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.

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.

NRH Virtual Lunchtime Nonprofit Meet & Greet

• Introduce yourself and your organization to our growing NRH community
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• Get direct access to key leaders, influencers, and experts in a variety of
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• Learn about and get expert advice on pertinent industry topics including:

Board Governance
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*If you are not yet a Nonprofit Partner but want to be, sign up here.
There is NO fee and takes less than a minute!

GUEST ARTICLE: LET’S TALK ABOUT “REASONABLE” CYBERSECURITY

Cyber Security graphic

NEW PRIVACY REGULATIONS ARE MAKING CYBERSECURITY A LEGAL REQUIREMENT

Let’s start with the good news. Many states within the USA are implementing privacy regulations to protect our individual data. As individuals this is good for us. Finally, companies will face serious consequences in the form of substantial fines for collecting more information than they disclosed, for sharing our information without our explicit consent, or for failing to take reasonable measures to protect our information. Keep that word, “reasonable,” in mind. We’ll be coming back to it.

GDPR GOT THE DATA PRIVACY BALL ROLLING

This started with the European Union implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) back in May 2018. California was next, with the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). New York has joined the party with its (awkward acronym award winnerStop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act (SHIELD) in March 2020. Of course, something else was going on in March 2020? No wonder we weren’t paying such close attention to new data privacy laws… There are many, many more laws to come, and federal legislation is in the works as well. You may think that in this highly partisan political environment it’s unlikely federal legislation will pass, but this issue has significant bi-partisan support.

LET’S BE REASONABLE

For purposes of this article, we are only focusing on one aspect of these new laws, something they all have in common. The requirement of “reasonable” measures to protect information. So, what do “reasonable” measures look like?

Note that the word “reasonable” has a specific legal definition with a long history within the legal system (cool fact, one of the people most responsible for the “reasonableness” standard was, no joke, named “Learned Hand). For purposes of “reasonable” cybersecurity measures, the Federal Trade Commission provides this language:

“Employing reasonable safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data given the type, amount, and sensitivity of that data in relation to the size, sophistication, and capability of the organization.”

IF YOU COLLECT IT, PROTECT IT

But SHIELD provides more specific details, which is quite helpful for those looking to achieve compliance. SHIELD suggests that a “reasonable” cybersecurity program should include, at a minimum:

  • Designation and training of employees to coordinate cybersecurity compliance;
  • The use of third-party service providers capable of maintaining appropriate cybersecurity practices, with safeguards required by contract;
  • Risk assessment of the company’s cybersecurity program, including both the network and software design and the information processing, transmission, and storage;
  • Processes and physical safeguards to detect, prevent, and respond to attacks or system failures;
  • Monitoring and testing of the effectiveness of the cybersecurity program;
  • Processes to safely, securely, and permanently dispose of data within a reasonable amount of time after it is no longer needed for business purposes; and
  • Updates to the program periodically to address changes in the business or circumstances that would require the program to be changed.

IF YOU FAIL ME, TELL ME

But SHIELD provides more specific details, which is quite helpful for those looking to achieve compliance. SHIELD suggests that

Also note that these regulations have requirements for data breach notification. In plain English, if you expose my data to an unauthorized party, you have to tell me about it within a reasonable timeframe. That timeframe ranges from law to law, but typically is between 72 hours at the minimum and 30 days at the maximum.

One aspect of the NYS SHIELD law that is ground-breaking is in how it defines what constitutes a breach. Under the law, a breach refers not only to unauthorized acquisition of protected information, but any unauthorized access to protected information.

For example, access would apply to a situation where an employee of an organization is the victim of a phishing attack, his or her credentials are compromised, providing a cybercriminal with access to personal information that the organization is storing. The cybercriminal does not have to obtain or copy information for it to be considered a breach by SHIELD standards.

If you want to take a deeper dive on these privacy regulations, I recommend you take a look at the terrific guide put together by Whole Whale, A 2020 Pragmatist’s Guide to US Digital Privacy Laws: CCPA, SHIELD.

If you want to get your cybersecurity program in shape (or start a cybersecurity program from scratch), then prepare for a shameless plug:

RoundTable’s Cybersecurity Program provides the very definition of “reasonable measures” for cybersecurity. To learn more about RoundTable’s Cybersecurity Program, book a brief discovery call with one of their experts or give them a call at 866-784-3543.

Whatever you do, please be reasonable.

This article was also featured in our newsletter NFP Advisor Vol. 24.

