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Washington Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

"I get information in a way that I can use it..."

Washington Lawyers Committee - Jo0nathan Smith

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs has been on the front line of civil rights work for more than 50 years by deploying the best legal talent to fight discrimination, repair the damage of historic racial inequity and break down barriers to opportunity. Working in such areas as housing justice, employment justice, education justice, immigration justice, reform of the criminal legal system, and securing equitable access to public accommodations, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee

works to create legal, economic and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. The Committee fights discrimination against all people, recognizes the central role that current and historic race discrimination plays in sustaining inequity, and identifies, exposes, combats, and dismantles the systems that sustain racial oppression.

“Like many nonprofits, we are leanly staffed and when we have the capacity to expand we focus our resources on bringing in program staff to effect greater change in the world,” explains Executive Director Jonathan M. Smith. But lacking the resources to deal with such “infrastructure issues” as the finance department, plus having to administer increasingly more complex foundation grants, Smith realized the Committee needed assistance.

“We especially needed help in the more sophisticated high end of financial management, looking at financial projections, dealing with the numbers in a more disciplined way, presenting our bookkeeping with more clarity, and taking advantage of new technology,” he says. In particular, YPTC Associate Larry Kaplan has helped the Committee not just with providing “practical and sage advice. He’s been very kind and patient with us, just spectacular.”

Smith particularly likes the user-friendliness of the information YPTC provides. “I get information in a way that I can use it,” he says. YPTC thinks beyond just having clean books to consider how others – board members, staff and funders — will use that information.

“We not only have a high level of confidence that our books are being kept in good order but also that when we turn to the books for management of the organization, they make sense in an efficient and effective way. They help me understand what we can and cannot afford to do and to make projections and decisions based on complete information. YPTC makes us much stronger. They make our financial management a tool as we grow. They give us not only a good picture with a laser focus on accuracy but also tell us what we’ll have available in the future to respond to new issues. I’m not sure that we could have gotten to where we are without their support.”

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