Why Automation Matters

How Automation Can Help Nonprofits

Many nonprofits spend years relying on manual data entry, spreadsheets, and basic financial tools like QuickBooks. Why? Because those processes work…at least at first.


As your organization grows, you might find that the time you’re spending on repetitive manual tasks is growing too, with month-end closes growing longer and longer, until they seem to take up most of the month. All those tedious, time-consuming activities can lead to a dash to the finish line that causes oversights and errors.


To address these challenges, many nonprofits are moving to Sage Intacct and other cloud ERP solutions that automate key processes, including close management, saving time and improving accuracy.

accounting professional using a computer to automate financial functions

Spend More Time on What Matters

The primary benefit of automation is that it saves time—often hours and hours of time every month. When you fully automate your month-end close, for instance, you basically move into a perpetual state of close, so there’s no months-end rush where you’re digging through data and struggling to reconcile budgets.


Organizations that automate can take the hours employees formerly spent on mind-numbing manual tasks and instead devote them to bigger-picture, more intellectually demanding activities. That means more time developing and executing new strategies, cultivating donors, improving marketing, and performing other mission-focused work.


The Right Numbers Every Time

Another challenge with manual processes is that they are inherently error-prone. Even the most diligent of employees will make the occasional mistake, which can lead to hours or days of confusion. Worst of all, if data entry or other errors aren’t caught right away, they might be seen by donors and board members, which can do real damage to your nonprofit’s reputation.


By streamlining and automating data flow and reconciliation steps, you can reduce the risk of human error and gain more confidence in the integrity of your processes. And you can still maintain control over your automated processes—updating and fine-tuning as needed to address changing requirements.


Time to Automate?

Insero & Co. can help you decide whether it’s time to automate your processes and, if so, how to make the shift as seamlessly as possible using best-in-class software. Our team has decades of experience helping hundreds of nonprofits through these and other challenges. Contact us to talk about the relationship-based services we provide and how they might help save you time every month.

Key Benefits of Nonprofit Dashboards

Introducing a Better Nonprofit Dashboard

Quick: Do you know your funding mix, balance sheet performance, and the composition of your key revenue sources? If it’s going to take you a while to patch together responses to those questions, it might be time to consider upgrading to a better nonprofit dashboard.


One such solution comes from Sage Intacct, the cloud financial solution, which has teamed up with GuideStar, the largest source of nonprofit data, to offer pre-built dashboards that provide real-time insights, automation, and visibility.

nonprofit laptop computer with financial dashboard charts and graphs

Connect Directly to GuideStar

The general public, foundations, other nonprofits, and many others rely on the detailed nonprofit information compiled in GuideStar. And now, with the Sage Intacct Nonprofit Financial Board Book powered by GuideStar, you can connect directly to GuideStar’s benchmarking tool, ensuring that your organization is fully aligned with GuideStar’s recommended metrics and best practices.


The Sage Intacct Nonprofit Financial Board Book powered by GuideStar calculates metrics automatically using balance sheet, revenue, and expense data that’s pulled from Sage Intacct, as well as your internal donor management, payroll, and other systems.


The pre-built dashboards then display the most important metrics—the same metrics GuideStar uses to demonstrate nonprofits’ financial health and ensure they’re on track to accomplish their missions. At a glance, you can view key metrics such as revenue composition, sources of liquidity, and unrestricted cash, which makes it possible to quickly identify revenue trends, track sustainability metrics, and monitor expenses against program results.


Focus More Time on What Matters

Because the Nonprofit Financial Board Book calculates metrics automatically using data from Sage Intacct and your internal software, you don’t have to waste hours on data entry. Instead, staff hours can be devoted to viewing the dashboards, analyzing the results, and making more informed decisions to guide the future of the organization.


The dashboards make it easy to view critical revenue, funding, and expense data, and use it to guide planning and strategy. Plus, the convenient visuals of key balance sheet metrics that align with GuideStar recommendations make it possible to manage more proactively. The real-time data can also help you prepare for the future, as you track trends, monitor the stability of your reserves, and communicate revenue opportunities to the board.


From the main dashboard, you can also link directly to GuideStar and connect with peer organizations to discuss best practices and how to overcome common challenges.


Ready for a Better Dashboard?

There are big benefits to having a better nonprofit dashboard that will give you a comprehensive picture of your financial health. Insero & Co. can help you explore all the benefits of the Sage Intacct Nonprofit Financial Board Book and determine if it’s the right choice for your organization.


