Are charities losing their voice?

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July 24, 2014 at 18:52

  The campaigning role of charities has stayed firmly in the public spotlight for the last twelve months and appears to be gaining traction as we head towards the General Election. It first raised eyebrows last year when the sector expressed significant concerns about the then coined ‘Gagging Bill’ – now Lobbying Act. Calls came from the Public Administration Select Committee for charities to declare their campaigning spend on their Annual Return (a recent Charity Commission consultation), various noises have been made about whether charities in receipt of public funds should campaign at all and most recently, there have been […]

Accounting at the sharp end: A report from the Community Accountancy Conference 2014

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February 10, 2014 at 15:57

I’ve not long returned from a short sojourn in rain-drenched Birmingham. Several CFG colleagues and I donned both our waterproofs and chainmail armour in order to sally forth into the number-crunchers’ front-line of battle – community accountancy…! For those not in the know, a community accountancy service (CAS) is defined as “a project or organisation which seeks to support voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) on issues of financial management and accounting.” The focus of the support is normally on the small to medium VCOs – those with less than £250,000 annual income, and the majority of the support provided by […]

‘Professionalism’ is not a dirty word

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January 28, 2014 at 18:34

2014. I can’t quite believe that this is my fourth year working within the sector, but I’ve been sensing that the pressure on us as a ‘sector’ has intensified… Pensions. Pay. Investments. The way we do ‘business’. When I came to CFG in 2010, the biggest challenge taxing charity FDs was the uncertain economic climate. Now, broadly speaking, I believe that we’ve got to grips with this ‘new norm’. That’s not to say that all is rosy in the garden on the funding front, but rather that much of the contraction in our sources of income, biting so deeply after […]

A change in economic outlook- is your charity sinking or swimming… tell us!

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January 24, 2014 at 15:12

As the economy is beginning to show tentative signs of recovery, the most pressing question on the minds of many in the charity sector is how this will impact on their organisations. Whilst during the recession the charity sector has proven itself to be both resilient and flexible in its battle to cope with increased demand and reduced funding; the impact of the economic downturn has been significant with charities experiencing challenges such as cuts in frontline staff, closure of services and a drop in donations. The widespread effect of these tough economic times on the charity sector has been […]

Accounting for different charity structures

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November 15, 2013 at 12:22

The legal and reporting framework anchors the values shared by charities, while still allowing flexibility where there is divergence in business model. The guidance for financial reporting in charities, or the SORP, provides part of the anchor, but should also enable innovation.  That’s where references in financial reporting guidance to new age concepts like social investment can come in.  But it’s not just about the newbies; old chestnuts such as how to account for trading subsidiaries are also critical to innovation.  Charity trading has developed immensely, from something previously aligned with running a few charity shops, to contracting out services, selling […]

CFG has its say on the Charities SORP consultation

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November 4, 2013 at 11:28

The Charity ‘Statement of Recommended Practice’ (SORP) is the principal document informing charities on how they should report income, spending and activities to the general public. A new version, not updated since 2005, was finally put out for consultation in July and has understandably been a major focus of CFG’s work ever since. We estimate that over 250 of our members have actively contributed to our response which we published today.  We’ve been trying to emphasise the significance of the SORP in sector accountability, ensuring consistent and proportionate levels of transparency.  Hopefully some of this work has paid off, but […]

What’s really new about the new SORP?

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August 5, 2013 at 12:22

We haven’t had a new SORP since 2005, and in that time we have managed to bring in a whole new accounting framework in the UK.  Despite this, if you ask the average charity auditor what difference the new SORP is going to make day-to-day, the answer is likely to be, ‘erm, probably not much’. Many of the major issues that had the potential to de-rail charities were dealt with in earlier consultations on the accounting standards – such as valuing donated stock in charity shops.  It’s important to remember that the SORP only interprets and provides guidance on these […]

Management Accounts: Parkinson’s Point of Vanishing Interest

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April 19, 2013 at 12:20

Although written over half a century ago, C. Northcote Parkinson’s humorous observations in Parkinson’s Law * are as relevant now as when they were first published. Here we learn such things as the Science of Committology and the fact that the most important deciding factor in how the voting at a meeting will go is not the eloquence of the arguments, but the seating plan. However, it is the chapter on High Finance, where we are first introduced to the Law of Triviality (the time spent on any item of the agenda will be inversely proportional to the sum involved) […]

Inspiring financial leadership

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December 14, 2012 at 15:19

Inspiring financial leadership – it’s in the CFG strapline, but what does it mean, what is inspiring financial leadership and what does it mean to be an inspiring financial leader? In many regards the distinction between being a leader and being a financial leader is artificial – we are all called to be leaders within our organisations, but as the person who carries the financial brief inevitably that leadership will be expressed from a finance perspective.  But what should this leadership look like? For starters I would suggest that to be an inspiring financial leader you have to be an […]

Going global with charity reporting

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August 3, 2012 at 15:40

  Last month a CFG symposium, hosted by MHA MacIntyre Hudson, brought leading figures together to discuss whether there should be an international reporting standard for not-for-profit (NFP) organisations. Representatives from the international charity sector, including Oxfam and the British Red Cross, joined accounting bodies and standard setters hoping to pin down some of the growing number of ideas for greater commonality in not-for-profit reporting at an international level.  Acronyms aside (and there were many!), it proved to be a highly thought-provoking and constructive discussion. Currently, international accounting standards exist for both business and public sector and apply in most developed countries, […]