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UESF scales efficiently as funding doubles during COVID

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Established in Philadelphia in the early 80’s, the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF) is a public and societal benefit nonprofit that was founded to provide utility assistance in a city with one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The organization is committed to assisting the community’s most vulnerable residents through a holistic, preventive, and cost-efficient approach. Today, UESF provides a one-stop shop with immediate resources that empower families to address the root causes of their utility and housing crises.

We recently had the chance to talk with Tom Malecki, Director of Finance and Operations at UESF, to better understand how his team is using Sage Intacct to streamline financial operations. In our latest customer story, he describes how leveraging the full power of Sage Intacct’s automated workflows helped his team save time and scale their operations, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since fully implementing Sage Intacct, UESF has seen the following improvements:

  • Shortened the monthly close process by 33%
  • Sped weekly AP payments by 83%
  • Reduced non-program overhead by 12%
  • Gained efficiency and confidence needed to support 166% contract growth
  • Informed strategic priorities through improved financial visibility

UESF had previously outsourced its finance function, relying heavily on paper-based processes and recording transactions in Intuit QuickBooks. However, since the nonprofit has several funding streams — including donations from for-profit utility companies, grants at the city and Federal level, and more — its old software was quickly outpaced by the challenge of keeping track of revenue and expenses for various restricted contracts. Eventually, UESF’s partner migrated the financials from QuickBooks to Sage Intacct.

Modern processes lay the groundwork for growth

While the team saw initial benefits from moving to Sage Intacct, once COVID-19 drove everyone from the office to their homes, they fully realized the efficiency gains of shifting from paper-based processes to automated ones. “COVID-19 forced us to make full use of Sage Intacct’s powerful workflows, and the impact was immediate,” recalled Malecki. For example, AP payments for participants’ rent and utilities that used to take 12 business days to get approved and processed now take just two days.

Malecki also appreciates knowing that recurring transactions are entered every single month without mistakes (such as someone forgetting to book depreciation or enter a Comcast bill that was delayed by physical mail). “Running recurring transactions is the first step in our close every month, and it saves at least a day’s work. They’re always accurate and I can see the history at any time for peace of mind,” he shared. “At the beginning of the fiscal year all I need to do is adjust the deferred rent and rent expense based on what the new number is and after that, it’s going to get paid consistently.”

As a result of these and other improvements, the organization now closes its books 33% faster, which is critical as it expands. “Over the last year, our funding more than doubled to increase financial assistance for vulnerable Philadelphians,” noted Malecki. “With Sage Intacct in place, we have confidence that we can easily handle these higher transaction volumes and more complex reporting requirements because we’ve decreased our non-program overhead by 12%.”

Maximizing visibility to inform planning

Sage Intacct’s multi-dimensional reporting supports all of the organization’s fund accounting needs. “We can track revenue and allocate expenses out to all the different grants, and then create reports to include in the invoices we send to our funders, each in their own preferred format,” Malecki said. “Sage Intacct makes our monthly accounting much faster and easier. Even as we’ve gone from 15 grants to 40, we’re able to get invoices out within five days of month-end so we can manage cash flow.”

The organization’s leadership can also monitor the cost and value of each program and break out utility assistance versus direct assistance spending to help guide the city council and other funders on where their investments will have the greatest impact. Makecki explained, “When COVID first hit, everybody thought our money was all going to go to paying people’s gas or electric bills. But back in April 2020, Sage Intacct showed that 95% of our funds were going to rental assistance, and we knew that would shift as those people struggled to pay their utility bills next. So we were able to shape a narrative and plan to secure more city funding for utility assistance based on the actual trends we saw in our reporting.”

Personalized dashboards provide further visibility into UESF’s impact. “Our program directors know that the most accurate data always comes out of Sage Intacct, so when we provide reports, everyone feels confident that they’ll get the insight they need,” mentioned Malecki. Next up, the finance team is preparing budgets-to-actuals reports in Sage Intacct for even greater transparency and accountability across the organization.

To find out more about how Sage Intacct is helping UESF save time and resources that can be reinvested towards its important mission, read our new customer story.

Case Study – UESF

Public Assistance Nonprofit Increases Impact While Decreasing Non-Program Overhead by 12%

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