Just because non-profit companies may not carry heavy inventory or require complex MRP runs, their ERP needs aren’t any easier. Consisting of unique business models with their membership types, grants, and complex operational workflows, each non-profit vertical might also differ in its needs. For example, educational and healthcare non-profits may have completely different workflows than cities and governments. The associations and membership communities could differ from foundations and elderly care groups.
Without the native support grant and fund accounting, most vanilla ERP systems would not fit the needs of non-profit organizations. Each grant and fund may have public reporting requirements controlling the usage of their dollars, very similar requirements as publicly traded companies. The only difference between reporting for publicly-traded and non-profits would be that the publicly-traded companies must report only at the macro level. Non-profit companies, on the other hand, need to segment each fund and report it based on the fund structure.
Each fund and grant may have specific constraints, such as not allowing competing funds to share the same resources. Or consuming funds only for specific purposes, such as the benefit of a specific community or religion. They might also have constraints such as The Patriots Act, where data must reside within the boundary of a specific country, leaving out several options that may primarily be US- or UK-hosted solutions. The recruiting, training, and enablement workflows are extremely unique as well, which only non-profit-specific HCM and CRM packages can support. So which are the top non-profit ERP software in 2023?
- Definition of a non-profit company. These are the companies of any size in the non-profit ecosystem, such as cities, governments, schools, associations, foundations, charities, churches, charitable subsidiaries of large corporations, etc.
- Overall market share/# of customers. The higher the market share among non-profit companies, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Ownership/funding. The more committed the management to the product roadmap for the non-profit companies, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Quality of development. (legacy vs. legacy dressed as modern vs. modern UX/cloud-native): The more cloud-native capabilities, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Community/Ecosystem. The larger the community with a heavy presence from non-profit companies, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Depth of native functionality for specific industries. The deeper the publisher-owned out-of-the-box functionality, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Quality of publicly available product documentation. The poorer the product documentation, the lower it ranks on our list.
- Non-profit company market share (and documented commitment of the publisher through financial statements). The higher the focus on non-profit companies, the higher the ERP system ranks on our list.
- Ability to natively support diversified business models. The more diverse the product, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Acquisition strategy aligned with non-profit companies. The more aligned the acquisitions are with the non-profit companies, the higher it ranks on our list.
- User Reviews. The deeper the reviews from non-profit companies, the higher the score for a specific product.
- Must be an ERP product. It can’t be an edge product such as QuickBooks, Freshbooks, Xero, Zendesk, HubSpot, or Salesforce. It also can’t be an add-on owned by ISVs or VARs that sits on top of other accounting platforms.
Workday targets large non-profit companies with heavy needs for HCM. Ideal for companies that might already be using or considering Workday as their HCM solution. Not the best fit for companies looking for suite-centric offerings that might require deep operational capabilities, such as workflows for members, students, and donors.
- Strong HCM and CPM Capabilities Pre-integrated and Pre-baked. Workday has one of the strongest HCM products in the market, with deep workflows for hire-to-retire, training, and talent forecasting. The CPM capabilities are also tailored for service-centric organizations.
- Non-profit Accounting and PSA Capabilities Offered Out of the Box. Expect out-of-the-box capabilities for the fund and grant accounting along with PSA capabilities. The most important capabilities required for non-profit verticals.
- Designed to Handle Enterprise Workloads. Workday has been proven with installations where the HCM and financial ledger might process millions of journal entries per hour. And often installed in fortune 500 accounts.
- Weak Financial Capabilities. Workday’s financial capabilities might not be as robust as SAP, Oracle, or Sage Intacct as of today in the areas of ASC606 compliance, subscription-based revenue recognition, or multi-element allocations.
- Limited Install Base for the Finance Module. Most of the Workday installations are still limited to HCM and Adaptive planning, with very few installations for finance and indirect procurement. So if you are looking for deeper finance capabilities, Workday might not be the best fit.
- Might not Have Operational Capabilities for Niche Non-profit Sectors. The operational capabilities for niche non-profit sectors such as membership organizations or cities requiring integration with specific databases or CRM might be limiting with Workday.
Overall, consider Workday if you are a large organization either already on Workday HCM or considering Workday as the potential HCM solution for your enterprise architecture.
FinancialForce targets mid-to-large non-profit companies. Ideal for companies that might already be using or considering Salesforce as their CRM solution. Not the best fit for companies looking for suite-centric offerings such as P2P and HCM pre-integrated.
- Salesforce Look and Feel. The biggest advantage of FinancialForce is the Salesforce look and feel throughout the suite. The same developers that can support Salesforce must be able to support FinancialForce as well.
- Deeply Integrated with Other Salesforce Products Such as Communities and CRM. The integration with the Salesforce offerings and the ecosystem is one of the biggest pluses for FinancialForce.
