Helping bring the 2nd Kirriemuir Scout Group into the digital age

Category: BookkeepingCharitiesTechnology - Posted On: Aug 14 2019


Scouting, or the Scout Movement, is a registered charity which attracts many young people worldwide, including Richard Branson, Barack Obama and David Beckham as previous members. Currently there are 450,000 young people in Scouting, spread across five sections: Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts, Explorer Scouts and the Scout Network. Each section has its own balanced programme of activities, badges and awards with membership subscriptions being paid at the beginning of each term, along with the cost of any upcoming trips, meaning bookkeeping for the Scouts can be a full time job. Each local group is a registered charity, with all of the filing and compliance requirements which come with this.

Our Amber Manager in Forfar, Scott Kennedy, volunteers as Treasurer for the 2nd Kirriemuir Scout Group and has worked with bringing them from cash payments, to a streamlined online process;

“When I first started as Treasurer, all the records for the group were collected by each individual section leader in cash, which then had to be paid into the bank. Section leaders would be responsible for tracking unpaid monies and communications with parents relied on a system of paper slips going back with the children, which wasn’t always reliable.

“The main problem was receiving appropriate paperwork from leaders to support expenses from the fund. Leaders were reimbursed by cheque, requiring two signatories, which lead to delays in payments being issued and the operation of the cash based system resulted in some problems with accounting for income. A significant amount of time was spent each night by leaders, dealing with the cash coming in from the children from our four sections – one Beaver Colony, two Cub Packs and one Scout Troop.

“The first step was to change the accounting system from the manual to a computerised system by introducing various apps that would work seamlessly with each other – I work extensively with Xero in Amber so it was the obvious choice. We can use the tracking functions within Xero to maintain our specific restricted and unrestricted funds. After setting up online banking it improved the ability for the group to make payments faster, and move away from cheque payments. All payments still require two authorised signatories to approve, but it allows me to keep the records up to date, without having to wait on the paper statement. For a reporting function, we have set up a basic budget function through Float, allowing us to graphically represent our future cashflow requirement, and to set up fund raising plans for the year ahead.

“Online Scout Manager (OSM) manages the subscriptions and trips payments for the group, and communications with parents directly, meaning parents can now track badges and monitor the development of their child. All payments are collected by Direct Debit through GoCardless, so there is no more cash handling required by the leaders. As a result of processing all payments, OSM will also manage the gift aid status of all subscriptions, reducing the administration required for the year end claims.”

It is important that subscriptions are paid on time, as half are held to be paid over to Scout HQ at the end of the year, with the remainder managed by the local Scout group as a whole, covering all general expenses, from minibus maintenance to hall maintenance. Each leader is responsible for managing their own respective section fund to ensure that these are not overspent and Scott also improved this through the introduction of various apps;

“Each section leader was given a Soldo Card with their individual section funds allocated to it. It works just like a normal bank card and is connected to a mobile phone app so when a leader uses the card, they can upload a photo of the receipt, meaning there is no more chasing for lost receipts. Spending on the card can be controlled centrally, by allocating spending budgets or restricting the type of expenses allowed on the card or geographical regions.

“Fundraising is a huge part of the Scouts income, and we have started to use iZettle as it has the ability to take card payments, as fewer people nowadays carry cash.

“Since the system change, there has been reduced level of admin on the night of meetings, because the collection of funds is done electronically. DD subs have also given greater trackability for subscription payments as there is an established paper trail, and it removes the issues of dealing with cash. Their communication has improved with parents due to the function available within the online application. Our ability to take card payments has meant that when we are selling raffle tickets or burgers, we are able to make additional sales to those who might not be carrying cash. Individual Section leaders are now able to see what funds they have available and less time is spent administering the individual funds because all parties can see monies in and payments out within the system.”

Whether you are looking after the books of a local sports club, or an organisation that supports the elderly, it is important to find the best way to manage your organisation’s finances. We have a dedicated Charities team who can offer you specific advice and support with your charities financial obligations. For further advice, please contact a member of our EQ Charities team via charities@eqaccountants.co.uk or contact one of our offices.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss any of the apps that were mentioned, please contact Scott Kennedy on 01307 474274.