Altus Dynamics Blog

Budgets can be a major challenge for not-for-profit organizations

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on May 21, 2014 2:30:00 PM

Not-for-profits receive funding in a variety of ways: donations, endowments, fundraising, grants from charitable foundations, government funding, etc. No matter who is providing the funding, there is a demand for accountability that the funds given are well spent and meeting the mandate and desired outcomes for the funding.

Many funders allocate funds to not-for-profits based on specific ‘line items’ and at the end of the funding period, any unused funds in those line items must be returned to the funder. What’s more, it’s prohibited to transfer the funds to another line item where the organization may have overspent. For example, unspent full-time salaries must be returned to the funder, while the organization is on the hook for unbudgeted replacement staff.

Other budget management methodologies are a “use it or lose it” practice where future years’ budgets are based on prior years’ spending.

Some of these budget approaches are imposed by the funder but can also be imposed internally. Accuracy in budget planning therefore, becomes far more important for a not-for-profit organization.

Personnel costs can represent 70% - 80% of expenditures and can be somewhat complicated in terms of budget calculations. Not-for-profit organizations often deal with unionized staff, which means forethought and planning for employees who are moving up the pay grid, increases to the grid itself, upcoming leaves of absence, and replacement staff.

Although standalone budgeting software exists, it is often very expensive to purchase and maintain. And as with any software, it needs to be customized to the needs of the organization, and this can be costly too. Most not-for-profit organizations cannot afford this luxury, leaving them to struggle with basic Excel spreadsheets to make all the staffing calculations manually, and then feed them into the budget spreadsheets.

At Altus Dynamics, our Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution for Not-For-Profits has a Human Resources and Payroll component that will solve much of this problem. Our solution tracks your staffing resources in detail, providing your organization with a comprehensive set of functionality. Managing employee information, benefits, scheduling, collective agreements, payroll, job applications plus much more are all possible within the one system.

We have partnered with Jet Reports to give our customers a Business Intelligence solution specific to the Altus Dynamics solution. Jet Enterprise for Altus Dynamics includes a Human Resources and Payroll cube along with the standard cubes for Finance, Purchases, Inventory, Sales, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. Jet Enterprise itself sits inside Microsoft Excel making reporting and dashboards easy and intuitive.

When it comes to budget planning, Jet Reports extracts your up-to-date Human Resource data from NAV into Excel to make those detailed planning calculations. You can also use Jet Reports to extract the detailed period history of your operations as a starting point for creating budgets for the upcoming period. Finally, you can use Jet Reports’ Budget Upload Tool to import your budget back into NAV.

Jet Reports is not a budgeting tool, but using it to extract your latest data into Excel, and then uploading your final budget back into NAV, will make the task much easier and save you time.

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This Post Was Written By Nicola Dickinson
Nicola Dickinson is a Founding Partner at Sparkrock. She formed Sparkrock with a vision and mandate to deliver award-winning, meaningful and affordable technology solutions exclusively for the non-profit and public sector. With a passion for assisting non-profit and public sector, she provides true value by being an active member of the non-profit community.
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