Enclude Helps Charities Bridge the Digital Divide by Implementing AccountsIQ
IT charity consultancy Enclude was formed with the aim of helping other charities adopt technology to improve their data management, communications, CRM and financial management processes. Sylvester Murphy is Enclude’s Deputy CEO and also implementer of cloud-based financial management system AccountsIQ, Enclude’s preferred accounting platform for its charity clients.
Describing his reasons for selecting AccountsIQ, Sylvester says, “We undertook research a number of years ago in conjunction with a group of charities including the Irish Charities Tax Reform Group. The purpose of that exercise was to assess the impact of emerging legislation and SORP requirements and try to identify a suitable charity accounting software package for the sector. AccountsIQ, a web-based accounts system, emerged as a great candidate from this research. We approached them and they were delighted to assist in structuring an offering for the sector.”
Meeting A Range Of Needs With One Accounting Solution
Over 1,000 charities are registered with Dublin-based Enclude all of whom are seeking to improve their digital capabilities and enhance their IT systems and business solutions.
The requirements for financial management systems can vary across charity sectors and over time. In choosing a financial system, Boards and management teams are seeking solutions that are accessible, affordable and scalable. Increasingly, organisations are seeking systems that will also offer the potential for integration with other systems such as a CRM and Payroll systems.
Smaller charities can realise the benefits of improved management and controls by moving from spreadsheets to fully fledged accounting databases. For charities with incomes in excess of €500,000 with higher transaction volumes, automated processes such as bank reconciliations will save a significant amount of time. Charities in the €1-5M bracket might need to map payroll data and other expenses across different programmes and cost centres, requiring more complex coding structures. Larger charities in the €5M or greater bracket will also benefit from workflow automation and the capability to handle multi-entity organisations with groupwide data consolidation and reporting.
Sylvester adds, “We find AccountsIQ unique in that it can meet the needs of both small and very large charities. We have been able to become proficient in implementing one financial software system which, although it is often adapted differently, fundamentally suits the needs of the widest range of charities.
Helping Charities Achieve Compliancy
The Charities Act of 2009 represented a significant milestone for the charity sector in Ireland. It reformed the law relating to charities in order to ensure greater accountability and a Regulator was introduced. It triggered an ongoing narrative across the sector around transparency, governance and the need for improved systems to better manage reporting and compliance. One way in which charities could enhance public trust and confidence was through improved reports: financial reporting had to become more sophisticated, requiring charities to review their accounting models so that they could report across a variety of operating categories. Sylvester adds,
One challenge our Irish charities had in complying with the 2009 legislation was in moving away from very ‘flat’ accounting structures and introducing multi-layered reporting on income and expenditure by SORP heading and cost centre such as programmes, projects and branch location. AccountsIQ’s flexible coding structure and GL structure allows charities to classify their programme expenses with little extra effort.
In addition to the sector’s specific reporting requirements, AccountsIQ holds many standard, template reports within the system itself. It is also possible for information to be manipulated in Excel should charities need to create particular reports for specific stakeholders.
In addition to complying with the 2009 Irish Charities Act, many of Enclude’s clients also have entities based in different jurisdictions which need to comply locally as well as centrally. These accounts need to be consolidated in a consistent manner (and currency) for group reporting, all of which is handled within AccountsIQ’s integrated consolidation module. Sylvester adds, “Prior to using AccountsIQ for consolidation, the work done in spreadsheets by our multi-entity charities was hugely complex and time-consuming.”
Charity Cloud Accounting Supporting Flexible Working Structures
Non-profit organisations are often structured and resourced with staff and volunteers which may be part-time and working remotely. Commenting on the suitability of cloud apps in these scenarios, Sylvester says,
Cloud-based business apps like AccountsIQ give charities robust tools coupled with tremendous flexibility in how services are delivered and managed. You can access the software anytime and from any device. Also, the system allows you to define user profiles which means that you have very strict controls over who can access the system and to what degree. Providing remote access to people like external accountants or auditors can also help charities negotiate lower fees.
An Implementation Model Which Makes The Most Of The Cloud
Over the years, Enclude has developed a tried and tested implementation model supported by the customer success team at AccountsIQ. A phased implementation approach usually works well, allowing the charity to make steady progress at a manageable pace and to spread the costs over time.
The initial phase includes defining the data structure and chart of accounts so that data from previous systems or spreadsheets can be imported and correlated. “This ensures that fundamental reporting requirements will be met. With AIQ in place we then tend to look at potential for further enhancements such as integration with the organisation’s CRM solution.”
Where charities have implemented a cloud based CRM solution to manage their client service programmes, donor management and fundraising activities, he says it is possible to achieve further levels of efficiencies and control by integrating data feeds between the CRM system and AccountsIQ. “We have worked with a number of Charites, who have automated the processing of their donations from their web site into their CRM and onwards into their AccountsIQ financial management system.“
Enclude’s clients which use AccountsIQ are supported in the first instance by Enclude. More complex issues requiring level 2 support are escalated to Enclude’s customer success manager at AccountsIQ.
On the quality of support, he receives from the AccountsIQ’s team, Sylvester says,
The services team and support at AccountsIQ is very good and that is particularly important in the charity sector as we seek to transition the digital divide and build trust and competence in cloud solutions. The entire support process is managed within the system itself and there is a range of “How To” guides and online Help tools.”
AccountsIQ’s CEO Tony Connolly says, “It is great to see the Cloud making such a positive impact in the Charity sector. It is a pleasure to work with the team at Enclude which finds ways to make digital transformation achievable for other charities by providing experience, skills and resource.”
Learn more about AccountsIQ affordable accounting software for charities and not-for-profits.
Download Independent Review of AccountsIQ’s suitability for charities
Download our Cloud Accounting for Charities guide helping you overcome the challenge of SORP reporting.
Read our latest not for profit case study in which Artichoke Trust describe AccountsIQ’s BI codes and multi-dimensional reporting as our ‘killer feature’.