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P is for Paxton
Paxton Charities Accounting is now Britain Yearly Meeting’s recommended software for Area Meeting consolidation of accounts.
I went to the Annual Conference of Treasurers, held at Friends House on June 27th and attended a workshop where Averil Armstrong and Fenwick Kirton-Darling both from Northampton AM talked about their experience in using Paxton.
It is not a full accountancy package suitable for use at Local Meeting level, this does mean there is duplication of entries, as any reports sent by local meetings will have to be manually entered into the system. However, in some Area Meetings all inputting is now done at area meeting level with the local meeting sending receipts and reports regularly.
It is a database that adds up all totals of the charity’s constituent parts i.e. local meetings etc. and does not expect any non-donation income. Therefore, If any local meeting hires out rooms, you also need to purchase an additional sales module to allow for sales income to be combined with the main version.
Averil gave an entertaining presentation – she also teaches the Treasurer’s Course at Woodbrooke where I met her earlier this year.
- charity accounting: income in funds: designated or restricted
- income from donors and grants or other (sales module mentioned above or not)
- donor income can attract gift aid
- grants may be claimed against spend
- budgets can be set against income and expenditure within funds
- It is set up with bank accounts so you need to map out your organisation’s finances before you start to set up the system.
Budgets can be profiled to be even throughout the year or alter it to allow for uneven income – knowing that money comes in at specific times.
Some Area Meetings are combining using this package with the use of a bookkeeper who inputs all data. Either on behalf of the local meetings and reporting to them as well as to the area meeting treasurer or just on behalf of the area meeting.
As it is a database it also handles personal data for all donors and room hirers as well as gift aid. This management is again at area meeting level and when the concept of giving access to each local meeting was mentioned the response from several treasurers present was that this would reduce consistency and complicate matters as people would classify differently.
How does it work in practice?
Many Area Meetings who have started using Paxton have said that they feel it has made things easier for them, and the local meeting treasurers who no longer have to do as much work at year end.
As well as regular reports for Finance Committee or Trustees, each Local Meeting’s end of year accounts including the SOFA, is produced at the press of a button saving many long hours of work as reconciliation and reports have been monthly or quarterly ensuring accuracy and before memories have faded.
One treasurer said that they no longer receive spreadsheets from their local meetings, but instead an annotated bank statement. Another said that their local treasurers now only had a cheque book and a deposit book – all financial management was done at area meeting and trustee level.
Sharing is possible
It is possible though to share the database through on-line services – which also relieves the necessity to choose a platform and can allow access for a short period for example by an examiner or auditor.
Another way to share the package would be to have a computer which was shared by various members of the finance team based in an office in one of the meeting houses.
Of course there are costs
To buy the standard Paxton system you would need to purchase a version that allows for either receipts and payments or accruals, it can also deal with VAT.
The software is available in both Mac and PC versions, prices start from £250 plus VAT and in addition you need to pay an annual fee (£100 to 200) to receive software updates and for access to their telephone help line.
For the on-line hosting version mentioned above the subscription cost for a two person licence is £45 plus VAT per month. That cost does also include the annual fees for support and updates.
There is more information available on BYM’s website (link above) plus on Paxton’s website including a series of demonstrations.
- Do you use Paxton?
- Have you used a different finance package?
- Would you welcome the centralisation of your accounts?
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