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REVIEW: Nonprofit Accounting Software

The market for fund accounting software for not-for-profit organizations is considerably smaller than the market for commercial accounting software, but it is no less varied. Unlike standard commercial accounting, fund accounting lets you identify and separate your financial resources in separate funds. This lets you track the source and the use of the funds.

There are a number of things you should look for in fund accounting software. It must be able to show that the NFP organization is being prudent and accountable when handling its money. It must give accurate statements of the NFP organization's financial status that make it possible evaluate its performance. The software must also provide reports and data that support budgeting, forecasting of cash flow and planning, as well as provide appropriate information to meet state and federal filing requirements. And the software must be scalable, so that as the NFP grows, the software will continue to support it.

Some of the other standard features that any fund accounting package should support are the following:

• Customizable user security settings
• FASB/GASB and Federal 990 reports and requirements.
• Exporting data to spreadsheet files and attach files and reports to email.

In addition, many packages now have options for web-based employee time entry, online software updates and reports that can be run by anyone on demand without requiring a user license for that person.

This article describes nine packages that NFP organizations should consider when looking for fund accounting software. All the software in this article is available in a desktop version running on Windows, but many products are also available online as a subscription service.

AccuFund for Non-Profits, v4.03
Needham, Mass.
(877) 872-2228
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Core system starts at $2,995 for a single user, $6,495 for three users; $895 for each additional user. Online version starts at $390 per user per month.

AccuFund for Non-Profits
AccuFund for Non-Profits starts with a core system of eight modules: GL, the Financial Report Writer, budget reporting, AP, cash receipts, bank reconciliation, a forms and reports generator and a user security system. You can expand on the core system with any of a dozen additional modules: AR (with inventory and billing), budgeting, PR/labor distribution, employee time entry, grants management, HR, FAM, allocation management, purchasing, online requisitions, loan management and representation payee.

The AccuFund core system offers 39 different basic reporting templates. You can also create new reports using the forms and report generator, which lets you see the reports as you develop them. For reminders and a quick view into selected indicators, AccuFund for Non-Profits has customizable dashboards so each user has fast access to the information they need.

The package has an employee portal that lets you post news, messages, files and information to a portal site that employees can access via the web. For greater flexibility, the Employee Self-Service feature lets employees update their own information through this portal on such things as retirement benefits and insurance selections. For NFP organizations that need detailed time-tracking, AccuFund offers time clocks that import employee time directly into the software.

Cyma IV Not-For-Profit Edition v12.5
Cyma Systems
Tempe, Ariz.
(800) 292-2962
Price: Starts at $645 per module; Grant tracking module, $395. Typical installations begin at about $1,945 for three modules.

Cyma IV Not-For-Profit Edition
Cyma IV Not-For-Profit Edition is a modular fund accounting system with modules for GL, AP, AR, PR, bank reconciliation, inventory, job costing, HR, SO, PO, grant tracking, employee self-service portal, PR reporting, client management, system alerts and system management.

You can use the PR reporting module, Cyma Business Insight, to export HR and PR data into Microsoft Excel, where you can then use standard Microsoft Excel features to sort, chart, format and summarize data as necessary. The system alerts module, Cyma Alerts, lets you set alerts for virtually any financial, inventory, HR, or calendar-based occurrence, ranging from flagging you when a cash account gets too low to making an announcement about a new hire to sending birthday greetings to employees. The system management module lets you create batch report groups and manage user security settings. Cyma IV NFP Edition also has an employee portal module, Employee Self-Service, for accessing employee PR info over the web, including printing W-2s.

Cyma IV NFP edition is integrated with DonorExpress, a third-party product that lets you manage lists of donors and follow and report on donor activity. You can use either Crystal Reports or the F9 financial reporter with it as well.

Version 13, scheduled for release later this year, is slated to offer features such as advanced budgeting and enhancements to departmentalization that will allow you to create summary reports on multiple sub-companies on a single report.

Denali Fund+Accounting v3.2
Cougar Mountain Software
Boise, Idaho
(800) 388-3038
Price: Starts at $595.

Denali Fund+Accounting
Denali Fund+Accounting is a modular accounting system with modules for GL, AP, AR, PR, bank reconciliation, inventory, job costing, OE/POS and PO. The product is robust: for example, the GL has a 5-year fiscal calendar that handles an unlimited number of multiple funds with user-defined fund classifications. There is also a wide range of add-on modules for such things as GL report generating, integrated eCommerce and R&R ReportWorks.

FAM is available with The System®, a modular solution from Cougar Mountain and Comprehensive Microsystems, Inc. It tracks your organization's fixed assets and depreciates them according accounting rules and IRS regulations. NFP organizations can track donors with DonorExpress, which lets you manage donor lists. You can batch-import donor information entered in DonorExpress to the AR. Additional modules, such as merchant services and multi-location inventory, are also available.

