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Financial Health


What would a financially healthy Zen Center look like? Working closely with the Finance Committee of the Board, the Vision Committee developed the following definition. San Francisco Zen Center will:

  • have enough revenue to cover expenses;
  • live within the limits of its financial resources;
  • have a diversified revenue base, with reduced reliance on a single source;
  • address its deferred maintenance needs;
  • consistently address its human resource needs and commitments;
  • create operating reserves against a clear set of goals;
  • have endowment funds to support an appropriate percentage of operations;
  • have a property fund for the purchase, maintenance and emergency needs of SFZC property and built assets;
  • have an ability to invest in new business ideas;
  • consistently build the financial skills and capacity of its staff;
  • effectively balance the allocation of resources among the various needs of the institution; and,
  • manifest a spirit of generosity in its relation to people, programs and the world.

Additionally, Zen Center's financial systems will be characterized by:

  • accountability and controls, gauged against specific benchmarks;
  • flexibility (the ability to respond to change, needs and contingency);
  • accurate and understandable financial reports; and,
  • thoroughly institutionalized planning, forecasting and budgeting processes.


  • Build upon work that has been accomplished over the last few years in terms of improved operational practices, staff education and training in financial matters, staffing of the accounting and financial management function, and debt reduction to continually improve knowledge, coordination and control of financial matters within Zen Center.
  • Implement and periodically refine/reaffirm the guiding definition of financial health.
  • Improve and implement communication practices related to finances.
  • Build a culture that values financial health.
  • Continually refine planning tools and skills.
  • Create financial plans for: capital needs, required human resource and other investments, income generating opportunities such as Greens and other ventures, and resource allocation for new strategic goals.
  • Regularly review progress towards financial health within a five-year rolling framework.
  • Build a strong development function and ensure a trained development staff that supports Zen Center leadership's ability to seek donations.
  • Increase dana/donations by cultivating major donor relationships.