Case Study Julia Berry, Dementia Adventure

Julia is Head of Finance at Dementia Adventure (DA), a small charity that helps people living with dementia to retain a sense of adventure by getting outdoors and connecting with nature, themselves and the community.

DA is quite unique for a charity, as it receives income both from fundraising activities and sales in connection with it’s charitable object, which means that management struggled to find an off-the-shelf accounting software that could both satisfy its business activities and charity reporting requirements; and their bookkeeping software at the time was causing them a real headache.

Saving time

PPF introduced Xero to DA in 2016 and very soon it gained popularity with the whole team. For Julia it meant that she could have a bespoke accounting system at a fraction of the price; without much IT knowledge or prior experience of Xero she was able to tailor the chart of accounts to suit the charity’s needs and used the tracking feature to the full. The tracking feature has helped Julia to allocate income and expenses to the correct projects and grants, to track costs much more accurately.

We at PPF helped DA to move all their records from the old bookkeeping system to Xero and were on hand to advise Julia if she had any questions during the transition. This gave Julia her time back, she was clearly able to see the whole picture of their finances easily and she was much less frustrated.

The rest of the team quickly appreciated the benefits of Xero as well. Gone are the days of waiting for a payslip – all information relating to their payroll is available at their fingertips on a personalised app. The Xero app itself is also regularly used for submission of expenses; a quick photograph of a receipt and a description makes the whole process very quick and easy.

Receipt Bank Reduces Paper ‘Wait’

We found though there was still a missing link to the puzzle. With staff and volunteers often away on holiday meant receipts were often lost or sent in to the office a while after the event, holding up the bookkeeping, and therefore reporting, function. We therefore introduced Receipt Bank to DA and haven’t looked back. The fact that both HMRC and independent examiners accept documentation uploaded through Receipt Bank as evidence, allowed Dementia Adventure to go largely paperless. Now to find original paperwork connected to the payment all they need to do is to open the attachment, no need to go through folders in search of a right invoice. It also streamlined the bookkeeping procedure, giving PPF the information we needed quickly and easily, rather than us chasing for missing receipts and information. There is also less risk of losing paperwork! The team absolutely love this feature.

As the bookkeeping is now done in real time Julia can use the dashboard for a quick overview. She can see what bills need paying, whether there is any income due and whether any of the team members are waiting for their expenses to be authorised and paid.

A different aspect of Xero Julia finds useful is its reporting; it allows her to produce high level summaries for the Board of Trustees, but above all allows them to track expenditure associated with grants and other donations.

Making Tax Digital Sorted

Moving forward, with MTD for VAT on the horizon Julia was concerned how this would affect DA and the VAT return process. Julia was delighted to hear that Xero are all geared up and ready, and that PPF have already filed VAT returns for MTD through Xero. Julia is confident that with Xero once charities are able to switch over to MTD for VAT that this will be a smooth process and returns will continue to be filed with out any issues. No panicking required, it is all in hand.

As a result Julia now definitely feels more in control of their accounts. She is able to see at a glance where they are with budgets and grants, the reporting each month takes a lot less time, which is a joy to Julia. She is no longer spending time duplicating work or correcting mistakes. To say Julia is over the moon with Xero is an understatement!