How ERPs Help Non-Profits Maximize Community Impact

A group of 5 volunteers help water and plant a community garden.

Not all nonprofit initiatives are global in scope. Some are focused entirely on the community — on making a positive impact close to home. That becomes much easier to do when you don't have to juggle multiple schedules, projects, and people. 

And that's before getting into managing donations and grants, an undertaking that requires you to: 

  • Implement a systematic process for reviewing donors, funders, and proposals. 
  • Record every stage of the grant's life cycle, including how and where it's being spent. 
  • Report back to the donor or funder about spending. 
  • Track expenses such as supplier contracts, employee pay and capital expenditures. 
  • Keep track of multiple payment schedules and map them to your overall budget. 

That's a lot of things to take care of if you're doing everything manually. And the more time you spend on logistics and administrative work, the less time you've got left to focus on making a difference. 

What you need is an efficient way to manage funds, resources, people, and business processes  — which is where enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems come into play. 

Although nonprofit organizations have different objectives and face different challenges compared to for-profit businesses, they have something in common. Neither a nonprofit nor a for-profit can run without people, financial management, and data management. Unfortunately, there's something else the two types of organizations have in common as well. 

Without a centralized management platform, each department or business unit will inevitably deploy its own tools, resulting in a patchwork software stack plagued with data and communication silos. 

Managing and allocating funds becomes time-consuming and inefficient, with multiple opportunities for mistakes along the way. This becomes even more pronounced in larger nonprofits, which may have multiple departments, each with its own objective and funding needs. Rather than wait for the slow process of securing and allocating a grant, department heads might decide to approach funders themselves, taking them away from their primary roles and impeding program development as a result. 

By using ERP software, your organization can address these issues by: 

  • Eliminating data silos and establishing a single source of truth for information. 
  • Streamlining both pre-award and post-award grant management, ensuring grants are both received and allocated more quickly. 
  • Allowing you to consolidate grant management into a single role or department that manages everything from RFPs to reporting. 
  • Balancing and allocating funds between departments while maintaining accounting integrity.
  • Creating and continuously updating a data-driven financial plan based on insights into spending and operations. 

Alongside better grant management, ERP software also helps you optimize business processes across the organization. This, in turn, enables more efficient program management, allowing your people to achieve more within a shorter timeframe. And speaking of people, you can also use ERP software to manage and schedule both workers and volunteers. 

ERP also provides a means of addressing turnover, and not just through streamlined onboarding. Without a centralized management system in place, losing someone responsible for fundraising or grant management often means losing access to all their knowledge about your nonprofit's grant process. By using an ERP platform to track, monitor, and report on grants and funding, you ensure that critical information is never lost, even when people quit. 

For nonprofits, the benefits of ERP software are many. Unfortunately, there's one minor sticking point. It can be incredibly challenging to find the right ERP solution for your needs. 

The problem is that most enterprise resource planning tools are built with the for-profit sector in mind. Deploying them as a non-profit can often feel like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. While they're still usable, they aren't designed to manage grants or track nonprofit expenses — they have to be retrofitted for the tasks, resulting in a poor user experience.

Enter Sparkrock. We have nearly two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector and a deep understanding of the ERP features your organization needs. We've used that experience and understanding to develop a cloud-based ERP platform purpose-built for your sector and backed by a team of experts who are dedicated to helping you make a difference. 

Alongside project and grant accounting, Sparkrock 365 offers budget management, inventory management, employee scheduling, and payroll administration. The platform also comes with powerful reporting tools and financial reports that make it easy to track and manage your funding. Finally, Sparkrock 365 also supports efficient management of multiple programs and a general ledger to ensure regulatory compliance. 

As a nonprofit, your goal is to make an impact, whether on the community or the world at large. Making your business processes and financial management as streamlined and efficient as possible makes it a whole lot easier to do that. Instead of focusing on administration, you can turn more time and attention to your objectives.

That's exactly why ERP solutions are so important to the nonprofit sector — because by using one, you can work to ensure your organization is that much more impactful.  Learn more about how Sparkrock 365 can help empower your nonprofit organization.

Are you ready to spark change?

With Sparkrock 365, you'll have the tools to manage your finances and workforce more efficiently so you can focus on what you do best. Go from paper-based processes to intelligent online workflows, and access the data you need to make a real difference in your community.
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