Learnings from Recent Charity Finance Managers Network Event (6 Dec)

Posted on
10 Dec 2019
by Tony Ward, Director of Finance for The Wheel

On Friday 6 December we were delighted to hold our latest Charity Finance Managers event in the offices of BDO Ireland.

This was a very well attended gathering, with over 40 members of our finance network in the room. Tony Ward, Director of Finance at The Wheel welcomed everyone in attendance before introducing the following presentations:

BDO input

Austin Hickey who is a member of the Consulting team in BDO gave a presentation on various trends and issues in the charity and nonprofit sector. Austin said that BDO has over 100 clients in the sector - comparisons were drawn from research that BDO conducts in the USA where many of the trends and issues, although not the same, were similar. Key amongst these were the issues around security of funding, cybersecurity and, very relevant in the current economic environment, recruitment and retention of staff.

Download the BDO presentation here.

VAT Compensation Scheme input

We were delighted to welcome Gerry Kenny from the department of Finance and Teresa Hearty from Revenue who updated everyone on the results of the first full year of the operation of the VAT compensation scheme. Gerry thanked the sector for its engagement with developing the operations of the first year of implementation and Teresa outlined some of the issues encountered – the following were noted:

  1. The scheme was oversubscribed by a factor of almost 8 (almost €40m claimed v €5m fund available) – this led to claimants receiving 13.4% of their claims
  2. The government commitment of €5m is for a period of 3 years so although the fund available was not adequate to cover the claims made, the Minister was aware of how the Scheme had operated and was pleased it had been implemented smoothly;
  3. There was one change proposed for the claim year 2019 where income collected by one charity but for the benefit of another would now be treated as income in the ‘receiving’ charity’s records and claim;
  4. The main issue that had arisen consistently was the fact that income from public sources was not qualifying income – a number of examples were given and Revenue will issue further guidance for 2019;
  5. The bulk of the claims had come in June towards the deadline and it was hoped that earlier claims could be received in the coming year (deadline for 2019 claims is 30 June 2020).

Responding to the presentation, Tony Ward said that the Department of Finance and Revenue had been very collaborative and helpful which was much appreciated. There was a concern that smaller charities who only received a small refund might be discouraged, but for this initial 3-year period it was important that all charities claimed a refund and our firm hope was that continued advocacy and representation would mean the overall fund could be increased in future.

John Gallagher, who is involved with The Wheel on public affairs, echoed this and said that in Denmark who are a similar size and where a similar scheme has operated for a number of years, the total fund is now €20m and we should hold Denmark out as an example.

Accounting Technicians apprenticeship scheme input

Gabriela Airini from Accounting Technicians Ireland made a very interesting presentation on the ATI apprenticeship scheme. These are two year apprenticeships where participants work in a business/organisation where they receive on-the-job training as they learn their skills and they attend college one day per week and are entitled to study and exam leave.

This could potentially be of interest to charities and nonprofits who would gain an additional resource in the accounting/finance function at a cost that might be more affordable and that might also work very well for participants.

Download the Accounting Technicians Ireland presentation here.

Deirdre Garvey CEO of The Wheel closed the meeting, thanked all those who presented and all members for coming along to the event.