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Going paperless: 7 ways to automate your nonprofit’s finance department

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Paperless automation delivers many important benefits to nonprofit finance teams, from real-time financial visibility to increased efficiency to more accurate forecasting and planning. Cloud financial management systems enable multiple users to view and collaborate on data from anywhere, at any time. Financial automation can transform nonprofits from reactive and slow-to-adapt organizations into proactive, future-ready, and resilient organizations.

The Definitive Guide to Driving Nonprofit Finance Efficiency with Paperless Automation

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The biggest internal frustrations nonprofits are facing today

As you can see from the graphic below, the top five internal frustrations of nonprofit finance leaders could be eased or eliminated through the right financial automation. For maximum organizational effectiveness, nonprofit finance teams need:

  • Real-time financial, operational, and outcomes data
  • Reporting that is up-to-date, accurate, and communicates key insights
  • Automation that reduces or eliminates manual data entry and redundant tasks
  • Integration between systems that tears down data silos and enhances internal and external communication

2021 Nonprofit Technology Trends Research Report

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A true cloud financial management solution delivers on all these requirements. Sage Intacct helps nonprofits automate financial operations, perform multi-dimensional analysis of key results, and synchronize data in real-time with other systems across a cloud application ecosystem that includes more than 200 partners. Let’s look at what financial automation does for an organization across seven key areas.

7 time-consuming manual tasks transformed by financial automation

Many nonprofit finance teams spend about 75% of their time on routine, transactional accounting tasks and only 25% on truly strategic or proactive work. To move your mission forward, it’s time to flip that script! Here are seven of the areas of manual finance work that you can streamline and automate with cloud financial automation:

  1. Manual consolidations, currency conversions, intercompany eliminations: A modern, cloud financial management solution automates consolidations from any internet-connected location on the planet, calculates currency conversions and accounts for intercompany eliminations. No more manual exports of data from your GL to Excel. For example, Sage Intacct customers routinely consolidate dozens — or even hundreds — of entities in minutes, not days. For organizations with multiple entities operating internationally, this type of financial automation can boost finance team productivity by up to 50%.
  2. Manual revenue recognition: Do you currently calculate your organization’s revenue recognition in Excel after exporting sales data from your CRM system? Financial automation with a modern cloud accounting solution can streamline and simplify these processes to remove complexity and reduce the time associated with these tasks. With Sage Intacct, you save time and avoid manual calculations in external spreadsheets that must be merged into your financial solution. Keeping data in the system, rather than in external spreadsheets, also reduces errors and eliminates version control issues. Sage Intacct is the only revenue recognition solution to streamline ASU 2018-08 and ASC 606 compliance for nonprofits.
  3. Manual reconciliation of data between systems: When you can automatically integrate disparate systems and synchronize the real-time data they contain, you will no longer need to manually reconcile data you exported from systems and manually reentered into another. A best-in-class ecosystem makes it easy to exchange data between financial systems, like accounting, billing, expense management, and budgeting, as well as between the financial management solution and other business systems, such as CRM, business intelligence, and fundraising. In fact, 75% of Sage Intacct customers have seamlessly integrated two or more Sage Intacct Marketplace solutions of more than 200 software solutions.
  4. Manual allocations: Many nonprofits need to allocate shared direct costs (for example shared program costs) as well as administrative costs (management, organization-wide technology costs, etc.). Automate the calculation of allocations that require data from multiple systems, for example, IT costs per headcount or revenue per employee. Allocate indirect costs, revenue contributions, asset, and liability amounts across projects, departments, and other critical dimensions of your organization. Quickly see the impact of your allocations to help guide decision-making.
  5. Manual vendor payment approvals: Instead of passing paper documents from one person to the next in a payment approval chain, set up a paperless, automated approval workflow that tracks each step and stores approvals. With Sage Intacct, everything stays in the system, so you have full visibility into approvals and payment status. Your staff will save time by not having to chase down approvals or look through email chains.
  6. Manual reporting: More time can be saved by automating your organization’s financial reporting than any other financial management task. Sage Intacct provides easy-to-create reports, dashboards, and visualizations that help finance leaders and executives look forward and plan for programs, fundraising, staffing, and more. By automating reporting, Sage Intacct customers have reported being able to close their books as much as 90% faster each month. These time savings allow your organization to reorient staff to more strategic tasks or to reduce headcount. And when leaders review reports, they’re looking at real-time data, rather than month-old information. How you view your reporting matters, too. Sage Intacct offers visual dashboards that let you display important financial information side-by-side with outcomes—allowing you to demonstrate how well your organization achieves its mission.
  7. Manual audits: A modern cloud financial management solution, like Sage Intacct, organizes transactions so you and your auditors can easily trace transactions from the financial statements to the general ledger to the sub-ledger to the supporting documents, and back again. Using an accounting system that is purpose-built to manage and demonstrate the accounting path will set the stage for both you and your auditor to have a positive audit experience. By establishing a clear and complete audit trail from transaction to report and reconciliation, auditors will be able to easily and effectively test your organization’s accounting processes. Superior data organization, transparency, and tracking will reduce the time needed to complete your audit. Less time equals lower audit costs.

“With Sage Intacct, we’ve gone paperless and achieved all kinds of time savings. In fact, even as the organization has grown by $2 million in revenue, we’ve been able to keep to a lean finance team of two thanks to all the workflows we’ve streamlined in the system. “This has kept us from hiring the additional person we would have needed if we were still on QuickBooks, for a savings of nearly $100,000 per year.”

Mark Paepcke, CAO, Public Health Accreditation Board


As you can see, there are many reasons for nonprofit organizations to pursue paperless financial automation in the cloud. Not only will the finance team be able to work at maximum productivity, but it will also be able to utilize staff to their highest potential instead of spending their time rekeying data. Automation across key financial management areas will allow you to spend less time on routine tasks and more time on analysis of results and planning how to do more for your mission.

The Definitive Guide to Driving Nonprofit Finance Efficiency with Paperless Automation

Middle-aged woman operating a tab