Talk:Finance Policy/2012

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Some comments from Edward the taxpayer[edit source]

This is good on the 'accounting for money' side but omits other considerations which are relevant, in my view (and according to charity law. How does this policy ensure

  • that the charity's funds and assets are used only to further the objects (or purpose) of the charity
  • that it delivers the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which is has been set up .... ?

I have been asking these questions elsewhere but to no avail. The object and purpose of the charity must be clearly set out, perhaps more clearly and in more detail than in the documents that are currently visible. And all fundraising statements must be aligned with those objects. e.g. you can't say or imply (as I think WMUK is currently saying or implying) that the fundraiser will support Wikipedia or servers or whatever, when it is not. And also note that "An effective charity is accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity (stakeholders) in a way that is transparent and understandable" [1]. I am not seeing any accountability in the current refusal (or apparent refusal) to publish correspondence with the UKCC about how the content of Wikipedia is 'monitored and controlled' through its system of governance. See e.g. the long and futile debate going on here Edward 14:49, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

The draft protocols say that spending must happen within approved budgets. That is how is ensures the spending furthers the objects and is for the public benefit. It is, of course, necessary that the budget be in keeping with the objects and the public benefit. For that, we have to trust the membership to hold the board to account. --Tango 15:00, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
And where is the bit that specifies how the budget is in keeping with the objects and the public benefit? This has to be demonstrated. The charity must be "accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity (stakeholders) in a way that is transparent and understandable". How often do I have to repeat this? I am not seeing 'transparent', and I am not seeing 'understandable'. Edward 15:18, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
The bit that specifies that the budget must be in keeping with the objects is in the Articles. It isn't part of the financial controls; it's part of the general governance of the charity. --Tango 16:58, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
I didn't ask for the bit that specifies that the budget must be in keeping with the objects, I asked for the bit that specifies how the budget is in keeping with the objects.Peter Damian 17:48, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, that's in the budget. How could it be in the financial protocols? The budget for next year hasn't been finalised yet (although you've seen the initial plan, which will be turned into a budget once the fundraiser is complete and we know how much money there is to spend), but I'm sure it will clearly explain what each item is intended to achieve and how that fits in with our objects. Previous budgets haven't done that very well (again, due to limited time), but I remember Jon mentioning in the recent board meeting (which was streamed online - excellent transparency there) that he wanted to make sure it included good measures for success for each item. --Tango 18:05, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

--- Tango is quite right. I will be setting up parameters and measures to make sure that the spending is in line with the Board's intentions and used wisely. These questions are global ones about why we exist as a charity and for what purposes. This paper is to make sure that every penny that is spent is accounted for in line with Charity Commission and accountancy best practice. Jon Davies WMUK 18:10, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Some comments from Tango[edit source]

I have a couple of questions on an initial read-through. Firstly, what does it mean for staff to be authorised to spend up to £250 if it needs to be signed off by the CE? If they need the CE's permission, then they don't have the authority themselves so why not just get rid of that line and leave all spending by staff to happen under the CE's authority? If we grow to the point where that isn't practical, authority can be given to other staff members (eg. department heads if we end up having actual departments). --Tango 15:00, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

First of all thanks for reading what is a rather dry article. To answer your question. In practice what this means is that when a member of staff is running a project. e.g. a conference, anything that is less than £250 they have the authority to authorise themselves e.g. with a caterer. This is a guesstimate limit based on experience and may need to be higher or lower. Jon Davies WMUK 18:10, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
So what does the bit about needing CE sign-off mean? --Tango 20:09, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
My understanding is that they can spend up to £250. Then they have to get a sign of from the CE on that before they spend more. This way the CE can, in the worst case, take away the £250 privilege if he feels it's being abused, or give a warning for less serious cases. Staff don't run up a load of £250 charges before anyone notices. --Filceolaire 21:15, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Secondly, this protocol moves BACs spending to be dual-signature but introduces card spending, which is obviously unilateral. Will there be a limit on how much can be spent by card? --Tango 15:00, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Yes. There will be limits on how much is in the account it is drawn from and that will restrict me from doing anything unprofessional. Again we will need to re-visit this depending on what needs to be spent. I am very keen on making this work smoothly so that we treat those to whom we owe money with respect. Jon Davies WMUK 18:10, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
So you'll need two people to transfer money into the current account, but once it is there you can spend it unilaterally? In practice, that probably limits you to running away with a month's worth of expenditure or so, which seems like a good balance between security and actually being able to get the job done. --Tango 20:09, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

2012[edit source]

We have rather a lot of pages on Finance. This is the one for the Board on January 3rd 2012. Discussions with Andrew Turvery this morning ave helped tidy up one or two points.

1. That the title will be Financial Policy and that it fits into our raft of policies.

2. That it will be a vital part of our progression towards PQASSO

3. That some of it will have to be phased in .e.g. a complete dual signatory system for bank accounts.

4. That the majority can be operational on February 1st but that I will report on parts that are not to the board during this transition period.

Jon Davies WMUK 11:54, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Background to paper[edit source]

As a registered Charity, and a very public one at that, it is imperative that we institute financial controls that satisfy the expectations of the Charity Commission, the Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation. This is also a vital part of attainment of our PQASSO accreditation.

This policy reflects two major developments in the chapter's organisational structure, namely the appointment of our first permanent staff on 1 October 2011 followed by the approval of our charity status by the Charity Commission on 5 November 2011 with its duties and responsibility.

As part of this policy, the system is set out where the Board of Trustees agrees the annual plan with financial allocations for different activity areas, projects and grants. The staff then administer the spending and the reporting against budgets, with the Treasurer having responsibility for ensuring appropriate expenditure, reporting and auditing. Volunteers receive support through the expeditious payment of expenses against activity budgets, and grants as agreed by the board.

The policy has been developed by bringing together best practice in the UK Charity Sector with what already exists within Wikimedia UK to create a robust framework that will be practical, proportional and secure. Charity commission guidance has been applied where appropriate and discussions have been had with Jon Worsop at UHY Nottingham, our accountants, and a meeting with UHY London.

This policy is intended to be flexible enough to allow for the expected growth of the chapter over the next few years. It is effective from 1 February 2012. In some areas there will be a period of transition where this policy is not fully implemented at first. These areas, along with any other exceptions, will be included in the Chief Executive's report to each Board meeting following the effective date.

Jon Davies WMUK 11:09, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

New amendments elegant, much simpler than mine. Jon Davies WMUK 18:58, 24 January 2012 (UTC)