Archive for the ‘Int’l/NGO’ Category

Empowering Democracy Through Transparency and Accountability

August 27th, 2014 No comments

Serenic Software’s tagline is “Empower Your Mission.” We believe that our software solutions are instrumental in helping nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations pursue their missions throughout the world.

And while each of the organizations Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.18.53 PMwe work with has a unique mission, all share a passion for the democratic process, as exemplified by their strong desire to provide transparency and accountability to the people they serve. As Rick Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly put it, “Nonprofits, we hope and believe, are the bedrock of democracy and mechanisms for democratic participation.”

In a world where the economic elite and special interest groups hold the greatest sway over politicians and policy decisions, nonprofits play a vital role in promoting democracy and empowering individuals to exercise their right to be heard.

Nonprofits and Philanthropies Can Exert Political Influence

The Encarta Dictionary defines a democracy as “the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the majority of the people.”

Even though all nonprofits and philanthropies are not politically focused or motivated, all are perfectly suited to enhance democracy, in large part because they so often encourage people to participate in government. For example, Rock the Vote does an excellent job of fostering democracy without subscribing to any single political ideology.

The structure of nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations is also decidedly democratic, allowing input and direction from all levels, along with a strong commitment to transparency and accountability. And because of the grassroots nature of nonprofits and philanthropies, change can be enacted swifter than in government and the for-profit business sector.

Technology Has Revolutionized Accountability

Advances in technology have given average citizens another set of tools they can use to demand greater accountability, not just from government, but also from private businesses and nonprofit organizations, thereby increasing their individual influence on the democratic process.

“Inside every device and every piece of software is the DNA of both democracy and transparency,” wrote Chris Gates, Executive Director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), in the forward to “Philanthropy and the Limits of Accountability: A Relationship of Respect and Clarity.”

By taking full advantage of nonprofit accounting software, nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations can hold themselves to a higher, more democratic standard.

Accountability to the People Nonprofits Serve

Transparent reporting is vital to fostering relationships of trust with donors, but accountability is equally important to the very people nonprofits serve. Through transparent accounting, nonprofits can make themselves accountable not only to donors, but to the communities they operate in.

Accountability is perhaps the most important factor in a democracy—without it, citizens can’t effectively exercise their voting rights to enact change within their communities.

Accountability also helps nonprofits adjust and improve their own operations, ultimately empowering them to better achieve their mission. For more information about how Serenic can help “Empower Your Mission” with transparent accounting, explore our fund accounting resources.

The Right Technology Keeps Global Organizations Connected

August 25th, 2014 No comments

Today it seems like we are sometimes over-connected with cell phones, social media, and instant access to news at any time. But believe it or not, there are occasions in today’s world where being connected is still a challenge. Today’s NGOs and multi-national nonprofits must stay connected with people around the world. They often cross geographical, cultural, and political boundaries to reach those in need. They manage people who speak different languages, manage funds in multiple currencies, and manage applications on diverse technical platforms. As they spread their cause globally, these organizations encounter hurdles and difficulties of every sort in an environment of increasing government oversight and shrinking budgets. Staying connected in tough!

This is where the right financial technology helps ease the struggles and allows NFPs and NGOs to focus on their mission at hand. To be efficient, effective and timely, here are ways your accounting software can help you stay connected.

Cloud, Portal or Replication Software Options for Accessing and Sharing

You must have access to your accounting system despite unreliable internet, insufficient bandwidth, or an intermittent power supply. In a global solution, look for cloud deployments, access to the internet via a portal or terminal services, or data replication between remote and central systems. This allows for sharing information, for instance when field representatives need to update grant administrators at the central office.

fund accounting for NGOs


In every global organization, there is constant movement of funds from the grant manager at the central office to the field offices to the recipient. As the funds move across borders, they are likely to change currencies. A grant might be awarded in US dollars then sent out to regional country offices in Euros where it is used to purchase food with Kenyan Shillings. Your system should automatically convert funds from one currency to another at each step in the process. You need a system that can easily track, manage, and analyze funds in multiple currencies across each of the different entities.


