Treasurer's Corner

December 2019

As I write this it is the middle of October but by the time you read it December will be upon us and I am sure you will be busy with your Christmas preparations.

Besides hoping you have a good Christmas I want to take a little look forward to March and the end of the financial year. This year I am afraid to say there were a number of common errors across a considerable number of the statements submitted by WIs. In an effort to try and reduce this I am looking to hold some workshops in March which will focus on completion of the statement.

These would be half day events, held at Ethel Hunt Lodge and would comprise going through the statement, what information goes where on the form and the parts where the figures should tally (one of the common errors is that this doesn't happen). There would be no charge. If you would be interested in coming along to such an event please look out for further information in the January West Kent News.

I am also looking into starting a series of Treasurer's drop-in surgeries, at various points across the Federation, where you can just pop along to discuss any general/issues you may have concerning WI finances. Again, there will be more information in West Kent News.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Gillian Neville

November 2019

I mentioned last time that this month I would be talking about raffles. This has been prompted by discovering that some WIs give money prizes in the form of cash at the meeting. I am afraid this is not allowed under legislation that governs the running of raffles. However, you can write a cheque for the winner.

Raffles and lotteries are regulated by The Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Commission. It is therefore important that if you are organising a raffle you follow the guidance below set out in NFWI's fundraising guidelines. Raffles organised by WIs fall under section 3 of the 2005 Act.

Raffles have three essential elements :

  1. Payment is required
  2. One of more prizes are awarded
  3. Those prizes are awarded by chance

Raffles held either at an event (such as a fete) or where only members of the WI can take part don't need a license or registration.

The profits from a raffle organised and promoted by a charity are exempt from corporation tax (or income tax in the case of charitable trusts) so long as:

  • the lottery is organised and promoted in line with either section 3 or section 5 of the Gambling Act 2005; and
  • the profits from the lottery are only used to meet the charity's aims

A section 3 lottery (known as a 'small lottery') must abide by the following conditions

  • the raffle must be held as part of an event or 'exempt entertainments', such as fetes and bazaars
  • the total value of the prizes can be no more than £250
  • the proceeds of the lottery must not be used for private gain
  • no cash prizes may be given
  • the sale and issue of tickets and the announcement of results must take place during the entertainment and at the event location

NFWI have affirmed that if a WI wishes to give a money prize then it must be in the form of a cheque, which hopefully shouldn't be an issue as the cheque book is generally taken along to meetings must be banked gross.

Gillian Neville


October 2019

I have been dealing with a number of queries recently about raising funds for and supporting charitable projects. NFWI have recently uploaded some fundraising guidelines to My WI and so I thought now would be an opportune moment to go through the latest guidance.

Each WI is a charity, governed by the constitution. Under the NFWI guidelines a WI's assets, including any funds it holds, can be used to further the charitable objects set out in the Constitution which are:

  • To advance the education of women and girls for the public benefit
  • To advance public health
  • To promote sustainable development
  • To advance public citizenship by promoting civic responsibility and volunteering.

Every WI can support any project or cause that falls within the above objects. Examples of such causes could be the raising of funds for an appeal to rebuild a local community centre that has been damaged by flooding, supporting a hall or other facility that benefits the community or providing facilities or equipment for a local hospital. The cause must also benefit as many people as possible - it should not help individuals or exclude anyone.

The guidelines also give examples of causes that cannot be supported such as an appeal to send parcels or provisions to children abroad, a project to create better facilities for or to help prevent cruelty to animals, a generic appeal to help rehabilitate soldiers injured in action.

I have also received a couple of specific questions on which I have sought NFWI Finance advice and their response is below.

Firstly, the Kent, Sussex & Surrey Air Ambulance - concerns as to whether this met the community criteria because it didn't specifically cover Kent. NFWI advise that if a WI wishes to fundraise for the Air Ambulance to contact them first and see if they have any specific Kent projects that the money could be used for.

Secondly, does a cause have to have premises in the borough that the WI is based in? NFWI state that as long as the cause meets WI objects then no it does not. I copy their full text below.

'The important element here is that the cause benefits the community. Therefore, the focus is on whether or not the cause predominantly benefits the public in the community and not where the cause is based'. Therefore, if your WI wishes to fundraise for a cause with premises in the next borough but it benefits your community, according to NFWI it would be fine to fundraise for because it meets the charitable objects even though it is not based in your specific borough.

I hope this helps. If you can I would suggest that you check out the full guidelines on My WI. Next month I shall talk about raffles, a topic that also causes issues and covered in the fundraising guidelines.

