Many, if not most, nonprofit leaders place developing digital business processes and becoming more cloud-enabled near the top of their technology priority list. But as often as we see the phrase “digital transformation,” the technological concept can sometimes feel disconnected from the real-world mission impact that transformation can help organizations achieve.
Today, we would like to introduce you to Vitamin Angels, an international public health organization, NGO, and Sage Intacct customer. We think their nonprofit digital finance transformation story is one you will never forget. Discover the vital work Vitamin Angels is doing, their impact on global health, and why they migrated to Sage Intacct as part of their digital finance transformation strategy.
The mission and impact of Vitamin Angels
Vitamin Angels works to eliminate existing inequity and create a world in which all mothers have the opportunity to have a healthy pregnancy, and children under the age of five are given the tools for a healthier first 1,000 days of life. Currently, 3 billion people around the world experience malnutrition, and Vitamin Angels’ mission is to provide evidence-based nutrition interventions for those who lack access.
Vitamin Angels collaborates with more than 2,600 local organizations in over 70 countries, and all 50 states of the U.S., in order to expand, enhance, and amplify the efforts of their in-country partners. Overall, more than 71 million underserved pregnant women and children were helped in 2022. The organization aims to double its mission impact by reaching 140 million women and children annually by the end of 2033.
Why Vitamin Angels pursued digital transformation
When CFO, Bonnie Forsell joined Vitamin Angels four years ago, one of her first priorities was to switch out the organization’s QuickBooks Online accounting software for a more robust, cloud accounting system. After five years of rapid growth, far too many manual accounting processes were restricting the organization’s ability to expand its mission impact.
“It was clear that not only had we outgrown our existing accounting system, but it was holding us back. We were saying ‘no’ to opportunities that would require more robust reporting due to the administrative burden it would cause,” recalled Forsell. “We had a lot of big plans we wanted to do, but our accounting system couldn’t keep up with it. We have a lot of foreign transactions. Working internationally actually presents a whole set of accounting challenges.”
After evaluating several options, Vitamin Angels selected Sage Intacct for its seamless integration to Salesforce, the organization’s CRM system, as well as an easy interface and strong reporting capabilities.
Today, Vitamin Angels has been using Sage Intacct for more than three years. As a result, the organization has:
- Increased restricted revenue by $14 million over 3 years.
- Freed up $200,000 in logistics costs, helping serve an additional 800,000 women and children with critical vitamins and minerals.
- Improved AP efficiency by 60%.
- Saved 10 hours per month in AR data entry.
“As a nonprofit, it’s important for us to be efficient with our resources so we can have the biggest impact possible. As we grew, we understood that these manual processes were limiting our reach and impact. I never want finance to hold our organization back, and I knew we needed better software in order to support its future needs.”
Better visibility and more flexible reporting
A flexible reporting system was an essential requirement for Vitamin Angels. The organization needs to track a lot of elements of its mission:
- They pursue funding from individual donations, corporate donations, and grants.
- The organization contains five legal entities.
- They have many local partners and vendors.
- They operate in 70 countries.
- They conduct business in many currencies.
- They administer multiple programs.
“One of the things I like best about Sage Intacct is the Dimensions and the ability to dig into the data very quickly. It is really important for us to understand our costs by country,” said Forsell.
Sage Intacct Dimensions tag transactions in the database to meet Vitamin Angels’ unique needs. This database architecture simplifies the nonprofit chart of accounts, provides superior reporting capabilities, and empowers faster, data-driven decision making.
“I’ve worked in really large ERP systems where the coding was numerical and really complicated. It was very linear,” said Forsell. “Sage Intacct feels more three-dimensional. I love the flexibility of how we code things and how we can report because of how Sage Intacct is set up.”
Vitamin Angels makes use of many dimensions so they can slice and dice their data to a very granular level of detail for reporting:
- Dimensions for basic tracking include donor, vendor, employee, and country.
- They also use an entity dimension to enable their multi-entity consolidations.
- The projects dimension is used for restricted grants.
- They track program type so they know how much is spent on the prenatal program, the children’s program, and implementation science and research.
- The department dimension is used to measure internal performance.
- A dimension for classes provides data for the statement of functional expenses which is one of the key metrics donors use to evaluate the efficiency of a nonprofit.
“Using custom dimensions in Sage Intacct to track costs, we immediately identified $200,000 in logistical savings, which enabled us to provide essential vitamins and minerals to an additional 800,000 underserved children.”
~ Bonnie Forsell, CFO, Vitamin Angels
Enhanced revenue management
In the past with QuickBooks Online, Vitamin Angels would not seek or accept restricted funding. According to Forsell, the organization adopted this rule because finance felt the QuickBooks Online accounting system would make it too difficult to manage restricted funding.
