The Donald Berman Chai Lifeline Canada is a registered charity devoted to providing families with a variety of compassionate care and services to help alleviate the burdens that come with medical challenges. Their team runs a variety of specialty programs and offers financial aid for counseling, tutoring, and meals.
Everyone at Chai Lifeline knows that creating a sustainable charity is no easy feat. A charity’s survival relies heavily on their ability to fundraise and manage their money, and in many cases, this hinges on how accurately they can both report and manage generous donations.
Rabbi Captain Mordechai Rothman is the Executive Director of The Donald Berman Chai Lifeline Canada. Overseeing this incredible charity for nearly 20 years, Rothman’s job allows him to meet children and families going through tremendously tough times, and the children are always fighters. He engages with volunteers who give so much of their time to impact a child or family by going out of their way, as well as donors who never cease to amaze him with their generosity and selfless giving.
As challenging as his role is, Rothman chooses to focus his attention on the good that Chai Lifeline Canada does and the positive impact that our community makes together to help children and families suffering from serious illnesses. It’s this active choice that gives him strength. In his spare time, Rothman functions as a Chaplain for the Canadian Armed Forces.
Director of Operations
Chai Lifeline already had reliable spend management processes in place, even before Procurify. They could track and manage their donations effectively, and for many at the charity, paper purchase orders and hand-signed approvals were a way of life.
But as the charity grew, once-effective processes failed to grow with them. What’s more, their processes weren’t equipped to survive the world of remote work.
For Rabbi Captain Mordechai Rothman, Executive Director, and Orly Davis, Director of Operations, finding a new way to level up their well-established workflows meant turning to technology. They knew for the charity to continue to scale, they needed a spend management solution that could meet these growing needs. What’s more, it had to make administration tasks, bookkeeping, clerical work, building management, and the logistics of children’s programs feel easy.
Moving to a remote workforce meant paper invoicing and check-printing processes were no longer an option. “No one was working in the office and people and vendors still needed to get paid,” said Davis.
Davis’ team was looking for a way to streamline their accounting process to ensure team members and vendors continued to get paid as quickly and accurately as possible. While speed was important, Davis also knew there was an opportunity to alleviate the headaches that come with manual expense and reimbursement processes. “We used to do reimbursements by hand, and [Silvia Schwartz, the Office Manager] couldn’t read them,” she explained. “She had to chase team members down if she had questions.”
As well as improving expense workflows so they remained efficient in a remote work environment, Chai Lifeline wanted to streamline payments, too. Before Procurify, the charity was manually cutting checks. “We used to create checks every two weeks. I would take a pile of old paper-printed invoices, go through them all one by one, and make sure all of the accounts and classes were correct. Only once they were all double-checked, Silvia [the Office Manager] would go through them with Mordy [a nickname for Rabbi Captain Mordechai Rothman] and he would pick who we were paying that week,” Davis explained. “Once the checks were printed, I'd have to go back and sign them all again. The process took two weeks.”
Building strategic relationships with vendors is an integral part of running an effective charity. And as Chai Lifeline scaled, Rothman needed a way to maintain strong relationships with multiple vendors.
“A lot of charities struggle to pay their bills on time and sometimes vendors won’t want to work with them because they’re afraid they won’t get paid on time. I’ve always prided myself in running Chai Lifeline in a way that we pay people on time, without any problems,” shared Rothman.
With Rothman responsible for maintaining vendor relationships, Davis was looking for a way to align their internal accounting processes with Rothman’s best-in-class vendor payment process. Before integrating Procurify with QuickBooks, the internal check-printing process was tedious.
“A challenge we had was our slow-moving processes. From having things approved, to having checks made, signed, and mailed, it was a big process,” said Davis.
Rothman and Davis were seeking a solution that could scale with their charity without disrupting current processes.
“As we scaled, money was being spent in different ways and different places. We were operating the same way that we were operating when we had 10 employees, when we had over 30 or 40. The truth is, at that scale it’s an entirely different way of operating,” expressed Rothman.
They wanted a user-friendly solution that worked well with their existing accounting system, QuickBooks, and that also wasn’t overly technical in terms of the end-user experience.
“We had looked at a number of options and Procurify seemed very intuitive and easy to use. We have a lot of employees that are newer to technology,” Rothman explained.
Thanks to Procurify, the Chai Lifeline team has been able to maintain and scale their internal processes while pivoting to remote work. They’ve also successfully onboarded their entire team onto the Procurify Platform.
