When I became the volunteer treasurer of our church we switched from Excel to a big name accounting software that cost several hundreds of dollars. For the first year I was miserable. It was not intuitive and support cost extra money, which we didn't have. When it came time to file our T1030 with the CRA, I was even more miserable. It took me 4 months to unravel 12 months of transactions and sort them into the appropriate CRA categories. After working my Googlefu I found ACCOUNTS. I convinced our board to let me buy it and I've been a happy treasurer ever since. The ability to assign accounts to T1030 lines made my job so much simpler this year. When it came time to file, I was spending every day at my husband's bedside in hospital. I didn't have time to do all the work I had had to do last year. This time it took me all of maybe two days to double check everything, create my report and plug it into the T1030. I can't speak highly enough of this software's ability to cater to the special needs of charity/non-profit accounting. When I have a question, I get a quick answer from Support. The only thing I would like to see that hopefully will be in future versions is an ability to drill down in reports to follow a transaction. Other than that, well done!
For those in the U.S.A., the CRA referred to is the Canada Revenue Agency, and the T3010 is the annual report all churches and charities have to submit to the CRA. ACCOUNTS can just as easily associate its accounts with lines on the IRS' form 990 or 990-EZ, for those charities that have to submit that one annually.
Pros: Entering cheques and deposits can be done in a window similar to a cheque book; sample chart of accounts available for churches; low cost; it is possible to recall a prior reconciliation; fund accounting a real help; simple program for a small organization. Cons: Program design assumes the user has an understanding of bookkeeping and debit-credit balance sheets; would like some simplified reports showing main category totals. Overall Impression: Our Unitarian Fellowship was using Quicken to keep track of our cheques & expenses, which was simple but not complete enough to keep track of different funds. We were already using the Donation software developed by the same company and were very happy with that program.
You do need a bit of accounting understanding to use ACCOUNTS. The Help topic "ACCOUNTING CONCEPTS" gives you some of that.
In the vast majority of the program, you don't see the words "debit" or "credit". For instance, the register-style transaction entry window for an asset account such as a bank account has columns for a Payment amount or a Deposit amount.
You do need to use debits and credits if you are entering journal entries (which should very rarely be needed). And the words debit and credit are also used on some transaction details reports, that include multiple types of account, because there is no other available terminology that works consistently. (You can't label headings "Payment" and "Deposit" if the transaction might be on a liability account, for instance!)
One final place debits and credits are used is when you are entering an initial opening balance transaction, for an already existing organization. (It's actually just a variation of a journal entry.)
As treasurer of a small non-profit corporation in the U.S., I spent quite a bit of time searching for the best software to replace my old spreadsheet system. I had assumed that QuickBooks would be the solution, but soon realized that, in spite of its claim to support non-profit accounting, it really did not. I downloaded the 60-day free evaluation version of ACCOUNTS and tested it with several months of data to make sure it met our needs before purchasing the software. ACCOUNTS is a solid accounting program with data entry screens and reports that are well thought out. One of its greatest features is ease of use. It has a built-in chart of accounts that can be easily adapted to suit the user's needs. Routine transactions are handled easily; the software remembers previous transactions to reduce entry time and transactions can easily be posted to multiple accounts. Reconciliations are a breeze. Reports are truly designed for non-profit. Perhaps the best feature is the extraordinary customer support. I have never called because, on the rare occasion I needed help, I just sent an email and got very quick response. I also use the DONATION program from the same source and am very pleased with it as well. This software is a bargain at twice the price.
Pros - Chart of accounts is well organized from an accounting point of view. Adjustments can be made on the fly without jeopardizing integrity of information. Data entry is logical and done easily. Good options for ready-made reports. Imports data from other programs making transition less onerous. Can't beat the price and the support! Cons - Limited capabilities for payroll and for large corporations.
To be clear, the only normal import from other programs (like QuickBooks) is of the chart of accounts. It cannot import past transactions from them, and you really wouldn't want to. That's because the way ACCOUNTS "thinks" about fund accounting (which is much more natural than anything you can do in general-purpose programs like QuickBooks) would make many of the transactions from other programs incorrect to import.
Also, ACCOUNTS doesn't have "limited" payroll capabilities, it doesn't really have any! I.e. it does not do payroll calculations. Of course, you can create relevant accounts for payroll, and directly enter your payroll transactions, but you have to get the calculations done in some other way. (I do recommend a couple of online payroll programs, that can export the transactions to ACCOUNTS.)
I ahve been using Accounts for one year and find it very user friendly. At first I had a problem getting everything in order but once I had everything in order it was very easy to work with. The reports are very clear and show all the information required. Entering cheques and deposits are very easy . One problem is entering the account numbers you have to go through all the numbers till you get to the one you want. When you have to enter a new account number it is very easy. The tax box is great to use when enetring payments. If HST is part of the payment clicking on that box automatically posts the correct tax . I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a new one to use.
In terms of entering account numbers, you can use the account names instead. Pressing the first letter of an account name re-sorts any account drop-down list into alphabetical order, showing the first one with that as the first letter of its name. That will usually be much faster than scrolling to find an account number.
You also can choose not to display account numbers in data entry windows at all, if you don't wish to see them.
After an initial 60-day free trial, the regular Standalone version is $120, and the multi-user Network version is $200. That includes support and upgrades for one year. In the subsequent years, an Annual Renewal payment of half of your initial purchase price entitles you to another year of support and upgrades.