Nonprofit organizations face significant challenges when it comes to technology. Justifying any kind of overhead spending that does not directly support the daily work of a nonprofit’s mission prevents many nonprofits from upgrading and updating their technology. Lower administrative costs garner accolades in watchdog publications such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator which report on how donor funds are spent, and all nonprofits want to show that their organization is promoting their mission-first philosophy.
On top of budgetary concerns, there are limitations in staff experience. Some staff join a nonprofit because they are passionate about the cause but have limited training in technology skills. At the same time, other employees and members of the Board of Directors are passionate about the mission of the nonprofit and have a depth of expertise in the area of technology and software that goes above and beyond that of the rest of the organization.
Higher turnover, lower salaries, and limited resources add to the complex landscape many nonprofits face when advocating for the adoption of new accounting or project management technology.
Here at Signature Analytics, we work with nonprofits of all sizes nationwide and have helped choose and implement accounting technology that fits our clients’ unique needs. In this article, we will share our own experiences with software that works for nonprofits and why we think each is a good choice to support accounting operations, and your organization as a whole.
The Best Accounting Software for Nonprofits:
There are a lot of accounting software suites out there. Complex systems and simple apps, custom architectures, and out-of-the-box solutions. So how should a nonprofit choose which one is right?
If your organization is already using an accounting software system but is unhappy with it or, if your organization has been cobbling together a combination of systems and is looking for a single source of truth, here are some software solutions to take into consideration.
QBO for Nonprofits
Quickbooks Online (QBO) is a simple, versatile solution that we have found fits many of our small to mid-sized non-profit clients’ needs. At a flexible price point with all the features you would likely need, a quick learning curve and the ability to be used by experts and novices alike, we think QBO is one of the very best solutions available for NFPs.
Challenges like months of training, the need for deep technical expertise, high onboarding costs, and unforeseen upcharges for customization all are avoided by using QBO. Additionally, when you hire staff or need to integrate your accounting software with other technology suites, QBO is easy to use and versatile. It “plays well with others”.
We find that ease of use is paramount for a new software and Quickbooks meets those criteria handily while still offering a wide array of features for the technically savvy user.
Netsuite for NonProfits
Netsuite provides robust and highly customizable solutions for larger and more complex nonprofit organizations. With a custom solution like Netsuite one of the considerations must be the amount of training that has to be done first to get the organization into the system and then with every subsequent new hire. With a longer onboarding ramp Netsuite planning requires a strategic and focused approach.
Many times, we have heard from accounting teams, C-Suites, and staff that the Board of Directors wants them in Netsuite. As outsourced accounting partners with many organizations of different sizes from $10M – $1.3B, we recommend abstaining from software selections until after our 30-day assessment. During the assessment, we are learning about your organization’s needs, skills, capabilities, and requirements. To recommend one system over another without that information would be overly hasty.
Other Non-Profit Accounting Software Options
The great thing about this era in technology is that there are myriad solutions available. The challenging thing is that there are SO MANY solutions available. When we perform an assessment, we really get to know the skill sets of our clients, what their unique needs are, and how software can integrate in a helpful, painless, and affordable way to make their organization run more smoothly. When an organization is already embedded in its systems, our teams are highly skilled and able to support accounting functions within the existing environments. Some of the additional software systems that we are experienced in which are available for nonprofit accounting and finance departments include, Xero, Sage and Freshbooks.
Xero provides an intuitive, easy-to-use platform that allows nonprofits to track donations, manage expenditures, and provide transparency with rich reporting tools.
FreshBooks offers time-tracking capabilities, streamlined invoicing, and expense management, making it a great option for service-based nonprofits.
Sage caters to nonprofits with features like grant management, budgeting, and advanced reporting options that can handle the complex financial needs of larger organizations.
Whichever solution your organization chooses, the right software can significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of a nonprofit’s accounting processes, leading to more effective management of funds and better delivery of your mission.
What to consider when looking for Grants Management Software
First, evaluate the software’s ability to streamline the grant application process, making it easier for your team to apply for a variety of grants. Secondly, consider the software’s reporting capabilities – can it generate the necessary reports to demonstrate compliance and impact to funders? Lastly, take into account the software’s scalability to ensure it can handle your organization’s growth.
For example, Fluxx Grantmaker is a leading choice due to its robust grant tracking and application management features. It can automate processes, provide real-time analytics, and offer an intuitive platform for both grantmakers and applicants, making the process seamless.
Blackbaud Grantmaking, on the other hand, stands out for its comprehensive reporting capabilities. It allows organizations to create custom reports, dashboards, and visualizations that can illustrate a project’s progress and its impact effectively.
Lastly, SurveyMonkey Apply is notable for its scalability and flexibility. It provides a platform that can manage multiple grants, scholarships, or other application-based programs simultaneously, making it an excellent choice for growing organizations. Additionally, it offers an easy-to-use interface and intuitive design that simplifies the grant management process.
Each of these software options provides unique advantages, so it’s important to consider your organization’s specific needs when choosing the best fit.
Effective Multi-Departmental Budgeting Software for Nonprofits
Navigating the complexities of multi-departmental budgeting for nonprofits can be a daunting task. Fathom stands out as a robust solution, offering flexibility and seamless integration capabilities with leading accounting software like QBO and NetSuite, among others. This integration empowers nonprofits to track their budgets and financial performance across multiple departments with ease and precision.
At Signature Analytics, we thrive in the face of such challenges presented by software integration. We’ve honed our expertise in leveraging Fathom’s capabilities to create customized solutions for our clients. For instance, we’ve successfully improvised QBO for efficient department and grant tracking, harnessing Class/Customer features to our advantage.
