AAB’s Charity Services Team

BLOG14th Jun 2021

Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) is one of the UK’s leading Chartered Accountants and Business Advisory Firms. Our specialist Charity Services Team of experts understands the needs of third sector organisations and has worked with many during this time of immense pressure for the sector. Our team is drawn from each of the service areas of AAB, such as audit, business advisory, payroll & employment taxes, corporation tax and indirect tax. Each member joined the charity services team because they are passionate about the impact of the work of charities do in our communities. 

As charity trading operations and ability to perform fundraising took a hit overnight, it’s been a long journey of adapting and improving processes to make sure charities maintain a strong financial position. Our team ensures clients are given peace of mind knowing that they are compliant with laws and legislation, have timely financial information about their charity and can plan for the future with appropriate knowledge transferred from the AAB team to the charities’ teams. 

Giving something back 

It is not only conversations with clients that has given us the insight into the difficulties the sector has faced recently. The Anderson Anderson & Brown Charitable Initiative (AABi) is the platform which facilitates all at AAB to invest in the communities in which we operate by seeking partnerships with charities and inviting applications for donations, grants and volunteer time. Whilst our own fundraising opportunities have been reduced, and therefore the monies available for donations are limited, AABi has continued with its grant round funding process throughout lockdown, donating over £23,000 to charities since March 2020.  

Virtual Finance Function 

Many organisations have had to think on their feet in the past year as a result of COVID-19, but none more so than those in the charitable sector. The pandemic has provided new challenges, not only in delivering core services to those in need but also in keeping on top of the day-to-day finances. 

Fundraising has been hit heavily as events are cancelled across the country which often provide much needed funds to charities. Therefore, keeping on top of budgets and cashflow are so important.  

Often when applying for government funding or grants charities are being asked to provide information on what has been lost by COVID-19, but how is that possible? We often see charities relying on paper records and on key members of staff for knowledge. What the pandemic has shown us is that we need to be adaptable and easily able to change with sometimes less than one day’s notice. 

Achieving flexibility 

But how can this be achieved when the records are held at head-office and staff are all currently working in different locations? Perhaps processing of financial information has fallen behind and the charity no longer has sight of the financial position and cashflow headroom. 

Our Virtual Finance Function (VFF) has provided the solution to many charities during the last year by offering the following: 

  • One-off systems review and implementation to put bespoke cloud systems in place and ensure financial information is up to date. This enables the finance team to access the system from any location and operate in a paperless fashion. (No trips needed to the office to collect paperwork!); 
  • Time saved on the day-to-day processing by utilising direct bank feeds so transactions no longer have to be manually input; 
  • Use of apps to assist in the recording of fundraising information, which can link directly to fundraising sites such as Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving; 
  • Taking charge running the finance department where charity doesn’t have a dedicated finance team. This can include everything from a finance assistant all the way up to a virtual CFO; 
  • Creation and import of budgets into cloud accounting software, so real-time budget-to-actual information is available, allowing shortfalls to be identified before they become an issue; 
  • Tracking the profit and loss of individual projects at the click of a button so shortfalls can be easily identified and steps can be put in place to address them. 

The above has given peace of mind that charities have the infrastructure in place to navigate 2021 and beyond. ‘Lockdown’ working has accelerated change in many organisations, with management appreciating that there really is no time like the present to make use of the advantage that technology brings. 

Technology is enabling and equipping charities to be adaptable and agile in an ever-changing world by ensuring that the oversight and governance is strengthened not weakened. 

For further information, or if you have any questions, please contact Andy Shaw or your usual Anderson Anderson & Brown contact.