At the same time funds are flowing downstream, information has to flow upstream. Details about services provided, funds expended, and constituents served must find their way from the field offices up to the central office on a timely basis. Workstations should be configurable with language options so two people sitting side by side can each access the system in their native language. If you’re not careful, you can quickly end up turning your organization into a virtual tower of Babel – where no one knows if the organization is moving in the right direction.

Data Monitoring

Regular data monitoring will help you make better decisions. You’ll want users to have appropriate access depending on their position in the central office, a regional office, or the field. Look for the ability to manage transactions, track awards and grants, allocate overhead, communicate with others downstream, create financial statements, enter transactions in local language and currency, and report clearly.

The right tools can help even the most widely distributed teams stay connected and work together. They can foster communication and help organizations avoid the roadblocks that can distract them from their mission.

For more detailed examples and diagrams, read a whitepaper for missions on the move!

25-year-old International NPO Awarded $60 Million Grant

August 20th, 2014 No comments

Partners In Health (PIH) has been bringing the benefits of medicine to those who need it most across the world for over 25 years, and a new grant will help them fight the devastating effects of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) for the next 4 years.

The $60 million grant, awarded in June to PIH by UNITAID (a global health financing system), will be used to bring life-saving drugs to 17 countries with populations afflicted with MDR-TB. The large-scale project, called “END-TB,” will begin enrolling patients and conducting clinical trials this fall.

Managing Multi-national Nonprofit Finances

Founded in 1987 with a single clinic in Haiti, PIH has grown into a large multi-national nonprofit organization with clinics and offices on four different continents.

In 2008, PIH’s budget was just over $65 million per year, and with more than 6,000 employees worldwide PIH needed help managing grant funding and reporting requirements. Serenic Software stepped in, providing accounting tools designed to meet the needs of multi-national nonprofits and NGOs.

Now PIH can generate reports through a shared server, instantly gathering financial information from all of its clinics and offices across the globe to its central headquarters in Boston.

“It’s a huge advantage to know in real time what’s going on at our international sites by viewing reports from Boston,” Rapier said. “Before – with the variety of systems we had in place – that was impossible.”

Allowing Room for Exponential Growth

After six years of using Serenic Navigator, PIH has experienced astronomical growth—the UNITAID grant is nearly as big as PIH’s entire 2008 budget. As exciting of an opportunity as this grant provides, PIH’s plans for the future extend far beyond that; and Serenic will be there along the way to help them with their mission.

Because of PIH’s commitment to transparent reporting and building lasting donor relationships, they plan to continue to grow and strive for their three main goals: care for patients, alleviate the root causes of disease in at-risk communities, and share research and lessons learned throughout the world.

Categories: Client Community, Int'l/NGO, Nonprofit Tags:

InsideNGO 2014 Annual Member Conference

July 21st, 2014 No comments

The annual InsideNGO Conference is right around the corner, and we couldn’t be more excited to exhibit again this year.  We’ll be showcasing our flagship nonprofit accounting software solution for NGOs, Serenic Navigator Enterprise, which continues to gain notoriety among InsideNGO members for its unique functionality designed for global organizations.

We look forward to seeing our long-time customers, as well as meeting new folks doing praiseworthy work around the world.  There’s a few times at this year’s conference where we can catch up:

  • Swing by our booth (number 24) to try your luck at winning a lap-top bag or $150 Visa gift card.
  • Our Vice President of Sales, Chris Stevenson, will be participating as a panelist in the Roundtable, “Financial System RFPs: Content Considerations” for those planning to prepare an RFP for a new financial management system this year. The Roundtable will be on Wednesday, July 30th from 9:30 am to 10:45 am in room 207A.
  • Serenic clients are invited to a Serenic User Group Lunch on Tuesday, July 29th at 12:00 pm in room 306. Let us know how we’re doing, speak with company representatives, and mingle with other Serenic Navigator users. Let us know if you’ll be there by emailing

There’s no doubt that this year’s conference will be as enjoyable as years past for both attendees and exhibitors. See you in D.C. July 29th through the 31st! For updates on the conference, follow InsideNGO on Twitter:  #INGO2014.

