How FP&A Process Improvement Can Unlock Nonprofit Transformation

Nonprofits that invest just a bit of time and energy into leveling up their processes find the benefits ripple across the organization.

People. Product. Process. Nonprofit leaders know that you need all three in place to really drive success on a worthwhile initiative. Yet when it comes to nonprofits’ finance departments, many teams are saddled with out-of-date and cumbersome processes. FP&A professionals at nonprofit organizations are tasked with juggling multiple funding sources and reporting requirements while trying to deliver maximum ROI with less sophisticated tools and resources. That’s a tall—if not impossible—order.

The good news: Transformation is possible. Nonprofits that invest just a bit of time and energy into leveling up their processes find the benefits ripple across the organization. Stronger cross-team collaboration. More agility to seize marketplace opportunities and skirt risks. Streamlined reporting and presentations, which frees up FP&A pros to focus more time on high-level strategic work. Ready to unlock the full potential of your nonprofit’s finance team?

Challenge: Bottlenecks Abound

From tracking multiple funding sources to generating frequent board reports, nonprofit teams can be stretched incredibly thin. Yet, with legacy financial tools and static spreadsheets, the finance team is often the only group that can answer budget queries, run reports, or set up scenarios. That creates drag across the organization, as other stakeholders must choose between waiting days for an answer or charging forward with the dated info they have on hand.

Solution: Collaborate to Clear the Blockage

Instead of letting one department take the brunt of financial queries, consider a cloud-based tool that’s fast, easy, and powerful enough to use that everyone at the nonprofit can buy in. With Workday Adaptive Planning, for instance, you can allow team members to access relevant budget data (while protecting sensitive info and tracking any changes, to make sure typos don’t derail the org). That leaves nonfinance budget owners feeling empowered but not overwhelmed, and it frees up your FP&A pros for more strategic tasks. Win-win!

Challenge: Forecasts that Are Stuck in the Past

A robust, accurate, and up-to-date forecast can make or break many initiatives. Yet, for many nonprofits, creating the annual forecast is a months-long, time-intensive endeavor. Gathering the info requires multiple emails or requests across the organization, and data must be ticked, tied, and verified to make sure that errant info won’t derail the outlook. And after all of that effort—before the ink has even dried!—the forecast is out of date.

Solution: Get Rolling

By definition, rolling forecasts are more timely and more accurate. When market conditions change, an unexpected grant comes through, or a key initiative wraps early, the finance team isn’t stuck with a cumbersome, static spreadsheet. Instead, they can tweak the next rolling forecast and deliver decision-makers the most up-to-date and valuable picture of where the nonprofit is financially and where it’s heading. When one nonprofit switched to Adaptive Insights, leaders initially hoped to shave a bit of time off the usual three months it took to generate a budget and forecast. Instead, they slashed the time requirements by more than 50 percent.

Challenge: Data Diaspora

Pop quiz: How many databases does your nonprofit use? I’d hazard a guess that it’s more than a handful. From grant-tracking and donor management to mailing lists and financial metrics, many nonprofits are awash in data. Yet often, that valuable info is stuck in silos, barely or rarely speaking to each other. That means limited insights and also precious time wasted gathering or updating info across multiple data sources. And when there’s a data discrepancy, rooting out the error can be an even more tedious task.

Solution: Centralizing Insights

single source of truth can be transformative for nonprofits. With a cloud-based solution, data can be updated across multiple platforms in real time and accessed by multiple users. That means the team no longer has to worry about stale or error-laced databases, and can stop wasting time on manual aggregation and verification. For some nonprofits, that means a real cost savings from having fewer FP&A professionals dedicated to time-intensive manual tasks. For others, that means the finance team can devote that freed-up time to strategic analysis—not just reporting out numbers, but putting them into context for nonprofit leaders.

There’s no question that people and products are vital to nonprofits. But too often the emphasis is only on what’s to be accomplished and by whom. The why matters just as much. And investing in process improvement can transform how nonprofits work—and the impact they’re able to make.

Watch a demo, and see Workday Adaptive Planning in action.

More Reading