Good accounting software for medium-sized charity 1

I am finance manager for a medium sized charity with incoming resources of £1.5-2m and I wondered if anyone could provide some practical advice on good accounts software appropriate to an organsiation of this size.

We are currently reviewing our systems and I have been tasked with putting together an analysis of the alternatives available in order to find something that suits our needs better than our slightly outdated current set-up. We are using a non-sector-specific version of Access Horizons (v4g). I have received a quote for an update to Horizons v5 and there is an attraction to remaining within the same software from a data migration point of view. However I am concerned about how easily adaptable it is for charity purposes (restricted funds, partial VAT exemption etc etc)

Anyone got any other packages that they recommend? Many thanks!

  • @jo - are you looking for non-profit specific functionality?  It strikes me the VAT restrictions you mention are an 'issue' but not a deal breaker, especially as you've been a (presumably) happy Access use? I'm thinking that a switch will incur learning costs you might not need?
  • Agreed Dennis - as I look at alternatives I'm considering more and more the resource constraints in our dept (only myself and one other individual) and wondering whether the need to familiarise ourselves with a new package would be an unhelpful additional burden. That said, my assistant has significant experience with Sage and I'm a quick learner(!) so that would be another possibility.

    Something with sector-specific features would be welcome as we have struggled along for a while now as we are and I believe that this would help facilitate the next step. It is hard for me to report accurately to management when I have to carry out a number of tweaks to the accounts system output each time I do it (admittedly some of this is due to an outdated accounts structure which hasn't developed at the same speed as the organisation as much as the software itself).

    I have organised a demonstration of Horizons 5 for next week so I will see if they can allay my concerns...

  • @jo: depending on the type of charity you represent and how funds are raised, it might be worth looking at IRIS: click this link. Be aware that Sage provides general purpose accounting software so may not provide you with anything better than that which you already have.

    When organizing demonstrations it's always a good idea to have a very clear idea of the top half dozen 'must have' functional requirements. That makes sure the vendor is focused on your needs and not on their package.

  • It's funny you mention Iris - we already use their Donor Strategy CRM software; the company which produced this having been taken over by them just under a year ago. There could be potential integration/synergy benefits from that move...? Will definitely add them to the list...

    Sage claims to have a charity-specific package - do you not set much store by this claim?

  • I've not seen a specific charity package from Sage though therer are some templates floating around.

    Another thing - don't rush your decision. Ensure that you speak with at least three users of all packages you are considering, making sure that you cover the issues that matter to you. Ask the same questions of each user so you have a level playing field against which to assess the right solution for you.