Error in Sign of Difference in Comparison Reports, for Expenses?

Hello ACCOUNTS advisors. I’m sorry to bother you on the same day as your Year End Reminder email, but we have an important question for you, before we make some changes.

A user has brought to our attention that in the Budget Comparison report, the sign of the differences for the Expense accounts should be the opposite of what it is now, so that if the actual expenses are less than budget, the difference shows as a positive number. Currently it shows as a negative number.

We are clear that what we are doing for Income accounts is already OK (difference is positive if actual income is over budget) and also OK for the final Net Income row in the Difference column.

So the overall principle, if we make this change, is that a Difference should be a positive number if the actual is “better” than budget, which is if the actual income is more than budget, or the actual expense is less than budget.

It appears that this same problem with the sign of differences for Expense accounts is also the case in Income Statement Comparison reports, like Income Statement Yr/Yr Comparison. So one year should be better than another (have a positive difference) if its income is more than the other year’s, and if it’s expense is less than the other year’s.

I’m quite surprised that that this is the first time this has been brought to our attention, so I want to see whether any of you have a contrary opinion, and think that the way we do it now is already better than the alternative we are suggesting. If so, can you please explain why you think that?

Thank you.

Promoting a Line of Credit provider for non-profits?

Hello ACCOUNTS advisors who are reading this blog.

We have been contacted by a company called “financing solutions”, from whom a significant part of their business is providing lines of credit (LOCs) to non-profits in the USA. I am told they mostly deal with non-profits with budgets between $400,000 and $6 million.

They are inquiring about setting up a strategic partnership with us, where we would promote their products, and get a commission for each LOC our customers take out, and they would also promote our products to appropriate customers of theirs.

They were hoping that if we did that, we might send out an email to all of our customers in the USA telling them about their solutions. Of course, if we did that, we would disclose the fact that we would get a commission from sales.

I’m not 100% clear about how comfortable we would be doing that, and how our customers would view such a direct promotion of a 3rd-party product. So we would welcome any input from you about your views on it.

We would also be interested to know whether that is something that your church or organization might actually be interested in.

As always, you can reply by commenting on this blog post, or by a direct email reply. Thank you.

ACCOUNTS comparative reports order of columns

Hello ACCOUNTS advisors. Recently two users have asked that in comparative reports, like Reports -> Summary -> Income Statement Yr/Yr Comparison, and Reports -> Summary -> Balance Sheet Comparison, the most recent year or date should be on the left, and the earlier date on the right. Apparently this would be in conformance with accounting standards. Currently ACCOUNTS does it the other way around, with the earlier year on the left.

I have checked a few other bookkeeping programs. Quicken does it like ACCOUNTS does, whereas QuickBooks and Sage 50 / Peachtree do it like those two users are asking for.

So my question is, should we change it? Would it unduly confuse you or the readers of the financial statements you put out for your organization?

Of course another option is to give users of ACCOUNTS a choice about this (perhaps defaulting to the accounting standards way) but that is just another complication, and you probably all realize we have a strong “keep it simple” philosophy (where possible, or course).

Your thoughts? You can add Comments to this blog post, or just email us back directly. Thank you.

ACCOUNTS Online Banking Transaction Downloads

Hello ACCOUNTS beta testers. We finally have a pre-test version available which includes importing downloads of transactions from your online banking. You can import transactions downloaded from standard bank accounts (generally chequing or savings accounts) and also from credit card accounts.

Importing downloaded online banking transactions can do one or both of two things: match to existing manually-entered transactions (or ones entered as recurring transactions) in ACCOUNTS, or create new transactions in ACCOUNTS based on the imported transactions that didn’t match existing ones. So the two purposes for doing that importing would be for a sort of pre-bank reconciliation (for the manually-entered transactions) or to do some of your data entry of transactions for you, or a combination of the two.

We invite you to try out this feature to see how it works for you, and make sure that our fairly extensive testing hasn’t missed anything that comes up when real users are using it! Because it’s a fairly complex feature, I’d encourage you to start by reading the Help on it (“Importing Online Banking Downloads”) before you try using it.

