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How to be a treasurer

Many Gingerbread groups are very happy meeting for friendship, support, tea and chat. But others will want to arrange more ambitious activities, such as fundraising and organising trips and other events. This means group finances are likely to become more complex – and will need to be looked after by a treasurer.
This guide will help group treasurers open a bank account, manage a group’s finances, avoid disagreements and misunderstandings, and help groups run an exciting mix of activities for single parents.

Although this guide is aimed at those groups who have an elected treasurer, all groups should have someone to look after money and the information here will help you do this. We've split the information up into easy categories, that you can see on the left hand orange menu.

To compile this guide, Gingerbread spoke to group treasurers to find out exactly how they manage their groups’ money. Their input has been invaluable in creating what we hope is a realistic and practical resource for Gingerbread treasurers.

First of all, let’s hear from two experienced Gingerbread treasurers, who describe their role as sometimes demanding but fulfilling.

Rachel, group treasurer
“I've been treasurer for nine years now and I’d definitely recommend it to others. I’ve learnt new skills, I knew basic book-keeping and accounting before but I’m far more financially capable now. I never thought I’d get to be so competent with figures, doing this has boosted my confidence a lot, it’s been good for me. And I find it very rewarding too, helping others.
Treasurers need to be accountable, to write down all transactions, show what you’ve done, record everything properly. Find a system that works for you, I use plastic wallets to keep paperwork in order. IT skills are useful.
Being treasurer can be time-consuming, it is best to attend to financial matters little and often. Spend ten minutes or half an hour adding up subs, balancing the books and checking invoices when you come home after a group meeting. Keep on top of things and up to date. Try not to let the paperwork build up, even if there’s a family crisis going on. If you leave it, tackling two or three months’ worth of figures could be daunting.”

Louise, group treasurer
“I’ve been treasurer for a year so far. I enjoy doing it. To be a good treasurer, you must be someone who pays close attention to detail. I’m well known for being a bit anal, and that helps.
I’m good with money and handle budgets and cash in my job as manager of a council country park. But you don’t need to have a day job in finance to be a treasurer, handling family bills is sufficient experience. However you do need a system that you can stick to and manage, for example I bank the group’s money every Monday, the day I go into town to do my weekly food shop.
The role is much more involved than I thought it would be, although the amount of work will depend on how big and how busy your group is. There is a certain time commitment, which busy single parents should bear in mind.
Treasurers should be organised and logical people, the books need to be properly run.
The key thing I would say is to keep Gingerbread accounts and your own personal finances separate. It would be unprofessional to use your own back account. Gingerbread books must be totally transparent. You should be able to explain exactly what money is coming in, and what is going out and why. If you are not accountable and clear, you can lay yourself open to accusations.
If you are thinking about becoming a treasurer, I would recommend it, but you do need to think about whether you are the right sort of personality, or not.
Personally I’ve got a lot of satisfaction out of improving the way our group handles its finances, and making sure all is in order.”