Community Foundation Ireland finds SoFA reporting much easier with iplicit
With responsibility for managing in excess of 160 funds across a range of fund types (Restricted, Donor Advised, Term Funds & Endowment Funds) Community Foundation Ireland needs to be able to keep track of all funds in real time without the need to make manual adjustments to satisfy reporting requirements.
“We link every transaction to a fund at the point of entry. This means that our SoFA can be generated directly from iplicit without any further data manipulation.” David Hickson, Financial Controller, Community Foundation Ireland.
Community Foundation Ireland
Community Foundation Ireland has provided more than €120m euros to charitable causes since 2000, in effect, tripling in size since 2018. The Foundation manages more than 160 funds, including the RTE Toy Show Appeal and the Ireland for Ukraine Fund. The Community Foundation’s rapid growth, with €27m in grant payments last year alone, compelled us to review and update our accounting systems.
Financial Controller David Hickson joined the team in 2021 to help with the audit and project manage the design and implementation of a new finance system to facilitate more efficient financial reporting.
“Our previous accounting system was clearly no longer fit for purpose, requiring significant manual intervention to finalise statements, which was both time consuming and prone to error.”
In 2021, the foundation identified the need to move on from its existing finance system, as its needs grew more complex, and the concept of cloud accounting became a necessity. The Foundation wanted a system that would meet their requirements for years to come and one that would work for other entities in the group, each with their own bespoke requirements.
We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. We wanted to see our SoFA (statement of financial affairs) live on screen and our balance sheet – without having to export data to Excel and doing the phenomenal amount of manipulation that had previously been done”.
Pat Wall, Senior Solutions Analyst at iplicit Ireland, showed us how iplicit could be set up to meet the Foundation’s needs.
“It became clear to us very quickly that iplicit was what we were looking for. I can’t overstate the value which Pat brought to the process. While we were clear about our requirements, Pat’s experience of dealing with the charity sector and his detailed knowledge of the inner workings of iplicit’s software enabled him to configure iplicit to our exact needs.”
How iplicit met the foundation’s needs
It was important for the Community Foundation to produce accounts that complied with the reporting template provided in the charities SORP (statement of recommended practice). We showed this to iplicit and they were able to mirror the required format in our standard reports.
Like many charities, the foundation has a large number of funds that are restricted for particular purposes. With responsibility for managing in excess of 160 funds across a range of fund types (Restricted, Donor Advised, Term Funds & Endowment Funds) it is imperative that Community Foundation can keep track of all funds in real time without the need to make manual adjustments to satisfy reporting requirements. “We link every transaction to a fund at the point of entry. This means that our SoFA can be generated directly from iplicit without any further data manipulation.”
Switching to iplicit has provided significant savings in time and cost and enabled us to prepare management accounts within 10-15 working days of month-end – and completed to a standard that would stand up to an audit.”
Useability and remote working
iplicit has also helped the foundation continue with its hybrid working model. The team is based all over Ireland.
“iplicit allows us to work from anywhere as long as we have a laptop and an internet connection. We’re in the office together on Wednesdays and Thursdays and then on the other days, we can work just as efficiently from home. When new staff join, they might not have used iplicit before, but it is so intuitive and easy to pick up. All the feedback from our staff is very positive.”
The flexibility of the system to facilitate adjustments to transactions, in accordance with pre-approved authorisation levels, means that any data entry mistakes can be simply unposted and corrected. In other systems it can be a nightmare to unravel errors.”
David is also impressed with the easy importing of data from other systems which made the onboarding process to iplicit straightforward.
The difference iplicit has made
“The ability to easily assemble the final accounts and export them into Excel, without any need for further manipulation is exactly what we were looking for.”
David says: “When we were researching systems, one of the CEOs in our group said ‘David, can we not get a system where we get out accounts at the press of a button?’, I said ‘No, that system hasn’t been designed yet’ but since then I have had to eat my words because that’s exactly what we’ve got with iplicit.
“although we still joke that technically we have to press three buttons, control, alt and F9!”
The ability to easily assemble the final accounts and export them into Excel, without any need for further manipulation is exactly what we were looking for.”
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