By Susan Sparks

This was originally posted on the Salesforce.Org blog.

Throughout my career, I have had multiple conversations with both accountants and fundraisers. While it often feels like accountants and fundraisers are on two different paths that will never merge, they can benefit greatly from working together. Fundraisers are using a system to build and cultivate relationships. They are tracking donations, grants and other sources of income. Many times fundraisers don’t track these items in the same way the accounting team does, or even worse, they use a separate system that does not integrate with the accounting system.

This disconnect is sometimes so significant that it makes it nearly impossible to pull reports for the board. One of our clients told us that before they engaged Cloud for Good, their fundraising system had $42M dollar more revenue than their accounting system for the previous year. How can we get these issues resolved? How can fundraisers and accountants work together?

We’ve explored the top seven complaints of accountants below and shared how Salesforce can come to your rescue.

Number One – Our systems house duplicate data.  Constituents are entered in the Development system, in the Accounting System, and in the Program Management system.  Each record in each system contains different information. We find ourselves wasting time on data entry and trying to keep information current. Our systems are not integrated which leads to inefficient processes throughout the organization.

When you integrate your accounting system with the Salesforce platform, all your data is stored in one location that is accessible from anywhere at any time. Integrating multiple technology solutions often requires additional configuration, as custom fields and related custom objects are often needed to ensure that all systems talk to each other. While there may be an up-front cost to integrate your technologies, the rewards and savings that you will experience will far exceed the initial cost.

Number Two – Paper approval processes and requests are a daunting task. Tracking down people across the organization can be difficult when the organization has paper based approvals or requests for PTO or expenses. Losing receipts and not keeping up with documentation adds additional hours to the work day.

By leveraging Salesforce Approvals, your organization can setup complex approval rules within the platform. The approval rules can be flexibly configured to meet your organization’s reporting and compliance requirements. If an expense is going to be a certain amount, the approval process could start with the employee’s manager and then notify your accounting department. If you want to approve all expenses under $25 (or any amount of your choosing), setting up a conditional approval based on the dollar amount can be put into place. Approvals can be processed via email, on any mobile device or a computer, reducing the approval time to allocate funds where they need to be spent. Receipts and documentation for expenses can be attached to the record in Salesforce and are accessible to the approver so you have all your documentation in one place.

Number Three – The data stored in our systems is not current. It takes us so long to complete the monthly close out that by the time we can share the reports, that data is old. Additionally, we are not sure what payables exist because our purchases are not tracked in the system.

When your organization harness the power of the Salesforce platform, your data is stored in the cloud. When updates are made to your systems, updates occur in real-time. Maintaining current data on the platform is easy. Your data is integrated across your systems so less time is spent on reconciliation processes. You have increased visibility into your accounts receivable and can easily see which invoices have been paid. Salesforce provides you with customizable reports and dashboards to easily view information that is pertinent to your job responsibilities.

Number Four – Our reporting, forecasting and data tracking are all done in Microsoft Excel. Performing day to day tasks requires that data be exported from our current systems into Excel workbooks. To get a handle on the data we are capturing, we then must format those workbooks to begin manipulating the data to find answers.

Excel, while a great tool, is not a viable option for reporting key metrics within your organization. Tracking sensitive financial information in various places can lead to an increase in human error. If an extra zero gets added to a field in Excel (or taken away), your numbers will be amiss. With Salesforce, you can pull reports comprised of integrated data from the platform. The reports that you commonly use, can be saved and run whenever you need to share information with your board or key stakeholders. Additional add-ons to the platform, such as form tools and multi-step reporting options, can further help you collect and maintain data. If you are still trying to drill-down into the data you are storing, Wave Analytics will provide you with additional insights. will provide you with additional insights.

Number Five – Our current system is not flexible. The process flows are inefficient and we are unable to add additional functionality, such as a purchase order (PO) system. Tracking accounting information in multiple Excel workbooks makes it difficult to have a full understanding of key financial data.

Salesforce is more than a database. It is a platform that connects all departments across your organization. Breaking down silos and becoming a connected nonprofit has never been easier. Automate your processes using Workflows and Process Builder. Cumbersome processes can often be automated with clicks, not code. Expand the platform by purchasing and integrating applications from the AppExchange.  Your future with Salesforce will be much brighter, as you are given the ability to add a PO system, track expenses, view dashboards and reports – all in one location.

Number Six – Financial data is only accessible to the accounting department. It is housed in different systems, each requiring a separate login. These systems are not accessible from remote locations or on a mobile device. When the development team needs information, they need to ask us to provide it.

Salesforce is highly configurable and allows you to assign permission sets to users. For example, your development team needs to see how what funds have been raised, but your marketing team does not need access to any financial data. Share information with specific groups within your organization. Dashboards and reports can be created for specific users to access, while remaining hidden from those who do not need to see your financial information.  All data is combined in one platform, enabling access on multiple devices. Salesforce security is top notch, so you can rest assured that your data is safe.

Number Seven – We are using out of date technology, that is often no longer supported. We cannot upgrade/update our systems because it involves complex coding. The user interface is not easy to navigate because it is so out of date.

Salesforce is an evolving platform that is supported by an ecosystem comprised of partners, application providers and users. The platform is updated at a minimum of three times per year with major releases that add and/or update features based on requests from the Salesforce communities. The interface is user friendly and with the release of the Lightning Experience (LEX), more processes are automated requiring clicks and less code. LEX offers a sleek interface that is easy to learn and use.

In addition to the large ecosystem, Salesforce provides multiple training and certification programs to help your users stay on top of new releases and learn how to dive further into the capabilities of the platform. Salesforce administrators are in high demand and there is a wealth of resources available for your organization to utilize to assist with your implementation of the platform, as well your maintenance of it going forward. Last, but certainly not least, the Power of Us Hub is an online community that lets you find answers from others who may be facing a similar issue.

Are you ready to learn more about how Salesforce can create transformational change within your organization? Contact Cloud for Good today.

Susan Sparks

Susan Sparks