It’s no longer an afterthought to fund accounting.
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On the one hand, a shaky economy is making it tougher than ever for nonprofit organizations to get would-be donors to open their wallets. On the other hand, the government has increased its scrutiny of not-for-profit financial statements in the wake of September 11 and the unprecedented outpouring of charitable donations-and the questions that arose as to where exactly all the money was going. The combination is proving a boon for fund-raising software.
“I’ve noticed an increase in organizations looking for donor tracking. I see it a lot more on Request For Proposals,” says Linda O’Neal, manager of Finley & Cook, an Intuit FundWare partner and Shawnee, Okla.-based accounting firm. She adds, “With larger organizations, the fund-raising can even drive the [software] purchase.”
Finley & Cook, which also implements fund accounting packages from AccuFund and Serenic Software, counts tribal organizations, college foundations, and religious societies among its not-for-profit client base. A lackluster economy is spurring demand for fund-raising solutions, suggests O’Neal. “Now funds are harder to raise, so [NFPs] need to be more efficient. Software can be a real enhancement,” by making it easier to do group mailings and track donors.
|eTapestry Weaves a Referral Net|
Indianapolis-based eTapestry has enlisted approximately 150 channel partners for its Consultant Referral Program, "probably 10 to 15 percent" of which are CPA firms, notes chief executive and co-founder Jay Love.
There’s been a flurry of activity among the accounting community to satisfy this spike in demand for automated fund-raising. Developments include:
● Best has strengthened its fund-raising arsenal through a pair of acquisitions over the last year. The purchase of KTS Group brought into the fold both GT Pro, for small and mid-sized nonprofits including Jewish Federations, and the Rainbow campaign management package for United Way divisions. The earlier purchase of JSI Fundraising Systems gave Best access to Paradigm for smaller NFPs, and to the upper-end, Web-based Millennium package, which typically supports twenty-five to hundreds of employees and campaigns exceeding $100 million.
● Cougar Mountain Software recently joined forces with Manchester, N.H.-based Campagne Associates to develop a link between their respective Cougar Mountain Fund Accounting Suite and GiftMaker Pro. The latter handles donor management, as well as event, volunteer, and membership tracking.
● Serenic Navigator (originally marketed as Fund Accounting for Navision) will be joined any moment by a donor management module, according to Serenic president Jay Malik. Pricing will start at $15,000 for a five-user system. “There are some pretty compelling reasons why prospects are looking for an integrated solution,” notes Malik. These include being able to drill down to a donor subledger when running a financial statement, and being able to integrate in-kind contributions (such as a donated car) with Fixed Assets.
● Signaling the increasing verticalization within the NFP marketplace, Blackbaud has formed a new division for nonprofits that both raise money and sell tickets. In a related move, the Charleston, S.C.-based vendor acquired the assets of Intelitix, whose patron management software is targeted to performing arts organizations.
● On the low end, the brand new QuickBooks Nonprofit Edition features basic fund-raising capabilities such as entering donation receipts, tracking donors and outstanding pledges, entering to-do memos when following up with donors, and generating both fund-raising and thank you letters. Specialized reports include Biggest Donors and Overall Donors/Grants.
Nonprofits, large and small, are likely to welcome this opportunity for greater choice. As Jacqueline Tiso, president of MIP business partner JMT Consulting Group, headquartered in Brewster, N.Y., observes, “In today’s economy, with funding cuts and greater numbers going after the same limited pool of giving, raising money is a vitally important ability of an NFP to survive.”
|Fund-Raising Software Solution Vendors|
Ansin Technology Group
Best Software Nonprofit and Government Division
Encore Business Solutions
Executive Data Systems
Fund E-Z Development
It could be, of course, that a hands-on development executive scrupulously remembers all this information. But what if he or she leaves? Tiso indicates yet another reason to go with automation. “Fund-raising software is a critical foundation for the NFP [in that it functions as] an insurance policy that donors, their interests, and their history are not forgotten.”
Build, Buy, or Partner
Only a few software houses offer an all-in-one fund-raising/accounting package. One that does is White Plains, N.Y.-based Fund E-Z Development, which markets an integrated solution for $1,980 that provides basic donor, gift, and pledge tracking. The company is adding built-in word processing abilities to facilitate merges.
Most of the leading accounting software publishers in fact rely on vertical partners to provide fund accounting and fund-raising functionality. Microsoft Business Systems, for instance, has several fund-raising partnerships in place, such as its alliance with Canada’s Encore Business Solutions for integrations between Great Plains Edition and both FundVision and Grant Management.
Then there’s the acquisition route pursued by Best Software. Best’s portfolio of fund-raising packages-GT Pro, Rainbow, Paradigm, and Millennium-not only integrate with, but also provide a complementary migration path to its NPS Intro, NPS Pro, and Advantage NonProfit Series fund accounting solutions. So far, only Paradigm is available through qualified resellers, although Best is “actively preparing” its VARs to sell and install GT Pro as well. The high-end Millennium package will continue to be sold directly “for the immediate future,” according to Hollrah.
Even the smallest nonprofits need to automate their fund-raising these days, contends Hollrah. “A nonprofit invests in fund-raising software to increase their revenue, not just record it,” he says. “The gift processing features offered by the MIP fund-raising product line allow the management of very complex structures of pledges, donations, memorial gifts, even grants and endowment management.”
NFP Technologies in Monument, Colo., a MIP reseller, is already handling Paradigm. Managing partner Jim Gifford is predicting it will be a hot seller because “You not only can set up attributes, but you can actually report off those attributes. That’s big. Also, the volunteer and events modules are pretty powerful.”