“Commons” are resources created and held by and for a group of people who manage and sustain them for individual and collective benefit. Longtime partners Nonprofit Quarterly, Propel Nonprofits, and BDO FMA created the Nonprofit Financial Commons, a rich portal and peer community where nonprofits of all sizes and types can find and share information and tools to help them act strategically on their own financial models.
The work of the Commons doesn’t just cluster around familiar, practical questions; it leads toward the horizon of strategic financial practice for nonprofits and funders. The peer community is just as important for knowledge and practical direction as for leadership support through online forums and connecting points.
The Financial Commons—a national peer-led network—supports a community of nonprofit finance leaders and others to share knowledge, ideas, and experiences. It also supports those with mutual interest in acting as advocates.
In the Financial Commons, every voice is heard—with an emphasis, for the sake of a healthy and diverse democracy, on bringing the focus to the concerns of those nonprofit leaders and organizations who have been historically unheard or pushed to the margins.
The Commons values learning while doing, which requires strong curation and, in some cases, a sense of urgency. It exists to identify model practices; to challenge practice, policy, and regulatory frameworks; and to co-create new standards of excellence and effectiveness. We value inquiry, learning from a thoughtful and dynamic mix of practice and research, and advocating for improved nonprofit policy, regulating and funding practices.
We value democratic participation, reflective practice, and knowledge that is accurate and reflective of the urgent work of nonprofit financial leaders.
Each participant is a teacher and a learner in a community where we value inquiry, learning from a thoughtful and dynamic mix of practice and research. We emphasize centering the concerns of nonprofit leaders and organizations historically unheard or pushed to the margins.
Inquiry – We listen to each other, collectively surfacing and responding to critical questions each participant has about the strategic management of the nonprofits with which they work. We challenge systems and their supporting narratives that reflect and sustain classism, white supremacy, and other oppressions.
Learning – Through inviting dialogue and individual questions from participants, we identify topics on which to develop content. We also locate, curate, and disseminate existing knowledge and develop our research agenda in response to questions posed by participants.
Doing – We practice what we learn, share lessons and tools, and build expertise together and individually. Participants help to develop new practice frameworks and reflect openly on their results in a variety of circumstances, thus advancing practice specific to the needs of a wide diversity of organizational identity and need.
Advancing knowledge and practice – We advance the standards of practice in the sector that correct endemic problems in nonprofit finance, inequities within the sector, and other systemic issues. We support the nonprofit sector as a critical venue for democratic action for the public good.