Auckland community groups needing financial help get a hand from accounting students

Massey University staff and students, and Auckland Community Accounting collaborators, launched the initiative at the ...
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Massey University staff and students, and Auckland Community Accounting collaborators, launched the initiative at the end of September.

Auckland community groups struggling to meet their financial responsibilities are the target of a free financial initiative run by accountants in training.

Massey University has linked up with Auckland North Community and Development to launch Auckland Community Accounting, a programme using the university's accounting students to provide support, advice and guidance for small and medium community groups and not-for-profits.

Project manager Geoff Andrews said across New Zealand there were around 100,000 groups that fell into that category.

Sporting groups, clubs and community centres - these collectives are often required to produce records of financial management, such as annual reports.

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But many of these groups depend on volunteers to serve as treasurers and board members, giving them the task of financial management, despite their limited financial literacy.

Andrews said recent changes to the sector meant there was also greater expectations and increasing accountability placed on boards, creating an added layer of pressure.

The service would help remedy the issue, he said.

Students, supervised by chartered accountants, will work with the groups at free, regular clinics, teaching them the ins and outs of accounting programmes, spreadsheets and financial reporting.

The students are undergoing training to familiarise themselves on the intricacies of the not-for-profit sector, and will be schooled in talking with the groups to pinpoint the help they need.  

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Andrews said the operation, which was based on a similar project with Massey students in Palmerston North, was a win-win for students and community groups alike.

"It's a pretty exciting project," he said.

"[Students] get to work with real life clients, giving back to the community."

They can apply knowledge they're learning in their studies to a real-life situation."

Around 30 students have already signed up to volunteer their time and a call is going out to groups who could benefit from the service to contact.

The project, which has been funded by Foundation North and the Department of Internal Affairs, will initially operate in central Auckland and the city's North Shore.

It will be rolled out across the region early next year. 

Community groups interested in working with Auckland Community Accounting can contact Andrews by emailing geoff@ancad.org.nz.

 - Stuff

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