Getting to grips with… financial management

Hannah Kowszun was NCVO’s Marketing & Membership Manager until July 2014. Her blog posts have been archived here.

Picture the scene:

“…a trustee board meeting, the scratch of pens and shuffle of papers, dusk seeps through the windows as another agenda item is ticked off, moving inexorably towards item five, the financials…”

Every trustee is expected to engage with the financial aspects of their charity, no matter what their level of accounting skill. Many boards will have someone take on this responsibility as treasurer, but it is a collective responsibility and it can be a daunting one.

If you are a trustee, or simply interested in improving your understanding of financial management, here are a range of resources you might find useful.

Preventing fraud and managing risk


The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company identified that last year, total cheque fraud in the UK was over £27m. Since 90% of charities use cheques regularly, they have published a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to preventing cheque fraud for charities.


The Charity Finance Group website has an excellent document library, which includes a catalogue of resources on Auditing and Fraud. Written by a variety of authors, from voluntary sector organisations to sector-specific think tanks, the case study approach shines a useful light on the subject.

Handy guides…

Meanwhile, auditors and advisors Sayer Vincent have an excellent range of Made Simple Guides, which include Risk assessment made simple and Risk management made simple. Spanning a wide range of topics, these guides break down fundamental aspects of good financial management, which you may find helpful.

A more strategic approach

Now in its fourth edition, the Good Guide to Financial Management has just been reissued by NCVO. At 268 pages, this essential guide for charities of all shapes and size is a resource that’s well worth investing in on behalf of your organisation. And if your organisation’s a member of NCVO you can buy it at a 30% discount!

Annual reporting

Keep an eye out for the latest Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) guidance for charities, which will include recommendations for accounting and reporting in order to meet certain standards. guidance on best practice in charity accounting. However this week the Charity Commission launched a consultation on a number of proposals for changes to the Annual Return for 2015. The findings from previous consultations have helped shape changes to previous returns, so it is well worth getting involved.

Networking opportunities

Alongside their document library, the Charity Finance Group also provides information and support for their members and the voluntary sector as a whole on best practice in financial management. Membership is open to anyone who has responsibility for the management of their organisation’s finance.

If you are an honorary treasurer, then it might be nice to be reminded that you are not alone! The Honorary Treasurers Forum is proof positive of this. It is free to join and growing all the time.

Free for our members

And finally, now that NCVO’s Sustainable Funding Project has come to an end, we have some project packs remaining with self-guided tools exploring financial sustainability, legal trading forms and the different income streams available. There are a limited number so if you would like one, put in your request now. We are prioritising people from member organisations, so if your organisation is not yet a member of NCVO, why not consider joining today?

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