Making Finance a Strategic Partner with Salesforce and Sage Intacct
IslandWood’s mission is to provide extraordinary learning experiences to inspire lifelong community and environmental stewardship. They do that through their school overnight program on their 255 acre campus, two master graduate programs, school programs delivered in Seattle, and educational programming at a wastewater treatment plant. To support these programs, they have a robust fundraising department as well as income generated from conferences and event sales.
After 12 years of using a legacy system, IslandWood knew they needed to move to the cloud. As a rapidly growing nonprofit with 23 departments, they spent a lot of time doing data entry, and multiple spreadsheets with the same information meant inefficiencies were hampering their growth. They were frustrated with inflexible, infrequent updates, and the legacy system didn’t integrate with other tools.
To help address these issues, the philanthropy team switched over to Salesforce and Sage Intacct for their finance team. IslandWood chose these partners primarily for Salesforce and Sage Intacct’s flexibility and their ability to integrate with other partners.
“In particular, this switch proved to be very helpful for the way the organization engages its Finance team. The philanthropy department puts info into Salesforce, and then we bring that into Sage Intacct – which has totally transformed the way our departments work together,” says Jennifer Sharp, Director of Accounting at IslandWood.
Now, the team can easily create, modify, and share reports of all kinds, whether they are for the board or a specific fundraising activity. IslandWood also appreciated the excellent customer support with Salesforce and Sage Intacct, as well as a thoughtful product roadmap that helps them address more challenges.
Benefits of Moving to the Cloud
With Salesforce and Sage Intacct, IslandWood has been has been able to increase its efficiency by unifying a wide variety of the tools and processes it had previously relied upon.
“We use Salesforce CPQ to quote and invoice our conference programs right now, and it has completely transformed the way that the sales team can provide professional and correct data and pricing to our clients. We invoice within Salesforce and we are able to sync that right into Sage Intacct. So now all of our accounts receivable and reporting and everything is exactly the same as the sales team has intended it to be,” says Erika Williams, Senior Accountant at IslandWood.
As a result of the seamless integration between Sage Intacct and Salesforce, IslandWood also has streamlined its entire sales cycle from quotes, to invoices, to payment processing. The tight connection between these two best-in-class systems eliminates manual data re-entry and gives each member of IslandWood’s sales and finance teams a consistent, real-time view of the donation tracking information they need – where and when they need it. IslandWood leverages SageIntacct’s multi-dimensional general ledger to track key operational metrics, improve fund and grant management, and streamline expense tracking.
Finance Process Improvement
By moving their financial management to Sage Intacct, Islandwood eliminated more than 360 manual person-hours annually, while gaining real-time visibility into programs, donors, funds, fund types, and grants. And beyond that, program managers have fundamentally changed their relationship with the Finance team. Instead of relying on this group to merely record information, program managers now incorporate Finance into strategic decision-making and planning, such as when the team was looking to generate new income after an event was canceled.
As a result of the seamless integration between Salesforce and Sage Intacct, IslandWood also streamlined its entire sales cycle from quotes to invoices to payment processing. This helped to eliminate manual data re-entry and gives IslandWood’s sales and finance teams a consistent, real-time view of the sales-tracking information.
“With our old software, our sales and finance teams had no way to monitor our quickly growing income from conferences and other programs because we had to do very large, error-prone journal entries, run reports, and import data into the general ledger at the end of the month,” says Sharp. “Since we started using Sage Intacct with Salesforce, we’ve gained incredible insight into important sales and receivables information with just the click of a button.”
By tagging specific projects, grants, and special event expenses, IslandWood can slice and dice its financial data however it wants. This feature alone saves the finance team at least half a day of reporting time each month. More importantly, IslandWood benefits from error-free insight into its different grants and fund types because it can run any report on an individual fund, or across a whole category.
“We can easily track and report on all financial metrics, not just for our operating fund, but by each of our half-dozen restricted funds and individual grants,” explained Sharp. “This is so much easier and more accurate than managing separate spreadsheets and will be critical for us as we expand. I look forward to evolving this incredible analysis to more operational metrics like cost per student trends or key program outcomes.”
- Able to manage growth without adding finance headcount: saved at least $15K/yr
- Eliminating spreadsheet use saved hundreds of hours of labor costs
- Able to shorten the monthly close time by at least 3 days
- Finance has increased visibility with sales and philanthropy teams, and finance is seen as a strategic partner
- Better able to monitor and track grants, programs, and funders
- Finance is more poised to make better financial decisions
Advice for Other Nonprofits
IslandWood had some advice for other nonprofits facing similar challenges with multiple systems, which can lead to inefficiencies, employee frustration, lack of data integrity, and a silo effect.