How Nonprofit Finance Can Move from “Info Keeper” to “Strategic Partner”
By: Joan Benson, Nonprofit Industry Marketing, Sage Intacct
Old school accountants (I admit I was one!) used to spend our months looking backwards, trying to book, reconcile, and push out reports – always after the fact. If we could achieve this by 10 days after the end of the month, it was a win. Of course we didn’t have real time visibility into expenses, budgets, or billing – but we could hope to manually reconcile funding from one system, into our financial system. We were definitely the historical information keepers.
The cloud changed everything, and best-in-class solutions like Salesforce and Sage Intacct brought a new world for visibility, automation, and integration by bringing real time insight allowing for proactive management. Finance teams are now freed from manual processes, dual data entry, and spreadsheet nightmares — allowing them to look forward instead of backwards. Finance teams now have key data, reports, dashboards, trend analysis, key metrics, and more – becoming a strategic partner to help drive growth and help ensure mission success.
Part of the process of moving from the role of ‘historian’ to ‘strategic partner’, involves solving the challenges and pain that keep your organization from thriving. In a recent survey of nonprofit finance leaders, we asked about their biggest challenges and pains. The top of their list was ‘reporting’. Many organizations are experiencing significant inefficiency due to manual reporting – often in error-prone spreadsheets. This manual reporting is often complicated with multiple locations and entities that have to be ‘consolidated’. This results in delayed reporting and a disproportionate amount of the finance team’s resources. Time that could be spent proactively and strategically driving the organization, is used in inefficient, time consuming, and error prone manual reporting.
Their second priority to solve is the ‘lack of real time visibility into key outcome and performance metrics’. With greater demand for performance and impact, organizations are buried in paper tracking – after the fact – to track and measure key metrics. Instant visibility with automated tracking and calculation of key indicators would be a major victory for nonprofit finance teams.
The other key challenge finance leaders said were keeping them from moving to ‘strategic partner’ was the inefficiencies due to multiple, disconnected systems. Typically we see multiple systems – financial, donor/grant management, case management, billing, etc., and often, these are older technologies that don’t provide ‘open architecture’ that makes integration easy and automated.
Modern, true cloud solutions provide real time visibility, automation of key processes, and utilize open architecture for easy integration between solutions. Salesforce and Sage Intacct are best-in-class solutions that provide the best technology solutions across your organization – bridging the gap between development and finance.
Here’s an example dashboard from Sage Intacct:
What does this all look like in practice?
DonorsChoose.org allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects, and they’re benefiting from the modern, true cloud technology that Salesforce and Sage Intacct provide. Andy Kaplan, CFO, shared how this is benefiting his organization: “In many nonprofits, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the development team and the finance team because they’re each counting things differently. With Sage Intacct’s seamless connection to Salesforce, the whole conversation and frustration has evaporated. We’re always in sync because both teams work off the same accurate data.”
And on the marketing side, DonorsChoose.org uses Salesforce to create a personalized experience for each donor. The results speak for themselves: “With Marketing Cloud, we’ve increased our donor conversion rate by 300%,” shares Katie Bisbee, Chief Marketing Officer, DonorsChoose.org.
When groups like fundraising and finance are connected, we can all work better together. Would your organization benefit from automation and integration between your finance and donor management solution? Are you ready to position your finance team as a strategic partner? Do you want your fundraising and finance teams to be on the same page?
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