Everyone benefits from a strong, resilient and sustainable small charity sector, and small charities often don’t know what they don’t know. So let’s get this message out as widely as possible says CFG’s Nicholas Faraday.
In its 30-year history, Charity Finance Group has built up great niche expertise and experience to offer relevant and impactful support in good financial management to large and medium charities across England and Wales. At CFG, we’re passionate about good financial practice that delivers impact across the charity, not just for those who work in finance.
CFG knows that a successful charity is one where everyone who has an invested interest in it knows something about its finances and is aware of basic principles in good financial management.
Up until now CFG has mainly worked with larger charities but is now widening its reach, thanks to a grant from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to reach out to small charities (those with an annual income of £1m or less) in England and Wales, community accountants and infrastructure organisations.
The newly-launched Small Charities Programme offers robust foundation-level financial management training for small charities to strengthen their existing practice. It is widely recognised that when a charity has relevant and effective financial management in place, the activity and impact across the whole organisation can flourish.
The focal point of the Small Charities Programme is a dedicated website which provides a portal for small charities to browse and book training sessions and access the free-to-download resources and tools: http://smallcharityfinance.org.uk/
Each training session costs just £20. The programme will run from January – July 2017 in London, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Exeter, Yeovil, Frome, Bridgewater and across Wales. All money raised will fund a travel bursary scheme to ensure that all charities, however small, have access to the training.
There are five modules on offer:
- How to prepare your annual reports
- Budgets, management accounts and cash flow forecasting
- Introduction to paying people
- Bank accounts, record keeping, risk and outsourcing
- Gift Aid how to claim it
These modules were identified in consultation with experts with over 20 years of experience in the voluntary sector. The proposed outlines were tested with a user group, whose members currently work in finance in a small charity, then modified according to their feedback to ensure that the content, level of detail, approach and methodology is pitched appropriately. We’re now piloting the sessions with charities at different levels of income, to refine them even further.
Feedback has been incredibly positive:
‘Sitting down and getting out our calculators and doing a cash flow forecast really helped as I remember it and can apply it practically in my work now’
Tanya Cracknell, Spitz Charitable Trust
A second vital strand of this programme is to strengthen the invaluable work that community accountants and other infrastructure organisations are doing to support small charities in developing stronger financial management skills and in building confidence levels. CFG is working in partnership with NAVCA to reach out to these infrastructure organisations effectively. As well as promoting the programme at the Community Accountants’ annual conference, we are connecting with infrastructure bodies to better understand their needs and gaps in their services and identify where we can help with training and collaboration.
Many infrastructure organisations already offer vital, value-for-money financial services for local small charities. The Small Charities Programme is designed to complement existing services and to signpost small charities to their nearest providers.
Nowadays, we hear plenty about governance, fundraising, training and social media etc. and how we need to build capacity in these areas to ensure sustainability, resilience and impact for beneficiaries. Less is said about finance, but it is good financial management and leadership is critical. This core component is firmly on CFG’s agenda and the Small Charities Programme offers a platform to bring this to the fore. So please help to support this programme to reach those who don’t know that they need to know these things,by sharing about it and spreading the message as widely as possible.
Nicholas Faraday, Small Charities Programme Manager, Charity Finance Group