A Nonprofit CFO’s Success Story to Inspire You
At Sage Intacct, we’re inspired by our nonprofit customers’ impact on the world and their ability to make a positive difference in the lives and futures of millions of people. Recently, we sat down with Shari Freedman, the CFO of Room to Read. Shari’s personal journey to her nonprofit career and the impact Room to Read is making in the world tells a powerful and inspiring story.
There are over 750 million illiterate people around the world. Two-thirds of them are women and girls—and Room to Read is on a mission to change that statistic.
Through digital finance transformation with Sage Intacct and other technologies, Room to Read has been able to add resources to reach an additional 100,000 children through their international literacy program. Read on and watch the video below to find out how Shari and her team achieved greater levels of mission impact.
Personal Journey Meets Professional Mission
Shari Freedman has worked in international finance for over 30 years. After receiving an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Economics from American University and an MBA in International Finance from Georgetown University, she worked for well-known global brands including PepsiCo, Gap, and Schwab. Before starting a new job, she found herself with a few months off in 2001 and wanted to find a meaningful way to use her time and skills.
“I found an opportunity in Delhi, up in the foothills of the Himalayas. I would go from village to village working with women’s groups to teach them about microlending. It was an amazing, very values-based time for me while I was in India. I loved it very, very much. When I came home, I was… different. That was the beginning of wanting to work only in mission-based organizations.” -Shari Freedman, CFO, Room to Read
After India, Shari knew she wanted to spend the rest of her career doing meaningful international nonprofit work. She found her perfect fit at Room to Read, an international NGO focused on literacy and girl’s education in ten countries across Asia and Africa.
Digital Financial Transformation Builds Infrastructure for Expansion
Over time, Shari has helped Room to Read adopt financial management technologies that can support the organization as it expands its mission to help more girls in more countries. Sage Intacct has been a big part of that digital transformation, along with its seamless integrations to Salesforce for operations data; Adaptive Insights for financial planning; and Nexonia for timekeeping and expense report automation.
“We are functionally better integrated within the organization. Nexonia, our time and expense and our time keeping applications integrate fully into Sage Intacct, and the organization is now more efficient and effective at producing reports on a very timely basis. We’re not chasing paper. We’ve got some real efficiencies.” -Shari Freedman, CFO, Room to Read
Using Sage Intacct and integrated technologies, Room to Read has been able to:
- Reduce its chart of accounts from 56,000 accounts to just 100 with Sage Intacct’s dimension capabilities.
- Decrease the time required to close the books around the world.
- Consolidate financial results for reporting across 25 entities and 19 currencies.
- Gain 25% productivity in worldwide field operations and 30% productivity in the global finance team—saving the equivalent of about $300,000 in labor costs annually.
- Increase donor confidence through more specific measurement and reporting of both financial performance and mission outcomes.
When Return on Investment Becomes Return on Mission
Overall, Room to Read enjoyed a 402% return on their investment in financial management technology including Sage Intacct. The finance team’s tremendous results in financial management and accountability earned Room to Read the Nucleus Return on Investment Award and the Sage Intacct Customer Hero Award.
“When we won the Nucleus Return on Investment Award, for me, it would have been better if it said Return on Impact, because the resulting number of children that were impacted by that was over one hundred thousand kids. And so, for me, when I think about what Sage Intacct has been able to do for us, it helps us contribute whether it’s directly or indirectly. It’s helping us contribute to utilization of our resources in a more effective way.” -Shari Freedman, CFO, Room to Read
Creating a Legacy of Literacy
Expanding Room to Read’s mission impact means sharing their story powerfully with more and more donors. The digital transformation the finance team has undertaken has enabled them to collaborate more effectively with the development team.
“Sage Intacct is giving the teams the ability to really think differently about doing the reporting, thinking about how we communicate with donors. We have so many more resources available to us as a result of our building that muscle and being able to be more transparent. . . Being able to tell our story in ways that donors are really interested in seeing.” -Shari Freedman, CFO, Room to Read
Room to Read is a wonderful example of how stronger financial reporting capabilities can provide insights the nonprofit finance team can use to accelerate the organizational mission. Sage Intacct helped Room to Read marshal additional resources and improve financial performance so the organization could deliver its literacy program to 100,000 more children. And every child taught to read can pass the legacy of literacy to future generations. We couldn’t imagine a better return on investment!
Nancy Master is a senior nonprofit industry marketing manager at Sage Intacct and is passionate about helping nonprofits achieve mission success. Nancy has more than 15 years of experience in software marketing and close to 20 years of experience working with a human services nonprofit organization.