While vendors agree on the need for applications in the cloud, few have fully transitioned to cloud-based offerings. The race is on as they continue to convert or attach their core products to cloud solutions.
We'll take a look at offerings from five companies that are in the process of providing various forms of cloud or mobile access to today's nonprofit organizations:
•AccuFund Anywhere, AccuFund
•Fund Accounting 100, by Abila (formerly Sage)
•Navigator 2013, by Serenic
•QuickBooks 2013, by Intuit
•The Financial Edge, by Blackbaud
*True cloud (or Software as a Service) applications are developed for access by a browser and are sold via a subscription model.
Price: Core for the initial user is $190 per month (initial users); $140 month (per each additional user)
While AccuFund sees nonprofits looking to save money on the application by moving to the cloud, owner Peter Stam thinks that is something of a misconception. He says the real value lies in improved efficiency and data accessibility without the need for internal IT infrastructure on-premise solutions require.
One unique aspect of AccuFund Anywhere, a Java browser-based application released in May of this year, is that clients each have their own database, which the company says "provides additional security and backup options."
By virtue of its tiered development, AccuFund Anywhere includes the same reports and uses the same SQL database available in the Windows-based version of the AccuFund Accounting Suite. It also features an import-export capability that enables files on the system, such as spreadsheets and payroll lists, to be sent to or received from other systems. The current cloud offering includes GL, AP, Cash Receipts, Security and Import/Export features with AR and additional modules to follow.
AccuFund Anywhere seamlessly integrates with AccuFund CRM, the company's online software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution providing fundraising capabilities and constituent relationship management (CRM) capabilities. Built on Salesforce.com, the fundraising product also includes social media capabilities.
While AccuFund seems to be leading the vendor pack in terms of offering true cloud solutions, nonprofit accountant customers are still evaluating a move to the cloud for their accounting applications. The fundraisers, on the other hand, have been leading other industries in embracing CRM on the cloud.
Fund Accounting 100
Abila (formerly Sage NonProfit Solutions)
Austin, Texas (
Price: Fund Accounting 100. Subscription licensing starts at $249 per month per user; perpetual license starts at $2,995.
Fund Accounting 100
No matter what they call this product or who owns it, I shall always remember the MIP pledge from years ago, "We put the FUN in FUNd Accounting." (I think it has something to do with the cool engraved pen they gave me at the time or it could be something about an old dog and new tricks.)
Over the years, the tagline has been replaced as have the owners and the logo. The new improved logo now reads "Inspire Possibility." As the ownership transition dust settles, the team has been hard at work on development of both desktop and cloud applications while offering interim solutions that help bridge the desktop to cloud gap. They offer not only a hosted version of their mainstay Fund Accounting 100 product but have also rolled out a new pricing model. Under this model, nonprofits can access the full suite of products – accounting, CRM, online fundraising and grant management for a single monthly fee.
In a further effort to make information accessible to employees on the go, Abila in June released a mobile accounting application that works on smart phones and tablets running either the Android or iOS operating systems. Their web-based Millennium product is also available on mobile devices for fund raisers who need to manage funds from any device.
Abila Fundraising Online is a stand-alone cloud solution designed to help nonprofits of every size launch campaigns. It can be used to create online donor campaigns, capture donations, event registrations, signed releases, agreements, and any other details. It supports viral fundraising and links to social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. It includes payment and pledge management and offers a low entry price.
With new owners and a newly empowered CEO, Krista Endsley (formerly an SVP at Sage) at its helm, the company is poised to do great things for non-profits looking for fair weather ahead.
Like other vendors interviewed, Serenic has seen organizations voice their interest in making a move to the cloud. They note that even some of their largest customers are looking for ways to get there, even if it means changing their processes in order to avoid highly customized solutions.
