Peace of Mind

Memphis Leadership Foundation aiding nonprofits with back-office support

By Don Wade

Each summer, about 150 inner-city youth enjoy For the Kingdom Camp. The purpose is to provide a Christ-centered and challenging camping environment for discipleship, character-building and recreation.

So, yes, those are big goals. In fact, they are big goals more easily achieved when the nonprofit can focus on those objectives and there can be a minimal amount of worry about all the other details that, while important to running a smooth operation, can create headaches and even get in the way of the primary mission.

“There are a lot of nonprofits out there that are really good at what they do, but most are not great at administrative chores and they hate it,” said Ramsay Clark, director of development at the Memphis Leadership Foundation. “They want to do what they’re good at. So they say, `would you take HR, would you take payroll, insurance, off our plate and let us do our core business?’”

(From left to right) Turley Muller, Dr. Larry Lloyd, Ramsay Clark, Shawn Taylor, Lauren Sellers and Jackie Zywicki. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)


Memphis Leadership Foundation (MLF) long has provided back-office support for nonprofits the foundation helped launch. Increasingly, they are expanding the service – for a minimal cost – to other nonprofits seeking back-office help.

Clark says they now handle back-office duties for about 35 organizations, about half them started through MLF. But in any case, the option of back-office support can have a substantial ripple effect for a nonprofit – especially smaller ones without large budgets.

“To be honest, one of the benefits is on the financial side of it,” said Ray Arechiga, executive director of For the Kingdom Camp. “I would say we don’t have to have a CFO because they play that role for us. So that’s huge.”

Rachel Haaga is executive director at Restore Corps, a nonprofit assisting women coming out of the human trafficking world. Haaga has some business management experience in her background, but it’s not her forte now. Nor is it where she wants to put her focus.

Restore Corps takes advantage of MLF’s back-office support. She says it practically gives the organization more hours in the day.

“You are able to grow,” Haaga said, adding that she has been able to increase staffing. “There’s so much time gained.”

For instance, instead of worrying about payroll or human resources issues, Haaga can be working for the women she is trying to get back into society.

“I can be out in the community finding jobs for our clients,” she said.

The minimal cost to the nonprofits using the service matters, too.

“We only charge about one-tenth of what they would pay on the open market or if they brought somebody in to do it on the inside,” Clark said. “In the nonprofit world, those additional nine points are huge.”

Said Arechiga: “They have so much staff, it helps us (being under their umbrella) when we go to get insurance. It’s a lower cost for benefits for our employees.”

Haaga agreed, saying, “So many smaller nonprofits can’t offer benefits.”

Clark says they have had to add back-office financial staff to provide the increase in services. But it’s well worth it, and it’s one of those ideas that’s so good one wonders why somebody didn’t have it decades ago.

Arechiga just knows he’s thankful it’s available now. He expresses what it means to him in three simple, but very significant, words.

“Peace of mind,” he said, “peace of mind.”