Just say no! Kicking the Excel habit with nonprofit finance automation

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There is no question nonprofit finance leaders have benefited from the power and ease of use of the Excel spreadsheet. Excel has been a key part of every finance team’s tool set for decades, but future ability to drive greater mission impact in a rapidly changing world will require a more real-time automated approach. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many nonprofit organizations experienced an urgent need to undergo rapid digital transformation. Surveys show having the right technology in place can be a game-changer.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our organization did some work from home, but once the pandemic hit, we were able to continue to operate normally within Sage Intacct with more people working from home. The pandemic really hasn’t had an impact on our work within Sage Intacct since the system allows seamless work wherever you are located and that is one of the reasons why we chose Sage Intacct over other options.”

Sheldon Horton | Director of Finance | Hope Human Services, LLC

According to the Sage Intacct 2021 Close the Books Survey, organizations that were already on cloud software had a leg up when transitioning to a fully remote close. These nonprofit finance leaders were able to maintain access to data and continue operating during the sudden transition from the office to a remote workplace. The survey also showed appetite for cloud financial systems increased during the pandemic—of those organizations still using on-premises solutions, 70% were planning to move to the cloud.

According to the Sage Intacct 2022 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report, the top five internal frustrations limiting nonprofit organizations all stem from having time-consuming, manual, paper-based financial processes—exactly the type of inefficiencies created by a reliance on spreadsheets. Nonprofit finance leaders are adopting modern cloud technology to become better stewards and expand mission impact.

2022 Nonprofit Technology Trends Research Report

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Let’s explore how cloud-based nonprofit accounting software empowers nonprofit finance teams to finally kick the Excel habit by automating transactional accounting tasks, delivering real-time data, and supporting strategic decision-making to drive greater mission impact.

Close the books faster with automated reporting and multi-entity consolidation

The Close the Books Survey revealed organizations can shorten close process times by 36% by switching from spreadsheets to cloud financial management. Cloud solutions automate data calculations and integrate disparate systems, eliminating the need to pull information into Excel to manipulate or reformat it for reporting. A dimensional chart of accounts helps you speed up reporting with the ability to easily sort, slice, and dice real-time data. With the ability to close your books faster, you’ll gain faster insights to make decisions based on real-time, reliable information.

“We’ve been able to close the month 60% faster since rolling out Sage Intacct and connecting it with our other software. We produce financials and push information out to our stakeholders a lot quicker, and with more detail, so they’re not waiting a month to see how we’re performing.”

Chris Safford | Finance Director | Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Automating multi-entity consolidation activities eliminates hours to days of manual work, which also contributes to faster closing times. A cloud financial management solution automates consolidations from any internet-connected location around the globe, calculates currency conversions and accounts for intercompany eliminations–so you can say no to performing manual data manipulation in Excel. According to the Close the Books Survey, among those respondents with more than five entities, closing the books is two days faster when using a cloud financial management system instead of spreadsheets or QuickBooks.

Simplify nonprofit revenue recognition

Nonprofit finance leaders are also saving time and ensuring accuracy by using cloud financial management systems to automatically calculate revenue recognition using real-time data from CRM and labor-tracking systems. Cloud systems eliminate the need to export sales data to Excel or manually complete billing worksheets since data can automatically flow between systems.

Additionally, cloud financial management systems ensure compliance with FASB regulations. According to ASC 606 standards, nonprofits must evaluate revenue sources and consider how to adjust internal processes to ensure proper revenue treatment. Rather than performing manual work in spreadsheets, nonprofit finance leaders are leveraging automation to create the journal entries necessary for compliance, reducing the risk of error and preparing them for the next audit.

Increase efficiency through process automation in AP

Nonprofit cloud accounting systems also provide users with opportunities to eliminate paper processes in Accounts Payable. Instead of passing paper documents from one person to the next in an approval change, nonprofit finance staff are using an automated approval workflows that tracks each step and stores the approvals. For example, paperless automation enabled Hunter Health to increase efficiency by 75% and reduced overhead cost by $100,000.

“It’s been a win-win shifting the purchasing process out to the departments and giving them Sage Intacct logins so they can check their budgets, get vendor quotes, make purchase decisions, enter transactions, and store all federally required documentation in the system. We no longer need paper backups or a full-time AP clerk to manage vendor invoices, and our budget owners enjoy having more control over their spending.”

Laura Winchell | CFO | Hunter Health

Hunter Health cures its financial inefficiencies with Sage Intacct

The multi-location community health center puts its faith in Sage software to enable a lean accounting team to keep up with 40% growth


Gain real-time visibility for planning and budgeting

Over the last three years of pandemic and economic uncertainty, the ability to budget and plan for the future has been both more crucial and difficult than ever. Cloud financial management solutions provide real-time insight into budget vs actuals—without your nonprofit finance team having to manually pull a report. Automation of the budgeting and planning process provides confidence to staff as they work with the most up-to-date versions and have the necessary detail and contextual support needed to perform rapid what-if analysis and produce credible forecasts.


Conditions can change quickly and it’s important for nonprofit organizations to have the right technology to adapt and adjust quickly. In today’s global, digital and hybrid workforce world, there is no place for spreadsheet-based manual processes or stale data. Now is the best time to kick the Excel habit and transform financial operations with nonprofit finance automation.

Modern cloud financial management systems like Sage Intacct for Nonprofits empower nonprofits to make data-driven decisions and act strategically to drive greater mission impact. To learn more, download your complimentary copy of The Definitive Guide to Driving Nonprofit Finance Efficiency with Paperless Automation eBook.

The Definitive Guide to Driving Nonprofit Finance Efficiency with Paperless Automation

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