Nonprofit Expense Management Challenges and Solutions: Part 2

Expense management is a human process that tracks human choices, and is prone to human error. You may have intended to set up a simplified, easily followed expense reporting process early on. But the execution likely veered into complicated, frustrating pastures over time.

It’s a scenario that plays out in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors frequently. But some dimensions of the nonprofit landscape are unique to your community-focused efforts. Limited access to technology or resources often leads to ramshackle workarounds that waste time. Necessary oversight from (and transparency to) your program stakeholders may require acrobatic coordination to provide trusted reporting.

Our previous post of this series looked at best practices for streamlining your expense and funding management process. In this second installment, we’ll touch on four common challenges nonprofits face while managing their expenses.

Multi-location organizational setups
Managing expenses for a single location is tricky enough. For organizations that span across multiple locations, chasing down reports and receipts adds magnitudes of complexity. Additionally, you may encounter different processes depending on which office you’re in. These all lead to increased risks of inconsistency and inefficiency.

Manual expense processing
Technology provides solutions for nearly every business situation. Yet your budget or infrastructure limits may be too high of a hurdle to get over. As an alternative, organizations cling to an outdated, manual, and exhaustive process. Excel spreadsheets. Paper receipt filing. Hand delivery of expense reports. These choices impede productivity and could be getting in the way of success, not to mention introducing unnecessary friction between staff members.

Chasing people and paper
Hounding expense reports, receipts, and the people responsible for submitting them takes focus away from your community. Beyond the stress it creates, you risk data entry errors, approval delays, duplicate entries, and more. It also becomes increasingly difficult to have complete visibility and control over the organization’s expenses.

Disconnected donation tracking
Accounting for every dollar, both its origin and eventual use, is vital to your organization’s operation. It’s equally critical to your outward reporting requirements. That’s not news to any nonprofit. Yet we frequently hear of dependencies on disjointed or paper-based workflows that add unnecessary choke points to donation bookkeeping.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to your organization’s process? Some? All? The good news is, you’re not alone. Nonprofits everywhere are embracing automation to unkink the entirety of their expense management. You can read about one customer’s recent success by downloading our profile on Educational Alliance.