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Financial pro bono support: three case studies.


Case study one – Financial process review.

A fraudulent email was sent to a staff member at a charity that claimed to come from the chief executive, asking for a transfer of £28,000 to be made with immediate effect. As the staff member was new,  alarm bells were not triggered until after the transfer had been made.

The pro bono request was for a review of the charity’s financial processes and policies. This came from the charity’s board of trustees. The pro bono supporter initially directed the charity to the Bank of Scotland website which posts regular updates on the latest fraudulent activity and hosts regular webinars. The pro bono supporter then carried out a risk review, which involved visiting the charity and talking to key staff members to establish what the existing processes were. The pro bono supporter collated this information into a short report detailing both the existing procedures and suggested areas where controls could be tightened. This covered donations, cash and cheque handling, bank account reconciliation with SAGE, expenses, and payroll. This report was then presented to the chief executive of the charity and the board.

As a result, this report is now part of the charity’s staff induction process and it has informed areas of the charity’s risk report which is reviewed regularly by the board. An invaluable pro bono contribution to this charity that clearly strengthened its governance, prosperity and sustainability.

The charity recovered £20,000 of the £28,000 they lost, but this was due to actions from their bank and not those of the pro bono supporter.


Case study two – Completion of annual reports and accounts for a small charity.

A newly registered charity panicked when asked to submit their first set of accounts to OSCR, the Scottish charity regulator. The pro bono request was to produce these accounts for them. As the charity was small and the operations very straight forward this was a relatively easy pro bono request.

The pro bono supporter looked at the OSCR website for available templates and sample reports and then visited the charity. The charity provided the pro bono supporter with the relevant financial information – primarily their bank transactions – and they completed the accounts. The accounts were returned to the charity with a template for the annual report and were signed off by the charity’s Senior Management Team before being sent to OSCR.

The charity originally thought they could go through this process themselves as it is relatively simple, but they lacked the confidence to do it. The pro bono supporter reassured them, got their accounts submitted, and gave them the necessary tools to enable them to post their own accounts in future.


Case study three  – VAT Capital Goods Scheme.

More specialised VAT advice was requested from a charity embarking on an extension to their existing building. The request was for guidance around the rules on the Capital Goods Scheme and the specific record-keeping required.

The pro bono supporter advised the charity via a detailed email and a conference call; the email gave precise guidance on what was required and committed to follow up on any additional requirements under the new “Making Tax Digital” rules.

The pro bono support offered to the charity was invaluable, not only in terms of length of time spent by the pro bono supporters but by the simplification of complex issues for them.

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