Registered Charity No. 1037027
June 5th, 2020
Dear Chichester U3A members,
There is never a good time to talk about money, but I’m afraid we have to do it. Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Peter Newland, and you recently elected me as the new Treasurer.
At the AGM on 21 May the newly-elected Committee confirmed it was their intention to hold the membership subscription for 2020/21 at £10 per person. In the absence of the then Treasurer I spoke supporting that view. Since my election I have spent a considerable time in reviewing the recent history and current state of our finances and have no alternative but to recommend an increase to £18 per annum for individual members. We now require an EGM to gain approval by the members. Let me explain why the change is necessary…
Our income comes in two ways:
• Membership fees often supplemented by Gift Aid tax refund of 25%
• Members’ contributions for Group activities, Trips, Visits and Social Events. These activities are required to be self-funding and therefore have no impact on the Membership Fee.
Before the current £10 rate, the annual membership was £15. It was reduced to £10 because the funds retained from one year to the next were considered to be too high. Over the last few years our expenditure has been between three and five thousand pounds above our membership income, and we have now reached the point when the charity needs additional funds to continue with the current activities. Of course we are not in normal times, and, in fact, without lockdown we would probably not have had sufficient funds to take us through to 31 August when our membership year ends.
Before going into the details of the Annual Accounts, which may be more than some members want, let me point out some key figures. From the individual membership fee of £10 we pay out:
• £3.50 affiliation fee to the Third Age Trust for the support they give us
• £3.10 for the Third Age Matters magazine (unless members opt out)
• £1.00 For the membership and group admin platform (Beacon)
So that’s £7.60 of the membership fee, before we start to fund our local activities – Monthly Meetings, Coffee Mornings, our Website, Newsletter, etc.
I must mention one thing more. It seems there was a misunderstanding within the committee (perhaps with so much turnover of committee members), that the copy of the Annual Accounts posted on the AGM website was not the final version. It is appropriate that the EGM approve the Annual Accounts as signed off by the Examiner. The correct version is now posted on the EGM webpage on the Chichester U3A website.
It’s important to make our finances as clear as possible – after all it’s your membership donations that allow us to meet our charitable objectives and you have to approve accounts at the AGM. Personally, I don’t find the current layout as clear as it should be, so I plan to use a different format this year. The current layout was adopted when we moved the accounting over to the U3A Beacon administration system and perhaps, with hindsight, was not the best layout to report to the general memberships. I have also taken all the information from the 2019-20 Annual Accounts, as approved by the Examiner, and rearranged the categories. I hope this now makes it clearer.
As you can see we have 4 bank accounts (+Petty Cash) with an end of year balance or £8,069.
But our financial year ends on 31 March while the membership runs till 31 August, so the funds still need to stretch for a further 5 months after the end of the accounting period. Furthermore, as explained in the (1), (2),(3), our affiliation fee is paid in arrears, and the invoice from U3A Trading for Beacon and the Third Age Matter Magazine (2 years) was not paid until the start of this financial year. In other words, despite the reduced spending in lockdown we have already reduced our coffers by £5300!!
It is my expectation that once we have re-established sufficient funds in our accounts we will be able to reduce our membership fee again – in fact, since as a charity we are not-for-profit we must reduce our income in line with our expenditure. But that is a discussion for another year.
Before I finish I’ll just mention a couple of changes which we are planning. We expect to be able to take online renewals using credit card or Paypal, and for those who prefer more traditional methods you will be able to, and encouraged to pay by bank transfer. If you pay by Standing Order you will need to update it to £18 (or £36 for Joint Members). Cheques are an administrative headache for the long suffering membership team and so we beg you embrace the 21st century and use card payments, or bank transfer.
I guess I’ll get to meet you all post lockdown – or before, if you join the cycling group or the Science Discussion Group which are both still going strong via Zoom.
Until then, keep well.
Treasurer Chichester U3A