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Financial Management Is Your Responsibility
Everybody working in an NGO has a responsibility to make sure that money is used effectively. This means you!
In particular, programme managers have to think about financial matters. They have to make sure they have enough funds to achieve their goals, understand donors’ rules and regulations, and make sure there’s enough cash to pay all the bills and salaries. They hold the overall responsibility for making sure that all funds are properly taken care of.
So, financial management can never just be left to the accountant. Managers have to review financial reports, make sure procedures are followed and generally take an active interest in the money.
Mango’s Guide (below) provides detailed advice about managers’ and trustees’ financial responsibilities.
But you will also need an accountant, to support managers by setting up and running the right systems. Good financial management depends on programme and finance staff working together.
The importance of deploying a finance manager early
Countless emergency relief programmes run by aid agencies have suffered seriously from the lack of a finance manager in the early stages. NGOs in particular often find it hard to locate a person with suitable expertise, at the outset of a new emergency.
The results of not deploying a finance manager from the very start typically include:
All that, just because of a failure to ensure that a finance manager arrives on day one. A terrible price to pay. Make sure you have a finance manager available right from the beginning of every humanitarian response!
Mango is a UK-based NGO that specifically exists to help aid agencies strengthen their financial management. They provide:
The full name of the free Guide is the "Guide to Financial Management for NGOs". It's extremely clear and helpful - and freely accessible from Mango's website. It includes case studies, a full finance system to download and use, and further resources and training materials.
Mango’s register of carefully pre-selected finance staff provides a source of finance managers for field work and head office. Contact email@example.com to ask them to help you fill a specific role.
Mango's website is www.mango.org.uk.
Financial Management for Emergencies
“Financial Management for Emergencies” is a free survival guide for humanitarian programme managers. It will help you get all the basics right in the critical first stages of a humanitarian response, including having:
The guide is available for free at www.fme-online.org. The whole Guide can also be downloaded, to run from your own computer instead of the internet.
Publish your accounts locally
Publish your accounts locally as soon as you can after starting a relief or development programme. Some agencies do this by having a large noticeboard outside their offices, in the local language(s), showing how much money they are spending on what activities locally.
This is intended to increase accountability to local people, and give them the opportunity to challenge and improve the priorities of the programme. The “Who Counts?” campaign by Mango encourages this. For more details and practical suggestions see www.mango.org.uk/whocounts.
The great majority of agencies do not yet publish their accounts locally. They should.
Tags: Finance & Accounting