You can buy Denali Fund+Accounting on a dedicated server from Applianz Technologies. This is configured for off-site nightly backups for data security. You can also connect to the server via the web for system maintenance and settings.

The Financial Edge
Charleston, S.C.
(800) 443-9441
Price: Financial Edge for Small Offices starts at $2,995. Subscription, $299 per user per month, $75 each additional user per month.

The Financial Edge
The Financial Edge has an extensive array of 28 modules that integrate with the GL module. The product has a customizable dashboard for monitoring financial information and providing a quick organizational overview. There are extensive built-in reporting options that include reports for grant management, special projects and endowments. There is also a web portal for such features as purchasing, invoicing and employee time entry and self-service. The Financial Edge interfaces with products such as F9 financial reporter, PaperSave document management andThe Raiser's Edge donor management system.

In addition to the standard accounting functions, The Financial Edge also has options such as Advanced Budget Management, which lets you analyze both financial and non-financial data. You can analyze several years of information at a time to search for trends, look at key performance indicators and check budget actuals against projections. Advanced Budget Management also offers extensive payroll budgeting and forecasting tools.

A distinguishing feature of The Financial Edge (and other Blackbaud NFP software products) is the customer environment. There is an active user community, user forums and strong support for developers of custom applications for Blackbaud products. There is also an annual conference for Blackbaud users and developers.

An upcoming release late this year will add web reporting: anyone will be able to log in and run selected reports. There will also be support for credit card distributions (such as for employee credit cards used for company travel) and other enhancements to expense reimbursement.

FUND E-Z Nonprofit Accounting v10
FUND E-Z Development Corp.
White Plains, N.Y.
(877) 696-0900
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Price: Fund E-Z Fund Accounting, $1,995. Fund E-Z Fund Raising, $995. Fund E-Z Fund Accounting Pro Add-On, $2,995.

Fund E-Z Fund Accounting
Fund E-Z Fund Accounting comes with the following basic features: GL, AR, AP, bank reconciliation, billing/sales, direct allocations, security and system tools. The Pro Add-on also has PO/encumbrances, indirect allocations and batch processing. Neither version has built-in payroll, but you can use data import/export to interface with third-party payroll systems such as ADP. There is support for the F9 report writer and seamless integration with Fund E-Z Fund Raising Solution and Fund E-Z, a HIPAA-compliant billing system compatible with Medicaid requirements.

An upcoming release will provide reporting consolidation features that let you roll up sub-organizations in a single high-level report.
One of the most striking things about Fund E-Z Fund accounting is that the product uses a "ribbon bar" interface similar to that of Microsoft Office 2007. This makes learning the product a little easier as well as providing an interface similar to the one that office personnel are already familiar with.

The basic product supports a 22-character account structure with five segments. Larger sized NFP organizations may want the Pro Add-on, which supports a customizable chart of accounts with up to 100 characters and 10 segments. The Pro Add-on also offers more flexibility in balancing individual funds and greatly enhanced reporting options, including a custom report generator.

QuickBooks Premier NonProfit 2012
Mountain View, Calif.
(877) 683-3280
Price: Starts at $399.95 (single user); $999.95 (three users).

QuickBooks Premier NonProfit
QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit 2012 is one of several editions of QuickBooks Premier tailored for a specific market. As with all QuickBooks products, it has the same depth and strength of other QuickBooks versions: a feature set that includes GL, AR, AP, PR, job costing, time and billing, inventory and FAM, excellent new company setup features and an extensive range of standardized reports. There is also fully-integrated support for Intuit's payroll service.

For companies that need more than three simultaneous users or that have multiple inventory locations, there is QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, a more robust version that offers additional reporting options and custom fields as well as more options for customization and control.

QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit 2013, due out this fall, will include such things as an calendaring feature, enhancements to reporting, the ability to attach documents to invoices, improved worksheet formatting and enhanced donor management features.

Intuit is well-known for its first-rate product documentation and training, user communities and options for third-party consulting and support. Accountants already familiar with QuickBooks will have no trouble adapting to QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit.

Sage Fund Accounting Version 11
Sage Software Nonprofit Solutions
Austin, Texas
(800) 811-0961
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Price: Starts at $895. Single-user package starts at $2,995. Subscription and cloud deployment prices to be announced shortly.)

Sage Fund Accounting
Sage Fund Accounting has 27 modules covering all basic accounting functions and a host of more advanced options such as GASB reporting, multicurrency and AP EFT. The Employee Web Services module gives employees web access to their payroll and HR information. The Executive View module lets board members and other executives work with reports and data for budget preparation and review without requiring additional user licenses. The product comes with a built-in report writer and customizable dashboards. There is strong support for Sage Fundraising and the new Sage Grant Management product as well.

