Accounting Software Consultants Suggest a 5-Step System to Purchase Nonprofit Software

accounting software consultantsAccounting software consultants understand the responsibility of managing money for your nonprofit. It is a huge undertaking to create a budget for your nonprofit in order to save and spend where needed. When it comes to purchasing software, it doesn’t need to break the bank.

The good news is that purchasing software is doable on a budget. The key is to use a 5-step system to help lower the amount of errors and delays in choosing your software. There is an overabundance of software to choose from to help nonprofits with accounting, grant management, and more. Some software packages offer an all-in-one package or some offer a-la-carte packages. Depending on what you are looking for, you can decide to choose an all-in-one management software, or a package that allows you to easily update and integrate additional packages as your needs or funds change.

Step 1: The Software Selection Process

The first step of software selection begins with why your nonprofit needs this software.

A few reasons you may need to upgrade your software include:

  • Spending too much time on manual tasks, such as updating spreadsheets, when software could easily simplify the task.
  • Making too many mistakes because everything is done manually.
  • Spending hours to record activities and building reports focused on grants, donations, and other updates, when this could be simplified with one click within the right software.
  • Current software is out of date and no longer supports or is unable to run on new equipment.
  • User license is maxed out and cannot add any more.

If you found yourself thinking, “That sounds familiar,” then it’s time to upgrade your software.

Step 2: Don’t Rush to Make a Decision

It is good to have a budget in mind when you are making big purchases. However, before you go shopping for new software, there are a few more questions that you need to ask:

  • Will the new software be deployed throughout the organization?
  • Will this software change how our organization functions in any significant way?
  • Will shifting to this software take time or additional investments?
  • Will we need to provide special training to manage this software?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be looking at more time, money, and resources for your software selection process.

Software that will change how you manage your nonprofit or software that will require additional investments of time and resources should be selected based off quality over cost. Something so important to your nonprofit should not be bought at the cheapest price if it is not the best fit for your organization. If you don’t invest in the right software for your organization from the get-go, you may come to regret your decision.

Step 3: Does Your Nonprofit Really Need New Software?

Another very important and financially crucial question to ask your team is whether your nonprofit actually needs new software or if you can make do with the software that you already have. As accounting software consultants, we often see that organizations will take the “easy way out” by purchasing a new software system before they do their research on their current software. What they wanted was already included in their previous software; they just didn’t take the time to discover what their previous software offered. Do not make this same mistake. You do not want your budget going down the drain for something that was right at your fingertips all along.

Start off by making a list of all the reasons why your nonprofit needs new software. Then, take inventory of the software that you have now and all the features within it. Determine if any of the software package features within your current system fulfill the functions that you desire in software for your company.

Step 4: Ask Around

The next step is asking other nonprofits what software they are using. This may seem like a strange request, but it will help your nonprofit get a good grasp of products or software that similar organizations have chosen and why they like or dislike them.

You can also find tools online which can help you find the software that will meet your organization’s needs. Idealware, TechSoup, and Nonprofit Matrix provide resources to assess nonprofit software.

Step 5: Pick Your Software Package and Start Your Trial Period

Once you have chosen a software package you feel fits your nonprofit’s needs, you need to gather a consensus among the people and departments within your nonprofit that will be using it and determine if it meets their needs, as well. It is important to remember that most software packages do not meet the needs of 100% of a company, so you may need to compromise on certain features.

Now it is time to purchase your software package. Be sure to ask about support, training, warranties, and return policies if you feel, after your trial period, that it does not meet your organizations’ needs.

Investing in the right software for your nonprofit can be daunting, especially when you are investing your organization’s money into software that may or may not work for your nonprofit. By taking these 5 steps recommended by accounting software consultants, you are setting yourself up for success by finding the best nonprofit software within the budget you set.

RBP Methods

RBP Methods is a nonprofit software and consulting firm that helps right-brained people navigate a left-brained world. We understand how hard it is to ask these tough questions and to change your nonprofit’s mindset. We offer a wide range of services as accounting software consultants, who are focused on helping nonprofits manage their accounting and financial needs. Our software choices include Ablia, Accufund, and other nonprofit accounting software. For more information, visit RBP Methods or call us at 503-648-9051 for a consultation.