Moreover, Fathom allows us to generate multiple comprehensive reports, enabling us to garner the insightful overview we need to make informed financial decisions. Whether it’s a report we’ve currently put together, one we’re using for continuing professional education (CPE), or a custom one tailored to your organization’s needs, Fathom’s versatile reporting tools equip us to deliver the insights you need for effective budget management and financial planning.
Comprehensive Aspects for All Software Selections
When considering software selection from a holistic perspective, synchronization is an essential factor. We at Signature Analytics recommend the use of a ‘heavy’ Salesforce integration specialist who is well-versed in managing intricate, wide-scale integrations. to work in tandem with your dedicated Signature Analytics team.
Whatever your choice in software, you need your staff to get up and running quickly in order to be able to use it across levels of technological sophistication. Adding layers of complexity onto a department that is likely already working as fast and as hard as it can is a recipe for employee dissatisfaction.
An additional consideration is recruiting and hiring in the future. Choosing a complex software solution can make it harder to recruit accounting staff if one of the job requirements is experience in highly complex accounting software.
Our role is to ensure that all the finance and accounting needs of your organization are clearly defined and integrated successfully into the process. To accomplish this, we offer a comprehensive approach, ensuring every aspect of your financial and accounting needs is accurately captured and incorporated into your overall software solutions.
Best Project Management Technology for Nonprofits
Accounting is the great truth teller and reveals a lot about an organization. As we work with our nonprofit clients we often uncover inefficiencies that are wasting precious resources. One of those areas we frequently encounter is operations. Many of our nonprofit clients, manage work and tasks via email, memos, and meetings and do not have a project management software that is easy to use and offers visibility.
The goal of any software is to streamline and simplify a process. So with this in mind, we always weigh cost and complexity. It is essential to understand what problem you are solving. If it is a people problem, no amount of technology will fix it. There has to be a clear and simple path to training & onboarding when any new software is implemented otherwise utilization will lag.
Internally in our own organization, we use Asana. We find that the simplicity and intuitive board layout make project tracking, time tracking, and manager visibility into team activities simple and efficient.
Other project management software for nonprofits to consider:
Monday.com is a flexible platform that enables teams to collaboratively manage and track projects in a visual, intuitive way. For nonprofit organizations, its ability to centralize all communication, tasks, and resources in one place can facilitate a streamlined workflow and encourage transparency. The software also provides comprehensive project tracking tools and allows you to create custom workflows that align with your nonprofit’s unique processes.
Teamwork is a project management tool that allows for seamless collaboration among team members, fostering an organized work environment. It is especially useful for nonprofits looking to monitor projects, assign tasks, and track time spent on specific activities. The software’s easy-to-use interface, integrated communication tools, and advanced reporting capabilities make it a versatile choice for managing and coordinating your nonprofit’s initiatives.
Trello is an excellent option for nonprofits seeking a simple yet effective project management solution. It operates on a board-and-card system, which allows teams to create, assign, and track tasks visually. This can be particularly beneficial for nonprofits, as it enables a clear overview of ongoing projects, deadlines, and responsibilities. Trello’s simplicity and intuitive design make it easy for all team members to adopt, reducing the learning curve typically associated with new software.
Basecamp offers an all-in-one approach to project management, combining the functionalities of messaging platforms, task assignment tools, and scheduling software. This makes it an efficient choice for nonprofits seeking to consolidate their project management processes in one place. With Basecamp, your team can easily share files, set up to-do lists, schedule events, and maintain open lines of communication, ensuring that everyone stays in the loop about project updates and changes.
Project management software often offers a trial subscription allowing you to try out the interface and see what is right for your team.
How Nonprofits Can Benefit from Technology Upgrades
Efficiency is key in any organization. Having more time means having more resources and needing to spend less money to execute your mission.
For all technologies, one has to weigh cost, ease of use, training, implementation, and how the software communicates with the other technologies you already use or may implement in the future. While a custom program may work fine on its own, the rigidity of not being able to integrate might make it a poor choice to achieve the goal of streamlined operations.
At Signature Analytics, we recently conducted a technology audit for ourselves – read more about our cost-saving techniques here How to Weather-Proof your business for a possible recession and we found areas of over-spending that we were able to address and refine.
Currently, we use Quickbooks, Asana, BILL, and Ramp (among others) to run our own business. Here is a brief overview of these software options and how we find them to be most effective.
BILL – For our team, bill.com provides ease of use,and affordability, and it helps us manage AP, Expenses, and some AR functions. Here’s what Bill.com says about themselves:
Less: Paper, payables, mess, manual effort, and clunky processes,
More time for your: Customers, strategy, mission, and clients.
Bill.com is the intelligent way to create and pay bills, send invoices, and get paid.
Ramp: Ramp is an expense management software that helps us manage our corporate credit card usage, offers additional AP options to what Bill.com offers and is easy to use for an accounting team & for the users. With Ramp, there is a convenient cashback rewards feature. Additionally, one of the features we like is that our team can add the Ramp card to Apple Pay. We are able to manage spending limits in real-time which helps us to track & manage spending for our team who are located all over the US!
Here’s what Ramp says about themselves:
Ramp is the ultimate platform for modern finance teams.
Free your finance team to do the best work of their lives — and save an average of 3.5%
Have a software you have been considering that we didn’t mention? Send us an email and we’ll check it out and give you our take on whether it would be a good fit for your nonprofit’s needs.