Contact us to talk about the accounting and financial management services we provide and how we might be able to give you more tools to help you trim costs, improve visibility, and achieve your mission.

When Does Outsourcing Make Sense?

When Should Nonprofits Outsource their Accounting?

In the TV show “The Office,” three desk-bound accountants handle the financial responsibilities for the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin. Minus the outrageous humor, the show’s portrayal of an in-house team of accountants reflects most people’s vision of how businesses and nonprofits operate. The reality, however, is changing.


Nonprofits in particular are increasingly moving away from the in-house model and are outsourcing some or all of their accounting and financial management responsibilities. For many nonprofits, the benefits—particularly the ability to focus employees’ time and energy on mission-critical activities—are too big to ignore.

nonprofit bookkeeper paying invoices and using a calculator considering outsourcing

When and How Much to Outsource

One of the advantages of outsourcing is its flexibility. You can outsource whichever tasks you want for however long you want, as in these common nonprofit scenarios:


  • You need help preparing for an audit.
  • An employee has left the office, is out sick, or is on maternity leave, so you need temporary assistance with monthly tasks.
  • Your organization is growing, so you need support while you hire and train new employees.
  • Your in-house team doesn’t have the legal or technical know-how to handle particular challenges, such as reviewing bank reconciliations.


Other nonprofits find that it’s more efficient to outsource their entire accounting and financial management operations. It’s often a cost-efficient move, and after the initial transition period, many hours formerly devoted to training and supervision can instead be spent working on essential tasks, such as donor cultivation, that directly affect the top line.


Outsourcing Benefits

To decide whether outsourcing is for you, be sure to consider the key benefits of each approach. With the in-house model, you can hire a person who understands your particular needs, establish their daily tasks, and walk into their office anytime a question comes up.


Outsourcing offers a variety of other benefits. In addition to the time and cost savings mentioned earlier, you can:

  • Access a team of experienced experts
  • Take advantage of the outsourcing firm’s extensive resources
  • Pay only for the help you need, scaling up and down as needed
  • Get high-level analysis and advice without hiring a C-suite employee


Although virtual accounting firms aren’t literally down the hall, it’s worth talking with them about how they will communicate with you and how available they’ll be to answer your questions. Expert advice from the best firms should be only a phone call away.


Ready to Outsource?

Insero & Co. has been serving nonprofits—including foundations, arts organizations, environmental groups, and more—for over 20 years. We provide a range of services, including outsourced accounting support (budgeting, grant assistance, month-end close, and more), audit services, assessments and strategic guidance, and employee benefit plan audits.


Contact us to learn more about our relationship-based service and how we can free your team to spend less time on finance-related tasks and more time focused on your mission.


Nonprofit Update: April 2019

IRS answers questions on tax-exempt executive compensation
The IRS released Notice 2019-09 providing guidance to assist taxpayers in implementing new executive compensation rules under section 4960. The Notice provides a number of definitions and clarifies a number of items. An IRS notice is not enforceable guidance, but this Notice can be relied upon until further guidance is issued.

What is a Virtual Accountant?
Nonprofits are increasingly choosing to outsource to virtual accounting firms that provide extensive expertise and allow organizations to focus on their core competencies.

IRS releases guidance on qualified transportation benefit deductions
The IRS provides guidance to assist in determining expenses for parking fringe benefits for purposes of section 274(a)(4) and 512(a)(7). The qualified transit pass expenses, qualified van or transit bus expenses and qualified parking expenses are generally still excluded from employee income under section 132(f), but to the extent the employer provides these benefits as defined in section 132(f), the section 274(a)(4) rules apply to limit the employer’s tax deductions.

Wearable tech: Good for employee health care and good for business
Wearable tech’s transformative power promotes healthy lifestyles, lowers insurance coverage spending and increases employee engagement. Fitbit recently announced that their newest device, Inspire, will be available only to “corporate, wellness, health plan and health systems partners and customers of their organizations, participants and members.” This announcement comes on the heels of tech giant Apple’s publicized relationship with health insurer Aetna to offer Attain, an app that rewards users with prizes if they achieve certain health care goals.

