In this article, we discuss how business Intelligence (BI) tools have helped not-for-profit organizations focus more on their mission and less on budgeting and reporting.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this article to not-for-profit organizations – organizations with the purpose of something other than making a profit and often focused on furthering a particular social cause – and focus on how business intelligence (BI) tools have made the jobs in their industry easier. In this article, we are going to zoom in on the tools that not-for-profit organizations have expressed they are thankful for, and hopefully, this will give you an idea of what modern BI tools can do for your not-for-profit organization.

Not-for-profit organizations are thankful for modern BI tools such as data warehouses (DWs) and dashboards because these tools provide real value to internal BI processes. DWs enable organizations to combine many data sources to a single database and help produce complex reports more efficiently. And dashboards have been a game changer no matter which industry you’re involved in. Dashboards give your executives and end users the space to discover the implicit meaning of the data they analyze. The right dashboard will revolutionize both your enjoyment and success in running a not-for-profit organization by identifying and consolidating relevant information from multiple sources, removing any inaccurate and redundant data, predicting results early on and enhancing decision-making for your organization so that you can better focus on your cause. Well-designed dashboards will share data in the form of charts, graphs, and scorecards that convey trends, opportunities and challenges with key performance indicators (KPIs) for your organization.
In the long run, you’re likely going waste money, time, and energy if you are not planning to upgrade or invest in implementing a modern BI solution that offers easy accessibility, flexibility, collaboration, and platforms that are Web-based/Cloud-based as well as Excel-driven. For example, Senior Manager of Financial Planning, Reporting, and Analysis Margaret Noble at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada shared that modern BI tools helped her healthcare not-for-profit organization produce national budgets and forecasts that go way beyond manual Microsoft Excel processes. Prior to this tool, she used homegrown Excel models, which leaves room for many errors. With approximately 650 employees and 140,000 volunteers, this was a challenge for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Producing a forecast and budgeting in a timely manner was almost impossible as they spent the majority of their time gathering data and analysis, but after implementing their BI solution, the organization went from 25,000 Excel worksheets to 4 templates. Because of BI solutions, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has time to gather their information, look at the budget and set realistic goals in hopes of diminishing heart and stroke problems in Canada.
With modern BI and corporate performance management (CPM) tools, a not-for-profit organization can run a report or create a dashboard based on grants by grantors and by programs, trends and actuals vs. budget. Your report could provide detailed information about grants by grantors and by programs. It can also show actual vs. budgeted grants paid for the current month for which the report is run, as well as for year-to-date. If you’re interested in a membership overview report, you can also do that where the report will show detailed membership statistics, as well as related financial metrics by location. With a flexible reporting tool, you’re able to automatically produce a statement of cash flows report and give your financial executives an automated view of the not-for-profit organization’s cash inflows and outflows.
In dealing with grants, your organization can give users access to an easy overview of revenues of twelve month trend, actual vs budget, and/or drill to grant and program. You are able to run an Accounts Receivables (AR) report, which gives a detailed operation report that shows AR aging data per member/customer. If your invoices are scanned into a document management system, your report can include hyperlinks where the user can have access to the images of related invoices. Lastly, you can run an Accounts Payables (AP) report, which gives the user a detailed operational report that shows AP data per vendor. The user can click on the appropriate vender row, and it will expand to display each payment to a specific vendor for the time range the report is ran.
Your organization will be able to aggregate your diverse data, reports and systems from where your information comes into one source to expand your financial budgeting, reporting and dashboards. If your organization would like to invest in one system that consolidates all of your data into one, high performing place without depending on your IT team, a DW is the solution your not-for-profit will be grateful for.
What are you thankful for in the BI world today? It is shown that modern BI solutions are continuing to make decision making easier for organizations with DWs and dashboards becoming more prevalent, accessible, flexible, and collaborative. Data will continue to grow in importance and in size for organizational decision-making processes, particularly not-for-profit organizations. I suggest your not-for-profit invests in a comprehensive BI suite that offers Reporting, Planning, and Dashboard modules that can both run live on several enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or the DW. Solver would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s Excel, web and/or mobile-based, easy-to-use solution as a comprehensive suite of BI modules for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for not-for-profit organizations.
Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.