Sage Intacct eBook CFO 3.0: Digital transformation for not-for-profits

As this year draws to a close and Australian organisations look towards the future, adopting a digital approach to create efficiencies, drive down costs, and streamline processes is not only a necessity but a game-changer.

By eliminating labor-intensive processes and driving automation across the finance team, CFO’s can utilise the knowledge and deep expertise of the team to add value and focus to the areas that matter most.
New technology also provides the insights required to make decisions on how and where to effectively utilise people based on performance.
Meanwhile, there’s increasing pressure on not-for-profits and charities to justify their budgets and spending by demonstrating that they’re having a real impact on their mission.


Gaining Insights from Industry Experts
Here Bruce Minty from Sage Australia explains why it is vital for not-for-profit CFO’s to implement digital transformation.
Here are 5 ways it can benefit your organisation:


1. Adopt flexible working and better collaboration 
There are vast benefits of new technology for not-for-profit organisations, including increased efficiency and productivity.

It allows staff to work flexibly and remotely, which a growing number of talented people expect from the charity sector, as they would in other industries. It also enables teams to collaborate more effectively and work smarter.


2. Stay compliant with regulations 
New technology makes it easier for charities and not-for-profits of all sizes to ensure they’re complying with laws and regulations. Very importantly, for this sector, it enhances their ability to raise income.
It enables organisations to adopt more efficient and effective working practices and optimise management information and insight, so they have a better understanding of their fundraising, expenditure and donations.

Ensuring compliance and transparency will be critical to attracting younger donors. Senior manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP James Qua writes in *The Wall Street Journal that millennials are now the fastest-growing potential donor base – a demographic that demands more transparency from not-for-profits.

He said: “Millennials typically express a strong desire to understand the impact of their contributions both at the time of investment and in the future, so they typically demand increased transparency from organisations to which they contribute, whether their gifts take the form of time, money, or expert advice.”
According to a recent survey by Philanthropy Impact, a membership organisation working to inspire philanthropy and social investment, funding was the top concern for 84% of charities, while GDPR was cited by nearly two thirds (65%).

As we enter the new decade, new technology and digital transformation could bring multiple benefits for not-for-profits and charities, including new income streams and more secure and transparent communication with supporters and beneficiaries, allowing them to operate in a more agile and efficient way.

However, these advances will not be without risk or barriers for organisations to overcome. Finance leaders must be at the heart of breaking down obstacles, empowering teams to think and deliver in more creative ways.


3. Make accurate predictions using data 
One of the most significant opportunities technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data offers CFOs is the ability to make accurate predictions. In the charity and not-for-profit sector, this is more important than ever.
In a recent report by Sage, CFO 3.0: Digital transformation beyond financial management, Kerry Agiasotis, executive vice president for APAC at Sage, says: “While today’s CFOs have been tasked with analysing the past, tomorrow’s CFO is expected to be a visionary.”

“They will be using and analysing data to predict the future direction of the organisation, uncover hidden opportunities and close information gaps. As the gatekeepers of data and analytics, the CFO of tomorrow will drive digital transformation throughout its business.”
The particular challenge for not-for-profits and charities looking to implement this change is that unlike most organisations, their focus is helping others rather than making money for themselves.


4. Work more efficiently after investing time on implementation 
Many charities and not-for-profits can find technological change daunting. It’s often perceived as expensive or even unaffordable – so it’s important to understand which technology is right for your business and budget.

However, recognise that investing in the right technology can save money in the long run due to better productivity and more efficient ways of working.

Organisations will have to invest time. It’s critical the right level of internal resource is put to this change – either in terms of project management or staff training in new systems.
Technical implementations often fail due to internal culture not being considered or staff not being taken on the journey.

Leaders of charities and not-for-profits should scope out the digital transformation project thoroughly before embarking on it, as time invested upfront will reap rewards later and save some of the pain.
Walk the talk, too. Ensure the top of the organisation gets stuck in and acts as champions, advocates and doers – not just desk thumpers when things become challenging or go wrong, which they will.


5. Acquire new talent 
Digital transformation and talent acquisition can form a virtuous spiral for many not-for-profits.
In finance teams and other departments, talented people will be attracted to organisations benefiting from digital transformation and similar technology rather than those struggling with aging, legacy systems.
And you can use this new talent to drive further technological benefits.
There is one asset not-for-profits and charities have that’s not available to commercial organisations: volunteers.

“Something else that we learned along the way was that this new reality that we were starting to adopt within our nonprofit was attracting the very thing that we needed: volunteers who had digital skill sets and who were excited to help us transform,” Dr Gloria Horsley, founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, an open community where people can find hope after loss, writes in **Forbes magazine.

“Many had even led their own companies’ transformations and were eager to help other organisations do the same, so they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel or experience setbacks.”
“The transformation assistance we received included showing us how to migrate our files, selecting the optimal software for our processes, and training the organisation on how to think digitally.”

The sector needs to invest in the best people with recent, first-hand experience of delivering impactful digital transformation and fundraising innovation. Not-for-profits and charities must now have one eye on this ever-changing landscape, as the pace of change is due to ramp up even further.
Following thought leaders on social media and partnering with disruptive and socially conscious companies will become even more essential.

The 2020s will present a challenging and ever-changing fundraising and technological environment. Still, not-for-profits and charities should be energised by these opportunities and the chance to have a more significant impact on their supporters and beneficiaries.
Best wishes and thanks for reading.

Joe Gentile
Managing Director
Aptus Business Solutions.


About Aptus Business Solutions
With more than 30 years’ experience within the IT industry, Aptus Business Solutions is a certified Sage Intacct partner with an Australia wide client base. Our Sage Intacct ERP consultants are dedicated to addressing the unique challenges you face within PSA, our aim is to make you even more successful at what you do.

For more information on driving digital transformation, contact us today.