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Nonprofit leadership in a time of crisis.

The western part of Massachusetts is fondly called the Berkshires. It is an idyllic place of mountains, forests, and farmlands. The proximity to New York City, Connecticut, and Boston make this area a central location for a thriving summer arts community. The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires (NPC) lists 146 member organizations ranging from health and wellness, arts, education, and social justice. Located in the Berkshires, the Center for Peace through Culture (CPC) aims to create a culture of peace from the inside out. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this nonprofit faced many challenges and needed financial guidance to plan for the unexpected future.

Susan Lord, Executive Director, sought financial expertise through a pro-bono consulting program offered by the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires. John Gillespie, Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Practice Leader for Charles River CFO, answered the call and met Susan over several weeks.

"In short order, John had assessed all aspects of CPC from our by-laws to the functioning of the board, to budgets and strategic planning. We started with a tutorial on spreadsheets, and John quickly reformatted our bookkeeping, so the important data, no longer buried in details, could guide our decision making," explained Susan.

"Along the way, we discussed how best to use our resources - when to invest more to take advantage of opportunities, when to slow down to build infrastructure. He gave us a timeline and milestones for financial stability, ways to plan for and measure our progress. We discussed how to move from an organization dependent on fundraising to designing programming that could bring in income, thus ensuring our sustainability," Susan explained.

Charles River CFO offers part-time and interim CFO, accounting, and tax services to nonprofit organizations like the Center for Peace through Culture. As a trusted, flexible accounting and finance team, Charles River CFO provides services from bookkeeping to CFO leadership so organizations can focus on their core mission.

"I consider John to be part of our team. He brings a wealth of experience and true commitment to his work, and best of all, his evident enjoyment in helping organizations grow is contagious. He is a delight to work with, even when his lessons are tough!" shared Susan.


1. Having a financial expert to ground creative ideas was reassuring and has become part of the way CPC now operates.

2. Bookkeeping was simplified and made more efficient. Accurate and easy to understand reporting to the board resulted in more active and thoughtful discussions.

3. New revenue models were defined, including earned income and sponsorships streams.

4. Program implementation is more realistic, with a solid understanding of operating costs.

5. Practical perspectives and accurate information are the foundation of budgets, and as a result, CPC is more excited about the future.


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