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How SF New Deal streamlines small business support with BILL

Customer Stories >

How SF New Deal streamlines small business support with BILL


Founded in March 2020 to support San Francisco's locally-run restaurants through the pandemic, nonprofit SF New Deal is no stranger to the challenges facing small businesses. Luckily, they've had BILL on their side from the start.

"SF New Deal actually started out using BILL from the very beginning," shares Melody Lan, SF New Deal's Grant Administration Program Manager, telling their origin story. "SF New Deal’s co-founder is a small business owner herself and uses BILL for her small business. So she was already familiar with it and decided to start using it from the get-go."

Today, SF New Deal works tirelessly to strengthen their city's neighborhood corridors by making it easier for under-resourced small business owners to succeed through direct support, grant funds, technical assistance, and neighborhood vibrancy initiatives.

Though they run a wide variety of community-centric initiatives, a core activity of their work is grant distribution—getting money into the hands of small businesses. 

In 2023, SF New Deal partnered with BILL to disburse:

  • 525 grants
  • 2,413 payments
  • $ 8,487,470 total 
SF New Deal team

Getting grants into the hands of small businesses, faster

SF New Deal has a wide variety of initiatives designed to support their city's neighborhoods—but one of their core services is distributing grant money to local businesses who need it.

525 grants distributed to small businesses in 2023

Last year, SF New Deal distributed a whopping 525 grants to underserved small businesses across  San Francisco's diverse neighborhoods. According to Simon Bertrang, Executive Director of SF New Deal, "At one point we were distributing $2 million of grants a month—hundreds of grant checks."

The tricky part, as always, is making the process faster. The City aims to pay grants within 30 days, but that wasn't good enough for SF New Deal. As Lan puts it, "When I first heard this, I wondered, oh, can we do better than that? Thirty days is a really long time to wait for your money."

What's worse, according to Lan, was that for some businesses, the wait was "more like several months, if not over a year."

Sped up average time to payment

With BILL, SF New Deal has dramatically reduced that waiting time. By incorporating BILL Accounts Payable into their grant payment process, they've reduced the average payment time by over half. And it's getting shorter all the time. 

Exterior of Maple Restaurant

Breaking the language barrier for business owners

BILL isn't the only hero behind the scenes, though. SF New Deal has also done an incredible amount of work connecting Community Based Organizations (CBOs) with their grant recipients to bridge the language barrier that often comes up when working in a diverse, multicultural city like San Francisco.

As Executive Director Bertrang puts it, "For many small businesses, getting money from the City was like this: They really did not know how to communicate or who to communicate with about how to get their money."

Out of their 525 grant payments in 2023, 37% of the recipients had a preferred language other than English. But by working with CBOs, SF New Deal was able to provide language assistance to explain the grant process—and how to use BILL to get them their money quickly—in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Korean. And they're looking to refine the process and add more languages all the time.

Less work, less time, fewer errors

In addition to halving the average time to payment for their grant distribution process, SF New Deal also leverages BILL to speed up their own internal financial processes.

Closing books three days faster vs. manual

SF New Deal credits direct deposits through BILL for much of their time savings and reduction in manual work. Finance Manager Kelsey Wordeman shares, "The direct deposit, love that. It makes closing our books super easy and streamlined. It saves us about three days in closing the books versus if I had to do it all manually … it's just a very clean close on the accounting side."

View of museum attendees through glass windows

Batch imports save time, audit trails stop fraud

Wordeman has also come to appreciate BILL's batch import feature, which allows her to quickly import all of SF New Deal's bills into QuickBooks accounting software. "I love the batch import features," says Wordeman, "That saves a huge amount of time. At one point we had 100 grants going out at one time, so just being able to import them and disburse them in a minute is amazing."

"At one point we had 100 grants going out at one time, so just being able to import them and disburse them in a minute is amazing." — Kelsey Wordeman, Finance Manager at SF New Deal

Second only to the batch import are BILL's audit trail features, which give Wordeman more visibility and control over the audit process. In Wordeman's own words, "I can always see what's happening, any adjustments that have been made, if the vendor made an adjustment and didn't realize it, if we made the adjustment."

Wordeman goes on, "Just today we gave our auditor access to BILL so they can trace all of our payments back to the vendors and we don't have to do anything on our end. They can just see that it went through, went to the correct vendor, and it's good to go.”

BILL's built-in fraud protections also play a big role, as any fraud at a tightly budgeted nonprofit could be devastating. "I appreciate that BILL always flags things that could be fraud and lets us know about it. With our audits, that helps a lot.”

Expanding their mission and impact

Though their mission was originally defined by the unique struggles of the pandemic, SF New Deal has grown, evolved, and continues to expand their mission to help more small businesses throughout San Francisco. Thanks in no small part to BILL, which has allowed them to streamline workflows, speed up payments, and drastically simplify their internal financial operations to save time and reduce manual labor. Executive Director Bertrang sums it up like this: "The efficiency of BILL just adds value to what SF New Deal provides, which is very high touch, very oriented towards a diverse group of small business owners—really meeting the needs of small business owners on their time." Bertrang concludes, "I think we do it faster and at lower costs than other organizations in the grant-making space for small businesses. Plus a certain warmth that we think our partner success team brings to interactions with small businesses."


SF New Deal is a nonprofit that strengthens San Francisco’s neighborhoods by making it easier for under-resourced small business owners to succeed.



# of Employees



San Francisco, California

Customer since



BILL Accounts Payable

Accounting software


  • Distributing grant funds efficiently, and sometimes urgently, to hundreds of small businesses 
  • Slow, manual end of month close
  • Lean finance team
  • Shrunk average payment time by half, distributing 525 grants to small businesses in 2023 
  • Closing books three days faster versus manual
  • Streamlined audit process and effortless sync with QuickBooks 

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