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How Can Free Software Benefit Your Nonprofit?

Blue backgroung with text ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE on front with various favicons up and down image.

12/22/2016

Nonprofit and charitable organizations play a vital role in the economic and social well-being of our communities, state, and nations. Unlike for profit organizations, nonprofit corporations are created by the people and for the people, in order to help achieve a common purpose. While this purpose varies greatly from one organization to another, all nonprofits are subject to overhead costs. As we continue to move into the digital age, one overhead cost that continues to increase is the business software expense, of which can be challenging for small nonprofit organizations with limited funds. In order to combat the increased expense, many companies have begun to offer free software to meet the needs of small nonprofits, allowing them to spend money in a manner that has a more direct impact on their mission. While there may exist innumerable “on the house” applications available to meet your organization’s needs, I have taken the time to research a few that may be beneficial to you.

GnuCash

GnuCash is a free open-source accounting program that was initially released in 1998. While it still looks like a program that was designed in the 90’s, it performs many of the same duties as QuickBooks. It has the essential features accountants are used to including: bank account reconciliation, chart of accounts maintenance, full general ledger maintenance, accounts receivable, billing, all of which are available to be exported in XML format for us excel nerds. Although there are countless wonderful functions enabled within GnuCash, the free software is undoubtedly subject to limitations. GnuCash is limited to a single user, doesn’t allow for integrated payroll, offers no inventory tracking, and isn’t supported by one particular company. While this software has its limits, it may offer a great initial accounting platform for your budding nonprofit organization.

Front Accounting ERP

For those looking for more advanced accounting software, Front Accounting ERP is another free open-source 

accounting program that may meet your complex requirements. Front Accounting ERP is much more robust than GnuCash. Front Accounting has taken full advantage of their open-source roots and allowed third party developers to create additional innovative modules, all at no cost to you. Front Accounting will perform just about any function QuickBooks performs, including integrating with your current programs in order to streamline your accounting process. This software is an incredible QuickBooks alternative.

Office 365

Yes that’s right, Microsoft Office donates their products to nonprofit companies. Microsoft offers their Office 365 Nonprofit Business Essentials programs to nonprofits free of charge. This package comes with online versions of Office (desktop available for a small fee), file storage and sharing of up to 1TB, business-class email up to 50GB, unlimited online meetings, intranet site for your teams, and many other features that may benefit your organization.

Open Office

In this day and age it’s hard to get any work done without Microsoft Office Suite. Open Office was created as a gratis open-source platform designed to be your Microsoft Office replacement. Open Office performs all the functions you would use Microsoft Office Suite for, at no cost to you. There are some down sides to this program though. While it supports just about any document format you could want, opening the same document in a Microsoft program may cause difficulties.

GnuCash, Front Office ERP, Office 365, and Open Office are just a few of the free programs available to help your nonprofit flourish. So next time you are in need of a new program, do not forget to explore the free options, or contact RINA accountancy corporation and we will be happy to help.

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