Amp Up Your Reporting & Prepare for Frequent Asks



Particularly during a nonprofit’s growth periods, its finance team may be asked to generate reports on the health of the organization at any given moment. And, although most manage and prepare reports quarterly, bi-annually, and annually, the preference is to have the ability to provide reports based on current state. How can you be ready when the ask comes your way?

Before we jump in to potential solutions for more frequent reporting, see below for a few charts we garnered from our “2018 Nonprofit Finance Study” where your peers share their perspectives:


It’s reassuring to learn that a little more than 40 percent of responders don’t feel the burden of frequent reporting to funders. For those who do feel the burden, here’s what they’re saying they must do to respond to funders’ requests:


You can see from the keyword cloud, there are many types of changes getting incorporated to respond to funders during growth periods, even when reporting requirements may be different by funder and/or by grant. Users need more efficient and effective reporting on data. A good place to start is to increase emphasis on program assessment and evaluation – capture metrics to show program impact.


Laura Reifschlager, Community Brands’ Implementation Consultant, recommends the following:

  1. As you increase services, your chart of accounts grows with you. Add the codes you need and budget for those new services.
  2. Growth is planned – that means strategically planning. Use a good a budgeting tool to include money for new services and use that to determine the new funding needed to support the plan.
  3. Make sure your organization and team use a tool that contains powerful reporting capabilities that include:
  • Visual dashboards to help you spot trends instantly
  • Drill down of data with filters, permitting you to see details for your key performance indicators (KPIs)

Producing accurate reports to convey transparency with your finances inspires confidence, which is the foundation to maintain funding.

  1. For careful planning for staffing growth, leverage an employee management tool or module, connected to your accounting software to enable efficient management of new employee requirements.
  2. Finally, for quick access to your financials and reporting (for example, anywhere, anytime login), seek out a cloud solution for your accounting system.
Other methods you can incorporate:
  • Create general ledger (GL) groups for payroll tax analysis or benefits analysis.
  • Set up groups by budget manager or set up groups by managers and department for easier reporting.
  • Manage reports with executive view licenses. These license types allow additional users to run their own reports and assist with budget preparation, freeing you to focus on your management tasks.

At the end of the day, reporting should not be painful or burdensome. With an automated solution, you can replace that stress with ease.

If you have interest in learning more from your nonprofit finance peers, we invite you to contact us below for a download of the full study, “Nonprofit Finance Study: The Dynamics and Challenges of Growth,” and take a deeper look.

Why Use an Abila Business Partner?

1st Choice Advisors is a Select Business Partner for Abila products and services. Our consultants also have over 30 years of experience working with nonprofits; real-world experience with a variety of different types of fundraising needs and requirements as a result. We rigorously train on Abila products, hence spending up to 90 hours each year reviewing new functionality and training procedures. We are your go-to for service, providing user groups, both online and in our offices. All things considered, your satisfaction and ability to get results is our main goal!

How to Know When Your Nonprofit is Ready for the Cloud

Abila’s How to Know When Your Nonprofit is Ready for the Cloud by Michelle Garcia, August 17th, 2018

How do YOU know when your nonprofit is ready for the cloud?

If you’ve been in a professional setting at any point within the last 20 years, you’ve heard about “the cloud.” You don’t even need to be a member of the IT department to have heard about it. Everywhere we turn these days, whether to an app, a technology partner, or our cell phone provider, we’re being encouraged to save our files to “the cloud.” Why? Why is migration to cloud computing a growing movement amongst individuals and especially organizations, such as nonprofits? And, how do you know when your nonprofit organization is ready to move to the cloud?

The good news, according to the 2018 State of the Nonprofit Cloud report, is that cloud computing has become less intimidating, more beneficial, and nonprofits are migrating to the cloud at a steady clip:


And, although challenges to cloud service implementation still exist, there are many ways to overcome them to enable an efficient, flexible, and secure cloud migration experience.