Gillian Neville


September 2019

This month I want to talk about Charity Commission Registration, the importance of completing the annual return and making sure that your WI details are accurate.

Firstly, a reminder that if your gross income per annum is normally less that £5,000 you do not have to register with the Charity Commission. If this applies to you and you are already registered then I would recommend that you deregister. This will be in line with the Charity Commission encouraging such charities to do so.

It is fairly straightforward to deregister and can be done via the Commission's website.

If you have to be registered (i.e. income over £5,000) then I want to stress the importance of completing your annual return and ensuring your WI's details are up to date. It is a legal obligation to do so and you have ten months from the end of the financial year i.e. until 31 January to comply. Failure to do so will mean receipt of what can be quite intimidating letters to the named contact, usually yourself, with threats of further action.

It is particularly important for WIs facing suspension that the Charity Commission return is completed and that they are informed when suspension takes place, otherwise you stay on their records as a 'live' charity.

There have been a few instances recently where the Treasurers for suspended WIS have been contacted about failure to complete the return. In one case the Charity Commission were threatening to hold an investigation panel and unfortunately the ex-member contacted had never been removed from the WI's registration. As you can imagine it was very difficult for her.

A couple of these WIs asked us, as the Federation, to take over the situation and deal with the Commission and complete the return. Whilst happy to provide what advice I can, I do have to point out that it is not possible for us to deal with such requests, as we are not the trustees of that WI.

In summary therefore:

1. If you meet the criteria I would recommend deregistering from the Charity Commission; you will still be a charity by virtue of the Constitution.

2. If registered complete your annual return and update WI details promptly, preferably as soon as possible after the annual meeting in May. It will save you a lot of hassle!

Gillian Neville


August 2019

As I write this at the beginning of June you will have finished presenting your financial statement to members at your WI's Annual Meeting.

Many of you will have used a Federation trained Independent Financial Examiner (IFE) to examine and sign off your accounts. Out of the 180 WIs in West Kent approximately 100 use a Federation IFE and there are always new requests to join the Federation Scheme.

Federation IFEs are trained specifically in the ways os WI financial practices, especially regarding Charity Commission/law requirements, something that outside examiners don't always understand.

However the continuing demand for the Federation scheme does mean that we are always looking for volunteers to undertake the IFE role. IFEs are responsible for examining their allocated WI's end of year accounts and records as well as providing advice and guidance to Treasurers. WIs are allocated to IFEs by the Federation's Scheme Administrator, Elizabeth Patterson.

A days training, held at Ethel Hunt Lodge, covering the above aspects of the role is arranged and paid for by the Federation. Ongoing support will also be available from either myself or Elizabeth.

If you feel that joining the IFE team would be of interest to you or want to know more about the role please get in touch woth me here at EHL on 01892 823813.

Gillian Neville


July 2019

Some of you may or may not have seen some correspondence in 2018 from NFWI about fundraising for ACWW (Associated Country Women of the World) Pennies for Friendship. This led to some confusion. The reality is, there is no problem so please do keep collecting your 'Pennies' for such a good cause.

There are two types of Pennies for Friendship:

1. PFF - Funds the administration of ACWW.

2. WIPFF - Pennies for Friendship, funds projects and project administration

This is the preferred WI route. WIs pay their collected funds into the Federation once or twice a year. Donations can be made via the monthly statement.

We will then pay this money over to ACWW once a year to reduce bank charges for ACWW. The money is ring fenced by ACWW in order for it to be applied to projects within the category the WIs have asked for.

If any cheques are sent directly to ACWW they must be made payable to ACWW and on the back must be written they are for WIPFF (NOT just PFF).

The categories, which are now under the umbrella of the WE Fund (Women Empowered Fund) are:

  • Education
  • Nutrition, Good Health, Well Being
  • Sustainable Agriculture Training and Development
  • Income Generation and Livelihood
  • Sustainable Water, Sanitation and Energy
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health

The West Kent Board of Trustees decided that money raised this year will go towards the Income Generation and Livelihood 'pot'. We are then sent details of projects funded from this pot. So far there has been just one, Project 1048 Beekeeping for Sustainable Income, Kenya.

Tricia Ashdown is the Federation's ACWW Rep and is always happy to visit WIs and talk about ACWW or provide updates on current projects. If your WI would be interested please contact Tricia on

Gillian Neville


June 2019

First of all I would like to say 'welcome' and 'thank you' to all of you who have volunteered to become your WI's new Treasurer. I hope you will find your new role to be a rewarding one and that you will soon feel quite at home with your new responsibilities.

