5 Questions for Evaluating Financial Applications for Churches

Accounting Software for ChurchesReliable Accounting Packages – Reports You Can Trust

Data integrity in your accounting system is paramount. You must have confidence your data is accurate or it becomes useless. If church leaders have to question the accuracy of financial reports, their lack of trust can force the finance team to perform ongoing research and data gathering. As a result, those responsible for the financials will spend all of their time in the transactional weeds as opposed to providing key measures needed to evaluate good stewardship of funds. With modern accounting applications like Intacct, a dimensional structure creates an environment that records data easily, resulting in both posting and reporting efficiencies. Not only is it easy to extract data in multiple reporting formats, the data is accessible via any browser. Dashboards with drill down capabilities allow the user to access source documents attached to the entry. This provides a great deal of confidence in the integrity of the data.

Below are some questions that might be helpful to ask as you’re evaluating a new financial management or accounting solution for your church.

#1 – Is the product designed for nonprofit organizations?

Nonprofit organizations, in many respects, have more report formatting requirements than for-profit enterprises. Yes, it’s true – for the most part, they do not have to file taxes, but the internal reporting requirements can be much more detailed and specific than some businesses. Churches can have multiple programs, mission efforts, and community outreach initiatives. Ministry leaders tend to manage budgets from several different buckets. Platforms best suited for the nonprofit world must be versatile, make data extraction easy, allow multiple levels of budget approvals, and most importantly be easy to read.

#2 – Does the chart of accounts accommodate a structure that complies with FASB and GAAP requirements?

Along with internal reporting requirements, FASB and GAAP are a given. Modern accounting software like Intacct can produce restricted fund detail reports alongside any ministry and program initiatives by utilizing a multi-dimensional environment. This powerful infrastructure eliminates time spent on manipulating the data in Excel in order to get the desired results. It promotes continuity for the user and a greater understanding of what is actually happening to the funds, whether unrestricted or restricted. Rather than using multiple closing accounts, dimensions allow you to flow through one Net Asset account, which is much easier to manage. The chart of accounts is where Intacct rises above any other system.  By utilizing dimensions to segregate the chart of accounts from the departments (ministries), the possibilities are endless.

#3 – Does the software have a method to keep sub-ledger in balance with the general ledger?

With an integrated sub-ledger platform, the natural flow of transactions from the source transactions to the sub-ledger and then finally into the General Ledger is automatic and seamless.  There is no need for any duplication of entries to the sub-ledger.  Therefore, reconciliation is a non-issue.

#4 – Does the general ledger restrict changes? Does the software track changes? Do the software’s standard reports allow omission of transactions?

The user permission set up in Intacct allows for transaction-level restrictions.  Roles can be set up with predefined restrictions based on the task. Intacct’s Access Log report lists all users who attempted to access the platform, including those currently signed in. By default, the access log lists all logins, by all users, for all time. The Access Log tells you who accessed the system, as well as when, where, and from what IP address. The Audit Log report provides an audit trail for standard transactions. It produces a list of all users who have added, edited, or deleted an object on the specified days at the specified time. The report shows the date and time each user either added, edited, or deleted a particular object.

Intacct was built by accountants for accountants. Tracking changes in the audit environment within Intacct has passed the scrutiny of the AICPA. In fact, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) named Intacct as the first and only approved provider of financial applications. This speaks volumes coming from the institution with the highest standards when it comes to compliance and financial software. Not only is it easy to extract data in multiple reporting formats, the data is accessible via any browser and from dashboards that have drill down capabilities. Drilling down to the source document attached to the entry ensures a great deal of confidence in the integrity of the data.

Does the software provide a method to generate consolidated reports for committees, congregations and individual ministries, etc.?

Intacct’s multi-entity, multi-currency, and multi-book platform with Global Consolidations is far superior to any other platform built for churches and nonprofits. Intacct provides incredible dynamics in reporting with the use of the dimensional structure. It allows the user to slice and dice data, at any level. Whether it’s a consolidated view church-wide, by ministry, by department with sub departments… You name it – Intacct does it.  Intacct uses its infrastructure to create the diversity in reporting data. Intacct eliminates the need for ongoing Excel report maintenance in order to satisfy the ministry data requests.

If you have any questions about choosing an accounting solution for your church or not-for-profit, please feel free to contact us.  We’re happy to help answer questions and guide your selection, regardless of whether or not our products are the right solution for you.

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ERP professionals providing insight and advice for not for profit organizations.