Annie Dennis Children’s Centre (Annie Dennis) is a not-for-profit, community-based early childhood education and care service. Like other not-for-profit services, Annie Dennis is a committee-run centre relying on parent volunteers who don’t necessarily have a financial or business background.
“We were fortunate to have a treasurer who was an accountant for a few years,” said Lara, former Director of Annie Dennis. “The experience of having access to financial expertise was eye-opening, so when she left, we began looking for a way to get ongoing support”.
Feeling out of financial depth with a growing centre
In addition to their treasurer leaving, the business faced other challenges before working with Slate Accounts. The centre had grown quickly, leading to increased staff numbers and the financial administration that goes with it. The existing financial structures – such as their budgeting process – were outdated and no longer worked for them. “Everything just became bigger – our budget spreadsheet felt clumsy, and our staff numbers more than doubled,” said Lara. “We just felt a bit out of our depth and needed some extra help around the financials”.
A committee member recommended Slate Accounts, and Lara admits that while she knew they needed support, they weren’t exactly sure what that would look like. “We started working with Michael and the team on the basics, such as reviewing our budget and making it easier to navigate,” said Lara. “It was the first time we could share our budget with the committee in a simple way. Once we saw those benefits, we started asking for more advice, and it just grew from there”.
The benefits of having a financial safeguard
When reflecting on the experience, words such as safety and support come to mind for Lara. “Handing over to the experts was like a safeguard for us,” said Lara. “And it’s helped take the pressure off the committee who were already generously volunteering their time”. Since working with Slate Accounts, Lara has seen some key changes to the way they operate.
“The Slate Accounts team aren’t just experts – they’re supportive, approachable, and easy to work with. They understand where we are coming from, and while they proactively give us recommendations, they’re never pushy. They’ve really helped us run our business more efficiently.”
Lara Bamundo, Former Director, Annie Dennis Children’s Centre
Improved communication with the committee
“I wanted to make our financial reports really easy for the committee to understand,” said Lara. “Because they’re an audience who might not know anything about financials, the reports needed to be easily digestible and show the committee members where we are heading at a glance”.
Monthly reports were set up to include visuals of key information and commentary covering report highlights. Lara explains that this has made it easier to spot any variances and provide explanations. “Now, when we present to the committee, we can provide explanations for any variances,” said Lara.
Over the years, Lara has described Slate Accounts as their financial sounding board available to answer questions such as how much they should keep in provisions, how they’re tracking, or how to best spend any surplus cash. “The team is there to answer our questions and also make proactive suggestions,” said Lara. “The support has helped us come up with ideas and recommendations that we put forward to the committee”.
Ongoing financial support means the business won’t be impacted if staff members or treasurers with financial knowledge move on from the business. “The structures we have in place reassure me that this level of financial management will continue, even after people move on or leave,” said Lara.
Moving along the right track
With the right financial structures and support in place, Lara has seen a change in the confidence and effectiveness of the committee. “In the past, we often had committee members look at reports, feel a bit intimidated, and decide just not to go there,” said Lara. “Now, we can walk through the results with them, and in turn, we get more questions and ideas – which is exactly what we need, given their role”.
The centre’s staff and management feel the same, with Lara feeling the business is running efficiently and on the right track. “I see Slate Accounts as our safeguard. With their support, I feel really confident that we’re on the right track and doing the right thing for the centre,” said Lara.