At the risk of repeating myself there is support available to you. The Federation will be running two one day sessions in July, on the 10th and 16th. The application form is in this month's West Kent News (page 4). Please do come along if you can.

If you can't make either of these dates there is a treasurer's training module on My WI and of course if you have any queries please do get in touch either by phoning Ethel Hunt Lodge or emailing me at

The April end of month posting contained two documents which I hoped might be useful. The first one provided an explanation about 'Acting as an Agent' and how to account for funds that fall within this definition. The second document set out what should be included in each heading in the accounts book/spreadsheet. I hope they are useful.

Gillian Neville


May 2019

If you weren't at the ACM in Tunbridge Wells this year I thought you might be interested in the main parts of my presentation on the Federation accounts.

The Federation in 2017-18 had a deficit of £17K. The main reason for the deficit was the drop in income on charitable activities. As a board we knew that would happen since in 2018 the focus was on running the special centenary evets at Rose Bruford, Aylesford and Hawkhurst. Therefore less of the normal workshops and days were organised.

We also used some of our reserves to subsidise the ticket cost, in line with Charity Commission guidance that charities should be using their reserves for the benefit of its members. A planned deficit is not a bad thing and won't cause any problems for the Federation.

With that in mind as a Board of Trustees we will be looking at both our reserves policies to ensure that the £155,000 budgeted to keep the Federation running for nine months is at the right level and will also consider how to use any surplus above that.

This year the Federation will be paying for six months for each WI to cover the cost of a web based version of the West Kent News. We are also holding the price of the hard copy at 25p per magazine.

Ticket prices - I know there have been some recent comments about the pricing of some of the workshops, so an explanation about pricing might be in order. Our aim with Federation events is not to make a massive loss or profit on them. Each event is budgeted at a break-even point or just over and takes into account the main costs of halls, speakers and tutors.

The Federation tries to book expert tutors and speakers for events to ensure that members hopefully have an interesting and educational experience from any of the workshops/annual days etc. However, sometimes tutors do come at a price and that can be an issue for the Federation. There will, in some instances, be costs that make an event so expensive that the take up is poor. This will not always be obvious until an event is advertised. If it doesn't reach it's break even point it will have to be cancelled as happened with the Sevenoaks Country Fair last year.

Now some of you may be wondering what this has to do with the finances of your WI. Well apart from the scale of the money involved some of what I have written here also applies to a WI.

  • As a committee you should know how much your WI will need to meet your commitments for a period of time should anything happen to your income. The period of time can be what you decide on but it's usually in the realm of 6-9 months.
  • If you have a substantial surplus you can consider what you can spend it on for the benefit of your members. As I said at Tunbridge Wells as a Treasurer I love having a large surplus in the bank but we should not just let it sit there. There is guidance on My WI as to what activities a surplus can be used for.
  • A planned deficit is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Do prepare a budget for any fundraising activities/events you might put on for members.

May I finish by saying I hope you have a good annual meeting. To those of you stepping down I thank you for all the time and effort you have contributed to the running of your WI. Of course, this also applies if you are continuing in your role as well.

Gillian Neville


April 2019

Next month it will be time for the WI Annual Meeting. I wanted to take this opportunity to thanks those treasurers who are standing down, for the time and effort you have put into this very important job. I am sure your members, as do we at the Federation, appreciate all that you have done for them.

Hopefully, you will have someone who is prepared to take on the role from you. I know that many people worry about the role of Treasurer but if anyone is considering it then do be aware that there is a lot of support available to new treasurers. Also remember that it is a role that can be shared between two people.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph there is support available. The Federation runs two one-day courses for new treasurers, this year the dates will be the 10th and 16th July. The courses will be advertised in the West Kent News so do keep your eye open for the application forms. As well as this there is a Treasurer's Training Module on My WI and of course if you have any queries please do get in touch and I will do my best to assist you.

The following is something I have put together to highlight the main responsibilities of the treasurer's job. It is available to download here and hard copies will be available from myself.

Treasurer's Job Description - click here to download

I hope it will be a useful resource for WIs to show potential treasurers. I also hope it won't scare them off!

