Generation Teach: Bringing together a love of teaching and a passion for accounting
Fishing with his father, floating in a small boat down a river in West Africa, young Samuel Arnoff knew he was living a special kind of life. “I was given a unique opportunity to grow up in West Africa,” Arnoff reflects. “The land was so beautiful, but there was also a high level of poverty. It made me want to help people. To do what I could to make a difference.”
Arnoff had a gift with numbers, which led eventually to a career in operations and finance back in the U.S. When his two daughters signed up to play soccer with the Westchester Youth Soccer League (WYSL), it wasn’t long before he started volunteering.
“After working in numbers and spreadsheets all day, I love getting outside and helping kids have a great experience playing team sports. Working with the league gave me a chance to help more kids have that opportunity, especially here.”
Westchester County, New York, is widely diverse in its socio-economic structure. Despite a median property value of $560,800, almost 10% of its population lives below the poverty line.
“A 6-minute drive will take you from 8-million-dollar homes to government housing,” Arnoff told us. “The disparity between communities is hard to grasp. It’s just astronomical.”
Sidelined by paper
When a fellow WYSL board member told him the Manhattan Soccer Club (MSC) was looking for help running a very large tournament, he jumped at it. Soon after, he was asked to take over a portion of the club's finances and saw the opportunity to improve the process. “We have 70 teams and over 1,000 players,” Arnoff said. “Handling all that by hand was awful. Even a simple reimbursement request from a team manager was a nightmare.”
How did that back-office process work? Arnoff walked us through it step-by-step.
“The request would come in with a receipt and a cancelled check. I had to enter the data in QuickBooks, prepare and print a check, cut the paystub, attach the pay stub to a printout of the reimbursement request, mail the check, and file the records in a folder for that month as proof that we processed the reimbursement.”
But the real problem wasn’t handling one request. It was handling hundreds of them.
“Multiply that by 70 teams—” Arnoff trailed off, shaking his head. “I had papers covering my desk. Boxes of receipts and records piled high in my home office. I was constantly looking for this or that piece of paper and I couldn’t get anything else done. I thought, this is ridiculous. What a waste of my time when I could be analyzing our financials and helping the club grow.”
Growth matters to every organization, but for Arnoff and MSC, the real frustration was knowing how many more kids they could be helping.
“A lot of these kids come from poverty,” Arnoff said. “They have so much potential, but their parents don’t know how to help them. So we developed a program that teaches our financial aid players how to get into a good high school, which hopefully leads to a good college. It can make a real difference for the kids who apply themselves.”
From paper wrangler to digital hero
Determined to free up more time, Arnoff started looking for a better way to manage those payables. When he learned about BILL, he launched an intensive evaluation, testing every possible feature.
“Everything BILL said it could do, it did,” Arnoff said with a grin. “I signed up for the free trial, tested everything, and never looked back. Having BILL is like having a personal assistant working 24/7.”
With the accounts payable process now digitized and automated, Arnoff is finally free from the time-consuming, error-prone burden of paper.
“The way the club has grown, we’ve paid out something like $6 million since we started using BILL. I would hate to manage that much money manually. Not to mention signing that many checks!”
The automation BILL brings to payables hasn’t just helped Arnoff personally. It’s made him a hero with managers and coaches too, who don’t have to wait a week or more for reimbursements. Now, those payments hit their bank accounts within a day.
But one of the biggest benefits is how easy BILL makes their annual nonprofit audit—a back-office monster that used to suck their time away for weeks on end.
“One of the beauties of BILL is that I can give the auditor read-only rights to go into our account and look at our records. I don’t have to search through box after box for all those individual pieces of paper. Everything’s right there. It’s taken all the pain out of that process.”
And, thanks to the standardized, digital workflow, Arnoff is finally in a position to help MSC make the kind of difference he’s always known they could make.
“With BILL, I have so much more visibility to see where we are with revenue
and what our projected expenses will be over the next 18–24 months.
It’s helping me ensure the club’s financial viability for the kids who need it most.”
— Samuel Arnoff, General Manager, Manhattan Soccer Club
Arnoff has had such a positive experience with BILL that he also decided to bring Divvy on board for expense management shortly after it was acquired. “I had been considering Divvy for a few years,” he says.
“When I found out that BILL acquired Divvy, I knew it would be a good purchase because
I could be confident that I would be working with a reliable company that I could trust and
count on. Divvy is bringing the same level of financial control and security on the expense side that BILL brought to our payments process.”
— Samuel Arnoff, General Manager, Manhattan Soccer Club
For Arnoff, that’s what it’s all about.
“There aren’t a lot of opportunities in New York City for kids to participate in a program like ours. I want to make sure we’re still here in the future for every young person who wants to play the sport—regardless of their ability to pay.”