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Can a non-profit use the same accounting software as a for-profit company? (Like Quickbooks or Peachtree)


Helen Dow
Title: Controller
Company: Goodwill Industries of Central Virginia
(Controller, Goodwill Industries of Central Virginia) |

Technically, yes, but the degree of extra work will be dependent on how the nonprofit operates. For instance, if you have one main type of funding source and few restrictions, there won't be a big difference. Most nonprofits are not so simple and need fund based accounting. Nonprofit accounting is built to work with donor restrictions, fundraising, complex reporting and multiple grant years. If you are considering the for-profit software because of internal expertise, I would challenge that dealing with the learning curve for a short term would be preferable to a length of work arounds. Feel free to email me directly if you would like to discuss further.

Title: CFO

Both QuickBooks Standard and Peachtree Standard allow you to separate income and expenses based on cost centers you assign.

QuickBooks uses classes (departments/programs). Peachtree uses the account number structure to separate cost centers. For example:

Expense Account number without cost center - 5001
Expense Account with cost center - 5001-10
The 10 is the department or cost center you assign to your program or grant.

These programs are inexpensive and will allow your outside accountant or auditor to accurately report on your expenses.

Leslie Karnauskas
Title: CFO
Company: BMGI

Does anyone have any recommendations for a good non-profit accounting software that is relatively simple and not too expensive?

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

Quickbooks Premier offers industry specific versions, one of which is for non-profits. There is also a "standard" account structure template on the web which can be downloaded, modified as needed, and used to enter the chart of accounts. Effective and fairly simple.

Anna Bielecki
Title: Chief Financial Officer / Controller/Sen..
Company: ToBe Enterprises
(Chief Financial Officer / Controller/Senior Consultant, ToBe Enterprises) |

QuickBooks Premier will accommodate your needs. I setup QB for non profits and you need to structure well your chart of accounts, client/projects, and classes. It should work well when those three elements are setup well together, even for more complex non-profit.

Ken Gruber
Title: CFO
Company: St. Dominic's Home
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, St. Dominic's Home) |

Fund EZ is very inexpensive software designed for not for profits...Current version is significant upgrades. Its not perfect but for the price its good product

Paul Shillam
Title: Controller
Company: Pacific Medical Centers
(Controller, Pacific Medical Centers) |

If your organization is funded by fees for service and it operates more like a for-profit entity, it probably makes sense to use a standard accounting software package. What is important is to understand accounting for tax exempt entities and what the differences are when the unexpected occurs (i.e., unrestricted, restricted, and temporarily restricted net assets -- how they arise and are addressed in accounting records). If funding is from grants, donations, and other traditional fund raising activities, it may be more prudent to select an accounting application designed to facilitate NFP accounting. You might consult with your local CPA to help determine which approach is more appropriate to your specific operational needs.


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