Many non-profit organizations use QuickBooks to perform accounting and prepare financial statements. Beyond bookkeeping and financial reporting needs, your accounting system is in place so that management and board members can make decisions. With this in mind, it is important that your QuickBooks is installed and set up correctly.
Furthermore, it must be configured to conform to the needs of your specific non-profit. Read further for tips managing your QuickBooks accounting system in an efficient and effective manner to benefit both board and management needs.
Set Up Is Important
- Be sure that all the people using QuickBooks have the same version. You do not want your controller using a version of the program that is a year behind what your bookkeeper is using.
- If you have a dedicated server for your workstations, do not put the program directly on the server. Instead, load it on a dedicated computer with a shared folder. This will limit bottlenecks, conflicts and slow processing.
- If you are promoting a paperless environment, it is important that any entity that you do business with that offers paperless or electronic transactions is compatible with the program. Be sure your bank can integrate with QuickBooks for faster processing of transactions into your accounting system.
Provide the Information the Board Needs
- Budgets and forecasts are extremely important when running a non-profit. The board will need to analyze budgets versus actual income and expenses and, if necessary, costs of goods sold. Be sure that you have based the budget on the prior year’s P&L (profit & loss), and that is has been adjusted based on the current year’s projections and any changes in planning.
- Limit daily access to individuals that truly need to use it. The board members should not be accessing payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable on a regular basis. Instead, provide them with reports that summarize the information they need to make decisions.
Advice for Users
- QuickBooks can sometimes be confusing, especially for people with limited bookkeeping experience. Do not be afraid to contact Jacobson Jarvis for assistance. From the most basic requests to producing high-level complicated reports, an expert can help you navigate the system and produce the information you need.
- Take the time to set all the User Preferences to conform to your needs and business model. QuickBooks is designed to be user-friendly so that you can change the defaults to suit your non-profit’s specific needs.
- Take care with your chart of accounts. Use a combination of meaningful, high-level and generic accounts to keep your financial reports, such as the P&L and Balance Sheet, manageable and easy to read.
- Take the time to map each of your accounts to the corresponding reporting line on your non-profit’s tax return. Jacobson Jarvis can help you with this process if it is not clear how each account should be presented on the Form 990.
Starting a non-profit can be a daunting task, especially when you begin the process of selecting an accounting system and setting it up to function according to the needs of the organization. An accounting professional can help you set up an efficient and effective accounting system in QuickBooks so that you can fully utilize the program for all of your management and reporting needs.