If you can change kids’ health, you can change the future—that’s the promise that drives Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Over the past 40 years, they have raised over $8.5 billion for 170 children’s hospitals. All donations benefit their local member hospitals, funding critical healthcare, innovative research, services that help kids and families during difficult hospital stays, and financial assistance for those in need.
For the organization’s Finance team, a sense of purpose drives everything they do.
“It brings me a lot of comfort knowing that I'm not just lining somebody's pockets. Every day I'm working hard to help kids and their families,” says Burke Bess, Vice President of Finance, Accounting, and Data Analytics at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“None of our funds go to administrative costs, they all go to benefit patients and their families,” adds Erin Redick, Operations Vice President at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “
In an organization where every dollar spent—and saved—is so meaningful, running a tight ship when it comes to spend and expense management becomes even more important. Which is why Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals relies on BILL Spend & Expense.
Redick’s Community Operations team manages the relationships with local non-profit hospitals throughout the Western United States. “We're the field team, on the ground, in the grassroots supporting the hospitals fundraising efforts,” she explains. “Our organization relies on us to manage those relationships.” Redick’s team is constantly on the road, and the ease or difficulty of travel can have a direct impact on how well they do their jobs.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the team’s budget is travel expenses. Unfortunately, their spend and expense management system was adding to the complexity of their jobs, instead of making it easier. They were using a combination of spreadsheets, Concur Reimbursements, and shared credit cards, though they also paid for many expenses using a check or ACH payment.
“We shared credit cards among multiple departments,” says Bess. “So every month, we had to track down receipts for many transactions from among the staff, which was time-consuming and difficult.”
“Our credit card provider was just not a friendly platform to use,” he continues. “And the same thing with our reimbursement solution. It took a lot of work from our accounts payable staff to set everything up to do reimbursements.”
Not only was their expense management system cumbersome, it was expensive—they were spending about $10,000 a year.. “Our reimbursement solution was a cost rather than a benefit,” says Bess.
They were looking for a user-friendly, all-in-one expense management solution that combined free software with corporate cards. The answer? BILL Spend & Expense.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals implemented BILL Spend & Expense in December 2017. They immediately began receiving 1% cash back on purchases. “With BILL Spend & Expense, we went from paying for a system to getting a free system that also gave us cash back,” says Bess.
In addition to changing the cost equation, BILL was much easier to use. “A huge, awesome thing about moving over to BILL was the ability to instantly connect receipts to transactions,” says Bess. “And BILL was just a very user-friendly system compared to what we had before.”
“A huge, awesome thing about moving over BILL was the ability to instantly connect receipts to transactions.”
Team members enjoyed having more accurate records of their expenses, and the new system prevented them from forgetting to get reimbursed for purchases. “They are probably now getting more money back in reimbursements than they ever got in credit card reward points,” says Bess.
“We have a wide range of ages and comfort levels with digital among our staff. Whether it’s the app or the desktop version of BILL Spend & Expense, everyone loves it. It's just really so easy and user-friendly,” says Redick.
“I have to manage the expenses of 11 people, plus myself, as we travel back and forth to more than 30 hospitals,” says Redick. “Before BILL, a big part of my job was just checking people’s expenses. Now, BILL Spend & Expense does that work for me.”
“Because BILL lets me automatically upload receipts, I don't have to carry a folder around with paper receipts,” she continues. “I also don’t have to look up my credit card transactions, and then print them out and highlight them.”
“BILL Spend & Expense has saved me several hours during the week. And when you multiply that times 11, the savings really add up,” she concludes.
“BILL Spend & Expense has saved me several hours during the week. And when you multiply that times 11, the savings really add up.”
BILL also makes it easier on the Finance team, who can quickly verify that uploaded receipts match the charges. Before, receipts required multiple approvals, which was a duplication of efforts.
“BILL Spend & Expense is just so much more efficient. Before BILL, managing spend required a lot of email back and forth,” says Redick.
With BILL, transferring funds is instantaneous, which makes it easy for team members to make travel decisions on the go. “BILL makes it so much easier to look holistically at my entire budget and see what everyone is doing,” says Redick. “BILL eliminates unnecessary work so that traveling staff can focus on doing their jobs instead of tracking expenses.”
“BILL eliminates unnecessary work so that traveling staff can focus on doing their jobs instead of tracking expenses.”
BILL Spend & Expense has simplified managing budgets, which is critical for a nonprofit organization like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “BILL has been a really nice tool for shared budgets across departments,” says Bess. “BILL really just made it easier from an accounting perspective, helping us make sure expenses get coded to the correct place without a lot of back and forth.”
The organization is committed to making every dollar count, so recouping unused spend is a high priority that BILL helps facilitate.
“We ask people to give money back if they're not going to use it so we can utilize it somewhere else for the cause,” says Bess. “BILL makes that easier.”
“We don’t want to waste money by having it sit somewhere,” adds Redick. “We want to do the most with what we have, and BILL Spend & Expense helps us with that.”
“We don’t want to waste money by having it sit somewhere. We want to do the most with what we have, and BILL Spend & Expense helps us with that.”
Real-time access to information with BILL has also made it easier for Redick to manage her team’s budget. She no longer has to use a color-coded Excel document for each team member. “We're able to upload BILL Spend & Expense into our budgeting Excel files and use the desktop feature for employees to see in real time,” says Redick. “BILL Spend & Expense has enabled budgets to be visible in real time, whereas before it was a monthly update.”
“When we are asked to give back extra budget to the organization, I really truly know in real time what is available and what we've already spent and realistically what we're going to spend before the end of the year,” she says.
While travel is their primary use for BILL Spend & Expense, they also use it for other expenses. “Our IT department uses virtual cards for software subscriptions,” says Bess. “Honestly, we try to put everything we can through a virtual card—anything from travel to subscriptions to paying contractors.”
Virtual cards make it easier for the organization to onboard new employees and help them relocate, if needed. “We had a new employee, and while he was waiting for a hard copy of a card to be mailed to him, we enabled a virtual card from BILL to pay for his moving expenses, which was really beneficial,” says Redick.
“Another thing that's great about virtual cards from BILL is that if you have fraud, you can just turn that card off and create a new one,” says Bess. “And you don't have to deal with a bunch of reimbursements while you are waiting for the new physical card to arrive.”
“Another thing that's great about virtual cards from BILL is that if you have fraud, you can just turn that card off and create a new one.“
As an organization, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is focused on getting dollars to the hospitals and kids who need them. So the more time they can spend on raising and delivering funds instead of managing them, the better.
“BILL helps us focus on doing our work instead of the business side of it,” says Bess. “From an accounting standpoint, we use the platform to keep everything categorized and uploaded.”
“BILL has created ease and peace of mind for the team,” says Redick. “When they're on the road, they're not hustling with receipts and stressing out asking for paper.”
At the end of the day, BILL is helping the organization build connections. As Bess puts it, “We're very much a relationship business, and the more time our people can focus on building relationships rather than administrative work, the more influence we can have on the business’ mission.”
“BILL helps us focus on doing our work instead of the business side of it. From an accounting standpoint, we use the platform to keep everything categorized and uploaded.”