Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical Society
- Parent Category: Annual Reports
Financial Management and Reserves Policies
The Society has a Financial Management Policy which meets the requirements of the Charities Act 2006, the Charity Commission guidelines "Internal Financial Controls for Charities" and "Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice (Revised 2005)".
The Society is currently operating with two funds. The General Fund is unrestricted and is used for the day-to-day operation of the Society. The New Horizons fund is a restricted fund opened in 2006 to support the New Horizons project. When making public appeals for the New Horizons project the trustees have made provision that any surplus may be transferred to the General Fund to further the objects at the discretion of the trustees.
The Society operates with an unrestricted reserve at a level set by the trustees; currently this is £4,500 which equated to approximately 18 months running costs. The reserve is held to allow the Society to offset fluctuations in income receipts and to provide for contingencies. Reserves are held without any exposure to the stock market. At March 31st 2011 the General Fund had a balance £7,117 (compare to £4,349 at the same date last year).
Whilst the current unrestricted fund level is above the reserve we feel it is prudent in the current economic climate; maintaining a substantial reserve will better allow the Society to meet the funding challenges which the wider economic situation may impose. We also note that securing external funding is becoming increasingly difficult as sponsors and grant making bodies are forced to address their own funding issues.
Financial performance in the year to March 31st 2011 has been broadly consistent with the trustee’s forecasts and expectations. We note that when one-off purchases are removed from general fund expenditure we have achieved a reduction in spending of nearly 14%; some of this can be attributed to gifts in kind which resulted in cash savings and some to the work have undertaken by the trustees to reduce costs. These savings in expenditure are matched by a 21% increase in unrestricted income; in summary the Society is in sound financial health.
Overall expenditure within the unrestricted general fund has decreased by a little over 40% on the previous year. This headline figure however needs to be adjusted as in the year to March 31st 2010 an expenditure of £1,614 was made from the general fund for Observatory Development in support of the New Horizons project; the Celestron C14 telescope was funded from both the New Horizons and the general funds. When this atypical expenditure is removed the change on the previous year is a fall of 13.7%.
Meeting room expenditure of £893 accounts for 28.8% of general fund expenditure, though the meeting room expenses show an apparent fall this is due a refund from British Telecom which has been accounted for as a negative expenditure. The major component of meeting room expenditure is the rent paid to SWMC of £900. The telephone line to the club room has been cancelled, hence the refund noted above.
In our last annual accounts we reported a donation of £100; this was a very unusual occurrence and donations in the year to 31st March 2011 are nil. The donation in the previous year was to the Friends of St Michael’s Church. The church, in the village of Much Hoole, Lancashire, houses several stained glass window commemorating the life and work of Jeremiah Horrocks who predicted and observed the first transit of Venus in 1639. These windows with others in the church were smashed in an act of wanton vandalism. Our members wished to support the restoration work and a collection was organised and then added to from Society funds.
Annual expenditure on guest speakers has varied little on the previous year, totalling £320 as opposed to £310. We are fortunate that the universities of the nearby city of Sheffield provide several speakers with consequently low travel expenses; we are also grateful to members who offer accommodation to our visitors from further a field which reduces our overheads.
Observatory operating costs show a year-on-year decrease of 10%; this is in part due reduced energy and telecommunications costs; monthly payments for these services were reduced following a review of charges undertaken by the trustees.
It should be noted that the premium for the society’s main insurance policy is reported as an observatory expense as historically this was the case; the current policy replaced an earlier building and contents policy for the observatory and the attribution has been retained for comparison purposes. The current policy covers a wider range of charitable activities and employers and public liability however the premium is not broken down by our provider
Subscription expenditure shows a significant rise to £103. The Federation of Astronomical Societies has continued to offer massively reduced subscription rates; however due to delays in paying SWMC subscriptions two years SWMC subscriptions are shown. Administration and General expenditure is reported as nil; the printing and postage costs normally included were met by a gift in kind for the year to March 31st 2011.
Total income to the general fund for the year was £5,806 compared to £4,796 the previous year; this represents a 21% increase. Most income sources show significant year-on-year improvement.
Income from both Community Access (£1,207) and Outreach (£140) activities show increases of 21.5% and 16.7% respectively. This reflects an increase not only in the quantity of events we provide but also in the quality of the events we provide. Some outreach events have offered little immediate financial return but have generate considerable interest in our Community Access events and encouraged new members to our Society.
Subscription income and visitors fees therefore show a healthy increase of 20% to £2,652; even allowing for increase subscription rates this still represents a significant increase. Some new members joined late in the year and therefore have not paid a full annual subscription, if we are successful in retaining members in the coming renewal cycle the prospects are very good.
Subscriptions and fees represent nearly 46% of all unrestricted income and covers approximately 85% of expenditure.
Fundraising income shows an increase of 21% to £1,397. A major factor, the trustees believe, in accounting for this is a review undertaken on the fundraising activities we undertake at our outreach events. In the year we have revised the activities we offer to cater for different age ranges, for example providing a "lucky dip" bran-tub for children and competitions for adults. We also revised the pricing of our annual draw tickets which stimulated sales.
Our member’s lottery is fully subscribed and this is another significant contribution to fundraising income. The Society wishes to note its appreciation for the hard work done running the lottery by Jo Botterill.
Income to the New Horizons fund was mainly the Charities Online Accounts Awards prize money and donations.
Gifts and Support in Kind
In assessing the finances and assets of the society it must be noted that many members and trustees give a great deal of support in kind. Many purchases are made and the payment never claimed back; for example printing and postage costs, stall fees at events, and web hosting have all been paid for by members but the cost not claimed despite such a claim being perfectly legitimate.
Members also give generously of their time; without the many hours given to preparing and delivering talks, running community access and outreach events, and managing the society its growth and success could not be achieved.
We undertook an analysis of the time which trustees and members give to the society to support our Community Access and Outreach programmes, preparing and delivering presentations, and on trustee and officer duties. The total exceeds 4,500 hours which equates to £26,685 at National Minimum Wage of £5.93 per hour (if on costs are also factored in the figure is in excess of £32,000). The value of this time to the Society is, of course, much greater.
The trustees wish to place on records their recognition of and gratitude for all these contributions.
Funds Materially in Deficit
As at March 31st 2011 the Society had no funds in material deficit.
The Trustees have not identified any major risks to which the Society is exposed.
Approved and adopted by a meeting of the Executive Committee on April 13th 2011 and signed on their behalf
Leslie H. Marsden FRAS