Treasuring the treasurer - TFN’s guide to a key charity role

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Finding a treasurer is one of the toughest jobs of any board or committee, but it’s not necessary to appoint an accountant or financial specialist. TFN provides a quick guide to help reassure candidates they’re up to the job.

14th May 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Volunteering as a treasurer is a good way to gain new skills and experience working in what can be a challenging environment. 

It is also a great way to network, to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet and to give something back. The experience can be hugely rewarding for the right person. But with the role comes a lot of responsibility, organisation and commitment.

What do treasurers do?

Treasurers oversee, approve and present budgets, accounts and financial statements and arguably have the toughest, most responsible role in the charity. They ensure the charity has an appropriate investment policy which is viable and does not conflict with its charitable aims. And it is their task to maintain an appropriate reserves policy and coordinate with staff and volunteers about financial matters.

Financial planning and budgeting

Treasurers are required to present budgets for new or ongoing work, advising on financial implications and presenting financial forecasts to the board.

They make regular financial reports to the management team.

Comparing figures to the previous years often helps to highlight important changes – for example, if one type of income has fallen unexpectedly. They also highlight issues as and when they happen to the board.

Keeping records

A treasurer will be tasked with banking, book-keeping and record-keeping. They are also responsible for making sure the accounts are official. That doesn’t mean a treasurer must be an accountant, but it is their duty to make sure the finances are audited by professionals when necessary (see p17 for advice on when an Independent Examination may be more relevant than an audit).

What does a treasurer brings to the post?

A good treasurer should bring knowledge of current and fundraising finance practice relevant to voluntary organisations. They should also have experience bookkeeping and financial management, good financial analysis skills and the ability to communicate clearly.

What authority does a treasurer have?

Lots. The treasurer has primary responsibility for all financial issues so check what the organisation’s own rules are and its legal position. Normally, the management team should authorise the treasurer to handle routine transactions – for example, ordering supplies or paying the phone bill – up to a set limit without consultation. Larger transactions would generally require specific authorisation.