Finance 101: 5 steps for non-profit organisations to educate and empower trustees



Robust economic governance is an crucial section of jogging an efficient non-revenue organisation (NPO) or charity.

A lot obligation lies with trustees, individuals who have a essential, demanding (and typically unpaid) position in governing an NPO and directing how it is managed and run.

Trustees make certain all choices set the demands of the beneficiaries 1st. If they fail to satisfy their obligations, they can be held personally liable.

In this article, we go over a sequence of ways so you can reveal your NPO’s funds to your trustees, so they can fulfil their job of signing off accounts.

Here’s what we cover:

Trustee duties

Knowledge money obligations as a trustee

How to assistance your trustees fully grasp your financials

Ultimate ideas: Guidance your trustees

Trustee tasks

The Charity Fee lists six obligations of trustees:

  • Guarantee your organisation is carrying out its applications for the public benefit
  • Comply with your organisation’s governing doc and the law
  • Act in your organisation’s ideal passions
  • Handle your organisation’s sources responsibly
  • Act with affordable care and talent
  • Guarantee your organisation is accountable.

You could use all these obligations to finance, but it is the last level above that involves the need to have to deliver and file statutory accounts.

The bulk of this responsibility could tumble to the treasurer, doing work with the finance supervisor or other personnel as correct. But trustees have general command of an NPO and are liable for earning certain it is doing what it was set up to do.

Comprehension monetary tasks as a trustee

Your trustees have duty for overseeing your NPO’s money.

Trustees are needed to indication off on accounts, and if they are to act with realistic treatment and talent, they require to fully grasp their NPO’s funds.

Nonetheless, it is widespread that they come across the funds difficult to have interaction with, compromising their job and producing it really hard for the board to purpose properly.

Trustees have a tricky job as they ought to shoulder a disproportionate amount of money of accountability.

If they are involved in strategic and operational conversations with no sound monetary knowledge, they could be ineffective and probably bring about hurt to your organisation’s upcoming thanks to gaps in their know-how.

Trustees must make sure that funds is only expended on what is authorized by your NPO’s governing paperwork and policies—if it isn’t, it is on them to place it ideal.

How to support your trustees understand your financials

Knowing monetary management as a trustee is critical.

Beneath are 5 essential measures to assist your trustees just take an active position in the monetary management of your organisation.

We’d advise a briefing session for all new trustees and those people requiring an update, supported with suitable presentation products.

1. Consider the trustees’ present-day stage of economic information

There’s no level in educating monetary administration principles to a trustee if they currently know them.

So it is crucial to recognize their present amount of economical awareness and appropriately regulate the info you give them.

Let us picture some trustees know the economical fundamental principles though some others really don’t. It may perhaps be smart to break up them up into groups.

You could individual those who need a fundamental grounding in accountancy from those who know the basic principles and will need much more information on specific parts connected to NPO finance.

2. Explain vital financial fundamentals


  • Often glance in advance. Economical info is out of date by default since it’s telling us what has already happened.
  • Use economical information to recognize the organisation’s standing with one eye on the upcoming.
  • Forecasting budgets is very important in offering you a image of in which you believe the NPO will be in the future. It’ll aid you established the appropriate fiscal focus on.

Assertion of financial pursuits (Couch)

  • A assertion of fiscal functions (Couch) is one of the principal money statements your NPO will concern.
  • A Sofa is occasionally known as an revenue and expenditure assertion, or a receipts and payments account.
  • The SoFA corresponds to what professional businesses simply call the revenue and loss (P&L) account (also recognised as a gain and loss statement, or revenue statement).
  • The SoFA is a economical report summarising money, expenditure, and gains and losses incurred through a specified period—usually a thirty day period, a fiscal quarter, or a calendar year.

3. Explain each individual important income stream

With amplified levels of competition for grants and donations, you are going to have to preserve a close eye on wherever your cash flow is coming from.

Your trustees will need to realize:

  • Who is funding, commissioning and donating? If you are aspect of an NPO that trades, you’ll also have customers.
  • What action is your NPO accomplishing to secure the profits? Examples incorporate the delivery of grant-funded tasks, commissioned services, and provide of a item if you are investing.
  • The bills affiliated with delivering just about every of the pursuits, this kind of as main contracts and sub-contracts, as nicely as personnel supply, substance, and travel fees. In the commercial planet, these expenditures would be referred to as cost of product sales.
  • Historic and budgeted earnings, as nicely as restrictions.

You should really then explain all other expense categories, these types of as fundraising, advertising expenditures and overheads.

Also, deliver particulars of any other major contracts, these as residence leases.

4. Explain equilibrium sheet terminology

You ought to demonstrate every little thing in your equilibrium sheet (recognised as a statement of money situation for NPOs).

Preset assets 

A set asset is a extended-expression tangible piece of property or gear that an organisation owns and works by using in its operations to crank out cash flow.

It isn’t anticipated to be eaten or converted into money in a year.


A debtor is a company or particular person who owes the organisation dollars.

Occasionally referred to as accounts receivable or receivables.


This is money in the bank.


A creditor is a human being or organization to whom revenue is owing. You normally split them involving:

  • Accounts payable or payables: Quantities falling because of with one 12 months. 
  • Extensive-phrase liabilities: Amounts falling owing after one calendar year.

Common fund

The dollars you have offered to use freely to even more your charitable aims.

You at times refer to normal money as unrestricted cash.

Limited cash

You are supplied limited money for a precise function and ring-fence them as these. Occasionally time constraints are also imposed.

At the time your trustees are self-assured about what these phrases mean, wander them by your equilibrium sheet masking each classification.

5. Explain how the management accounts map to the statutory accounts

Usually, finance provides trustees with monetary reviews identified as management accounts.

These could involve cash flow and expenditure accounts, funds circulation forecasts, economic projections, and a harmony sheet.

There are a few essential explanations for producing common administration accounts for your trustees to critique.

They are to:

  • Measure current overall performance
  • Make it possible for monetary decision creating
  • Give evidence that you are fulfilling monetary oversight tasks.

Your NPO need to create management accounts frequently (ideally month-to-month, but from time to time quarterly).

Statutory accounts are reviews made right after the end of the economic year to deliver a official history of the financial activity and situation of the organisation.

  • Administration and statutory accounts may well have diverse ranges of detail, aggregating and separating costs in distinct methods.
  • Your task is to clarify any variances in between administration and statutory accounts.

Remaining feelings: Guidance your trustees

We have specified you 5 ways to do the job through in explaining your NPO’s finances to trustees, but you should really also outline any other points of money importance.

Ultimately, keep in mind this point.

If you’re managing finances for an NPO, you should really get trustees to a position the place they understand adequate about finance to check with thoughts and approve 12 months-close accounts.

Fantastic luck.


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