Jenny Norris, Vice President of Finance for the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) was faced with a dilemma. Her legacy accounting software system was coming to its end of life, no longer supporting critical tax updates. While she had budgeted appropriately to migrate to a cloud-based software as a service solution, the COVID-19 pandemic had just started. “I was asking myself - should we really be spending the money when we don’t know what’s happening with our membership and our education programs? I was worried about both the financial and time commitment and almost delayed my decision.”
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Hot off the press is the 2021 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report. The report shares the results of over 500 nonprofit finance leaders who participated in the survey. Available in the report are the survey results around the topics of funding and donors; programs and services; communication and constituent engagement; market trends; technology; and accounting and financial management software.
When Sage Intacct published the 2020 Nonprofit Technology providing insights into how nonprofits leverage technology to achieve their mission, it was February. And then . . . we had no idea how our world would be turned upside down just one month later.
Respondents to the 2021 nonprofit technology survey are sharing their insights through a completely different lens. And while the impact of the pandemic is significant, there are some signs that allow for optimism.
We are happy to offer the results of the 2021 Nonprofit Technology Report as a free download.
Download the 2021 Nonprofit Technology Report
The global pandemic and the subsequent health and economic impacts have forced people around the world to alter their day-to-day activities. The nonprofit community faced a dichotomy of grappling with organizational disruptions, while also being looked to for leadership to support and respond to the overwhelming societal challenges.
As nonprofits dealt with market uncertainty, higher demand for services with fewer resources, and the need for innovations to overcome challenges, many turned to technology to address these issues. In an industry where dollars mean the difference between having or not having meals, housing, healthcare, or education, the right technology can help improve efficiency, achieve compliance, save money, and ultimately, deliver greater mission impact.
With that in mind, Sage Intacct once again launched its annual nonprofit technology survey. Over 500 nonprofit finance leaders in the U.S. participated in the research study, providing their perspective on the industry, the challenges they face, and the technology engagement – in and out of the context of the pandemic.
If your nonprofit organization is ready for digital transformation, the power and flexibility of the cloud, and the ability to better manage team members working remotely, we can help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk at a convenient time for you.
Are you a finance or accounting leader in a growing nonprofit organization? Then this case study will go a long way to help you understand the impact of implementing cloud based financial software.
Keeping Pace with High Growth Demands
Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. The nonprofit’s challenge is to prepare the network that already serves 2.4 million Americans each year to meet the increasing demands of a rapidly growing senior population.
Meals on Wheels America needed modern financial management to keep up, as Don Miller recognized when he joined the nonprofit as chief financial and administrative officer in 2013. “I walked into an organization that was running on QuickBooks and Excel and was very limited by its systems, especially when it came to managing grants,” Miller said. “I knew we needed an accounting system that could help us grow.” As it was, Meals on Wheels America faced tons of time-consuming manual accounting work, and relied on Excel to manage grant funding - which was especially problematic with restricted grants from funders that specify a particular use. Reporting was severely limited, and travel and expense accounting was still done on paper.
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Increasing revenue. Consolidating across multiple entities. Budgeting. Implementing internal controls. Facilitating audits and compliance reporting. Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook the fact that CFOs of nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike, share many of the same challenges in pursuit of the same overarching goal: optimizing the returns of the organization’s activities by carefully managing all aspects of its finances.
But, of course, in the nonprofit world, it’s not about maximizing profitability it’s about maximizing impact. Nonprofits typically pursue a “mission-first” philosophy, aiming to achieve greater social or philanthropic goals and balance the competing interests of social mission and a sound financial foundation. The result is a host of additional challenges that can burden the nonprofit finance team and its financial software infrastructure.
The fact is, it’s never easy to be a CFO. Regardless of the organization, every CFO faces both common and unique challenges and pressures. However, in many ways, financial leaders at nonprofits must address even greater difficulties than their for-profit counterparts. It can be a result of thin or part-time staffing (and sometimes merely volunteers). There are always tight budgets, primitive tools (think of dozens of spreadsheets from multiple contributors), and far-flung management teams. Nonprofit CFOs are under the gun to achieve so much: to automate processes, improve productivity, create greater levels of transparency and visibility, enhance the governance of the organization, and strengthen the team’s decision-making and strategic focus.