First, identify and weigh the benefits of moving your nonprofit to the cloud:

  • Accessibility anywhere, anytime
  • Reliability on vendor expertise for IT support
  • Recovery from disasters
  • Security protection
  • Exceptionally performing software programs
  • Flexibility with scalability
  • Accountability and uptime

Next, recognize potential risks, as it is important for nonprofit professionals to discuss and anticipate for preventative actions.

  • Training and support are crucial for a successful implementation. Make sure this step is added to the migration roadmap, with names, titles, and responsibilities clearly outlined.
  • Long-term support is another key factor and will guarantee there is a team available in times of need.
  • Contingency plans if the migration is not running as smoothly as expected. Nonprofits should be clear with their cloud vendor if there is a desire to move back to on-premises management. Your nonprofit should have a choice when it comes to moving to the cloud. Nonprofits should not be forced to migrate if their organization is not ready for the implementation.

Once benefits are agreed upon and risks are recorded, the next step is to establish a strategy that will provide the nonprofit’s executives and board members the confidence in the migration plan. Here’s how to accomplish that:

  • Cost – Establish a cost analysis between on-premises software and cloud-hosted software. This can be completed through a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) comparison guide.
  • Strategic Planning – Your nonprofit plan should include how the migration will support the bottom line and mission of the organization. Highlight the benefits for cross-discipline groups – IT, finance, marketing, research, development, and support. By sharing this information, and gaining input from leaders of each department, you will help establish buy-in before an implementation starts.
  • Research Documentation – There are several good resources a nonprofit can leverage as support for a migration, such as case studies from like-organizations. The ability to demonstrate successes with your selected vendor and/or their customers will elevate confidence across executives and staffed teams.
  • Compare Services Available – A well-rounded business case typically includes criteria-driven vendor selections, such as:
    • Reputation – Conduct online searches via trusted technology publications, channel partners, and news outlets for the vendor brand and reviews. Instinctually, you’ll be able to eliminate and/or add to your list of choice vendors.
    • Technical Documentation – Request access to vendors’ technical instructions and system performance analysis for organizations that match your nonprofit. Ask them about their mitigation plans for nonprofits.
    • Vendor Team Structure – Gain a clear understanding of who would be working on your implementation and the hours for which they will be available. Particularly for any potential outages, ask them to share their processes and average recovery times.
    • Security – What steps and guarantees will the chosen vendors provide to ensure your data is secure? This is one of the biggest concerns nonprofits have when it comes to moving to the cloud. Since cloud migration has been happening for years now, this should not be difficult for vendors to address.

By comparing vendors and services, apples to apples, you will be able to quickly assess those you want to request an RFP from, versus those you may want to eliminate.

Migrations to the cloud don’t have to be overwhelming or scary. However, any software vendor you’re using should offer you the choice when it comes to your preference for either on-premises or in their cloud. By following the recommendations shared in this blog, you can equip your nonprofit with the necessary information to effectively migrate with confidence!

For more information on using a Business Partner with Abila Software, please check out 1st Choice Advisors!

2018 Review of Abila MIP Advance Fund Accounting
2018 Review of Abila MIP Advance Fund Accounting

2018 Review of Abila MIP Advance Fund Accounting

CPA’s 2018 Review of Abila MIP Advance Fund Accounting by Mary Girsch-Bock, Contributing Writer on July 23rd, 2018

2018 Review of Abila MIP Advance Fund Accounting: MIP Advance from Abila is cloud-based fund accounting software that is a good fit for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations and government entities. Users can also download the mobile app for mobile system access.

The 2018 of MIP Advance offers a variety of dashboard enhancements as well as the launch of the brand MIP Idea Portal which allows current users to submit ideas and suggestions on how to improve the product.

