Start as you mean to go on

Christine Wykes Driver offers up the latest advice on how to make a fresh start for the new financial year

The Charity Commission is encouraging charities and community groups to start the financial new year with a spring clean of their financial practices.

They have recently published research into charity accounts and the results are not so good: more than than half of small charities’ annual reports and accounts did not meet minimum basic standards.

Getting the accounts produced is one thing, but do you understand what your accounts say about your organisation? Try charity accountant Sayer Vincent’s recently updated guide to Reading charity accounts [SM1]  which is a useful addition to their Made simple series.

In his blog for the Commission, Nick Mott suggests trustees should read Charity governance, finance and resilience: 15 questions trustees should ask because it guides you to an understanding of your organisation’s sustainability (see the illustration below). Rather than getting bogged down in the detail, trustees need a good overview of the charity’s finances, governance and plans for the future.

Help available

Here are just some of the ways we can help you improve your organisation’s financial management and accounts:

  1. Beancounter - a bookkeeping system for small charities and community groups which includes help with set up and ongoing financial management.
  2. Year end accounts and independent examinations at low fees for small charities/community groups.
  3. List of local accountants with a track record of working with the VCS for larger charities who need to produce SORP compliant year end accounts.
  4. Consultancy - reasonably priced for more in depth work with your organisation on topics such as:
  • a financial health check with follow up advice and support to help you identify priorities for improving financial management and control
  • help with achieving the requirements of PQASSO and other quality marks
  • monitoring and reporting on restricted funds
  • developing and implementing your business plan

For more information contact Christine Wykes Driver, Development Support Officer - Finance, Governance & Social Enterprise, on