Finance News: Directors group sets up benchmarking survey

A major study to measure charities' financial performance is being undertaken by the Charity Finance Directors' Group.

The benchmarking study will also compare the voluntary sector with the private and public sectors.

More than 50 organisations have already signed up to the project and the CFDG expects to attract more than 100 participants - all with income of more than £1m a year.

The umbrella body says the study follows a recommendation in 2002's Strategy Unit report on charity law and regulation reform that proposed that charities benchmark their performance in different areas, against their peers.

A benchmarking study on charities' HR performance People Count was undertaken by Agenda Consulting last year. The same firm, which specialises in management consultancy for the third sector, will administer the finance study.

CFDG chief executive Shirley Scott said: "Our members are telling us that learning from their peers is a sure way of helping to develop their processes and systems. It is so important for charities to pinpoint their strengths and areas for improvement if they want to formulate strategies for development."

The study will focus on a range of activities including outsourcing and shared services, budgeting, project appraisal, statutory reporting and the SIR, purchasing, reserves policy, investment policy, and the role and added value of the finance function itself.

Les Jones, chairman of the recently-formed Charity Treasurers Forum, commented: "I welcome this initiative as benchmarking has an important role to play in improving efficiency and effectiveness in charities. It is also very well timed in relation to a number of major developments in the sector including the new Sorp, the draft Charities Bill and the SIR."

Members of the steering group include Scott and Jones, along with the finance directors of Amnesty International UK, the RNIB, and Mencap. To take part contact Michelle Ford at the CFDG on 020 7793 1400.

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