NGO Chief Financial Officer Job Responsibilities

By: Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, Corporate Trainer and Behavioral Scientist

The NGO Chief Financial Officer job is perhaps the most important role of officers employed by a nongovernmental organization.

NGO Chief Financial Officer Job Responsibilities

A few of the job responsibilities of the NGO Chief Financial Officer (CFO) are to:

  • Establish a set of internal controls that are presented to the board for approval,
  • Oversee the planning of cash as they flows into (donations) and out (expenses) of the organization,
  • Prepare annual, operational, five-year strategic, and capital budgets,
  • Review annual, operational, strategic and capital budgets,
  • Track key financial ratios specifically for nonprofits and nongovernmental agencies to include at least these operational metrics or KPIs (program services expenses/total expenses = program expense ratio; administrative expenses/total expenses = administrative expense ratio; government grants and contributions/total revenue = government reliance ratio; personnel expense ratio= total salaries, wages, and benefits/total revenues; and fundraising efficiency ratio= total contributions/fundraising expenses).
  • Oversee the planning of cash as they flows into (donations) and out (expenses) of the organization,
  • Utilize major accounting and finance software and spreadsheets to report upon finance, accounting and operations of the organization
  • Manage, discipline, supervise and reward (with performance, productivity and accuracy incentives) accounting (NGO accountants) and finance (NGO financial and budget analysts) staff,
  • Prepare annual, operational, five-year strategic, and capital budgets,
  • Review annual, operational, strategic and capital budgets,
  • Create financial forecasting models to project alternative scenarios based upon environmental factors,
  • Make presentations to the board and serve and/or chair the finance committee,
  • Conduct financial risk assessments to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, embezzlement,

NGO Chief Financial Officer Job Responsibilities

A critical aspect of the NGO Chief Financial Officer job responsibilities is the prevention and detection of fraud. Why? In 2020, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, “found that on average, nonprofit organizations utilized recommended fraud controls at far lower rates than did other organizations.” This may mean that nongovernmental organizations (NGO) often “lack internal controls, lack of management review of existing internal controls, ” and fail to close structural and systemic loopholes that can be” override [overridden] of existing internal controls.

NGO Chief Financial Officer Job Responsibilities

Not all of the job responsibilities and duties of a NGO Chief Financial Officer (CFO) are finance related. Depending upon the size (number of volunteers, number of employees, annual donations received and geographic areas and nations/communities and client populations served), the job portfolio of a NGO Chief Financial Officers (CFO) can include human resources, fund development and major donor outreach.

For instance, Bridgespan Group conducted research to find NGO Chief Financial Officers of NGOs with budgets from $1.5million to less than $10 million were required to serve in a multi-functional role. Job duties, tasks and responsibilities may span the scope of operations, human resources, information technology, legal, facilities and resource management as well as finance and accounting.