Intuit — QuickBooks Accounting Premier Nonprofit Edition 2009

From the Jan. 2009 Review of Not-for-Profit Accounting Programs

QuickBooks prides itself in being user friendly. From the menus to sharp graphical workflows of the customizable Home Page, QuickBooks is easy to navigate and performs the functions needed.

The QuickBooks Centers offer great flexibility. They allow quick access to customer, vendor and employee databases with their history and the ability to launch new transactions from the same screen. Users have great flexibility to customize how they use the system with icons at the top of the main screen and individual entry tools in the Preference screens. Popular options include using Tab vs. Enter key, auto decimal placement, spell checking and startup options.

For organizations with business operations, the basic functions are built into QuickBooks without additional modules necessary. Additions available for Quick-Books include Point of Sale, Intuit Merchant Services (credit card and billing services), online Time Tracker and Enhanced Payroll. QuickBooks relies on third-party applications to expand the offerings to integrate with management software with hundreds of options available.

QuickBooks for Nonprofits offers small business accounting software adapted to the nonprofit sector. There is no direct support of grant management, fund accounting or cost allocations per se, but, as accounting software, all the tools are there if you know how to use them. As QuickBooks is designed for those without accounting knowledge, the vendor has made an effort to provide guidance. The Help system, coupled with its New Live Community gives opportunities for direction if needed.

As a packaged system, QuickBooks Accounting Premier Nonprofit offers functionality for GL, AP, AR, Security, Audit Trail, Inventory and Purchase Orders, Time Tracking, Payroll, Customizable Reports, forms and statements, and Bank Reconciliation. Budgeting and forecasting tools are also available, although hidden in the Company menu. Free one-year subscriptions are included for remote access and Intuit websites.

Tight integration with Microsoft Office allows mail merge capabilities with Word, exporting reports and data to Excel and contact information with Outlook. QuickBooks also allows e-mailing of reports and forms as well as a Shipping Manager to integrate with UPS and FedEx. For those that need more, Intuit offers QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. It’s the same user-friendly interface over a much larger database, and it expands up to 30 users with customizable account/report-level security. Additional operational functionality makes QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit Edition a solid competitor for the mid-sized organization.

With the Nonprofit Edition, if an organization uses the Easy Step Interview to create its agency, it can choose from general nonprofit, member association or faith-based organization structure with options to use the unified chart of accounts. QuickBooks provides for fund or restriction management on the income statement with the class function. Program or fund-ing source tracking can be accomplished by using the Job Costing features built into the product. The Help system points users to these adaptations to nonprofit needs.

Budget and forecast setups are easy in spreadsheet-like tools. QuickBooks Nonprofit offers one budget per fiscal year for the entire chart of accounts (profit & loss and balance sheet separately), each class, or individual program (job). Budget setups are limited to the organization’s fiscal year, but reporting can span unlimited date ranges, effectively allowing multiple-period program and grant budgets.

QuickBooks encourages users to work with a professional for accounting guidance with tools like the Accountant’s Copy. This special archived file allows users to continue work while the accountant makes corrections to their file and then incorporates the changes. This feature was greatly improved in 2008, allow-ing most functions in QuickBooks to be corrected. New this year is the Company Snapshot, a dashboard view of important financial data. Upgrades to Online Banking features and list filtering capabilities were also made. Also new to 2009 is customer requested Multi-Currency support as well as QuickBooks Messenger, which provides communication between users via instant message.

REPORTING - 4.5 Stars
QuickBooks Accounting Pre-mier Nonprofit Edition offers reports for FASB 117 compliance as well as hundreds of business analysis reports. However, financial statements are not in traditional GAAP format but can be exported to Excel for quick formatting changes. For integrated reporting capabilities, nonprofit organizations may want to consider the Accountant Edition of QuickBooks. New in the 2009 Accountant Edition, QuickBooks introduced an add-on Intuit Statement Writer with GAAP templates and functionality in-cluded. QuickBooks Accountant Edition also includes the Fixed Asset Manager at no additional charge. Coupled with additional industry reports and functionality, the Accountant Edition may be the right fit for some nonprofit agencies.

QuickBooks reports and forms can be customized, memorized and grouped for efficient production. Reports can also be ex-ported, e-mailed and saved in PDF format. Users can be set up to access reports only for board and management purposes. All reports offer drill-down capabilities to analyze back to original transactions.

In-product Help offers nonprofit-specific assistance in many areas. Revamped in 2009, the Help system dynamically adapts to current activities and offers live access to the New Live Community online forum. This lively online user forum is available to all QuickBooks users and has many active nonprofit threads. The QuickBooks support website is also very useful with a large knowledgebase available of FAQs, error message resolution and product guidance.
QuickBooks offers technical support packages with 24/7 tele-phone assistance for technical and product questions. First-year plans are $349 and $299 subsequently. Annual support plans include downloadable guides, installation and setup support, and online backup service. Monthly plans and pay-as-you-go support are also available. Intuit has developed a vast network of accounting and consulting professionals (ProAdvisors) to provide local support, training and consulting.

QuickBooks Accounting Pre-mier Nonprofit Edition 2009 is a technology bargain for $399.95 (single user), $749.95 (two users), and a three-user package at $1,099.95. For those with needs beyond five concurrent users, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions (Nonprofit Edition) starts at $3,000 for five users and $5,000 for 10 users (Enterprise pricing includes Intuit’s Full Service Plan). For small and growing organizations, QuickBooks is easy to customize to your specific needs if you are willing to do a little research. For a nonprofit organization that knows the ropes and is operating on a tight budget, QuickBooks Nonprofit Edition is an excellent option.

2009 OVERALL RATING: overall rating