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Administration


It's important to structure your initiative properly to ensure it has the best chance to thrive, and that adminstration won't consume too much time and resources which could otherwise be helping those in need. Here's some thoughts on how to keep admin in its proper place: humming away quietly in the back room, not demanding too much attention:

Most initiatives start with an idea and a group of motivated people doing something for others. Where this is built around a parish and its Parochial Church Council (PCC) its set up and administration can often be covered by the PCC administration and accounts. However often initiatives grow beyond the scope of their PCC, or are not linked to a local parish. If that's where you are, here's some thoughts:

Registered Charity

It's not nearly as daunting to set up a registered charity as you might think, but it does provide a recognised structure that will attract tax relief on donations. You'll need to be clear about your purpose and objects, but the Charities Commission provides a simple guide on how to do it. And they deliberately set the burden of reporting low for small projects, to make it easier. You will normally need a “company limited by guarantee” to provide the body corporate: this is a good thing as it avoids you taking personal liability for anything that goes wrong. If you need help with this or with charity registration, a charity-focused lawyer such as Stone King can help you.

Community Interest Companies (CICs)

St James Church, Hemingford Grey has made use of this structure: their project story sets out their experience.

People

Many projects are staffed entirely by volunteers giving their time, and the previous section contains some reflections on volunteering. But there’s no reason why your work can't be extended by employing people and, again, it's not nearly as complicated as it sounds. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) provides helpful guidance and templates for employed and self-employed contracts, which set out the expectations in an agreement before you start - then there’s no shocks. Don't forget to take at least two references to confirm that someone is an appropriate person (indeed it's a good idea to take a reference for volunteers too) and, if your work involves children, you will need to carry out CRB checks. Ask your local PCC for help with this, as of course it's a well-trodden path in churches. You may find the NCVO website helpful for many other aspects of managing your project, including training.

Paying people

does involve payroll, and it's best to use a bureau such as Moorepay for this - then you know that all the HMRC calculations are being made correctly. Those wanting to get more involved might use Sage (website), a popular payroll system used by many small organisations.

Accounting Systems

Those putting funds into your initiative - and the Charities Commission - will need to be satisfied that your accounts are kept properly and are correct. There’s many accounting system packages you can use to keep this in order, for example Paxton Computers who specialise in charity software. If possible, get a local accountant or PCC Treasurer to help you with the accounts - at least to show you how to set them up and maintain your ‘cash books’ and bank reconciliations. Try to use your bank account for all transactions, as accounting for notes and coin can be difficult.

Audit/Examiners

It's not necessary to get a full audit for a small charity, but it is important to have an independent review of your accounts to confirm that it's all correct. Independent Examiners Ltd. is specially set up for low-cost examination of charity accounts and looks after over 700 charities: but you may find that your local PCC Treasurer also has some good ideas on where to turn to locally.

Insurance

Most initiatives contain risk, and it's a good idea to consider where those risks lie before you start. Many risks can be insured against at relatively low cost, and often those associated with a church project can be covered by Ecclesiastical Insurance . Because projects can differ so widely it's difficult to point to a single solution, but try also reading the church newspapers (Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper) to get contact details for insurance brokers wanting to help in this area.