5 ways cloud-based financial management helps charities save time & improve transparency

In the charity sector, digital fundraising tools and systems have proved their worth for increasing donations and impact. Modern charities know that a digital strategy is key to grow income and achieve goals – from contactless and online giving channels to social media campaigns and a strong web presence.

In the back office, however, it can be a different story. The charity sector’s specific needs in accounting, tax and reporting mean it can feel expensive and risky to migrate a long established system, especially when there’s no direct advantage to stakeholders or beneficiaries.

Cloud computing changes everything. It’s now possible for charities to reduce overheads and benefit from efficiency gains using the latest technology, through the Cloud model. And there’s now an all-in-one finance and business management solution that incorporates the specific functionality required for charities. Out-of-the-box, on a discounted subscription basis, charity organisations save money on infrastructure and maintenance, and gain control and insight that underpins progress.

What does that mean in practice? Here are five ways leading charities are benefiting in their everyday operation, by adopting Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for their financial and fiscal management, with out-of-the-box cloud-based functionality from Xpedition, specifically for charities.

  1. Automate partial and group VAT
  2. Segregate grant income and expenditure
  3. Integrate directly with fundraising systems
  4. Automate SORP and SOFA reporting
  5. Unite finance and fundraising data in one cloud-based dashboard
1. Automate partial and group VAT

This is a pain point for many charity organisations. Calculating recoverable VAT, or a combination of full and partial VAT across the group, is traditionally a complex, manually driven activity that consumes many hours and days. With re-keying and hand-cranked spreadsheet calculations, there’s an increased risk of inaccuracy.

In the Microsoft Dynamics 365 financial management solution for charities on the cloud, you can automatically calculate the recoverable element of VAT using a specialist, custom-built charity Xpedition app designed for the platform. It allows for retrospective VAT postings, for example, annual adjustment percentages. For larger charities that calculate group VAT, including different rates for different entities, you can segregate the calculations operationally, then aggregate them for a return to HMRC. Xpedition’s charity VAT app within Dynamics 365 is unique. It works as an integral part of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 charity cloud for finance. Embraced and used by our existing charity clients, it’s proven to save time, effort and errors and provide a clear audit trail.

2. Segregate grant income and expenditure

Charities need to be able to manage and account for the processing and use of restricted and unrestricted income in order to protect this valuable revenue. It’s a matter of trust and transparency for individual and organisational donors that their contribution is being used as stipulated.

In the Microsoft Dynamics 365 financial management solution you can set up a project, code all the funds and expenditure and account for them at every stage as they move through the solution. Set up custom reports once and generate them automatically every period so you can include all the information that donors require without complicated manual processing and bespoke calculations in spreadsheets. This can include timesheets and operational data.

For grants that apply in the EU or worldwide, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 financial management solution can also accommodate multiple currencies.

3. Integrate directly with fundraising systems and embrace cloud computing for charities

Traditionally, charities must re-enter donations from a separate fundraising system (for example, Raisers’ Edge) into the finance system to account for them. That demands a detailed and time-consuming manual periodic reconciliation.

The Dynamics 365 financial management solution can integrate directly with your fundraising software to retrieve this data automatically. To streamline the process further, we can help you define the level of data that’s brought into the finance system. For instance, you may not need to import every individual transaction – a daily total or sum grouped by category may be easier to manage and report.

4. Automate SORP and SOFA reporting

It’s a core requirement for every charity organisation. The Dynamics 365 financial management solution generates reports that conform to the SORP framework, for example, producing a Statement of Financial Activities in a fully compliant and transparent format that’s already built in to the system.

If you have previously produced SOFA reports manually using Excel, Dynamics 365 can automate the process, taking away the burden of another administrative task.

5. Unite finance and fundraising data in one cloud-based dashboard

For full insight into your organisation’s performance, you need to monitor and analyse data relating to every aspect of finance and operations, including fundraising.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an all-in-one financial management solution that processes and integrates more than traditional back-office finance and accounts. This means you can create a comprehensive dashboard that tracks all your charity’s key performance measures.

Dashboard capability has historically been expensive to achieve, requiring lots of bespoke coding to create visualisations of your organisation’s particular key metrics. There’s no more prohibitive costs in the Dynamics 365 financial management solution. It can cater for a customisable dashboard tool that can accommodate data from other sources, giving you the clear picture you need of historic and current performance. This is invaluable to support decision making and means you can use data projections to inform future planning.

If you’ve been wondering how to move your finance function into the digital age without breaking the bank, our charity experts at Xpedition can help you understand how Dynamics 365 financial management solution could do good for your organisation, saving time and cost.

“Xpedition’s experience in the charity sector and proven expertise in providing exactly the right functions and processes with Microsoft Dynamics Business Central gave us confidence that they could deliver on time and on budget. The team understood the demands of our membership model and worked with us to build a solution that will fulfil our current and future needs.”

Kate Emmas / Financial Controller, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
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About Xpedition

With 20 years as a Microsoft Solutions Partner and more than 630 Dynamics 365 projects successfully delivered, Xpedition is one of the UK’s leading and trusted Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation partners serving the charity sector.

When your mission has the potential to change the world, having the right cloud computing strategy to support your charity is paramount. It can help you save time, cut costs and improve efficiencies across your organisation.

Our Microsoft certified consultants have deep experience of implementing Dynamics 365 across a range of different charities: helping ambitious organisations reimagine their digital strategies with modern cloud technologies.

Talk to us today

About Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s next generation of intelligent, cloud-based business applications. Dynamics 365 connects your data, streamlines your processes and gives you deep organisational insight – enabling you to transform and add value.

With connected data and a single end-to-end view of your organisation and processes you’ll uncover predictive insights —enabling better decisions and driving you forward to meet your organisational objectives.

Because Dynamics 365 is in the cloud, you get the same great user experience across any location or device. And there’s no longer a need for ‘on-premises’ hardware, maintenance, and support allowing you to focus on transforming your organisation. And best of all, upgrades are a thing of the past!

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