Since January 2021, the Financial Governance team has been arranging virtual monthly Finance Network meetings for key people within Brand Partners – CEOs and members of their Senior Management Teams; Chairs, Treasurers and other interested trustees. Attendance has exceeded our initial expectations – we’ve consistently had over 100 attendees register for these meetings – and feedback has been extremely positive. It would appear that these meetings are addressing a need for information, help and guidance, from across the entire network. Read on to view the schedule for the upcoming Finance Network Meetings across the next few months.
So far, we have covered Cashflow Forecasting and budgeting, Reserves management, Full Cost Recovery, revised Audit requirements (Going Concern assessments) and VAT, along with some more generalised discussions about Building Back Better from the ravages of the pandemic.
When it came to planning for the coming months (October through to January), we wanted to really hone in on the issues which are likely to be of help to the majority of Partners who, we anticipate, will be developing plans for 2022-23 and beyond, and also thinking about changes to their business models – perhaps introducing new services, or scaling up existing ones to meet increasing demand. I’m confident that what we’ve put together will be of interest to all.
October 20th – “Business Cases”
The subject will be ‘Business Cases’, when Helen Blundell and Jim Clifford, both from MHA McIntyre Hudson, will discuss the ‘What, Why, When, How, and for Whom’ of this simple but important document.
We tend to associate Business Cases with the purchase of a significant capital item, or the development of a substantial new initiative. However, the need to produce a reasoned explanation to support the commitment of resources (people, time and money) to any proposed activity is nothing more than best practice and good governance. So, when you plan to tender for a new service delivery contract, or to launch a new charged-for service, how do you justify sign-off if that is within your level of authority, or support a recommendation to the trustee board for approval, if it’s outside of your delegated authority? Helen and Jim will look at trustees’ responsibilities here, as well as the decision-making which needs to happen, and the information which should be considered and presented.
November 24th – “Making Difficult Decisions”
David Brown, a volunteer consultant with Cranfield Trust, will present on ‘Making Difficult Decisions’ and I’m really excited by this one! He’ll be exploring the options for SMTs and trustees to consider when faced with a significant deficit budget forecast which, if forecasts for 2022-23 already provided to us by Partners are correct, is likely to be the case for most of the network. As an aside, we’re forecasting a network-wide surplus of around £14m for 2020-21, but the current year (2021-22) could see an adverse swing of £24m to a network deficit of £10m, with 2022-23 not likely to fare any better at the moment.
Many people see just three possible options for a deficit budget: 1) add more income to the forecast – usually a Fundraising line; 2) cut costs – usually staff costs, given that they are the major proportion of the outgoings for a Partner; or 3), do nothing, in the hope that something will turn up – the Micawber approach. David will suggest that there are other ways of addressing this issue and I think we’ll be in for a very interesting session.
December 15th – “Charity Legal Structures”
Nick Vaughan, another Cranfield consultant, will talk about Charity Legal Structures which sounds a bit dry, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of legal and good governance issues surrounding the use of subsidiary trading companies to deliver services / activities. Issues like non-primary purpose trading, and consideration of a subsidiary’s use for primary purpose trading as well; Risk considerations – the avoidance of risk to charity assets; Independent governance (not all the charity trustees are directors of the subsidiary, and vice versa); Financing aspects – start-up funding; working capital; investment / loans (from the parent charity); Shared premises / staff / facilities – cross-charging / management charges.
If Partners are thinking about a changed business model, this could be a very timely session.
January 19th 2022 – “Guidance for CEOs”
In January, we’ll be giving the focus of attention to CEOs rather than to Finance personnel. Nick Wilkie, our presenter, has an impressive CV. He has been chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust and London Youth, and UK director at Save the Children. He has also served on the boards of a number of charitable and public institutions and as a policy advisor to the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury and Number 10.
He will be talking around the following points to which every CEO ought to be alive:
- Making sure everyone in the organisation (or at least in the SMT) knows where true north is, for the organisation
- Knowing who the beneficiaries really are
- Reserves – understanding what they are there for
- In cutting out cost, do you want to salami-slice or cut off a limb?
- Really understanding the Balance Sheet.
Again, I anticipate a well-subscribed meeting for January!
So I hope that there will be something here for everyone – CEOs, FDs, Chairs and Treasurers, and other trustees. Please note the dates in your diaries and watch out for further details and registration details for each meeting as we progress into the winter.
David Chenery – email@example.com
National Manager – Financial Governance, Age UK