  • Prepare and monitor the WI budget for the year
  • Keep the accounts up to date, either using manual accounts book or the computerised spreadsheet
  • Collect the annual subscriptions and other monies and pay these into the bank (this should be done promptly), Issue receipts for all money received.
  • Make sure that obligatory payments are made e.g. membership fees to the Federation, pooling of fares.
  • Pay all bills/speakers fees.
  • Maintain a day book of receipts and payments.
  • Maintain petty cash system if your WI operates one.
  • Reconcile the bank statement monthly.
  • Id gift aid is claimed complete the annual return for HMRC
  • Prepare the end of year financial statement and arrange for it to be signed off by an Independent Financial Examiner.
  • Report to members on the end of year accounts at the Annual Meeting

Once again, I thank you for the work you do and I hope that new treasurers will find the job as rewarding as I did when I was my WI's Treasurer.

Gillian Neville


March 2019

I have had a number of Treasurers contact me recently concerned about changes that the Charity Commission have made to the information now require when a WI does its annual return and has to update it’s details.

For instance the Charity Commission now require email addresses of all trustees and bank account details.  Obviously this has been of concern to Treasurers, with some worrying that details, could be vulnerable to hacking etc and that it was becoming more of a burden to complete the return.

I contacted the NFWI Head of Finance to ask whether he was aware of these new requirements and I copy his reply below.

‘I am aware of the changes charity commission has brought. This is in line with the need for more transparency and accountability in charities. You are right they are requesting for more information now and it seems unfair on small charities such as WIs because they are time consuming. These are sector wide changes and chances are once they are done, most areas will not need to be updated every year. Below is a link to more information on charity commission website

This is what the commission said about bank account details:

Changes to bank account information

You will need to provide details of all your charity’s UK bank/building society accounts. This information will not be available to the public.

We will use the information to make sure that charities are protecting and managing their funds appropriately, where we need to. Trustees have a duty to act responsibly, reasonably and honestly and protect charity funds and assets so that they are only used to support or carry out its purposes.

Working inside the regulated banking system is the best way to achieve this. Holding a bank account also aids with transparency providing an audit trail and records, such as bank statements’.

Finally It might be worth remembering that if your income is less than £5,000 you can deregister your WI, even though NFWI feel its good practice to remain registered. However, I do know that a couple of WIs have recently deregisterted because of concerns around the extra information now being asked for.

Gillian Neville


February 2019

I know it is only February but I thought this month I would look ahead to March

The poem says March brings breezes to stir the dancing daffodil. However, for WI Treasurers it also brings the end of the financial year and time to prepare the end of year accounts.

Therefore, I thought it would be useful to repeat a Treasurer's Corner from a couple of years ago and offer some suggestions to hopefully smooth the process and try to ensure there are no last minute panics.

  • If you have not already done so, reconcile the bank account, leaving only the last few items to be agreed at the year-end.
  • Make sure you have to hand the necessary paperwork relating to all payments you have made, together with supporting documentation.
  • Make sure all the receipts you have issued includes information indicating what the money was received for.
  • Ask your committee to submit any outstanding expense claims in good time.
  • If your WI runs a petty cash account, ensure you have all the signed receipts with supporting paperwork so the payments can be allocated to the correct headings in the account book.
  • Contact your IFE in good time to make arrangements for handing over the accounts for examination. If you have an IFE from the Federation scheme they will have other accounts to examine and liaising with them (once you know who it will be) will enable them to plan their workload.

I hope this will help you in preparing your accounts and if you have any queries about the process please do get in touch.

Gillian Neville


January 2019

I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year.

As it is now January it is of course time for you to collect the WI subscriptions from your members. For 2019 the subscription for full members is £42. Of this, your WI will keep £20.50, NFWI will receive £11.70 and the Federation will receive £9.80.

The annual subscription for dual members will be £20.50 payable to their second WI, who will be able to keep all of this amount.

Any new member joining in 2019 after the end of March will pay a pro rata subscription depending on when they join. NFWI define a new member as someone who has not previously been a member of any WI in the past 10 years. I will be including in the January end of month posting, details of the pro rata rates (they are also set out online on My WI) and the forms on which we would like you to make your returns.

Also included in the January end of month posting will be the Trustees Report and Accounts for 2018 as part of your WI delegates pack for the Annual Council Meeting in March. I have just spent two days with the auditors who were carrying out the field work for our audit.

Just before this I had been asked what the Federation's portion of the subscription covered. The Annual Report sets out the many events and activities provided by the Federation. Our share of the membership fees accounts for about 50% of our total income and meets approximately 90% of the costs of running Ethel Hunt Lodge and paying the salaries of our staff. Without the income from the subscription the Federation would not be able to provide as much as we do for the members or support WIs with their queries.

If you get the chance please do read the Annual Report and Accounts

Gillian Neville