LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (September 22, 2011) – FACTS Management Company, a division of Nelnet, Inc. (NYSE: NNI), based in Lincoln, NE and a leading provider of financial services and tuition management for 5,500 schools and more than one million families across the United States, has announced a strategic joint venture with CathoNet, based in Hudson, NH, a pioneer of cloud-based accounting systems for the Catholic Church. Together the two companies will integrate their specialized software and dedicated computer data centers to offer Catholic parishes, schools, and dioceses improved tracking, recording, and coordination of information, leading to greater efficiency, financial stewardship, and accountability.
"By investing in CathoNet we are making a commitment to accelerate change in every Catholic diocese in the United States," said Tim Tewes, President of FACTS Management. "I've personally been in hundreds of schools and offices and witnessed the administrative challenges we can solve. It begins with the task of managing a parish's or school's financial records, and carries all the way through collecting tuition and keeping track of donations. Once a school or parish uses CathoNet and FACTS jointly, reporting and management become integrated to provide much improved management capabilities. This is the way forward."
The FACTS/CathoNet alliance will be formally launched at the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference in Minneapolis, MN, September 25-28, 2011.
"Our CathoNet/FACTS alliance is part of the 'new normal' that is sweeping the Catholic Church in our country," said Deacon William Koniers, President of CathoNet, a Right Networks Group company based in Hudson, NH. "Clergy and laity must be encouraged and taught to exercise good and sound leadership over the temporal goods of parishes and schools so that they can not only survive, but thrive, despite the challenges of the modern world. At their disposal are the 21st-century technology tools provided by CathoNet and FACTS. We share an overriding commitment to excellence and customer service."
FACTS is widely known for its three primary services of payment processing/tuition management (approximately $3 billion in tuition funds each year), financial needs assessment, and online donor management. The services run on specially-designed software across a national redundant server network. CathoNet's cloud-based Quick Books/Peachtree accounting solution is currently serving 15 Catholic Archdioceses and Dioceses across the United States with more than 12 million people. The system offers standardization of accounting policies, procedures, and guidelines while offering real-time information and a wide range of customized reporting options.
"Full integration is the essential component of the FACTS/CathoNet offering," explained Douglas Solomon, a member of the FACTS leadership team and the organization's liaison with CathoNet. "As a school, for example, uses FACTS to collect tuition and other payments, the data can easily be integrated into their bookkeeping activities managed by CathoNet in the cloud."
Starting this fall, more than 2,000 Catholic schools in 100 dioceses across the country that are currently using FACTS to manage tuition, accounting, and fundraising will be introduced to the advantages of CathoNet. Concurrently, CathoNet will share with its diocesan clients the merits of FACTS to bring more Catholic schools into the fold.
"Our integrated technology is the total package," Deacon Koniers said. "FACTS and CathoNet offer a process re-engineering solution that leverages our respective product core competencies into a strategic and technologically integrated products and services platform. It's an enterprise solution that will provide accountability, transparency, internal controls, and dashboard reporting to diocesan decision makers at a reasonable cost."
Archdioceses and Dioceses across the country can attest to the effectiveness of both FACTS and CathoNet, and the efficiencies that integration of the two systems will bring.
The Archdiocese of Newark, with 1.3 million Catholics, is the ninth largest diocese in the United States. Nancy F. Lystash, Executive Director of Parish Business Services and Internal Audit, oversees 220 parishes, 112 Catholic schools (with 34,000 students), and 13 parish cemeteries. The Archdiocese implemented the CathoNet accounting solution last year.
"CathoNet has transformed our way of doing the business of the Church, for the better," Lystash said. "We're united in a way we never were before. Now we're all on the same accounting platform, using the same tools to manage the temporal goods of the Church, with outstanding customer support. You can't underestimate the value of good current information which you can access from anywhere, thanks to the cloud."
Several of the archdiocesan schools are using FACTS to manage tuition payments. Lystash is encouraged by the prospects for a FACTS/CathoNet alliance.
"The timing could not be better, as Catholic education is a top priority," Lystash says. "Tuition is the main source of revenue for our schools, and proper management is essential."
The Diocese of Austin, Texas, with 500,000 Catholics, 123 parishes and missions, and 23 Catholic schools (with 5,200 students), is CathoNet's newest client.
"We were looking for the best way to put our parishes and schools on a common accounting platform, using QuickBooks, and CathoNet provided the answer," says Mary Beth Koenig, Chief Financial Officer. "Having immediate access to information via the cloud will be a tremendous advantage and will lead to greater efficiencies and transparency in the future."
Several of Austin's schools use FACTS, and Koenig believes the CathoNet/FACTS alliance holds great promise. "Integrating the tuition management system with the accounting platform will be very helpful," she said.
"We're excited by the prospects for our joint venture," Douglas Solomon concluded. "We've been invited to implement or present our FACTS/CathoNet solution in dioceses across the country. When school superintendents and diocesan financial managers see the combined capabilities we offer, they will recognize that the management information and efficient payment processing will help them fulfill their mission in their community without many of the challenges they face today. We believe it's an answer to prayers."
About FACTS Management Company - A division of Nelnet, FACTS Management Company (www.factsmgt.com) is committed to making educational dreams possible for families and students, as well as enhancing the financial stability and affordability of educational institutions. FACTS/Nelnet Business Solutions serves approximately 5,500 schools and more than one million families, and manages approximately $3 billion in tuition funds each year. FACTS offers a comprehensive suite of services for schools including tuition and other payment administration and processing, financial needs assessment, powerful fundraising solutions, and college and career planning resources available through Peterson's.
About CathoNet - A Right Networks Group company, CathoNet (www.cathonet.com) partners with clergy and staff to provide easy-to-use, affordable information management tools and process expertise that strengthen parish administration, support the sacramental and pastoral mission, and connect the entire faith community in greater service to the Church. It provides on-demand Internet-based "cloud computing" services – shared software, information, and resources – to Catholic dioceses both large and small. Through an outsourced subscription model, CathoNet offers advantages of easy set-up, rapid deployment, no up-front capital outlays, low pricing, automatic software upgrades, and dramatically-improved security, reporting, auditability, and usability. CathoNet's ManageMyParish and ManageMyDiocese solutions and Process Improvement Blueprint meet the needs of parishes, schools, and dioceses, improving internal procedures and effectiveness.