Just as the long-term relationship between PKF and Community Waikato is built on trust and understanding, so too are Community Waikato’s relationships with the hundreds of organisations it serves every year.

PKF and Community Waikato have been working together for more than a decade and it’s just as mutually beneficial to this day.

The partnership began when PKF Hamilton director Bernard Lamusse, who is passionate about not-for-profits and the charitable sector – sat on Community Waikato’s board for six years. Fellow director and chartered accountant Alison Nation took over that governance role almost five years ago. As the Trust’s treasurer, she provides comprehensive financial advice on a regular basis to the organisation.

PKF’s involvement with Community Waikato is another example of their long-held commitment to working with and supporting the not-for-profit and charitable sector.

“We’ve spent a great deal of time up-skilling and training PKF staff in understanding the characteristics and challenges of the not-for-profit sector, as well as the unique accounting requirements the sector requires,” Alison said.

So, what does Community Waikato do? Well, in a nutshell, they help build the strength of the region’s community sector by supporting and informing social service and Maori organisations.  Among the services they offer are one-to-one advisory, mentoring, facilitation, professional learning workshops, information, and advocacy. They also manage the funding process for the Tindall Foundation and the Len Reynolds Trust.

Community Waikato chief executive Holly Snape said the organisation’s approach was to apply “the lightest touch”.

“We aren’t here to do things for organisations; we believe that by empowering them to do these things for themselves builds resilience.

“Instead, we provide the guidance and support organisations through whatever they need help with. That could be understanding different governance models, making best use of the skills of their board members, directing them to courses or workshops to upskill, or giving them advice about where to seek advice around things like legal issues, health and safety, marketing, HR etc.”

Proudly independent, Community Waikato works with a vast range of organisations right around the region – “everything but arts and sport”, says Holly.

A lot of the work they do is around strategic planning.

“There’s a lot of demand for help with that. We don’t write a strategic plan for an organisation, but we do facilitate the process. We help them to have the conversations they need to have… talk about goal setting, their vision. And then they write up the plan based on those conversations.

“The organisation takes ownership of that plan by creating it themselves.”

And while an organisation might approach Community Waikato for help with one particular issue or need, they may end up working through several other things together.

“We might get service request around the fact that they need funding, but then we find that they don’t have for what they want to achieve, or the board may need to understand their fiduciary responsibilities. So we start unpacking those other needs and we wrap around support around those needs,” Holly said.

Some of those needs may be training. And Community Waikato offers a range of workshops for both their members and the general public… workshops that cover things like leadership, governance, using Facebook effectively, marketing, reading financial documents.

And PKF contributes to the workshops too – their accountants provide regular free Xero training sessions where participants gain a better understanding of the cloud-based accounting system at workshops held at Community Waikato. They also provide Xero assistance and training for Community Waikato staff.

“We’re always looking to create opportunities for organisations to connect, collaborate and innovate together and that’s something that we love being able to do with PKF,” Holly said.

“We love working with organisations like Community Waikato,” Alison said.

“It’s a privilege to be able to support them by offering high-level governance support, and financial advice along the way to ensure they remain sustainable and productive… so they can continue their incredible work supporting community organisations around our region.”

In return, Community Waikato has worked with PKF on a submission for the review of the Charities Act 2005 earlier this year, providing PKF with feedback from a sector perspective and co-hosting a seminar about the review.

“We have regular conversations together where there is an intersection in the work we all do… it makes sense to forge and foster those links between business and the community sectors,” Holly said.

Conference to focus on ‘Strengthening through stories’

Community Waikato will hold its bi-annual conference in November, which approximately 200 people are expected to attend.

This year’s theme is ‘Strengthening through stories’.

“Stories are a really intimate and effective way to have conversations with people that are safe and can help them to grow,” Holly said.

“Stories are the backbone of our sector – they capture what we can do and achieve. But we recognise that perhaps we haven’t been the best at the storytelling. We get so involved in our business that we don’t step back and reflect and tell those important stories.

“This year’s conference will have a focus on learning how to capture those stories and share them. And we’ll learn from other people’s stories too.”