In our final instalment of guidance in Charity Fraud Awareness week we offer some practical advice on keeping your charity safe.
- Review your financial controls at regular intervals and keep them up to date. Just because you have not been a victim of this type of crime before does not mean that it cannot or will not happen or that everything is working as well as it could be.
- Separate out duties – do not allow 1 or 2 people to have overall control and checking of the charity’s financial matters.
- Ensure that all the separately held records of the financial aspects of the charity match. Ask for and keep receipts and use them together with invoices and payment authorities to reconcile bank statements.
- Take care never to weaken your financial security measures in order to save time or money. For example, do not pre-sign blank cheques even if a further signatory is required.
- Keep a register of all key and valuable property and assets held by the charity and keep it under review at Trustee meetings.
- Ensure any online banking arrangements are suitably protected and that all transactions require secondary authorisation.
- Take up references and undertake appropriate checks when employing new staff or taking on new trustees and other volunteers.
- Know your beneficiaries and donors! Where grants or bursaries are received into and/or made out of charity funds, ensure that the relevant due diligence enquires are made of the donating or receiving party.
- Ensure that financial reports and reviews are a core part of your Trustees’ meetings and that the format of the reports are understandable to all Trustees, not just those with specialist financial training or experience.
- If you find yourself in the unfortunate position that you suspect fraud or that a financial crime is taking place, make sure that the procedure for reporting is clear and that you know what to do! Making a Serious Incident Report to the Charity Commission is also highly likely to be necessary.
For information or advice, please contact our specialist charities’ team on 01392 207020.