FM ManagingTheMoneyME23

This series of leaflets explains how "ordinary" volunteer Trustees without any special financial expertise, can set up their small charity accounts to be easy and understandable to all.   The intention is to enable them to manage and report their charity's finances in ways that matter to them, and their charities' donors, WITHOUT requiring them (or even the Treasurer) to be professional accountants.

LawyerThis page contains many links to relevant information both on this website and elsewhere.
to other pages on this web-site are indicated by [] and to downloadable materials by []
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Please read our Legal Notice [►] before following links to other websites or making use of any downloadable information.



The leaflets have been inspired by the 1970s (but even more relevant today) iconic book [►], Small is Beautiful:  Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F.Schumacher, and the more recent (2017) Doughnut Economics:  Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist [►] by Kate Raworth.

Both books review the follies of thinking that the solution to all our problems is big global market-driven, profit-hungy corporations and the financial thinking (and obfuscational accountancy practices) which go with that.   The notion that "greed and capitalism" is the solution to human/social problems [►] is not new.

The leaflets are accompanied by a downloadable spreadsheet to show how those principles can be put into practice.   And, in the process, the spreadsheet is a working demonstration - using data from "real life" small charities - of why accountancy practices designed for the commercial/capitalist sector are fundamentally not fit for purpose [▼] for the charity sector.


The leaflets are NOT a full and comprehensive guide to Charity Law and all the associated regulations.   They are just an overview, in simple everyday language (rather than legalistic/accountancy jargon) of the main points for those who want to run their small charity efficiently and effectively, or to help trustees who have encountered one of the many common difficulties.

So if you are expecting your charity’s annual income to be more than £250,000/yr, or to own property, or to employ more than 3 staff then you will probably need to seek additional professional guidance elsewhere.

Preparing the Trustees' Annual Report & Accounts
ALL charities, regardless of their size MUST prepare Trustees Annual Reports & Accounts (Financial Statements) and make them available to the public on reasonal request WHETHER OR NOT they are required to submit them automatically (ie: without being requested) to the Charity Commission.

For more information on preparing the Trustees' Annual Report of their charity's activities see the "Trustees' Responsibilities" webpage. [►]

Accounts ALL Small Charities MUST Keep [▼]

Typical Responsibilities & Roles of the Treasurer [▼]

Reimbursement of Expenses and Purchases [▼]

Trustees cannot usually be paid (ie: employed) for the time that they spend on their trustees duties, neither when attending formal meetings of the Board of the Trustees, or when undertaking any other activities on behalf of the charity in their role as a Trustee.   But they can be reimbursed for any personal expenses that they incur when acting as a trustee of the charity (eg: reasonable travel, accommodation or other such incidental costs).   They can also be reimbursed for any items that they are authorised to purchase for and on behalf of the charity.
Often trustees (and other volunteers) choose not to claim reimbursement of such expenses or purchases, seeing it as part of their wider contribution to their charity.   And such generosity is always much appreciated.   But it is not always in the best interests of the charity.   So it is usually considered to be good practice to encourage trustees and volunteers always to claim reimbursement of their expenses and purchases, because not doing so can leave the charity's financial accounts significantly under-reporting both the true cost of running the charity AND the wider generosity of its trustees and volunteers.

For further information on this issuee, and how to manage it simply and effectively, see the Small Charity Support example policy:  "Reimbursement of Expenses and Purchases" using the link above.

Recording & Reporting Your Charity's Funds [▼] 😟

There are two ways of producing your charity's statutory end-of-financial-year "Annual Accounts":
  1: Accurals accounts,    or 2: Receipts & Payments accounts.
Accruals accounts are widely regarded as being unnecessarily complicated for the typical "small" charity because they have to comply with the 400-page FRS-102 Financial Reporting Standard, which requires the further 200-page Charity SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) to explain how to apply the FRS-102 (designed primarily for the commercial sector) to charity accounts.
Receipts & Payments accounts can, instead, be used by "small" charities with annual incomes less than £250,000 (AND which are NOT charitable companies).   But, unfortunately, they are widely disdained for being unable to produce a "true and fair view" of the organisation's financial position.

CONFUSED ?    This leaflet tries to explain how to avoid some of the confusions and pitfall to produce simple, yet pragmatic and compliant Annual Accounts.

Reserves Policy?   Where's the Budget ! [▼] 😟
All charities are required to have a Reserves Policy, or explain why they don't need one.   But the guidance on what does, or doesn't, constitute "Reserves" can be a bit confusing - particularly as, in places, is uses words with their "accountancy" meaning - which isn't the same as the ordinary, every-day "dictionary" meaning.   This leaflet tries to explain "Reserves" in more everyday language, and how to estimate and report them, more pragmatically.  

     😟 These two leaflets might be seen as "controversial".   See note below for explanation.

