Finding the right person to be your honorary treasurer has never been easy, and seems to be an increasing cause for concern for many non-profit organisations.
The ideal treasurer will be a colleague and an adviser to the chair and the board, but is often also a mentor and sounding board for the chief executive. So what's the problem?
First, trustees frequently fail to articulate what they really expect of this role. For example, will the treasurer oversee a bookkeeper and substitute for an in-house accountant? Or do you want someone who will help you to review (and flex or change) the business model? Whichever it is, it is essential to agree a clear role description.
The second problem is the view that anyone with a financial qualification is suitable for the role. This belief can result in a serious mismatch of expectations, a failure to maintain financial oversight and plenty of bad feeling.
As the entire board remains ultimately accountable for the organisation's financial health, this cannot be delegated to a treasurer. It is therefore essential that the treasurer is collegiate, communicating matters of success or concern and enabling trustees to make good financial decisions.