Center streamlines expensing for Yakima Union Gospel Mission employees and volunteers

Case Study


  • Nonprofit


  • 175 employees


  • Cost savings
  • Real-time visibility
  • Customization
  • Connected solution

Before Center

  • Physical receipts stored on-premise for 10+ years
  • Zero control over spend without customized cards
  • 10+ hours spent per month closing books

After Center

  • 90% of purchases made with CenterCard
  • Real-time visibility into spend
  • All receipts stored virtually within Center
  • Time to close accelerated by 60% with Center

Community-focused nonprofit gains visibility into spend with Center  

Yakima Union Gospel Mission (YUGM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1936, assists people experiencing homelessness by providing emergency and long-term services to help them escape the struggle of life on the streets.

Rapid growth calls for innovative spend management

Several churches came together in 1936 to “help people move from homelessness to wholeness,” but until five years ago, YUGM operated without a budget. After starting out with a $2 million budget, YUGM has now extended it to $9.7 million.

When Patti Thielen began her role as Director of Accounting at YUGM, the nonprofit had been utilizing Center for about a year. As a technology enthusiast, she was relieved there was a better system in place for employee expensing than “piles of paper and endless spreadsheets,” especially as YUGM adopted a new accounting and payroll system soon after she started.

Thielen oversees a team of three people who “Do everything from historical accounting work to compliance filings and licensing charitables reporting to 17 separate departments with their own individual budgets,” YUGM also has three retail stores for which Thielen is responsible for maintaining PCI compliance filings.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, ensuring compliance is critical to managing and maintaining funding—which means frequent audits and being able to produce receipts on demand. For YUGM to receive donations and grants, they must prove that the nonprofit is fiscally sound.

Prior to its current tech stack, YUGM had to hang on to physical receipts for a minimum of 8–10 years. Thielen revealed that she had found old paper files dating back to the 1940s, but now, “All new receipts are stored in the Center platform and not taking up space in the office—I love that.”

Before Center, YUGM had relied on high-interest bank cards to make purchases and then reconciled via a home-grown system of spreadsheets and files, resulting in piles of paper.

“It was nice that Center was already here. I’m impressed with its smoothness and simplicity, so users of all levels can easily use the app.”  —Patti Thielen, Director of Accounting, Yakima Union Gospel Mission

Center delivers visibility, customization, and first-class support

Now, Thielen leverages Center’s fully integrated software, CenterCard, and mobile app to streamline the employee expensing process while gaining visibility into spend — including for those on the road. A top benefit for YUGM is customized CenterCards that are programmed to only work at the fuel pump. Drivers can check out a designated CenterCard along with the car key when they need to use a YUGM vehicle, and details are easily captured in Center whenever fuel is needed.

Though Thielen inherited Center when she assumed her role, she has been “pleasantly surprised at the quick response time, solution insights, and level of support” she receives from her dedicated account manager, “especially considering Center is a no-cost solution.”

Center and YUGM grow together

YUGM was an early adopter, and the team at Center has incorporated feedback to enhance the solution to meet the changing needs of the nonprofit. Thielen has seen the product evolve over time, and she’s thankful for the simple, easy-to-use platform that makes her job easier.

With Center, expensing is easier for YUGM because:

  • Real-time visibility into spend. The finance team has immediate insights into spend across YUGM’s 17 departments.
  • A partnership that has grown together. When YUGM added Intacct to its accounting tech stack, Center helped ease the transition by quickly writing a bi-lateral sync connection.
  • First-class, always available support. Whether card users have questions or the accounting team needs solution-related assistance, Center Support can be reached via phone or email 24/7/365.
  • CenterCard makes control possible. Designated programmable CenterCards eliminate “Up to 15 touches per expense” because drivers can only use the card for gas.

Thielen now spends 60% less time processing employee expenses spread across 17 departments and more time working on high-value projects to help further and protect the YUGM mission.

“With Center, I get to see it all. We make sure the lights are working, the gas is on in the wintertime, the AC in summer, and there’s food in the pantry. We have a lot of donations that come through, and Center makes it easy to ensure everything is accounted for correctly so that nobody has to worry.” —Patti Thielen, Director of Accounting, Yakima Union Gospel Mission

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