MIP vs. QuickBooks: Affordable Accounting Software for Nonprofits

Explore whether MIP or Quickbooks is the better accounting software for your nonprofit based on the key differences.

Replacing an introductory accounting solution like QuickBooks with a mid-market product such as MIP Fund Accounting is one of the most important decisions a nonprofit will make. And one of the most difficult.

Upgrading to an objectively superior solution like MIP sets a nonprofit up for sustained growth driven by accounting excellence. But it also comes at a higher cost, involves an extended transition period, and means abandoning the familiarity of QuickBooks. The difficult question facing nonprofit leaders is whether they’re overdue for an upgrade or fine with what they have?

JMT Consulting has worked with 2,000+ nonprofits over multiple decades, including countless clients seeking the right accounting software. We are vendor agnostic. We are not neutral, however. And in our experience, nonprofits will eventually outgrow QuickBooks and require a purpose-built solution like MIP.

If you’re on the fence about which product to trust with your nonprofit’s finances, explore five key differences between MIP and QuickBooks. You know what your nonprofit needs. Now find out which product delivers.

Auditing Excellence

QuickBooks has one of the most user-friendly platforms on the market. That’s an asset to a small nonprofit just starting out. But it’s a liability to a more mature organization subject to auditing requirements. QuickBooks sacrifices auditing controls in favor of accessibility. Users can even reclass or reverse transactions without leaving a record in the audit trail, making it difficult or impossible to complete a trustworthy audit.

MIP exemplifies what strict audit controls look like. For one, it forces these controls out of the box so the audit trail begins immediately. The system also balances the need for users to find and amend data with the need to limit and track any changes made. In practice, MIP automatically creates the kind of unbroken audit trail that transparent nonprofits depend on (and auditors love to see).

Expansive Features

As a solution designed for beginners, QuickBooks has a relatively limited number of features, many of them simplified for general users. The chart of accounts, for instance, leaves much to be desired, and QuickBooks can’t handle grant tracking. In the absence of these key features, nonprofits rely extensively on Excel, which is an amazing product – but it’s fundamentally a workaround.

With MIP, nonprofits have a true all-in-one accounting platform with 30 modules for vital administrative functions: General ledger, AP/AR, Bank Reconciliation, Payroll, and many more. Offering gold-standard capabilities for fund accounting, MIP lets users program dozens of segments into a fully-customized chart of accounts. Excel becomes irrelevant with a solution that can do exactly what nonprofit accountants require.

Optimal Reporting

The sparse toolkit in QuickBooks contains only the most basic reporting capabilities. Building reports takes extra time because it often requires stitching together various data sources and overcoming different system limitations. Worse, the reports Quickbooks can build offer a shallow perspective that leaves nonprofits in the dark about their true performance.

MIP has exemplary reporting capabilities thanks to the segmented chart of accounts mentioned earlier. Users can easily mix and match various data sources to create highly-customized reports focused on whatever merits exploration. A simple yet powerful report writer also lets anyone with authorization create reports and replace unknowns with answers.

Nonprofit Specialization

QuickBooks aims to satisfy as many users as possible. It wasn’t built to be a nonprofit-specific solution, and especially not a solution for nonprofits managing multiple funding sources with restriction requirements. The incompatibility between Quickbooks and nonprofit accounting only becomes more apparent with time as more of accounting bleeds into Excel.

The list of accounting solutions built specifically for nonprofits is small and contains MIP at the top. Everything from allocations to budgeting to reporting reflects the unique needs of nonprofits while conforming to all applicable accounting and regulatory standards. With a specialized solution like MIP, accountants don’t have to wonder if their software is up to the task.

Focused Support

Serving hundreds of thousands of users means QuickBooks rations its support resources carefully. Users only get 30 days of support from a basic license. Making matters more difficult, QuickBooks doesn’t have a robust partner community. Frustrated users without a place to turn for answers and help often rely on internet forums as a last resort.

The situation is exactly reversed with MIP. Users have a vast ecosystem of support resources they can tap into. That includes support from MIP itself, which is known for being accessible and in-depth. MIP also has a community of partners like JMT Consulting that exist to help nonprofits optimize their accounting software throughout its lifecycle.

