For up-and-coming churches and other nonprofits, QuickBooks is usually the entry-level choice for financial software in the organization’s early days – and for many reasons. QuickBooks offers the basic functionality that almost any nonprofit needs to get off the ground.
However, successfully growing teams quickly realize that what was good enough when they started out is now overshadowed by limitations and compromises. Here are the five challenges that cause nonprofit CFOs and Church Finance Leaders to look for alternatives to QuickBooks for nonprofits.
Challenge #1 Over-Reliance on Spreadsheets
“After spending over one week sifting through massive spreadsheets, we discovered that we have a calculation error in how we had been calculating donations for the past three years.”
If this sounds familiar, and hopefully not, you're like many organizations that organically and gradually develop increasingly complex accounting requirements (e.g., multiple locations and multi-entity consolidation). If QuickBooks is the financial foundation, that often means cumbersome workarounds like these:
- Are you exporting data to multiple Excel spreadsheets?
- Are you creating additional journal entries each month?
- Have you created home-grown or used other external applications for recording donations or expenses outside of QuickBooks?
Surprisingly, few organizations opt to integrate QuickBooks with other business applications, instead they just "manually integrate the systems" with flat files, CSV dumps, and rekeying. That might work when your volumes are small, but ask anyone who’s suffered these workarounds and you’ll see it’s a real productivity killer as the church or foundation scales. Why waste time to manually research, re-enter, and verify data that’s already captured in another system? These manual integrations are ripe for errors and lost time.
Challenge #3 Inability to Drive Decision-Making“Rather than constantly struggling to keep up with incoming requests for data and specific reports, AcctTwo lets us consistently report financials in a timely manner and feel confident that we can easily respond to any new request.”
Real-time visibility into financial and operational metrics is essential for timely decisions that boost your mission and avoid lost time. QuickBooks offers canned reports, but no dashboards, so you’re often forced to make decisions based on outdated data that's not visually presented. By leveraging a single system that incorporates both a multi-dimensional general ledger and onboard report writer, you can transform your analysis and become a strategic partner who generates insights that answer the bigger questions.
Challenge #4 Adaptability to New Requirements“QuickBooks continually crashes, and I lose all our payroll data. I don’t have time to re-enter data for 350 hourly employees…”
Maybe you’ve seen a couple of the classic signs that you’re outgrowing QuickBooks. Those menus and screens you're using frequently now have lengthy delays as the system struggles to keep up with data volume and calculations load. Report printing probably takes forever. And queries seem to bring things to a standstill.
This critical limitation is risky. It can force you to periodically restart QuickBooks just to maintain data files. In a worst case scenario, you’re facing potentially disastrous results: the actual loss of crucial historical data. That’s no way to run a growing organization confidently.
Challenge #5 Inadequate Financial Controls“Errors caused by manual processes and a lack of financial controls resulted in $180,000 of improper expense reimbursements within a six-month period.”
Manual process are an unavoidable fact of life for foundations and churches of a certain size using QuickBooks. Unfortunately, they increase the probability of data duplication and data entry or formula errors, making it difficult to gain a trusted, real-time, financial view of operations and impacts. What you may already know is that QuickBooks simply wasn’t designed for growing organizations that need advanced functionality for managing sophisticated processes.