The management of nonprofit organizations is much more complicated than it was just two years ago.

To begin with, there is a bewildering array of entities that qualify for the designation of "not-for-profit," including government organizations. Add to that the increasing requirements for reporting under FASB 117 and increasing pressure from the public and boards of directors for greater financial disclosure, and the demands on an NFP accounting system grow more substantial.

But the most significant change has been the redesign of the Internal Revenue Service's Form 990, the annual report required for organizations to keep their nonprofit status. The new form has two more pages and 16 extra schedules covering topics from public charity status and public support to supplemental financial statements and information regarding fundraising or gaming activities.

Predictably, however, the eight leading accounting packages that provide accounting support for this field easily handle these complications, providing stronger support, better analytics and better reporting capabilities than ever before.

Here's the roundup for 2010.

AccuFund Accounting Suite

AccuFund Inc.

(781) 433-0233

AccuFund is a scalable fund accounting suite designed specifically for nonprofits. It includes a core accounting system of eight functions, and a series of a dozen modular applications.

Core products are the general ledger, accounts payable, cash receipts, bank reconciliation, financial reporting, budget reporting, user security, and a report and forms designer. Modules expand this core system with capabilities for accounts receivable, purchasing and inventory, electronic requisitions, payroll, human resources, employee time entry, allocation management, client accounting, budget development, grants management, fixed assets, loan management, and online requisitions. Additionally, AccuFund offers separate programs for FASB/GASB reporting; endowment reporting; the F9 Pro add-in to produce financial reports in Excel linked directly to the data in AccuFund; and a loan tracker for loan management in housing, economic development and other agencies.

The most recent release features enhancements to many of the core modules. With the AccuFund Accounting Suite Financial Report Writer and Standard Report Writer, users e-mailing reports directly from the system can now break out a specific page or pages in a report automatically and e-mail the page(s) to different individuals or the appropriate manager or department.

The general ledger allocations module now includes configurable allocation templates in which users simply complete fields and create standard allocations forms. Client invoicing, an extension to the client accounting module, enables agencies to set up the levels of services or care associated with a client, and then calculate charges and generate billing automatically. Further enhancements are also included in the payroll, human resources and budget development modules.

Available in both a desktop and a hosted version, AccuFund is notable for both its flexibility and its modular design. Compliant with both Windows Vista and Windows 7, it offers a strong and scalable solution appropriate for a wide range of nonprofit organizations.

CMS Professional 2010 for Fund Accounting

Cougar Mountain Software

(800) 388-3038

The Cougar Mountain Fund Accounting Suite is a modular system designed for nonprofits and government entities that need to balance multiple-fund ledgers or track grants with comprehensive budget comparisons.

The suite includes modules for general ledger, AP, purchase orders, bank reconciliation and payroll, plus a universal bridge to transfer data into the accounting program. Additional enhancements include a credit card authorization system for online processing of credit cards, checks and debit cards; an e-commerce platform; fixed assets; and a flexible GL report generator. It also offers an exceptional reporting system and the ability to handle nonprofit organizations that manage multiple funds - each with their own calendars, accounting, reporting structures and financial management requirements.

Notable are two special modules, a nonprofit Fund Revenue Center for endeavors such as thrift stores, mail order and fundraising that offers inventory control, order entry and AR; and point-of-sale software to manage retail sales and membership revenues.

The suite enables each fund to have its own fiscal calendar, separate from the organization's calendar. It also handles inter-fund transfers and fund balancing, fully conforms to GAAP, has multi-tiered security settings, a protected audit trail, and can produce reports according to FASB Standards 116 and 117.

CMS Professional 2010 introduces a new financial dashboard called Cougar Dtails that connects to a nonprofit's general ledger data and presents it from a visual perspective to present trends and financial health. Other new features include enhanced filtering using a "contains" option, and the ability to export reports to a CSV file.

At its most basic level, the Cougar Mountain Fund accounting system offers simple general ledger and bank reconciliation services. Step up to the full suite, however, and this software offers a wealth of flexible tools that will fit the needs of almost any size or configuration of nonprofit.

CYMA IV Not-For-Profit Edition

CYMA Systems Inc.

(800) 292-2962

CYMA's Not-For-Profit Edition Fund Accounting Software is a FASB 117-based fund accounting system developed specifically for nonprofit accounting, offering the capability to track funds, track grants and generate the necessary reporting nonprofits require.

