Keeping account records

Take control of unit and level finances by keeping up-to-date accounting records

The Finance policy sets out what unit trustees need to do to manage funds and accounts.

This guidance is part of our finance procedures.

If you’re a unit leader or commissioner, it's your responsibility to make sure your unit or level’s accounts are properly maintained. This is required by law as part of your role as a charity trustee.

You can delegate the day-to-day record-keeping  to someone who has the right experience and knowledge, but you must review the accounts yourself on a termly basis. This could be:

  • A member of your team
  • A member of the local Trefoil Guild or Friends of Guiding group
  • Another competent adult

You need to follow the correct recruitment and vetting procedures for this person. You should use the appropriate role description to make sure that expectations are clear.

How to keep accounts

Keeping proper accounting records is a legal requirement for everyone who handles charity money.

This means that you must create a basic income and expenditure record for your unit or level. You can do this in the way that works best for you. Typically, this will either be in an account book, in a spreadsheet or using a financial accounts package or app.

The records must be detailed and clear enough that someone outside your unit or level would be able to understand the transactions.

It must include the following:

  • The date when the money was spent or received.
  • Details of what was purchased, or why the money was received.
  • Where the money was spent, or who it was received from.
  • How the transaction was made, was it online banking, in-store or cash in person?
  • The amount that was spent or received.

Although keeping these records may seem overwhelming or time-consuming at first, if you spend a little time on it throughout the month it's much more manageable than playing catch-up later in the year. The spending will still be fresh in your mind, and you’ll have a better idea of how your spending is matching with your budget.

We’ve created the unit accounts package spreadsheet to meet the requirements of the charity regulators in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland. We recommend that units that are registered as charities use these.

If your unit is registered as a charity in Scotland, you'll need to use the pack on Girlguiding Scotland.

Make sure to use the correct dates for the financial year, as agreed with your local commissioner, for example, January to December, or March to April.

The unit accounts pack spreadsheet works best if you’re using Microsoft Office. If you are having problems with the accounts pack, have a look at the accounts pack instructions. Or contact the HQ Finance team for advice on [email protected]. If you're using an Apple device and having trouble using the spreadsheet, contact the finance team for help.

Expenditure

When you spend unit or level money, you must first get approval from another signatory. And then you must get a receipt or invoice.

These should be kept safe and passed on to the person in charge of the accounting records as soon as possible. If you can’t hand them over in person, taking a photo or scan of the receipt is a good alternative – just make sure the whole receipt is visible and that the image is clear and legible.

It’s useful to give these each receipt a unique payment reference number as this makes it easier to keep track of which is which.

If you are spending your own money, it’s a good idea to use an expense claim form to keep track of your receipts so you know you are claiming back everything you’ve spent. And make sure to follow the procedures for claiming expenses.

Money raised through fundraising

It's important that you know how much money you have raised through fundraising. So, you should keep records of these funds separate from your basic income and expenditure records.

This means that you need to have a different page in your accounts book. If you’re using the units account pack, you can use one of the events tabs to record this. You need to record where the money has come from in enough detail that it could be returned, if needed.

For example, the young members in your unit are fundraising for a day out, when the venue cancels your booking. You need to know exactly how much money each of the young members has contributed so that it can be returned correctly. With some fundraising events, like a bake sale, it may not be possible to return the exact money that has been raised, so it’s important to be clear what will happen to this money if it's not used as planned.

Taxation

Each individual unit or level of Girlguiding is a separate, independent charitable body. Your local group may reclaim tax on Gift Aid or tax deducted from investment income.

Interest on building society and bank deposit accounts is now paid as a gross amount, but  in some cases the bank may deduct tax. If this happens, it’s usually because the bank doesn’t know your taxable status.

You’ll need to tell your bank about your charitable status for them to stop deducting tax. To do this, you need to show the bank a certificate of charitable status, which can be requested by email from [email protected].

Reviewing your accounts

At the end of each year, in order to comply with charity regulations and the Girlguiding Finance policy, units and levels need to produce an annual accounts statement, a statement of assets and liabilities and have their accounts independently reviewed. Find out more about doing your end of year accounts.