Charity trustees need greater financial understanding, says leading charity finance expert during online webinar

The Marketing Team
Stef Smith, Lovewell Blake

Trustees of charities need to have a greater understanding of the financial position of their organisations than ever before – that was the key message heard by over 100 charities during a webinar hosted jointly by the Norfolk Community Foundation and Lovewell Blake.

Stef Smith, Lovewell Blake

In a wide-ranging presentation, Stef Smith, charities manager at Lovewell Blake, said that robust budgeting and forecasting, monitoring of finances and cashflow, risk assessments and financial reporting were vital for all charities, no matter how big or small.

And she warned against trustees relying on an individual ‘financial trustee’ or a small group of trustees when it comes to keeping on top of the charity’s financial position, saying that all trustees must be financially aware.

“It’s really important that all trustees understand the financial position of the charity.  All members of the board must be financially aware, and be involved in significant financial decisions, as there is joint responsibility across all trustees for the implications of those decisions,” she told the webinar.

Trustees and charity managers from a wide range of charitable organisations attended the webinar, which outlined the important role of budgeting and accounting in a charity and provided helpful tips and advice to ensure charities are compliant and accounts are fit for purpose.

The hour-long presentation, which is now available to watch on Norfolk Community Foundation’s website, explained the importance of setting budgets and the link they have with the strategic plans of a charity; the vital role trustees play in regular monitoring of budgets and cashflow; ensuring that accounts are fit for purpose and compliant; and good risk assessment procedures.

“Larger charities which are required to submit audited accounts tend to do all of this as a matter of course, but smaller charities, whose boards may not have the breadth of financial expertise, can sometimes find this more difficult,” said Mrs Smith.

“The aim of the webinar was to ensure trustees fully understand their responsibilities, as well as offering some practical advice to help them discharge them.”

The full webinar is now available to view here

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