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Does Your Nonprofit Education Organization’s Accounting Software Pass the Test? 4 Things to Improve Today

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Finance leaders of nonprofit education organizations have a tough job. Many schools and other education-related nonprofits rely on a mixture of funding sources, including government funding, private tuition, grants, and donations that make revenue reconciliation difficult. Separate funds, programs, and locations are often accounted for as separate entities, requiring painful, time-consuming manual data entry to consolidate financials.

Today’s education-focused nonprofit organizations need to provide key stakeholders, leaders, and funders with real-time visibility and better insight into metrics that can help guide decisions. Without the right education and school accounting software, it can be difficult to gain financial control and to achieve accurate insight into organizational performance, outcomes, and impacts.

Four Ways Nonprofit Education Organizations Can Improve Financial Management

In recent interviews with nonprofit education finance leaders, each decision-maker identified the following four things that would help them achieve better financial management for their organizations:

  1. Gain real-time visibility into financial performance, outcomes, and impact across multiple entities

Many schools and education nonprofit organizations experience delayed access and limited visibility to the financial data and results they need for good stewardship. In many organizations, backward-looking reports produced by legacy accounting systems don’t provide enough information, forcing finance leaders to spend too much of their most precious resource—their time—manually consolidating financial data, maintaining spreadsheets, and responding to time sensitive requests (putting out fires).

Whether you support schools, research, or other educational organizations, a financial management solution with real time visibility into performance will enable more proactive management that in turn can maximize stewardship and mission impact. To support a growing, complex organization, education nonprofits need a solution that easily consolidates information across all entities.

“With Sage Intacct’s real-time visibility, our managers can immediately see how their local programming decisions or budget variances will impact the organization’s bottom-line in the next 3, 6, or 12 months, which has made them much more proactive and agile.”

–Todd Forsyth, Corporate Controller, Education Pioneers

Education is the foundation to our future, so today’s funders need assurance that the nonprofits they support will achieve the largest possible impact with the funding received. You need to be able to measure and report on outcomes rather than activities. The right nonprofit accounting software will help everyone have easy access to the right performance measurements to make better decisions and convey the organization’s missional impact. For example, Sage Intacct features role-based dashboards that deliver financial performance and outcome metrics to program managers, business developers, financial leaders, and executives.

  1. Scale growth more quickly by increasing efficiency through automation

As any nonprofit organization can tell you, maximizing stewardship always means learning to do more with less and do it quicker. One of the best ways to do more with less is to increase your organizational efficiency with strategic technology.

Outdated technology is a burden to schools and other education-related nonprofit organizations. Rigid work flows keep the finance team mired in doing things to match the legacy software instead of improving processes to work smarter. Month after month, the financial team is bogged down in low-value tasks such as manually inputting receipts and invoices, or pulling data out of the accounting system to manipulate a better report format in a spreadsheet.

“With Sage Intacct, we close the books faster and with more accuracy, leaving us more time to work on projects that deliver the biggest impact to our beneficiaries.”

–Kote Lomidze, CFAO World Learning

Modern financial management solutions automate many manual data entry and reporting tasks, so the finance team can spend their time on more important tasks. Through better automation, you can eliminate processes that require duplicate data entry, ensuring that typographical errors don’t reduce the accuracy of your reports. You’ll save hours of lower impact work, speeding up monthly close and leaving you with the ability to support a larger organization without adding more staff.

“Not only has Sage Intacct saved us several days of cobbling together spreadsheets each month, it has allowed us to keep up with increasing complexity without additional headcount. If we didn’t have Sage Intacct, we would have needed at least another half-time resource at around $15,000 per year–not an insignificant cost for a nonprofit like us.”

–Jennifer Sharp, Senior Accounting Manager, IslandWood

  1. Give key stakeholders reliable data, effective financial control, and easy reporting, so they can make better-informed decisions

As a nonprofit education organization grows, its complexity increases. Supporting multiple entities or locations with a variety of services, programs, and partnership initiatives requires multiple systems and ways to track different funds and restrictions. Monthly or quarterly reports that once sufficed no longer provide decision makers with timely enough information to move ahead strategically in growing and sustaining missional impact.

“Sage Intacct delivers major productivity improvements for our team, but more importantly, it gives us access to trusted financial data on a real-time basis, which is a major benefit across our organization.”

–Alliah Mohamed, Director, Accounting & Financial Operations, DonorsChoose.org

Find a financial management and accounting solution that helps your nonprofit education organization’s finance team get automated reports they need for decision making, without having to dig through the system or manually manipulate data. High level data and key performance metrics should be at decision makers’ fingertips at any time, from any device. It should start at the 30,000-foot consolidated view of the organization as a whole and then drill down into individual entities, programs, locations, or funds for a more granular view of details.

“After comparing Sage Intacct against the Blackbaud and Microsoft Dynamics solutions, we saw a huge difference in how much easier it was to use Sage Intacct’s reporting and analysis capabilities.”

–Roberta Hopkins, CFO, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School

  1. Replace old, legacy financial systems with modern cloud technology that integrates with other important business applications

Nonprofit education organizations can enjoy superior reporting, reduced IT costs, and easier integration with other key systems if they replace a legacy, on-premises accounting system with a cloud-based accounting software solution. The right cloud financial management system must be able to integrate with and receive data from other mission-critical applications, such as Salesforce Education Cloud, donor management, tuition management, event management, grant management, and payroll apps.

Without integration of critical business systems, it’s difficult to see the full picture of your organization’s performance, because key data streams will be left out of your analysis, or you will be forced to sort through multiple reports. Look for a cloud solution with API functionality built in, so it can easily integrate with other nonprofit cloud applications. Sage Intacct also offers pre-built integration with Salesforce to deliver a complete view of every customer and streamlined accounting workflows.

“After comparing Sage Intacct with other products, our corporate and field teams all agreed that it was intuitive, dynamic, and flexible enough to capture all of our operational complexities. What made the decision especially easy was the company’s ‘customer for life’ philosophy, which assured us that Sage Intacct could effectively carry us into the future.”

–Shari Freedman, CFO, Room to Read

Conclusion

As a nonprofit school or education-related organization, your mission impacts the success of individuals, families, communities, and nations. Diverse funding sources, reporting and compliance, multiple programs and locations, and a broad eco-system of (hopefully) integrated business systems are just a few of the challenges that education-based nonprofit finance leaders must manage. A cloud-based accounting software solution can help you maximize organizational efficiency and gain real-time visibility into financial performance, outcomes and impacts.

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