In my blog “The Finance challenge in small and medium sized charities, I wrote about the important role finance plays in charities and yet “Many charities will not be in a position to permanently employ a qualified finance professional and rely on volunteer trustees and volunteer independent examiners. Charity finance is challenging to understand, even for qualified finance professionals.”
Charities, governed by the charities SORP and requiring compliance with the Charity Commission and Companies House for incorporated charities, often suffer the double pressure of having to comply with perplexing rules and regulations whilst at the same time having limited access to qualified and charity experienced accountants. These pressures are felt especially by small and medium sized charities; these are the sorts of organisation that could really benefit from access to local volunteers and accountants.
There are real and perceived barriers to entry for mainstream accountants in practice that often prevent them volunteering or taking on charities as clients. One barrier is affordable charity compliant accounting software. For example an accountant in practice can pay from as little as £300 annually for an off the shelf statutory accounts software. However, if the accountant wishes to produce statutory accounts for charities, they will need to pay nearer £1200 for the year.
In conjunction with a lack of clarity around charity accounting rules and regulations, many accountants simply decide not to go anywhere near charities!
In order to help to bridge the gap, I’ve organised through the CIMA South West England and South Wales Charities Focus Group a series of high quality information and practical ‘how to’ workshops delivered at affordable prices over a 12 month period from May 2014 – April 2015. The aim of the workshops is to provide affordable and comprehensive charity accounting training to encourage more accountants to get involved in the charity sector in both a voluntary and paid capacity.
Charity accounting workshop 1 – Introduction to charity accounting: governance and trustees – 19 May 2014