Finance and budgets

Learn about looking after your area's finances

As commissioner you have overall responsibility for finances and accounts in your area.

It might sound like a daunting task, but you can delegate it to someone who has the right knowledge and experience. As commissioner, you need to have an overall understanding of accounts and budgets.

To understand what you need to do, take a look at our finance policy and finance procedures, including the information on Budgeting for your unit, Keeping records of your accounts and the Responsibilities of trustees.

County finances, like all charity finances, must be separated into unrestricted and restricted funds.

  • Unrestricted funds: This is income that can be spent on anything that helps the charity achieve its goals. It’s not intended to pay for on a specific item, event or project. Trustees can assign this income to a particular use, but this can be changed if trustees agree.
  • Restricted funds: Restricted income can only be spent on a pre-defined cause or project. This specific project or item must be made clear when you are fundraising and collecting donations. This is a legal requirement and cannot be changed by trustees. In some situations, the donor can change what they want their donation spent on or take off any restriction from the funds. You should keep a copy of the restrictions on any income.

You may also be given endowment funds. These are a kind of restricted funds that need to be invested for the charity. Then only the income from the investment can be spent. There are situations where restrictions on endowment funds can be changed, but it’s a complex legal process and you will need to get legal advice if you want to do this.

Some endowments do not need you to keep the original capital and can be spent completely. With all endowments, the conditions you are given must be followed.