Monthly Archives

September 2023

5 Tech Tips for Nonprofits

By | Nonprofit, Technology | No Comments
person using laptop. lightbulb and tech screen overlay

Your organization may be very tech-savvy, or you may struggle to understand all the new terms and concepts in the industry. That’s okay. Trends come and go, but certain concepts, ideas, and fundamentals remain the same. The following five “tech tips” for nonprofits encompass a broad range of ideas that may impact your organization now or in the future. They’re worth noting and understanding to get the most out of your technology.

Smart Advice: Five Tech Tips for Nonprofits

Tip 1: Don’t Settle for Bad Software!

If you have buyer’s remorse, you’re not alone. According to some reports, 61% of all small and mid-sized businesses feel “buyer’s remorse” about a software purchase made during the past year. Whether it didn’t deliver on its promised benefits, or the support is lackluster, many organizations wish they hadn’t purchased what they did.

What if you’re in the same boat? Do something about it! You can speak with a consultant to see if the platform can be integrated, customized, or adapted to your needs. Perhaps there is a fix for the problem you don’t know about, but someone well-versed in the system knows.

If that doesn’t work, accept that you made a poor choice—and plan for the next purchase. Read reviews, articles about software selection, and more. Speak with other companies in your industry using the system to understand their feedback and reactions.

Tip 2: Evaluate support as well as software.

When purchasing software, many companies go to great lengths to evaluate the system itself. Does it have the functions, reports, and other features needed? That’s important, but equally (and some might say even more importantly), how is the post-purchase support?

After installing and configuring your new system, your team will need training. You’ll have questions. Problems arise, and something isn’t performing as expected. That’s when it becomes critical to have great support behind the product.

Evaluate the vendors and their support team reputations as carefully as you evaluate the software.

Tip 3: Keep up to date with changing technology.

Technology changes every day. Ten years ago, smartphones were becoming commonplace. Today, it is unusual to find someone without one. Ten years from now, the advances we are starting to see today in AI-powered search and automation are likely to be commonplace. What else will come? That remains to be seen, but one thing is sure. You must keep abreast of the changing technology to understand it. You don’t have to be an early adopter of every new tech tool, but understanding what is going on in the world of technology and testing things that make sense for your organization will help you remain relevant and competitive in a world where technology is a driver of change.

Tip 4: Empower a cross-functional team to choose essential software.

It’s tempting to relegate software purchases to IT teams. After all, they are likely to be instrumental during the installation and configuration phase. But it is the people who use the software daily who should be the deciding vote during the selection phase. Software must serve the needs of those using it, and the teams who interact with the software—accounting, finance, operations, sales, marketing, donor relations, and more—are the ones to evaluate the functions and ensure the software provides what they need.

Tip 5: Remain open-minded.

You may have used a particular platform at a previous or another of the many nonprofit accounting platforms available in the marketplace. While it’s great that you have firsthand experience with these systems, perhaps something else better fits what the organization needs.

For example, Sage Intacct offers excellent automations that can save a nonprofit a great deal of time. You may not have seen the most recent version which incorporates payroll, accounting, and other automations to streamline processes and improve efficiency. If you’re unfamiliar with the Sage line of software, becoming familiar with it as part of your exploration process can bring it to the forefront. It’s a powerful package that benefits many nonprofits.

Keep an open mind during the software selection process. Listen to the vendors and the consultants who are advising you. Because they work with many nonprofits, they may know of new software or packages that better serve your organization’s needs. Explore the options thoroughly before making your final selection.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.

AI: A Powerful Tool for Nonprofit Accounting Needs

By | Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments
person using a tablet in front of an open laptop computer. tech overlay

The introduction of ChatGPT, Bing’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered search engine assistant, set the world abuzz last November. Since then, countless articles, talk shows, and more have discussed, dissected, and analyzed the use of AI in the business world.

AI isn’t new. You’ve probably encountered it before and assumed it was part of a website. Have you ever used a website’s chatbot function to answer a simple question? If so, you’ve likely used AI. Or perhaps you’ve tapped the “design help” function in PowerPoint to help spruce up your presentation. That’s also a great example of AI in action.

AI can assist the average nonprofit in many ways. One way in which AI offers powerful time-saving features is in the accounting department. Here, we’ll unpack why and how AI is a powerful tool for nonprofit accounting needs. Then, if you’re interested in exploring this topic further, reach out to us and we can discuss how AI can be used to automate and improve processes in your nonprofit accounting team.

Why Use AI for Process Automation?

Consider how much time is spent on routine tasks each week: emailing reminders to employees to enter their hours or submitting expense reports, for example, or emailing common forms and paperwork to constituents. Even something as simple as sending a participant quiz to those who have taken a webinar with your organization can take over an hour, depending on how much or little it is automated.

AI is an excellent tool for repetitive, rule-bound tasks. You can automate tasks, workflows, reports, and reminders using AI in your accounting department. A quick estimate of the time saved through automating these tasks is eye-opening. With that time saved, you can focus on more pressing needs requiring creativity and expertise. Let the AI batch and send expense report reminders while you strategize with the program team on their accounting needs; it is time well saved and better spent with your teams.

