How Automation Elevates Creative Partnerships at United States Artists

HQ Chicago, IL
Customer Since 2019

Industry Nonprofit

  • Saved 2 days a week on accounts payable processes
  • Eliminated a manual paper trail by digitizing tax compliance and payouts
  • Streamlined all payment workflows into one central hub
Rebooting finance teams-rr-em

By gaining AP automation, I’ve saved two days a week of manual work.

Anna Harris | Director of Finance & Administration

For artists, chasing their creative passion can lead to substantial sacrifices. From healthcare to food and shelter, artists often struggle to get by. United States Artists is a national arts funding organization that facilitates unrestricted grants to artists. Instead of restricting artists to receive funds only for creative projects, they receive grants as individuals free to use that funding as they see fit. Having awarded over 700 artists since its founding, United States Artists, along with several coalition partners, spearheaded a $20 million pandemic relief fund called Artist Relief. Artist Relief, distributed 100 $5000 emergency grants weekly to artists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anna Harris, Director of Finance at United States Artists, faced manual, paper-based accounts payable invoice processing, and a manual process for awarding payments to artists. Wanting artists to get paid efficiently, Harris and her team focused on how to improve their finance function.

Manual payments fueled the fire to implement automation. We needed payments to go as smoothly as possible— they’re the lifeline for these artists.

Starting in April 2020, COVID-19 pushed United States Artists to ramp up their Artist Relief program by paying 100 grantees a week at $5,000 per person. The finance team suddenly went from processing its typical vendor and contractor invoices monthly to adding an additional 400 Artist Relief payouts each month. Receiving folder upon folder of paper, Harris and her team wanted a better way to manage their invoice and payment files.

I really want my team to be “Collecting W-9s accumulated a large paper trail. I wanted software that would eliminate paper use and include fraud-check capabilities. With the upgrade, Tipalti digitally verified and processed W-9s.

Paying artists was urgent during the pandemic since many live paycheck-to-paycheck. Banks were closed on the weekends, so United States Artists had to pay artists by Thursday. The nonprofit implemented Tipalti to streamline all payments processes and simplify complexities managing invoices and artists’ awards. The solution optimized their workflows while the team worked from home.

We paid over 4,500 people through these grants, and we paid it in their payment preference. Whether it was through a check, ACH, a wire transfer, PayPal, etc., artists were impressed by our streamlined process.

Through Tipalti, United States Artists can send payments quickly and eliminate their manual invoice workload. The solution stores all documents, enabling Harris and her team to access them during audit season easily.

By gaining AP automation, I’ve saved two days a week of manual work.

With an automated AP process, United States Artists can seamlessly support the work and lives of artists with its $50,000 grant and other Fellowship programs. One artist was able to quit their day job, pay off their mortgage, and work on their art full-time. Another received dental work— for the first time in their lives. The stories are endless.

People appreciate art, but they don’t appreciate the artists. Now they have financial means for healthcare, children, housing—and they’re not restricted.

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