How can a CFO survive this challenging environment? The guide linked below discusses some of the key challenges, special requirements, and unusual constraints of financial management and shares some tips and best practices from numerous nonprofit finance experts.
Download the white paper ‘The Nonprofit CFO’s Survival Guide’ here.
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With new challenges in nonprofit giving, the need to engage your donor base is more important than ever. Staying connected to your donors and communicating your impact can help ensure your organization continues to get the funding you need to continue your good work.
In the eBook, ‘Nonprofit Storytelling: Using Data and Performance Metrics to Motivate Donors’, you’ll learn how to leverage your financial data and performance metrics to better tell your story. You’ll also get best practices along with specific examples of how you can elevate your story to strengthen long-term sustainability.
Download your copy here.
If you’d like to better understand what Sage Intacct can do for your organization, please contact us.
Nonprofit finance leaders need to assume a more strategic role in organizational intelligence and planning. To do that, you need better visibility into both financial and operational metrics, so you can make better decisions.
In the Secrets to Gaining Visibility into Nonprofit Financials eBook, we explore the challenges of nonprofit financial reporting, reveal the secrets to gaining the visibility you need to develop winning strategies to advance your mission and discuss how your peers are using the cloud to deliver on growth strategies.
“Before, everyone was in the dark, but with Sage Intacct it’s a whole new world. Department managers can see precisely how they are doing with the click of a button . . . As a result, people are controlling their costs proactively, the organization’s overall expenses are down, we’re sticking to our budget, and our spend is under control.” Alisa B. CFO
If you’d like to explore how to better control costs and keep projects on budget, please contact us. We're happy to answer your questions and show you the solution.
In the mission-driven nonprofit world, accounting and financial management can sometimes slip down the priority list. It’s not always easy to allocate budget dollars to back office infrastructure that doesn’t directly support the nonprofit agenda, and it’s even harder to find the time and expertise to make it all work. Consider some of the obstacles:
What do nonprofit financial leaders have to say about their move to the cloud?
“All of our chapters can access our cloud-based financials,” said Nikki Jones, Controller, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. “We have volunteers working all over the world at all hours of the day and night. With our system, they access the same world-class financial foundation that many companies use. Our board and chapter leaders have real-time access to reports, registrations, metrics, and analyses. That means we’re constantly on top of our operation and can make strategic decisions faster. For us, the cloud is critical. It’s the only way to go.”
“Cloud financials are absolutely key to running a nonprofit today,” said James Linday, Vice President and CFO, Great Books Foundation. “Now we can eliminate lots of manual work, be more productive, and eliminate all of those capital investments. This is a predictable, flat operating expense, and we save at least $30,000 a year this way.”
In nonprofit financial management, survival depends on predictable costs, a reliable infrastructure, and world-class functionality.
Key Best Practices for Survival:
Businessman Simon Mainwaring once said, “The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.” Transparency and accountability, in particular, are essential to a nonprofit achieving mission success.
How to show accountability and transparency
The willingness to be accountable and transparent about your nonprofit — especially finances — creates an environment of trust that encourages donations. Financial transparency and accountability are also essential for legal compliance.
Nonprofits face significant challenges as a result of thin staffing, tight budgets, primitive financial management tools (e.g., spreadsheets), and far-flung management teams. Financial transparency may seem almost impossible.
Fortunately, there’s cloud-based fund accounting software from Sage Intacct. Now you can create greater levels of transparency across every dimension of your organization and get real-time visibility into your organization’s financial health. Key stakeholders like the Board of Directors have instant, actionable insight to make smart decisions about your nonprofit’s future.
Let Leaf Software Solutions guide you to greater financial transparency and accountability. By focusing on your business needs first, so we can design a solution that scales as your nonprofit grows. Call us at 317-814-8000, or email us to get started today.