Mel Trotter Ministries’ finance team had too much work for the few people they had. The team was overwhelmed with day-to-day accounting functions and balancing checkbooks. They didn’t have time to look back at expenses and activity until month-end. Monthly statements were inconsistent. It could take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to review monthly statements, and at that point, the information was old. The financials weren’t helping to guide the organization’s future.
Mel Trotter used Solomon Software, then transitioned to Blackbaud Financial Edge to align with their donor database – Raiser’s Edge. Things worked, but it was cumbersome. Exporting data and pulling reports weren't user-friendly. When they needed to create grant reports, it was a time-intensive process. And sometimes, they'd rely on paper for financial data, not the accounting system.
When a key member of the finance team left, the CFO, Gordon Oosting, knew it was time to make a change. He wanted to pursue continuity and shift the finance team to serve in a more forward-thinking role for the organization. He needed to free up his team.
Gordon previously worked in banking, and in that role, had to know every CPA in the Grand Rapids area. He was familiar with Beene Garter, our payroll services, and knew we were one of the few accounting firms in the area that offered accounting outsourcing services.
We recommended they transition their financials to Sage Intacct. Our team would take on the administrative functions tied to Mel Trotter’s financials – enter data, reconcile credit cards and bank accounts, make journal entry adjustments, etc.
After talking to current Sage Intacct users, he knew it was the best way to go. The transition began.
Accounting outsourcing services:
- Balancing the checkbook
- Journal entry adjustments
- Credit card reconciliations
- Sage Intacct and Nexonia integration for expense reporting
- Payroll data entry
- Biweekly calls with Beene Garter's AOS team
Increased staff’s financial acumen
Gained better reporting capabilities of programs, grants, and departments
Improved efficiency with expense reports
Three years later, Mel Trotter’s finance team has more time and enjoys Sage Intacct’s user-friendly data structure. When it comes to time savings, the finance team isn’t buried. Monthly tasks have shifted to daily. Expense reporting – previously a long process – is now handled daily or weekly and nearly done by the end of the month. The Beene Garter team looks at the checkbook every day, reviewing entries and immediately questioning and making corrections if an entry doesn’t look right. Before outsourcing, the Mel Trotter team didn’t have time to review the checkbook during the month.
This daily, hands-on approach is like an ongoing audit to the Mel Trotter team. It allows for more accurate and timely monthly statements. Their goal is to share monthly financial statements after 15 days with board members and department heads. Then, Mel Trotter’s finance team meets monthly with staff to review programs and discuss the month’s performance. Staff members take the numbers seriously because they’re recent, and they have time to make changes.
Mel Trotter has a lot of confidence in their financials because they’re backed by CPAs. With accurate monthly statements, Gordon can run with them and make decisions. The leadership team focuses on the monthly reports to guide the organization – not the annual audit.
Amanda, the financial analyst at Mel Trotter, says, “Having a CPA’s eyes on financials is important for our standing with the community and donor base. We can assure them that we have people who are certified in these areas looking at and verifying the numbers. Donors can breathe a sigh of relief and know what they’re looking at is accurate.”
The Mel Trotter team also appreciates the responsiveness of Beene Garter’s outsourcing staff. As they’ve integrated a new donor management system with Sage Intacct, both parties have had frequent and direct communication to navigate the ups and downs - to get the job done. “The Beene team feels like an extension of Mel Trotter,” says Amanda.
From the CFO's point of view, the cost of outsourcing replaces the cost of having a CPA in-house. He’s been able to keep the finance department's operational costs consistent while gaining a team of finance professionals who review financials daily. Mel Trotter has more day-to-day accounting support coupled with people and service continuity.
About Mel Trotter Ministries
Mel Trotter Ministries exists to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, through rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness. Mel Trotter provides shelter, meals, clinical services, as well as recovery and readiness programs to individuals in Grand Rapids, MI. Mel Trotter is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Grand Rapids, MI. Visit meltrotter.org to learn more.