QuickBooks is a very flexible, user-friendly system, which should save the organisation time and trouble; it will warn you about possible errors and prevent you from performing certain mistakes (e.g. when amount on a cheque don't match). Transactions are easy to alter and reports / invoices can be customised or adapted to suit the organisation.
There is no limit to the number of companies that you can set up. However, you normally will require only one company for your organisation, although it is useful to set up a trail company to practice you need to ensure that it is clearly identified as such.
It is usually best to start on the first date of the organisation financial year e.g. 1st April. Don't worry about inputting transactions or opening balances immediately, these can always be entered retrospectively.
The impetus for moving your accounting to a computerised package is often due to the difficulties of satisfying funders reporting requirements on a manual system. QuickBooks allows separation of funds, these are identified as classes. The system allows for flexibility of reporting dates and fund can be shown separately or combined.
It take times to familiarise yourself with the package and it doesn't look anything like your old cashbook or your ledger!
It is best if the organisation has a clear idea of their budget headings and funders requirements.
It is important that the organisation has a clear idea of what types of accounts their need to set up. This is called Chart ofAccounts in QuickBooks. Most organisations have a bank account (if more than one these will also need be set up separately) and a petty cash. The bank and petty cash are up under the bank section of the Chart of Accounts.
Chart Of Accounts;
Take the account headings from the organisation budget headings; it is possible to add sub-accounts (even into sub-sub accounts) but try to keep the list fairly simple. You can add, delete or merge accounts.Print out the Chart of Accounts for reference purposes. (nb Income & expenditure Account usually come out in alphabetical order, but can be re-arrange). You can get Quick report for any account heading you choose.
Class List; As well as analysing the income and expenditure into accounts you can have another level of analysing using classes. This will help the organisation to identify which pot of money the organisation is spending from, which grant of source of funding the organisation is using. The classes are there to keep track of the organisations income spending for different funds. You can create as many classes as the organisation require (again this can be broken down into subclasses) but try to keep it simple and only use classes for things the organisation definitely need to keep track of separately.
It is best to use project names rather than the funder name, especially where there is more than one funder contributing to the same project. E.g. Luncheon Club for the over 60s is funded by City Trust and Big LotteryFund, name the class as Luncheon Club 60s rather than have Big Lottery Fund and another class City Trust. UsingClasses is a very useful tool for grants where a funder requires a report on how the money has been spent. It is best to create a further class to cover unrestricted income and expenditure, which you could call Core, Unrestricted or General. You can add, delete, merge or amend classes.You can get Quick reports for any class you choose.
Memorised Transaction List; you can memorise regular transactions such as direct debits, standing orders, etc.