Focus: Finance and Governance - Outlook - Bold plan for finance directors' group

Paul Breckell is finance director of the Church Mission Society and chair of the Charity Finance Directors' Group.

It is an exciting and challenging time for the CFDG. We have seen a period of significant growth, with a membership of more than 1,000 regional groups and a growing portfolio of policy and best-practice work.

We will be bidding farewell to our chief executive, Shirley Scott, at the end of the year. In the past 11 years, she has been instrumental in the growth and vibrancy of the network. We have recently rebranded, and have set a new strategy for the period from 2006 to 2009.

The new strategy has five key strands.

First, we plan to ensure that legislation and regulation is informed by the experience of our membership. This involves working with the Government and other key opinion-formers to help shape the regulatory framework experienced by the sector.

Second, we will raise standards by developing and promoting best practice, and by continuing to provide a high-quality range of training, networking and development opportunities for our membership.

Third, we will maximise the CFDG voice by collaborating with others, and will intentionally work in partnership with other umbrella bodies, government departments, education providers and the commercial sector in delivering the strategy.

Fourth, we will give the CFDG a strong voice by having a growing and active membership. Finally, we will ensure the CFDG remains a sustainable organisation with an appropriate income strategy, sound governance and sound and improving internal systems.

So, like the finance professionals that the CFDG network represents, we also have a lot in the in-tray as we near the end of 2005.

Although you've no doubt heard this before, this really is a challenging time to be a finance director at a charity.

Each one will doubtless have funding and risk decisions to work through - whether that is contemplating contract arrangements with statutory providers, world markets with a series of positive and negative contradictory indicators or the projected level of fundraising income.

On top of this, they will have been or might soon be involved with preparing a set of Sorp-compliant accounts, managing a major IT project, planning an office relocation or considering an exit strategy from a defined benefit pension scheme.

The level of challenge and interest that being a finance professional brings in a sector that can be inspiring, frustrating and very rewarding is why I am so commit-ted to the Charity Finance Directors' Group.

THE NEW STRATEGY

- Ensure that legislation is informed by experience of the CFDG membership - Raise standards by developing and promoting best practice

- Maximise the CFDG voice through collaborations

- Maintain a growing and active membership

- Ensure the CFDG remains a sustainable organisation.

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