Money Matters

Yerba Buena center for the arts uses data to help create a more thoughtful world

Two women performing on stage

Opened to the public in 1993, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) was founded as the cultural anchor of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. With the belief that artists and culture are essential catalysts for social and cultural movement, the nonprofit is reimagining the role an arts institution can play in the community it serves. But YBCA could only take its lofty goals so far without a better way to analyze financials surrounding its program expenses and grant funding.

With the organization’s legacy Blackbaud Financial Edge software, its finance team was doing a lot of downloading, manual reconciling, and verifying data just to get basic reports in Excel. It was time-consuming to produce any kind of visual graphs or project-specific financials, especially since duplicate data entry was required to get information from YBCA’s ticketing and billing systems into Blackbaud.

That’s why, in 2017, YBCA’s finance director, Chris Safford, stepped up as an agent of change and adopted Sage Intacct’s modern financial management solution. He wanted to get as much data as possible into a single source of truth so his team could more easily meet the rigorous reporting expectations of the board. They selected Sage Intacct over Oracle NetSuite primarily for its easy-to-understand dashboards, which could empower leaders with greater transparency and accountability. As a result of this decision, Safford helped YBCA eliminate waste, add efficiencies, increase budget accuracy, and deliver on-time, accurate information for forward-looking analysis of the organization’s strategic plan.

Streamlined Systems Do More with Less

YBCA gradually moved its business applications to the cloud, connecting Sage Intacct with all of the organization’s critical processes, such as budgeting in Adaptive Insights, expense management in Nexonia, donor management in Tessitura, and program management in USI. By sharing data between these systems with seamless integrations and simple upload templates, the team accelerated end-to-end accounting workflows and greatly improved data accuracy.

As a result of these changes, YBCA benefits from:

  • A monthly close that’s over 60% faster,
  • 30% more accurate budgets,
  • A 25% increase in team productivity, and
  • $30,000 in personnel cost savings.

Now that the team has everything they need at their fingertips in Sage Intacct, they also enjoy more agile planning and audit cycles. “Since making the switch to Sage Intacct, we sped up audit prep by about a month,” Safford shared. “And when I have to do tax reports, I can simply pull the relevant accounts or account groups, so the process is much more streamlined than before. If I have to perform further analysis, I’m able to extract everything I need out of the system quickly.”

The Art & Science of Understandable Data

While having all of this information in the system is great, its value is limited unless people across the organization are comfortable using it in the course of their daily work. Safford said, “Before Sage Intacct, we were never sure that we had complete data available to us, but now, we always feel secure we’ve got everything we need to back up the decisions we’re making. Everyone knows we can answer questions on the spot and get the information they need to do their jobs better.”

YBCA appreciates the visual impact the system delivers, which lets the team present data in a format that’s more accessible to non-accounting users. “Sage Intacct has become an invaluable management tool for our organization. We produce more helpful reports and keep everything in dynamic dashboards, so managers no longer have to work in the dark,” noted Safford. “Our board has all the high-level metrics they need, along with drill-down details.”

Sage Intacct empowers the organization to monitor trends across grants, projects, programs, departments, revenue types, and donors to gain greater operational predictability and avoid unpleasant surprises. As a result, the finance team enhanced their grant reporting and can easily compile historical information that helps them prepare budgets for future grant applications. All of this ensures resources are used optimally, and contributes to a greater strategic focus on advancing YBCA’s mission. “Overall, Sage Intacct has been even more of a time-saver than we expected. It made our lives much easier and improved people’s confidence in our numbers,” said Safford.

In reflecting on this journey, Safford also shared, “Sage Intacct has been an adventure, and all along the way, the company offered great customer support and training tools. We don’t have to call the help line very much anymore, but when we do they’re always very helpful in finding a solution and coming up with ideas on how to use the system to its best advantage for us.”

Read our new customer success story to learn more about the benefits Yerba Buena Center for the Arts enjoys through its use of Sage Intacct.

Case Study – Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Automation Improves Efficiency 25% and Slashes Closing Time