Saturday, 25 May 2013

Society accounts that don't feel right!

I belong to a number of specialist societies covering the full range of my hobbies. Although the topics that the groups cover vary widely it always amuses me how the same problems are discussed and the same frantic appeals are made again and again by hard-pressed society officers.

Getting people to do the various tasks needed to keep a group running seems to be getting harder and harder. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is a village fete, a primary school governing body or an industrial heritage group - finding volunteers who are prepared to give up their, increasingly limited, leisure time is next to impossible.
But there is another, equally worrying, trend that seems to be spreading though the subscription charging groups. Far too often I see annual accounts presented that don’t make any sort of logical sense. I have a set of accounts in front of me as I write this blog entry that falls into this category. A 400 member group claims to be paying out nearly £3,500 per annum on postage. I know what I receive three times each year and there is no possible way that this costs £3.00 each time. The bulletin weighs less than 100g and a “large letter” doesn’t attract postal charges anything like £3.00. Printing and stationery costs appear elsewhere in the accounts so that isn’t the explanation. But what is?

Accountancy fees came to over £500 pa (gulp!) or £1.25 per member but as 90%+ of the total income reported is the annual subscription how can this sort of figure be justified? Surely somebody in the group could do this work for a purely nominal sum?

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