05 Apr 2023
Please note: this guidance assumes that no staff are employed by the group and that income for the group is less than £25k.
We recommend that at least one person is tasked with managing the group's finances. They'll be your treasurer.
They don't need financial experience but should be a responsible person who can be trusted to look after all income and payments.
The treasurer will look after financial record-keeping, report on finances to the group and/or funders, manage the group's bank account and securely keep chequebooks and banking devices.
Financial controls are the cornerstone of good financial management. Financial records should be kept so that:
- If income exceeds £25k, your group can meet its legal and other obligations, e.g. HMRC, Charities Acts, Companies Acts, contract and common law.
- Your group can be aware of its financial position.
- Your group can meet the contractual obligations and requirements of any funders.
You can keep your accounts either in a handwritten cash book or digitally with an excel spreadsheet. Either way, you'll need:
- A cash book to log all the transactions in your group's bank account(s).
- A separate petty cash book to log cash payments.
- A record of supporting paperwork and documents. You can keep physical copies in a secure location or save these as PDFs in a secure folder.
Simple committee report
A report should be produced once a year to update members on the group's finances.
We've prepared a template cash book and statement, as well as some example versions to help you get started.
Opening a bank account
We recommend that all groups open a bank account, so that group finances are separate from personal funds. Unfortunately, Friends of the Earth cannot open a bank account for you, but you can open a free Community Directplus account with the Co-operative Bank.
To do so, you'll need the following documents:
- A completed Community Directplus online application form. Please scroll down and click the blue "Apply" button. Please select "registered charity" under organisation type.
- A headed and signed letter from Friends of the Earth, which states the names of the account signatories. Please request this from your regional staff contact.
- Your group constitution.
Please post all required documents to the address indicated in the application form.
It's best practice that two members of the group authorise any transactions (whether cheque or bank transfers) to reduce likelihood of fraud.
Managing donor funds
Groups may be able to access funding from community groups and other organisations. This brings additional responsibilities in terms of donor compliance:
- Preparing a budget for funded activities.
- Submitting an application.
- Timely reporting on funds spent.
It's important that donor requirements are properly understood. They'll likely be quite simple, but the treasurer should be aware of them and ensure funds are spent in line with donor wishes.
Providing proof of insurance
All registered local action groups are covered by Friends of the Earth's Public & Products Liability and Employers' Liability insurance policy.
Make sure to read our insurance guidance to check what types of events and activities are covered.
If you need to prove you are covered by our insurance, please present the insurance certificates.
Please also make sure to fill out a risk assessment before any event or activity you're organising and share it with a relevant regional staff member. You can adapt this template risk assessment.