A modular system, the NFP Edition includes general ledger, AP/AR, bank reconciliation, grant tracking through the general ledger, job costing, inventory control, payroll, sales order, and purchase order. Other features include due-to/due-from, encumbrance and budget control, and fund maintenance and balancing. And while CYMA provides hundreds of pre-designed reports, users can expand reporting via tools such as F9 Financial Report Writer and Crystal Reports.

CYMA also expands the accounting functionality with applications for the special requirements of fundraising and allocations - including pledges receivables; inter-fund receivables; inter-fund payables; unrestricted, temporarily restricted and permanently restricted funds; cash and non-cash contributions; grants and contracts; special event revenue; program expenses; fundraising expenses; and donated services and materials.

The latest version provides new features such as the ability to attach documents, images, locations or any file to a customer, vendor, product, job, employee or project; pop-up calendars in date entry fields; bank register added to bank reconciliation; after-the-fact functionality folded into existing products; a calculator added to all currency and quantity fields; and more.

Recently announced pricing also makes the NFP Edition even more attractive. Until July 31, 2010, Section 501(c)(3) organizations can purchase a bundle incorporating the general ledger, AP, grant tracking, a database application, and one year of software updates at a discount price of $795.

CYMA IV NFP accounting software allows multiple net asset accounts and automatic inter-fund offset entries, providing the ability to track funds separately and to balance each fund within itself. Other features include multiple checking accounts, allocation distribution, departmentalization, recurring and reversing entries, flexible budget comparisons, volume billing, encumbered invoice processing and sophisticated security.

The Financial Edge

Blackbaud Inc.

(800) 443-9441

The Financial Edge is a comprehensive fund accounting solution designed to transform traditional accounting data into a decision-support management system to assist in making strategic decisions and achieving fiscal transparency and accountability. It offers a superior focus on reporting, grant, special project and audit capabilities for donors, donations and public accountability.

The Financial Edge offers a core system encompassing general ledger, AP, AR, payroll, budget management, cash management, fixed-asset management, point-of-sale support, forms generation and reporting functions. This core integrates seamlessly with other applications, including The Raiser's Edge for constituent management and fundraising; Blackbaud Enterprise CRM and Blackbaud Direct Marketing for enterprise-level constituent management and direct marketing; The Education Edge system for independent and charter schools; and Blackbaud NetCommunity, a Web site management solution with Raiser's Edge integration.

Recent enhancements to The Financial Edge have incorporated feedback from users to extend the flexibility of the system. Last year, Blackbaud announced the availability of WebPortal for The Financial Edge, streamlining and extending accounting procedures to the Web. Blackbaud also recently added F9 for The Financial Edge, a financial reporting tool that enables users to create flexible, customized financial reports in Excel.

With the introduction of The Financial Edge for Small Offices last September, Blackbaud now offers a variety of configurations with flexible pricing and deployment options to scale from one user to hundreds of users. Nonprofits can choose between a perpetual-license model and a subscription-based hosted version through Blackbaud OnDemand.

The Financial Edge is one of the most powerful accounting and financial management solutions available to nonprofits, easily scaling from a single user environment to the enterprise. Blackbaud continues to offer innovation and expertise in the NFP marketplace, and its flagship product The Financial Edge remains an attractive solution for nonprofit accountability.

QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit Edition

Intuit Inc.

(877) 683-3280

QuickBooks Premier Nonprofit Edition is a version of QuickBooks that has been pre-configured for the nonprofit environment with its own chart of accounts, templates and reports, and donor and vendor centers. Part of the Industry Edition of QuickBooks, it's designed to meld strong accounting and nonprofit capabilities with the industry's lowest price.

The core of the software is QuickBooks Premier, aimed at businesses that need advanced tracking, forecasting and planning support. It also offers more sophisticated inventory tools and remote access to data, though the Nonprofit Edition is also aimed at helping organizations demonstrate financial accountability, manage fundraising efforts and ensure the organization's financial stability.

That's the point at which QuickBooks 2010 advances significantly from previous versions in its support for nonprofits. It offers not only strong financial reporting tools, but the ability to create a Form 990, track donations and pledges, accept credit and debit cards, and advance into stronger document management capabilities.

The QuickBooks software integrates seamlessly with Word and Excel to facilitate information sharing and data manipulation. Integration with Microsoft Outlook makes for easy contact management, while the Intuit Developer Network offers more than 450 other industry-specific add-ons and modules.

QB Premier Nonprofit Edition is an easy choice for small nonprofits due to its low learning curve, the familiar QuickBooks interface and substantial customization capabilities. Recent additions to the software that are aimed directly at the NFP market only serve to strengthen its growing position in the small to mid-range marketplace.

