dakotans.
Trina Olson has been the executive director of PFund Foundation for a little over two years. While it had had a relationship with Propel Nonprofits (formerly Nonprofits Assistance Fund) for a while, PFund Foundation primarily was using resources and references that Propel Nonprofits made available for all to use. Trina expanded that relationship when she applied for and was accepted into Propel Nonprofits’ Financial Leadership Cohort last year.
“Because this was my second ED position, I knew that my broader leadership skills were translatable to financial leadership,” Trina said. “The cohort provided a common vocabulary and helped us look at PFund Foundation’s business model in the post-marriage amendment landscape – funding for our community has plummeted since that victory. Our cohort is still meeting – we want to stay connected. We are continuing to hold each other accountable.
“PFund Foundation traditionally had been internally focused with our financial management. Propel Nonprofits provides external expertise – that impartial expert observer,” Trina continued. “Propel Nonprofits is the biggest cheerleader to our success – a member of our team who wants us to do well. Propel Nonprofits is there to talk through strategy, and helped us see what we knew to be true even when it was hard.”
“It is always so rewarding to get to work with executive directors like Trina who want to dig in and learn more about finance so they are even better at their positions for their nonprofits and the community,” said Janet Ogden-Brackett, vice president of lending for Propel Nonprofits. “To watch them get excited about something I am so passionate about keeps me energized every day!”
Trina has enjoyed getting to further deepen her relationship with her coach, Janet. Trina uses Janet as a sounding board, as someone she can check in with to discuss a financial document or to get a second perspective. And Trina has grown this relationship with Propel Nonprofits to include PFund Foundation’s board of directors and other staff members as well.
“In the past PFund Foundation’s finances were understood by a very small group – those who were already experts in finances,” Trina said. “Now everyone on the board and staff understand even the complex elements of our finances. There is a collective understanding of finances. We will continue to reach out to Propel Nonprofits for skills development and strategy expertise.
“It is hard to find peers,” Trina said. “Some organizations are similar in size, but not content. Others are more like you in content, but not size. Propel Nonprofits has relationships with a number of organizations, so it can share its learnings with us. Propel Nonprofits shares important truths, helping with the hard decisions when they are the right decisions. Propel Nonprofits helps us learn to trust our leadership instincts.”
Trina said that Propel Nonprofits also has helped PFund Foundation to become more forward thinking about its finances, focusing on a multi-year budget instead of just one 12-month period at a time. “Propel Nonprofits provides a holistic approach to understanding finances. Their advice is so thorough, and when Propel Nonprofits says call any time, they really mean it,” she said. “Propel Nonprofits’ job is to make the whole nonprofit sector stronger, and I would tell any nonprofit to take advantage of this resource.
“I now think of myself as part of the Propel Nonprofits team. This relationship does not feel one-sided – the nonprofits are adding value to Propel Nonprofits as well so it can impact an even broader sector. The rapidity with which change can happen in a nonprofit’s finances with Propel Nonprofits’ support surprised even me,” Trina said.
“Finance and programs are inextricably linked. Finance is a core part of the ED’s job. I probably should not say this, but finances feel fun. I don’t dread finance minutia anymore. We are focusing on analysis and strategy – we are able to see trends and gaps. We are doing analysis and not just report-backs. We are not just looking at how much something is over or under budget, but we are asking ‘What does it mean – what should we do or not do?’ We are looking at a series of things that can make a difference and determining which levers to push to get the organization to an even better spot.”
To learn more about PFund Foundation, go here.