The modern non-for-profit organization is a highly intricate machine, as equal in complexity to any for-profit corporation. And just like the modern business, modern nonprofits are increasingly relying on technologies to manage nearly every aspect of their operations and succeed in a crowded space. Luckily, most of the major enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) technology providers offer dedicated nonprofit editions, offering various customizations and exclusive modules that pertain to the unique world of nonprofit management.
In the nonprofit sector, there are two that big nonprofit technology solutions that tend to get used these most: Sage Intacct and NetSuite. At BPM, our Technology Solutions team has helped hundreds of clients to not only implement and maintain these technologies, but also choose the right set of financial management solutions for their needs and budgets. Drawing on that experience, here is a quick rundown of each of these major cloud based systems plus several other notable solutions, and how each option can empower your nonprofit to be more efficient, more productive, and ultimately, have a bigger impact.
Sage Intacct: Cloud-Based Nonprofit Accounting with Leading Grant and Donation Management Tools
Sage Intacct has a well-deserved status in the nonprofit sector as being one of the best financial management software suites out there. The Nonprofit edition includes all the tools nonprofits to need to manage their core financial functions, including accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management and general ledger. There are also modules designed to help nonprofits manage their grants, fund accounting, and project accounting, as well as budgeting and planning, among numerous other functions that are vital to your organization.
With a winning balance of power and ease of use, Intacct is great for getting medium or even large nonprofits that are still working out of spreadsheets into our modern era of rapid digital transformation, with thoughtfully designed features that automate away a lot of the manual busywork traditionally associated with accounting, grant management, budgeting in excel, project management, etc. This in turn enables staff to put their talents to use doing higher-level, more strategic work that actually furthers the nonprofit’s mission.
Importantly, Intacct’s offers comprehensive true fund accounting tools, allowing nonprofits that accept multiple grants and directed donations to separate those income streams and create separate closes and reports for each revenue source according to the funder’s requirements. This ability is increasingly a must-have for nonprofits, and Sage Intacct has as close to perfected this functionality as any vendor.
On the technical side, Intacct is cloud-based, which makes it the perfect solution for nonprofits that are transitioning away from the complexity of maintaining on-premises software when your workforce is remote. As a cloud solution, employees can log-in from anywhere remotely and securely without the use of a VPN or other cumbersome mechanism. Finally, the platform’s APIs (short for “application programming interfaces,” the computing interfaces that enable different programs to interact with each other in a standardized way) allow organizations to integrate other technology solutions quickly to create a seamless technology stack of their choosing.
Ultimately, Sage Intacct is likely to win over customers attracted by its best-in-class approach, which means by design it is intended to enable organizations to continue working with platforms they already use such as Bill.com, ADP and Salesforce while also taking advantage Intacct’s unmatched nonprofit accounting features.
NetSuite: The All-in-One Nonprofit ERP solution
NetSuite, an offering of software giant Oracle, is another top-tier nonprofit ERP solution. If it is important to your organization that you bring accounting, finance, HR, marketing, commerce, and experience management all together in a single platform from a single vendor, then it is hard to beat NetSuite for the sheer breadth of functions it can perform. NetSuite not only does all these functions and more, it also does them well.
Of those numerous modules, we have been particularly impressed with NetSuite’s full-fledged CRM, which combines salesforce automation, marketing automation, and customer service in a single solution. If your organization is having trouble staying organized, motivated and efficient with regard to attracting and retaining donors, NetSuite’s highly competitive CRM capabilities should definitely be one of your considerations.
Another of NetSuite’s feature-sets that merits special attention is its ecommerce platform. For organizations that have found a lot of success selling merchandise and other swag, or that are keen on getting into this increasingly important source of income for nonprofits, it is hard to go wrong with NetSuite. The platform integrates inventory management, fulfilment, inbound logistics, and more, all in real time, streamlining the order pipeline. All told, NetSuite helps you ensure you have what people want when they want it, that you get it to them in a timely manner, and that you convert orders into cash flow as quickly as possible.
Like Sage Intacct, NetSuite is a 100% cloud-based solution. Some other notable technical features include mobile access for certain features and extensive customization options through its SuiteCloud developer tools. But perhaps the biggest benefit of NetSuite is that because it can function as a true all-in-one solution, using NetSuite across your nonprofit organization means you do not have to worry about maintaining integrations between platforms or about APIs breaking (or no longer being supported). If you want, you can have a technology stack that is all NetSuite, through and through. This is a positive not only from a maintenance perspective, but also from the point of view of security.
Other Technology Stacks: Notable Mentions
While we find that most nonprofits eventually go with NetSuite or Sage Intacct for at least some of their technology needs, often with Salesforce somewhere in the mix, they by no means represent the full market for nonprofit ERP software. It is both a good and bad thing that nonprofits today have literally dozens, if not hundreds, of technology vendors catering to their needs — good because that diversity drives competition, which generally speaking results in a better product of customers; bad because it is very much possible to end up with a solution that does not actually do what was promised or what you need it do.
Nevertheless, you can build quite strong technology stacks by combining solutions from smaller providers or providers that focus more narrowly on one aspect of nonprofit management. Salesforce, as mentioned above, is a common component in nonprofit technology stacks. Not only that, many nonprofits get Salesforce for free. Salesforce has not earned its reputation as the world’s leading CRM for nothing, and if Salesforce works for your nonprofit, you should have a compelling reason to leave the platform.
Nonprofits may also often benefit from looking outside the two big providers and considering best-in-class solutions such as Bill.com — a popular business payments solution that streamlines the accounts payable and account receivable processes and also integrates beautifully with NetSuite and Intacct — and Nexonia, an automated timesheet, expense reporting and travel management solution that optimizes and reduces admin time for one of the biggest sources of nonprofit spending. Better yet, these solutions tend to play nicely with each other, which helps enable you to build your organization’s ideal technology stack.
Let us help you build the ideal technology stack for your organization.
The nonprofit technology landscape is becoming complex. BPM offers the experience and the expertise needed to help you reduce risk, uncover opportunities and cut down on headaches. The professionals in our Technology Solutions Group combine advanced technical skills with deep accounting and operational experience to recommend and implement best practices, so your nonprofit can reach its full potential. Each of our team members brings years of ERP implementation experience with a variety of ERP solutions, in diverse industries, with companies of all sizes. Working directly with ERP software providers such as NetSuite and Sage Intacct to ensure you get, we partner with you to determine what makes the most sense for your situation. Potential solutions range from cloud-based accounting support all the way to fully integrated enterprise systems. To learn more about how the right technology can help your nonprofit succeed, contact Britiany Tompkins, Sage Intacct practice leader, at [email protected].