Every nonprofit organization was started to solve an issue, help a group or community, and make a difference in the world. By carrying out their missions, nonprofit organizations generate positive social impact.
Nonprofits can make an impact right away, for example, by teaching a child to read. But nonprofits can also generate longer-term downstream social impacts that transform larger communities and the world. If you teach a whole generation of children, you can help lift a society out of poverty.
In this article, we will discuss how social impact is defined and examine three ways that improving collaboration within the finance team and across the organization can help facilitate better social impact. We will also explore how digital finance transformation can drive improved collaboration that leads to greater social impact.
What is social impact?
The concept of social impact gets discussed a lot in the nonprofit industry because ultimately, every nonprofit seeks to make an impact. In recent years, social impact has also become an important element in corporate philanthropy and branding.
Before we look at how nonprofit finance teams can influence social impact through better collaboration with other departments, it is useful to define social impact. Here are two definitions:
- A Duke University Careerhub article defined social impact as “any significant or positive changes that solve or at least address social injustice and challenges. Businesses or organizations achieve these goals through conscious and deliberate efforts or activities in their operations and administrations.”1
- Peter Frumkin, the founder of The Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania, said social impact is “any effort to solve complex social problems and create public value in the process.”2
While social impact is the ultimate goal of most nonprofits, it can be difficult to measure. Nonprofits need to track program outcomes data and other nonprofit KPIs over time to see long-term social impact taking shape.
3 ways improving nonprofit finance team collaboration can accelerate social impact
When a nonprofit finance team discovers how to collaborate more effectively across the organization, the entire organization can execute better and deliver greater impact. Nonprofit finance transformation with a nonprofit cloud financial management solution like Sage Intacct can facilitate social impact in many ways. Let us explore three of those improvements and see how Sage Intacct helped the Koret Foundation achieve better collaboration and impact.
1. Better informed decision-making
When the finance team can easily assemble timely, accurate information needed by the CFO, CEO, and the board, these leaders can make better decisions. They can then direct resources to the programs making the biggest impact. With improved reporting and data sharing, nonprofit leaders can also better communicate their mission story. Providing the complete picture of transparency and stewardship by sharing financial and outcomes metrics helps shore up financial support to accomplish long-term impact.
At the Koret Foundation, CFO Marlena Wong has been able to get reports faster, leaving more time for analysis, predictions, and planning.
“With Sage Intacct, the entire finance team’s role has changed. We have more time to analyze our data, to drive analytics, and to produce information used for management planning and budgeting decisions.”
~ Marlena Wong, CFO, Koret Foundation
2. Stronger internal communication
To achieve maximum impact, nonprofits need their team to stay on the same page. That means everyone needs to be able to securely access the data their roles require. Staff needs to be able to work cross-departmentally to stay on top of budgets and funding and programs. With a cloud financial management solution, users can access the data they need from any location, at any time. It is easy to share data between best-in-class cloud solutions through integration, for even greater visibility in collaboration.
The Koret Foundation takes advantage of native integration between Sage Intacct and Nexonia expense management, Fluxx grant management, and Wells Fargo payment services for ACH.
“Our finance and program teams have never worked so collaboratively before, and this is even reflected in how we work with our auditors and other software vendors—everyone’s working toward the same goal.”
~ Marlena Wong, CFO, Koret Foundation
3. Improved finance efficiency
The objective of nonprofits is to deliver on mission. Every dollar spent on operations, salaries, and marketing, while necessary and important, is a dollar not going into programs. That is why it is essential for nonprofits to operate as lean and efficiently as possible. Nonprofit finance transformation ensures organizations get the highest-performing finance function needed with the smallest effective team. It also lets nonprofit finance leaders focus more time on strategy and analysis.
Integration and automation from Sage Intacct have increased the Koret Foundation’s finance team efficiency by 75% and slashed monthly close from 45 days down to 10 days.
“Sage Intacct has enabled us to reduce our G&A spend, which we can redirect toward more mission-focused projects and high-caliber hires. But more importantly, it’s changed our culture to be more collaborative.”
~ Marlena Wong, CFO, Koret Foundation
Sage Intacct Collaborate transforms finance team collaboration
Sage Intacct Collaborate is a collaboration tool that puts everyone on the same page to improve teamwork and communication. Using Collaborate, nonprofit finance teams and other staff can communicate right inside Sage Intacct.
Instead of endless email threads, Sage Intacct Collaborate lets you have the conversation where it makes the most sense—at the journal entry, account, project, invoice, purchase requisition, and more. Store conversations right inside transactions and records where you have the context right at hand.
Answer questions only one time, then leave them as an explanation for others. Work more effectively with other departments and even your auditor. With a single click, read all messages related to an issue and benefit from the complete context from all participants. Sage Intacct Collaborate spans every process and device so the finance, development, and program teams can cooperatively resolve any issue.
When questions arise, use Collaborate to clarify policies, gather missing information, or resolve exceptions. Collaborate feeds can be added to dashboards, so the context around decisions made by the board or in staff meetings can be recalled later. Add snapshots of charts used in the decision-making process into the Collaborate feed to record additional point-in-time context.
For organizations using the integration between Sage Intacct and Salesforce, conversations in Collaborate float back and forth with Salesforce Chatter, keeping the front office in sync with the back office.
Level up your collaboration for greater social impact
Improving finance collaboration has a direct connection to improving mission impact. Better efficiency, communication, and data sharing between software systems and departments ensure everyone stays on the same page. Nonprofit finance transformation enabled the finance staff, executive leadership, and the board to have real-time financial performance and outcomes information at their fingertips to guide better analysis and decision-making. Find more benefits of transforming the nonprofit finance function when you read The Road to Nonprofit Finance Transformation Success e-book.
1. Duke University Careerhub, “Social Impact: Definition and Why is Social Impact Important,” Nicole Mitchell, Sep. 2021.
2. The Center for Social Impact Strategy, “What is Social Impact Anyways?” Ariel Schwartz, Aug. 2017.