- Non-profit Accounting and PSA Capabilities Offered Out of the Box. Expect non-profit accounting capabilities and one of the strongest PSA modules with skillset-based scheduling and forecasting out of the box.
- Limited Install Base. The install base for FinancialForce is significantly limiting. Not even close to other systems on this list.
- Ecosystem and Community. The community and ecosystem are not as prolific. While the Salesforce talent can support the technical needs, they would lack the business consulting and financial expertise required to be successful with the product.
- The Financial Workflows Might not be as Intuitive for Financial Leaders. The Salesforce look and feel might not be intuitive for finance leaders, who might not be comfortable seeing things such as the edit or delete button right by the posted journal entries.
Overall, consider FinancialForce if you are on Salesforce or considering it for your CRM.
Blackbaud targets SMB non-profit companies looking for suite-centric offerings. Ideal for companies looking to outgrow QuickBooks and for suite-centric offerings with the minimum expertise required for data mapping and translations. Not a great fit for medium-to-large companies looking to grow their operations by streamlining and simplifying their operations for inorganic growth or consolidating their disparate datasets.
- Deep Operational Functionality with Tailored Capabilities for Specific Non-profit Micro-verticals. Expect capabilities such as pre-integrated and pre-configured student and teacher workflows tailored for specific micro-verticals that would require significant development effort on other solutions.
- Non-profit Accounting Provided Out of the Box. The accounting capabilities might not be as deep with ASC606 compliance or with multi-element accounting but expect grant and fund accounting capabilities out of the box.
- Might not Require As Much Customization and Configuration as Other Larger Offerings. The data and workflows may be tailored to your micro-industry. So you might need as much consulting expertise as with other vanilla solutions.
- The Reliability of the Infrastructure for Larger Workloads. Blackbaud has recently experienced an outage with its infrastructure. So it might not be as reliable as other solutions that are running mission-critical and larger workloads than Blackbaud.
- Not Designed for Larger Companies with Multiple Entities – consolidations, multi-entity accounting, and dimensional reporting might be a challenge for larger non-profits.
- Ability to Handle larger workloads. Blackbaud is a great company outgrowing QuickBooks but may not be the best fit for companies with thousands of employees, members, etc., requiring financial control and financially integrated processes.
7. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
Offering exclusive capabilities for grant and fund accounting and a PSA module tailored for professional services organizations, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central targets SMB non-profit companies with deep financial needs. Ideal for global non-profit SMBs that might be present in multiple countries. Not the best fit for mid-to-large companies processing millions of journal entries with very long-standing transactions.
- Designed for Global Companies. Natively supports global regions and localizations. Ideal fit for countries where the other suite-centric solutions might not be present such as Blackbaud, Unit4, or FinancialForce.
- Non-profit Accounting and PSA Capabilities Provided Out of the Box. Expect a non-profit accounting package including grant and fund reporting with a PSA tailored for non-profit-centric organizations and skill-based scheduling.
- Marketplace and Ecosystem. Augments core capabilities with a very vibrant marketplace that can support diverse business models such as rental, membership, or church-specific operations management software.
- Financial Traceability and SOX Compliance Might Not be the Most Intuitive for Finance Leaders. The financial traceability may not be as intuitive as SAP for global, publicly traded non-profit companies.
- Technical Focus and Limited Business Consulting Expertise in the Microsoft Ecosystem. The ecosystem has technical companies but with limited business consulting experience, which might lead to over-customization and overengineering of Microsoft products, which ultimately leads to implementation failure.
- Limited Microsoft Support for Smaller Partners. Unlike other ERP companies, Microsoft doesn’t offer any support or control to its smaller partners, which often leads to implementation issues because of the lack of control over the channel.
Overall, consider Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central if you are looking for global financial capabilities and can afford consultants to able to translate data, manage change, and configure and tailor workflows for your micro-industry.
6. SAP S/4 HANA
SAP S/4 HANA targets large, non-profit organizations with the need to process millions of transactions and the ability to host multiple countries and business models with substantial collaboration among them. Might not be the best fit for companies outgrowing smaller ERP systems or QuickBooks due to the IT maturity required in implementing the solution.
- Non-profit Accounting and PSA Capabilities Provided Out of the Box. Expect a non-profit accounting package including grant and fund reporting with a PSA tailored for non-profit-centric organizations and skill-based scheduling.
- Best of Breed Capabilities Pre-integrated. The best-of-breed software, such as Concur, SuccessFactors, and CRM, are pre-integrated with the SAP S/4 HANA that has the potential to save millions of dollars with integration.
- HANA and Financial Traceability for Large, Global Organizations. Because of the power of HANA, SAP S/4 HANA can process very complex transactions with visual traceability across entities. As well as end-to-end traceability, auditability, and approvals of SOX compliance workflows.
