In his role as finance director and treasurer of the Destiny Church, a small Christian ministry based in Teeside, in the North-East of England, Deveshin Reddy is used to having someone watching over him from on high. When he’s working on the church’s day-to-day money matters, however, it is not only a celestial power he relies on but Liberty Accounts’ cloud-based service. “Liberty does make you feel very safe,” says Reddy, “Everything we need is organised in one place, which is easy to access from anywhere. And if you do have any questions, there is always someone extremely helpful at the end of a telephone line.”
Both convenience and peace of mind are important to Reddy, a trained accountant who works voluntarily two or three days a week for the Church. “Primarily, my role is overseeing all the church’s financial activity, capturing and registering all income and expenses, sorting out payroll on a monthly basis, and writing a management report,” he explains. Because as much as 90 percent of the Church’s total income comes from voluntary donations, Reddy says it is quite hard to plan ahead. “You really never know from one month to the next what the income is going to be”.
The remainder of the church’s revenues comes from the hiring out of its buildings, for community events or courses such as sign-language classes. This involves invoicing and following up payments from a wide variety of individuals and organisations – although Reddy concedes that when dealing with a house of God, most people tend to settle up quickly.
The Destiny Church is a family-driven ministry, which moved into its current home, formerly the premises of an infamous rave club called Colosseum, over the Easter period in 2003. Reach-out groups are an integral part of its activities and as well as organising regular events for children and teenagers, the Church runs a bookshop and a café, which is also available to hire for special events and functions. Although the Church’s pastors Jonathan and Cath Harris may not be as loud as the building’s previous tenant, they say their worship style is lively and relaxed and that multimedia and state of the art lighting helps create a contemporary atmosphere. The Church hopes these premises will serve as a base to expand its activities locally.
“We were looking specifically for a web-based solution to the Church’s accountancy needs because I work full-time for an IT company and I appreciate that operating costs can be so much cheaper when you use a cloud platform,” says Reddy. He adds that having tried Sage, he was particularly taken with Liberty, not just because of its ease-of-use but because it is so well geared to handling the particular requirements of charities. “SORP 2015-compliant statements are output and the software will integrates the Gift Aid small donation scheme. They also back up what is a very good, intuitive system with a nice personal approach,” he says. “In fact, in my experience in IT, they are much quicker than most people in coming back to deal with user questions very quickly. They give a service over and above the subscription we pay them”.
Reddy says that the main issue for most charities is usually how to best juggle their finances. “The trouble is though, because money is such a pressing issue, they often don’t have people with the right training attending to financial matters. Liberty’s software is really easy to understand. So far I have fully trained two other people at the Church who have no financial background whatsoever so they can access the accounts and work on everything when I’m not around.”
This sound eminently sensible given the Church’s expansion plans. “We own another building across town that we currently rent out,” says Reddy. There is no exact time frame but at some point in the mid-term we are planning to plant a second church there. And because the Church has been set up legally as an unincorporated company, we also hope to be able to build up the business side of the bookshop and the café on this site”. He points out that as the café is currently only open on one day a week there is lots of potential.
“In fact,” says Reddy, “As we’ll need to order more stock and control our inventory as we grow our operations, we will probably soon be using Liberty’s integrated stock module.”