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.
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.
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!