How best to learn basic book keeping?
March 9, 2005 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm the treasurer of a small non-profit organization who has been keeping track of our group's finances in a crude, checkbook-style format. I'd like to keep the financial records in a more professional way, as if we were a small business. What's the best way for me to learn how to do this? Can anyone suggest good books or software that will help me learn this?
posted by capcuervo to Work & Money (6 answers total)
We used QuickBooks for our non-profit ($1.4m budget) and it worked fine. It was easily transferable to an accountant for tax and other issues and was easy for the auditor to find what they needed. QuickBooks classes are usually available at local community colleges or "business education" schools, but it is pretty straightforward. Coding accounts and other issues are something an initial visit with an accountant can help you set up and use.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2005

I second the quickbooks recommendation, it is relatively inexpensive and very easy to use.
posted by AllesKlar at 9:54 AM on March 9, 2005

I have a generic template for GL accounts from our accountants and could forward it if you'd like an example.
posted by AllesKlar at 9:56 AM on March 9, 2005

I third the quickbooks. GL accounting isn't hard, but takes a few months and a textbook to do.

Either buy quickbooks ($300, possibly add in the non-profit module for a total of about $500).
Or take a community college class on bookkeeping (or accounting 1, which might be 2 classes. Cost: $500 to $1000, but would take 3 to 6 months to work up to.
posted by SpecialK at 12:15 PM on March 9, 2005

In many communities there's a nonprofit assistance center where you can get referrals, services, classes, software discounts, etc. If you can find one nearby, it'll probably be able to help you learn the basics of financial accounting and reporting for nonprofits.

Also check the local community college and adult ed programs. I've often seen a nonprofit finance course listed at one of those.

Also call around to the larger accounting firms in your area. When I was first starting out, I got a ton of useful info from a series of free small business seminars offered by a big accounting firm. It's a win-win as far as they're concerned: the more successful you can be, the more money you'll have to juggle with probably less and less time to deal it, and they're the ones at the top of your rolodex... They even offered free consults to setup their "graduates" with discounted accounting software and give a brief walkthrough of how to use it.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:54 PM on March 9, 2005

Response by poster: Wow! I've just checked back after posting the question this morning and am thrilled by all of the above, very useful, responses. Thanks so much to all for the very helpful advice!
posted by capcuervo at 1:39 PM on March 9, 2005

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