About the Company

Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) educates, organizes and mobilizes disparate faith communities in support of low wage workers. Based in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA, CLUE’s small team of full-time members work to unify multiple religious congregations in the fight against economic injustice.

The Opportunity: Solve for Strain & Increase Team Capabilities

As a nonprofit with a core staff of 11, there was serious strain on the team to manage the books and produce timely reports for their funders. Reverend Jennifer Gutierrez, the executive director of CLUE, had previously transitioned from her role as a volunteer and part-time board member. She had seen the organization’s challenges from both sides.

“We could read our bank balances, but we didn’t necessarily know what [everything was being spent on]. I think mostly what happened was that CLUE had outgrown the bookkeeping methods they were using before, and so that’s when my predecessor had brought on Jennifer and Paro,” said Gutierrez.

Paro fractional CPA, Jennifer H., would become a reliable resource for CLUE over time, evolving her bookkeeping solutions over the course of two years. CLUE had an opportunity to

The Solution: Bookkeeping Solutions With Adaptability

Prior to Gutierrez’s entrance, Jennifer worked with CLUE to clean up its financial records. Every week, Jennifer met with the CLUE team to go over next steps and outstanding issues. 

“She was able to really go in with a much more detailed eye and unravel things that stopped making sense to a lot of people,” said Gutierrez.

Having an expert resource available allowed the CLUE team to address problems much more quickly than expected. 

As Your Organization’s Needs Evolve, So Can the Expertise

Jennifer made an impact early on in her work with CLUE, but it was her ability to adapt her involvement with the organization—especially in assisting Gutierrez during transition—that solidified the long-term value of their partnership. 

“[Jennifer] was very receptive when I came in. I was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna redirect this stuff a little bit.’ We were going to prioritize certain things, and she was able to shift gears really quickly. Once the clean up was handled, she was able to shift again,” says Gutierrez.

Eventually, Jennifer moved from initial record clean up to everyday financial management and month-end close. She also began training admin personnel on certain bookkeeping and accounting tasks, such as invoicing and budgeting for grants. This gave the team a better understanding of their own accounting workflows so that employees could fill their plate and maximize Jennifer’s ability to provide additional expertise. 

How to Create Financial Transparency for Your Organization 

Having someone who could train the team and standardize procedures has helped CLUE better track how much time and resources are spent on a particular grant or programs and how much funding is required in the future. 

“Jennifer was great at explaining anything that we asked and taking us through it in a detailed way—or not so detailed way—depending on what we needed. Because she has such a good understanding of all our inner workings, she’s able to track employee hours and how much time they’ve spent on the work for a particular grant,” said Gutierrez.

With Jennifer’s help, the CLUE team began using a template to submit invoices, a system that resulted in more transparency and consistency month-over-month. The team instituted a monthly reimbursement process with clear visibility into expenses and income.

The Impact: Capacity for New Opportunities

Together, Jennifer and the CLUE team completed their 2022 year-end close in record time. For the first instance in recent memory, the board of directors had monthly financials to review and help them provide leadership and direction. This increased visibility also helped CLUE better see where donations are being spent.

“If you don’t know where the money is going, then you can’t easily report on it. Then, it’s hard to raise money, right? It’s hard to tell people, ‘This is where your money is going. This is why you need to give us more.’ It’s been really important,” said Gutierrez.

To apply for grants as an organization with over a $500,000 budget, CLUE needed to ensure that it could submit to an audit at any point. Being able to easily find and review past records frees up time for other work, like establishing a leadership development program. It also reduces costs for the team. 

“You know, we’re a nonprofit. We’re always trying to save money, so Jennifer has been really helpful in showing us how,” said Gutierrez.

Take the Next Step In Your Accounting

Want to learn more about Paro’s bookkeeping solutions for nonprofits or how you can upgrade your bookkeeping and accounting function for a for-profit business? We can help you with right-sizing industry expertise to continue reaching your growth goals.