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February 2021

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 feb 2021

Charities often work under limited resources and specific set of pressures. Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated their operational challenges. Use of performance metrics and marketization, lack of resources, increased visibility due to social media etc further add to the pressure. It is reported that at present one-in-ten charities remain at immediate risk of closure in UK. Considering the state of financial management in charity sector, studies of impact reporting have found that a concerning number of nonprofits are producing insufficient reporting. A Charity Finance Directors' Group study found that whilst more than half of charities reported on output and outcome, broader impact reporting was a far less common practice. A recent report published as part of the Organizational Financial Literacy Project - a collaboration between Charity Digital and Sage Foundation, in consultation with Solid Base Non-Profit Support, examines the current state of organisational financial literacy and impact reporting in the UK charity sector. The report delves into the root causes and proposes solutions. During the pandemic public trust in charities have increased and to maintain this trust nonprofits need to work responsibly and transparently, and with more accountability. Organizations that have better financial management and impact reporting will attract more funds. In charities, particularly smaller ones, the financial reporting tasks are handled on a part-time basis and often deprioritized. There is huge reliance on the use of Excel and paper-based accounting methods, resulting in infrequent and insufficient records. Impact in nonprofit sector is measured in terms of engagement with service users and meeting targets set by trustees and this information is needed by stakeholders to assess whether operations are succeeding or not. This information is critical for governance and to secure funding. The main reason for charities not able to have better financial management and reporting is due to limited resources available to accomplish such tasks. Moreover, well trained finance professional are generally not hired and the tasks are undertaken by non-finance professionals that find accounting and finance software tools complex and difficult to operate. The report identifies a four-part framework for overcoming or mitigating these obstacles - (1) Practical: Software and Processes (2) Educational: Training and Resources (3) Supportive: Extended Support Service (4) Social: Networking and Best Practices. Automation is at the core of this digitization strategy. Read on...

Charity Digital: The state of finance management in the charity sector
Author: Aidan Paterson



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