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Charitable organizations face a dilemma when it comes to choosing a non-profit accounting software. They usually need something fairly robust that can handle fund accounting and keep track of financial information and donor contributions.
But these organizations are also typically limited to the amount of money they can afford to spend on the software. This can result in organizations choosing an accounting system that doesn’t provide the features and reporting capabilities they need.
Luckily, several low-cost non-profit accounting software options not only meet the needs of a typical non-profit organization but include some really great extras, too.
Before you start surfing the internet looking for the right non-profit accounting software solution, make sure you know your organization’s reporting needs. This will help you decide what features are important. It may also make sense to work with an accountant or consultant when evaluating and deciding on a solution.
Carla Caldwell, an accountant and consultant who specializes in nonprofits, offers this advice: “Pay attention to which features are included when evaluating a solution. Donor management is a significant need for non-profits that can be a ‘make it or break it’ for them when choosing software. And make sure to look closely at processing fees and the reporting capabilities before you decide.”
Keep in mind that many software companies advertise a low-cost non-profit accounting software option for basic features to attract customers but charge more for add-on features like donor management, payment processing, and payroll. Knowing what you need up-front gives a sense of the true cost when evaluating a solution. I’ve compiled a list of some low-cost options to consider.
Aplos is a cloud-based accounting software designed specifically for nonprofit organizations and churches. This specificity, of course, makes Aplos a great non-profit accounting software option. It was created by Tim Goetz, an accountant who couldn’t find a simple fund accounting software for the clients he worked with.
Not only does Aplos handle the unique needs of fund accounting, but it has cutting-edge features like automatic sync from your bank or credit card account, the ability to manage accounts receivable and payable, and budgeting. The Advanced subscription level lets you create budgets by fund, track multiple fundraisers, and create recurring transactions.
The Advanced Plan also includes tax preparation of 1099s and the 990 and advanced reporting capabilities.
Pricing: The Starter Plan is just $25/month for unlimited organization users and an extra $15/month if you need more than one accountant user. To add contribution management, you need the Standard Plan which is just $15 more a month. The Advanced Plan is $120/month.
Free trial: 15 days
QuickBooks has been around for more than 30 years and has become the #1 small business accounting software on the market. If you’re looking for the very best, this is a top option for your non-profit accounting software needs.
The non-profit version of QuickBooks Premier uses non-profit terminology in features and reports, and includes tools specific to the unique needs of a non-profit organization. QuickBooks Premier is a full general ledger package that includes accounts receivable, accounts payable, class tracking, and budgets by class or donor.
It also includes letter templates that you can use for fundraising and contribution acknowledgements. You can add payroll and merchant services to your account for an additional fee. QuickBooks Premier 2018 is a program that runs locally on a PC that is running Windows 7 or higher. It allows for up to five users and can run on a network.
Pricing: MSRP $499.99 but you can typically get a discount. Techsoup offers a limited number of licenses to qualified nonprofits for $50/year along with resources such as training manuals for an additional cost.
Free trial: None
Intuit also has a cloud-based QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online. QBO can be a less expensive and more convenient non-profit accounting software option for many non-profits and has many of the same features as the desktop version.
While there isn’t a specific non-profit version, you can turn on non-profit specific features such as labeling Customers as Donors and changing the titles of some reports by selecting non-profit as the industry in the settings.
QuickBooks Online includes automation features such as Bank Feeds, which connects your bank and credit card accounts to QBO, and recurring transactions which can significantly reduce the amount of manual data entry required. QuickBooks Online has a desktop app for PC and Windows and has mobile versions for both IOS and Android devices.
There are three subscription levels of QuickBooks Online, but most non-profits will want to use QuickBooks Online Plus so they can gain access to features such as class and location tracking and budgeting. You can add payroll and merchant services to QBO for an additional fee, but getting paid via ACH by your donors is free.
Pricing: QuickBooks Online Essentials $35/month for three users, QuickBooks Online Plus $50/month for five users. Typically you can get a discount for the first year. You can add payroll and accept credit card payments through QuickBooks Payments for an additional fee. Techsoup offers limited licenses of QuickBooks Online Plus for $50/year.
Free trial: 30 days
Zoho is a popular cloud-based suite of apps that work together to build a system customized for your business.
First to consider is Zoho Books, Zoho’s general ledger accounting package that offers the features you would expect from an accounting program, such as the ability to create and pay bills, invoicing, bank reconciliation and financial reports.
The other one is Zoho Creator, a customizable database. You can add prebuilt apps to Creator or build your own using the easy to use dashboard. Prebuilt apps designed especially for non-profit organizations include a volunteer portal, donor management and event management modules. You can use each module separately or you can integrate the data between the different Zoho modules. The idea behind Zoho is to build a custom suite of apps tailored to your organization.
These are two great optoins for your non-profit accounting software needs.
Pricing: Zoho Books: $9-$29/month depending on the features and number of users you need.
Zoho Creator: $5-$1,999/month depending on number of apps, users, and records needed
You’ve got many solutions to choose from when shopping for non-profit accounting software, but these are the top low-cost solutions that I’ve found on the market.
As with any major business management decision, especially one as important as your financial software, make sure you do your homework and compare the features of several options before selecting the right one.