Sage MIP Fund Accounting

Sage Software Nonprofit Solutions

(800) 811-0961

Sage MIP Fund Accounting is designed to help nonprofits track and report on multiple funds across multiple budget periods to demonstrate easily audited accountability. It is designed to help managers stay within budget, track grants, and comply with FASB, GASB and other reporting requirements.

It offers a highly scalable, modular system designed to help nonprofits track and report on multiple funds across cost centers, and throughout varying budget periods, and more easily plan and manage budgets, maximize grants, and produce accurate customized reports. Its 26 modules address the full range of accounting, budgeting and reporting activities, including FASB and GASB 34 compliance tools.

The latest version features a new customer feedback portal, allowing customers to quickly submit ideas and feedback to Sage. Other enhancements include additional reporting options and expanded e-mail functionality and import capabilities. A new Visual Analyzer module provides a graphical, interactive approach to data analysis, allowing users to quickly uncover trends, monitor budgets and spending, and share key information throughout their organization. This business intelligence tool allows nonprofit accountants to identify risk, develop effective strategies, and make timely, informed decisions. Financial dashboards give access to the data to make tactical and strategic decisions in a timely manner.

New Form 990 reporting now includes Part 1, 8, 9 and 10, with both summary and detailed formats; new State Unemployment Tax Act reporting fields make it easier for users to reconcile, track and file their state unemployment taxes; the GASB module is more flexible, with improved settings for agencies in the public sector; and improved report drill-down functionality from within financial statements allows users to more accurately search financial records.

With its array of 26 modules and an impressive list of new features, Sage MIP Fund Accounting remains one of the strongest contenders for solid accounting and decision-support platforms in the nonprofit industry.

Serenic Navigator

Serenic Corp.

(877) 737-3642

Serenic Navigator was created from Microsoft Dynamics NAV as a custom application designed to deliver enhanced accounting and financial management capabilities to nonprofits, NGOs and government entities.

The system includes 16 financial applications that cover everything from the general ledger to fixed assets, investment management and grant management. A procurement suite handles purchase orders and requisitions, including Web-based procurement. Other modules address donor management, reimbursement billing, inventory management, workflow and project management, payroll, time and expense sheets, and human resources management.

The latest version contains an extensive array of enhancements and system additions, including an improved user interface, the addition of features such as extended fields, entity integration, interaction management, and dimension attributes. An advanced allocation feature allows users to process system-wide line allocations utilizing a variety of methods, including fixed percentage, derived percentage, fixed amount, combination and markup percentage.

The software is easily defined to support different areas in a nonprofit through role assignments that allow access to specific areas of the system. Roles are defined for the accounting manager, development associate, payroll administrator, award administrator, staff accountant, controller and HR manager.

Tightly integrated with FASB 116, SFAS 117 and GASB 34 compliant financial reporting, Serenic Navigator offers a strong and flexible NFP accounting system built on the Microsoft Dynamics architecture. This offers not only a solid accounting platform, but extensive integration with Office and other industry-standard software.

Traverse Not-For-Profit

Open Systems Inc.

(800) 328-2276

Traverse NFP offers a modular system for nonprofits comprised of more than 40 modules built on an open-source platform but with strong integration to Microsoft products and superb analytics for management decision support.

The system manager offers simplified set-up and access to the integrated applications of general ledger, AP, AR, multicurrency, payroll, enhanced payroll tax reporting, bank reconciliation, direct deposit and fixed assets. It offers advanced reporting capabilities and specialized solutions for nonprofits, including the ability to track restricted, temporarily restricted and unrestricted funds.

Traverse NFP includes FASB 117 reporting; cross-fiscal-year reporting; creation of allocation entries for accounts payable, general ledger and payroll; seamless data imports; active, inactive and discontinued accounts; due-to/due-from transactions; and tracking of grants and programs/special projects across multiple fiscal years.

Version 11 allows individual users to adjust menu terms and organization, and create and save individualized views of data for inquiry and reporting. The Traverse Design Studio also allows users to add custom fields, change the layout of the user interface, create custom forms such as purchase orders and invoices, and build import and export definitions to provide integration to other business software or automation equipment. Any changes made to the software using the design tools are preserved when service packs and other updates are applied to the software.

The new version of Traverse is certified to run on Microsoft Windows 7/Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. Because of this compatibility, it offers customers innovative user interface features, as well as enhanced security and reliability improvements, tools to keep them connected to data stored on the Internet, advanced graphic hardware acceleration, full support for multi-core processing, sophisticated management features, and flexible access to improve mobile computing.

Dave McClure is the president of Kent Associates, in Alexandria, Va., an independent testing laboratory and evaluation service.

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