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Case Study: Nonprofit Bookkeeping for the Telluride Film Festival

May 27, 2020 / by Mark Wald

Supporting Strategies Case Study Telluride Film FestivalAlthough it lasts just four days, the annual Telluride Film Festival (TFF) requires a year-round staff — and roughly 300 employees during festival season. Adding to the logistical challenges, the nonprofit that operates the festival is based in Berkeley, California, while the event itself takes place in Colorado. Moreover, each year the organization needs to be ready to cover major upfront expenses along with a flurry of event-related vendor invoices.

That all added up to a unique bookkeeping challenge — particularly for a nonprofit that was still using traditional paper-based processes and offline systems. So when TFF's long-standing bookkeeper retired, the organization jumped at the chance to modernize its back-office operations.

A Premier Nonprofit Bookkeeping Solution
TFF accomplished all its goals and more by outsourcing its bookkeeping and back-office operations to Supporting Strategies. First and foremost, Supporting Strategies successfully transitioned TFF to a set of integrated online tools to eliminate cumbersome paperwork and enable administrators to securely share financial information through the cloud in real time.

These upgrades have paid tremendous dividends during festival season. In prior years, the bookkeeper and Executive Director would have to spend hours each day working together on the festival grounds to process vendor bills and then print, sign and distribute paper checks. Now, Supporting Strategies receives vendor bills electronically, matches them against approved purchase orders and presents them for payment approval through a cloud-based app. The Executive Director can review and release payments electronically via her laptop or smartphone wherever and whenever she likes, and vendors receive their payments electronically rather than having to wait in a long line to pick up paper checks.

Supporting Strategies also replaced the paper-based payroll and time-tracking systems for seasonal employees with a fully paperless employee onboarding system and direct deposit payroll service. With cloud-based bill payments and online HR systems, many precious hours are saved for all parties involved so TFF can dedicate more of its key resources to ensuring the festival's success.

Rave Reviews Across the Board
Finally, with its team-based approach, Supporting Strategies provides coverage with dedicated resources throughout the year as well as on-demand additional staffing during peak times. This has been especially beneficial when navigating the annual audits that are a fact of life at a nonprofit. The new digital filing system makes it easy for TFF to gather the necessary audit materials, smoothing out the entire process and drastically reducing the amount of on-site audit time required.

For TFF Chief of Staff and Administration Kristen Laursen, the increase in efficiency and decrease in stress have been a game-changer. "Our team at Supporting Strategies really cares about continuous improvement, doing a good job and making sure our organization succeeds," she says. "I really hope it's a relationship that we'll have for years and years to come."

To learn more about how Supporting Strategies can help nonprofits and other businesses with nonstandard bookkeeping cadences, read the case study.

Topics: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Nonprofits, Case Study Blogs

Mark Wald

Written by Mark Wald

Mark is managing director of Supporting Strategies | Santa Monica, CA.

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