- Non-profit CRM and Membership Capabilities. It might require extensive customization or configuration to work for the non-profit industry.
- Best-of-breed Pre-built Integration Options May be Limited. The marketplace options are limited for non-profits, and the best-of-breed options may require substantial translations to be successful with the product, requiring consulting dollars and experienced internal IT resources with several ERP implementations under their belt.
- Overwhelming for Smaller Organizations. The data model is designed for large, complex organizations and might be overwhelming for smaller non-profit organizations outgrowing QuickBooks or smaller ERP systems.
Overall, consider SAP S/4 HANA if you are a large non-profit organization or a publicly traded organization looking to host all of your global subsidiaries in one system.
5. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations
One of the deepest cloud solutions capable of supporting many business models on the same software platform with the non-profit accounting package and a PSA module offered out of the box. Ideal for global non-profits operating in several countries. Not so great fit for smaller companies under $250M in revenue, outgrowing QuickBooks or other smaller ERP systems.
- Designed for Large Organizations. Ideal for large, global companies with complex business models operating in multiple countries, requiring one system for the entire operations.
- Non-profit Accounting Package Capabilities Offered Out of the Box. Embedded non-profit accounting capabilities offered out of the box to be able to support complex fund allocations, reporting, budgeting, and scheduling.
- Data Center Options and Data Locations of Choice Might be Available in Most Countries. With the backing of Azure, complying with regulations such as the Patriots act may be easier as you might be able to choose the data hosting in most countries.
- May not be the Best Fit for Publically-traded Companies. The traceability requirements for publicly traded companies might not be as intuitive as the other ERP solutions designed from the perspective of the CFO.
- The CRM Might Not be the Most Friendly for Non-profit Organizations. The Microsoft CRM might not be the most fluid for non-profit organizations, with the tightness of the data model designed primarily to support product-centric organizations. Extending existing business objects would require developer support or an add-on.
- Overwhelming for Smaller Organizations. Companies under $250M in revenue or outgrowing smaller ERP or accounting systems such as QuickBooks might struggle because of the data modeling and translation expertise required to be successful with the product.
Overall, consider Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O if you have a globally diverse business model and trying to consolidate disparate business models and entities in one solution.
4. Oracle Cloud ERP
Oracle Cloud ERP targets large non-profit organizations looking for deep global financial capabilities. Not the best fit for smaller non-profit companies outgrowing smaller ERP or accounting systems or looking for suite-centric offerings with limited internal IT expertise and ability to afford consulting companies.
- Designed for Large Non-profit Organizations. The embedded HCM and CRM processes are suitable for large non-profit organizations. The P2P workflows are friendlier for the indirect procurement needs of non-profit organizations.
- Native Capabilities for Grant and Fund Accounting. Expect native capabilities for grant and fund accounting provided as part of the package with very robust budget planning tools pre-integrated and pre-populated that can easily be merged with external datasets.
- Embedded HCM and PSA Processes. Expect HCM and PSA to be fully immersed with the ERP and grant and fund compliance processes.
- Non-profit CRM and Membership Capabilities. While Oracle Cloud ERP might support the needs of membership from the perspective of finance and ASC606, the operational capabilities would require translation of data and process model, requiring expensive consulting and internal IT expertise.
- Best-of-breed Pre-built Integrated Options May be Limited. Expect substantial efforts in integrating non-profit-specific CRMs and tools, as options may be limited for specific non-profit organizations.
- Overwhelming for Smaller Organizations. The data model and translations required to be successful with the product may be too overwhelming for companies outgrowing QuickBooks or other smaller ERP systems.
Overall, consider Oracle Cloud ERP if you are a large, global non-profit organization or buying ERP primarily for financial and procurement, with an integrated, customizable HCM tailored for service-centric industries.
NetSuite targets SMB non-profit organizations operating in multiple countries. Ideal for non-profits with diverse business models, such as schools with campus stores or healthcare organizations with warehouses. Might be a great fit as a tier 2 solution for a non-profit subsidiary of larger corporations.
- In-built Package with Fund and Grant Accounting Capabilities Offered out of the box. Expect native capabilities for grant and fund accounting provided as part of the package with very robust budget planning tools for SMB non-profit companies pre-integrated and pre-populated that can easily be merged with external datasets.
- Marketplace and Ecosystem. NetSuite has one of the most vibrant marketplaces and ecosystems, with tons of pre-baked integrations and add-ons available for diverse business models.
- Ideal for Global Companies Growing Through M&A. NetSuite can support several diverse and global business models out of the box, making it ideal for companies part of the private equity portfolio and growing through M&A.
