Is Your Nonprofit Accounting Department A Prisoner Of The Past?
Often what drives nonprofit organizations to replace their accounting software is what it doesn’t do.
- The reports you need can’t be generated directly from the system, so you have to resort to creating spreadsheets to compensate for the system’s limitations.
- There’s no integration between your fund accounting system and other critical systems like fundraising, online give, grant management, etc. So you or someone else is taking data from one system and manually re-entering it into another system.
- In order to get information from the system you and other managers have to be in the office because the software resides on an on-premise server. If you’re calling on a major donor, you have to print out any reports you might need before hand. If attending a conference, it might mean going dark until you return to the office or having staff members scrambling to email you an attachment.
- Often times, not only is the system lacking in nonprofit features and functionality, it’s difficult to use. Getting a new team member proficient on the software could take months – plus you need to teach all the manual workarounds you’ve created to make up for the software deficiencies.
It all adds up to wasted time, money, and effort. But worse than that it’s a threat to your organizational health. The bedrock of a vibrant, well-managed, transparent nonprofit organization is sound financial management and analysis.
Most nonprofit finance directors would prefer to spend their time on more strategic activities for the organization rather than creating yet another spreadsheet and scrambling just to get the most basic of reports ready for the executive team.
How long have you been struggling with the limitations of your current system? Usually the answer is you’ve been burdened with an outdated system for about seven to ten years.
There’s hope. There’s a more energizing future state that promises to free you from the doldrums of manual processes, rekeying of data from one system to another, and the spreadsheet creation factory that your finance department has become.
Technology has changed dramatically in the last 18 months – consider how much more it’s changed since the last time you evaluated fund accounting software.
The most revolutionary change is the availability of cloud-based fund accounting: fund accounting that provides the features and functionality nonprofits require. If the only benefit of a new solution was that it freed you from scrambling in the attempt to manage the organization by spreadsheets – it would be well worth the investment.
But Cloud-based fund accounting does so much more.
Not only will you be able to generate the reports you need directly from the system, key financial information can be displayed through customizable dashboards. The information that your Executive Director wants to see on a daily basis is probably different that what a Program Manager wants to see or what you want to see on a daily basis. You can create a variety of dashboard that gives each team member the exact data they want.
Those who need to access the system can do so on the device of their choice from wherever they happen to be, at any time of day or night. Obviously, they need to be identified in the system and will have a login and password for security purposes. But once they are set up, they can access the information for which they have permissions, and it can be done whether they are in the office, sitting front of their PC or via smart phone, tablet, or laptop if they are lunching with a major donor or attending a conference or working from home.
Having your fund accounting system delivered from the cloud can also mean significant bottom line savings for your organization. It’s easy to forget about the considerable cost of maintaining servers and on-premise hardware and network infrastructure until, of course, the annual maintenance bill comes. When your solution is delivered via the cloud, you have a predictable, considerably lower, monthly cost.
Cloud technology makes it easier to integrate and link other mission-critical systems to accounting. This means organization-wide relief from manually re-keying data from one system to another. In many cases, that convenience alone would be worth the investment – but there’s a more dramatic benefit. Integration means a multi-dimensional view of the organization. In most cases, dashboards can display information from other systems, for example your fundraising system, in addition to financial data from accounting. This gives your organization the opportunity to do more with outcome metrics.
There is no good reason to continue living in the past. Better management leads to better program execution, increased transparency, and mission fulfillment. The cloud makes it easier, more affordable, and empowers you to do more. Your team will appreciate the change, your board will appreciate the change, and what’s more, your constituents will benefit from the change.
Nonprofits are increasingly turning to the cloud. What are reasons and benefits they point to? Find out here.