JOSHUA PESKAY

vCIO/Cybersecurity

RoundTable Technology

Are you ready for the NY SHIELD Act?

We’ll start with the good news. States within the US are starting to implement

privacy regulations to protect our individual data. As individuals, this is good for us.

As leaders of nonprofits, small businesses or any entity that collects data as part of

doing business, these laws add new responsibilities and potential liabilities.

New York passed the (awkward acronym award winner) “Stop Hacks and Improve

Electronic Data Security Act” (SHIELD) Act on October 23, 2019, and the law went

into effect in March of 2020. 

Not surprisingly, minimal attention was paid to SHIELD Act compliance last March, as New York State was in the throes of the Covid pandemic. A year later, however, organizations are starting to receive audit requests for SHIELD compliance. 

Check out this video for an overview of what the SHIELD Act is:

How ready is your organization for a NY SHIELD audit? Here’s a great way to find out! Take RoundTable Technology’s secure and confidential NY SHIELD Readiness Checklist  to see how you score today! The Checklist will give you a score in each of the compliance categories. You’ll receive recommendations and resources for those areas where it looks like you’ll need to make improvements.
RoundTable also invites you to download the free guide, “NY SHIELD Act Playbook”.

2-Minute Training on the True Cost of a Slow Computer

True Cost of a Slow Computer

My name is Joshua Peskay and this is a 2-Minute Training on the true cost of a slow computer.

It’s hard to set aside money to buy new computers when the existing computers, when the existing computers that you have are still working. But are those computers really working?

Let’s do the math.

Let’s take Maria. Maria is a full-time employee for your organization and let’s say she’s earning $50,000 dollars per year. That equates to approximately $25 per hour. Maria’s computer is six years old and perhaps it’s gotten a bit slow. It freezes from time to time and she has to restart it once or twice a day. Let’s say this slow computer is costing her 15 minutes per day. A full-time employee will work 260 days per year, so in total, that equals 3900 hours per year or 65 hours per year in lost productivity. In dollars, that equates to $1625 dollars per year in lost productivity.

$50,000 salary per year
$25/hour
15 minutes per day in lost productivity
$1625 per year in lost productivity at Maria’s salary

If Maria earned $75,000 per year, it would equal $2437.50 per year in lost productivity. Due to the slow computer, it is costing your organization nearly $2500 each year in lost productivity. If you are a non-profit organization, you can get refurbished computers from Techsoup for as little as $400. If you’re not a non-profit organization, or if you prefer to buy new computers for your organization, a new computer can cost as little as $600-800 direct from the manufacturer.

Let’s say we buy a $1000 new computer for Maria. We’re still in a positive return on investment after only 8 months.

New PC – $1000
Productivity gain of 15 minutes per day
ROI After 8 months: $1080
ROI After 3 years: $4875

These financial numbers only take into account, the literal lost time in productivity. It doesn’t take into account morale loss because of poor technology, which is actually a significant factor in employees leaving an organization. The cost of employee turnover is exponentially higher than that productivity loss. So do the right thing. Invest in technology. It will help your personnel do their jobs at their highest capacity.

New computers can be purchased directly from RoundTable Technology, but regardless of where you decide to buy, current clients should reach out to their account manager with any questions. We’d be happy to review the specifications of the computers you plan to buy.

Innovative Strategies For Open Enrollment and Benefits Communication

Innovative Strategies

Featuring our Guest Speakers Edward Probst and Tommy DiMisa From Vanguard Insurance Agency.
They will be discussing:
• Developing an effective communication plan
• Taking a proactive approach to employee education
• Easing the administrative burden on your HR Department
• Adapting to remote or geographically diverse employees
• Budgeting for Technology to create efficiencies

Technology Matters to Nonprofits: The Impact of Falling Behind the Technology Curve

Technology Matters to Nonprofits

My wife was recently notified by our wireless provider that her smartphone will no longer be supported. A couple of years ago, when she needed a new cell phone, we made the decision to save some money by buying an older, but not obsolete, model phone. “There’s no reason to spend all that extra money for the latest, greatest model when this one will work just fine,” we reasoned.

Most of us as consumers can relate to this story. Things seem to be changing faster than ever. My teenage children cannot believe that when they were born, we had to take pictures of them using actual cameras because none of us yet had smartphones with built-in cameras. How many movie plots would fall completely apart in a world like today in which smartphones are so ubiquitous?

