In mid-March 2019, Little Green Light quietly released an integration with QuickBooks Online (Plus edition). But don’t let the lack of fanfare around this release fool you; this is a very significant integration for LGL, and it took years (yes, years) to come to fruition.
The reason the integration took a long time to develop, and the reason we’ve released it quietly, is because there is no magical solution when it comes to sync’ing together two very different things: Your fundraising data and your accounting data.
Fundraising data is primarily concerned with the relationship you have with your donor, whereas accounting data is fundamentally about reconciling your financials and reporting to the IRS.
Here’s a simple and powerful example of the difference: When a donor makes an online contribution of $100 to your organization, you’ll write them an acknowledgment thanking them for their $100 contribution. Since they received no goods or services in exchange, you let them know that the whole $100 is tax-deductible. But on the accounting side, it’s critical to track how much cash actually got to your bank account (so everything reconciles), and it’s critical to note the fee to the payment processor.
In your accounting system, you should record $100 as income, but simultaneously record a fee of $3 (or thereabouts) for the payment processing. In the accounting world, the $97 figure becomes extremely important, while that number doesn’t affect how you communicate with your donor in the fundraising world at all.
There is also the difference between how you set up gift categories and funds in Little Green Light, on the one hand, with your chart of accounts and classes (programs) in QuickBooks Online, on the other hand. Those two sets of lists are not likely to be identical, as they evolve based on the needs of the person who most uses them: The development director for fundraising data and the accountant for accounting data.
On top of all that, QuickBooks software has been undergoing a seismic shift as it prioritizes the online version more and more over the desktop versions.
But, through surveys completed by dozens of LGL customers and phone interviews with a handful, we landed on a solution we think is a great first step in saving time for those who use both LGL and QuickBooks Online.
In a nutshell, the integration lets you enter gifts in LGL as you would normally and then click a button to add the gifts to a queue that you can later sync to QuickBooks. The sync creates Sales Receipts, complete with the Product/Service and Class, in your QBO account. You can match to, or create, either a specific customer or a generic General LGL Constituent.
In QuickBooks, you then go through the Deposit process, during which you set any fees associated with the transaction. In the case of online donations processed through LGL Forms, LGL passes through the fees in the memo field to help with this. Your deposits are automatically reflected back in LGL.
Be sure to review our Knowledge Base article for more details: QuickBooks integration: Sync gifts from LGL to your QB Online account
A final note
We would like to thank our QuickBooks consultant, Gregg Bossen, for helping us put together this integration. Gregg runs a highly successful webinar series on QuickBooks best practices for nonprofits in May and November each year in addition to live workshops in several states.
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