Finance

Introduction

Sheffield U3A facilitates the bringing together of like-minded members and members with similar interests together – known as a Group – for them to carry out their activity.
Although Sheffield U3A is a charity in its own right, the Groups are not. Groups are autonomous, are not controlled by or directed by Sheffield U3A and are self-accounting. In Charity Commission speak our Groups are ‘special interest groups’ that do not undertake charitable or fundraising activities for SU3a and are therefore excluded from SU3A’s accounts.

SU3A issue guidance to Groups. With the exception of guidance related to insurance, Groups are not required to follow SU3A’s guidance. In respect of insurance, SU3A is itself repeating the requirements of Third Age Trust’s insurance brokers and this must be followed to ensure SU3A members remain insured.

Principle

All Groups are responsible for their own accounting records and for developing procedures to manage and report on their activity, income and expenditure that are appropriate to them. Ask your General Coordinator if you need further advice on this.
Groups should appoint a Treasurer although for small groups this may be covered by the Group Coordinator

Guidance

The following guidance may be helpful

  1. Group monies should not comingle with members’ personal monies e.g. should not be held in a member’s private bank account
  2. Keep Group cash in a separate cash box which kept securely
  3. Expenditure must be incurred in the Group’s objectives and there should be a process for authorising expenditure before it is incurred
  4. Income should be recorded so that you know all income has been received
  5. Where possible, expenditure should be supported by external third party vouchers / invoices
  6. Records should be kept and, where appropriate, simple accounts produced and be available to your members

Bank Account

Whether a group has its own bank account will depend on its costs and subscriptions. If in doubt please discuss this with the SU3A Treasurer. Any bank account

  1. Should be in the name of the Group
  2. Should have two unrelated signatories to authorise any transaction ( e.g. spouses / partners should not sign together )

Groups with Income exceeding £1,000

There are very few Groups with annual income over £1,000. If your Group income does exceed £1,000 please arrange for an Independent Examiner to review your accounts and complete an Independent Examiner’s Report and submit this annually to treasurer@su3a.org.uk A copy can be found at Auditor’s Report.

Practicalities

Groups should set their own subscriptions to cover their own regular costs. You will need to estimate your costs, your membership and set your subscriptions accordingly.
Try to avoid committing to fixed costs. However, if your costs are fixed, e.g. your group commits to room hire, consider collecting member subscriptions in advance. For more established groups it may be appropriate to build up a small cash reserve.
Although U3A is a Self-Help organisation, Group members are unlikely to be enthusiastic to a request to pay at the end of a year to meet a shortfall. If your Group membership is falling then keep everyone informed and consider collecting subscriptions per meeting / monthly rather than annually.

Good Practice for ad hoc costs

Many Groups do not have regular costs or separate subscriptions but will organise events and outings involving costs. This requires a reasonable level of trust between members of the Group so that any member making a booking involving costs will be promptly reimbursed. Maybe members can pay before the non-cancellable booking is made. It is good practice to keep a record of costs and payments and email this to participants.

For events such as holidays, if at all possible, members should pay tour companies or hotels directly. This will make a member’s claim for cancellation more straightforward. Note that SU3A does not provide travel insurance so members needing such insurance should arrange this themselves.
If a Group member is, for example, booking a shared house, ensure that they appreciate the responsibilities involved.