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About BGCD and Cecillia Rivas

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas (BGCD) is one of the leading youth-serving organizations in North Texas, positively impacting more than 8,700 children ages 6-18. BGCD enables all young people, especially those who need it most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Cecillia Rivas joined the organization as Vice President of Finance in January 2020 after serving as CFO for United Way of Central New Mexico (UWCNM) where she was responsible for providing strong financial leadership and prudent fiscal stewardship; promoting a culture of customer service and collaboration with internal staff and external constituents; and advising senior leadership and the Board of Directors on plans to achieve UWCNM’s goals and objectives. Rivas brings to BGCD more than 25 years of successful finance and budgeting leadership experience in the nonprofit, public, and corporate sectors.

When Rivas arrived at BGCD, she and Anita Goble, an accountant who’d been with the organization for about 3 years, both realized there were several potential improvements they could make with more modern nonprofit technology and by moving to a modern cloud-based system. The organization was running its finances on an older legacy version of Blackbaud’s Financial Edge platform. The system had seen little change or improvement in more than 30 years. Rivas also saw process and internal controls improvements she could implement alongside the new accounting system.

“Dimensions are a lifesaver.”

When asked about improvements since working with AcctTwo, Rivas doesn’t hesitate, “Dimensions are a lifesaver,” she says. “We have 35 locations, and we use ten different dimensions in Sage Intacct.”

BGCD’s chart of accounts had grown large and unwieldy. It was difficult to track the various dimensions of the organization – in addition to 35 locations, they have multiple departments, projects, grants, and scholarships. As with many legacy accounting systems, those dimensions had to be reflected in increasingly complex account codes for even limited reporting to be possible.

“One of our programs is called Collegiate Steps where we work with young kids through high school to get them college scholarships and then we track those scholarships. We wanted to track by the student and by the scholarship and we have 50 to 100 different scholarships. And every year we've got 50 to 100 different students, so you can imagine tracking that on a spreadsheet is just a nightmare. Now we have it running through Sage Intacct and that probably made Anita, our Staff Accountant, the happiest I’ve ever seen her: Getting that set up within the actual accounting system and not having to have that spreadsheet anymore.”

BGCD can track this using Sage Intacct’s built-in dimensional accounting functionality, where transactions are tagged by employee, department, location, class, etc., capturing the data needed to get the reporting, data, and insights to visually see the overall financial health of the organization.

A Lack of Integration

Even though BGCD used Blackbaud products for both fundraising and accounting, they were never able to integrate the systems. With AcctTwo’s implementation of Sage Intacct, the organization can now keep the accounting system in sync with the fundraising system via a flat file integration, saving a great deal of manual, dual data entry, and allowing the person responsible for managing the donor database to expand her skills, learn more about the finance processes, and increase her impact on the organization.

Process Improvements: Removing Excel from the Equation

Before working with AcctTwo, Bank Reconciliations at BGCD were done outside of the accounting system in Excel. This was time consuming and error prone. Because the organization had established strong segregation of duties, if an error was made on the AP side, the AR resource was forced to resolve issues via email and phone calls, a painstaking process. That process is now a breeze, saving BGCD 2 hours per month.

Fixed Asset management was another process that had to be managed outside the accounting system in Excel. BGCD had to rely on their auditors to manage the process and their depreciation schedules. AcctTwo recommended AssetEdge, a marketplace solution, to bring that process into Sage Intacct, saving BGCD money each year on their audit.

ACH functionality was not yet set up because of the complexity involved in managing that through the legacy system. Sage Intacct makes that setup simple - a big win for Rivas’ team.

Another area of improvement has been around setting up approvals in the system. Sage Intacct’s approval functionality has increased communication and interaction between various approvers and has allowed BGCD’s AP resource more flexibility in getting her work done. Rather than having to catch up on a huge backlog whenever she’s in the office, she can process invoices anytime and from anywhere.

All in all, Rivas and her team estimate more than 50 hours per month of time saved from the elimination of duplicated effort, the reduction in paper-based filing and processes, better and more accurate reporting with no required Excel manipulation, and the other process improvements mentioned above.

“We all see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Rivas sees reporting as a huge opportunity for improvement. While they’re new to the system and therefore have only set up a handful of reports, she mentioned attending AcctTwo’s Faith-Based Finance Collaborative user conference and, based on reporting sessions she attended, says she can already see the opportunity for automating reports, setting up dashboards, and providing real-time insights into the organization’s financial and operational health. She also acknowledges that they haven’t been on the new system very long and they will continue to see additional efficiency improvements.

“We all see the light at the end of tunnel,” she says. “We all see more reasonable working hours coming soon. Anita’s office is piled high with paper – just getting rid of all the paper processes and reducing the necessary filing is a huge thing for us.”

COVID Makes Finance Transformation Go from optional to Urgent

Updating the finance and accounting technology was part of a larger organizational push at BGCD to modernize their systems. Other aspects of that initiative include moving to a new payroll system, migrating to Microsoft Office 365, and starting the process of architecting a new club attendance management system on the Salesforce platform. The effects of the COVID pandemic only increased the urgency and timeline of these initiatives.

“Our Operations Director recently commented to me that because of COVID we’ve compressed five years of technology advancement into a single year’s timeframe,” says Rivas.

A Partner with Industry Experience

Stephen Strack, a Solution Architect at AcctTwo and the BGCD project lead, was instrumental in gathering the organization’s biggest pain points, making best practice recommendations, and mapping the solutions into the new accounting system.

“We can’t say enough good things about our experience with Stephen,” says Rivas. “Stephen would often answer our questions by providing best practices which we found very helpful.”

Rivas explained that when it comes to implementing nonprofit technology solutions, she finds industry expertise and an understanding of nonprofits to be extremely important. “The folks at AcctTwo really are nonprofit finance experts. That’s clear to me from going through this process with them as a guide.”

In summary:

Challenges:

  • 30-plus-year-old accounting system with performance issues and limited access
  • Forced to manage Fixed Assets and Bank Reconciliation processes outside the accounting system in Excel
  • Unwieldy Chart of Accounts to accommodate multiple locations, grants, scholarships, and other dimensions
  • Lack of integration with other systems

 Benefits:

  • Dimensional accounting streamlines chart of accounts and allows for better data capture
  • Improved processes/Fewer processes in Excel
  • Ability to implement ACH functionality
  • Better anytime, anywhere access to the system
  • Integration with donor system

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The folks at AcctTwo really are nonprofit finance experts. That’s clear to me from going through this process with them as a guide.

-Cecillia Rivas, BGCD VP of Finance