Also, just in case anything goes wrong, I would recommend that you make a database backup immediately before importing an online banking download, and use Database -> Validation Transactions immediately after you are finished, to make sure nothing went wrong. (If anything shows up in that validation, you can then restore your backup.)

If you encounter any unexpected or technical error messages, please be sure to send us screen shots, and as much description as you can of exactly what you were doing before it happened. (We may also ask you to share a database backup, and copy of the file you were importing, so we can try the same thing, if you are willing.)

You can take a screen-shot of any single message box or window by pressing Alt+PrtSc (or on some laptops, Fn+Alt+PrtSc). Having done that (which doesn’t visibly do anything), you can then paste that directly into an email with Ctrl+V or the Edit -> Paste menu option in your email program, or if that doesn’t work, into a Word or Paint document. Please be sure to use Alt with PrtSc, so it doesn’t take a screenshot of your whole Windows screen, and also please do NOT send camera photos – both of those alternatives are generally huge, and much harder to read.

You can get the beta test version with this new feature from the Pretest page at What is there will only work if you already have at least release number 2.10, which you can check with Help -> About DONATION. If you have an earlier release, please first upgrade with Tools -> Check for Updates, and then you can take the beta test version from the Pretest page.

Please let us know how your testing goes, and any comments or suggestions you have. You can email us directly, or leave Comments on this blog post.

Thank you so much!

Accounting Consultants for ACCOUNTS

Hello again ACCOUNTS advisors.

As you may have experienced, sometimes users of ACCOUNTS have accounting or bookkeeping questions that are not about how to use the program, but rather about how best to set up an appropriate chart of accounts for their organization, or what transactions to do. Our staff may not be willing or able to answer such questions, because we are not accountants.

In such cases, we advise users to consult their organization’s accountant or a skilled bookkeeper.

For organizations with no access to such a person, however, we have started a Consultants page on our website, with one initial listing, at

If you are an accountant or skilled bookkeeper, with a good understanding of the ACCOUNTS program and its fund accounting concepts, and wish to be added to that list, please contact us directly by email (not by commenting on this post), at

Thank you.

Online Banking Transactions – Samples Needed

Sorry to write again so soon, but I just realized I need more samples – particularly from American banks. If any of you could go to your online banking, and request a download to QuickBooks (if that’s an option), save the file, and email it to us, that would be great. If your bank doesn’t support downloads to QuickBooks, but does to Quicken, that would be fine too. And if doesn’t support either, please at least tell us what downloads it does support.

The downloaded files are actually plain text files, so if you want to first open them up in an editor (like Notepad) and make sure there’s nothing confidential you want to change, that would be fine.

In particular if you do a credit card statement download, your card # is in the file, in a section that may look like this:


For bank accounts, your account number may be in it, in the format:


I changed confidential parts in the samples above to x’s. Stuff might be on separate lines, as in the 2nd example, or all on one line, as in the first example.

From Canadian banks, I already samples from have one credit union, a few online-only banks, and out of the big 5, I have TD, CIBC, RBC and BMO. If someone has Scotiabank, I would appreciate a sample. No further samples from the others are needed.

I don’t have any US bank samples yet, so anything you have would be great – please tell us what bank it is from when you send it.

Thanks so much in advance.

Importing and Matching Online Banking Transactions

Hi ACCOUNTS advisors and beta testers. We are starting to think about the possibility of adding importing of transactions downloaded from your online banking into ACCOUNTS. That would include matching to manually-entered transactions where possible (which is very complicated to figure out how to do properly) and adding new transactions. There would presumably have to be some options for manual matching as well. Though we will want to keep this as simple as possible …

Our question for you at this point, is, does your online banking that you use support downloading for Quicken, QuickBooks, or both? There may be other download format options, but I’d only want to know about them if your system didn’t support either Quicken or QuickBooks.

There may be another blog with more questions about this later. At this point our thinking about it is very preliminary, and there is no schedule for when the feature might be completed.

