Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) is a relatively new independent charity with a big agenda, as it was appointed by the federal government to deliver Australia’s ground-breaking ‘Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot’ (CRISP).
Next Dimension has worked with CRSA since the start-up phase, setting up the accounting systems and providing ongoing daily support.
Choosing Next Dimension
Before the CRSA was established in 2021, CEO Lisa Button and her team began looking for an outsourced accounting service.
For the start-up team, the priority was to obtain accounting systems that were robust, and would minimise complexities. As a registered charity with Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) status, CRSA also needed to work with accounting professionals who had a thorough understanding of the rules and regulations governing a PBI’s finances. In addition, their fledgling organisation required cost-effective accounting services.
Looking into the experience and reputation which Next Dimension Accounting had in the NFP sector and assessing the accounting package offered to them, Next Dimension was the “no-brainer” choice, says Lisa. CRSA engaged Next Dimension to deliver outsourced accounting services.
“Next Dimension’s outsourced accounting services offered us a system that was already reasonably adaptable to our needs,” says Lisa. “Next Dimension had established ways of working with NFPs using key software and platforms.”
Integrations and apps such as Xero, Approval Max and Dext were key features in managing workflow and getting the start-up off and running.
“We were very new,” says Lisa, “so Next Dimension assisted in setting up systems for the team from scratch.”
Next Dimension took on the day-to-day financial management, including bookkeeping, payroll and supplier payments, as well as budgeting and cashflow forecasting for phases of the program.
Next Dimension introduces technology to clients that is user-friendly and has fully integrated systems so they can train or upskill the client’s staff quickly, resulting in a feeling of assurance with managing any new technology.
Lisa comments, “Next Dimension provided good instructions – we needed minimal staff training, Next Dimension was also there to guide us through on a task-by-task basis.”
The benefits of outsourced accountants with NFP experience
Choosing an outsourced accounting arrangement provided a range of benefits to an organisation that was modest in size but had a big program to implement across Australia.
Instead of relying on an inhouse bookkeeper they could access a whole team of qualified accountants with broader capabilities plus specific knowledge of the financial environment of PBIs. The accounting service also stays on top of new government and taxation requirements for NFPs and relevant technology updates, which relieves pressure on the client’s staff.
From the CEO’s perspective these were key benefits, “Being able to plug into established accounting systems supported growth. By choosing a good service we didn’t have to worry about them being up to date. We could also learn how other NFPs dealt with financial issues,” says Lisa.
CRSA benefited from the strategic guidance of Next Dimension and practical connections such as links with auditing firms.
The outsourced arrangement also provided the great quality of flexibility. “As a growing organisation it helps to have an outsourced accounting firm,” says Lisa, “as it gives us more resources when we need them.” An outsourcing arrangement can be adapted to suit both quiet times and busy times.
Confidence in partnership
Confidence is a critical quality that Next Dimension has provided. “Because Next Dimension specialise in NFPs we had confidence that our values aligned”, says Lisa.
Demonstrating transparency, good ethics and values are the Next Dimension standard.
CRSA meeting challenges and achieving goals
CRSA is busy delivering an innovative approach to supporting refugees with federal government backing, and it has a lot to achieve over the next few years.
One of the challenges is “to get the word out to more and more Australians,” says Lisa. To inform the broadest possible section of the community, CRSA needs to engage people who are not already engaged with refugee issues. Ultimately, these people often rate their involvement in supporting refugees as the most rewarding experience.
CRSA’s outreach to all corners of Australia means reaching out to clubs, businesses, faith groups and schools to engage local citizens and support them as they welcome refugee newcomers into their cities and local communities.
Lisa notes, “Having robust accounting systems and support means we can focus squarely on doing this.”