New year's resolutions for managing your group’s money


Chris Wykes Driver suggests six financial resolutions for trustees and managers of small organisations looking to keep on top of their finances in 2017


After the festive break many of us return to work or volunteering roles with good intentions for breaking our bad habits. 

For some this might mean no more neglecting the bookkeeping for months on end or not looking at the budget for a restricted grant until the monitoring report is due.

For others it might involve asking for information and advice to help resolve financial management issues that have been hanging around for far too long.


So if you are looking for inspiration, some of my top tips for financial resolutions would be:


  1. Check your budget

    If you don’t have a budget for your organisation as a whole (rather than specific projects) you are driving with your eyes closed. 

  2. Monitor your budget

    You may have a budget, but if you are not comparing actual income and expenditure to the budget then it is not really helping you manage your finances. Trustees cannot fulfil their duties to safeguard charity assets if they don’t know how you are doing with spending against budget.

  3. Have bookkeeping systems that work for you

    There is no point paying to install accounting software packages that can only be used by a volunteer who leaves after six months.  Choose something that works for you but avoid complex spreadsheets that only their creator understands.

  4. Get your trustees/committee members up to speed

    Trustees are collectively responsible for good financial management even if the Treasurer does most of the leg work. Make sure yours understand their responsibilities and actively engage with the information you provide for them.

  5. Provide financial reports regularly and discuss them

    Trustees need useful financial information on a regular basis. This should enable them to look ahead and understand future pitfalls and opportunities for the group. Don’t let them get bogged down in how much you’ve spent on stamps when you are facing a funding crisis in six month’s time.

  6. Look to the future

    Keeping good financial records that are accurate and up to date, though satisfying, is not the end goal.  You want that information to help you shape what you do next and plan a way through any potential obstacles.  Being clear about restricted and unrestricted income, the level of reserves you need and your cashflow forecast are the tools you need to be flexible in the face of an uncertain financial future.


Start strong

If you would like to improve how your charity or community group manages its finances – or even if you never really knew how – why not start the new year on a positive note by attending a finance workshop or advice session at VAL?

Managing your community group’s money is a workshop designed for treasurers and finance workers of small charities or community groups who want an overview of their responsibilities and how to meet them using practical systems and tools.

If you can’t attend the workshop you can book an appointment at our next Finance and governance surgery on 16 February where you can get advice on any finance or governance issue. 

And if you’re looking for advice on what accounting software to choose we can also show you some low cost options that are suitable for small charities and social enterprises. These include our home grown Beancounter bookkeeping software that comes with ongoing support to help you keep on top of it all. 



For further information contact Chris Wykes Driver, Development Support Officer, Finance, Governance and Social Enterprise, on email