Tax issues arise when employers pay employee business travel expenses
Business travel arrangements require employers to carefully analyze and determine proper tax treatment for employees. Most employers pay or reimburse their employees’ expenses when traveling for business. Generally, expenses for transportation, meals, lodging and incidental expenses can be paid or reimbursed by the employer tax-free if the employee is on a short-term trip.


At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP. So, in addition to articles from our own staff, we include regular updates from RSM on the latest insights for nonprofit organizations.
Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance

What is a Virtual Accountant?

Rest assured that despite the “virtual” term, virtual accountants are very real people that provide tangible benefits to businesses and nonprofits. In fact, outsourcing to virtual accounting firms is an increasingly popular option for organizations across the country that want all the expertise of in-house accounting without the costs and hassles of managing employees.


How Virtual Accounting Works

Traditionally, businesses and nonprofits have employed in-house professionals to manage all their financial management responsibilities. But increasingly these organizations are outsourcing some or all of these tasks to firms that specialize in providing an array of services, including:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgeting
  • Forecasting
  • Cash flow management
  • Financial statements
  • Tax preparation
  • Risk management


Virtual accounting firms work closely with each client to identify and deliver the desired services, communicating as needed to discuss particular approaches. Typically, the firm will devote a team of experienced professionals to ensure that each client’s needs are continually met.


Why Outsource

Virtual accounting addresses several of the drawbacks of traditional in-house employment:

  • Scalability: When business grows, virtual firms are ready to grow with you—with no need to hire and train new employees.
  • Stability: Employees inevitably leave or retire, often taking proprietary knowledge with them. Virtual accounting firms always have a team of professionals available to meet your needs.
  • Cost: Employing in-house experts is expensive. Virtual accounting firms offer a variety of services that can be less expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of hiring and training new employees.
  • Expertise: Instead of relying on one person or a few to keep pace with all the latest processes, requirements, and tools, you get a team with experience across tax, accounting, audit, and other fields.
  • Focus: Financial management is a necessity for businesses and nonprofits, but it’s not the mission. Outsourcing to virtual accounting firms allows organizations to spend less time on employee management and more time on their mission-critical initiatives.


The Insero Difference

Insero & Co. is a premier virtual accounting firm with more than two decades of experience and accountants, consultants, and support staff available to meet the needs of businesses and nonprofits. The firm is large enough to provide the resources clients need, yet small enough to provide relationship-based service built on a foundation of regular communication and personal attention.

Contact us to talk about your current finance and accounting challenges, and how we might be able to help you reduce costs—and headaches—as your organization continues to grow.

Nonprofit Update: February 2019

Determining an appropriate reserve level for nonprofit organizations
Setting a financial reserve level is a key process for a nonprofit organization, providing necessary funding to continue operations during a host of potential challenges or taking advantage of strategic opportunities. However, many nonprofits do not have a defined process to establish reserves, exposing the organization to undue risks. In an environment of economic and political uncertainty, implementing an effective method to set reserves is critical to long-term organizational sustainability.

Proposed accounting alternatives for not-for-profit entities
The Financial Accounting Standards Board has proposed accounting alternatives for not-for-profit entities for goodwill and certain identifiable intangible assets. The Financial Accounting Standards Board recently issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update (ASU) that, if finalized, would extend the scope of two private company accounting alternatives to not-for-profit entities – the accounting for goodwill and the accounting for identifiable intangible assets in a business combination. Also, in a business combination, a not-for-profit entity would have the option to subsume into goodwill and amortize certain customer-related intangible assets and all non-compete agreements.

Setting up a security steering committee
In many cases, companies isolate security into its own segment. Responsibilities are typically split between low-level IT staff, who must juggle break/fix situations with technology investments, as well as security tasks. However, this scenario often results in security best practices being overlooked for the sake of convenience, and little alignment between the IT group and the rest of the organization regarding security decisions.

District of Columbia government issues notices concerning exemption expiration
The notice states that over the 2019 calendar year the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) will begin to expire tax exemptions granted under District law.  The notice states that all exempt entities will be required to renew their exemptions or they will have their classifications changed to being taxable entities.


At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP. This includes regular updates on the latest insights for nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit Update: December 2018

Foundations for Board Governance
Looking to increase the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s board? RSM’s guide highlights common problems and practical solutions related to board governance.

The evolving role of outsourcing within nonprofit organizations
Adjusting existing outsourcing strategies can help streamline service delivery and further increase efficiency and productivity.

