Nautilus Institute for Security
and Sustainable Development
125 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710-1616
Phone: (510) 204-9296
Fax: (510) 204-9228
Web site: www.nautilus.org
Co-directors Peter Hayes and Lyuba Zarsky founded the Nautilus Institute in 1981 to address their concern over nuclear weapons buildup in the Asia-Pacific region. The Institute initially provided research to others opposing the buildup and has grown to include 10 full-time staff and a number of independent consultants who develop international policy options on a range of security, environment, and development issues.
Interview with Steve Freedkin, Managing Director, June 1998
What has been the toughest part of managing the Institute?
Two years ago we were still doing our accounting on paper. Then we purchased an expensive software package that was difficult for non-accountants to use and crashed all the time. After wasting time and money, we decided to try QuickBooks Pro 4.0.
How do you use QuickBooks?
We use it for all the standard day-to-day accounting, check writing, and report generation. I run reports frequently to get the updated numbers for income and expenses and actual vs. budgeted amounts.
Because our program managers have budget accounts different than the ones we operate from in QuickBooks we’re developing translation matrices to export the data from QuickBooks to a spreadsheet where the program managers can manipulate their budgets as needed. For example, a program manager may have a budget item for Conference, that on our chart of accounts is split between a variety of expense accounts (Travel, Lodging, Photocopying, etc.).
What advice would you give other nonprofit organizations?
- I found both the QuickBooks industry-specific [onscreen] help for nonprofits and the preset chart of accounts useful as starting points.
- In general, I would advise that you go over your chart of accounts with an accountant who knows nonprofit accounting. The accountant should make sure that each QuickBooks account is linked to the appropriate Form 990 tax line.
- Look carefully at your needs before you spend money on any accounting software.
Editor’s Note: If your non-profit needs to handle a high-volume of membership and pledge information, we recommend that you use a database, spreadsheet, or membership software in addition to QuickBooks.