How Non-Profits Can Come Out of the COVID-19 Crisis Stronger

By The Center Team on December 2, 2020

Non-profits need new processes and tools to manage change, be more agile, and keep precious resources focused on the work that matters most.

This year will be remembered for the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-profit organizations, in particular, have been hit hard:

  • Demand for services is higher than ever in every segment, including healthcare, education, job training, and community support.
  • Operational costs have increased with PPE, remote work, cleaning, and other expenses related to keeping employees, clients, and workplaces as safe as possible.

Future funding is uncertain, with decreases in donations, shrinking government budgets, and virtual or canceled fundraising events. The challenges have been daunting, but there’s good news.

  • Your mission still matters, and it may matter more now than ever before. It’s important for your organization not just to survive, but to thrive.
  • People care. It’s amazing to see how people have come together to support each other.
  • Engagement and generosity remain high. The community is paying attention and connecting with causes they care about. People realize the need and, however they are able, they want to contribute and give.

So, given these challenges and opportunities, what should non-profits do?

Safety, of course, is paramount. Nothing should come above the basic health and safety of those we love, work with, and serve. A top priority, though, is to make sure you have enough cash to survive. There are many levers to pull here: cutting expenditures, driving operational improvements, reducing risk.

It’s also a great time to plan for recovery. As we come to the end of 2020, you can be thinking about how to become as operationally efficient as possible so that your organization emerges from the pandemic stronger and focused on critical work.

Thinking ahead, non-profits need new operating models to manage change effectively, be more agile, and have the information they need to increase the frequency of communication. This is particularly important for the finance and accounting teams who manage cash flow, financial updates to the board, and future planning.

There are several areas that can have a big impact for non-profits:

Fix the month-end close process

When organizations started working from home last spring, one of the first challenges for many finance teams was closing the books remotely. If your team has had to adapt to remote work, your processes likely look different from last year. In our 2020 Expense Management Report, we found that 82% of controllers thought their month-end close process could use improvement.

Instead of having your finance staff manually review, reconcile, code, and accrue expenses, consider using a next-generation expense management solution to automate these tedious tasks and shave a day or more off your month-end close.

Shift batch processes to automated, real-time processes

The month-end close isn’t the only area of opportunity. Finance and accounting teams have many processes based on batched work that benefit by moving to automated, real-time processes. The payoffs are improved accuracy, faster decision making, and more time for higher-order work.

Don’t wait until the end of the month to review expenses—use a policy engine to audit 100% of your expense automatically. Use the power of machine learning to code your transactions to the proper expense categories.

And these automated processes are paperless. Ditch the paper receipts and let software handle receipts, expense approvals and tracking, and annual audit prep.

Get the visibility you need to control discretionary spending

In uncertain times like ours, controlling discretionary spending is extremely important. How do non-profit CFOs and controllers get visibility into what employees are spending today? For most organizations, the current process is broken.

There’s a disconnect between personal and corporate cards and the financial systems, expense reports are late and often incomplete, and the finance team pays the price in manual work to fill these gaps.

You can’t control what you can’t see. That’s why real-time visibility into expenses is vital so you can change course if needed.

Non-profit organizations attempt to solve these problems with an array of tools, including expense management solutions that were built for large commercial enterprises. These enterprise solutions come with an enterprise price tag, which either diverts money away from their mission or forces non-profits to settle for less functionality at a lower price point.

There is a better way

We built Center to serve non-profits and companies of all sizes to solve expense management problems. Many of Center’s features were built specifically for nonprofit use cases, such as audit and compliance checks, allocating spend to programs and grants, and real-time reporting on these custom fields.

There has never been a better time to choose Center, which helps nonprofits spend more time on their mission and less time on paperwork. Our customers love:

  • Monitoring expenses in real-time, tracked to grants and funding sources.
  • Controlling spend by issuing CenterCards to employees and, in some cases,  “super-volunteers” spending on behalf of the organization.
  • Improving communication with the executive director, the board, and grantors.
  • Spending less time, effort, and money on expense management. (Center is free!)

Center works with all major accounting software, including the ERPs non-profits love to use, like Quickbooks Online, so you don’t have to worry about integrating multiple systems. Deployment, training, and support are included. Center works with organizations of all types, including human services, religion, education, healthcare, and more.

See for yourself. We invite you to download our Expense Management Kit for Non-profits, which includes a visual tour, demo, and datasheet. Watch our on-demand webinar, Top Tips for Optimizing Expense Management for Non-profits. And when you’re ready, we invite you to talk to a Center expert about your organization’s specific needs and see a live, personalized demonstration.


expense management for nonprofits