Questions that Strengthen Financial Sustainability and Resilience

by David Orlinoff, Founder and Principal, Concord Financial Organization (CFO)

I recently had the privilege of leading a workshop at the JCamp 180 Conference. My topic was listed under the "governance" category, and the title of my session was "You Can't Save Your Way to Financial Sustainability." In accordance with this year's conference theme of "Asking and answering the right questions," I ended my presentation with a list of constructive questions that any Jewish organization's leaders could be asking.  By request, I share them with all of you:

  • What does our revenue distribution look like (percentages from each major stream - earned income, contributed income, investment income)?
  • What is the growth potential of each stream?
  • What steps would it take to increase each stream?
  • What are the risks in each stream?
  • What factors in the competitive environment affect our thinking?
  • What factors in the Jewish environment affect our thinking?
  • What are the current trends in expenses?
  • What steps can we take to make some of our fixed and uncontrollable costs more manageable?
  • Do we have a contingency plan?
  • Do we have a risk management plan?
  • Do we have a disaster recovery plan?
  • Do we have a good working partnership between board and senior staff?
  • Finally, what keeps you up at night?

Wondering how to answer these questions, or where to start?  Then the follow-up question to ask is, "How might we find the answer?" If you are stuck, please feel free to contact me or your JCamp 180 Mentor. Or access my PowerPoint presentation on the JCamp 180 Knowledge Center for background information for these questions.

Thanks to JCamp 180 and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for the opportunity to contribute to the Jewish camping mission.

David Orlinoff is the founder and principal of Concord Financial Organization (CFO), a consulting practice that supports the nonprofit community with financial management consulting and interim management. He has served on several boards and been a synagogue president and a federation chief financial officer. He is also a proud 1956-1959 alumnus of Habonim Camp in Southern California (current incarnation of that camp is Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa). He can be reached at or 978 828-6100.