Budgets & Cash Flows [▼]

Financial Controls CheckList [▼]

A Bank Account [▼]
Originally written for new charities being set up, this leaflet may also be useful to existing charities wanting
to review their banking services.

Choosing an Independent Examiner or Financial Advisor [▼]
Not all professional/qualified accountants have the required knowledge and understanding of charity accounting practices.   This leaflet provides guidance on how to find the right person.

Accounts Spreadsheet

The "Accounts Spreadsheet" referred to in the leaflets above can be downloaded (click on the links below) so that you can see if it might be suitable for your charity.

To use the spreadsheet you'll need to be rather more than a spreadsheet novice - ie: you'll need to have a reasonable understanding of how formulae work, copying & pasting, etc.   But you won't need to be an expert.

 First devised more than 12 years ago and used by many small charities since then, the spreadsheet has, inevitably, been regularly "tweaked" and updated since then.   The latest significant revision/update to the spreadsheets (and to the accompanying user-guides) was in October 2023.

The spreadsheet comes in two versions.

[▼] Example {Better Living Charity}
This version contains real (but anonymised) data to illustrate how the spreadsheet works in practice.

[▼] Blank
A version in which there are no transactions data and none of the categories have been set, other than the main headings suggested by the Charity Commission.   This avoids the need for new users to clear away the data in the Example in order to set up their own requirements.

There is also a comprehensive set of instructions showing how to set up and use the spreadsheet.

[▼] Introduction:   An overview of what the spreadsheet does;

[▼] Setting Up:  How to configure the blank worksheet to meet the needs of your charity;

[▼] Data Entry & Analysis:  How to enter transactions data into the spreadsheet, amend the data when necessary, and produce both in-built standad financial monitoring & management reports (eg: Budget & Cash-Flow) and how to use facilities like Sorting & Filtering to produce your own ad hoc reports;

[▼] End-of-Year Operations:  How to re-set the spreadsheet for use in the next financial period.

 Password Protection:
All the functional areas of the spreadsheets (ie: typically, the areas containing formulae) are password
protected.   The primary purpose of those passwords is to minimise the risk of inadvertent corruption of the formulae which manage the calculations used to produce the various reports.   Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that they are maintained active while the spreadsheet is in day-to-day use.

The spreadsheet is "open source" - ie: all the structure and formulae used are open and visible so that small charities and not-for-profit organisations can adapt and develop the ideas and concepts to suit their own needs royalty-free.
But the spreadsheets remain the copyright of Small Charity Support under a Creative Commons Attributable – Non Commercial – Share Alike License [►].   Exploiting the spreadsheet for commercial gain is NOT permitted.

Charities which wish to adapt the spreadsheet for their own use are invited to e-mail Small Charity Support – asfsc@smallcharitysupport,uk – to request the password.   Small Charity Support keeps a record of requests for the password for the legitimate interest purposes of knowing how many users of the spreadsheet there are and to keep them informed of any significant updates or bug-fixes as occasion demands. Small Charity Support does not, and will not, use the record for any marketing or other purposes unrelated to the use of the spreadsheet.

Both spreadsheets have been created using Microsoft Office 365(R) but appear to work satisfactorily in other compatible software, eg: LibreOfficeCalc(R).   But please note:  The on-line/web version of MS-Excel DOES NOT interpret the formulae correctly and so cannot be used to run this spreadsheet.


😟 Explanatory Note:
The two leaflets noted above might be seen as very critical of Charity Commission guidance and, therefore, contentious.  
As a matter of courtesy, both leaflets have been submitted to the Charity Commission for comment, and their receipt has been acknowledged by the Commission.
Small Chari
ty Support and the Charity Commission have agreed to work together to ensure that, whilst legitimate differences of opinion or approach are acceptable, Small Charity Support will not publish anything which the Charity Commission regards as erroneous, inappropriately misleading or contrary to statutory guidance.
To date, the Charity Commission has not expressed any objection to these leaflets, nor has it suggested any improvements or other alterations.

Your comments - PLEASE

Do let us have your comments on the spreadsheet - you can e-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Compliments, queries, criticisms, brickbats (so long as they are constructive) are all welcomed.   If we are doing things right, that's good and encouraging to know so that we can try to do more.   But if we're doing things badly we need to know about that, too, so that we either put it right or stop doing it to avoid harming others.


Please read our Legal Notice [►]


 Intellectual Property and Copyrights
Crown copyright acknowledged where appropriate.

All the other materials on this website are the intellectual property and copyright of Small Charity Support
under a Creative Commons  Attributable – Non Commercial – Share Alike  License
CC Copyright
All Small Charity Support's services & materials are made available free of charge & royalties
for use by bona fide small charities & not-for-profit community organisations

Use of the materials, directly or modified, for commercial or other for-profit purposes is NOT permitted.