Avoiding Month-End Stress: Survival Tips for Nonprofit Financial Management
With limited resources, most nonprofit financial management teams are stretched thin. Every month-end, quarter-end, and year-end, the team is under enormous pressure to complete financial reporting while still keeping up with a myriad of other tasks. Technology should reduce this burden, but sometimes, it feels like you have to fight the accounting system to get the information and insights your management team needs.
If your team feels stressed out and spends too much time doing manual data entry and manipulating multiple reports in Excel, here are three reasons a cloud-based nonprofit financial management solution might be for you:
1. Reduce the complexity of your chart of accounts
Traditional accounting systems usually used a hard-coded, linear-based chart of accounts. This type of chart of accounts structure can be complicated and can quickly result in an unmanageable number of account code combinations.
A logic-based structure offers a better way to approach the chart of accounts for nonprofit financial management. Instead of generating thousands of different account codes, Sage Intacct uses a table-driven chart of accounts that lets you set up primary natural account codes (assets, liabilities, net assets, revenues, and expenses) and then “tag” transactions with attributes called “dimensions” that provide more context. Examples of dimensions include location, fund, grant, program, or outcome, to name a few.
By using dimensionality in the chart of accounts, Sage Intacct makes it easy to customize reporting around activities, whether you want to view comparative cross-tab reports or hierarchical drill-down reports. With better reporting and a less complicated chart of accounts, you will feel the stress starting to melt away.
2. Complete reporting without exporting to Excel
If there is one complaint we hear from nonprofit finance teams, it is about not being able to generate complete reporting in a format that is useful without exporting data from the accounting system and manipulating it in a spreadsheet. When you are already pressed for time and have a mile-long to-do list, fiddling around with Excel reports can really bring on the stress!
To help your organization grow and achieve its mission, you need to be able to provide better visibility into financial and operational performance. A cloud-based nonprofit financial management solution like Sage Intacct uses the dimensions discussed above in the chart of accounts to easily slide, dice, and filter data for exactly the reports needed.
In addition to financial reporting, Sage Intacct enables easy integration of operational performance data from other systems, so your reports can include financial metrics and KPIs as well as information about program outcomes and impacts. By putting real-time operational and financial data together, it yields both deeper and wider visibility for executive decision making.
3. Adopt future-focused financials for more powerful insights
Traditional accounting systems centered on “rear-view mirror” reporting. The finance team spent several hectic days or even weeks at month-end assembling the prior month’s financial reports for review. Cloud-based nonprofit financial management systems help nonprofits change gears in their approach to reporting—looking forward instead of backwards. Real-time data is always available at your fingertips, so you can gain future-focused insights instead of looking in the rear-view mirror.
Find out what it takes to go from stressed out to sublime
Our new eBook, The Nonprofit Finance Team Survival Guide, describes how cloud nonprofit financial management solutions can help eliminate chaos around financial reporting and provide better insights into organizational performance. Read it to discover:
- How to reduce manual Excel-based reporting so you can focus on strategic initiatives
- Why traditional financial reporting fails to give nonprofit executives the visibility they need for real-time decision making
- How to streamline the chart of accounts with a logic-based approach instead of a traditional linear structure
- How to better tell your story with outcome metrics
- And more
Download the eBook today.
A native Texan, Joan has over 25 years of experience in the accounting, technology, publishing, and nonprofit fields. Bringing her experience as a nonprofit financial leader to Sage Intacct, Joan has been instrumental in creating solutions, and providing support and best practices that help ensure nonprofits achieve their mission.