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December 10, 2008

Streamlining Tips
for CFOs


AVF Consulting, Microsoft and Serenic Software teamed up over lunch yesterday to host “Learn the Top Three Strategies to Streamline Your Nonprofit’s Financial Operations,” at Morton’s on Connecticut Ave. AVF guru Jeremy Fass talked about how to increase accessibility to data and integration with other databases. And speakers from the finance departments of the Human Rights Campaign and the Carnegie Institute of Washington said software integration means decreased IT headaches, better workflow and less time spent managing financial data.


Door prize winners the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Andre Parraway, ASAE’s Heidi Robey and the American Society of Microbiology’s Jerry Palner. Andre and Jerry won Xbox games and Heidi took home a digital camera just for showing up to eat a free single cut filet mignon! Andre says executives at his 120-year-old association are already “in the process” of meeting with President-Elect Obama’s transition team to introduce themselves and talk about how the energy crisis may affect consumers this winter.


AVF Consulting’s EVP Jeremy Fass said the top three challenges to streamlining operations are: lack of accessibility to data, bottleneck of paperwork and duplicate efforts, and disparate systems. Jeremy advocates a “holistic approach to IT infrastructure” where databases for financials, fundraising, retail, multi-currency, field offices, and grants are inter-related and financial staffers don’t have to close one program to open another, or to have 13 different databases.


AVF Consulting’s Gene Hoover and Jeremy with Conservation International’s financial applications director Greg Kinard. Greg -- who gets stuck handling a lot of the IT problems at CI -- came yesterday to find an easier way to set up and maintain his organization’s financial data system. He said manually inputting data requires more time and more money than automating and integrating different databases, and a big investment with a 3-5 year return is worth it.


The American Forest & Paper Association’s Mary Ann Lloyd, the Center for International Private Enterprise’s Jonathan Apikian, and Microsoft Dynamics’ Lisa Malone.


Serenic Software’s Lisa Ramsey, and presenters from the Human Rights Campaign, Sandee Barnes-Loveday and Sascha Heller, and from the Carnegie Institute, Gary Kowalczyk. Gary says the Institute made the switch to Serenic Navigation software across a variety of departments about eight months ago after going decades without updating its accounting software. He says when you’re unable to satisfy external and reporting statements, you know its time to make a change. He says if you can’t complete audits, “you’re in deep trouble.”


The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards’ David Gressner, the Community Council for the Homeless’ Harold Hilliard, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Dan Berringer and World Hope International’s Kirk Mitchell. Dan says he was “just looking around” yesterday, like many associations that are worried about finances. He says his association is trying to provide member services with “a big bang for the buck,” such as engaging members via the Web. By adding more user-friendly information to the Web, and digitizing tests and surveys, he says AAMC is helping about 700 individual members and 147 institutional members realize the value of their membership in a cost-saving way.


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Chrystal Kern, the Plastics Industry Trade Association’s Rita Staib, and the National Association of Home Builders’ Vic Deming, Fre Sertse and Tracy Spatz.

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