Cloud offers new hope for not for profit sector

Santa Teresa Bushmob Culture trek 2011

The not-for-profit (NFP) sector in Australia offers critical services to the communities they serve, and yet in the current economic climate it’s a sector that tends to get forgotten. Accessing funding and attracting skilled professionals are just two of the major challenges the NFP sector faces, but have you ever wondered how they manage the basics, like accounting?

Some may assume cloud accounting is the domain of the more innovative and tech savvy small businesses out there. But Morri Young who for 14 years has been at the helm of Matrix on Board – an accounting practice specialising in the non-profit space – would certainly challenge this view. “Many of our clients are indigenous social enterprises or non-profits, that work in isolated and challenging environments (such as Bushmob pictured above which runs programs for young people who are at risk of being disengaged and marginalized). “Because of Xero, we are as close to them as we are to our urban clients,” he says.

Morri has been a Xero advocate for several years, but many of his clients were skeptical until the benefits became apparent. “Xero has changed the way that we work with our clients – at last they can access high quality accounting support, even in the most remote places.”

One of the other big challenges for NFPs is complying with governmental processes. Many NFPs are recipients of government grants and this money needs to be carefully accounted for. It’s an area which often gets overlooked and has lead to cases of funding misuse due to poor record keeping, a lack of financial visibility and high turnover of accounts staff. “We provide an essential, high degree of comfort for our clients’ boards, because we keep a ‘second set of eyes’ on the accounts all the time,” says Morri. “And our reporting to the CEOs and the boards means that they now have up-to-the minute access to their organisation’s financial performance”.

Morri says Xero provides his team with a means of building capacity in these organisations. “We can train up local people to become bookkeepers and administrators; we can improve efficiency; we can save money at audit time, and we can ensure the organisations can fully explain how they used government and philanthropic funding.”

2 Comments

Luis Aleixo
September 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Xero Accounting system has been successfully implemented by non profit organisation “Connected”. It provides it’s volunteers involved with the finance function of the organisation with the flexibility as to where they access the system.

Andrew Clark
September 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I agree cloud computing offers a range of excellent options for Not For Profits. However services need to be careful about where the data ultimately resides, as potentially private data of service users could be acessed by governments outside of Australia.

I belive if Not for Profits in Australia are to pick up cloud services, and I hope they do, they will need to see of privacy consideration of there service users.

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