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How can non-profits benefit from ERP software?

By Mandy Richardson

When thinking of non-profits, many people do not realize the ways in which even a small non-profit could benefit from the use of an enterprise software. But even the smallest of nonprofit organizations need employees, databases, and financial software just to run.  We’ve written about the benefits that can be realized by using an ERP for nonprofit organizations.

ERPs for nonprofits? - Washington Frank International Blog

What are the Benefits of using an ERP for Nonprofits?

First, think of a nonprofit organization – a museum comes to mind here. What does a museum need to run? A database for its collection of artifacts, a database for its donors, a database of its memberships and a way to track if the member has paid and is current. Depending upon the size of the museum, it may need a volunteer database and a directory of all contacts that may be of value; think appraisers, demonstrators, teachers, textile or image specialists. Additionally, there should be an HR person – they will need an employee portal, a way to process payroll, and an efficient way to onboard employees and keep current on various insurances and employee incentives. That’s an awful lot of work – especially for a small museum which may only be run by a small staff.

All of these needs could be taken care of efficiently with an ERP system in place – otherwise, a museum runs the risk of having 10 different programs it uses, many of which will be unable to talk to each other. Implementing an ERP for nonprofit organizations is a great way to allow nonprofits to utilize all of their resources and employees for their expertise rather than trying to navigate data management.

Funds Management: Grants, Commitments, Fundraising, and Budgets

ERP software can help nonprofits with funds management - Washington Frank International Blog

Multiple funds: the ability to have multiple funds managed in one program is a godsend for small organizations. ERP software can help a nonprofit to manage funds and ensure that the nonprofit is adhering to reporting guidelines. A nonprofit could also use an ERP to separate out several different funds for various projects or campaigns – plus with a cloud feature, employees or board members can access these reports at any time from their mobile devices. As an added bonus, the automated fund management can reduce human error in budgeting.

Grant management: a grant management feature is also essential, as it will increase productivity and save a nonprofit organization from having to hire a dedicated grants manager or grant writer if their budget does not allow. Having a program already in place will cut costs in the long run, and boost productivity and chances to receive more grant funding in the future. The software would assist in reports, efficient transactions, and daily monitoring of accounts.

Fundraising: fundraising assistance from an ERP for nonprofits can help build and maintain connections with donors by understanding how they donate and what they have donated over time while cutting the costs of a typical fundraising campaign.

Membership Tracking

ERP for Nonprofits can assist with Membership Tracking - Washington Frank International Blog

Many organizations have rolling memberships, meaning, memberships that continue one year from the date of payment – rather than having an annual membership that, say, starts September and ends August 31 no matter when a person pays. These rolling memberships are hard to keep tabs on, but an ERP for nonprofits can create a report, letting the membership coordinator know when someone’s membership is due. This would make it easier to keep track of all memberships as well as the membership funds created from patrons making payments on their membership dues.

Donor, Volunteer, or Contact Relations

An ERP could help a nonprofit with Donor and Contact relations - Washington Frank International Blog

Small nonprofit organizations often run on volunteer work. Keeping these contacts in the same system as members and fundraising information can cut time on having to check between systems to see if a volunteer is a member or a donor. An ERP for a nonprofit could easily check to see if a profile can be linked. These types of reports are often essential when presenting membership, fundraising, and volunteer data to a board of directors.

Collections or Artifacts Management

Collections or Artifacts Management: How Nonprofits Can Use ERP Software - WFI Blog

Libraries and museums have items to catalog along with buildings to maintain, exhibits to set up, and items that are on loan to another location, or from a location being housed in their facility. Donors of items also tend to request a gift-in-kind certificate for current and past donations of items such as artifacts or books for their tax purposes. If using an ERP, a nonprofit could easily look up an item to see who donated it, when it was donated, where it is located, and how many items that donor has given over any period of time. This is also incredibly useful when a nonprofit is applying for funding or for insurance coverage of their non-monetary collections.

Reporting Capabilities

A nonprofit using an ERP could easily create reports - Washington Frank International Blog

You may have noticed throughout the article we mention reporting on funds, donors, collections, and more. Reporting is one of the ways a nonprofit proves its worth to the board or to the entity which keeps it afloat. Many of these reports are incredibly complex and take weeks of preparation before they are able to be presented in a way that a board member or member of the public could understand. A nonprofit using ERP software would be able to set up these reports to be accessed from their PC, a tablet or a mobile phone. The time savings that this feature creates itself would be worth the cost of implementing an ERP for a nonprofit organization.

Human Resources and Employee Portal

An HR professional could benefit from using an ERP in a nonprofit organization - Washington Frank International Blog

Any Human Resources professional will tell you that employee onboarding can be a daunting process. Imagine a small nonprofit with one person in charge of onboarding, keeping track of employee PTO and schedules, benefits, and payroll. Now, imagine that person has an ERP in place that helps them with this process all in one place. That means an HR professional can spend more time interacting with humans and less time buried in various programs.

Marketing, Project and Event Management

Marketing and Event Management are key elements that an ERP could assist with in a nonprofit setting - Washington Frank International Blog

Nonprofit organizations typically run on donations and, if they’re a museum, charging admission fees for tours and events. Marketing functions and project and events management will often fall on one person in a very small organization. Having a system which helps to manage projects and events as well as assist in marketing tasks such as email, social media, and contacts for volunteers and sponsors can save days of time for someone in charge of these sets of tasks. With a well-integrated ERP system, an organization can also keep track of the event fund – how much was made vs. how much was spent at a certain event, how many man-hours it took to prove the event was successful, and more.

With these examples, we can see why it is beneficial for a nonprofit organization to find a great ERP software to save on time and overall expenses. Additionally, companies like SAP, Unit4, and Sage have programs to donate to small nonprofits toward the cost of implementing a new ERP or software for nonprofits at a discount.

Are you currently using an ERP for your nonprofit organization? Let us know in the comments below, we look forward to hearing from you.

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