Afton advises charter management organization through liquidity challenges.
Afton guided a 5-school charter management organization serving 2,000 students through a significant liquidity crisis. Our work with this CMO focused first on providing an accurate view of the Organization’s immediate and ongoing liquidity situation. We built and monitored a weekly cash flow forecast which enabled immediate planning and decision making with the board, management, and key funders.
As the Organization was able to make decisions that led to more stable financial footing, Afton assisted with budget reforecast development, recommendations for board finance committee governance, and guidance through a CFO transition. Along the way, the CEO and finance team grew in their financial acumen, taking on much work themselves to monitor weekly cash flow and report finances to their board. The board finance committee is now more qualified, active, and consistent in serving in the governance role.
In tight times, detailed and accurate visibility on cash flow enables smart decision making with sustaining impact. With the help of Afton Partners, the CMO had a cash flow plan that showed exactly what decisions and actions were necessary to sustain the Organization. The visibility prompted immediate re-prioritization of highest impact network office tasks, such as accelerating grant reimbursement work. The visibility also prompted swift movement on staffing changes when enrollment targets were not met.
Sometimes a crisis can be exactly what an Organization needs to build a strong financial structure for the future. With so many competing priorities to make good on a mission to do right by students, refining financial best practices in a school organization can easily find itself on the back burner. Unfortunately, it often takes a crisis for board members to dig into their financial governance role, for CEOs to learn the financial aspects of their role, and for finance directors to learn how to provide information that their peers, CEO and board can use to further the school’s mission. In the case of this CMO, an openness for professional growth in the finance area up, down, and across the organization and role-modeled by the CEO, made it possible for the Organization to solidify its financial footing and grow in its financial IQ. The Organization is likely to have more time focused on the true mission of the Organization in the future because they invested in the work of building a stronger financial backbone.