MIP vs. Quickbooks: Final Verdict

If your nonprofit is leveraging Quickbooks and it’s (1) meeting your needs from a functionality standpoint and (2) giving you the visibility you need to make strategic decisions, that’s great! But as soon as it isn’t, we can help you explore a solution that is designed to meet the complex requirements of your nonprofit (like MIP Fund Accounting). Remember: it’s better to transition sooner than to rely on the wrong solution for longer.

Contact us to explore what comes after QuickBooks.

The Recruitment Risks of Too Many Interviews

Employers today are struggling to find workers. Those that ask applicants to go through an unnecessarily lengthy and opaque process are likely to lose out on candidates who have plenty of alternatives. 

It’s a significant financial and operational commitment for a company to hire a new team member. Onboarding and training require considerable resources, not to mention the salary, benefits, and taxes involved in compensating the new hire. Operationally, new team members are often accountable not just to their boss but also to stakeholders in other departments by virtue of increasingly interconnected and collaborative offices.

So it’s understandable that employers might want to use an extensive interview process to thoroughly vet candidates before selecting one for an open position. But employers need to be careful not to drive applicants away with overly onerous interview processes, particularly in a job market in which applicants have considerable leverage.

Long Interview Processes Can Be a Big Turnoff

In an article for BBC Worklife, Mark Johanson presents the experience of a 49-year-old software engineer from Indiana named Mike Conley, who became so frustrated with a seemingly never-ending interview process that he ultimately pulled his application. In Conley’s case, the employer was unable—or perhaps unwilling—to even share whether a six-round follow-up to an already completed three-round interview process would be the final step in making a hiring decision.

According to Johanson, Conley’s experience is not unusual. “The internet is awash with similar stories jobseekers who’ve become frustrated with companies—particularly in the tech, finance and energy sectors—turning the interview process into a marathon,” he writes. With many jobseekers enjoying a large number of potential opportunities these days, they have the luxury of being selective and may be turned off from an interview process that seems unnecessarily burdensome and time-consuming.

Streamlining Your Interview Process

Insufficient vetting might result in your costly investment’s failing to deliver the desired results. But too much vetting might result in quality applicants’ opting out of the process altogether. So, what is an employer to do?

A couple of best practices might help strike the right balance for recruiters:

  • Be deliberate in arranging interviews. Recruiters should avoid adding additional interviews without first evaluating the need for each additional round. If an interviewee already has several rounds of interviews, resist the urge to add on others that might provide only marginal benefit.
  • Be transparent with interviewees. Recruiters shouldn’t keep applicants in the dark on the hiring process. If there are going to be six rounds of interviews, make that clear upfront. Applicants may decide they aren’t interested enough in the position to invest that much of their time. While this might mean some applicants drop out early, it’s better than wasting everyone’s time only to reach that same result later in the process.

The labor market, as with most markets, is cyclical. Sometimes employers have a great deal of leverage and are awash with candidates. In these cases, they can ask them to submit to extensive vetting. But this is not one of those times! Employers today are struggling to find workers. Those that ask applicants to go through an unnecessarily lengthy and opaque process are likely to lose out on candidates who have plenty of alternatives.

Shared Content, Author Lin Grensing-Pophal

AM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: PNP Staffing Group

PNP STAFFING

We recently sat down with Gayle Brandel, CEO of PNP Staffing Group to talk about her company and the importance of the Salary Report PNP produces each year, and how this year, in particular, is critical in gathering as many surveys as possible in order to help the nonprofit industry.

NRH: Tell us about PNP and the services it provides

GB: Since 1996, PNP Staffing Group, also known as Professionals for NonProfits, has been providing talent exclusively to the nonprofit sector.  Specializing in Executive Search and Direct Hire, Interim Professionals, Consultants, Temp-To-Hire, and Contract/Temporary Staff – offering a single source of staffing solutions a nonprofit might need.    

Our specialties are in the areas of Executive management, Fundraising and Development, Finance, Human Resources, Program Management, Database, and Office Support.  

NRH: Can you tell us a little about your role at PNP?

GB: I currently serve as the CEO of PNP. Prior to founding PNP, I served in a financial and business management capacity in numerous leading NYC nonprofit institutions. I have extensive strategic talent management, and capacity-building experience.  But above all, I am committed to helping nonprofits make smart hiring decisions.

