Nonprofit Accounting Software: The 4 Best Options

Heather D Satterley

Heather D Satterley

EA, Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Member Intuit Trainer/Writer Network at Satterley Training & Consulting, LLC
Heather Satterley is founder of Satterley Training & Consulting, LLC - a firm dedicated to helping accounting professionals learn and implement QuickBooks and related applications. She works with sole practitioners and teams to streamline internal processes as well as consulting on a variety of client engagements.

With over 20 years experience as a bookkeeper, accountant and enrolled agent, Heather has helped thousands of small business owners and accounting professionals sharpen their skills and increase their confidence with accounting technology. As a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer network, Heather teaches QuickBooks to accounting professionals all over the country via live training events, webinars, and conferences.
Heather D Satterley

Nonprofits looking for accounting software often face a unique dilemma: Nonprofits typically need a robust software that can handle fund accounting and keep track of donor contributions. But the typical nonprofit also has to adhere to strict budgets—even when paying for their nonprofit accounting software.

This can result in organizations choosing accounting software that doesn’t provide the features and reporting capabilities they need. Luckily, several low-cost nonprofit accounting software options meet the needs of a typical nonprofit organization. Plus, many nonprofit accounting softwares can include some really great extras, too.

Because choosing the right nonprofit accounting software for your organization can be a complicated decision, we’ve compiled a guide to your top four options to help you decide. Here are the best nonprofit accounting software options for you to consider.

Shopping for Nonprofit Accounting Software: Some Expert Advice

As you begin your search for the right nonprofit 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 a small business 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 nonprofits 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.”

The Best Accounting Software for Nonprofits: Your Top 4 Options

Before we dive into the top four accounting software options for nonprofits, we want to issue one major caveat: As you shop for your perfect accounting software, be sure to keep in mind that many software companies advertise a low-cost or even free nonprofit accounting software option for basic features, only to attract customers.

After they’ve got you hooked, they’ll likely charge more for add-on features that you need, like donor management, payment processing, and payroll. Knowing what features you need up-front gives a sense of the true cost when evaluating a nonprofit accounting software solution.

We’ve compiled a list of the four nonprofit accounting software options that will give you and your organization the most bang for your buck:

#1 Nonprofit Accounting Software Option: Aplos

Aplos Pricing:

  • Starting Plan: $49/month
  • Growing Plan: $79/ month
  • Established Plan: $199/month
  • Thriving Plan: Quote-based

Aplos Free Trial: 15-day

If you’re looking for a cloud-based accounting software designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, then look to Aplos. It was created by Tim Goetz, an accountant who couldn’t find a simple accounting software for nonprofit 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 accounts payable, and budgeting. To access contribution management through your Aplos accounting software, you’ll need to upgrade from their Starting Plan to their Growing Plan.

The Established subscription level of this accounting software for nonprofits lets you create budgets by fund, track multiple fundraisers, and create recurring transactions. Plus, you have the option to add on integrated Gusto payroll, advanced accounting, and bookkeeping services to your Aplos nonprofit accounting software.

#2 Nonprofit Accounting Software Option: QuickBooks Premier 2019 for Nonprofits

QuickBooks Premier 2019 for Nonprofits Pricing: $379.95 one-time payment

QuickBooks Premier 201 for Nonprofits Free Trial: None, but has a 60-day refund grace period

The nonprofit version of QuickBooks Premier uses nonprofit terminology in features and reports, and includes tools specific to the unique needs of a nonprofit organization. QuickBooks Premier is a full general ledger package that includes accounts receivable, accounts payable, class tracking, and budgets by class or donor.

This accounting software 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 2019 is a program that runs locally on a PC that is running Windows 7 or higher, so if you’re set on looking for a web-based accounting software for nonprofits, then this might not be your go-to solution. Nonetheless, this nonprofit accounting software option allows for up to five users and can run on a network, so we suggest giving it a chance, especially since it’s nonprofit-specific in contrast to other QuickBooks offerings like Pro. 

nonprofit accounting software

#3 Nonprofit Accounting Software Option: QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online Pricing:

  • Simple Start: $10/month
  • Essentials: $17/month
  • Plus: $30/month

QuickBooks Online Free Trial: 30-day

Intuit also has a cloud-based QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online. QBO can be a less expensive and more convenient nonprofit accounting software option for many nonprofits and has many of the same features as the desktop version.

While there isn’t a specific nonprofit version, you can turn on nonprofit specific features such as labeling customers as donors and changing the titles of some reports by selecting nonprofit 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 web-based accounting software for nonprofits, but most nonprofits 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.

An excellent alternative to consider when weighing the benefits of QuickBooks Online is Quicken accounting software.

#4 Nonprofit Accounting Software Option: Zoho Books with Nonprofit Modules

Zoho Books with Nonprofit Modules Pricing:

  • Zoho Books: $9 – $29/month
  • Zoho Creator: $5 – $1,999/month

Zoho Books with Nonprofit Modules Free Trial: 15-day

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. This web-based accounting software 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 Zoho Creator or build your own using the easy to use dashboard. Prebuilt apps designed especially for nonprofit 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.

Free Accounting Software for Nonprofits: Does It Even Exist?

Unfortunately, business owners looking for completely free accounting software for nonprofits will be disappointed—there’s no specific nonprofit accounting software that’s available for free. So, you won’t be able to access fund accounting or nonprofit accounting terminology with any free accounting software you find.

Nonetheless, if you’re starting out with absolutely no budget at all for your nonprofit accounting software, consider Wave accounting software. Wave is one of the very few truly free accounting software options: You’ll be able to connect your accounts, track income and expenses, and invite unlimited guest collaborators, invoice customers, and send receipts for no cost at all.

You’ll also be able to receive donations and payments directly through Wave Payments, but you’ll have to pay-per-use with this feature: Credit card processing will cost 2.9% of the payment amount, plus $0.30. ACH bank payments will cost you less—just 1% of the payment.

Nonprofit Accounting Software: Some Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve made it through our nonprofit accounting software reviews of your top four options, what are your next steps in automating your organization’s finances? As with any major business management decision, especially one as important as your financial accounting software, make sure you do your homework and compare the features of several options before selecting the right one.

These top four nonprofit accounting software options will deliver the most bang for your buck and offer up essential nonprofit accounting features that free accounting software can’t. Although it might seem like a big headache to pay money to keep track of your organization’s money, securing the right nonprofit accounting software is a worthy investment. So we suggest you bypass any company that promises you free accounting software for nonprofits and opt for nonprofit accounting software that is worth your time and budget.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Heather D Satterley

Heather D Satterley

EA, Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Member Intuit Trainer/Writer Network at Satterley Training & Consulting, LLC
Heather Satterley is founder of Satterley Training & Consulting, LLC - a firm dedicated to helping accounting professionals learn and implement QuickBooks and related applications. She works with sole practitioners and teams to streamline internal processes as well as consulting on a variety of client engagements.

With over 20 years experience as a bookkeeper, accountant and enrolled agent, Heather has helped thousands of small business owners and accounting professionals sharpen their skills and increase their confidence with accounting technology. As a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer network, Heather teaches QuickBooks to accounting professionals all over the country via live training events, webinars, and conferences.
Heather D Satterley

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