Jitasa Nonprofit Blog

Picking a Non-Profit Accounting Software Package

There are a lot of accounting software options out there for non-profits. When picking an accounting solution, there is always a trade-off between cost and quality.

Cost can be thought of relatively straight-forward: what does it cost to buy this thing, configure this thing, and run this thing. Most smaller packages such as Quickbooks require very little configuration. It is what it is. Larger software packages such as NetSuite, MIP Fund by Sage, Financial Edge by Blackbaud can require extensive time and energy (and $$) for consultants to turn on and off the hundreds of features to fit your exact needs. It costs more, but it'll fit perfectly. We often say that QuickBooks does 95% of what needs to be done for 90% of small and mid-sized non-profits (<$2M annual budget).

Quality can be broken out into the application itself, and ecosystem that exists to support it. Certain larger software has better audit trails, management is able to place tighter controls on who sees what data, etc. But on another quality dimension, such as Ease of Use, QuickBooks has very high quality. But that same ease of use can give you too much flexibility at times - enough freedom to hurt yourself. The big difference in quality is the ecosystem that QuickBooks has to support it. Thousands of bookkeepers across the country - of varying quality! - know and use Quickbooks.And if you want to convert to / from Quickbooks, almost every accounting software that exists makes it very easy to do so. Quickbooks dominates in terms of market share and this creates a vast ecosystem of trainers, users, and technology support that helps everyone.

In summary, picking an accounting solution can be complex for larger organizations. We have helped many groups walk through that process.And Easy Office currently helps a variety of groups using a variety of accounting software packages. But for most small non-profits (<$2M annual budget), we generally recommend Quickbooks because of the cost and flexibility. That said, we know that there are a lot of horror stories out there about Quickbooks falling apart, but we've found in almost every case it could have been avoided by improving the set-up of QuickBooks and proper training on the procedures to use within QuickBooks.

Lastly, for another opinion on the topic,here is a nice article written a few years back by the good people at Tech Soup.
http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/software/page5144.cfm?cg=fundraising&sg=wk3

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