Guiding shouldn't leave you out of pocket. Here's everything you need to know about claiming expenses

You might spend some of your own money on expenses when volunteering. It’s important you claim it back

This guidance is part of our finance procedures.

These expenses are anything you’ve paid for with your own money when carrying out your volunteering role. It could be the cost of training materials if you're a trainer, or the money you spend on travel. Any expenses relevant to unit or level activities or events should be budgeted for  and paid from unit funds. And expenses should be claimed in line with the Finance policy.

Your county may have their own guidance you need to follow when claiming for expenses, so make sure you check this before you spend any of your own money.

How do I claim expenses?

To claim expenses, you need to keep all relevant receipts, travel tickets, invoices and bills. You can’t claim expenses from a credit or debit card receipt, because it does not itemise what was bought. You also cannot claim for interest on a personal credit card.

Our tips for claiming expenses:

  • When you start your role, check the procedure for claiming expenses with your local leadership team or commissioner.
  • It’s a good idea to have expenses agreed in advance to avoid a situation where a volunteer is left out of pocket. You may decide that this is only needed for expenses over a certain amount – just make sure everyone knows the amount and you have enough funds to cover the spending.
  • Try to claim your expenses as soon as possible. It’s helpful for you and your unit if you do it immediately, or at least once a term.
  • It’s good practice to claim all expenses in the same year that they are incurred. This way your unit or level will have budgeted for all expenses.
  • A signatory of the bank account needs to authorise all expenses, check that all receipts are included, and the claim is correctly added up. This will help when completing your end of year accounts.
  • Where a unit is run by multiple members of the same family, it's essential that authorising expenses is done by  someone outside of the family.
  • Use an expense claim form to keep track of your receipts and make sure you are claiming back everything you’ve spent. Download an example expense claim form (Word)

If the time it takes to get your expenses paid back could impact on your personal financial situation, speak to your local commissioner. You should never be out of pocket because of your volunteering role.

Claiming expenses without a receipt

Sometimes it might not be possible to provide a receipt or invoice. When this happens, you must use an expenses claim form to record the amount and the reason behind the spending, otherwise there won’t be any evidence for the account records.

Some examples of spending where you may not have a receipt or invoice include:

  • Travel costs for using your own car – when you submit your expenses claim form, try to provide evidence of how many miles you travelled. You can do this by putting the directions into Google Maps or by taking photos of the mileage on your car’s dashboard at the start and end of the trip. Mileage costs are normally calculated at 45p per mile.
  • Online purchases – if you were sent an order confirmation email, this will usually include the details of what you bought and how much it cost. So this can be used as a receipt. And when your item arrives, there might be a printed copy in the package that you can use.
  • Printer ink and paper – if you’re using your home printer to print a lot of guiding materials, the costs can add up. Try to make a reasonable estimation for the cost of what you have used and explain how you reached the amount on the claim form.
  • Phone use – you may be able to download or request a statement showing your calls and the costs. You could also check the price per minute on your provider’s website. Include this information with your claim form.

Donating your expenses

If an adult member does not want to claim their expenses, ask them to make a claim with the relevant receipts, and then donate their expenses back to the unit. If they are a taxpayer, ask them to complete a Gift Aid declaration so that Gift Aid can be claimed on the value of the donation.

In order to claim Gift Aid, the donation of expenses must be made in line with HMRC’s guidelines:

  • The unit or level must pay the expenses owed to the volunteer. Ideally this should be done by cheque or bank transfer, so there is a clear audit trail for the payment.
  • The adult member can then make a donation back to the unit or level for the same amount, or just part of it. Again, this should ideally be done by cheque or bank transfer. If expenses are donated in cash make sure there is a clear record of this.

Can I get an advance when I know I'll be paying expenses?

It may be possible to do this, so speak to your commissioner for more information. Being a Girlguiding volunteer should not impact on your personal finances. In some areas, the county or country/region office may also be able to pay on your behalf.

Grants for advisers and coordinators

Advisors and coordinators will have access to a budget at their local level, and should claim expenses from this if needed.

Some counties, countries and regions also have grant schemes to help advisers and coordinators with general costs during the year. Check with your commissioner to see if a grant scheme exists in your area. If your only guiding role is as an adviser or coordinator, your membership of Girlguiding may be paid for you by your division/county/region as appropriate.