Set Up Accounting Systems

This project was aimed to build accounting systems introducing new tools and enhance the financial processes that the NGO is following
Volunteer
Bhawna Agarwal
Project Manager, Tata Consultancy
Delhi, India

Bhawna has an expertise in the cost management and accountancy field. Currently in her company, she is responsible for database configuration management, ensuring data accuracy and resolving any related customer issues. In her own words, giving back to society is in your DNA if you work for Tata Group. The company has always encouraged their employees in social service and provided many opportunities for it. Although she always wanted to volunteer, due to heavy traffic in Delhi she never found enough time. Only after ProEngage offered online opportunities, she found it a perfect fit and happily applied for her first ProEngage project.

Volunteer
Coomie Kapadia
Head Internal Audit and Company Ethics Counsellor, Rallis India
Mumbai, India

A chartered accountant and cost accountant with over 2 decades of work experience, Coomie has been volunteering in different capacities as long as she’s been working. Uncovered the pleasure of volunteering by chance, her first experience in teaching street children made her really happy. She continued volunteering using her strengths, setting up accounting systems and SOPs for various NGOs for years. ProEngage gave her even easier access to multiple opportunities to serve the needy. This is already her 6th completed ProEngage project.

NGO
Foodshaala Foundation
Raadhika Gupta, Project Coordinator
Haryana, India

Foodshaala Foundation has the vision of ensuring every person is able to make healthy food a part of their daily life. They provide affordable nourishing meals to children from low-income communities prepared in their community kitchens where local women are employed and trained. They also conduct awareness generation programs for children on healthy eating. As a young organization, registered in Haryana in 2018, with scaling up of their initiative, they needed a professional revamp of their accounting processes to be able to plan better.

THE STORY

Project Execution:

Foodshaala is a newly established, quickly growing organization and as her director Raadhika explains: “You can imagine, managing kitchen operations is difficult. We started with a few meals a day, but now, there are so many transactions, especially those with small local vendors. It makes it difficult to map everything properly.” Without a financial background, Raadhika tried her best, but she realised without the help of professionals it was very difficult for her to make a proper budget plan and continue further.

With their years of experience in finance management, Coomie and Bhawna were a perfect fit to help Raadhika. At the first meeting, they discussed the areas Raadhika needed help with in detail in order to create a list of tasks to be accomplished and plan accordingly. “The volunteers really took the lead. That was what I was looking for. I just said what I needed and these professionals gave me suggestions and different options on how to work on it.”

As Coomie mentions: “Bhawna and I had the same area of qualification, but different experience and knowledge to share, so I think that really helped in completing the project. She took the lead of the project and each of us did what we had to do as planned”. Bhawna took care of the financial aspects of day-to-day operations and Coomie worked on related Standard Operating Procedures, budgeting, focus on improving financials, so they both could work independently. Both of them recollect that the NGO director was very proactive and receptive. Since Raadhika decided not to spend money on professional software, Bhawna helped her with Excel templates to manage their finances without spending money on software.

The project deliverables went beyond Raadhika’s expectations: “My goal was to get the basic financial sheets in place, but because of the volunteers it went beyond that. They were guiding me and advised me on other related areas such as assets, salaries, stock register, provided best practices list and policies regarding procurement etc.”.

Challenges faced:

Since the project was executed during a pandemic and the operations of the NGO were halted, Bhawna explains that they couldn't completely check if they had set up a proper accounting system, because the NGO couldn’t gain any hands-on experience.

Some of the use cases were not possible to show as the activities were paused. To partially mitigate the problem, the volunteers at least trained Raadhika as much as possible and provided a list of best practices so she can deal with later challenges.

Raadhika also confesses: “There was an initial hiccup at the beginning, as I wanted the volunteers to sign an NDA [non-disclosure agreement]. You know, I was sharing my financials. That is sensitive. However, the volunteers were hesitant to sign it.” Eventually, Raadhika also understood their point of view and hesitance and decided to go ahead despite her initial fear. Mutual trust prevailed. “Eventually we managed it smoothly and I’m so glad we went ahead,” she adds.

THE EXPERIENCE

“I’m so grateful for this opportunity. After this project it will be much easier for us going forward. It will help me in planning, to budget our projects better, to better determine our fundraising proposals, ” Raadhika smiles. “The volunteers delivered beyond expectations”.

She advises the future ProEngages: “We are looking for volunteers who are experts and who can take the lead. Since, we NGOs are not experts in all areas and we may be a bit messy in communicating our needs. So, we need guidance from the experts on what would fit best given our challenges and requirements."

As a long-time volunteer, Coomie explains: “ I don’t talk much about it, but if someone asks me, I would definitely recommend Proengage. It is really not that difficult and worth a shot for 6 months. It isn't a big commitment, it is backed by Tata and plus it's online! What else do you need? You don’t need to go anywhere. It is very convenient.”

Despite volunteering for already 2 decades, she always finds something new: “There's so much to be learnt and so much to be thankful for. I’ve learnt a lot at a personal level. It’s definitely an enriching experience.”

“We have access to all basic basic necessities, so why not make a difference in society?” Bhawna encourages future ProEngagers: “Lets not just work for our individual needs but also for the world! I was really attached and connected to the cause and wanted to support the NGO. I was so happy to learn that the Delhi state government had been open to ideas and responded with a positive attitude when NGO started approaching them for help & collaboration. This restores society's faith in our government structure and looks like positive outcome of NGO's work where I have also done bit of my contribution.”

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