“Whenever you are saying no to funding, it’s severely limiting. One of the big reasons we ended up choosing Sage Intacct over other vendors was because of its strong support for nonprofits,” Forsell said.
The automation and efficiency of Sage Intacct helped the finance team keep pace with the organization’s rapid growth. Stronger reporting capabilities helped the organization build greater confidence with major donors—leading to new opportunities for long-term funding.
Now, Vitamin Angels has no problem accepting and managing restricted funds. As a result, Vitamin Angels has increased restricted revenue by $14 million over three years. That funding will enable the organization to help millions more people.
“Because we’re more efficient now with our use of technology, we’re emboldened to seek new opportunities for growth through restricted funding.”
~ Bonnie Forsell, CFO, Vitamin Angels
Streamlined accounting processes
“My favorite feature is allocations,” explained senior accountant, Jennifer Herbert, who also used Sage Intacct at her former employer. Examples of allocations include splitting an invoice for a large vitamin shipment across several different countries or programs. Or allocating an employee’s time for payroll. Accountants used to perform allocations manually in Excel or by calculator and then code each line manually in the accounting system.
With automated allocation capabilities, “Now we just create an allocation in Sage Intacct and say 50% goes to the US and 25% goes to India and 25% goes to Africa. Or whatever the case may be. When you go to code [an invoice], you pick that allocation and Sage Intacct does it automatically for you. It’s a great feature,” said Herbert.
“One of the business processes I think that has been streamlined the most would be working in a multi-currency environment,” noted Forsell. Sage Intacct enables nonprofits with global operations and multiple currencies to consolidate all locations, entities, and programs in minutes. The finance team can view information at the consolidated levels, then easily drill down to the individual transaction level.
Forsell added, “One of our strategic goals has been to expand internationally. And now that we have Sage Intacct, we can just add another entity through the click of a button and consolidate those entities through another click of a button.”
Vitamin Angels has also improved accounts payable efficiency by 60 percent. Automated processes and workflows empower more self-service for employees and budget managers. In addition to reducing organizational friction, this automation reduces errors, speeds approvals, and gets vendors paid promptly.
Automated integration with other systems
The open API architecture of Sage Intacct integrates easily with other systems for even greater efficiency. This is especially important for large, international NGOs like Vitamin Angels that need to share data and connect multiple systems, such as CRM, payroll, and donor management solutions, to the financial system.
“We have an awesome Salesforce integration. It’s really seamless. I don’t code obviously; I’m a CFO. But when I talk to our coder, he says this is such a clean API. He understands it. Sage Intacct was very supportive when he was building out our custom API for Salesforce. And it took him just a couple of weeks,” Forsell said.
As a result of the integration between Sage Intacct and Salesforce CRM, Vitamin Angels has streamlined revenue transactions, saving 10 hours each month by eliminating revenue transaction data entry.
“Before, whenever we got a donation, we’d manually enter it into Salesforce and again into QuickBooks. It was a very tedious process with a lot of room for error. Now, it’s a completely automated flow from our website to Salesforce to Sage Intacct – saving us a day and a half of work.”
~ Bonnie Forsell, CFO, Vitamin Angels
Role of finance has been elevated
Sage Intacct has given Forsell more confidence as a CFO. “I really know our numbers backwards and forwards. I feel like I can analyze risks a lot quicker and I can make decisions a lot quicker. I’m much more strategic and that has been super rewarding for me.”
Nonprofit digital finance transformation has also elevated the role of the CFO and the finance function overall. Forsell acknowledged the role of the nonprofit CFO is evolving and no longer concentrates exclusively on finance, but rather has a larger operational and strategic impact. As a result, other roles within finance also operate at a higher level. All of this professional advancement is supported by digital transformation automating past manual tasks to free time and focus for other areas.
“Today, our controller does what the CFO did 20 years ago. She’s very finance-focused and runs it. That allows me to do is step back from the detail, “Forsell said. “I probably spend 20% to 25% of my time on finance specifically and then the rest is on other areas of the business—strategic planning, conflict resolution, negotiation. Legal, HR, and IT report up to me.”
“Sage Intacct has elevated our entire finance function and freed up resources we can put towards advancing our important mission. Instead of just doing data entry, the whole team is more forward-thinking and can spend time on analysis.”
~ Bonnie Forssell, CFO, Vitamin Angels
Nonprofit digital finance transformation has been key to Vitamin Angels’ continued growth. Finance automation has enabled the finance team to save time, strengthen reporting, elevate its strategic role, grow restricted funding, and free up costs to reallocate resources to a greater purpose. As a direct result of transforming finance, the organization has delivered evidence-based nutrition to countless more pregnant women and young children. To learn more about the mission impact made possible by digital transformation, download our The Road to Nonprofit Finance Transformation Success e-book.
Recommended Next Read
Six Common Reasons to Change Fund Accounting Software