Introducing the Software4Nonprofits blog

OK, I’m jumping in to the 21st century here with a blog (web log).

The main purpose is to communicate with anyone who is interested in either beta testing (pre-testing) new versions of DONATION, before they are released to all users, or giving me advice about the DONATION program. This blog will (among other things) replace the emails I used to send to beta testers and advisors, asking them for help with testing or for advice.

However, I may also post other thoughts here from time to time.

If this interests you, you have several ways that you can be notified of new blog posts:

  • If you are very familiar with blogs, and use RSS, you can subscribe to a blog feed for new posts and/or new comments, via the links in the Administration area on the right-hand sidebar of the blog’s home page.
  • If you just want to be notified of all new posts by email, and are satisfied with plain-text notification of those posts, you can use the subscription form at the top of the right-hand sidebar of the blog’s home page, or use the following subscription form. (N.B. if you are already subscribed, there won’t be a form, just a sentence saying how to manage your subscription options.)
  • If you would like to pick and choose which categories of blog posting you receive, and/or want an option for HTML emails to be used to notify you of those posts, you can use the Register link under Administration on the right-hand sidebar. That will allow you to register and log in to the site, and then set various preferences of the blog’s home page.

Categories that I have set up to categorize my posts under currently include:

  • Beta Testing
  • Business Advice Requests
  • Development Advice Requests
  • General

If you have any thoughts about this development (adding a blog), or how it can and should be used, please do let me know. The easiest (and most blog-ish) way is by adding a Comment to this post.

Thank you.

7 thoughts on “Introducing the Software4Nonprofits blog

  1. Dan: As far as development requests are concerned, we have already discussed a couple of things in the past. Since you are going to blog this stuff, it might help to run these subjects up the proverbial pole to see if anyone else salutes.

    I would still like to see the program offer an actual quarterly contribution statement. It would also be great if the annual statement could be sub-totaled by quarter.

    Our most recent discussion centered around fund accounting. As treasurer of a small church with a limited budget, I could use a program that integrates the contribution function with a good accounting module that does fund accounting right. I am using Peachtree/Non-Profit now, and it does not handle fund accounting reporting requirements under FASB 117 (U. S.) very well. You can mock it up, but quad-entry accounting is a little beyond my comprehension.

    I already know your thoughts on this, but it might be interesting to see if anyone else has similar needs.

  2. I’m not sure this post is the right place to put development requests, but anyways …

    I’m not sure what you mean by a quarterly contribution statement. If you do Reports -> Donation -> Details, One Page per Donor, or Category Totals, One Page per Donor, you get to select the date range, so either one can serve as a quarterly statement by entering the desired date range. How does this differ from what you want?

    As you say, we have discussed fund accounting before. Quite a few users would like it, but it’s a BIG project – probably several months of concentrated work at least, when I would not be able to devote time to the DONATION program. Then, I still would have to compete with both generic programs like QuickBooks and Peachtree (even though they don’t do fund accounting well), and some existing programs specially aimed at churches, which may in fact do fund accounting adequately.

  3. If this post is in the wrong place, I certainly have no problem with you moving it.

    Re: Quarterly Contribution Statements:

    Reports/Donation/Details-One Page Per Donor yields a usable statement, however, it does not show the donor’s address. If the format of this could be changed so that it shows the name and address in the same place the annual receipt does, so that it could be folded for mailing in a window envelope, this would suffice very nicely.

    Re: Fund Accounting:

    I have looked at a couple of integrated packages that do the fund accounting function very well, but I do not like the way they handle contributions. Most of them have a “Membership” module that manages a whole lot of extraneous information in addition to contributions. This information does not need to be “managed” in the smaller church. As an example: we do not need a pictorial directory at this point. I much prefer the way your program handles contributions and nothing else. If I could find an accounting program that does fund accounting the right way and only the accounting function, I would jump on it in a minute and use it in concert with your program. It would not matter to me that the two were not integrated as long as you could make a journal entry into the accounting program for the weekly contributions.

    • Hi David. You can do a quarterly statement the way you want it, with the address, via Letters -> Mass Mailing, choosing the option for Total Donations Information, and creating an appropriate version of the letter with their name and the donation details field.

      Having answered this, can I suggest that we please try to not use this Blog for things like this, which are really more like tech support? I’m not criticising, just trying to clarify what the blog is for.

      I want to reserve the blog for my thoughts and questions to the subscribers, and your responses. Tech support can be done by email, or if you want it to be more visible and/or think it may be of interest to multiple users, on the Support Forum. The Support Forum also has an area for posting your New Feature Suggestions.

      Thanks.

    • Sorry, David, on the fund accounting issue, could you use one of those integrated packages, but only use its accounting functions, not its membership / contributions functions?

      If you know of such packages that are good, perhaps you could post them here, and I could also post them on the Links page on the program’s web site.

  4. I did consider the subject of quarterly receipts to be a development request rather than a technical support request. What I am looking for is an option in the program on the drop-down “Receipt” menu such as “All Donors-Annual” and “All Donors-Quarterly.” The procedure you suggested may well work, but it seems a little cumbersome to those of us that are not accustomed to using mail merge software. If you do not have anyone else that has requested quarterly reporting to donors, you can consider the issue closed.

    Regarding the Fund Accounting issue, there are two packages that I have looked at: The first is PowerChurch Plus at

    http://www.powerchurch.com/

    They have an online version, but I looked at the software. It does fund accounting very well, as far as I could tell by using it in real time and doing some reports. It also does payroll with user-defined tax tables. This eliminates having to subscribe to a payroll update service.

    The other is Membership Plus at

    http://www.memplushome.com/

    I did not test-drive this software, but it is supposed to do fund accounting. It is primarily a membership management program. It does not do payroll.

    • I (and the DONATION program) consider a receipt to be different from a report. A receipt is the official thing you use for your taxes, and a report isn’t. As such, donations can’t be included on more than one receipt, because then the donor would most likely accidentally claim them more than once for their taxes, because they would add up the totals of all receipts.

      So, if you want to send quarterly receipts, just run Receipt -> All Receipts at the end of each quarter. But then you can’t also send an annual receipt, because all of the donations will already have been receipted. Instead, you send an annual report, if you want to. This is all discussed in more detail in the Help, in the topic Statements and Receipts.

      Thanks for the info on fund accounting programs. I have heard a lot of negative feedback about MembershipPlus, though whether it is any better now that it is under the ACS umbrella, I don’t know.

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