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5 Things to Avoid When Purchasing Nonprofit Accounting Software

All too often, nonprofits rely on external spreadsheets and inefficient technology for their accounting software. And while keeping up-to-date on technology can be challenging, especially for budget-strapped nonprofits, optimized software gives them the capacity to focus more on their fundraising efforts. When it comes time to purchase your nonprofit accounting software, here’s five things to avoid.


  1. Budget for Future Maintenance 

Don’t walk a tightrope with annual maintenance and support. Budget for annual maintenance and support going forward. Even if you purchase a perpetual model, most robust accounting software programs require approximately 24% of the retail cost of the software for annual maintenance and support. If support is needed down the line, particularly for software bugs or functionality issues, you might have to repurchase the software to resolve the issue(s) if you are not current with maintenance & support.


  1. Plan for Training

Don’t assume yourself or someone else at your organization can figure the new software out on their own. The reality is that if you can’t budget for implementation and training, don’t purchase the software. I have seen countless software implementations that failed the organization because there was no budget for assistance during implementation or training afterward.


  1. Wait for Stability

Don’t purchase new accounting software if there is frequent turnover in the finance office.  If you’re smart enough to budget for training, but the CFO/Controller is constantly changing, you will continuously need to train the new employees. Wait until the CFO/C has been with your organization at least one year.


  1. Keep Consistent

Don’t purchase new accounting software because the new CFO/Controller doesn’t like and or understand what you are using. If the new CFO/Controller is unwilling to learn new software, this is a red flag. Wait for the CFO to better know the reporting requirements of your organization before they make the suggestion for a software change and require they present arguments to defend their case and the total cost of the project.


  1. Wait and Learn

Don’t allow a new CFO/Controller to make immediate changes to your accounting software database.  Some changes cannot be easily undone. Wait at least one year, for the CFO/Controller to better know the reporting requirements of your organization and require reasoning to make the switch. Get a second opinion from your software implementation consultant or support at the software company.


Whittlesey can advise you on the best accounting software for your nonprofit, contact us at or call 860.524.4465.

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