Abila offers a flexible, table driven chart of accounts structure, with users able to configure an unlimited number of segments in varying lengths to better track organizational data. Support personnel work with all new MIP Advance users to configure the chart of accounts structure properly during the setup process. The product easily handles all types of transactions including standard accounting transactions such as AP, AR, and GL entries, as well as bank reconciliations, cash receipts, cash disbursements, allocations, encumbrances, purchase orders, and order entry options, as well as extensive budget transactions.

Users can create an unlimited number of fully customized budgets in MIP Advance, with the budgets reflecting any time frame desired, including across fiscal years. A robust forecasting feature allows users to easily forecast future expenditures, and users can also create a variety of ‘what-if’ scenarios to determine the best option for the organization. Warnings can be implemented if users are close to going over-budget, and the budget view allows users to see the status of any budget during the transaction entry process.


Abila offers a variety of optional fundraising modules including Fundraising 50 and Fundraising Online. Fundraising 50 is designed to manage donor cultivation and retention, while Fundraising Online is a good option for organizations that wish to implement online giving platforms, manage events and create peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities. Users can track individual grants using the flexible account structure, and the product includes fund-balancing capability, to ensure that all funds are in balance at all times. The optional Allocations Management module allows users to record both direct and indirect allocations by percentage or transaction.


MIP Advance Fund offers solid system security and the Advanced Security option offers database encryption and the ability to limit access to sensitive data such as employee salaries or budgets.

MIP Advance includes a good selection of preset reports that can customized to suit the needs of the user. A series of built-in reporting tools assist new users in creating new reports as well. Reports can be created across fiscal year, and the product easily produces nonprofit specific reports such as Statement of Revenues and Expenditures, and Statement of Cash Flows. Add-on reporting modules such as Accounts Receivable Reporting allows users to easily create customer invoices and statements, and Drillpoint allows easy customization of financial statements, including the ability to add graphs and formulas. All MIP Advance reports can be displayed on screen, emailed to recipients, exported to Microsoft Excel or Word, or saved as an HTML file or PDF.

As a modular system, all MIP Advance Fund modules work together seamlessly. MIP Advance core modules include GL, AP, AR Reporting, Bank Reconciliation, Budget, Data Import/Export, and Forms Designer. There are also a variety of payroll and employee management modules, Electronic Requisitions, Encumbrances, Fixed Assets, Purchase Order, Advanced Security, Allocations Management, and various reporting modules including Drillpoint, GASB Reporting, and a Data Consolidation module. Optional fundraising and donor management modules are available as well and the Abila Marketplace offers users easy access to Abila business partners, implementation partners, and product partners.


The Abila Support Center offers access to a variety of user tools and resources including access to the Abila Knowledgebase, Community, and Subscription Center. Users can access product support via email or chat and toll-free telephone support is available during regular business hours. There are also a variety of training options available, including a variety of whitepapers and access to Abila product training options which include online, classroom, and instructor-led training options. Just added is the Abila Resource Library, which provides access to a variety of informational webinars and documents, with users able to search for content by Topics, Types, and Products.

MIP Advance Accounting from Abila is an excellent solution for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations that would like to have a strong core system, as well as an opportunity to add additional product functionality when necessary. Pricing for MIP Advance varies, depending on the number of system users and the modules licensed. A monthly subscription that includes the core modules is $200.00 for a single user and includes hosting fees. Implementation is typically completed by Abila or authorized partners and is extra, with pricing dependent on the cost of the software.

2018 Rating – 5 Stars

Thanks for reading the 2018 Review of Abila MIP Advance Fund Accounting!

Why use a Business Partner on MIP Advance?

1st Choice Advisors is a Select Business Partner for Abila products and services. Our consultants also have over 30 years of experience working with nonprofits; real-world experience with a variety of different types of fundraising needs and requirements as a result. We are rigorously training on Abila products because we spend up to 90 hours each year reviewing new functionality and training procedures. We are your go-to for service, and we also provide user groups, both online and in our offices. All things considered, your satisfaction and ability to get results is our main goal!

To learn more about a formal quote, data conversion and training: