SaaS Brief

How Mission-Driven Insights Help One NGO Advance Maternal Health and Well-Being While Cutting the Close by 90%

 Two decades ago, White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) formed because the voices of women at risk of dying in childbirth were not being heard. Today, the nonprofit NGO is making impressive strides to decrease maternal and newborn death globally by advocating for reproductive, maternal, and newborn health and rights at the local, national, and global levels throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Back in 2012, WRA wanted to move off of Intuit QuickBooks and adopt a robust financial management solution that could more effectively support its important mission of building a global network of maternal health advocates to help reduce mortality rates for mothers in developing countries. At that time, WRA’s accounting team was spending inordinate amounts of time checking Oanda for foreign exchange rates, calculating conversations in Excel, and printing copies for documentation. This messy, manual process slowed them down every time a team member traveled overseas on a project, a bill arrived from Asia, or a U.S. donation came in online. To make matters worse, QuickBooks’ rigid structure didn’t support WRA’s fund accounting needs. Meeting complex grant reporting requirements for each funder was a grueling process of data manipulation in Excel.

Thankfully, all of that’s in the past now that WRA uses Sage Intacct in the cloud. Prior to COVID, WRA sat down with us to share the impressive results they’ve accomplished in the past several years, including:

  • Eliminated duplicate, manual data entry to easily scale finance amidst 5% growth
  • 95% faster currency conversions freed team for more strategic work
  • Sped multi-dimensional grant and donation tracking by 98%
  • Slashed financial close nearly 90%

Taking the Leap into Cloud Financials

Prior to Sage Intacct, there were many issues with the organization’s financial processes due to QuickBooks’ limitations and time-consuming Excel workarounds. One member of the finance team recounted, “I remember so many nights that I would work until midnight and then have to turn around and come back the next morning to pick up where I left off. It was a nightmare and I just knew it needed to end at some point.”

WRA compiled a ranked list of at least 32 financial systems and researching the strengths and weaknesses of each one. They mapped this against WRA’s requirements and reviewed it with the CEO, treasurer, accounting team, and program team. At the top of their requirements list was support for multi-currency and easy employee time and expense management via the cloud. After screening several vendors and narrowing down the list, they were initially leaning towards Oracle NetSuite. However, they had second thoughts and were drawn to Sage Intacct after their first introduction to the team. “We appreciated that the Sage Intacct reps listened intently and didn't make empty promises, but rather demonstrated exactly how the solution could meet each of our specific requirements,” WRA told Sage Intacct.

Making the Shift from Tactical Work to Strategy Advisory

Over the years, Sage Intacct streamlined several of the nonprofit’s financial processes. White Ribbon Alliance went from a monthly close that lagged 2-3 months to just 15 days (and still decreasing), even though they still have to wait for data to come in from alliances around the world. WRA’s accounting manager, Silvia Untiveros, trained teams in Nigeria and Tanzania on how to use Sage Intacct, and they picked up the system quickly. They can easily produce reports in their local currency and seamlessly share them with the U.S. office (without even having to think about foreign exchange rates), and the central finance team saves days they used to spend on manual conversions. 

Given how much the global organization depends on employee travel, Sage Intacct’s improvements to timekeeping and expense reporting have made a huge impact, and the finance team appreciates that they no longer have to chase people to submit timesheets. CliftonLarsonAllen, a Sage Intacct business partner, also worked with WRA to configure simple workflows that automatically allocate time sheets and other overhead to the appropriate projects and grants.

WRA also described how they utilize Sage Intacct’s dimension values to simplify fund accounting. Being able to easily see where resources are coming from—if it's a government source or foundation or private or corporate—has been instrumental for them. WRA can tag each transaction with Sage Intacct’s dimensions and get the context they need in one or two clicks. Additionally, WRA has found that one of the key benefits of Sage Intacct is that the finance team is longer drilling down into the weeds to worry about all the day-to-day accounting tasks. Instead, they can focus on more strategic, visionary work and spend time mentoring and giving guidance to their affiliates overseas to help them make important decisions.

The Best of Both Worlds with Integrated Budget-to-Actuals Insight

Following this initial success with Sage Intacct, White Ribbon Alliance decided to implement and integrate Adaptive Insights to help with its complex budgeting and planning needs across concurrent projects and grants. WRA said, “The combination of Adaptive Insights for budgeting and Sage Intacct for actuals works incredibly well for our budget versus actuals analysis.” Now, during monthly budget and grant management meetings with key program managers and senior directors, the finance team provides real-time information right out of Sage Intacct to keep everyone on track.

WRA also benefits from Sage Intacct’s flexible reporting and dashboards, since the team can efficiently design reports that meet the needs of each separate stakeholder—donors, internal management, and end users across the organization. Now, reports that used to take months to produce (due to the time spent fixing Excel errors), take just days, and people can make more informed, more timely decisions about labor, project spending, fundraising needs, and more. If finance sees they’ve underspent in one area, the finance department can advise the team that they need to change course, perhaps by moving money to another initiative, and then get that information out to donors.

This helps donors better understand the workings of WRA. The nonprofit spends at least one-third of their resources from donors on sub-awards on an annual basis. Now, WRA can show what amounts go to the grassroots affiliate organizations and partners they work with and demonstrate what they accomplished together. This insight is critical when WRA needs to validate requests for additional funding.

Read the customer success story to learn more about how Sage Intacct helped White Ribbon Alliance keep up with the growth and complexity of its international organization, while optimizing budget utilization to advance its important mission, and meeting the expectations of its board and donors.



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