“It’s easy, it’s powerful, it’s cost effective, and the reporting is really flexible”
That’s how Don Miller, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for Meals on Wheels, describes the financial management solution Sage Intacct. Despite that praise, however, the positive features of Sage Intacct have nothing to do with why Meals on Wheels implemented it in the first place.
When Miller first took over, the finance department was still running on QuickBooks. Like a lot of nonprofits, Meals of Wheels was attracted to the low cost and simple features QuickBooks had to offer. Then, as the organization started to grow, the same features that made this introductory accounting solution attractive in the first place start to look like liabilities.
When Adequate Isn’t Enough
As a generalized accounting tool, QuickBooks is basic by design. It’s not intended to help growing or mature organizations. More importantly, it’s not designed specifically for nonprofits.
With time, minor annoyances inflate into major issues. Take something like grant funding for example. Small nonprofits in their early stages with few grants to track may be able to get by with the weak grant management tools offered by QuickBooks. As the size, scope, and financial requirements of those grants increase, however, the tool meant to manage them becomes an obstacle – producing errors and inefficiency so frequently it puts the grants (and the nonprofit that depends on them) at risk.
Upon arrival, Miller quickly realized that QuickBooks couldn’t handle Meals on Wheel’s finance and accounting requirements. More problematically, it couldn’t facilitate an expansion of the organization and mission that seemed well within reach. To put it bluntly, Quickbooks was an anchor holding the organization back. Cutting it loose was an easy decision.
Achieving Excellence Through Accounting
The experience of Meals on Wheels helps explain why so many nonprofits replace Quickbooks with Sage Intacct. First of all, Sage Intacct addresses the major deficiencies of Quickbooks: it’s appropriate for high-growth, midsize organizations and it has features designed specifically for nonprofits. Accountants used to “making do” suddenly have a toolkit that streamlines financial management while making it far more strategic.
The fact that Sage Intacct integrates with both the CRM and the fundraising system is, in Miller’s words, a “game-changer.” With the aid of automation, Miller’s team was also able to reduce the close from three weeks to two – giving them hours of extra time to spend on review and analysis. To put it in dollars and cents terms, Miller estimates that Sage Intacct delivers (or saves) at least the value of a full-time employee, which is a precious commodity in a lean nonprofit accounting department.
“Having the capabilities of Sage Intacct has allowed my team to go from bean counter to business partner.” As Miller describes it, replacing Quickbooks with something smarter and more specialized didn’t just improve outcomes – it transformed everything. If you’re looking for a similar transformation, CDH can help. Contact us for a consultation.