Improved Data, Analytics, and Forecasting

Another area in which AI greatly helps with accounting and financial needs is in data, analytics, and forecasting. Because AI can analyze vast amounts of data rapidly, it can provide insights into constituents’ needs, program demands, and operational performance. With rapid information at your fingertips, you can make better decisions.

Not All AI Is Created Equal

Now comes the hard part. How do you select the right platforms that have AI enhancements without choosing something that will be obsolete tomorrow?

The key is finding the right consultant to assist you in the process. You need someone well-versed in accounting and financial needs for nonprofits who also understands the software world.

Choose from among vendors with time-tested platforms. Sage Intacct, for example, is used worldwide by over 11,000 for-profit and nonprofit companies. It is a well-known accounting and finance platform that includes many time-saving automations. MIP Fund Accounting is another platform that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud that offers many time-saving automation for payroll, HR, accounting, and more.

Ultimately, the choice of the right nonprofit accounting and finance software is a decision that may take some time. Most software companies include AI-powered automation in their products, especially as consumer interest and acceptance of using the tool to save time has grown. There is no better use of AI than to automate manual processes, thus freeing up accounting professionals for more creative and challenging tasks.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.

Reduce Spreadsheet Use and Improve Productivity with the Right Accounting Software

By | Accounting, Accounting Software, Nonprofit | No Comments
person in office at desk with laptop, calculator, and phone with clipboard in hand.

Despite the apparent drawbacks, many organizations continue to rely on spreadsheets for their accounting needs. Spreadsheets are cumbersome to interlink, for example, making it necessary to manually rekey data to produce graphs, charts, and reports using data from two or more spreadsheet-based sources. One error accidentally introduced into a single formula can throw off the entire total and give a false picture of the data. And let’s not forget the time it takes for data entry, formula lookup, and formula entry.

It’s easy to understand why many organizations still use spreadsheets. They’re familiar and bundled into office productivity suites, so the cost is minimal. Also, they can be used by anyone with rudimentary computer skills.

However, given the numerous drawbacks of continuing with spreadsheets and the many benefits of shifting accounting into a modern, computerized system, it makes sense to move to accounting and financial management software for your organization’s accounting needs.

Five Benefits of Moving from Spreadsheets to Software

Every organization can reap enormous benefits from moving away from spreadsheet use and tapping into the power of cloud-based accounting and finance platforms. Five benefits almost all companies experience include:

  1. Greater efficiencies: Every accounting function is easier in an accounting software system. Accounting software enables you to enter checks efficiently and quickly into a digital check register, confirm payment receipts and expenses, and track them against specific accounts. Reports can be run with the click of a button: balance sheet, cash flow statement, unpaid receivables, income statements, and more. Additionally, some software comes with the ability to generate charts and graphs. What used to take you hours will take mere minutes with the right software. Additionally, advances in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) enable workflow automation that saves additional time.
  2. Improved clarity: Spreadsheets make viewing progress towards goals across multiple programs or funding lines difficult. With an accounting program, you can access numerous metrics and track them more easily against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other goals.
  3. Faster and easier reconciliation: If it takes forever to reconcile banking and credit card statements at the end of each period, you’ll find it much easier and faster to do so in a computer program. Both processes are more efficient and make it easy to spot discrepancies in the reconciliation.
  4. Enhanced forecasting: Manual forecasting that relies upon spreadsheets is time-consuming and error prone. Using accounting and financial management software enables more accurate forecasting. It also makes it possible to extend forecasting timelines, which is nearly impossible with spreadsheets.
  5. Time saved: Software enables you to complete tasks in minutes what used to take hours. Reducing spreadsheet reliance immediately saves hours per week that can be spent on other tasks such as budgeting, consulting with program managers on their financial and accounting needs, and more.

Accounting and Financial Software for Modern Nonprofits

Many accounting and financial software packages are on the market today, some explicitly geared to nonprofits. It is recommended that nonprofits avoid “off the shelf” business accounting software packages. Many of these lack the functionality nonprofits need to track revenue and expenses against program lines, for example.

Sage Intacct is a cloud-based accounting and financial software package created specifically for nonprofit organizations. Over 11,000 for-profit and nonprofit companies worldwide use it. It enables fast, accurate accounting, enhanced visibility into KPIs and forecasting, and excellent reporting. Perhaps most importantly, it automates workflows, making it a time saver for a busy accounting department.

There are many more accounting software choices available, and it can be confusing to review and compare them. Working with a consultant who understands nonprofit organizations’ unique needs and challenges is the best way to select the right accounting and financial software package for your needs.

Moving from spreadsheets to software is essential for nonprofits. While it may be tempting to continue using spreadsheets to save money, the time saved by transitioning to an accounting and financial software system is priceless. It’s time saved that can be put towards achieving your mission—and isn’t that worth it?

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.