Technology: Budgeting Software Beyond Excel

As associations today strive to be more detailed and forthcoming with their financial statements, and members and leadership take a closer look at association spending, often the tried-and-true, if not tedious, Excel spreadsheets can’t cut it alone.

Luckily, a plethora of new software and service tools are up to the task. Some can automatically sync data from your bank and investment accounts, eliminating time-consuming data entry. Others afford you the ability to search for specific transactions in your data, and store attachments to those transactions (such as a receipt image to a purchase record) eliminating uncertainty and aiding in auditing.

Some financial software makers even specialize in the unique needs of nonprofit organizations. Serenic Software, Fund E-Z, and PlanGuru, for example, include nonprofit-specific tools to make the steps in your budgeting and spending processes more transparent. These niche options also include templates for nonprofit IRS tax reporting.

Advanced financial software solutions hosted in the cloud enable staff, outside accountants, and finance committee volunteers to view, manage, and approve budget information online from anywhere—even a mobile device—simultaneously and securely.

Online tools, such as Xero, enable associations to not only track revenue and spending, but plug in project management apps to track specific program expenses in real time. Staff timesheet apps and bill payment scheduling modules can also aid in the new micro-reporting era.

Apps for your smart phone can also dramatically cut down on the time you spend adding up those receipts. ProOnGo from QuickBooks, for example, not only scans your expense and purchase receipts, but also files them in custom templates and syncs the data to your QuickBooks budget. Expensify, a free app for Android, iPad, and iPhone, syncs with your credit card or bank account to pull in expenses and direct-­deposit your reimbursements.

If you’re still searching your budget for ways to trim and save, take a look at how you budget and you may find a wealth of time- and money-saving opportunities.

Expensify imports expenses directly from a credit card to create reports.

SerenicSoftware, fund accounting software for nonprofit organizations.

PlanGuru is budgeting and forecasting software designed to “help businesses and nonprofits make better decisions.”