New Jersey Council for the Humanities

"She came in with a full understanding..."

When Briann Greenfield, Ph.D., came to the New Jersey Council for the Humanities in 2014, she was eager to implement several exciting strategic planning and programming ideas. As a historian and professor of American cultural studies, with a background that included nonprofit and humanities administration, she was ready to hit the decks running with ideas for management.

But two months into her tenure, the Council’s part-time finance person resigned, opening up a world of accounting issues with which she was quite unfamiliar. “I had to get up to speed really, really fast,” she says, sitting in her office in Trenton.

The Council is New Jersey’s grassroots arm of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A nonprofit supported by NEH grants, donations and some fees for service, it works with over 200 partner organizations across the state. Programs include a speakers’ bureau, robust re-granting, and incubators that stimulate nonprofits to experiment with new ideas. The effect is to help traditional and non-traditional organizations to reflect on cultural values and beliefs in ways that better reach underserved populations and create a strong, pluralistic society. The Council’s vision is to create a state that people appreciate, where they find joy and understanding in the humanities, and where they come to realize that there are no easy answers to troubling societal issues.

But finances were a new terrain for her, so Greenfield reached out to colleagues at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, which was already using Your Part-Time Controller’s services. YPTC Associate Clare Sciulli began providing controller duties and today Greenfield couldn’t be happier.

“Clare fully understood the requirements we had under our grants. She came in with a full understanding of what we needed for our operations,” she says.
In particular, Sciulli was able to help the Council understand the true costs of doing business. “I wanted to know what our programs really cost,” says Greenfield. “How much staff time is involved? What are the allocated costs? What are the overhead and unseen expenses? We hadn’t had a good sense previously.”

Sciulli began implementing coding and tracking systems. “Today we know where the money is going on a granular level. YPTC enables us to know what our programs cost and this informs our finance and mission decisions,” she adds.

“Working with YPTC is really terrific. It’s not just outsourcing the finance piece; it’s also about developing our own abilities to understand our finances. Clare is training us.

“Because we’re such a small staff, she’s given us another level of oversight. This allows us to have a separation of duties and another set of eyes.”

Meanwhile, YPTC’s involvement has enhanced communications with the Council’s Board. “Clare helps them to understand the big issues and to pull the relevant information out of the fine level of granular detail that she presents,” she says.

“Having YPTC gives you a level of access to expertise. When you have a question – from a finance issue to whether the costs associated with launching a new website should be capitalized – someone at YPTC will know the answer.”