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Accounting Software for Nonprofits – Part Two – Choosing New Accounting Software

See our considerations for choosing and implementing new accounting software.
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Selecting the right accounting system for a nonprofit organization is a decision that should be made carefully, considering the organization’s specific needs and resources. The size and complexity of your nonprofit can significantly influence which system is best suited for your needs. It is crucial to keep in mind that there rarely is one solution that fits all of your organization’s needs through all stages of its life cycle. Therefore, an average 10-year timeline should be used to appropriately “right-size” the platform and its use.

While each of the systems examined in part one of this article series has its strengths, the best choice depends on a range of factors, including size, budget, and functionality requirements. Conduct thorough research and potentially consult with an advisor at Forvis Mazars to help you make the most informed decision for your nonprofit’s needs. To aid in this process, here are some factors to evaluate when choosing a new accounting system.

Choosing a System

Alignment With Organizational Goals

Determine if the system aligns with your nonprofit’s long-term goals and strategy. Consider how the system can support your mission and operational objectives.

Functional Requirements

List specific functionalities needed, such as fund accounting, grant management, donor tracking, budgeting, and financial reporting. Prioritize these needs to guide your selection.

User Experience

Evaluate the system’s usability. A user-friendly interface can significantly increase adoption rates and reduce training time.


Consider if the system can grow with your organization. Scalability is crucial to avoid the need for future system changes as the organization expands.

Integration With Other Systems

Assess how well the new system will integrate with existing software (customer relationship management (CRM), fundraising platforms, etc.) or the opportunity to integrate with better systems the current platform does not support. Seamless integration is key to efficient operations.

Compliance & Reporting

The system should aid in compliance with financial regulations and reporting standards specific to nonprofits. Check for features that simplify these processes (restriction tracking, allocation functionality, revenue recognition features, etc.).

Customization & Flexibility

Determine the level of customization available. The system should be adaptable to your unique operational processes and reporting needs.

Data Security & Backup

Understand the security measures of the system. Data security is paramount, especially when handling sensitive donor and financial information. Consider user controls and opportunities for audit trails and automated access management.

Vendor Support & Training

Assess the level of support and training provided by the vendor. Good vendor support can significantly ease the transition to a new system. Training is typically included with purchase; however, additional training costs may occur for customized modules or features.

Total Cost of Ownership

Consider the purchase price and ongoing costs like maintenance, upgrades, additional modules, training, and increasing user count. Most systems are subscription-based and require an initial implementation fee for the system itself as well as for integration with other existing systems.

Preparing for Implementation

Since selecting and implementing a new accounting system is a significant undertaking for a nonprofit organization, it requires careful consideration of numerous factors and a well-structured implementation strategy. Below are some items to consider when preparing for a new system implementation. 

Project Planning

Develop a detailed implementation plan. Set clear milestones and deadlines. Assign a dedicated project team to oversee the implementation process. Budget additional time to account for any delays.

Staff Engagement

Involve staff from various departments in the planning process. Their insights can be valuable in understanding the needs and potential challenges. Be realistic about the capacity of your in-house team, which may impact the overall timeline. Consider engaging additional service providers specializing in system implementation and project management.

Data Preparation

Prepare your data for migration. This includes cleaning up existing data, organizing it, and ensuring it is in a format compatible with the new system. This is typically a good time to evaluate your chart of accounts and other reporting segments/dimensions you want to incorporate into the new system.

Training & Change Management

Plan comprehensive training sessions for users. Address potential resistance to change by highlighting the benefits and providing adequate support during the transition.


Conduct thorough testing of the new system before going live. This should include testing all functionalities and integration with other systems.

Backup & Contingency Planning

Have a backup plan in place in case of implementation challenges. Ensure that critical data is backed up and can be restored if needed.

Post-Implementation Review

After going live, review the system’s performance. Gather feedback from users and adjust as necessary.

As accounting software assessments and implementation can be daunting, our nonprofit advisory services professionals at Forvis Mazars can help you evaluate what accounting system best fits your organization’s needs. By helping you analyze your needs, engaging your team in the process, and planning diligently for the transition, your organization can successfully implement a system that enhances financial management and supports your mission for years to come. 

If you have questions or need assistance, reach out to one of our professionals.

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