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


Powerful economic governance is an significant portion of operating an efficient non-revenue organisation (NPO) or charity.

Considerably accountability lies with trustees, people today who have a important, demanding (and normally unpaid) role in governing an NPO and directing how it is managed and run.

Trustees make guaranteed all selections set the desires of the beneficiaries very first. If they fall short to meet their obligations, they can be held personally liable.

In this post, we deal with a series of measures so you can reveal your NPO’s finances to your trustees, so they can fulfil their job of signing off accounts.

Here’s what we cover:

Trustee responsibilities

Comprehension financial tasks as a trustee

How to assist your trustees understand your financials

Last ideas: Aid your trustees

Trustee responsibilities

The Charity Commission lists six duties of trustees:

  • Make sure your organisation is carrying out its uses for the community gain
  • Comply with your organisation’s governing document and the legislation
  • Act in your organisation’s ideal pursuits
  • Regulate your organisation’s assets responsibly
  • Act with sensible care and talent
  • Be certain your organisation is accountable.

You could utilize all these obligations to finance, but it’s the very last level above that incorporates the have to have to generate and file statutory accounts.

The bulk of this obligation could slide to the treasurer, doing the job with the finance manager or other team as suitable. But trustees have general regulate of an NPO and are accountable for building certain it’s executing what it was set up to do.

Knowing money duties as a trustee

Your trustees have obligation for overseeing your NPO’s funds.

Trustees are expected to indication off on accounts, and if they are to act with realistic treatment and ability, they need to understand their NPO’s funds.

Even so, it’s widespread that they come across the finances challenging to engage with, compromising their job and building it tough for the board to operate correctly.

Trustees have a complicated job as they will have to shoulder a disproportionate volume of duty.

If they’re concerned in strategic and operational discussions without the need of audio economic understanding, they could be ineffective and likely cause harm to your organisation’s foreseeable future thanks to gaps in their know-how.

Trustees must make guaranteed that money is only used on what is authorized by your NPO’s governing paperwork and policies—if it is not, it’s on them to place it ideal.

How to assist your trustees realize your financials

Understanding financial management as a trustee is important.

Down below are five essential ways to help your trustees acquire an energetic purpose in the financial management of your organisation.

We’d recommend a briefing session for all new trustees and those requiring an update, supported with appropriate presentation components.

1. Consider the trustees’ present-day level of financial information

There’s no position in instructing financial management concepts to a trustee if they presently know them.

So it’s necessary to comprehend their latest amount of economical knowledge and appropriately change the info you give them.

Let us consider some trustees know the money basics whilst other people really don’t. It may be intelligent to split them up into teams.

You could individual individuals who need a essential grounding in accountancy from people who know the essentials and need more information on certain areas similar to NPO finance.

2. Make clear essential economic fundamentals


  • Always appear in advance. Monetary data is out of date by default since it’s telling us what has already happened.
  • Use fiscal information to comprehend the organisation’s standing with one eye on the long term.
  • Forecasting budgets is vital in giving you a picture of wherever you consider the NPO will be in the foreseeable future. It’ll enable you established the right monetary target.

Statement of monetary activities (Couch)

  • A statement of money actions (Couch) is one particular of the major economical statements your NPO will challenge.
  • A Sofa is in some cases named an earnings and expenditure statement, or a receipts and payments account.
  • The SoFA corresponds to what industrial enterprises phone the gain and reduction (P&L) account (also recognized as a income and reduction statement, or profits assertion).
  • The SoFA is a money report summarising income, expenditure, and gains and losses incurred during a specified period—usually a thirty day period, a fiscal quarter, or a calendar year.

3. Explain each and every major income stream

With amplified level of competition for grants and donations, you’ll have to keep a shut eye on in which your money is coming from.

Your trustees need to fully grasp:

  • Who is funding, commissioning and donating? If you are component of an NPO that trades, you’ll also have consumers.
  • What action is your NPO undertaking to protected the earnings? Illustrations involve the supply of grant-funded assignments, commissioned expert services, and source of a products if you’re trading.
  • The charges involved with delivering each individual of the pursuits, this sort of as important contracts and sub-contracts, as properly as staff shipping, product, and journey costs. In the professional entire world, these fees would be known as price of income.
  • Historic and budgeted cash flow, as properly as limits.

You should then clarify all other value types, this kind of as fundraising, marketing costs and overheads.

Also, present particulars of any other considerable contracts, these as house leases.

4. Explain equilibrium sheet terminology

You ought to demonstrate all the things in your equilibrium sheet (acknowledged as a statement of money placement for NPOs).

Mounted assets 

A mounted asset is a very long-expression tangible piece of residence or gear that an organisation owns and makes use of in its operations to crank out earnings.

It is not expected to be eaten or transformed into income within a yr.


A debtor is a business or particular person who owes the organisation income.

Sometimes referred to as accounts receivable or receivables.


This is dollars in the financial institution.


A creditor is a man or woman or business to whom money is owing. You ordinarily split them amongst:

  • Accounts payable or payables: Quantities slipping due with one particular year. 
  • Very long-time period liabilities: Amounts falling owing following one particular year.

Standard fund

The income you have available to use freely to further more your charitable aims.

You sometimes refer to normal cash as unrestricted money.

Restricted resources

You are given limited resources for a specific purpose and ring-fence them as this kind of. At times time constraints are also imposed.

When your trustees are self-assured about what these conditions indicate, stroll them by means of your stability sheet masking each individual category.

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

Typically, finance provides trustees with monetary studies called management accounts.

These could involve income and expenditure accounts, dollars circulation forecasts, fiscal projections, and a equilibrium sheet.

There are a few vital motives for building common administration accounts for your trustees to overview.

They are to:

  • Evaluate recent functionality
  • Enable fiscal selection creating
  • Supply evidence that you are fulfilling fiscal oversight responsibilities.

Your NPO really should produce administration accounts consistently (preferably monthly, but sometimes quarterly).

Statutory accounts are reports generated following the stop of the economic 12 months to give a formal report of the financial activity and posture of the organisation.

  • Management and statutory accounts might have diverse concentrations of detail, aggregating and separating expenses in distinctive strategies.
  • Your occupation is to demonstrate any distinctions among management and statutory accounts.

Ultimate views: Guidance your trustees

We’ve offered you five methods to do the job through in explaining your NPO’s funds to trustees, but you must also outline any other factors of financial importance.

Eventually, don’t forget this stage.

If you are running funds for an NPO, you need to get trustees to a posture where by they understand sufficient about finance to ask thoughts and approve year-end accounts.

Great luck.


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