Welcome to the Blog

Welcome to the Software4Nonprofits Bookkeeping Software blog.

I will be using this blog to post my thoughts and questions about the development of the program, and its features, as I go along, and to request comments and input from all of you that have volunteered to help.

Once an initial version of the program is available for testing (probably with only an initial set of features!) I will also be asking those of you who feel up to it to try it out and give me your feedback. (That’s called “beta testing”. In case you are wondering “alpha testing” is what I will be doing before I give it to you!) I don’t see that being for several months – this is a big project!

The blog posts will probably be fairly frequent initially, as I try to nail down the features and user interface of the program, and how it will interact with DONATION. (They are still going to be separate programs.) If you are ever overwhelmed, you can either just ignore the emails that you don’t have an opinion about, or ask to be unsubscribed from this blog.

Many thanks to all of you that have volunteered to help with this.

For anyone that is still wondering “why is there a need for another accounting program?”, I would say that I am trying to fill a niche that I do not feel is well filled. That niche is a program that:

  •  uses language used by non-profits (including churches and charities, of course)
  • knows about non-profits’ special needs (including providing appropriate sample charts of accounts for them, probably with different ones for churches and charities, and different ones for Canada and the U.S.A.)
  • is easy to learn and use (like DONATION!), or at least, as easy as is reasonable given that accounting is not a completely simple concept!
  • does fund accounting well and easily, with no manual entries required to keep balances up to date, and sensible reporting on funds (this will be an advantage over the general-purpose programs like QuickBooks, Quicken and Simply Accounting)
  • is affordable ($100 to $150 price range, in line with low-end versions of QuickBooks and Simply Accounting, but noticeably cheaper than other specialized programs aimed at non-profits and/or fund accounting)
  • has enough features to satisfy many smaller non-profits (the same market that DONATION serves), but probably not enough for much larger ones.

By the way, I have been calling this “bookkeeping software” rather than “accounting software” because I want to keep expectations a bit on the low end (to match its expected level of features), and want to point out that it will be suitable for non-professional bookkeepers, and doesn’t need an accountant to use it. If you have any thoughts about that, please let me know by adding a comment to this post.

An upcoming blog post will outline the features that I have more or less decided on including, based on everyone’s responses to the big survey I ran a couple of weeks ago, and some further one-on-one questioning I did of various respondents.

I also want to mention that it won’t be just me working on the actual programming. Jason Fenter, a top PowerBuilder programmer (that’s the programming language I use to create my programs) has volunteered to help me with this in his “spare time”, outside of his full-time job. It will be great to have a 2nd person to bounce ideas off of, figure out how to do the hard stuff together, etc. I’m so grateful for his help!

12 thoughts on “Welcome to the Blog

  1. I am happy your thoughts are that a normal bookeeper can use the new program and it would not have to be an accountant. I feel I am well accomplished and knowledgeable, but
    definitely not an accountant. Audrey Saunders.

    • Thanks, Audrey. Truthfully I doubt many accountants would buy the program; they have figured out how to make programs like QuickBooks and Simply Accounting work well enough for them.

  2. Definitely a niche market, Dan, but one that will be most welcome and useful to many organizations and churches. Looking forward tohelping in whatever way we can. Laird

  3. Good idea about keeping it on the low end and referring to it as bookkeeping software. Sounds like it will be user-friendly, just like Donation. Keep up the good work!

  4. I Instruct QuickBooks at a Community College but find that when I use it for my Church as the Treasurer, it has many functions that I don’t need when I primarly just want to pay bills and balance the checking accounts.

  5. Even “Treasurer for Churches” is a better name than bookkeeper or accountant software…..especially when you tie Donations into the product, it’ll be awesome for our purposes, I’m sure!

    • Thanks, Karen, I like your idea of “Treasurer” in the program’s name, but I want to keep “Church” out of the name, to make it clear it is equally good for other charities. Similar logic says I should keep “Charity” out of the title, because although churches are legally charities, not all churches would see themselves in that name. I will actually be sending out another blog pointing to a tiny 2-question survey on which program names you prefer, probably tomorrow.

  6. I like the idea of simplifying a program with functions that only the organization needs without a lot of unused functions (along with cost). Something to keep in mind is a program that will easily compliment the year end programs that accountants use. This saves time and cost at the accounting level. Having worked at an accounting firm I am familiar with the time (and money) wasted trying to enter data from a program that doesn’t load into the accounting data. As long as basic financial reports are available (i.e. trial balance) this would make it easier and more cost effective at the year end level.

    • I’m not sure what will be needed or possible in terms of working with accountants. Certainly my program’s file format will not be compatible with that of any of the other common programs (Quicken, QuickBooks or Simply Accounting).

  7. Hi Dan,
    Personnally I have accounting formation so it is easyer. I am looking at forming someone to take over in 1 to 2 years. I am not sure that I will be able to find a volunteer with the same background, so having a friendly software will be very nice.
    The problem with Quicken or Quickbook was that I needed to make so many steps before I arrive to a proper result. I have also work with non profit organization and it was hard to find the good software to do accounting at a reasonable price. So I think you are on a good path. Would you include payroll in the software?
    I am looking forward to have more news in regard of this software.

    • No, it is not realistic to include payroll calculations into the program. Too many differences (and frequent changes) between countries, states and provinces, for a tiny business like mine to keep up with. Instead, I will recommend 3rd party online payroll systems, and you will be able to import the payroll transactions from them (or hand-enter them, if you do your own calculations) into my program.

  8. Hi Dan,
    I like your plan to make it simpler than Quickbooks. It would be great if the program can be connected to Donations. Presently we have our office administrator enter the churches sunday offering into Donations for the ease of creating and printing out year end receipts. After she enters the weekly offering she then gives our treasurer a copy of the offering received to enter in Quickbooks (which is broken down into totals of different budget lines IE General; Mission & Sevice; Building; Magazines; Sunday School; etc). We find that Quickbooks is overkill for what we need.
    It would be great if the Bookkeeping could be included in your Donations program and allow the weekly offering entries could funnel down to the different Budget lines that we use.
    It would be a benefit as well if entries could be made to each of the Budget lines to create a Budget print out for the aceptance of the next years Budget amount to be accepted at our annual meeting.
    Thanks
    Ken Paton

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