Accounting Packages for Charities

What can I get for free?

There are free/cheap solutions available.  GNUCash is an open source desktop accounting package which is free to download and provides all the common accounting functionality.  SQL Ledger is a step further: it runs on a web server, so it can be accessed from any internet access point, and therefore can be accessible to travelling or geographically disparate people within an organisation.  Where SQL Ledger really differs from the GNUCash type program, which is for one desktop machine, is that SQL Ledger is shared between the people in an organisation.   This means that if several people are working on the accounts, they are all always seeing the same data.   SQL Ledger does allow for the tracking of project specific income and expenditure.

You can download GNUCash for free .  See the GNUCash manual here.  SQL Ledger takes some more setting up - and a hosting account with a web services provider - but non profit IT consultancy company ENCLUDE will provide the service of configuring, setting up, hosting and supporting the product for you.

Unfortunately we have no experience with Exchequer.

What do I need to do in relation to the Charities Act?

As for the Charities Act 2009, items in relation to accounting will be as follows:

  • If your organisation has a turnover of < 10,000 euro, you must keep books but do not have to submit audited accounts, simply an annual activity report which may include some financial data.
  • If your organisation has a turnover of > 10,000 euro but less than a certain threshold (as of this writing, yet to be set by the Minister), then you must submit examined (not sudited) accounts.
  • If your turnover exceeds the threshold  then you will be required to submit full audited accounts.

You can see The Wheel's guides to the Act here , or the official Charities Act web pages here.

All of the above obligations are not really new: charities should keep proper accounts, as do small business, for transparency, accountability and good management.