Boring Old Money

Posted: 20 January 2013 in Prisons
Tags: ,


Accounting seems boring to some. But call it “money”, and then run out of the stuff, it’s no surprise that financial accounts become fascinating. Back in 2010/11, before I joined Prison Fellowship, they made a loss of £196,000 on an income of £688,000. Another year like that and our charity would be joining national brands like Comet, and Jessops into extinction. But it was not to be. 

The Prison Fellowship results for the financial 2011-12 was near breakeven (compared with a break-even budget for the year) and a small surplus expected for 2012/13. Income rose by 33% awhile expenditure rose by only 4%.

It would be nice, but trite to claim to be a magician of fiscal survival? There is no doubt that very tight cash control in the direst early months was essential, much as I did in Kisiizi hospital Uganda. Then followed up by directive budgets, regular management accounts and forecasts. But all this is became effective as new colleagues on fundraising, volunteers and our prison services got into their stride and gave energetic support to the efforts of our many volunteers. 

No finance controller or finance director can claim the credit for this kind of revival of fortune alone. Without new energy from fundraising, no cash flow control would have saved us. Without greater volunteer engagement, donation income would have continued to fall and the hands to lead our prison services would have been insufficient. Without sharper operational control of our prison services, cost control would have been ineffective and invoice income falling.

Of course the finance controller or finance director can ruin an organisation, on their own. That’s one achievement I cannot claim. 

Reasons for the financial improvement:

 • At its simplest, income rose by 33% awhile expenditure rose by only 4%

 • The income increase was entirely due to an 88% increase in Voluntary Income. While there were much appreciated increases from Individual donors and Churches, income from Charitable Trusts increased from £75,000 to £256,000.

 • Fee income from Sycamore Tree courses was £63 thousand less in 2011/12 than in 2010/11, this was anticipated in the 2011/12 budget. We know it will be higher in 2012/13, compared to the prior year.

 • When 2011/12 restricted and unrestricted funds are separated it can be seen that the greater effort to communicate PF’s programmes to trusts, individual donors and churches, has naturally led to move towards restricted funds. Unrestricted fund expenditure exceeded income by £38 thousand while income exceeded expenditure by £35 thousand for restricted funds.

• For more details see the PF Finance page.

Not a Cancer or Prison Story

This is not a cancer or prison story. Don’t cancer sufferers have anything else to talk about? Can’t one take pride in ones professional or technical achievements? Of course. And yes, there is more to say on living with and recovering from prostate cancer. But that’s for another day.



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