When it comes to accounting for nonprofits, your nonprofit accounting software is essential to keeping finances organized, tracked, and appropriately used. Although it can often be overlooked or be pushed to the bottom of an ever-lengthening “to do” list, a regular review of your software system is essential to ensuring that you are maximizing your investment in it and putting it to good use. Just like making time for a medical checkup is important to your body staying well, scheduling time for an annual accounting system examination will keep your programs running strong. Because your financial systems are the foundation of responsible fund usage and management while also ensuring organizational transparency, this system checkup must be a priority. Think of it like you would an annual well visit to be sure your accounting software for nonprofits is healthy.
Not only is your accounting software’s overall health and usage important to track and evaluate, but it is also critical for serving the needs of your constituents both now and in the years to come. Your system must be able to access financial data easily to be used for grant evaluation, new grant applications, determinations of fundraising campaign effectiveness, and operational expense tracking. Incorporating this performance assessment on your accounting software for nonprofits is easy to do when it corresponds with your budget and business plan annual evaluations. Taking a closer look at all of these simultaneously will help you be sure all areas of your organization are being properly honed and that the needs of all constituents are being met. It also allows new goals to be met across the board because they can all be tied together. For example, improvements in your budget may be made easier by changing how you use your software to meet them.
To make the most of this checkup, you’ll want to be sure it is comprehensive. What, exactly, should be incorporated into this evaluation?
- Tweaking of small, reoccurring problems within the system
- Identification of current problems and strategies for preventing these issues in the future
- Evaluation of needed additional functionality
- Uncovering of areas where additional training would be beneficial to the team using the system
- Review of and completion of needed software updates
- Simple patch fixes
- Review of and completion of needed version upgrades
This simple and non-intrusive annual review cycle of your nonprofit accounting software addresses issues early before they have a chance to cause major problems. It is also a chance for those within your organization who use the software to give input on what may still be needed. This could include recommendations for needed extended system functionality and review of its long-term impacts. Whether this means upgrading the software or investing in a newer and more efficient system, this should not be overlooked and could ultimately result in time and money-saving advancements. Technology is ever-changing, and this system review could bring about the realization that advancement or changes are needed.
These changes to the system do not have to be based on technological advancement but can also be based on changes within the nonprofit itself. If your organization has an increased number of grants to manage or a new grant with different reporting requirements, changes to the system may be needed. The same holds true for new programs or campaigns that your organization will be launching. Don’t forget to explore what additional reporting requirements you will need to accommodate and how to configure the system to address those. Finally, consider how your organization may be growing and what you’ll need to do to provide access to the system to new employees.
If, in the process of doing your nonprofit accounting software checkup, you find that you are in need of a new system to meet your needs, stay tuned next week for more information on finding just what you need. If you need further assistance with updating your current solution, RBP Methods is here to help. Regardless, take some time to learn more about two accounting solutions we offer: Abila MIP Fund Accounting and AccuFund Accounting.