“We can bring in the cavalry…”

Bill Clark
Bill Clark
Executive Director

Philabundance was founded in 1984 to reduce food waste and fight hunger in the Delaware Valley. In 2005, Philabundance integrated its services with the Philadelphia Food Bank to become the region's largest nonprofit hunger relief organization. Today, a corps of 90 employees and 300 volunteers distribute 25,000,000 pounds of food each year, feeding some 65,000 people each week at a cost of less than 30 cents per meal.

Philabundance’s growth has paralleled the increasing complexity of the nonprofit sector. “Nonprofits have moved from being considered ‘charities’ to being thought of more broadly as ‘non-governmental organizations,’” says Executive Director Bill Clark, sitting in his office overlooking a cavernous food distribution warehouse. “Our business model has moved from just doing the best we can to doing everything that we need to do. We’re no longer just a food bank but rather a hunger relief organization trying to ensure that the area’s population is free of hunger. We’ve had to transform ourselves with a much larger civic footprint.”

Today, Philabundance collaborates with 650 food cupboards, churches, and community agencies. Food depots have been established at non-traditional sites, emergency hotlines have been set up, and emergency response systems are in place. “It’s a model that’s making our accounting, financial analysis and operating systems much more complex than those of a single-function charity a decade ago,” he says.

“Every business has its uniquenesses,” says Clark. Philabundance’s unusual financial issues include: accounting for donated, purchased and in-house manufactured inventory; and segregating different revenue streams that include charitable gifts, sales of merchandise, contract fees, program revenues, and government and foundation grants. “The grant management is particularly difficult: grants are given to us in trust for the agencies we serve, and control is a much more complex task.”

Clark acknowledges that it’s difficult to keep up with rapid changes in the nonprofit environment. Sarbanes-Oxley, the new 990 forms, new GAAP rules and often-changing employment laws have created a constant need for updating his infrastructure. “Your Part-Time Controller has the reputation of maintaining currency and expertise with these changes and they’re at the top level in their field. We can tap into that. YPTC is teaching us the new rules of engagement.”

Clark likes the flexibility of being able to adjust the level of services to changing conditions. “We can dial it up or dial it down as we need it, whether we’re in a surge or a slow time. They also cover for us when a critical staff person leaves. We’ve got a number we can call to bring in the cavalry so we have continuity while we initiate a replacement search.

“It used to be that a nonprofit executive could call up their auditor and ask for advice, but auditors aren’t doing that now. And you can’t always rely any more on the capability of your internal staff or someone on your board to answer a challenging question. Your Part-Time Controller gives us technical support and invaluable access. It’s what we need, where we need it, and just when we need it.”


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