How to Choose Accounting Software for Financial Associations

November 7, 2022


Are you considering upgrading your accounting software? The good news is that there’s never been a better time. Cloud-based solutions available today help you unlock the power of integration, so you get more done while reducing costs and saving time. 

Besides improving the work experience, modern solutions solve legacy problems such as data silos and disconnected systems. Today’s software addresses those issues while unifying your team to enhance collaboration, drive productivity, and provide superior member services. 

The guide provides tips for choosing the best accounting software for your financial association. To access the complete guide, download the Financial Association Playbook to learn how to evolve your association into a data-driven organization that meets the needs of today’s finance professionals.

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Cloud-based accounting software is an essential component of your technology stack.

Financial associations are multi-faceted businesses that typically include membership services, continuing education management, and in-person and online events. All these components form a cohesive base of services that serve your members and drive your mission.

Does your software system reflect that unified purpose? If not, there’s never been a better time to start your digital transformation.

Your organization is not divided, so why should you continue to use software that splits up your team? An integrated set of software solutions — or “technology stack” — should work together to support your employees with unique tools that help them unlock their full potential. That way, they can focus on creative activities that improve member services and add real value to your association. 

Everyone will be able to get more done in less time. Automated workflows will organize tasks and projects to improve efficiency and increase transparency. In addition, your records will always be perfectly organized, with a clear trail that can be presented to auditors if required.

Modern accounting software solves traditional challenges.

Financial associations and membership organizations face numerous challenges that can be solved or simplified by the latest accounting software solutions.

1. Accounting software streamlines everyday task

Recording revenues, preparing invoices, paying expenses, and adjusting budgets are standard everyday tasks that can benefit from unique tools to make them more time-efficient. The latest accounting software is easier to use than ever before, enabling your team to accurately input invoices, receipts, expenses, donations, and other transactions. 

Modern accounting systems also enable process automation to save time, reduce data entry, and minimize errors.

2. Integrated software helps eliminate data silos to improve processes and enhance decision-making

Businesses need to stay agile and flexible in the digital environment. That’s why data is so critical — it provides the facts managers need to make effective decisions.

Data silos — isolated data sources controlled by one area or unit  — prevent the flow of information that provides an accurate 360-degree view of your organization. 

For example, the membership management team handles member services, the marketing team generates leads and tracks member engagement, and the accounting department processes dues payments. Do all these departments use separate systems that block the flow of data in the organization?  

Integrated software addresses this problem by uniting applications, so data from each team flows into a central repository. Managers can then access the data to produce dashboards and reports with real-time information. Besides allowing deeper visibility, accessible data enables teams to make better decisions based on the performance of other departments.

3. Modern systems improve efficiency

Financial association businesses typically use a combination of systems that require manual switching between applications, resulting in data entry and tedious, redundant tasks. 

Integrated systems help you move to a paperless system where all data, financial records, and files are stored online in a central repository. Having everything in one place helps speed up invoice processing and management approvals. In addition, an integrated system streamlines processes, enhances collaboration, and improves document management.

Key features to look for when choosing financial association accounting software.

Financial associations have needs that are uniquely different from most businesses. Accounting software should enable them to integrate other applications to streamline processes and automate workflows while maintaining transparency and accountability to stakeholders. To achieve those objectives, accounting software should allow financial associations to:

1. Streamline accounting & reporting processes

Modern accounting software should make it easier to get more done in less time with tools that allow association managers to:  

  • Set up a primary general ledger chart of accounts for transactions and reporting
  • Set budgets, track actuals, and manage accounts with granular accuracy
  • Define dimensions by business area for detailed tracking and reporting using customized metrics
  • Automate workflows and processes
  • Schedule automatic reports 
  • Analyze real-time data by activity or business area
  • Get a real-time budget overview that helps prevent overspending by balancing cash inflows and outflows 
  • Adapt easily to changing compliance requirements
  • Access dozens of customized templates tailored to multiple stakeholders
  • Create roles with customized dashboards, reporting capabilities, and features for specific team members, board members, and other stakeholders

2. Manage revenue and payments

Financial associations have multiple revenue streams, including membership dues, continuing education courses, and in-person and online events. To help deal with complexity, financial managers and accounting teams benefit from streamlined and simplified accounting processes to organize workflows and redundant tasks. 

To align with those objectives, financial associations should look for features that allow them to: 

  • Automatically manage membership payments 
  • Create perpetual membership programs, automate dues collection, and allow members to pay in installments
  • Integrate software to reduce data entry and minimize repetitive tasks
  • Produce accounting and financial statements quickly customized to different stakeholders
  • Schedule and send automatic reports

Cloud-Based Architecture and System Access

The future of work is a hybrid environment that embraces remote work options to offer employees increased flexibility. Financial associations looking to embrace the digital workplace require cloud-based systems that can be easily accessed from any device in any location. 

Some features to look for when choosing a cloud-based system include:

  • Fully online architecture that unites integrated applications to share data across departments
  • User profiles that can be tailored to different roles, ensuring that credentialed employees access the correct data
  • 24/7 availability from any mobile device with an internet connection
  • First-in-class vendor support

How Financial Associations Benefit from financeSYNC Accounting Software

Powered by Sage Intacct, financeSYNC transforms how financial associations operate and serve members. 

financeSYNC can be fully personalized with features tailored to how your association does business with benefits that include:

1. Easy scalability

financeSYNC grows with your association as your business requirements increase. Unlike Excel or Quickbooks, financeSYNC automates processes, streamlines workflows, and handles large numbers of transactions with high processing speed. New tools can be easily added to evolve the system to adapt to your needs, and you can add subscriptions as additional members join your team.

2. Multi-entity consolidations

Many financial associations operate with multiple entities based on geographic location, creating complexity for some accounting systems. 

Sage Intacct solves this issue by allowing you to account for multiple enterprises under a single instance. This enables you to simplify consolidations, avoid data silos, and prevent the creation of separate charts of accounts.

3. Detailed dimensions

Like many accounting solutions, Sage Intacct offers standard dimensions to help classify data such as department, vendor, customer, location, employee, and project. However, Sage Intacct takes this functionality further by allowing you to create custom dimensions that define how you choose to tag transactions. 

Your organization is unique. Sage Intacct gives you the features needed to configure the system to work exactly how you want it to. Unlike traditional software or spreadsheets, Safe Intacct gives you the tools to create relevant, meaningful reporting based on the insights you need to make effective business decisions.

4. Real-time financial data for accurate financial reporting

financeSYNC enables automated bank account connections and other integrations to feed data continuously into the system, allowing for real-time reporting, increased transparency, and better financial visibility.

Real-time reporting allows you to track your budget vs. actuals so you can readily identify when things go off track and make adjustments when necessary. Unlike traditional accounting software, data-driven solutions like Sage Intacct provide the insights required to make effective decisions that minimize problems before they become serious issues.

5. Software integrations

Does your financial association use multiple disconnected software platforms that divide your team? Wouldn’t it be much easier to have your customer relationship management (CRM) solution, payment applications, and learning management systems work together under a single interface?

Integrating your tech stack is easy with financeSYNC. No longer will you have to rely on exporting, importing, or combining data from disjointed systems. financeSYNC links your CRM and Sage Intacct to improve efficiency, increase speed, and reduce errors. In addition, you can build automation, sync systems with real-time data, and create more comprehensive reports that can be tailored to any stakeholder in your organization. 

Download the Financial Association Playbook for more transformative insights

enSYNC is dedicated to helping financial associations succeed. Download our Financial Association Playbook for transformative insights that will help you grow memberships, improve member services, and adapt successfully to the constantly changing technological environment. 

Download Playbook