QuickBooks integration thoughts & questions

I’m going to be working on a feature in DONATION to export summary donation information from each bank deposit to a transaction in QuickBooks. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the ideas and questions below, because there are a lot of complicated issues about this, and I want to do it in a way that will work for at least a large majority of users who use QuickBooks.

I will need to add a maintenance/setup window for QuickBooks transfers, where the user selects the bank account to deposit to, and for each DONATION category, a matching QuickBooks category. Would users also need to optionally have a QuickBooks class attached to the DONATION category? (Classes are generally used for fund accounting, which admittedly QuickBooks doesn’t do very well.)

In order for DONATION to put a transaction into QuickBooks, it needs to login. I could prompt for and store the QuickBooks username and possibly password in DONATION, via the setup window. Or we could always have the user login via the QuickBooks login window, which it will bring up automatically if needed. Which is better?

How does DONATION decide which donations to include in a bank deposit transaction?

·         When they choose to transfer the transaction, it could prompt for a range of donation dates to include. However, that might require users to enter cheques with the date they are to be deposited, rather than the date on the cheque. (I think some, but not all, DONATION users already do this.) If they didn’t do that, a cheque that had been mailed late might have a date in a date range that had already been transferred to QuickBooks, and so would be omitted if you were only doing a later date range.

·         Do we (also) need an option to transfer “all since last transfer”, just like most online banking systems have an option to download “all since last download”? That would require that the program in some way mark donations as having already been transferred. It would probably also require providing a way for the user to see and change which transactions were marked as already transferred, since things could go wrong with this process and they would have to fix things.

·         Might there be some donation categories that should never get transferred?

There seem to be several issues in relation to whether donations are included, based on the value the user entered into the Cheque # / Paid By field:

·         “Gift in Kind” should never be included, because it’s not cash.

·         Other values get into the bank a different way, like “Credit Card”, “Debit Card”, “Direct Debit”, “MasterCard”, “PAC”, “PAR” and “Visa”, so they shouldn’t be included.

·         Most likely “Pre-Receipted” would get into the bank a different way, though that might vary. (How would we deal with that?)

·         What about other values that the user just types into this field? Ones starting with numbers would be considered to be cheques, and thus included, but it’s not clear how to do the others.

·         We might need a part of the QuickBooks transfer maintenance window referred to above to be a list of the possible values in the Paid By list, with a checkbox for each one to indicate whether it was to be included in bank deposits / QuickBooks transactions. The user would also have to be able to add custom values that they use, with an indication of whether they are to be included. (Example: online donation systems like CanadaHelps in Canada, that can automatically deposit the money to your bank account.)

·         I have also been considered bowing to a few users’ requests and adding a separate maintenance window for Paid By values, that would allow the user to delete ones they never use, and add ones they want to use (and pick from the drop-down / auto-entry-as-you-type feature). This would have to have a couple of limitations, like never deleting or changing the name of “Non-Receiptable” or “Pre-Receipted”, because they have “magic” features in DONATION, of preventing those donations from being included in receipts. If they were delete or edited, that “magic” would stop working. Should a Paid By list maintenance window be added? If it was, the QuickBooks checkboxes would be on this same separate maintenance window.

Might there be parts of the actual bank deposit that the user wouldn’t normally bother entering into DONATION, because they aren’t really charitable donations and/or don’t need receipts? Is it reasonable to insist that the users enter those amounts into DONATION anyways? Or, before transferring the transaction to QuickBooks, do we show what will be transferred, and have an option to add further split lines to the QuickBooks transaction, to cover parts of the bank deposit not entered into DONATION? Or should I just say that a user should change the transaction in QuickBooks afterwards instead, if not everything was entered into DONATION?

It seems to me that there should also be a new report to go with this, which would be a printout of the transaction to be entered into QuickBooks, which could also be used as input for the hand-written bank deposit slip. People keep asking about the program printing bank deposit slips, but I have the impression that at least in Canada, banks require you to use their own printed format. So I don’t see how this could realistically be done. Printing bank deposits also would require another new feature to separate out the cash into counts of coins and bills.

12 thoughts on “QuickBooks integration thoughts & questions

  1. Out here, I and I think the majority of smaller charities, use Simply Accounting rather than QuickBooks. Would it be your intent to eventually provide the same functionality for Simply Accounting?

  2. Hi Dan;
    LOts of information and after today you know how easily overwhelmed I get.
    I’m not sure the improvements you are suggesting would help us here since I record the donations and Gerry deposits the cheques and transfers the money as needed. He just can’t seem to use the computer without encountering major problems.
    I think if I used the cheque deposit date rather than the date I received the cheque my accountant would be much happier. Each time Gerry makes a deposit or transfer he send that information to our accountant via his web site.
    Just my rambling thoughts.

  3. I will have to investigate both what percentage of my users use SimplyAccounting, and how easy it is to integrate with it. (QuickBooks looks fairly easy, based on my initial reading of their documentation for integration.) The difficulty is the questions I posed about which transactions to include, etc.

    I do actually think that after getting some ideas from those of you on the blog, I may have to survey all users on these questions, to be sure to get it right. (And, to be sure that there’s actually enough demand for this to even bother with it.)

  4. We do not use QuickBooks and the financial tasks are divided up among several people, so it would be of no value to us. Our Counting Committee uses DONATION, and our cheque writing department uses a fairly extensive but well-organized .xls spreadsheet.

