Fit for purpose: Software solutions for not for profits and charities
8 November 2022 at 12:22 pm
To make the biggest difference, charities and not-for-profit (NFP) entities need the right systems and processes in place to effectively and efficiently engage their existing supporters, to attract new donors to their cause and generate more predictable income streams, in much the same way as a commercial organisation.
What sets an NFP apart from commercial organisations is not actually whether they seek to make a profit (or a surplus in the NFP world), but where that surplus goes. Despite the title “not-for-profit”, these organisations often seek to make a surplus from their operations to fund growth and strategic initiatives that work towards achieving their purpose. It’s not dissimilar to the way in which commercial organisations operate, and in fact, financial scrutiny is often more imperative when every dollar must be accounted for and the way it is spent must be reported back to donors in detail.
And that is why world-class financial management is key for NFPs as it allows them to understand where their funds are going, and how they can better manage their operating costs and surplus to have the biggest impact on achieving their purpose.
Download our new eBook, ‘Financial Management Software: A Guide for NFPs’ and take your purpose to the next level.
How to select financial management software for your NFP or charity
Implementing a new financial management software solution is a decision you can often only afford to make once, especially when every dollar is under scrutiny. And to make matters more difficult, there are a lot of products on the market – but not all of is built specifically for charities and NFPs.
When searching for software for your charity be sure to take the time to understand if the software was designed to meet the needs of your organisation and purpose. Here are a few things to consider when assessing your needs and selecting a software solution that is fit for your purpose:
- Is your current system workable? Before jumping into a business case for a whole new system, it’s first wise to understand whether your current system can be updated, upgraded or tweaked to make it more suited to your needs. If your current solution is slow, unreliable, outdated or not compliant, then it may be time to seriously consider a change.
- Build the case for change. Justifying a commitment of budget and time to changing your finance system demands a structured proposal that everyone can buy into. Even if your organisation doesn’t demand this formality, the process of working through the costs, risks, benefits and success factors of the project will help you to stay within budget, on schedule, and gain invaluable stakeholder support.
- Source potential vendors. You’ve built the business case and achieved funding for the project. Now it’s time to see which software packages might match your criteria.
- Send out Request for Information (RFI). Having selected potential vendors, contact them with a Request for Information (RFI). This formal document is founded on the functionality and benefits defined in your business case. The quality of responses you receive at this stage is a strong indicator of the vendor’s dedication to you, if you become a customer.
- Define the shortlist. Having researched the options, shortlist those three or four providers who scored highest. Some basic functions and capabilities that every vendor/software should provide are auditability, integration, data protection and reporting.
- Arrange demos. Arrange product demonstrations from your shortlisted vendors to rate their solutions against your requirements. Some questions to ask include:
– What database platform is the software built on?
– How easy is it to access the information held in the system?
– Will the software grow with my organisation?
– And what has been your experience of software implementation with other customers?
- Make final checks. With your research and demos completed, a preferred vendor is probably emerging, but before making a final decision ask yourself how your vendor also scores against these key qualities; pre-sales consultancy, project management, training, post-implementation review and support.
- Place contract. For final peace of mind obtain reference sites from the vendor. Visit them if possible and ask how they have benefited from the software, how reliable they have found it, how they rate its functionality and how they rate the vendor’s service. Once you’ve made your final decision, it’s time to agree a contract. Beware of hidden costs, such as the vendor’s expenses, mileage, and travel time charges and make sure that all your requirements feature in detail.
What NFP software solutions are available through The Access Group?
Improve engagement, visibility and productivity for your not-for-profit organisation thanks to value-added functionality including Financial Management Software, People Management, Learning Programs, Collaboration, Analytics and much more. Access the apps, data and insights required to make a bigger impact – quickly and easily.
Anyone in your organisation with permission can self-serve to get the real-time reports that they need – placing less of a strain on your core fundraising team – giving your whole organisation the freedom to do more and make a bigger impact.
At Access we believe in giving back, and every year we encourage our teams globally to nominate a cause close to their hearts to become our local charity of the year. This charity receives fundraising – through our fundraising challenges and payroll giving, as well as other support from the business, a true partnership in every sense. But it doesn’t end there. We also love our teams to give their time and each year have an extra three day’s leave to give back to their local community or chosen cause. In 2021 we set up The Access Foundation to make a real impact in our communities. Through this philanthropy, we support causes nominated by our team and work to bridge the digital divide.
Below are some of the bespoke solutions available for NFP and charity customers. Or browse the full range of Access software, tailored for NFPs.
With everything in one place, our cloud-based feature rich charity software allows you to have each solution operating independently, or integrated as part of a full NFP software solution, delivered via Access Workspace – the single sign-on platform for all Access business software solutions.
Charity Website suite
The Access NFP Website Suite creates a meaningful online presence blended with a digital solution for fundraising, supporter engagement and data collection, that grows and develops with your organisation and helps build your NFP presence and brand. Launch a website that unlocks your charity’s potential with the Access NFP suite of products.
Reach more supporters and drive more contributions, with minimal cost and effort through our Google Ad Grants management. Offering up to US$120,000 worth of free online advertising a year, Google Ad Grants present an incredible opportunity for eligible organisations.
Designed to make expenses easy, Access Expense will save your NFP time and money by removing manual processes, helping enforce your expense policy and improving the employee experience. Automating expenses will enable you to make better financial decisions for your charity or NFP, freeing you up to focus on what’s important.
Our cloud-based accounting software provides an efficient, integrated and scalable system to aid future growth and ensure you’re meeting your donor reporting requirements. Bring together all your accounting operations into one central place and enable better financial management across all areas of your organisation with Access Financial Management Software.
Maintain and manage volunteers, include them in rostering for a full understanding of your workforce, a full team directory at your fingertips, plus digitise and streamline onboarding of new team members so you know they are compliant from day one.
Access software can provide you full oversight of costs, ensure correct award interpretation via automated software, ensure salary sacrifice arrangements are correct, and ensure your workplace is safe and compliant when providing services in the community
A wide range of integrated HR & people tools and features to help organisations of all sizes run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Tap into our 35+ years of experience in connecting people, payroll and processes to drive better business outcomes across your organisation.
Deliver meaningful employee engagement programs, inspire your people to embrace their professional development and access more than 1000 eLearning courses covering all the essential aspects of running or working in any organisation. Learn more about our world-class Learning Management System.
Manage your cash flow better and reduce business admin with electronic invoicing. Send and receive invoices with suppliers and customers, quickly, safely and easily – even if they don’t use Access software. If you do business with Government, this is now a requirement, so find out more about Access eInvoicing now.
We bring it all together with Access Workspace
Through Access Workspace, you can access fully integrated systems, all within a single sign on, secure, cloud hosted environment. The beauty of these Cloud Hosted Solutions (CHS) is that it provides all the benefits of the latest technology, seamless updates and always on support, without significant capital investment for your NFP.
About The Access Group
The Access Group is one of the leading providers of business management software to small and mid-sized organisations in the UK, Ireland, and Asia Pacific. We help over 60,000 customers across commercial and not-for-profit sectors become more productive and efficient.