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Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Uses Planful to Optimize Resources and Serve Thousands in Need

If the mark of a successful nonprofit is that too many members want the services you offer, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF) is certainly succeeding. Founded in 1877 and open to all, the center welcomes more than 5,000 guests each day for a variety of educational, social, cultural, and fitness programs. That success introduced the need for accurate, detailed budgeting and forecasting to balance program costs against limited resources. Excel wasn’t up to the task.

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“My first two years [at JCCSF], we closed our fiscal year with a surplus. By 2015 we were already seeing a deficit,” said JCCSF Chief Financial Officer Adrian Breitfeld. “I needed to pinpoint exactly where the problems were, I needed to understand our overall overhead analysis. I needed to understand my next five years and do a longterm projection.”

The trouble was, Tina Pascual-Dequina, Breitfeld’s director of FP&A and the person who would do that analysis, spent most of her time on data entry and chasing down financial and enrollment data from program managers. That was crucial work: JCCSF’s budget is funded by a combination of program revenue, grants, and donor contributions. Accurate data in both low-fee and free programs was needed to understand what was causing deficits.

JCCSF had too much data to track manually. In a given year, JCCSF serves 8,000 fitness members, 20,000 aquatics students, 13,000 arts and ideas patrons, 4,000 summer campers, 340 preschoolers across three sites, and 130 after-school students. Pascual-Dequina tried to stay on top of it through spreadsheets that rolled up into a consolidated whole.


Pascual-Dequina began to see results immediately with Planful. Instead of collecting data from every program manager and entering it manually into spreadsheets, she empowered all 50 staff members to enter their own information into Planful. Errors that had been commonplace were suddenly nowhere to be seen, leaving Breitfeld and his team more time for analysis.


“We finally started to see where the breakpoints in the business were, what was causing the deficits. Today we’re spending smarter and doing more with the resources we have,” Breitfeld said, noting that budgets that used to take five months to complete now take just two months.

“We spend a lot of time talking and analyzing and meeting with the program managers and directors to understand the assumptions behind their budgeting. But we don’t spend that much time moving numbers around,” Breitfeld said. Other benefits include:

• Everything in the cloud. Because Planful operates 100% in the cloud, it’s easy for all 50 of JCCSF’s users to enter data wherever they may be. Reporting is as simple or complex as needed.

As Breitfeld put it: “We’re in the early stages of running a five-year projection, something we never could have done with Excel.” And in the cloud, JCCSF doesn’t need extensive IT support or extended downtime for software upgrades.

• Data-driven decisions. When one of its preschool sites showed declining margins, JCCSF decided to cut expenses instead of raise tuition at a higher than historic rate. That the organization was even able to see the trend and take action is a byproduct of the at-a-glance intelligence Planful provides.

Over time, Breitfeld and Pascual-Dequina say they plan to use Planful to provide more detailed reports on complex areas of the business. Reporting on grants and donations received, for example, or in-depth reports on specific programs to track enrollment trends or demographic factors.

“We’re putting Planful to work to help each individual business unit grow,” Breitfeld said.

With Planful, we can plan for the future rather than just report on the past. Everything is easier. Even budgeting—a project that used to take five months—now gets done in just two months.

Adrian Breitfeld, Chief Financial Officer

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