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accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:47 am
by mouses
I saw a note that my church is looking at accounting software, and I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations? I assume these packages are customized for religious organizations, which have different stuff going on than a regular business. Thanks.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:26 am
by lthenderson
I'm pretty sure both our church and the private school that I'm on the board use Quickbooks. I have no idea how to use it and don't know if it is customizable for churches/schools. I just read the reports that it spits out.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:30 am
by renue74
Even though there may be accounting packages set up to market to churches, if you use an outside accounting firm that helps with tax returns, etc., they will appreciate you using Quickbooks so they don't have to "learn," a new software just for your account.

Quickbooks Online actually allows your accountant access to your accounting via their own login...which is nice if your inside bookkeeper has a question about something...our outsourced accountant can take a look in real time at the accounting entries and verify.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:43 am
by Peculiar_Investor
A few years back my father was involved in the treasury of his church and they used a program called PowerChurch. Other than the occasional "tech support" question about installing/running the software, I don't have any experience or recommendation/comment on the software. I just happen to know the name of the program.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:44 am
by Miakis
Is your church audited regularly by an outside accounting firm? If so, you should ask them what they prefer.

If not, then I'd recommend Quickbooks Online. You can purchase an upgraded version that allows for various non-profit accounting functions, but start with the lowest version of the software that you think you might use - in Quickbooks Online, you can always upgrade, but you can't downgrade easily.

I prefer Quickbooks Online to the desktop version because there's no need for backups, you can easily have multiple users, and it eliminates the need for program upgrades. Personally, I think it's more user-friendly than the desktop version, and the support from Intuit is much better for the online product.

If you don't think Quickbooks has suitable functionality, you'll have to be more specific about what features you need.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:54 am
by dm200
mouses wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:47 am
I saw a note that my church is looking at accounting software, and I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations? I assume these packages are customized for religious organizations, which have different stuff going on than a regular business. Thanks.
1. If this church is part of an organizaed denomination, perhaps there are some recommended choices

2. In one denomination (very centralized) I am familiar with, the parishes are mandated to use Quickbooks with a very centrally and extensively defined chart of accounts and procedures that allow detailed reporting in a standardized way.

3. Many years ago, I believe there were some customized systems - but my guess is that they have gone away as systems like Quickbooks have gained more capabilities.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:05 pm
by EvanRude

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:10 pm
by patrick013
Quickbooks for a small church I suppose.

American FundWare is good but a bit slow.

BlackBaud is good but probably has to be customized. Fast.

I'd use PeachTree for Windows and just rename accounts accordingly.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:28 am
by mouses
Thanks for the input.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:17 pm
by Ace1
Mouse
I have been treasurer for my church 30 years.
I have been using the Power Church Plus software for over 20 years.
It is designed specifically for churches for things like membership data, contributions,
events, record keeping (sermons, equipment, music), and accounting.
I am very happy with the accounting module.
The church uses another church software (Shepherd Staff) for contributions and membership data
because a previous pastor used it and was a proponent and beta tester for them.
I did not like the accounting module, so I stayed with PCP as I felt it was superior to SS.
I think I used the tech support once, and maintenance releases are issued from time to time.
If all you want is accounting, it does bring other software into play like quickbooks or peachtree, etc.
But if you want the complete church package, look into software specifically designed for churches such as
these or any other church specific software.
I should also point out they have both a desktop and an online version.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:13 pm
by djmbob
Have used Powerchurch for 8 years and when I demonstrated to three other churches in our Communion (and the national office), they were so impressed they switched from quickbooks to Powerchurch. Its made for churches, not business. Tracks members and visitors, links to contributions and giving, links to fund accounting and finances = all integrated. Produces myriad reports which can me customized a bit (can also design your own reports), interfaces with Constant Contact to compare and correct names & addresses to the most current version, also integrated with Vanco for online giving which produces weekly online giving reports that can be uploaded to Powerchurch, periodic and annual giving statements can be emailed to members. Just so pleased with the product and their support center. Would recommend it for a small to midsize <200 member congregation. Happy to answer any questions.
Cheers,
Ray

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:47 pm
by abuss368
mouses wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:47 am
I saw a note that my church is looking at accounting software, and I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations? I assume these packages are customized for religious organizations, which have different stuff going on than a regular business. Thanks.
Hi mouses -

I would recommend QuickBooks as a solution that is both low cost and user friendly. I found an alternative software, Peachtree not as user friendly or as widely utilized.

You should also know that QuickBooks installed locally is different than QuickBooks online. They are not one in the same.

I would suspect that QuickBooks online is the future where financial information is available in more of a real time setting with multiple user access. The avoidance of consistently backing up the data file as it resides in the cloud combined with accessibility from any portal is also a benefit.

