Nat Marshik & Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions: Empowering Nonprofits with LiveFlow

April 5, 2024

Nat Marshik & Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions: Empowering Nonprofits with LiveFlow

Nat Marshik, CPB, CNAP, is the founder and CEO of Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions, a financial advisory and bookkeeping firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Nat’s firm employs 5 bookkeepers and operations staff who serve 20 clients, mainly in the Canadian not-for-profit arts and environmental space.

Nat’s Path to Nonprofit Finance

Nat Marshik's journey into nonprofit financial management began far from the spreadsheets and ledgers that define her work today. 

With a background rooted in a passion for the arts and nonprofit work, Nat found herself navigating the complexities of these organizations by necessity.

While working at a Vancouver charity that also operated a tap dancing studio, Nat was taken under the wing of the organization’s volunteer treasurer, who taught her the basics of bookkeeping.

"I started just as a problem solver trying to figure out what needed to be done," Nat said.

However, this practical experience triggered her innate curiosity, and when she found she had a knack for financial management, she undertook a certificate program to become a bookkeeper. This journey would lead her to freelance for various nonprofit organizations for several years before starting Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions.

Answering the Call

The genesis of Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions was as much a response to a market need as it was a personal calling for Marshik.

"I was basically asked to create this company by the sector," she notes, highlighting the lack of specialized bookkeeping services for small nonprofits.

This gap in the market was not just about financial management, but a fundamental understanding of nonprofits' unique culture and needs, and Marshik's blend of nonprofit experience and financial acumen positioned her perfectly to meet this demand.

Building a Team: Expanding Services to Meet Demand

Transitioning from a solo freelancer to a dynamic team leader, Marshik and her crew have scaled Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions to serve a growing clientele without sacrificing the quality or personal touch that defines their service. 

"We now have six team members in total, including myself," she states, emphasizing the rapid growth and demand for their services. 

In fact, Marshik has more work than she can handle as word spreads and nonprofits in the area beat a path to her door, as evidenced by Chickadee recently pausing intake of new clients.

The team focuses on cleaning up cluttered financial records and transforming disorganized books into streamlined, transparent financial statements that empower nonprofits to focus on their missions.

LiveFlow Empowers Nonprofit Budgeting

Before incorporating LiveFlow, Nat and her team faced a sizable hurdle. Nonprofit organizations live and die by their budgets, which constantly shift due to fundraising efforts. So, how could Chickadee help their clients keep track of their budgets to empower their work in the community?

“Not-for-profits and charities use budgets as their primary accountability tool for how they plan their year,  and how they are accountable to their funders or board of directors.”

Nat had a reasonable objection to the tedious manual data entry required to maintain these budget spreadsheets and figured there had to be a better way.

“Many times, our clients manually input data from our reports every month. Of course, that generates errors and issues; to me, it is a waste of people's time. So I was really annoyed and I heard about LiveFlow through one of the Bookkeeping podcasts I listen to. I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is it.’”

Using Powerful Custom LiveFlow Workflows

Now, LiveFlow plays a central role in enabling Chickadee to provide exceptional service to its clients. From advisory services to the hands-on work of cleaning up financial data in their clients’ books, LiveFlow is at the heart of their operations. 

However, their use of our platform has changed over time.

"We use LiveFlow partially for advisory services, but mainly to assist us in cleaning up cluttered QuickBooks Online data," Marshik explains. 

After learning what was possible with LiveFlow, Nat created a series of dashboards and spreadsheets that allow her firm to support and train their clients.

LiveFlow for Client Management

One of the most surprising things to new LiveFlow customers can be how its value can extend far beyond quick, easy, and impactful monthly reporting. Power users like Nat Marshik and her team exhibit this to the nth degree.

“Right now, the biggest value we get from Liveflow is actually around client contract management internally, as well as support with cleanups,” Nat said.

“So, contract management is how we price services for our clients. They are all not-for-profits, so they're unique in that they generally have an annual budget that comes to them from their funders.”

To ensure that her team is pricing their services appropriately per their clients' growth stages, Nat created a LiveFlow dashboard that snapshots all clients' organizational size and total revenue over the last three fiscal years.

That way, when Nat’s operations manager is assessing contract changes, she can get into a dashboard quickly and pull the necessary data without needing to bug a bookkeeper.

“It has removed a ton of bottlenecks in our teamwork. Before we built that, she had to go to each bookkeeper on each file and say, ‘Oh, can you go and check for me? What are the numbers on this and that?’ We're a really small team, and we have limited hours. We need everything to be as fast as possible.”

LiveFlow for Data Cleanup and Client Training

Nat and her team also leverage LiveFlow to clean up client books, which can often be cluttered and inconsistent after years of volunteer bookkeeping before coming to Chickadee.

“When we get a new client file, one of the first things we do is validate the ending annual balances against the last two years of signed financial statements to ensure that the previous bookkeeper actually adjusted the books to match.

Often, there are issues. They don’t match, or there are missing journal entries. 

So, we have a custom spreadsheet template that is our cleanup spreadsheet, where we can cross-reference what's going on in the books. We've just got a live updated document with the corrections feeding in live until we hit the point that reconciles. It's really great for cleanups.”

Additionally, Nat and her team are using LiveFlow to train their often-technophobic clients on properly logging data for her team to organize in their bookkeeping work. 

When her team has questions about transactions or logged items in the books, they pull that data into a LiveFlow spreadsheet with custom data validation and have the clients classify their transactions by selecting simple dropdown options fed by automated Liveflow list reports for things like customer names, vendor names, and account categories. This teaches clients to be comfortable with Google Sheets and code their financial data consistently.

The Impact of LiveFlow: Making the Impossible Possible

For Nat Marshik and her team, LiveFlow is not just a tool but a fundamental component of their ability to serve the nonprofit sector. 

"Our work would be impossible without LiveFlow," Marshik asserts, citing the platform's incredible time savings. This efficiency is critical in allowing Chickadee to offer high-quality financial management services at a price point accessible to small nonprofits.

With LiveFlow, Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions can focus on their mission: empowering nonprofits to achieve theirs.

A True Testament

Nat Marshik's journey from the arts to the forefront of nonprofit financial management is a testament to the power of innovation, specialization, and the right tools. 

Chickadee Nonprofit Solutions, powered by LiveFlow, is changing the landscape of nonprofit bookkeeping, enabling organizations to navigate their financial challenges confidently and clearly. 

In the hands of Marshik and her team, LiveFlow is more than software—it's a catalyst for change in the nonprofit sector.

The smartest financial pros on the planet love LiveFlow. Let's talk about how we can help you!
Book a Demo
They Love LiveFlow!
You will too.
Find out what LiveFlow can do for you.
Book a demo

Continue reading

Set your financial reporting on autopilot. Goodbye manual work.

Eliminate manual data entry and create customized dashboards with live data.