Features to Look for Before Purchasing Non Profit Accounting Software
If you google searched Non Profit Accounting Software, chances are you've outgrown your present accounting system. If not, perhaps you can get away with a more simplistic system like an excel spread sheet. As a church bookkeeper, that's all I used when our church first got started.
NPO Accounting Software Features
There will likely come a time (however) when your Non Profit accounting needs will demand a more sophisticated system. When that day approaches, be sure to look for non profit accounting software that offers strong features such as:
The ability to track contributions and see at a glance who your biggest donors are.
It should also generate end-of-year donation statements and be capable of running individual donor contribution summary reports and totals.
Look for a system that easily identifies your income and expenses for use in presentations to your non profit board of directors, major donors, and of course... the government!
The non profit accounting software you choose should allow you to custom create your chart of accounts.
It should be able to track budgets and finances for individual programs within your non profit organization as well as follow contributions versus budgeted amount for each program.
Look for a system that forecasts income and expenses.
The capability of creating a business plan is handy as well.
If you have several people in your non profit organization who will be working on the accounting software, you will need a system that has multiple user functionality.
As you can see, there are a many things you will need to think about before purchasing non profit accounting software. Carefully consider the accounting needs of your particular NPO and read the tips below for additional help.
Additional Accounting Software Tips
Look for a system that can download your bank and credit transactions. It will save you a lot of time.
Some accounting software programs allow you to import data from Excel, Quicken, or Microsoft applications so look for those features too.
Look for software that manages payroll, payroll taxes, direct deposits, and credit cards if applicable.
The system you choose should easily track expenses, pay bills, and print cheques (hopefully in batches).
Look for accounting software that allows you to customize the look and feel of your invoices and forms with your NPO logo and colors.
Many systems have the ability to... track time, mileage, and expenses of employees. If your NPO requires such reporting, look for those features.
If your NPO stocks inventory, such as food bank items, you might want a system that indicates when certain supplies are low and when you will need to replenish.
Our Non-Profit Accounting Software Recommendation
Our church eventually chose Quick Books for Non Profits. I had previous experience with Quick Books as the bookkeeper for an automotive company; so, I knew QB had a user friendly "intuitive" environment and that Quick Books offered a Premier Edition for Nonprofits.
Whatever accounting system you choose, it is imperative that your Non Profit Organization is financially transparent and accountable to those it serves.
Suffice it to say that you will need someone knowledgeable in "at least" basic accounting practices. Purchasing an accounting software program streamlines the job but will not solve a financial crisis in your organization. If your NPO does not have a skilled person (or at least someone capable and willing to learn), hiring a professional outside of your organization to handle the bookkeeping would be your best choice.