For social enterprises it’s essential to have a tool that manages budget reporting for multiple audiences and cashflow projections for different business units. With its integration to Xero and the Connecting Up donation program, Calxa fits that bill perfectly.”Andrew Outhwaite
Growing Social Entrepreneurs
Pollinators Inc supports a growing community of social entrepreneurs based in Midwest WA.
Pollinators is Australia’s only member-based organisation dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurs. Its members prioritise the social impact and community benefit of their ideas & ventures, ahead of personal profit. Since establishment in 2011 it has provided a strong network and community, world-class learning and events as well as co-working space for its members.
Accounting in the Cloud
Since their inception, Pollinators have used Xero as their accounting system and EO Andrew Outhwaite says
“it really suits our working style. We have a mix of part-time staff and contractors and our board members travel a lot. Being able to access our accounts from anywhere is critical”.
Tracking Categories are used to split income and expenses between business units and funded projects. As a result, this allows detailed analysis of what has happened in the past. Furthermore, it enables, for example, to report on a business unit both with and without grant income. Inventory items are used to classify transactions and analyse profitability further.
While Xero is great for accounting and record-keeping, Pollinators Inc were resorting to spreadsheets for budgeting and planning. These rapidly became too complex to manage. They couldn’t be linked to Xero and the complexity of the social enterprise business model made it very difficult to provide coherent reports for use by the board in decision-making. Detailed short-term budgets and a longer 5-year forecast were produced. However, the inconsistent format and the difficulty of managing multiple versions reduced everyone’s confidence in the output.
Following best practice, Andrew Outhwaite, Co-Founder and EO, and his team first set out the criteria. So, they stipulated what their ideal solution would look like. Then they moved onto researching the possible candidates. They rejected the Excel-based templates early as they did not solve the data integrity problem, leaving them with a side-by-side comparison of Calxa Premier, Castaway and Plan Guru.
Calxa Premier was quickly chosen as the ideal solution because:
- It linked directly to their Xero accounting system;
- It’s friendliness with Excel such as the ability to import and export budgets and the export of reports to Excel and other formats;
- It had a familiar, easy-to-use look to it;
- It made it easy to budget for, and report on, their different business units and projects;
- The Connecting Up donation program with multiple licences made the price attractive;
- It’s easy to report on different views with the Account Trees feature;
- Calxa understand and offer great support to not for profit organisations;
- It’s an Australian product.
Andrew was able to very quickly produce actionable reports:
“Within the first 2 hours of our trial we saw that a major project would take us close to red in June/July. We were able to talk to suppliers and extend our terms and to our grant providers about the timing of funding to avert a potential crisis.”
He was then able to produce a coherent and accurate operational plan for the coming years. He presented these to the board complete with charts.
Simple Donation Process
The process of applying for the software donation on Connecting Up’s website was simple and straightforward. In addition, as Mac users, Pollinators did need to purchase Windows licences (to run under Parallels) but these were easily available through Connecting Up as well. Today, they can use the Calxa Online app on their Mac systems.
We asked Andrew for his final words of advice to other Not-for-Profits and this is what he told us:
“For social enterprises it’s essential to have a tool that manages budget reporting for multiple audiences and cashflow projections for different business units. With its integration to Xero and the Connecting Up donation program, Calxa fits that bill perfectly.”
About Pollinators Inc
Pollinators Inc is a member-based social enterprise founded as an Incorporated Association in December 2010 in Geraldton, Western Australia. Being a social enterprise means we operate like a business, generating more than 60% of our revenue from paying customers. Using a mix of earned revenue and grant funding we are able to achieve our social mission and grow thriving regional communities while remaining financially resilient.