Hands up if you have a full-time bookkeeper!
Ha ha - joking! Most small nonprofits we work with don’t have a full-time, professionally trained bookkeeper. You’re not alone.
In this episode, we’re chatting with Omar Visram, CEO of Enkel Backoffice Solutions about cloud-based bookkeeping and accounting solutions that will save you time and money. Tune in to learn about how to move your organization digitally forward.
the future of work is changing constantly
As we look at the future of work, we notice two trends: fractional work - not hiring in-house but looking at people you can bring in an advisory or implementation support (which is what we do at The Good Partnership) and using cloud technology to streamline the way we work. Managing your back office is no easy feat and you know you need to access support to get it all done so you can go back to changing the world.
Cloud-based tools allow you to do get things done in a turnkey way that brings the cost down, which is so important to small organizations. A lot of people don't need a full-time person or even a part-time person doing this kind of work - but it can be really expensive to try to find solutions that are more traditional and require more offline processes. We can actually get so much more done with way less time when we leverage technology.
With the gig economy quickly growing, people are looking at different ways of working than your typical nine to five. And that's where different models around bookkeeping and other services are also starting to change.
New services, that involve hiring experts on a part-time, out-of-house basis allows you to take some work off your plate with more efficiency (and less cost) than hiring in-house. This way, you don’t have to worry about your non-core functions - leaving you and your team with the ability to truly focus on the work you love doing, NOT the paperwork or the back end.
do it yourself accounting must-haves
Don’t feel like going all out and want to DIY it instead? One of Omar’s favourite technology tools to help organizations streamline and be more efficient in their back office is QuickBooks Online. The core of all of Enkel’s accounting for non-profit organizations is managed through this tool.
QuickBooks is the tool that Enkel uses to take data and convert it into something meaningful - such as your financial statements. What’s helpful is that the chart of accounts in QuickBooks Online integrates with Receipt Bank - another tool that allows users to snap a photo of a receipt. Then, the data from the receipt gets read by receipt bank and the user has access to code. It's a great tool that enables non-profit organizations to minimize the number of lost receipts - and keep it all organized in a convenient way!
It can be SO frustrating when you submit your expenses and it takes weeks (or even months) to get paid for them! Especially when you have to fill out these crazy spreadsheets with all the different information - this can take forever and your time is valuable. Omar’s top recommendation is using Expensify.
Through Expensify, you can set rules around spending limits and eligible expenses and create expense reports for different people in the organization. So let's say, every expense report has to be approved by the executive director. The employee will submit their expenses and those will be automatically routed to the ED for approval. Similarly, a board member may have to approve the executive director’s expenses. You can add another level of hierarchy in there so that anything that the executive director submits will go to that board member for approval.
The great thing is that you're doing everything in the cloud - you are eliminating and storing stacks of paper that get nicely stored in both Expensify and Receipt Bank creating a great audit trail. If the auditors need to sample of certain expenses by the time it’s audit time, you can easily provide them to the auditor.
When Omar was looking for a solution for Enkel, he ended up using Plooto - an automated cash collection system and payment processing system that integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks Online. The great thing about Plooto for non-profit organizations is how you can use it for your hierarchy and approvals. Let's say there's a certain limit - the executive director can approve anything up to $5,000. Thereafter, something has to go to a board member before funds are released - this can be built in that hierarchy. Plooto will also prevent funds from being released without the appropriate approvals. For small nonprofits, this can mean that your administrative person doesn’t need to drive around down just to get signatures for board members. Plooto can provide a more efficient way of doing this - saving your organization time.
“how much will it cost?”
You might be looking at all of these tools and thinking, “This sounds good but we have a budget - how much will this cost?”
The cost is dependent on usage, which is written by either the number of users or the volume of transactions. To put it in perspective, when you compare Plooto to mailing cheques, Plooto is $1 a transaction. You spend more than that on a stamp and actual paper! The price is worth it in terms of saving your sanity and the valuable time your organization puts into your cause. The cost becomes an investment when it frees up your time to allow you to do the things you love doing.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask the customer service representatives if they provide a charity discount!
adopting new technology and sticking to it
In theory, adopting new technology is a great idea with all the benefits it has to offer. However, it's definitely a challenge. A lot of people initially get quite excited about using the tools and then eventually they just revert to their old ways. As efficient as Receipt Bank might be to use and how fun it is to play with the app at the beginning, it’s hard to stop doing something you've done for so long. Habits are hard to change, but it’s not impossible. Omar also suggests looking at online videos and exploring ongoing training resources.
At the end of the day, the status quo is sometimes our biggest enemy - not adapting to the environment, not accepting new technologies, puts us at a disadvantage. We live with this chronic pain of always doing things we have done, especially if we don't address it. When you do address that chronic pain, it is life-changing. Nothing happens immediately overnight, you have to be ready to invest time and energy into learning the new system and committing to using the tools.
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Resources from this Episode
You can also email Omar at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may find it useful to review our past episodes, a frank conversation about your systems with Aine McGlynn (our co-host!) and the future of work with Anil Patel to learn more about how you can move your organization digitally forward to reduce both long-term cost and stress!
The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano