How to create a nonprofit model that survives first contact with uncertainty
The nonprofit sector is more resilient than most, but with income levels fluctuating and an increasing demand for services, it's time to revisit how your organization manages its money and people. Let's take a look at why the current situation calls for a different approach - to everything from operational admin to people management and long-term financial planning and scenario-building.
The state of the nonprofit sector
Far from being imperiled by recent events, many nonprofits have treated COVID as a wake-up call. According to Aberdeen Group research, 81% of nonprofit organizations have actually increased their spending on new and existing technology (such as ERP) during the pandemic.
This trend reflects an acceleration of digital transformation ambition throughout the sector, spurred by the need for a more flexible approach to working.
The problems that spurred the initial actions remain. Many nonprofits find themselves challenged by labor-intensive systems and disjointed processes. By delayed responses to change. By the need to foster public trust while also dealing with increasingly complex compliance requirements and funding conditions. And all these problems are exacerbated by the negative effects of brittle, outdated systems.
Overcoming these issues means pursuing transformation strategies that eliminate the problem at its source – by replacing fragmented, brittle, and obsolete systems with solutions that let your organizations’ people work more smoothly.
Ditch the spreadsheets
Using Excel spreadsheets to manage data, finances, expenses, and people leads to huge waste for any organization. And it’s not just the error-prone duplication of entry across different systems – it’s the time spent sifting through a multitude of different files on a multitude of different systems; it’s the lack of collaboration between silos; it’s the inability to be proactive when reporting only happens a few times a year.
By removing the need to rely on disparate documents for data entry and calculations, we’ve helped organizations to reduce their administration time significantly, making room for more valuable, meaningful work. Our client Warchild saw a 20% time saving on financial reporting in its first year, and hopes to achieve a 50% saving in its second.
Automate compliance, reporting, and other manual processing functions
Routine tasks and manual processes that don’t have changing requirements take up a huge quantity of working hours. And many of the biggest culprits – such as compliance and donor reporting - are either legally mandated or a key part of ensuring continued income for your organization. But a unified system for managing all resources takes much of the sting out of these vital parts of your operation.
One of our international nonprofit clients estimates that by streamlining and automating processes of this type, they’ve saved as much as $2.3m and hundreds of working hours every year.
Plan for a variety of futures
In a climate of widespread uncertainty, your ability to succeed depends heavily on your ability to create contingency plans for a variety of possible futures.
Doing so requires two things.
First, that you have a single source of truth for all financial, operational, and personnel data that’d as up-to-date and accurate as possible.
And second, that your financial planning systems are capable of analyzing data quickly and efficiently, and can be used to create models and plans for any contingency. This requires not just the ability to roadmap, but to accurately extrapolate different outcomes – something only possible at scale with the latest advancements in AI and Machine Learning.
Experience how Unit4’s technology transforms nonprofit operations at X4U
Experience4U is our first global virtual event, designed to help you understand exactly what we can bring to your organization, and how to make the most of your investment.
Our two-day program boasts over 40 sessions - all with a live Q&A so you can ask questions and share your thoughts with speakers and peers. Including:
Managing uncertainty and fluctuating income: join nonprofit financial and strategic leadership professionals to discuss how automating your operational admin, proactive planning, and optimizing your use of funding can help boost your resilience even in the face of extreme uncertainty.
How to pursue nonprofit digital transformation: Leaders from Nuclear Waste Management Organization and Oxfam America share why and how their organizations are pursuing digital transformation amid extreme uncertainty to help them adapt to whatever the future holds.
Nonprofit industry model: learn how our nonprofit industry model creates a digestible, iterative approach to implementing our solutions. And helps lower implementation effort by up to 50%.
Nonprofit points of view: Open roundtable: Join your peers from leading nonprofit organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Save the Children International, and Missouri Botanical Gardens, for an informal roundtable discussion to explore the challenges faced by nonprofits throughout 2020 and beyond.