Strength to Strength: How GDG learnt to love their audit.
Imagine a large non-profit with complex reporting looking forward to its annual audit.
That’s exactly what happened for Brenda Pearson, Administrator of Global Development Group.
“We build better lives for the world’s poorest people,” she explains.
“As a charity, we have more than 5-million beneficiaries across the world, 15-thousand donors—and no government funding,” she says. “And we rely entirely on public donations.”
With such complexity around oversight—and so much hinging on international reputation—GDG’s audit is vital.
With millions of lives affected by their work—it’s a tightrope act that requires expert auditing and advice to pull off.
From little things.
Brenda knows her industry.
She’s been with GDG since the beginning—when she and her father started the organisation in his home office.
“At the start, we did everything—from receipts to setting up projects. From accounts to admin, we were jacks of all trades. Then in the second year we had 2 more staff, then more and more,” she says.
But when the business kept doubling year after year she knew they needed expert help—especially with complex audits. That’s when they found SRJ.
“Non-profit operations and auditing takes specialist knowledge—and SRJ were the industry go-to’s,” Brenda says. “Our compliance environment is complex—there are multiple governing bodies, each with their own formats and parameters—SRJ knew the standards and made it easy.”
Imagine better service.
While the bulk of the work SRJ performs for GDG is in auditing, GDG enjoys other benefits with SRJ.
“They’re there for us when we need advice. We’ll often ask them things outside the audit scope because they’re up-to-date with everything in our industry. They keep us informed about what’s coming up or changing,” Brenda says.
“We’re small, so we don’t need to take SRJ up on most of their other services, but we really appreciate that advice—it feels like we’re in the sweet spot.”
SRJ nurture the long-term relationship—which GDG appreciates.
“Our SRJ contact, Jason, has been there from the start—even though he’s moved up. It’s hugely valuable—he knows the business and he knows us. He comes out and sees us every year, even after all this time.”
Brenda says that not even COVID and lockdowns could stop the sense that SRJ—and accountant Andrew Bingely—were looking after GDG.
“In 2021 we all faced the challenge of a remote audit—but Andrew took it in his stride and had great systems for getting it done with no delay and total accuracy”.
Better than clockwork.
Every year Jason or Andrew visits, GDG manage dozens of projects helping millions of beneficiaries across the world. For GDG, those projects are sacred.
“Last year, we were able to restore dignity to 893 vulnerable women in Uganda and South Sudan through the neighbourhood empowerment program,” Brenda says.
“And our Keep a Girl in School initiative saw nearly 15-thousand girls educated in 45 schools across northern Uganda and South Sudan.”
“All this work comes off fundraising with zero advertising and fundraising costs—our annual report is the only advertising we do. I say to staff ‘this is our opportunity after a year of hard work—now we get to talk about it, to share it with the world’—and it works.”
So when it comes time to the annual report, there’s no room for error, and there’s lots that can go wrong.
“We produce our annual report within a month in September, and we’re always fully ready for our October AGM—all our timelines are met. SRJ always checks-in before our important dates to see whether we’ve shifted our timelines,” she says.
Without the stress.
But it’s not just annual reports that charities have to worry about.
Governing bodies can be one of the most challenging obstacles for charities to keep on top of—rules and regulations can change year to year, leaving smaller teams scrambling to find the time to keep up to date.
But because SRJ are experts in their field, they keep GDG abreast of any changes and ensure GDG are always in compliance.
“Not worrying about governing bodies and reporting—that’s huge. We’re always accurate, always on-timeline, and always fully compliant—we just never stress about it,” Brenda says.
With the pressure off, it leaves more time for GDG’s team to focus on what matters—helping people.
“In all these years we’ve never chased work from SRJ—as a small team, not having that pressure and stress is a real relief and a big positive,” Brenda says.
GDG’s relationship with SRJ has deepened over the years.
“We’ve seen SRJ grow with us, they’ve gone from strength to strength as we have. It’s been really encouraging to see,” Brenda says.
“The relationship hasn’t changed either—we’re still special.”
That special relationship has carried them through the pandemic, even without advertising, due to the power of their annual report—underpinned by SRJ’s audit.
“During COVID we’ve been blown away that we’ve maintained the donation consistency—even while the sector has taken a huge hit. The relationship with SRJ is so important,” she says.
“Most people dread their audits—not us,” Brenda says.
“We look forward to them.”
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For a confidential conversation with an SRJ Walker Wayland partner, contact us today.