What is a financial strategy?

Why have a strategy? Many organisations manage income from a number of different funding and finance sources – from donations, grants, contracts and income generated from trading. A financial strategy enables your organisation to assess your  financial needs and the sources of support required to meet your objectives and fulfil the organisational mission, whilst also planning for continued growth to enable stability. You’re financial strategy will derive from your mission. So the first step is to clearly define why you exist and you plan to achieve your mission before preparing any budgets. What’s your mission? “If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.” Yoda – Star Wars A mission statement is a brief declaration of an organisation’s purpose and values – the reason why it exists. Your mission should be a long-term statement of intent deriving from the vision that originally inspired the organisation to form. It shouldn’t be a detailed list of what you will do, how you’ll do it and when.  Focusing on your mission will help you move your focus from what you do, to what you want to achieve.Once your mission is clear you’ll be able to set strategic goals (both medium and long term) that set the direction of your organisation. With your direction clear you can create a costed, timed and detailed work plan that outlines the operational activities necessary to achieve each goal down to the day to day activities. This will ensure that your mission and financial goals are complementary to each other rather than in competition. What’s the role of a finance function? Rather than being seen as a separate function, just doing the books, your finance function should be integrated within, and add value to, the overall planning and management of every organisation. Your finance function – whether that is a team or an individual – can add value to both planning and management. The key roles are: Providers of information for decision-making Business management. Financial managers will need to assess what information they have, particularly on costs and income projections to be able to control or plan the future. What’s the role of the trustee board? The financial management role of a voluntary organisation trustee board is quite different to a commercial organisation. The three main financial management functions of the board are financial monitoring, procedures and management. Most voluntary organisations are financially accountable to a far greater number of stakeholders that commercial organisations being funded by a combination of tax concessions and money from the general public, local government and charitable trusts.The goal of maximising shareholder value – which can be measured objectively – is not relevant to non-commercial organisations. Instead, the whole trustee board must demonstrate value for money and effectiveness, which by their nature are more subjective criteria.

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