I sit on several nonprofit Boards, have authored numerous articles on hiring, retention, and professional development for publications in this sector.

NRH: Can you tell us a little about your team at PNP?

GB: Our team is comprised of a diverse group of executives and recruiters who have many years of experience in the nonprofit sector.  Team members have been with PNP between 7 to 22 years.  Our expertise, experience, and connections to leaders in the sector help us reach the top 10% of talent in the marketplace to bring the best staff to help nonprofits sustain their missions and advance capacity.  

NRH: What is  PNP’s motto?

GB: We believe in the power of nonprofits to make a difference in people’s lives and are proud that PNP provides the staff to help make that difference.  

NRH: Gayle, can you explain what the Salary Report is and why it is so important for nonprofit organizations to take the time to complete and submit the survey?

GB: Every summer we start gathering salary information from nonprofits by sending out a salary survey to the sector. It is critical that as many people as possible fill out the survey so that our information on our Salary Report is accurate.  PNP’s Annual Salary Report for Nonprofits provides hiring managers with valuable salary information to help them compete effectively for talent in the marketplace.  This free report is available every November. 

NRH: What would you say is the key to a nonprofit organization’s success?

GB: I would say the key to an organization’s success and sustainability, large or small, is the quality of its staff.  In addition, a staff that is diverse tends to be more innovative and productive.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of all our placements as we spread a wide net in the marketplace for the best talent for our clients.  

NRH: What are the goals for PNP as you move forward into the future?

GB:  We always strive to provide staffing expertise and service to our current clients and to expand our reach more fully into the association sector and universities. In addition, we would like to increase our partnerships with companies providing services in the sector to be able to offer more robust services to clients.  

We would like to thank Gayle for spending some time with us and for all this great information.

If you want more information about Gayle, PNP Staffing, or would like to access the salary survey, white papers, and other valuable resources, go to www.pnpstaffinggroup.com.

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How board portals improve the bottom line

nonprofit sector strategies logo

Simplify board management in 2021

Through our work with over 100 small and medium-sized nonprofits, my partner Christine Deska and I have identified one trait common to almost every organization:
Executive directors and key staff are struggling to keep their board members engaged, spending unnecessary time involved with repetitive tasks, and efficiently disseminating information to board members.

Board portals are designed to specifically address these challenges.

We also realized that several of the existing board portals on the market were priced outside the available budget for small and medium sized nonprofits. As a result, we saw an opportunity to help and created the board management solution BellesBoard.

Implementing a board portal has a direct impact on the bottom line. In fact, our research has shown that a board portal can easily save a nonprofit organization in excess of $9,000 annually in recovered staff time. This time can then be redirected to other activities such as fundraising, event management, and getting more done with less outside resources.

In order to accomplish such a beneficial goal, a board portal should meet four criteria: The portal should be 1) full featured, 2) affordable, 3) easy to implement and 4) easy to use. This article will address each of these criteria in more detail.

A board portal should be full-featured

Nonprofits today are constantly being asked to do more with less. That is why organizations invest in board management software that will eliminate repetitive tasks, increase collaboration and improve efficiency.

To the extent possible, an organization should avoid compromise when selecting a board management solution. Why? Because they want to avoid the additional cost that will be required as a result of outgrowing their initial solution and having to upgrade to a more robust solution down the road.

A board portal vendor should also have a history of continuous innovation. For example, the board portal should also contain a mobile app so that board members have access to relevant information 24/7 on a smartphone or tablet.

A board portal should be affordable

The National Center for Charitable Statistics lists more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. According to GuideStar, the vast majority of these nonprofits are small, grassroots organizations.

These organizations tend to be underserved when it comes to technology. Budgets are stretched and every dollar counts. If your organization fits this demographic, ask your board portal vendor if they can provide a net return on investment (ROI) analysis that will estimate the annual savings that can be achieved after deducting the cost of the portal.

A board portal should be easy to implement

One of the common stumbling blocks that organizations encounter is getting started! As we said earlier, organizations today need to do more with less.

Having invested the time to find a solution to accomplish that goal, and having made the selection, they now must find the time to enter their meetings, governance material and documents, committee and board rosters, financial and program metrics, and related tasks. This is where things often bog down.

