Some church management programs do not do accounting while others offer an accounting module to purchase separately. Interestingly, CRM (customer relationship management) software that businesses use rarely incorporate accounting. Small businesses almost across the board use QuickBooks or Peachtree. This causes many church treasurers to ask, “Should we use church software that has accounting built in, or should we use a separate program like QuickBooks”. The good news is that most, if not all, church software programs link to QuickBooks, eliminating the need for duplicate entry. This means for non-profit accounting you have the option to stick with QuickBooks, even if you change church management programs.
So while we definitely recommend using church management software to track donors and donations (don’t even try to use accounting software for that) here are the top five reasons (according to pastors, church financial secretaries, and even some of the church software companies) that churches should use QuickBooks.
1. Intuit knows what it’s doing.
With $4 billion in annual revenue and over 50 million people using their products, Intuit has proven that it knows more about helping people accomplish accounting tasks than any other company out there. Since 1983 they have helped small business owners of every variety manage their expenses against their income.
Why this is important: Accounting is an industry that is driven by legality. With constant changes to accounting laws, tax laws, and best practices, you want to make sure you choose a software vendor that not only has the experience to navigate those changes, but also has the bankroll to put those changes into your software. Most church software companies have a few thousand customers, most of which are not using their application for accounting purposes. Needless to say, form “XYS123″ may not be the top priority of the church software developer.
Bottom line, QuickBooks has any accounting features the church software accounting module will have, its made by people who focus purely on accounting, and know a lot more about what you need to do.
2. QuickBooks is EASY TO USE.
Intuit didn’t get to where it is today, by creating a miserable user experience. QuickBooks has a nearly 100% user satisfaction rate across its 50 million users who strongly recommend the program based primarily on its ease of use.
Why this is important: The last thing you want is a program that isn’t easy to use. If your accounting program is too difficult to figure out, your accounting department will not be able to do a good job and may even inadvertently cost your church big bucks either in misplaced funds, legal mistakes, or time wasted trying to do simple tasks. Many church software accounting modules are archaic and incredibly difficult to use. This creates frustration and even high turnover in accounting staff at churches.
Bottom line, if it’s not easy you won’t use it.
3. QuickBooks is affordable.
Serving small business meant that from the start Intuit had to provide accounting solutions that were affordable. With online versions starting at $12/ month and installed versions for less than $100, there is really no barrier to entry for QuickBooks when it comes to cost.
Why this is important: Adding your church software accounting module is usually a lot more expensive than purchasing QuickBooks and come with upfront fees of hundreds or thousands of dollars and very expensive support plans. Intuit offers a ton of help resources on their website, affordable premium support, and also has a gigantic network of QuickBooks professionals across the world. It’s almost definite that there is a QuickBooks professional advisor in your town.
The bottom line, saving money matters, and if you get more features and better service, it’s a no brainer to go with QuickBooks.
4. Amazing support.
Not only is the support affordable, it’s very high quality. With thousands of certified agents on their help line, and tens of thousands of certified professionals serving local markets, you have a good chance of getting help if you get stuck. Chances are, you won’t get stuck with the application, you’ll get stuck and have questions about general accounting practices. QuickBooks Advisors are all over that and can help you figure out the best way to track your finances.
Why this is important: when you call for help, a lot of times you need “conceptual” help or “best practices” help. If your accounting program was made by a small company that focuses mostly on managing ministry, they will probably not be able to help you much in training you how to do accounting.
The bottom line, a company that has thousands of CPA’s on staff is more equipped to help you than a company with one or two.
5. No need to change accounting programs if (when) you change church management software.
You’re probably going to change your church management software a few times over the years. For the most part the change will only require little more than an export/import of your data from your old program to the new program. Accounting is much different. If you are forced to change accounting programs every time you change church software, you will probably have a revolving door of financial secretaries, and an enormous battle on your hands if they do stick around. And that makes sense. It’s a lot more complicated to change your accounting software / practices, than it is to change your church membership software.
Why this is important: Church management software providers go out of business all the time. Those that don’t are often getting purchased by another company. Many times the program just stops working like you thought it would and you decide you’re going to have to change how you manage your ministry. The good thing is that for the most part, this transition can be fairly painless… EXCEPT for the accounting module. Changing accounting software is something that you do not want to do frequently, if ever.
The bottom line, change is tough enough so don’t tie your accounting software to your church management software and create a nightmare for the financial office.