Software survey: Nonprofit accounting
Vendors discuss the latest developments, and the future
For many years, software for nonprofit organizations trailed in functionality behind other verticals and especially more generic accounting software. Over the past several years, though, this has changed significantly. Today’s nonprofit software is as up to date and functional as any software available.
We surveyed many of the major vendors of nonprofit software to find out what they have addressed in the past year, what they are working on (when they were willing to talk about it), and how they see evolving technology impacting the industry and their products.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Just about every vendor we surveyed has made impactful changes and updates to their software. Some of these were in the user interface. For example, Joseph Scarano, CEO of Araize, told us that the company has totally revised the user experience for Fastfund Online with an updated user interface. The new version of Fastfund Online will be more responsive on mobile devices, and the interface change also incorporates new dashboards that provide more complete insights into an organization’s financial data. Other new features include afterthe-fact allocations for indirect cost reporting, integration with web donation pages and email applications for the fundraising system, as well as ACH payment for vendors, and new financial reports to provide more detailed and targeted information.
Ease of use is also an area that Aplos has addressed. “One of our primary goals of this past year for our accounting product was a focus on increasing the ease and speed of managing their organization,” said CEO Tim Goetz. “Our new integration with Gusto makes it faster to automatically track payroll and taxes in the bookkeeping. Aplos also built out several payment processing options that make it more streamlined to accept and track payments for event registration, ticket sales and donations from a website.” Other improvements include enhancing accounts payable and accounts receivable to help organizations quickly pay vendors, receive payments, and enhanced pledge tracking to make it easier to match donations received to donor pledges and send pledge statements.
Accufund has also improved its ease of use, according to vice president and general manager Ian Scotland, with a completely new user interface in Version 6.01 of its Accufund Accounting Suite.
Other vendors have also made significant upgrades and updates to their software. “We released Serenic Navigator 2017 Improvement 1, powered by Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which included many enhancements for financials, payroll/hr, grant management, remote field transactions, and analytics — our new data analysis, reporting and dashboard-based decision support tool,” reported Serenic Software marketing director Ruby Bleiker.
Oracle Netsuite also had some significant news in this area. According to nonprofit industry marketing leader Morgan Carey, on Oct. 25 the vendor announced an expansion of its social impact program that supports nonprofits through three core pillars: donating Netsuite enterprise software, providing pro bono services, and building capacity in organizations. “As part of our Suite Donation pillar,” he said, “we offer a base donation of Nonprofit Suitesuccess to all nonprofit organizations. Additionally, we are announcing an expansion of the program to offer a no-cost activation as part of the donation.”
Another major enhancement for Netsuite was the release of the Netsuite Nonprofit Suitesuccess. “This edition pre-configures leading practices for operating a nonprofit on Netsuite software derived from the experiences of over 1,300 nonprofit customers. Key feature improvements … include custom roles, dashboards and KPIS; grant accounting; fund accounting; automated FASB reporting; simplified financial segmentation; and program efficiency tracking,” Carey said.
Blackbaud has also made significant changes to its extensive lineup. According to Michael Blanton, director of product marketing, financial and payment solutions, “For years, our Budget Management module has offered advanced budgeting capabilities through General Ledger for those requiring more sophisticated techniques for developing a budget and monitoring it throughout the fiscal year. This year, we have added enhanced grouping options and customizable views to holistically review account, program, and grant distributions in a glimpse ... And, as part of an initial release of new functionality that will support Allocations and Blackbaud SKY Reporting, we have added configurable, unique units of measure that expand the ability to not only measure and utilize monetary values, but also track unit values. Statistical Units gives users access to track cumulative data, set filters by date range through all available fiscal years, and use formulaic metrics to get clear insight into how their spending is directly contributing to specific mission outcomes.” Other new additions are expense management and the Budget Creator Excel Add-in and the Distribution Set Creator for Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT.
An eye on the future
Blackbaud’s Blanton shared some of the things the vendor is working on: “Expense Management in Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT will provide comprehensive authorization controls, real-time visibility into organization-wide spending for better cash-flow management and greater insight into vendor spend, so organiza- tions can negotiate better rates based on spend volume to achieve cost savings. Blackbaud SKY Reporting is cross-platform analytics and reporting capabilities currently enabled in Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT, Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT and other products. In addition to the simple, no-setup, interactive analysis tools in our prebuilt dashboards, we are soon launching Insight Designer that enables users to create and distribute their own dashboards most relevant to their organization’s reporting needs.”
He also added, “Blackbaud is enhancing our fund accounting functionality by providing organizations with the ability to further manage their endowed and invested funds. This capability will generate spendable balance calculations; we will also be adding the ability to calculate the administrative fees paid by each fund. To augment the investment portfolio features, we are planning to support investment return allocation by either balance or units. In addition, we will support ensuring that each donor’s specific requested investment pool elections remain true to the original percentages as gains/losses and investment income is allocated over time. Lastly, we will be offering a fund statement report that will track the original gift, investment returns, and spendable balances, as well as gift and grant history. In 2019, Blackbaud will be delivering a donor fund portal that will support individual donors logging in to see fund balances, gift and grant history. Donors will also be able to search for potential recipient organizations and make grant recommendations.”
Not every vendor shared such comprehensive endeavors. Ken Hilton, president of Red Wing Software, simply said that they will be making changes to comply with all the new tax law changes to accounting, depreciation and payroll. And Donald Cassady, president and CEO of Grants Management Systems Inc., described a major undertaking in a few words: “We have completed our software migration to the .net platform. This is a dramatic increase in its functionality and ability to communicate with other