The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO), on Friday, 16th June 2017, organised a capacity-building workshop themed; Managing your Financial Resources for Easy Organizational Tracking, Regulatory Compliance and Donor Reporting.
Thirty-Two Heads of Nonprofit Organisations operational in Lagos state, convened at Our Lady of Apostle, St. Agnes, Maryland, Lagos to participate in the training which was targeted at equipping Nigerian Nonprofits with skills on how to manage their finances in line with global best practices.
The Executive Director, NNNGO, Mr Oyebisi B. Oluseyi in his opening remarks underscored the importance of having a foolproof finance system and urged participants to utilize the opportunity presented at the event to learn skills that will help boost their organizational structures. He added that the workshop was organised in line with the mandate of NNNGO which is to sensitize Nigerian Nonprofits on issues relating to financial crimes and how it currently affects the third sector in order to ensure that Nonprofits are not being used as conduits for money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Finance and Membership Officer, Mr. Timothy Odion who drove discussion during the workshop, pointed out that the finance and record-keeping system imbibed by NNNGO has been certified and proven ideal by International civil-based organizations. He, therefore, noted that it the system would serve as a model for tutoring participants at the workshop.
Mr. Odion said, “In order to engender an enviable organizational structure, nonprofits must understand the process of building and maintaining strong financial systems, organizing internal and external governance, as well as display competence in resource management and strategic planning”
The central point of focus at the training was the need to set up finance departments independent of all other departments within a Nonprofit organisation. The finance department within such organizations should be headed by a competent finance person who preferably has undergone trainings in areas related to bookkeeping, finance, and accounting or has adequate knowledge in the area and can prove it. This they noted, is key to the success of an organisation and elicits donor trust. It is also important to ensure that these systems are in place especially as donors and/or regulatory agencies require these qualifications to certify it transparent.
Some of the highlights at the workshop were sessions specifically targeted at Treating Budgets, Networking, Collaboration and Partnerships within the sector. Participants were taken through courses on how to draw up organisational as well as project budgets.
An organisational budget refers to a financial plan for a defined period for which all organisational expenditure and activities are included. This is separate from a project budget which is specifically set aside for the implementation of a particular course. It is imperative to keep these budgets separate in order to ensure transparency and accountability within the system.
The importance of documenting every activity carried out within an NGO was also emphasized at the workshop. Participants were urged to ensure that every activity is documented separately and regardless of the source of funding in an organization, the finance officer is charged with the duty of documenting all financial activities.
For organisations which are self-funded, it was noted that a separate account be opened in the name of the organisation, this is where money set aside for the operation of the organisation will be kept and disbursed. It was noted that organisations run into problems with regulatory agencies due to the inability to present proof of transparent dealings because appropriate records of accounts were not kept and so ensuring separate budgets and separate accounts are ways of mitigating these risks.
Mr. Odion and his team noted that, in doing all these, it will be easy to get the accounts of organisations audited which will help during application for grants from international donors. Ultimately, strict adherence to rules presents an organization as focused, detail-oriented, accountable and transparent in its actions which better equips it for engagements with organizations of international standards.