Best.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:52 pm
by Beowulfto
I have been involved in leadership with a number of congregations and have seen a couple of changes over the years. First step is to determine the needs of your congregation. Are you looking for just stand-alone accounting software, or are you looking for something that integrates with other databases (Membership, Stewardship reporting, attendance, website, etc)? If accounting only is required go with Quickbooks Online (anyone can log-ing to work on it remotely) or Peachtree as they are commonly known and interoperable with outside organizations. If you are looking for something integrated with operations of the congregation there are other options, but last time I checked they did not have the same capabilities as a straight accounting package. See what meets your needs, test it out, get all the stakeholders' input (who will be using it every week/day?) Some of the more integrated packages are: Shepard's Staff, Church 360 (the online successor to Shepard's Staff), SimpleChurch CRM (very limited financial reporting but great integration of other pieces). Best of Luck!

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:58 pm
by Hoosier CPA
We use Quickbooks (not the online version). It works fairly well. The issue with it is it's not the best for fund accounting. I've thought about looking for an alternative built for churches or non profits, but I would be concerned about reliability.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:04 am
by Daryl
Hoosier CPA wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:58 pm
We use Quickbooks (not the online version). It works fairly well. The issue with it is it's not the best for fund accounting. I've thought about looking for an alternative built for churches or non profits, but I would be concerned about reliability.
Do you have multiple users? Our organization is struggling with how best to work collaboratively in a Quickbooks environment after our Treasurer booked accumulated depreciation as a debit to the balance sheet :oops: I would like to propose a reversal of her entry, create a sub-account under each asset account for Accumulated Depreciation (instead of one accumulated depreciation account), post an adjustment for the YTD depreciation, and then create a recurring transaction for depreciation expense each month (we don't purchase fixed assets often). The company file lives on her personal/home computer. She isn't comfortable transitioning to Quickbooks Online.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:05 am
by ClevrChico
I do the books for a non-profit. (Not a church, but ~$160k annual cash flow)

I use Google Sheets for record keeping/general ledger. Our credit union has nice online banking features for accounts payable.

I give our records to a CPA once/year for taxes. A CPA could probably give you a workbook or create one.

I have no idea if churches are complex and need specialized software, but a spreadsheet may be all you need.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:42 pm
by abuss368
ClevrChico wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:05 am
I do the books for a non-profit. (Not a church, but ~$160k annual cash flow)

I use Google Sheets for record keeping/general ledger. Our credit union has nice online banking features for accounts payable.

I give our records to a CPA once/year for taxes. A CPA could probably give you a workbook or create one.

I have no idea if churches are complex and need specialized software, but a spreadsheet may be all you need.
What one would pay a qualified CPA, QuickBooks would be a lower cost.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:42 pm
by abuss368
ClevrChico wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:05 am
I do the books for a non-profit. (Not a church, but ~$160k annual cash flow)

I use Google Sheets for record keeping/general ledger. Our credit union has nice online banking features for accounts payable.

I give our records to a CPA once/year for taxes. A CPA could probably give you a workbook or create one.

I have no idea if churches are complex and need specialized software, but a spreadsheet may be all you need.
What one would pay a qualified CPA, QuickBooks would be a lower cost.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:33 pm
by ClevrChico
abuss368 wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:42 pm
ClevrChico wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:05 am
I do the books for a non-profit. (Not a church, but ~$160k annual cash flow)

I use Google Sheets for record keeping/general ledger. Our credit union has nice online banking features for accounts payable.

I give our records to a CPA once/year for taxes. A CPA could probably give you a workbook or create one.

I have no idea if churches are complex and need specialized software, but a spreadsheet may be all you need.
What one would pay a qualified CPA, QuickBooks would be a lower cost.
Google Sheets is free. A general ledger template is free. Sharing is built into Google Drive. A nice mobile app is free. It's a very nice and free alternative to accounting software.

Of course, pro-consulting is a cost and option no matter what system you choose.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:41 pm
by dm200
Remember, in most cases "time is money". If the right accounting software saves time on the part of employees, a higher cost of such software can often pay for itself many times over.

In addition, the capability of better audits and internal control can reduce the risks on fraud and financial mismanagement (I have seen many such instances).

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:12 pm
by patrick013
It depends on what you have. If you need payroll plus alot
of A/P I still think PeachTree has alot of headroom if needed.
eBay has a 2010 version for $39.00 The new version by
Sage can cost $1000 per year.

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:22 pm
by retiringwhen
We have used Quickbooks Online (and Quickbooks Desktop) for over ten years for a church with a $800K/year budget. It frankly is not well suited for a non-profit even with the add-ons. The budgeting model is broken and does not handle giving in any practical way for the needed reporting of donations.

We also use a product for giving and member management called Elexio (elexio.com). We transitioned to it from Powerchurch about 4 years ago.

Elexio handles the giving very well. They are currently in a major upgrade of products after a merger with other church-related software companies.

That merger brought in a specialized Church Accounting package called Shelby Systems. Our church is looking to transition to it next year. I will let you know how it goes 6 mos. from now :wink:

Re: accounting software for churches?

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:31 pm
by patrick013