A non-profit organization will have different requirements for accounting than a standard business. Your accounting software, therefore, needs to be flexible enough to accurately handle contributions from donors, grants, investments and fund raising events. It also needs the ability to produce reports that make submitting IRS Form 990 and other tax reporting easier. You definitely won’t want to spend on expensive specialized accounting software, which is Christie’s primary concern.
“I work for a non-government organization that aims to provide support for teen-age single parents in metropolitan areas. We’re just barely a year old but we’ve been quite successful in getting support from many constituents. We were doing our accounting on a spreadsheet but we found out that we needed to have people dedicated to the task fullt0me and we just can’t afford that right now. So we’re searching for a low-cost software solution that does not eat up all of our time and won’t cost an arm and a leg. What’s the best non-profit accounting software for our particular situation?” – Christie
Perhaps what Christies must first do is to get a side-by-side comparison of the best accounting software available today. Many of these have features specially designed for non-profit organizations. She might also want to check out helpful tips on what to look for in accounting software and how to find one that best suits her needs.
There are several options for Christie’s organization, with varying degrees of ease-of-use and price levels. Let’s give her a few suggestions.
Because it’s used by many established non-profits, QuickBooks needs to be mentioned. It comes in many version but there is a specific package called QuickBooks NonProfit that will allow you to track donations and pledges and do basic bookkeeping duties. But it doesn’t come cheap. The base package costs $400, and if you decide you also want payroll credit card processing, bill pay services, or check printing, for example, they’re available as add-ons and are priced separately.
There is, however, a QuickBooks Online solution that only costs $25 per user per month and offers all the functionalities of the desktop version. However, because this is not designed for non-profits users might need the help of a trained bookkeeper or accountant to set things up. The advantage of QuickBooks over most other accounting software is that it has extensive third-party learning resources available because of its wide user base. The book “Running QuickBooks in Nonprofits” is a good example of this.
If Christie really wants to save money and is confident that someone in her organization has enough spreadsheet savvy, she can go for GNUCash, an absolutely free program that’s great for very small nonprofit organizations that don’t mind importing some numbers into MS Excel to get the proper reports.
A good alternative non-profit accounting softwarewould be those designed specifically for non-profits, such as Accounts from CooperStock Software. It runs on Windows and has a smaller set of features to keep things simple. The software offers basic bookkeeping and easy, automated fund accounting that does not require journal entries to keep an accurate balance. It also features a 60-day free trial and enough support resources in the application itself, in online learning resources, and via email or phone.
Finally, those looking to acquire an accounting system for a non-profit organization might find the short article on the link helpful.
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