A move to the cloud in a multi-tenant environment requires standardization, which can be a special kind of challenge for a product like Navigator that is built on the highly customizable Microsoft Dynamics NAV platform. Clients have to be willing to give up some of their customizations in exchange for ease of access and reduced infrastructure costs available on the cloud. As the 2013 core NAV product becomes more web-enabled, the Serenic solution inherits features that serve its nonprofit client base well – including access to the application via Windows, the Web, or Microsoft Sharepoint.
In keeping with the move toward the cloud, Serenic also offers a number of payment options to aid nonprofits looking to optimize their cash flow. Serenic offers Navigator in thre flavors - Enterprise, Essentials and Express. The company has also chosen the Microsoft Azure cloud as the platform upon which they will implement its SaaS offerings.
Serenic remains focused on the higher end of the nonprofit market, offering solutions to international NGOs and other nonprofits with revenues above $10 million. But in an effort to aid smaller nonprofits in meeting their goals, they have restructured their sales teams, reconfigured their products, and developed a new RapidStart implementation processes. The company has strengthened its partnership with Jet Reports and named Jet Enterprise the preferred business intelligence offering.
Thanks to the release of a new Deposits and Loans module and a partnership with Donor Direct, a company focused on empowering ministries through their software, Serenic is finding success in the faith-based segment of the nonprofit industry, including Diocesan organizations.
It's no wonder that more than a few angels are anxiously awaiting a Serenic application delivered 100 percent on the cloud.
The Financial Edge
Price: Subscription pricing starts at $299 per month, which includes maintenance and implementation.
The Financial Edge
According to Blackbaud, the nonprofit world has been abuzz about recent news related to the treatment of administrative costs. For too long, these organizations have been forced to take a short-sighted view of their mission as they struggle to keep overhead/admin costs low.
Recently charitable watchdogs including Guidestar, Charity Navigator, and the BBB Wisegiving Alliance have joined together to "correct the misconception that the percentage of charity's expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs—commonly referred to as "overhead"—is an appropriate metric to evaluate when assessing a charity's worthiness and efficiency." The cause is detailed on a website called www.theoverheadmyth.com.
As a result of this shift away from overhead, organizations can focus on grant functionality and finance staff can be smarter about their fundraising. Tools in the Financial Edge help them manage those activities better. In addition, nonprofits can apply analytics to seek out funders who pay faster or have goals that align with theirs. The tools are designed to give fundraisers "full circle management" of the process.
Like many of the other solutions reviewed, The Financial Edge is available for purchase either as a traditional license or via a subscription model. It is also available as a hosted solution. Since Blackbaud sells their solutions directly, their subscription price also includes implementation costs.
Future plans include a web reporting tool that allows users to access financial statements, program activities and other statements via the web. On the fundraising side, Blackbaud has The Raiser's Edge mobile app that allows remote users to enter call notes and gift information that feeds back to Raiser's Edge. They also offer a marketing support tool called Luminate Online Marketing and a cloud based CRM solution called Luminate CRM.
In Charleston, S.C. home of the Blackbaud team, it sounds like this summer has not only been humid, it's been more than a little bit cloudy.
Mountain View, Calif.
Price: QuickBooks Premier Non-Profit starts at $399.95 for a single user license.
Intuit sees the following issues at the forefront of the nonprofit world: fundraising and donation generation as well as finding qualified volunteers. They also see a need for electronic payment tools to easily capture donor payments and fear that those who don't make the move will lose donors.
High on their list is the use of technology and social media to gain a following and to build a social presence. QuickBooks offers a mobile fundraising application that connects with QuickBooks and gives users access to donor information so they can record donations while they are on-the-go. This application comes as part of a subscription plan.
QuickBooks Online is the cloud version of QuickBooks that can also be used by nonprofits. Intuit refers to its extensive reporting capabilities as one of its biggest benefits to nonprofits. According to Intuit, "Running reports in QuickBooks is extremely easy, and provides insights to trustees, bookkeepers and board of directors." QuickBooks also includes a feature that allows sharing report 'templates' between customers.
Intuit offers nonprofits a choice of cloud or desktop solutions to take the pain out of their record-keeping activities at an affordable price.