The sooner your organization can begin to realize the benefits of a board portal, the more likely they will achieve the savings that can be achieved by eliminating repetitive tasks, increasing collaboration and improving efficiency.

A board portal should be easy to use

Board members are busy people. For the most part, they do not engage with board-related information on a regular basis. When they do, it is imperative that they can get to the information they need easily and quickly.

Board engagement suffers if board members are asking questions such as “Where are the by-laws?”, “When is the next committee meeting?”, and “What is Mary’s contact information?” Even more disruptive is if they must call or email staff members to get the answers.

A board portal puts all this information literally at one’s finger tips. Board engagement is directly related to how easily and quickly these questions and more are answered.

Summary

When choosing a board portal solution for your organization, here are four criteria you should consider. The board portal should be

•             Full-featured;

•             Affordable;

•             Easy to implement; and

•             Easy to use

The result will be that board activity will be easier to manage, more cost effective and your board members will better ambassadors for your organization.

Our customers tell us that BellesBoard hits the mark on all four criteria. Feel free to contact me to learn more about BellesBoard or to arrange a brief demonstration.

Frank Orzo

Co-Founder

Nonprofit Sector Strategies, PBC

forzo@nonprofitsectorstrategies.com

516-902-4638

Navigating Conflict Of Interest Transactions

A Valuable Guide For Anyone Serving As An Executive Director Or Serving On A Nonprofit Board.
Do you serve on a nonprofit board? Do you have a true understanding of your organization’s Conflict of Interest policy?
• Are conflicts of interest forbidden?
• What is a related party transaction?
• What needs to go into your conflict of interest policy?
• How to analyze and document a related party transaction.

Powered By Professionals

Powered by Professionals (PBP) (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/) is a national fundraising and event management firm, based in New York City, that specializes in helping charity and non-profit organizations exceed their fundraising goals. Utilizing their unique strategic approach (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/fundraising/), PBP identifies the key individuals involved in your organization including board members, honorees, and committee members, and works with them to transition their personal relationships into fundraising relationships.

Over the last 20 years, PBP has worked with over 100 nonprofit organizations (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/clients/) to maximize their fundraising efforts and in the process have managed and produced hundreds of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/production/), resulting in close to $150 million raised for these charities.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, PBP has been at the forefront of the virtual and hybrid event space (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/hybrid-and-virtual-events/), working with dozens of nonprofits to rethink their fundraising strategy and take both their event and fundraising online. Here are a few tips from PBP that can help you plan a successful virtual fundraising event (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/nonprofit-virtual-event-examples/):

MAP OUT YOUR EVENT

Whether you are looking to go hybrid or fully virtual for your annual fundraising gala, awareness run/walk, or benefit concert, you will need to determine your event format and how you envision it happening so that the rest of the event planning falls into place. Once you have figured out what parts of your event you want prerecorded vs. live, create an event timeline (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/event-timelines/) and run of show to start outlaying your event planning process.

IDENTIFY YOUR TECH PARTNERS

There are so many types of virtual event platforms available now; it can be difficult to decide which to use. PBP is constantly exploring new platforms and revisiting existing ones, as the platforms are continuously evolving and adding new services. Sometimes a combination of different tech platforms works best for your event. PBP has a couple blog posts that can help you pick the best platform for your organization linked here (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/virtual-event-tech-questions/) and here (https://www.poweredbyprofessionals.com/vendor-highlight-tech-platforms/).

REHEARSE!

You cannot rehearse too much. If your event has live components, you will need to make sure all your speakers know how to access the event, when they will be seen on screen, and how they will interact with the audience. Even if your event is fully prerecorded, you will need to watch your video content many times to find the best places to put any graphics, make sure the videos transition well, and that your program’s message is clear to the audience. The more you rehearse, the more flawless your event will be because you will be able to pick up little details you may not have thought of before.

For more virtual and hybrid event fundraising and event planning tips, tune into our webinar on September 21, where PBP CEO and Founder, Darren Port, will be discussing how to adapt your event and fundraising strategy in a world of COVID-19 uncertainty. More information about the webinar and how to register is below.

Register for the webinar here.