Smith Playground

“I can't image not having them!”

In a world of devices, video games and social media, it is easy to overlook the profound developmental impact that unstructured, imaginative play can have on a young child. The value of play was recognized in the late 1800s as the Playground Movement. Philadelphia’s response was the Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, a treasured play experience created in 1899 on a 61/2-acre plot in historic Fairmount Park. Built with a bequest from Richard and Sarah Smith in memory of their son, Stanfield, the Playground & Playhouse today provide and promote opportunities for 200,000 area children’s unstructured free play. Year-round urban nature play maximizes the natural resources available in this unique location, while the century-old legacy as one of the nation’s first dedicated play spaces for multiple generations of children guides a path forward into the 21st Century.

Smith’s programs were long managed by a bank trust. But in 2003 a nonprofit organization was formed to run operations and raise funds for capital construction, renovations to comply with accessibility and safety standards, and expansion of services. This fund development has raised more than $7 million in support and renovated the Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide which has entertained generations of children.

When Meg Wise was named Executive Director, she quickly saw that the organization’s accounting needs had to be significantly upgraded for the growth that was to come.”We were a much smaller organization when I arrived, with only two other people on staff,” she recalls. As she began to learn the QuickBooks accounting system and prepare for an upcoming audit, she realized she needed help. From previous nonprofit work in Philadelphia, she was already familiar with YPTC.

“I could have spent all my time cleaning things up, but I wouldn’t have known what I was doing,” she adds. “I said, ‘I need Your Part-Time Controller!’”

She built the organization’s long-standing relationship with YPTC in stages, starting small and increasing services over the years as needs and opportunities changed. YPTC staff got QuickBooks in order, helped prepare for the audit, and started provided monthly reporting service. A few years later the assignment expanded to include accounts payable and payroll.

The organization was awarded a major grant to fund the operational expenses associated with a $13 million capital campaign. “We realized we would need more staff and consultants. The grant enabled us to expand our relationship with Your Part-Time Controller so I could spend my time being out in the community and asking for gifts,” she says.

Wise has nothing but praise for YPTC. She commends them and recommends them to other nonprofits. “It’s the product and it’s also the delivery, but above all that it’s the people,” she says.  “All of Your Part-Time Controller’s staff members have been super-efficient. A lot gets done in not a lot of time. This is so worth it. I can’t imagine not having them!”