Braille Institute of America is a nonprofit whose beginnings go all the way back to 1919. For almost 100 years, the Braille Institute has been working to provide an environment of hope and encouragement to the blind and visually impaired, with 6 regional centers and more than 200 outreach centers where they provide extensive programs and services free of charge.
Each year, Braille Institute serves more than 75,000 people. A nonprofit institution of this scale must constantly evolve to make processes run smoothly for the staff, their network of 4000+ volunteers, and the blind and visually impaired community they serve. With this in mind, Braille Institute migrated to the cloud, but were soon faced with the tedious, manual process of moving donations from Luminate CRM, a Salesforce based Blackbaud product, into Intacct.Each year, Braille Institute serves more than 75,000 people. A nonprofit of this scale must constantly evolve. Click To Tweet
“About 3 years ago we migrated two of our legacy tools to the cloud. We began using Luminate CRM and chose Intacct for accounting,” explained Gloria Chu, the project lead for Braille Institute’s software and database projects. “In the legacy system, the Fundraising CRM and Accounting databases were on the same server so they were connected by a custom built program. Once we deployed our cloud applications, however, that connection was lost. We needed to find a more permanent and effective way to post donation transactions from Luminate to Intacct.”
The Problem: Automating Donations from Luminate CRM to Intacct
Chu knew the gap between Luminate and Intacct needed to be closed. They created a temporary solution using custom code, but it was still tedious and manual – especially if any data conversion issues occurred when getting data from Luminate to turn into Intacct Journal entries. Chu explains:
“Before we had Workato, we had a workflow in place that involved several steps. Once a month our Philanthropy staff exported the donation batches from Luminate CRM into a data file. Accounting staff had to manually execute a custom-built application program to convert the donation batches into journal entries that were saved in another file. After this was run, the Accounting staff imported the journal entries from the file into Intacct. Because of this process, donations were posted to our Intacct database only once a month, which was not very efficient. If any type of data errors occurred, we needed to spend hours to troubleshoot and correct the errors.”
This method also did not meet the needs of the senior management, who wanted the data updated into Intacct more frequently. “Our President wanted a more timely solution to keep the Accounting database up to date.”
The Solution: Automating the Conversion and Updating of Intacct Journal Entries
Chu looked for a solution to automate the conversion of the donations logged in Salesforce Luminate into Intacct Journal Entries. “Workato was recommended to us by our Intacct consultant,” said Chu. “I did some research to see what other solutions there were, but I couldn’t find any for Salesforce and Intacct that would work. The few that could integrate with Intacct were much too expensive and it required us to hire someone to custom build it for us. Ultimately, it was too expensive and, due to the reliance on custom code, ineffective for us.”
Braille Institute connects Salesforce (Luminate) and Intacct using six Workato recipes for fully automated donation processing. Every day, the Braille Institute’s donations are logged in Luminate CRM. Their first Workato recipe triggers when a batch of donations is committed in Luminate. Workato automatically converts the donations into debit and credit entries. The automation then stores the journal entries as a set of clean data that is ready to go into Intacct as a custom object in Salesforce (Luminate). Another recipe monitors the donations that are recorded in the Journal Entries for changes, and updates these Journal Entries to reflect the actual amount of money that was given.
Twice a month, data entry staff will double check to make sure all the Journal Entries are correct. If something needs to be updated, a staff member can make the change in the Luminate donation records and the second Workato recipe will automatically update the corresponding journal entries. Then when the journal entries are ready and flagged as ready to sync, it triggers Workato to send all the batches that are ready into Intacct in real-time.
Workato also handles donation returns for Braille Institute. Two more recipes were made to automate the process for a donation that needs to be voided. For example, if the staff reverses a donation of $20 in Luminate due to a bounced check, Workato will automatically create a reversed journal entry for minus $20 to balance the numbers in Intacct.
Braille Institute decided to go with Workato not only because it was the best option power and price-wise, but also because Workato allows Chu and staff to create their own integrations without a developer. “These recipes really help make the process run well,” said Chu. “Our initial main goal was to integrate Luminate and Intacct, but we also chose Workato for the potential to integrate other applications at Braille.”
Streamlining Applications for the Braille Challenge with SurveyMonkey and Workato
One of Braille Institute’s popular national programs is the Braille Challenge, a competition to test blind and visually impaired youth in Braille and literacy. Teachers and Regional Braille Challenge hosts can register online and Braille sends them the test materials in the mail. When the tests come back, they are graded, and 50 finalists are chosen and invited to Los Angeles for the final competition.
Chu set up her own integration between SurveyMonkey and the company email using Workato to help with Braille Challenge registration. When someone registers via one of two registration forms on SurveyMonkey, Workato generates an email notification to the staff so that they know there is a new registration. Chu set the recipe so that the notification email contains the entire contents of the registration form that the teacher or regional coordinator filled out. This allows the staff to see the submission details and process the request without leaving their email inbox. This is just the beginning of what Chu and Braille Institute can automate using Workato. “Making our own recipes with Workato is key for our continuing optimization. We are looking forward to automating even more things as time goes on,” said Chu.
Increased Efficiency and Huge Potential for the Future
For Braille Institute, the benefits of their Workato recipes are multi-faceted. The connection between Salesforce Luminate CRM and Intacct help them keep their finances up to date, which in turn allows the management to confidently report to the board members. Automating this workflow also gives Braille Institute a stronger internal control and better security, since no one is manually handling the files.In 10 months, Workato has processed 37,900+ @Intacct journal entry items created from donations Click To Tweet
In the last 10 months, Workato has processed 37,900+ journal entry items created from the donations received for Braille Institute, with the monthly average coming in at 3,700 journal entry items that were created in Luminate CRM and synced by Workato into Intacct. For Braille Institute, this integration alone saves them hours of manual labor and increases their overall efficiency. Not worrying about data transfer, or wasting time switching between email and SurveyMonkey to view registration forms leaves Braille Institute with more time to focus on what’s important — eliminating barriers for the blind and visually impaired to live full lives. It also eliminates barriers for the Braille Institute’s own staff:
“With Workato we can create our own recipes,” said Chu. “The ability to be able to do our own integrations and expand on them ourselves is really important for us.”