How much financial data does a Not-for-Profit board really need in their monthly report? Not as much as they typically get, says Accounting For Good's CEO Kirsten Forrester, who prefers to keep the amount of paper and numbers to an absolute minimum. To highlight the key metrics that matter, she uses Spotlight Reporting to get straight to the point.
Highlights at a Glance
This less-is-more approach is key for busy NFP boards, who want to focus on the work they do, rather than getting into the weeds. Spotlight’s easy-to-decipher, visual graphs and charts save precious time, and have more impact than stacks of paper.
"I'd go to board meetings, and the Chair would literally throw the Spotlight Reporting up in the air," says Kirsten. "She was so delighted that it was just a 5-6 page report. 'Look how light it is, look how lovely it is, compared to what we used to get!'”
Saving Time and Resources
Accounting For Good is not your typical accounting firm. For starters, they weren't founded by an accountant, but by a Not-for-Profit CEO, Morri Young. Having identified a dearth of financial know-how in the sector, he decided to plug the gap by starting a firm focussed solely on NFPs. The company now partners with charities across Australia, using cloud technology to simplify their clients' lives, and foster collaboration within their team.
Before they started using Spotlight, they struggled with what Kirsten calls "Death by Excel", and found that the most efficient way to create reports was to have a dedicated Reporting Officer. Unfortunately, this created a huge bottleneck.
“The Reporting Officer could only do so much in a day or a week and of course, everyone wants their reports as soon as possible," Kirsten says. "So that person was overloaded at the beginning of the month, and they really didn’t have enough work at the end of the month.”
Spotlight Reporting revolutionised the reporting structure at Accounting For Good. Now, any accountant can use the integration function to input clients’ financial data, and create a draft report. From there, the relevant Outsourced CFO can check over the information, and add commentary specific to their board’s needs. The whole process reduces bottlenecks, takes less time, is more collaborative, and has completely eliminated the key-person risk of having one Reporting Officer.
“Everyone welcomed Spotlight, because it gave them better control over their outputs for the month,” Kirsten says.
Same Data + More Insight = More Value
To put it simply, Spotlight Reports offer more clarity and insight than an Excel spreadsheet, and that added layer of professionalism really enhances the value proposition of advisory services.
“It's the same numbers that are in Xero,” Kirsten points out. “But when the data is presented so nicely, clients attach a lot of value to the reports. There’s comfort in the high level of attention paid, and it's a professional piece of work."
More than just that, the customisability of the reports make it especially suited to a sector with a wide variety of needs. Custom charts allow the team to report on very specific metrics—sometimes at the request of certain clients, who love the ease and visibility.
“Whether it’s for financial or non-financial KPIs, the ability to customise charts is fabulous for us,” says Kirsten. “Most of our clients aren’t finance people—Spotlight gives us a tool to deliver concise business information that addresses each client’s key interests.”
One such chart, built for an NFP who relied on donations and distributed grants, compared two different scenarios of cash cover by month based on the budget in play, and cash cover without distributing all grants immediately. Being able to compare the two scenarios side by side showed how different their financial situation could be, based on different actions.
“There’s actually quite a big gap between those two scenarios, and the chart made it easy to see how much control they could have if they held onto some cash instead of distributing it all out,” says Kirsten. “They’d have much more flexibility with the work they can do. So that has been really helpful for them.”
Spotlight Reporting has helped Accounting For Good change the way they report, for the better. Now, their reporting process is faster and more collaborative, while the finished reports are more insightful, and offer more value in its metric tracking than a boring Excel spreadsheet.
Ready to help your NFP clients change the world for the better? To find out more about how Spotlight helps Not-for-Profits, click here. To find out more about Accounting For Good, visit their website.