Global Glimpse, which sends young people to developing nations so they can become better global citizens, is committed to serving low-income students who couldn't otherwise afford such a life-changing experience. Its mission is a resounding success: The Oakland, Calif. nonprofit started out in 2008 by sending 85 students to countries like Nicaragua and Ecuador, and in 2015, gave 900 students first-hand exposure to different cultures.
Expanding its services so much in such a short time demands careful attention to finances, explains Brent Nichols, Global Glimpse's U.S. operations manager: “We want to make the trips as affordable as possible.” Students pay fees based on income, but much of the cost is borne by the nonprofit. “There are a lot of for-profit companies offering student trips — but what makes us different is that we serve low-income students, and half of them are below the poverty line,” Nichols says.
Worldwide Mission, Nonprofit Budget
As part of running a frugal organization, Global Glimpse's 12 full-time staffers are careful about expenses. Most trip-related expense, such as airline tickets and hostel accommodations, are paid in advance. In-country staff are responsible for managing incidental costs for supplies during trips but, on the whole, lodging, meals, and excursions are planned in advance and prepaid.
Back in the United States, the most common expense, Nichols says, is transportation to schools from Global Glimpse' offices in Oakland, Chicago and New York. Staffers visit schools to train teachers participating in trips, but taxis are pricey and public transportation won't take people everywhere they need to go. “We use Zipcars in all three cities,” Nichols says. The nonprofit maintains an account with the car-sharing service, and staffers can choose a car, “although we ask them to choose the regular models and not a Mercedes.”
Costs of Doing Business
Similar to any business, Global Glimpse staff must spend money to deliver on the organization's mission. Typical expenses include buying supplies for alumni when they attend quarterly summits at Global Glimpse offices to learn how to become “ambassadors” for future trips. Smart financial management, though, is key.
As a small nonprofit, Global Glimpse relies on consultations with an outside CPA to manage finances and to provide advice about smart accounting processes. “They make the templates that we use for expense reports throughout the organization,” Nichols says. Having experts to lean on, he says, is the best way for a fast-growing organization to manage financial resources wisely, even without a big accounting team.
“We all have many other tasks besides finance,” Nichols says, so outside expertise lets staffers focus on the nonprofit's mission without getting sidetracked. In addition, the CPA firm helps Global Glimpse adapt expense management and other financial practices as the nonprofit expands its services. “Our policies are always evolving because we're growing so fast,” Nichols says.
Christine Kent brings over 20 years of writing and journalism expertise to her work for technology, consumer and corporate organizations. Her journalism-driven approach enables her to not just write a document, but to find the voice of a client to tell their story in the most compelling way.
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