The Third Sector & The Next Normal

BLOG9th Nov 2020

The events of 2020 have been unlike anything we could have anticipated. They have triggered developments across all organisations as we all continually reacted to new, and rapidly changing, guidelines from the World Health Organisation and both the Scottish and UK Governments.

At AAB, our processes and systems are designed to support agile working, which meant that as we moved to remote working, we were able to continue to deliver the service our clients are used to, and expect from our firm. We also quickly established a dedicated COVID-19 Response Team with specialists from across AAB who are responsible for responding to the various developments and Government updates. Our dedicated COVID-19 hub on our website was continuously updated as we offered support and guidance to clients and contacts.

Like everyone, our work in the Aberdeen community, and beyond, changed overnight, and as we moved through the various stages of lockdown a lot of our clients were initially looking for clarity on the various Government support measures available. This support then shifted as we all started to look ahead, think about what was next and clients then looked for assistance with the various steps they could take now to help with planning, operating and continuously adapting in the next normal and beyond.

We found that our clients welcomed us sharing our own experiences and learnings through real examples and advice, combining our own perspective with the technical expertise available across the firm to assist them. We did this through a dedicated video series focused on four key areas that will continue to play a major part in the ‘next normal’ including:

  • making vital financial preparations including budgets, forecasts, flexibility and cashflow management;
  • looking after your teams, from communication plans to assistance with the UK’s job retention schemes;
  • embracing a digital and agile mindset so that your business model and workforce are adaptable to any situation; and
  • implementing dashboards to gather and analyse real-time data and key performance indicators for planning different scenarios and making quick decisions.

Our teams have been continuing to provide practical guidance on areas such as reviewing business models and utilising technology which has also assisted a number of our clients’ internal processes. Organisations, including charities, which utilise cloud accounting and virtual finance functions, have certainly seen the benefit of being able to monitor their financial position using real time information enabling them to have a stronger grasp of their cash flow and working capital.

In addition to supporting the Third Sector with proactive accountancy and business advisory services, we continue to support the sector through our dedicated charity; Anderson Anderson & Brown Charitable Initiative (AABi).

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. Although we have experienced a reduction in the funds available to donate, we knew that fulfilling the 2020 grant rounds was something we needed to do as this was the time that charities needed us the most.

Since lockdown AABi has donated over £12,500 to 15 charities across Scotland, including local charities the Denis Law Legacy Trust, TrYthan and Aberdeen Cyrenians. It has been fantastic to be able to play a small part in providing hope and a light at the end of the tunnel for them and their service users. The current AABi Grant Round closes on 31 December 2020, more information can be found here.

Organisations in the Third Sector are critical to so much of our lives and the nation’s response to the consequences of COVID-19, but they have needed to adapt to and invest in new service delivery models, alongside reduced income to fund activities. Whilst it has undoubtedly been a challenging year the responses have been truly impressive and demonstrate that the sector can adapt as quickly as any other.

As we look ahead to 2021, agility, real time visibility over finances and technology will continue be the key areas of focus for the third sector, like many others, as they look to continue to adapt in the months to come.

If you would like more information, contact Elaine Parr, Charity Services Senior Manager.