July 22, 2020 – The Ford Family Foundation is one of the largest grantors in Oregon, with a mission of cultivating successful citizens and vital rural communities. Recently, the nonprofit foundation shifted its focus from being primarily a grantmaker behind the scenes, towards a “changemaker” with more strategic involvement and partnership in programmatic work. This transition led the organization to nearly double its headcount, while increasing both transaction volumes and financial complexity.
The finance team struggled to keep up with these changes, due to their inflexible Microsoft Dynamics GP accounting software, which made it difficult to extract data without the help of a software developer. Jennifer Mitchell, The Ford Family Foundation’s accounting manager, remembers, “We didn't have access to the information our colleagues needed, so it felt impossible to adequately manage budgets or to support the evolving requirements of our organization. It was really frustrating that we were still using outdated methods as our payables and other processes became a lot more complicated.”
After setting out to update to a modern, cloud-based financial management system, the team quickly discovered Sage Intacct and worked with consulting partner Clark Nuber PS to help with implementation. After migrating to Sage Intacct, The Ford Family Foundation realized significant value, gaining rapid insight to help redirect funds to struggling communities during COVID-19, and improving finance team efficiency by 40%.
Additional benefits achieved since switching to Sage Intacct include:
Gained agility to triple grantmaking: The Ford Family Foundation expects its grantmaking to triple as it funds several emergency projects to meet the needs of rural communities struggling with the current health and economic crisis. During times like these, access to rapid, trusted financial insight is critical. “I can be a strategic partner for my programmatic colleagues as we figure out how to redirect dollars in response to the pandemic,” said Mitchell. “If we had not been able to quickly adjust our management team’s initial back-of-the-envelope plan with validated information from Sage Intacct, we might have overcommitted in a big way.”
Reporting and dashboard capabilities: Mitchell built several custom reports, along with personalized dashboards for the foundation’s president, CFO, as well as each department’s director and staff. These dashboards include up-to-date budget reports, with data organized across important operational dimensions—such as spending trends by category, and impact metrics for individual programs or events. This visibility helps the organization track its margins for key initiatives, like child abuse prevention or annual scholarship conferences.
Freed up 40 hours of weekly data entry: One accounting associate previously spent all of her time tracking one department’s accounts payable in a spreadsheet, and then tediously copying each item into the Microsoft Dynamics GP general ledger. Now, with an intuitive system with end-to-end automation in Sage Intacct—the AP tasks take half the time. In addition, integrations with other business systems at the Foundation have improved data accuracy and saved even more time by setting up simple uploads and downloads from its payroll, grantmaking, and expense management applications into Sage Intacct.
“Sage Intacct lets us do so much more than we could before, and our team’s productivity has jumped 40% as a result,” shared Mitchell. “We're no longer using brain space on tasks we can automate, so we click fewer buttons and make more judgment calls instead.” This shift has been accentuated during the COVID-19 crisis, as the organization transitioned to a remote working environment. “Our finance team didn’t have to spend any time figuring out how we’d keep things running with people at home—it was seamless, since we had easy access to Sage Intacct in the cloud. Rather than just trying to figure out how to get grant dollars out the door, we could focus on where the money needed to go and where it could come from,” she added.
For more information on how Hunter Health uses Sage Intacct, view the full case study.