- Experience Not as Intuitive for Finance Leaders. While financial auditability and multi-dimensional reporting are built as part of the system, the experience may not be as intuitive as other solutions tailored for non-profit finance users.
- Multi-entity Accounting Not as Straight Forward for Finance Leaders. While multi-entity accounting is supported by the ability to host multiple entries in hundreds of countries in one database, the multi-entity capabilities are not as intuitive for finance users.
- Unnecessary Bloatedness of the Product-centric Capabilities Not as Relevant for the Non-profit. While the product-centric capabilities could be a huge plus for large organizations, the data model may have unnecessary layers that might not be relevant for nonprofit organizations.
Overall, consider NetSuite if you are an SMB non-profit organization looking for global capabilities. Also, great for companies growing through acquisitions or private equity-owned.
Unit4 targets medium-to-large non-profit organizations looking for suite-centric capabilities. Ideal for large universities and schools due to the deep operational workflows supported out of the box that will require significant customization with other horizontal solutions. Not a great fit for companies outgrowing QuickBooks or expecting inorganic growth through M&A.
- Strong HCM and Indirect Procurement Capabilities Pre-integrated and Pre-baked. Expect pre-integrated HCM and indirect procurement capabilities tailored to educational institutes and non-profits.
- Non-profit Accounting and PSA Capabilities Offered Out of the Box. The non-profit package includes native capabilities for the fund and grant capabilities with a strong PSA module to manage resources and projects.
- Designed to Handle Global Enterprise Workloads. The unit4 solution has two versions, one for large enterprises and another for mid-market. It has been proven with one of the largest non-profit institutes looking for a tailored replacement for SAP S/4 HANA or Oracle Cloud ERP.
- Legacy Solution. While the solution has been rearchitected for the cloud, it’s a legacy solution. So the user and mobile experience might not be as great as other options born in the cloud.
- Limited Install Base in North America. Primarily a European solution with a very limited presence and ecosystem in North America. So you might struggle to find consulting companies and marketplace add-ons focused on the North American market.
- Might be too Overwhelming for Smaller Organizations. Due to the data translation and mapping required for the enterprises, smaller customers outgrowing Quickbooks or smaller ERP systems might find it to be overwhelming.
Overall, consider Unit4 if you are a mid-to-large non-profit organization looking for a non-profit tailored, suite-centric alternative to SAP S/4 HANA or Oracle Cloud ERP.
1. Sage Intacct
Sage Intacct has one of the largest marketshare in the non-profit space, with the marketplaces and pre-baked integration available for several micro-verticals. Not the best fit for diverse organizations or growing through M&A where the business model is likely to change. May not be the best fit for the non-profit subsidiaries of large corporations as Sage Intacct would struggle with the diverse business model of the parent entity and might require another solution.
- Deep Non-profit specific last-mile capabilities. Sage Intacct has one of the strongest non-profit-centric capabilities, including fund and grants accounting, pre-populated KPIs, and reports.
- Globalized and Localized in over 120 countries. Sage Intacct can natively support multi-entity collaboration features of over 120 countries.
- Salesforce, HR, and Marketplace Integrations for the Non-profit Sector. Salesforce and payroll integrations are owned and maintained by Sage, ensuring the quality of development.
- May Require Subscriptions for Best-of-breed CRMs. Primarily an accounting solution. So the solution doesn’t have any CRM capabilities at all. As well as limited supply chain capabilities, even for indirect procurement. Non-profit and healthcare organizations needing inventory and warehouse capabilities might struggle with the solution.
- Will Require Consulting Expertise Compared to Other Smaller Systems. While Sage Intacct is designed for maximum audibility and compliance, the added layers would require consulting expertise and internal IT maturity to be successful with the product.
- Too Many Moving Pieces During Implementation. While the integration required for Brightpearl, ADP, and Salesforce is supported by Sage, there will be multiple parties involved during the implementation, with all of them pulling architecture and design decisions in their direction, increasing the implementation failure risk.
Overall, consider Sage Intacct if you are a service-centric SMB organization in the non-profit, SaaS, healthcare, and financial services space.
Non-profit companies are unique in their needs. The needs could vary in how they forecast their products and how that impacts the demand for the supplies in the non-profit ecosystem. They also have unique quality and reporting requirements for each ecosystem, including Toyota and Honda. Not being able to comply with the ever-changing demands of their OEMs may put their scorecards at risk. Because of this reason, non-profit companies require deep non-profit-specific capabilities.
Using a vanilla ERP for non-profit companies could make the implementation risky and expensive due to the need for custom development and error-prone add-ons. If you are evaluating an ERP system for your non-profit company, make sure you don’t drown in the generalized ERP features, which would be the critical success factors for your implementation. And hopefully, this list could help you narrow down some options for you.