2013 InsideNGO Conference

2013 InsideNGO Conference

Four Ways Nonprofits can Support International Disaster Relief

November 22nd, 2013 No comments

The biggest natural disaster since Japan’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 is the recent devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan. Still playing out across global news networks, aid efforts continue. It seems like large scale destruction occurs across the planet more frequently than ever, but the good news is that modern technology has created a global community that can be reached as news breaks, and is amenable to giving. Read more…

Maintaining Data and Providing Access Anywhere, Anytime

May 7th, 2013 No comments

In a previous post we introduced the 7 Key Factors in Grant Management, Control and Visibility. Now we’ll dive into each control you need in your nonprofit financial software to support everyone from your board and executive team, to your program managers and staff.

Read more…

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Transparency and Trust Issues Faced by International Nonprofits

April 26th, 2013 No comments

International nonprofits, more so than national nonprofit organizations, need to be accountable and financially transparent in regards to administration costs, fundraising, distribution of funds and project aid. Read more…

Serenic Welcomes NGOs in Kenya

April 17th, 2013 1 comment

We would like to welcome a couple new clients from Kenya to the Serenic Software community.   These NGOs will be implementing Serenic Navigator, certified for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, for their accounting software needs.

  • African Rescue Committee (AFREC)
  • Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Read more…

Do NGOs and non-profits need to rethink the way they spend money?

March 15th, 2013 No comments

In a recent TED talk ‘The way we think about charity is dead wrong’ given by Dan Pallotta he declared that the reason homelessness has been at 12% for the last 40 years in the US or the cure to breast cancer has yet to be discovered is because these are big social problems that NGOs and non-profits are unable to realistically tackle without taking the same financial risks and big gestures that the private sector are afforded. Read more…

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Where does all the funding go? How Non-Profits and NGOs spend money

March 8th, 2013 No comments

When donating to charities, such as non-profits and NGOs, it is expected that the funds raised go directly to those that the particular organization helps. However charities must also spend a fraction of this money on overheads such as new fundraising opportunities and administration costs. It’s vital then that funding received from both the public and government bodies is managed appropriately.

Mismanaged Funds and Overhead

Public donors are particularly concerned that money donated may be misspent. Research from Grey Matter ‘Where’d all my money go’ in 2008  and then again in 2012 found that of the surveyed American adults 22% felt that non-profits mismanaged funds, with 60% or more of every dollar being spent on overhead costs. A total of 62% of the surveyed Americans felt that non-profit organizations spend more on overheads and administration costs than is reasonable.

The Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) in Arlington, VA recommends that fundraising costs do not exceed 35%. The reality is that for most non-profits and NGOs the percentage of funds that are spent on overheads is much lower. Our client, the African Wildlife Foundation spends 5% on administration costs and 8% on fundraising leaving 87% spend on total program spending; 8% on education and outreach and 79% on conservation programs. This led to them once again being awarded the coveted 4 star rating from Charity Navigator in 2012 for transparency and accountability. The research shows that non-profits and NGOs must manage the public’s understanding of where the funding is invested to prevent charities being negatively impacted.

Transparency and Accountability

Non-profits and NGOs have the responsibility to those that they receive funding from as well as those that they help to be transparent and accountable in the way that they work towards fulfilling their mission. Part of this downward accountability is not only about informing the public about how funding is used but also informing them about what the organization does. Better engagement between donors and the non-profit will also help to increase both awareness and loyalty with the organization. Educating donors will help to improve unrealistic expectations of  the donation.

Financial software for non-profits and NGOs such as Serenic Navigator that is easy to use, helps manages incoming and outgoing expenditures and provides transparent reporting system aids organizations in ensuring that overheads are minimalized and that funding is reaching those the organization is helping.

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