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Nonprofit & Government Financial and Operations Management in the New Normal

BlogImage NewNormal2020 thumbnailFrom every corner of the world and including every community member, collectively, we are charged with operating under a new normal. Basic communication, friendly greetings, social interaction, making plans, helping others – everything we were accustomed to, is done differently now. With more caution, taking more precautions.

We are all trying to do our part in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, brought about by the novel coronavirus. Following reported safety measures to keep our friends, family, and community members safe during this challenging time is the least we can do.

The varying impact of this current health crisis has taken a toll on seemingly every aspect of operations, no matter the industry, from business closures affecting revenue disruptions to personnel challenges with telecommuting and pay/leave issues, all the while needing and wanting to maintain a presence among the community we serve.

The new normal. How does it impact the work you do as well as the community you serve? How have nonprofit and government financial and operations management adapted?

From managing accounts payable remotely while facilitating workflow and electronic payment processing to collaborating with colleagues versus working individually in spreadsheets, the financial and operational management landscape at nonprofits and local governments is increasingly reliant on cloud/online solutions.

We have seen, first-hand, many organizations struggle to access their critical applications that are needed to meet day-to-day tasks but are not setup for remote access. This worldwide health crisis has changed the way people view the usefulness of cloud computing.

More organizations can see the value of a full ERP system, capable of tracking a variety of information about their operations – document management, grants management, client registrations, program related data, purchase orders, work orders – in addition to the usual financial and organizational data needed for key decision-making.

Continuing to serve constituents amidst the most challenging situations was a key message in CPA Practice Advisors’ recent interview with City of Picayune, Mississippi. Amber Hinton, City Clerk, City of Picayune, shared “AccuFund has helped us continue to serve our citizens while we all get through this difficult time and has helped our city staff remain a cohesive team,” and Hinton added their ability to remotely oversee city government “operations of several departments, including financial, payroll, payables, utility billing and IT” played a critical role in keeping their community connected. Read the full City of Picayune success story.

Whether already utilizing an online solution or looking to make the transition, there are key factors to consider to help your nonprofit or government improve financial management and transparency. From organizational structure to security to staffing expertise and deployment flexibility, there are several key factors that go into finding the right nonprofit accounting software/government accounting software.

Support Materials:
Nonprofit Online vs Onsite White Paper
Government Online vs Onsite White Paper

Doing more with less has become the new normal for nonprofit and government financial and operations management working through the pandemic. Systems, procedures, processes, deliverables, and all facets of work had to be revamped – to account for a remote workforce or a severely limited workforce.

In a recent study by Dr. Lester Salamon of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Salamon and coauthor Chelsea Newhouse found that during the 3-month period of March, April, and May 2020, unfortunately 1.64 million nonprofit workers lost their jobs in three months.

Salamon and Newhouse summarized the US nonprofit sector as, “a far more sizable and robust economic force in the American economy than is widely recognized. In addition to its crucial programmatic contributions to the country’s health, education, social service, and cultural activities, nonprofits constitute the country’s third largest workforce and generate its third largest payroll of any national industry, and hence make important contributions to the tax revenue of the country’s national, state, and local governments.”

How can you continue serving those in need with limited resources? Budgetary conversations loom for both the nonprofit and government sector as funding sources remain uncertain. One key component is making sure your systems can seamlessly work together, from accounting to payroll to donor management and in the government realm, payroll tax and utility billing. Now is the time to minimize the processes done outside of your system, such as any tasks managed by spreadsheets.

Utilize data derived from your nonprofit and government systems to power your dashboards. Dashboards tell the story about an organization. They combine various elements (financial, demographic, etc.) and display critical information in an easy-to-read format that enables timely analysis and decision-making. For a quick gauge of your dashboard effectiveness, read our popular Dashboard White Paper for Nonprofits.

Trust that your organization or entity are providing the services needed to keep communities safe while keeping your staff safe. How do you instill trust – in all aspects of nonprofit and government financial and operations management – throughout a pandemic?

Our EBook, The Trust Factor and Nonprofit Management, outlines the importance of trust in all phases of nonprofit management, program management, and outcomes management while also detailing areas that might make an organization vulnerable. It also provides helpful tips to guide nonprofits through assessing their current level of trust and highlights areas that help strengthen the trust factor. While it is geared to the nonprofit audience, the notion of trust holds true for nonprofits and governments alike.

There are lots of factors at play during this current health crisis. The efforts we take to ensure proper management and transparency will go a long way to establishing and reinforcing the trust needed for continued community support.

What’s a new priority for you and your team that wasn’t a priority before? Many organizations are asking us, what can now be done remotely?  Additional popular new priorities we’ve seen now include electronic payment approval workflow, document management, and budget management.

Now more than ever, it is critical during these times to automate tasks, facilitate teamwork, utilize dashboards to keep track of pertinent data that enhances every aspect of your organization and government.

AccuFund is proud to support all agencies helping to navigate the new normal resulting from the challenges around the novel coronavirus.

We are witness to the incredible impact our nonprofit and government clients have on their communities, in terms of services and offerings. Amidst a pandemic, these services are more in need and the systems that serve as the backbone to the nonprofits and governments supporting these services will need to help us do more.

Accounting for Change. Nonprofit Tips for Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis

U.S. Small Business Administration
U.S. Treasury Department
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Kristen Faiola