Daily Interruptions In The Way Of Growth

A majority of nonprofit accounting and finance professionals (72 percent) expect their organizations to grow during the next three years. However, they also believe that they spend too much time on ad-hoc reporting requests and not enough time on strategic planning.

The biggest challenges affecting most nonprofit finance professionals include:

* Interruptions from other departments — 49 percent;

* Reporting — 23 percent; and,

* Training New Employees — 22 percent.

Dan Murphy, product manager for Abila MIP Fund Accounting, shared these findings and more from the Nonprofit Finance & Accounting Study during a session at the AICPA Not-For-Profit Conference in National Harbor, Md. The study, commissioned by nonprofit and association software provider Abila, surveyed 350 nonprofit finance/accounting professionals at organizations ranging from $1 million to more than $50 million in revenue.

“While much of the attention given to fundraising focuses on the front-end “ask,” there’s little discussion around the tremendous behind-the-scenes effort of accounting for all of those billions of dollars in funds,” said Murphy.

Nonprofit finance professionals are actively involved in decision making across the entire organization, not just within the finance department. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents said that they have either significant or considerable influence across the organization.

Long-term sustainability and finding new funding sources were identified as very important for both small and large organizations. The need to do more with less is also a strong finding that emerged from the study. The top nonprofit finance departmental trends according to survey participants, regardless of organization size, include:

* Small, lean finance teams – 80 percent;

* Cross-functional expertise for all staff – 70 percent;

* A move to cloud-based technologies – 62 percent;

* Key decision makers for technology purchases – 62 percent; and,

* A mix of full-time and part-time staff – 59 percent.

Murphy suggested focusing on building better collaboration with other departments and leveraging technology can greatly reduce interruptions. “It’s important to take the time to identify organization-wide success metrics and expectations for reporting,” said Murphy. “Scheduling set collaborative work sessions can be helpful, as well as leveraging new cloud-based technology, such as role-based dashboards, that empower stakeholders to self-serve instead of interrupting the finance staff.”

You can download the full report at: www.abila.com/financestudy.