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Top Tips 9
Integrating Financial Management into Programme Management
Here are ten practical ideas to help integrate financial management and programme management:
1. Participatory budgeting
Involve everyone in the organisation in the annual budgeting round, using the activity-based budgeting process (see Top Tips 3 on Budgeting). Project staff are in the best place to produce accurate budgets for their own projects. This process builds ownership and a more responsible use of project resources during implementation.
2. Finance staff visit the field with programme staff
This will help finance staff understand more about the practical difficulties of working in the field. It also helps build a stronger relationship between field and programme staff. And it can be very motivating for finance staff, and helping them identify more with the NGO’s mission and objectives.
3. Reporting to beneficiaries
Set up regular ways of reporting the financial position to your beneficiaries. This helps to make the link between funds received in their name and project outputs. It also helps everyone involved in the project concentrate on using the funds available as effectively as possible. (See also Top Tips 8 on Reporting to Beneficiaries).
4. Finance and project staff prepare donor reports together
Together, finance and project staff can make the links between the financial reports and narrative reports, pick up lessons learned and help to identify future actions. It will help the project officer understand how useful a budget monitoring report is for programme management.
5. Regular and accessible finance reports
Make sure that the finance team is providing project staff with regular, useful and easy-to-use finance reports. E.g., this often includes a monthly budget monitoring report. Keep the reports simple and easy to read. Finance staff have to keep up their side of the bargain, and make sure they produce useful information for project staff!
6. Financial management training
Sponsor key staff and board members from your partner NGO to attend a Mango training event. Let them be inspired and excited by financial management too!
7. Job descriptions
Include a section in all non-finance staff job descriptions on their responsibilities for financial management – e.g. budgeting and budget management, procurement, internal control. These areas simply cannot just be “left to the accountant” – they are under project staff’s control.
8. Strategic planning
Make sure that the NGO’s strategic planning process includes discussions on financing, for the whole organisation. Topics for discussion could include: different sources of funding; ethical funding policy; and the ‘reserves’ policy, all of which have an impact on programmes and financial sustainability. Also, do not exclude finance staff from discussion on mission and objectives – they need to have a strong sense of mission too.
9. Lead from the top
Encourage the board and senior managers to show that they take financial management seriously. If they regularly review financial reports, then they set the agenda for everyone else. But if they do not, then other staff may not have an incentive to spend time working on the finances. One of the best thing financial managers can do is to persuade the Director to look at financial performance and controls – before a crisis hits!
10. Be friendly
Finance staff can encourage project staff to work more closely with them if they are friendly and helpful. It’s all about attitude! Do you help project staff tackle their problems, or do you create more difficulties for them? For instance, a good starting point might be to recognise that, for project staff, finances are important but not the number one priority!
Want to learn more?
Mango have developed a Financial Integration Checklist to help you see how integrated financial management is in your organisation. Take up the challenge and test your organisation.
Mango’s Training Course Financial management for successful programmes builds the confidence and skills of programme staff to use financial management tools to implement project activities in a cost effective, controlled and accountable way. Why not join us on the next event?
See our calendar of courses around the world: www.mango.org.uk/training/opentrainingprogramme
Mango’s Guide to Financial Management for NGOs includes free advice and tools, including a section on responsibilities, which may be useful for writing Job Descriptions, and a page on integrating finance. See: www.mango.org.uk/guide.
Mango: All about Money and NGOs
Mango helps NGOs to make more of their money by: running practical training, supporting people in finance roles, advising NGOs and donors, and publishing free tools and guides: www.mango.org.uk