Implementing a tool that their team would enjoy using and reducing the risk of difficult change management was a major decision factor for Rothman and Davis, and that’s what they received with Procurify.
“The fact that our employees are using it speaks to how well Procurify is designed because there's a lot of other programs that we have at Chai Lifeline where, because it's challenging for people, they don't adopt it. I would say we have a 100 percent adoption rate for Procurify – everybody's using it,” said Rothman.
Moving from paper forms to digital requests and records increases the consistency of documents and removes the risk of human error, too. “We wanted to try and start moving things paperless and Procurify offers a lot of possibilities, especially with the app. When people are out of town, managers can still approve things, oversee things, and ask questions to their team, even though they won't be there in person,” discussed Davis. “Silvia [the Office Manager] really likes it because it’s all digital. It's all typed out now versus when we used to do [requests] by hand. Even if she has to chase somebody, there is a messaging system in Procurify, so it makes it simple.”
A faster financial process gives the team the peace of mind that money spent on the families will be reimbursed quickly. “All our reimbursements that we're submitting are all things that the staff were spending for the families and the family programs,” shared Davis. “Procurify makes it a lot easier to submit receipts and get reimbursed. I've been hearing a lot less complaints about the turnaround time for reimbursements.”
Chai Lifeline has adopted two of Procurify’s integrations – QuickBooks and Amazon PunchOut – to streamline their existing processes. Using Procurify’s Amazon PunchOut feature, the speed of approving and purchasing spend requests has increased, all without losing control of spending.
“If you create too many blockades or check-ins for your employees, it becomes very difficult to run your day-to-day operations,” explained Rothman. “[With Procurify] you have that level of openness where people can make a request right away. And requests can be answered almost immediately, too. If [the requests are made with] Amazon PunchOut you can do the whole thing within five minutes and people get what they need in a quick fashion. It's approved yet still has the oversight that is necessary. I love it.”
Davis echoed, “The people that need it are using it. And it's working really well. I’ll get a notification that Mordy approved something, and I can see that it was ordered, and it’s done.”
From a purchaser's perspective, Amazon PunchOut has helped Silvia Schwartz, Chai Lifeline’s Office Manager, speed up the process. Davis expressed that “It's very convenient. Before, we would have to upload the link and once we got the item approved, send the links to Silvia. She'd then have to go and buy it. Now you can just find your item, link it yourself, request your Procurify order and it's done.”
Using Procurify’s QuickBooks integration, Schwartz has been able to handle two to three invoices per day, and has removed around 50 backlogged invoices off of her desk. She can now proactively manage Chai Lifeline’s invoicing process. “Once the [vendor bills] are approved, Silvia imports them into QuickBooks and prepares the checks,” explained Davis. “It’s done all the time, every day, so it’s a lot quicker now.”
The Procurify Platform allows charities like Chai Lifeline to manage their vendors and gain visibility into vendor spend reporting from under one roof, while also pushing critical vendor payment data into QuickBooks. Chai Lifeline’s accounting processes now match the speed and accuracy Rothman expects from the charity’s vendor payments.
“I’ve always prided myself in running Chai Lifeline in a way that we pay people on time, quickly, without any problems, and I think Procurify has just continued to push that even stronger for us. As the world has evolved and gone more online, we’ve been able to keep up with that pace as well,” Rothman said. “As a charity, we are looking for opportunities to save, so if a vendor is willing to give us a percentage off, we want to make sure they get paid on time and that we’re able to approach them about discounts again year after year.”
Rothman and Davis are focused on continuously creating world-class operational processes to keep Chai Lifeline’s mission at the forefront of what they do. ‘Fighting illness with love’, as their mission states, requires streamlined and efficient purchasing workflows, and with Procurify, the charity can regain time to focus on exactly that. Of course, to effectively fight illness with love, they have to remain adaptable to changing work environments, such as remote work, and stay focused on how they manage their funding.
Rothman also explained why reporting on donations is critical to the success of a charity. “A charity lives and dies by its reputation, which is based on being prudent and appropriate with funds that are donated. We're partnering with donors to help children that are affected by illness, and every dollar down to the penny needs to be accounted for. It's integral to us as a charity that we're able to provide that level of scrutiny,” said Rothman. “If a donor asks ‘I donated $500, what did that do?’, we can actually go and see that thanks to Procurify.”
Procurify is proud to have The Donald Berman Chai Lifeline Canada as a customer and is excited to follow the impact they’re making in the lives of vulnerable families across Canada.
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