From the June 2013 issue.
Non-profit organizations come in all sizes, from international relief agencies to local sports leagues, but they also have a varying range of complexity when it comes to their accounting needs. For Hume Lake Christian Camps, these challenges are abundant.
The organization may be recognized as a church, but the services that Hume offers to its guests and the facilities it manages makes it almost more comparable to running a municipality. At its main locations in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and in New England, Hume maintains not only it various lodges and other buildings, but even has its own public works to maintain roadways, utilities and construction projects on its 360 acre-California location and 400 acre Massachusetts one.
With a full-time staff of about 120 that swells to around 500 with seasonal staff in the summer, Hume’s camps are visited by about 40,000 campers each year, from church youth groups to events designed for adults and family groups. The main camp areas are year-round, while the organization also runs a four-week camp in San Diego.
While this aspect might sound similar to managing a resort property, Hume also has the financial needs of a non-profit, ranging from keeping track of previous guests and volunteers, working with churches across several states, donor management and fund accounting, along with the expected staff management issues. But that’s not all Hume does. They also have various retail outlets, including a coffee company, clothing line, various food service offerings, a general store and a gift shop, all designed to serve their wide variety of guests.
Managing the finances at the heart of all of this activity is an immense challenge overseen by CFO John Hughes, a CPA with a prior background at a Big 4 firm. The organization first turned to the Blackbaud Financial Edge accounting system in 2004, then later added Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge for integrated fundraising and donor management functions. Hughes joined Hume Christian Camps in 2009, and set out on a mission to optimize their use of the Blackbaud programs.
“The original implementation wasn’t done as effectively as it should have been because of how we transferred the data into it,” Hume noted. “So, we reimplemented with Blackbaud and the flower of Financial Edge really blossomed, allowing us much more flexibility for all levels of staff, from finance to camp directors, managers and others who use financial statements. Now they can quickly see and manage the information that’s most important to them, from sales margins in retail outlets, to AP and AR, and project management details.”
For Hume, he said the biggest advantage to Financial Edge was being able to more accurately and efficiently manage financial performance and see the bigger picture, while the Raiser’s Edge system greatly enhanced tracking of donor relationships with past campers, alumni, staff and other groups.
Throughout the implementation and since, he says Blackbaud’s customer service has been integral in achieving success at Hume. “They are always available and help provide guidance for all areas, and they’ve been supportive of our changing needs as we grow.”