Customer Stories

Large-Scale Grant Disbursements: How Bill.com Made it Easy for One Company to Do Good

When one of ORBA’s clients needed to quickly disburse grant money to hundreds of recipients, ORBA was ready because it had Bill.com in its arsenal.
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Helping clients manage electronic payments and disbursements is one of the most important tasks today’s accountants tackle, and it’s become even more critical now, as more people are working remotely and companies are adjusting to doing business with remote teams. But what’s even more challenging than implementing seamless payment workflows? Making large-scale disbursements to hundreds of grant recipients without a hitch.

Using Bill.com, ORBA helped one of its clients do just that. ORBA is a full-service accounting, tax, and business consulting firm in Chicago that prides itself not only on delivering superior service, but on helping clients build relationships and implement future-focused decisions. When one of ORBA’s clients needed to quickly disburse grant money to hundreds of recipients, ORBA was ready because it had Bill.com in its arsenal.

The Challenge

For ORBA, Bill.com had proven to be an essential partner when it came to making high-volume distributions under demanding conditions and timelines. When one of ORBA’s clients needed to make its large-scale grant distributions, ORBA quickly decided to act as the intermediary between its client and Bill.com. ORBA’s client recognized the task it had been charged with was beyond its scope, technical experience and capabilities so having ORBA interact directly with both the client and Bill.com eased the process significantly.

Bill.com was able to provide a workflow and the support necessary to navigate the disbursement process under an aggressive timeline. It was critical to keep the process streamlined yet dependable in order to be able to issue funds to hundreds of small businesses, and Bill.com delivered.

And at the end of the day, the project was a meaningful one that ORBA was happy to get behind. “While we weren’t playing Santa Claus, we were quite content to be Santa’s accountant,” says Joyce Carlson of ORBA. “It was a rewarding experience, atypical of our day-to-day.” In addition to playing a pivotal role in disbursing valuable grant money to deserving small businesses, ORBA was happy to leverage its connection with Bill.com to support whatever unique needs a client presents.

Developing a Two-Part Process with Bill.com

The grant disbursement project required ORBA and its client to look beyond day-to-day operations. From a technical perspective, bulk information uploads and invoicing were critical to the project’s success. Once they navigated initial processing options with Bill.com, they were able to develop and evolve a two-step process to handle vendor upload and bulk bill creation to tackle the task. The ultimate result was the ability to perform the necessary processes with ease and repeat them for additional funding as needed.

Vendor Upload

During the vendor upload process, it was important that the client and ORBA had transparency every step of the way. The vendor upload starts with Bill.com’s import/export feature, where ORBA’s client could download a fresh template to begin the process. The first step was to determine the type of import - either with or without vendor bank information - and then start filling out the template.

After providing the necessary information, including basic business information for the grant recipient, location, and payment details, each template was uploaded to the system. The process was repeated to create or update vendor information until ORBA’s client had successfully created a complete list of the vendors to receive the grant disbursements.

Bill.com automated the bank account verification process for each of the vendors on the list. The system sent a one-cent test deposit into each vendor’s account, which typically became visible to the vendors the next morning. The vendors responded to their Bill.com invitations, confirming both their accounts and that they received the test deposits. Bill.com provided a clear display of the vendors still requiring confirmation right on the Overview screen so the client and ORBA had updates every step of the way. Once the vendors were all set up, ORBA turned its attention to creating a workflow for disbursing the grant funds.

Bulk Bill Creation

Large-scale disbursements require the right bill approval workflows. Any bills uploaded without workflows need approvers to be added manually, which can significantly slow down the process. Bill.com’s workflows automate the process and make it more efficient, and because time was of the essence for this project, the automated workflows were crucial for ORBA’s client to be able to accomplish its goals.

Just as there was for vendor import, Bill.com provided convenient templates for handling bulk bill creation. By entering the vendor information, invoice numbers, date formatting, and job dimensions into the templates, ORBA’s client was able to efficiently create a large group of bills with the exact grant amounts to accomplish its disbursement needs.

The final step was doing a bulk upload of the templates, which created the bills and populated them into an Unpaid Bills section of Bill.com. From here, ORBA and its client could monitor the payment process as the bills went through the approval workflows.

Taking the Pain Out of Large-Scale Payments

While large-scale payments and bulk distributions can seem daunting, they don’t have to be. As ORBA’s story shows, having the right technology partner to provide the necessary tools and workflows can make large-scale distributions a value-add for your clients.

At the end of the disbursement project, the grant program was a win-win for everyone involved. ORBA and its client were able to tackle a significant and important project with ease, and the grant recipients were able to receive much-needed funds with little to no effort. With Bill.com in your grant arsenal, doing good and making a difference have never been easier.

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