  5. Just a few comments. Our IRS says that a payment is received when there is “constructive” receipt. That means if we receive a check on a Sunday then the donor gets credit for that donation on that date. However, proper accounting requires that a deposit should not be recorded until it is actually deposited in the bank.

    In Quickbooks there is an option to “select” items for deposits. That allows you to credit customer accounts with their payment on the date the check is received. When a deposit is actually made you select the checks and the date the checks were actually deposited and in that way the Quickbooks deposit will match the bank statement deposit. I mention this because this is a slick way of keeping track of when a check is received versus when it is deposited. To do this in Donation seems to be a monumental task.

    As far as not entering items into donation I do that now but not quite in the context you referred to. I have many donors who do not require me to track their checks and many more who just give cash and don’t want a receipt either. This requires me to keep a spreadsheet for the non-receipted donations and entering the receipted ones in Donation. In my spreadsheet for non-receipted donations I list the different currencies, a change category and a list of checks. This simplifies the count process as well as filling out the deposit slip which asks for currency, coin and checks. Then I use the Donation summary report to get the total currency and total checks to record in my spreadsheet to get the total deposit. While there may be an easier way to do this, I have not thought of it. This feature would benefit me more than anything else.

    I use Quicken as we are a small church but Quickbooks is quite popular here in the States and I use it in four of the companies I do work for. But frankly, to enter a deposit in any accounting software is really quite a simple matter (one journal entry) and it seems that the added value this sort of interface adds isn’t that great. If Quickbooks thought the church market was that significant they could utilize thier 1099 tracking feature (payments to individuals not on payroll) and produce receipts for donors who would be tracked right in Quickbooks.

    Sorry, probably too much information.

    • You know there are ways to mark both donations and donors as non-receiptable, don’t you Gary? Look up “non-receiptable” in the Help for a recent version of DONATION for details.

  6. I have to question the real need versus the effort required for programing the feed into an accounting system.

    First, which accounting system? All of my clients who use Donation use Simply Accounting. Is QuickBooks really the most popular? I know of many other accounting systems in regular use including many proprietary programs. Once you start with one where will the effort stop?

    Second, this activity will make Donation go beyond what it’s original scope was as I understood it. Donation is an excellent receipting program. Let’s keep it that way, it does not need to become a front end to one or more accounting packages.

    Neither Simply Accounting nor QuickBooks has seen the need to develop a module to be able to receipt donations in the style similar to the excellent Donation program. Why do you see the need to spend so much effort to develop the deposit journal when it takes but one entry, less than 90 seconds per week for our church and it is similar for all of my clients.

    Minor issue, I deal with four of the major banks in Canada with different clients, and in every case we use the deposit slip prepared from Simply Accounting or one completed on an Excel (or Quattro Pro) spreadsheet and never purchase the Bank’s deposit books/forms.

    IMHO – I think your time would be better directed elsewhere. Maybe a survey of the users is required to find the useful items to work on but not necessarily to add to the scope. Programmed tie-ins aren’t always the most useful.


  7. Dan,

    I see this as something that sounds good but is not very useful.. for several reasons:

    1. There are MANY ways to set up QB for charities. QB is not designed to do fund accounting so one has to get around this shortfall by using classes or equity accounts for income and expenses to special project funds, and… the list goes on. Even for those who choose a basic method, the details can be quite different. In my case, undesignated giving goes through the P&L.. other giving does not, but it all shows up in Donation as different types of donations..

    2. Inputting to QB is not that difficult. Having an automatic transfer would be worth nothing to me, personally.

    3. There are several versions of QB being uses and not all are the same nor interchangeable.. I use QB Online.. it is not interchangeable with the desktop QB.

    I would kindly suggest that your time could be better spent somewhere else…


  8. OK, I’m starting to see a real trend here of people saying it’s not worth it. I am open to that being the answer. If anyone feels differently, please do let me know.

    I think the reason I thought of doing this is that brand new users or prospective users often ask about this. I usually say that it just isn’t that big a deal, because (as several of you said) it’s one simple transaction to enter in QuickBooks (or whatever your accounting system is) and you are only entering category totals, not details, so there’s very little double entry. And I have to admit that people generally seem to accept this answer. But I’ve never been sure whether that’s really OK with them, or it’s not, but they figure it’s all the answer they will get so they don’t argue.

  9. I am a Chartered Accountant and deal with quite a few charities. Almost all of these organizations see very little merit in integrating donation software with the general accounting software. It takes very little time to post a synoptic general journal entry from the donation software to Quickbooks, Simply or whatever other accounting software is being used by the organization.

    Dan, I don’t think I would devote any time to this option.

  10. I appreciate your desire to add new and worthwhile features, but from our perspective, your coding efforts would be better spent elsewhere.

    In previous years, we did all our donation entries and receipting in Quickbooks. In an effort to simplify the Treasurer’s work, provide for better receipting, and not tie up Quickbooks for something it wasn’t really suited for, we purchased DONATION this year. For us, it is a simple matter to take DONATION’s Summary Report for a given date (which corresponds to a bank deposit) and enter that information into Quickbooks as a split bank deposit. We have a correspondence between DONATION Categories and Quickbooks Income/Expense Accounts.


    Thanks all for your help. I’m going to close off comments on this now. If you have something else important to say about it (other than discouraging me from doing it, which I’m convinced of!), email me.

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