Sage has recently started providing hosting options for software: any of their NFP products can be hosted with pricing on a subscription basis. The Sage Fund Accounting release sometime this fall is slated to have the Sage Advisor Update, an update downloader and scheduler for product updates. There will also be new deployment options and extensive changes and enhancements to the audit features to provide more robust tracking of audit trails.

Serenic Navigator
Serenic Corp.
Lakewood, Colo.
(877) 737-3642
Price: Business Essentials version starts at $3,500 per user. Advanced Management version starts at $6,500 per user. Serenic Navigator Basic Online, $165 per user per month, Business Essentials Online, $195 per user per month and Advanced Management Online, $275 per user per month.

Serenic Navigator
Serenic Navigator provides core financials for NFP organizations, including GL, AR, AP, advanced allocations, inventory, SO, PO and purchase requisitions. Serenic Navigator is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office products and several reporting tools, including the Microsoft Excel report writer and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. It supports multicurrency and multilanguage transactions.

Serenic Navigator has customizable dashboards called Role Centers. There are a number of standard Role Centers, such as Accounting Manager, Development Associate, Payroll Administrator, Award Administrator, Staff Accountant, Controller and HR Manager. The Serenic Navigator Extended Product Suite provides a number of additional features, including AwardVision (for grant management), BudgetVision, CommunityCare (for client management), DonorVision, Human Resources/Payroll, MinistryView (for religious organizations) and Portals (for both accounting and employee portal services).

Small- and mid-sized organizations may be particularly interested in Serenic Navigator Online, which is competitively priced for online solutions. All Serenic Navigator products are available as cloud-based products, allowing you to start small and grow with the products.

Traverse Not-For-Profit Version 11
Open Systems
Shakopee, Minn.
(800) 328-2276
Price: Starts at $2,100 (single user); more than 100 users, just over $100,000.

Traverse Not-For-Profit
Traverse Not-For-Profit  v11 is an NFP version of the Traverse Finance and Accounting system. It comes with a strong range of core functions, including GL, AP, AR, PR and PR tax reporting, bank reconciliation, direct deposits and other banking features, FAM, multicurrency transactions and a system manager. Support for Microsoft Excel pivot tables is built in. Add-on features include an advanced information analyst, an advanced financial analyst, Info-Alert for providing automated alerts, dashboards and Synoptix, an enterprise report tool. There are also mobile, eBusiness and CRM add-ons available.

The product is very customizable. The Design Studio software that ships with the product lets you modify forms and screens, making it possible to add information directly to an input screen. Traverse NFP has good integration with a number of third-party products, including Microsoft Office, ADP payroll, the Raiser's Edge fundraising software, Donor Perfect, Sage Fundraising 50 and a variety of POS and other software packages. If you need to integrate with a product that is not currently supported, Traverse offers a software development kit (SDK) for creating your own custom add-ons and applications.

Traverese is extremely scalable, capable of supporting more than 100 users. Although there has not been a new major release recently, Traverse schedules frequent updates that add small and useful features to the product.


Choosing the right accounting package for your NFP organization is a challenge. Here are a few tips on selecting the right accounting package for your NFP organization:

• Before looking at the software, make an extensive list of the accounting features and functions that your organization needs. Identify the features that are necessary, desirable and not needed/wanted. (Be ruthless when you categorize.)
• Evaluate each fund accounting package against your criteria. Discard the ones that don't make the grade for necessary features, although you should make a note of any product that misses by only one or two. If you don't like any of the eventual finalists, you may want to come back to the near-misses and see if it's possible to work around the missing features with a custom add-on or third-party solution. Make sure the product will be able to grow with your organization.
• Look at your finalists for hidden costs in installation and set-up above the cost of the product itself when evaluating direct costs.
• Check out the product documentation and training options extensively. Getting your team up to speed on a new product frequently costs substantially more than the product itself.

Be sure to try all the products that meet your initial criteria to see how they work in practice. All products will have a free trial. Although the overall look and feel of the packages in this article is fairly similar, it's likely that it will be small things that make you choose a particular product as the one that's just right for your organization.

John Hedtke

John Hedtke is the award-winning author of 26 books. He has more than 30 years in the software business and technical writing, and seven years in technical publications management. John has developed and written documentation and books for many leading software products, and has received 26 writing awards to date. (A complete list of books, articles and projects can be found online at his web site, www.hedtke.com.) John owns a company that offers writing, business, and disaster preparedness consulting services for private, public, and governmental clients. He became a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication in 2003. When not otherwise occupied, John writes magazine articles and sleeps late as much as possible.

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