Practical financial management for NGOs: Getting the basics right

"The first training I have ever been to that I have not continuously looked at my watch to see when it is over. It was interesting and fun, which is strange when considering how much I have previously hated finance. Great trainer!"

Course code:

Course Title: Practical Financial Management for NGOs: Getting the Basics Right
Duration: 5 days
For: Non-finance managers and finance officers
Fee basis:
Non-residential:  fee excludes accommodation


Financial management is the lifeblood of an organisation. Everyone working to achieve an NGO’s objectives has an important role to play in ensuring effective and proper use of financial resources. However, basic financial management skills are often lacking and financial management too often gets side-lined during programme implementation.

The FM1 course is designed to strengthen the financial management skills and confidence of NGO staff to:

  • integrate good financial management systems into operations management; and
  • manage and control financial resources more efficiently and effectively.

Target Audience

This course is primarily aimed at staff in small to medium-sized NGOs who are involved in programme implementation and/or the management and control of financial resources.
It is designed specifically for: 

  • non-financial officers and managers who want to improve practice in financial planning, control and reporting; 
  • finance officers interested in developing their financial management skills and knowledge to improve finance systems and support for programme staff.

Previous financial management experience or training is not a requirement for this course.

We recommend that you read this course outline carefully to make sure the content is relevant and meets your learning requirements. If you are not sure if this course is for you, please contact us.

Course Content

The final balance of course content will be decided by those attending the course, according to their interests and training needs.

The core components of the course include:

  • The ‘what, why and who’ of financial management for NGOs
  • How to achieve good practice in financial management – key principles and frameworks 
  • Building and using effective budgets – including project and donor budgets, and cash flow forecasts.
  • Which accounting records you should keep in your NGO – and why?
  • Budgeting and accounting for central support (‘core’) costs
  • Understanding the Balance Sheet – how to make sense of annual financial statements
  • Monitoring and controlling budgets – preparing and using budget comparison reports
  • Reporting to donors – how to meet donors requirements
  • Safeguarding our assets – internal control systems and procedures
  • Managing the audit process

Also see the Programme Guide.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • build project, donor and consolidated budgets using the activity-based budgeting technique
  • prepare and use a simple cash flow forecast
  • prepare and reconcile an analysed cashbook
  • prepare and use a simple financial monitoring report
  • analyse financial statements and budget monitoring reports to assess performance
  • assess strengths and weaknesses in their NGO’s internal control systems
  • describe the four building blocks and the seven principles of financial management and the role they play in achieving good practice in financial management
  • describe the financial management roles and responsibilities of board members, managers, finance and programme staff
  • explain the importance of budgets in planning, control and decision-making
  • explain the key components and language of a cash accounting system
  • explain the link between budgets, accounting records and financial reports
  • recognise that financial management is for everyone
  • appreciate the central role of financial management in achieving an NGO’s objectives
  • appreciate the importance of accountability and transparency in an NGO.

Training Approach

The Mango training approach is highly practical, participatory and often fun!

We focus on real issues and help participants to use the tools covered, rather than just discuss them.  We work especially hard to de-mystify financial concepts to overcome the fear of finance.

“Mango training really does take the fear out of finance!”

We train in small groups to meet the needs of individual participants and use a variety of learning methods to stimulate interest and meet different learning styles.  Participatory techniques include interactive presentations, practical problem-solving activities, case studies and quizzes.

Courses are supported by extensive materials for participants to take away and apply after the course, including a detailed course manual.  We also offer a free follow-up service by email or phone to all Mango trainees.

How to Book

All courses can be booked online or by completing a booking form and sending it to the training team. Full terms and conditions are also available on our website, as well as the latest calendar, current availability and course fees.

You are also welcome to telephone us with enquiries on +44 (0)1865 423818.

Course Fees

The course fee covers: tuition, all course materials including a course handbook and workbook; complementary Mango pen, ‘jargon ball’ and calculator; lunch and refreshments during the course; and a course certificate.

The course fee does not include the cost of overnight accommodation or travel to and from the training venue.

Programme Guide

 Module Session Topics
Day 1  
Welcome and Overview
  • Introductions, expectations and programme overview
Key Principles and
Concepts of Financial Management
  • What is Financial Management?
  • Why is it important for NGOs?
  • Structure and governance of NGOs
  • Good practice systems: The principles and building blocks of financial management
  • Mango’s Finance Health Check
  • Systems design techniques
Day 2  
Financial Planning
  • The Financial planning process
  • Cost structures
  • Functions and types of budgets
  • Practical approaches to building good budgets
  • Cash flow forecasting
  • Consolidated budgets and budgeting for core costs
Day 3  
Accounting Records
  • Which records should you keep?
  • The accounting process: cash or accruals
  • Practical accounting: completing the cashbook
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Procurement - steps, people and paperwork
Day 4  
Financial Monitoring
  • Financial information – who needs what, when and why?
  • Using financial statements
  • Using budget monitoring reports
  • Overview of donor reporting
Day 5  
Internal Control Systems
  • How to minimise theft and fraud
  • The role of audit
  • Internal control policies and procedures development
Summary and Close
  • Summary of key messages
  • Evaluation
  • Certificates