Phishing awareness: Recognizing, addressing and avoiding threats
Phishing is one of the most common and most successful forms of cyberattack. Learn how to recognize the warning signs of potential phishing.

IRS issues guidance for determining UBTI for separate businesses
The IRS issued Notice 2018-67, providing interim and transition rules for determining UBTI for separate trades or businesses.
Read more.

Recorded webcast: Annual tax update webcast for nonprofit organizations
Learn about the current tax landscape for exempt organizations as well as look ahead to 2019.
View the webcast.

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP. This includes regular updates on the latest insights for nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit Update: October 2018

Is there really a tax cut in the TCJA for exempt organizations?
Potential tax increase for exempt organizations hidden in the TCJA as part of the corporate tax cut.

Cybersecurity: Understanding the threat
Answer our five-question online assessment to help evaluate how your security program stacks up.

Changes to accounting for grants and contributions made and received
An overview of the clarifications to identifying reciprocal and nonreciprocal transactions and conditional and unconditional contributions.

Managing lease accounting for public and private higher education
Colleges and universities must adjust to the new level of judgments and estimates required under ASC 842 and GASB 87 lease accounting.

Recorded webcast: 2018 federal grants management update
Learn about current developments in grants management compliance requirements for nonprofits.


At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP. This includes regular updates on the latest insights for nonprofit organizations.

What Non-Profits Need to Know About ASU 2018-08

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2018-08. This update improves and clarifies the guidance regarding contributions received and contributions made.

The board found that there was a lack of clarity and consistency in how grants and contracts were characterized as either exchanges or contributions. In addition, they found that non-profit organizations differed in how they determined if contributions were conditional or unconditional.

“That’s important because that distinction between conditional vs. unconditional impacts the pattern of revenue recognition,” said Christine Botosan, FASB Board Member.

top tab folder labeled grants related to ASU 2018-08

ASU 2018-08 provides criteria for determining between exchanges or contributions by looking at whether the provider is receiving commensurate value in return for resources transferred. This clarification will help organizations determine if the transfer should be treated as a contribution (nonreciprocal transaction) or an exchange (reciprocal) transaction.

Note that the “commensurate value” described above is value to the provider, not to the general public. So, funds transferred from New York State would be considered a contribution unless New York State itself receives commensurate value.

If commensurate value is not provided, the organization should determine if the transaction is a third-party payment for an existing exchange transaction (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grant, etc.) If commensurate value is not provided, and the transaction isn’t a third-party payment, it should be accounted for as a contribution.

The ASU also provides additional detail on how to distinguish conditional contributions from unconditional contributions, as well as the difference between donor-imposed conditions and donor-imposed restrictions. Conditional contributions must include a barrier that must be overcome and a right of return or right of release. If a contribution is determined to be unconditional, it must be analyzed to determine if it is restricted or unrestricted.

ASU 2018-08 applies primarily to non-profit organizations, however it can apply to organizations that receive or make contributions of cash and other assets, including businesses. It does not apply to transfers of assets from governments to businesses.

The amendments in this ASU are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2018 for non-profit organizations and public companies serving as resource recipients (and December 15, 2018 for other organizations). For non-profit organizations serving as resource providers, the amendments are effective for reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018 (and December 15, 2019 for other organizations.) Early adoption is permitted.

For more information on ASU 2018-08, visit https://www.fasb.org/home.

For more information on Insero’s non-profit solutions, visit https://inserocpa.com/clients/non-profits.html or contact us today.

Non-Profit Update: July/August 2018

New standards for nonprofits present their own challenges
New standards for nonprofit financial statements and revenue recognition will need to be implemented over the next two or three years.

How IT outsourcing strengthens security for nonprofits
The evolving complexity of strong cybersecurity underscores the value of an outsourcing partner dedicated to keeping cybercriminals out. It often requires just a series of emails to get senior finance executives to begin looking beyond their own IT departments to safeguard their businesses against cyber-hackers.

GDPR enforcement is here…is your organization prepared?
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) noncompliance could mean potentially significant fines and penalties. Organizations must know where they stand and how to react before it’s too late. The following infographic provides key insights into GDPR compliance requirements, helping your organization understand critical elements of the regulation.

Nonprofit tax reform resource center
The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has produced widespread tax law changes for exempt organizations. Learn more about the latest updates in our resource center. Our resource center features the latest in developments related to the potential effects of the new tax law for exempt organizations.


At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest insights for non-profit organizations.