PAWS Chicago has been helping their community for over two decades by rescuing and helping dogs and cats in the Chicago area. Read about why they switched to Sage Intacct and how it’s positively impacted their business in this interview with Porte Brown, a Sage Intacct Partner.
Porte Brown: Hi Alisa! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and PAWS?
AB: Hi, I'm Alisa Brill, and I'm the Chief Financial Officer at PAWS Chicago. PAWS Chicago was founded in 1997 and was started because our founders, Paula and Alexis Fasseas, saw a huge problem in Chicago with homelessness of animals. We adopt out over 5,000 animals a year and do more than 17,000 spay and neuter surgeries each year.
Our organization is much more than just an animal shelter. We have a huge community outreach program where we serve the underprivileged community in Chicago. We go door-to-door in the Englewood community to help them learn about spay and neuter programs and we transport their animals to our clinic in Little Village to help them get the resources that they need.
Porte Brown: You guys are amazing! What would you say is PAWS’ goal?
AB: Our goal is a no-kill Chicago. Through our prevention efforts we are far reaching that effort. There are far fewer homeless animals in Chicago right now than there were 20 years ago when we started our organization. We hope to take it nationally someday.
Porte Brown: What has the growth been like over the past 20 years?
AB: PAWS grew pretty rapidly over the last 20 years. We're now about an $11 million organization. We were on QuickBooks until 2015. And, as you can imagine, being that large of an organization, we outgrew the software. Our chart of accounts was a mess, we kept adding and adding accounts that were not logical in order – it was hard to look at our programs versus our departments. There was no managerial reporting, there was no budget.
In 2015, Paws decided to look at other software and we chose Sage Intacct because of the dimensional opportunities that we can see in there. We could look at programs versus departments, vendors, grants, things like that.
Porte Brown: Well you just answered my next question: “why did you choose Sage Intacct?” Can you elaborate more on this?
AB: Sage Intacct was the right solution for PAWS based on how it allows us to look at the data. We can slice and dice things in many different ways. Our managers now have ways to look at their department and look at the expenses by department. We are also able to calculate our 990 which is our tax return at a program level. We can look at our prevention program, spay and neuter program, and adoption program. But then we can also look at our departments and our overhead in different ways.
Porte Brown: What were you looking for when you started your search? And in finding Porte Brown?
AB: When I came across Porte Brown, I was looking for a nonprofit expert to help me since I came from the corporate world and needed some help in the nonprofit area. And it just so happened that Porte Brown was also an expert in Sage Intacct; naturally it was a great match.
Porte Brown: And why was it important to you to have a non-profit specific expert?
AB: It was really important to me because I needed someone that had a solid foundation in the non-for-profit world. They also had experts in Sage Intacct that helped me with everything like writing reports and creating dashboards. It’s really great reassurance to know that there’s always someone there to help answer any question I may have.
Porte Brown: What has your experience like been working with us?
AB: Porte Brown has been really, really wonderful in this whole process. They were very hands-on throughout our entire implementation process. They helped us write reports, dashboards, set up ACH payments, check payment services with American Express and they offered a lot of insight into things that we didn't know we could even do in Sage Intacct. I think it's been really beneficial to our organization.
Porte Browne: What are the impacts or changes you’ve seen since switching over to Sage Intacct? How has it helped overcome your business challenges?
AB: The impact's been huge. We can now run departmental reports from our system to give to our managers. They can run their reports themselves throughout the month and see where their expenses are hitting and make corrections on the fly based on the knowledge they're getting. Before we had Sage Intacct our managers did not have any access to their information. They didn't have a budget for their department. And now, it's a whole new world.
Sage Intacct has really helped our business challenges because we can now look at data in so many different ways. Our managers are empowered to make decisions based on the data that they have, whereas before they were completely in the dark.
To learn about how Sage Intacct helped increased financial process efficiency upwards of 40 percent for PAWS Chicago, view the full case study here.
To learn more about Sage Intacct’s partner program, please click here.