In this my third post sharing my reflections on being the Chair of ALT I’m going to look at one of the most important governance functions of any Board of Trustees – finance, audits and accountability.
Last week I chaired the second Board meeting of the year, and for part of it we were joined by our external auditor, Nicola Cadwallader, who ran us through the findings of her interim audit.
Meeting with Nicola and having the opportunity to discuss in more detail her role as auditor and the wider obligations ALT has as part of its charitable status was a really worthwhile experience for all the Trustees.
Although Daniel Clark our Honorary Treasurer has considerable accounting experience, it is key responsibility for any Board, and particularly the Chair, to ensure that they understand fully the financial environment in which their organisations operates. As the Chair, I need to ensure the financial integrity of the Association on behalf of our members.
An interim audit is not necessary for an organisation the size of ALT, however I think that it is a very worthwhile exercise. As we have recently moved all our key financial systems online we need to ensure that everything is working and our process are robust. This year’s interim audit has clearly illustrated that ALT is on a sound financial footing.
Nicola also explained to us the role of any auditor in terms of their wider commitment around reporting any issues to the Charity Commission. Given ALTs turnover, we aren’t legally bound to undertake an external financial audit. However, all of the Board agreed that it was essential that we did continue with regular audits to give our members reassurance that their money is being used wisely and appropriately to support the mission and values of the Association.
It was pleasing to see from the draft report that in our first year of operations as an independent virtual organisation our financial procedures are robust and our projected income and expenditure are firmly on track.
There are small areas for improvement, which with Nicola’s advice we will be able to implement. The accounts will be submitted as part of our annual report during the AGM at our annual conference in September and then will be openly available via our website.
From the visualisations on the site (which btw are in flash, so maybe that needs to be updated!) you can see that ALTs finance have been very stable for the past three years, and long may that continue.