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Playcentre Aotearoa: families learning together

Posted 2 weeks ago in Small business by Anna Jamieson
Posted by Anna Jamieson

Playcentre provides a sense of community for families. Find out how using Xero benefits the volunteer treasurers at the 420+ Playcentres in Aotearoa.

Playcentre is unlike any other early learning service. Driven by the philosophy that parents are the best educators to their children, Playcentre provides a sense of community for families to grow and learn together. 

Playcentre is a not-for-profit early childhood centre run by volunteer parents of the children. After opening its first centre in Wellington in 1941, it has grown to more than 420 centres across New Zealand.

Their mission is to be a family-run organisation that empowers adults and children to play, work, learn and grow together, while honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

A typical day at Playcentre will involve a 3 hour session where children guide their learning with activities like building, baking, painting and singing. At Lower Waitaki Playcentre, most families are dairy farmers, so these kids love nothing more than to be outdoors. They build relationships and learn through activities, whether they’re playing in the mud kitchen built by the parents, inside collaging or playing farmer with toy animals.

Ensuring consistency with Xero

The centres were recently consolidated into one group – Playcentre Aotearoa – and are now live on Xero nationwide. Before using Xero, each Playcentre managed their accounts on paper files and offline spreadsheets. There were 32 organisations managing the accounts 32 different ways. Now with Xero, there is one consistent view of all 420+ centres.

“For the national organisation, the three biggest benefits of using Xero are transparency, consistency and oversight,” says Marina Cook, CFO at Playcentre Aotearoa. “We are able to see every centre at a glance, and when they have questions we can provide real-time support because we can see their Xero at the same time they can.”

Making life easier for treasurers

The volunteer treasurer role changes quite often at some Playcentres, so having all the records online makes the transition from one treasurer to another easy, as they can see historic records in one place.

The invoice reminder functionality in Xero is also a valuable tool used by the treasurers.

“Being able to invoice members, track payments, reconcile the payment, and send out reminders is great especially because payment reminders can be quite awkward between parents who are close friends,” says Karen Flattery, Accounts Manager at Playcentre.

Using Spotlight for reporting

Using Xero has made the financial year-end process a lot easier for treasurers. Before, they would do this in a spreadsheet, taking 15-20 hours to complete. Now with the help of Xero app partner Spotlight, treasurers can complete the year-end process in an hour or so. If they have up to date reconciling in Xero, it might only take 15 minutes. 

“Using Xero and Spotlight allows us to complete consolidated accounts, which was impossible before. We’re now able to do one group report and send this to the Charities Register. This saves our volunteer treasurers the work of preparing tier 4 accounts,” says Marina.

“It also allows for a single group audit saving over $200,000 in audit fees. In addition to saving an immeasurable amount of time for our volunteer treasurers.”

More than just a place to play

What Playcentre offers goes far beyond early learning. It’s a huge support community for parents who can develop parenting skills and make friends for life. Many members are new migrants who find Playcentre a wonderful way to build a community and settle into New Zealand.

Parents can also gain an NZQA qualification while their children attend Playcentre. This recognises the informal learning and development that takes place in a centre. 

Using Xero also gives the Playcentres’ volunteer treasurers a useful skill they can take out into the workforce once their children move on from Playcentre.

Find out more about Playcentre Aotearoa and how it’s building a beautiful community across New Zealand.

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