Society of Environmental Journalists
"“Strength in educating our all-volunteer board….”"
The Society of Environmental Journalists is the only North American membership association of professional journalists dedicated to more and better coverage of environment-related issues. Founded in 1990 by a small group of award-winning reporters, editors and producers working for major national and local print and broadcast media, SEJ’s membership today includes more than 1,400 journalists and academics working in every type of news media in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and 43 other countries. SEJ’s mission is to strengthen the quality, reach and viability of journalism that advances public understanding of environmental issues. Through building bridges between scientists and journalists, raising awareness of the value of environmental news reporting among philanthropists and media decision-makers, and conducting conferences, tours and trainings, SEJ provides critical support to journalists in their efforts to cover complex issues of the environment responsibly.
When Meaghan Parker took over as Executive Director, there had been significant transition and leadership changes including closing the Society’s physical office outside Philadelphia and converting to an all-remote work environment. Parker told the Board of Directors that help was needed to build capacity and expertise in financial management in order to grow the organization and show donors that their gifts were being spent wisely.
“We have a very small staff and it was really tough to do all the things that a membership organization needs to do – like raise money, support our members, award grants, and hold conferences – plus manage the complexities of nonprofit accounting,” she says. “A regular accountant wouldn’t have been able to provide the level of sophistication we need for the complexity of our books.”
Parker saw a YPTC training webinar and realized that YPTC’s specialty would be perfect for the Society’s accounting plus helping the board to understand financial reports. “We needed someone with strength in educating our all-volunteer board. They’re journalists; they want third-party verification, and most of them don’t have experience in managing a nonprofit of our size,” she adds.
YPTC has been preparing customized reports, helping to update financial policies, attending committee and board meetings, and helping the society get ready for the audit. “They’ve freed up my time and my colleagues’ time for all the other work we need to do, plus their reports are more rigorous, more timely and more informative. They make us more nimble.”
Parker particularly appreciates the transparency of the working arrangement and the flexibility of only having to pay for the hours needed, which can change depending on the time of year. “For me it’s the perfect fit,” she says. “I’m a big fan!”