PH nonprofit groups hop on the cloud to cut cost, simplify operations

Cloud computing firm Oracle NetSuite has announced three nonprofit customers in the Philippines that have streamlined mission-critical processes while saving significant time and costs by moving to NetSuite.

The Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC), and Grupo Kalinangan are among a growing number of Philippine nonprofits and social enterprises that have improved operational and financial efficiency, transparency for donors, regulatory reporting and capacity for informed, data-driven decision making since graduating from entry-level business applications to NetSuite.

By eliminating labor-intensive manual work, nonprofits are freeing up resources to better focus on their social missions across the Philippines in such areas as healthcare, education, business development, disaster relief and alleviation of poverty.

Zuellig Family Foundation, PCNC and Grupo Kalinangan are supported by the Oracle NetSuite Social Impact group, which makes available free and discounted software licensing to qualified nonprofits and social enterprises.

The program also includes Suite Pro Bono, wherein NetSuite employees volunteer their time and expertise to help nonprofits with training and customizations to make the most of NetSuite.

More than 1,000 nonprofits and social enterprises globally use Oracle NetSuite Social Impact offerings, including local organizations like Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, American Chamber Foundation Philippines, Cartwheel Foundation, Virlanie Foundation, Microventures Foundation, BagoSphere and Theo & Philo.

Zuellig Family Foundation has provided local training to improve healthcare in nearly 650 rural municipalities across 32 provinces since its founding in 2008.

Established and funded by the Zuellig family, whose patriarch, Frederick Zuellig, emigrated from Switzerland in 1901 to establish trading companies in the Philippines, ZFF focuses on training local leaders to address healthcare issues.

Based in Parañaque City with 80 full-time employees, ZFF partners with other organizations such as USAID, UNICEF and MSD Merck for Mothers, with funding rising 35 percent since 2013 to $196.8 million in 2016.

NetSuite helps ZFF better manage its financials, gaining speed and visibility and eliminating time-consuming manual work the nonprofit experienced with its previous application.

ZFF estimates P1.65 million in annual savings and cost avoidance compared to an SAP solution it evaluated before selecting NetSuite, going live in 2015.

“NetSuite has simplified and facilitated our compliance with reporting requirements by supporting internal controls and providing accurate, real-time reporting with a complete set of audit trails,” said Wesley Villanueva, manager at Zuellig.

“We have greater accountability and transparency and can generate real-time reports that aid in decision-making.”

On the other hand, the Philippine Council for NGO Certification, a nonprofit that certifies NGOs as meeting organizational standards for financial management and transparency, helps improve accountability and effectiveness of nonprofits involved in education, healthcare, poverty alleviation and other missions.

Created in 1997 by a consortium of NGO networks, PCNC currently certifies approximately 450 NGOs with a “Seal of Good Housekeeping,” based on evaluations conducted by more than a hundred volunteer evaluators on six criteria including mission, goals and financial management. That gives donors confidence that funding will be used for its intended purpose.

Based in Manila with eight employees, PCNC also helps match NGOs with communities in need, improving local outcomes across the nation. Since going live in 2016, NetSuite has been playing a critical role by giving PCNC new capabilities to track and segment NGOs by mission, regions and other characteristics, helping bring together NGOs and beneficiaries.

PCNC also uses NetSuite for automated communications, such as notification emails to NGOs six months before certification expires, and intends to use NetSuite LightCMS for a more modern website.

NetSuite technical support and Suite Pro Bono volunteers have been instrumental in helping PCNC make the most of its system.

“What used to take a day of gathering and aggregating data now takes minutes,” said Luis Morales, PCNC executive director. “We’re saving a lot of time with the ability to generate data very easily and that means less cost and less manual work. We didn’t realize what we were missing with NetSuite. NetSuite really knows how to work with nonprofits.”

Grupo Kalinangan, meanwhile, is an organization founded in 2015 in Makati City that develops and deploys IT tools, services and support systems for local government and grassroots communities for improved cultural heritage management in the Philippines.

Bringing together advocates and practitioners from allied fields including social science, architecture and IT, GKI is building a data platform and map of Philippine history and culture, while implementing projects and activities aligned with understanding how to better preserve and promote Philippine culture and heritage through big data and analytics.

A key focus area for GKI, with five board members and about 50 volunteers, is the use of data exchange, analytics and software such as Arches, an open-source GIS tool to collect and share data, heightening awareness of the importance of Filipino heritage.

GKI, being an early adopter of technology, has always embraced modern applications to streamline its own operations.

Replacing a free Wave Accounting application with NetSuite, which went live in 2016, NetSuite helps GKI save time and money in managing financials, preparing annual reports, and improving transparency for donors and in government filings.

Despite Grupo Kalinangan’s initial concern that NetSuite would be too complicated, the system has proven to be easy to use, especially with the training provided by Suite Pro Bono volunteers over a six-week period.

As a more cost-efficient organization, GKI can put full focus on heritage without needless overhead.

“We’ve definitely improved our processes with NetSuite and its capabilities,” said Karl Aguilar, corporate treasurer at GKI. “We can focus on the most important things for our organization without getting bogged down by problems and complicated financial processes. NetSuite does the work for us.”

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