Thank you.

Opinions on New Software4Nonprofits Home Page

First of all, my apologies to any of you who get both of our blogs (for DONATION and ACCOUNTS) – you will be getting this post a 2nd time.

We have updated the home page to include new sections with an overview of the pricing for each version for each of our two programs, and an overview of the differences between each version.

We’re interested in your thoughts on the changes, and our specific wording.

It was tricky to do this, because we don’t want to say too much (people won’t read it) but also don’t want to say too little so that it will be misleading. Each new section has links at the bottom for further details.

Thank you in advance for any reactions, which you can send as comments to the blog, or just by direct email replies.

Bug in Hidden Accounts appearing in Drop-Down Lists

Hello ACCOUNTS blog readers.

I think I have discovered a bug, but I want to run it by you all before I change it. It has to do with the fact that it appears that hidden accounts are appearing on drop-down lists of accounts you can use in transactions, when they shouldn’t.

The one time that I believe hidden accounts should appear in drop-downs, is if you are editing an existing transaction, that already used that hidden account. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see that already-used account.

The time that it seems the program is displaying them anyways, when it shouldn’t, is when it’s a new transaction being edited (one you haven’t saved yet), but the main account you are working on (say, a bank account you are in the register window for) has ever in the past had some transaction that included that hidden account.

I can’t really see why I originally decided to program it that way, and now it appears to me that it is just annoying – you will always see hidden accounts in the drop-down account lists of a register window that ever had a transaction using that account.

The whole point, in my mind, of hidden accounts, is “this is an account I used to use, but don’t any more”. So I don’t want to see it, merely because I used it in the past in this same register!

The same probably applies to entering transactions in other windows like Write Cheques etc. – the wrong behaviour would apply if any past transaction on the bank account you were writing cheques for ever used that hidden account.

Does this make sense to you, that I should remove that behaviour, so the only time a hidden account is shown is when you are editing an existing transaction that already used it? Of course, if you need to use it again in a new transaction, for some reason, you can always go to the Chart of Accounts window, edit the account, and un-hide it.

As always, you can reply by adding a Comment on this blog post, or by direct email. Thank you.

By the way, out of interest, the way I ran into this bug was that I was doing what programmers call “eating your own dog food”, namely actually using the program in production for a real organization (a non-profit I’m involved with as Treasurer). I had some accounts that were used early last year, but that we stopped using, but they kept coming up when entering new transactions and it was annoying!

Important ACCOUNTS Testing Needed

Hello ACCOUNTS beta testers.

The program that we create ACCOUNTS with, PowerBuilder, has a significant new release, and we have created a new version of ACCOUNTS with it. Although you should see almost no changes in ACCOUNTS due to this, for us it’s a big deal, and as such, we have jumped the version number of ACCOUNTS up to 2.00.

Although we have done significant testing ourselves on this new version, the only way to be sure it will work well for everyone is to have many users test it. So PLEASE if at all possible, try it out, by downloading and installing it from the page:

Unlike most beta test updates that we put on this page, this one needs to be done with a full installation program, which means you need to know whether you are running the Standalone, Network Server or Network Client version, and download and install that version from this page. If you aren’t sure which version you are running on this computer, use the Help -> About ACCOUNTS menu option in your current installation of ACCOUNTS to find out.

If you encounter any issues that you think may be new problems, please inform us of them as soon as possible, and we will fix them as quickly as possible. If something is a real problem for you and we do not think we will be able to fix it quickly, you can always revert to the existing version 1.42, built with the older version of PowerBuilder, by downloading and installing from the normal DOWNLOAD page:

As always, you can send us your experiences by replying to this blog post online, or by directly emailing us. In this unusual case, it would be good to hear from you even if you try this and don’t observe any problems, just so we can have some notion of how many of you have tried it.

If you are also using our DONATION program for tracking donors and donations and issuing charitable receipts, there was already a similar beta test release of the new version of it a few days ago. Only one tiny bug was found so far, which has been fixed.

Many thanks.