Most Social Workers Know Little About Financial Human Services, Author Says

By Paul R. Pace

Above the bottom line, Financial management in human services

In 1980, Roger A. Lohmann, PhD, professor emeritus of social work at West Virginia University in Morgantown, says he wrote the first book ever published for social workers interested in financial management.

It remained in print without a revision for 27 years, until he asked the publisher to stop selling it because a few parts were outdated. Meanwhile, he co-authored several “Encyclopedia of Social Work” articles on the topic. This caught the attention of the editors at NASW Press, who recruited him to take one more shot at the topic. Lohmann’s NASW Press book, Above the Bottom Line: Financial Management in Human Services, is the result.

Most social workers have no clue about financial human services before they get roped into management, and social work education still offers very little on the subject, Lohmann contends.

“The vast majority of social workers must learn on the job—and some will mislearn—whatever they know about the subject,” he says. “This book, like my earlier one, was written partly with this audience in mind.”

“Above the Bottom Line” is framed around a “syncretic” social enterprise model applicable to most public, nonprofit, and for-profit human services settings, Lohmann notes.

“While once voluntary, human services arose organically out of the expressed needs of the community,” he says. “Today, human services come about through professionally planned change and the initiatives of enterprising professionals.”

He explains that the book identifies and discusses five important financial analytical “technologies”: budgeting and financial planning; break-even analysis; cost -analysis; ratio analysis; and social economics.

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