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Handling Money

by Doug Nash

Considering how hard it can be to raise funds it is a little unsettling to witness or hear about how some groups handle the green stuff once they have it. Handling money is not a natural skill. How many stories do the rounds about people winding up bankrupt after winning a huge Lotto win or after benefiting from a large financial windfall? We have all heard them, however do we ever stop to think their may be some wisdom to be gained from looking a little closer at these horror stories.

Handling money is a skill; some learn this skill at a younger age or hone the skill to a much higher level than others when they get older. This skill should be taught in schools with the same importance as reading, writing and arithmetic. Handling money is a life skill and it is critical to a running a successful fundraiser.

Depending on the size of your organisation, and you don’t need to be that big, is to ask a local accountant or professional bookkeeper to help you manage the money you have. It may take you a while to find one that will help you for free but if you keep looking you will find one. If you are having trouble finding one, contact other local fundraising groups and ask them for a recommendation. Usually you can find one if you go to your local yellow pages and ring down the list until you find one, although I recommend you find one through recommendation.

Accountants can advise you on avoiding bank fees and unnecessary taxes. These can add up very quickly to those of us who are not in a position to raise large amounts of money. Bank fees especially can quickly add up and make a noticeable different to your bottom line. In Australia if you are paying bank fees on a non-profit account you have the wrong account and should immediately change the type of account you have or change the institution that you bank with. Accountants will also be able to help you with your long term financial planning and a lot of fundraising groups make a huge mistake of only thinking about the current year and not adopting a long term financial plan.

To help yourself before you take on an accountant, research what kind of computer programs are out there that you can take advantage of. There are lots of free programs that you can find on the internet or others that will give you a basic functionality but to get the full program to work you have to buy it. You may find that the limited program will more than meet your needs. You can use these programs to track you money or to provide analysis and present the information in a graphical mode to make it easier to understand what is happening with the cash flow you have. Proper or better management of your cashflow can make a huge impact on the year to year operations.

With bank accounts you should always have three signatures on the account, and to withdraw money or pay bills you need to have two of the three signatures. This is a basic and simple security plan that can save you a lot of hassles.

Another critical area to reconsider is the physical security during the actual fundraiser. Points to consider are:

  • Who has physical control of the cash at all points until the money is in the bank account?
  • Who is control of the cash at the point of contact with donors or clients?
  • Who is going to collect, record and take the cash to the bank?

There are way too many security points to cover here, however this is an excellent starting point to start reviewing your security in regards to your finances. You should do a review every year and before you begin a fundraising event. “Better safe than sorry” is an old adage that really applies here. While some lessons are more expensive than others if you follow up on the points raised above the lessons will be cheaper than they might be otherwise.


    About the Author: Doug Nash lives in Logan City in Queensland, Australia. He has graciously consented to share a fundraising idea with us every month. Although many of the ideas aren't new, each of them has a unique flair that comes from being developed and refined half a world away from ours. Visit his web site at for more fundraising ideas.

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