From the Community: Best Nonprofit Accounting Software?
Welcome to Business-Software.com’s latest addition to the blog, a weekly series called From the Community where we highlight questions from our community members. Join us each Friday as we dive into the featured inquiry.
In keeping with this week’s theme, today’s question is about accounting software designed for nonprofit organizations.
The first thing to think about regarding this question is what differentiates nonprofit accounting from any standard accounting software.
Normal Accounting vs. Nonprofit Accounting
Nonprofit or not, just about every serious organization out there has to manage its own finances and all of the need to keep those finances in the black if they want to keep on existing. That said, not all accounting software is created equal. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences:
- Fundraising operations: While your standard for-profit company generates its income through sales, a nonprofit organization supports itself by way of donations and grants. As a result, most nonprofit accounting solutions include tools that let users tabulate the costs associated with fundraising campaigns into the ledger.
- Tax regulations: Because of the very different ways in which for-profits and nonprofits acquire their finances there are very different tax laws governing either type of operation.
- Cash-basis accounting: In cash-basis accounting, the system used by many nonprofits, revenues and expenses are recorded into the system only when they are collected or paid, respectively.
Under United States tax law nonprofit organizations are classified under section 501(c) of the IRS’ Internal Revenue Code. There are 29 separate subsections of organizations under the 501(c) umbrella, the 29th subsection created in 2010 for nonprofit health insurance providers under the Affordable Care Act.
In general 501(c) status grants an organization an exemption from several forms of federal income tax. This, alongside the points mentioned above, is at the heart of what necessitates specialized nonprofit accounting solutions.
International Exposure: Nonprofit Operations in Several Countries
Obviously 501(c) laws will only cover you so far. That is to say, only as far as the borders of the U.S. Every country has its own unique tax code and organizations operating within their borders, nonprofit or otherwise, will be expected to abide by the local regulations.
There are several nonprofit accounting solutions out there that take this into account. Accounting systems that work for international operations of this sort are going to be on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, though in general if your organization is working on a global level you’ll (hopefully) have a larger software budget to work with.
Blackbaud Financial Edge
As Kiri notes in her response to Ernest’s question, Blackbaud ties together a ton of top-tier nonprofit accounting-specific tools together in a single package: grant management, nonprofit workflows and restricted fund management to name a few.
Perhaps most compelling is the fact that Financial Edge can fully integrate with Raiser’s Edge, Blackbaud’s powerful donor management solution. This offers a potential level of smoothness transferring between your accounting and donor management operations that you might not get with two solutions from different software vendors.
Serenic’s website describes Navigator as “a fully integrated solution, which can adapt to the changing needs of global NGOs with multiple funding sources and programs. The NGO accounting software system provides multi-language, multi-currency and localization, data access by non-accounting users through Web applications, and centralized and decentralized solution deployment options.”
In addition, Serenic’s core nonprofit offerings are built off of the well-established Microsoft Dynamics platform, adding an additional layer of reliability and user support documentation for an international organization.
As Always, Refer to the Report…
If you’re looking for more prospective solutions geared towards organizations with international operations we recommend checking out our free Top 10 Nonprofit Accounting Software report. We update the information and listings in our reports on a near-perpetual basis, so you’re always guaranteed to find the most up-to-date data there regardless of software segment.
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