But are things changing faster than ever? Without question!

In fact, the speed of technological advancement is said to be exponential, not linear. One scholar, Ray Kurzweil, refers to the phenomenon as“The Law of Accelerating Returns”.

The graphic here displays the advancements of technology on a historical timeline:

accelerating growth in technology chart

Source: Asgard Human Venture Capital for Artificial Intelligence

The idea of keeping pace with this speed of technological change is daunting to any of us individually, but even more so to a nonprofit organization. As a firm that has worked exclusively with nonprofits for nearly three decades, JMT knows that nonprofit organizations tend to lag behind the technology adaptation curve. This lag results in part from simple resource constraints, but primarily from the Overhead Myth’, or the false conception that financial ratios are the sole indicator of nonprofit performance.

This mindset essentially boils down to the idea that as much money as possible should be spent on programs, not infrastructure. The noble intention behind the ideal of that statement was taken to the extreme and became insidious in the nonprofit culture, to the point that there was an almost palpable fear of spending money on anything that is not direct program activity. There has been an organized effort by thought leaders, such as Guide Star, and even foundations who fund nonprofits, such as Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, for several years to change the mindset and the culture of nonprofits with regard to infrastructure spending. We believe the lag in technology adaptation by nonprofits is shrinking, though there will always be at least some gap.

The combination of the exponential speed of technological evolution and the gap in nonprofit adaptation creates a risk that falls under the category of the ‘nonprofit starvation cycle’, which is discussed in detail by JMT’s friends at BDO LLP in this benchmarking surveyThe ability to grow and serve more people is constrained by a lack of infrastructure spending. Paradoxically, the very outcome nonprofits are trying to avoid —less impact on the community– by spending too much on “overhead” becomes the reality when too little is spent on infrastructure!

While my wife and I are merely annoyed that we spent money on dated technology and are now facing the need to buy a new cell phone, it could be disastrous for a nonprofit to make the same mistake with a mission critical system such as a financial management/ERP or a Donor Management system.

I just returned from a technology conference in which it was announced that an ERP system will be using machine learning to automatically scan the general ledger for anomalies and irregularities in journal entries. I’m sure that this amazing feature will one day be something we all assume is part of any ERP, just as we all assume a cell phone has a camera. Don’t be fooled by solutions with recognizable brand names and years in the marketplace—many of them are powered by older generations of technology. It still works, but how long before those solutions will be obsolete and outdated like my wife’s smartphone?

We’d love the opportunity to learn more about your technology needs and how we can help support your organization’s growth and ability to serve others. To chat with one of our nonprofit experts, contact us here.

Post Author Photo

Andy Harleman

DIRECTOR OF SALES, JMT CONSULTING

In the mid-90’s, Andy helped found a nonprofit organization serving people with developmental disabilities in the St. Louis, MO area. There, he served as Administrative Director until departing to start a small business. In 2006, Andy found an opportunity to join a consulting firm which was dedicated to the nonprofit sector. This firm was then acquired by JMT Consulting Group in 2008. In the more than a decade of being part of the JMT Team, Andy has helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations more effectively deliver their services to the community.

JMT

Cerini Nonprofit Connection: Technology Solutions for Nonprofits

Join Ken Cerini and guest Michael Halperin of Solarus Technologies, Inc. for our monthly nonprofit webinar series!

When: February 17, 2021 | 12:00pm – 12:45pm

Topic: Technology Solutions for Nonprofits

They will cover:

  • Technology issues facing nonprofits
  • Ways to better manage your team remotely
  • How to ensure you are getting the most of your technology budget

Register here! 

 

Our Next Guest

Michael Halperin

Senior Vice President of Business and Acquisitions

About Our Guest

Michael Halperin is the Senior Vice President of Business and Acquisitions at Solarus Technologies, Inc., which provides outsourced managed services to clients nationally. While on the Board of Directors at Habitat for Humanity, Michael met Matthew Nikravesh, the President and Co-Founder of Solarus Technologies. It became clear that Michael would be a great fit for Solarus and was hired to be an integral part of Solarus’s executive team. Michael is presently President and Chairman of the Board for Habitat For Humanity Nassau. Michael also holds board seats with both Girls Inc. of Long Island and Spirit of Huntington Art Center. Michael is passionate about hockey, enjoys being outdoors, and has a deep appreciation for music and art. His teenage daughter shares his love for art and together, they have amassed an eclectic art collection from all over the world in their home on Long Island.