Tackling Fraud in the Charity Sector

2013 06 18 Collection box

Are you a Trustee? Or someone who deals with finances for your organisation and is concerned about fraud?

Here is a conference you might be interested in:


Date 30 October 2015
Time 09:00 – 16:30
Location Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, London NW1 4LE
Costs £25 + VAT charity and not-for-profit sector

Quaker A-Z: Z is for Zen

Wallpaper Zen Spirit 1280x800 edition 2006Z is for Zen

No, I’m not suggesting that you become a Buddhist or learn to meditate. Instead I’m suggesting you find a way to bring a bit of Zen acceptance of what is, into your life.

While managing a meeting house you have to accept that there will be days when:

  • Someone thinks that pouring cornstarch and jelly into the toilet is a good idea, and is confused as to why this didn’t work as a disposal mechanism.*
  • Someone decides your garden/doorstep/outside space is a toilet or a rough sleeping area causing disruption and upset to the others using the building.
  • Someone discovers that the downstairs is completely flooded by the storm water coming up through the basement toilets to the level of several inches (and it is still raining hard).
  • Someone takes out their frustration and anger at you for things that are outside your control, and you didn’t even know about.*
  • Someone steals or breaks or loses items that are rather vital to the smooth running of the building – leaving you to deal with the fall out.
  • Someone comes to ask deep questions about Quakerism and their own spiritual journey – while at least one of the above is also happening, leaving you to wonder about your own spiritual journey and nourishment.

It is very easy to become stressed and to feel as if running the building for the meeting is no longer a service offered with joy, but instead is a headache that you wish would go away.

It is at this time you should remember that Quaker Faith & Practice contains wisdom to cling to in difficult times:

A&Q 23: In times of difficulty remind yourself of the value of prayer, of perseverance and of a sense of humour.

Find a way forward that supports you and shares the stress of your trials and tribulations.

  • Join the Wardenship e-list
  • Attend a Wardens’ Talking event organised by Quaker Life
  • Attend a Managing Your Meeting House event at Woodbrooke
  • Set up a chance for all Premises members in your local area to get together to swap stories and best practice.

There is much to be said for the value of a well told story, to a nodding listener who understands the complexities of sharing a beloved building with the public, and that the most difficult users may attend on a Sunday morning…

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

*Messy play lead to messy toilet unblocking – which wasn’t helped by the glitter they’d included in both.

*My favourite of these is the person who was furious to discover that they’d been thinking it was Thursday all day and turned up for their class…. Which wasn’t on – as it was actually Wednesday, and blamed me for this. “You have ruined my evening!” I listened and said I was sorry for their disappointment.

What is the Purpose of Business?

QandB_Logo_Orange WHITE backgroundQuaker Business Conference ’15

 Wednesday, 4th November 2015 – Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London. NW1 2BJ. Programme: (10:30am – 4:30pm)

The 11th Q&B Annual Conference is asking the question ‘What is the purpose of business?’ This question will be addressed by some of the UK’s cutting edge speakers, with opportunities for group exploration in workshops.

Led by Q&B members Tim Phillips and Sally Bagenal, confirmed speakers include:

  • Professor Colin Mayer, Said Business School, author of “Firm Commitment: Why the Corporation is Failing Us and How to Restore Trust in It” and advisor on new business models.
  • Graham Randles, Managing Director of NEF consulting (New Economics Foundation). NEF is an independent think-and-do tank. Their aim to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environmental and social issues.
  • Giles Hutchins, author of ‘The Nature of Business’ fuses a business background with a range of theories and practices (such as bio-mimicry, cradle-to-cradle & industrial ecology) and applies them to the challenges businesses face today.

Register and Pay

The price is £40 for Q&B members, £50 for students and £60 for non Q&B members, including lunch and refreshments.

Bursaries are available. Register and pay for your attendance on Quakers & Business website at the QBC ’15 page.

Hope to see you there!

Quaker A-Z: Y is for D.I.Yourself

Urban Greening red paint jobY is for Do it Yourself

Quakers have a long and worthy history of working together to solve large and small problems. Painting parties, working in the garden – even the Quaker Tapestry was done as a group effort.

As mentioned in V is for Volunteers you may get professional people volunteering and you should always ensure that the people you are asking to do the work have the skills necessary – or are paired with those that do.

Of course there will be times when it is best to bring in outside or at least competent people to do the work. In Six Weeks Meeting’s Handbook

Members of Premises Committees or wardens will often be able to undertake small routine maintenance tasks such as changing light bulbs, checking electrical leads, renewing tap washers and minor attention to decorations. In some cases members may be qualified to undertake more major tasks, but Committees must not entrust work to those who,
however keen, are not sufficiently skilful, experienced or qualified to undertake it.
The use of inexperienced or unskilled labour can result in expensive damage even with apparently straightforward tasks such as decorating. Safety is paramount for those undertaking voluntary work and it is also essential that there is adequate insurance cover. Friends must ensure that any work they carry out themselves is in accordance with current regulations…

At a Wardens’ Talking event we were asked to write on post-its the most annoying bit of our jobs. One of those read out was, “I feel the I spend my time putting right the efforts of bumbling amateurs.”

Without hesitation I turned to Vincent (my husband and at the time co-warden) and asked, “Yours?”


Thankfully that wasn’t a common feeling. After that, we continued in that job for more than a decade.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: W is for Where does the money go?

2013 06 18 Collection box

W is for Where does the money go?

One of the difficulties I have found in both being a warden, and in dealing with finances is that most people aren’t interested.

They nod politely when you mention money, glance at the account reports briefly when presented (if they’ve attended Business Meeting) and it is usually the same small group of people who actually ask any questions.

During the Treasurer’s Course at Woodbrooke earlier this year Alison Gray, one of the facilitators, shared the reports given to her local meeting.

Alison explained that as she is a primary school teacher she’s used to explaining complex matters in a simple fashion. “I ask my children if they can understand these reports, if they can then I know I can take them to Meeting.”

2015 03 01 Alison's flipchart treasurer's presentation pg12015 03 01 Alison's flipchart treasurer's presentation pg2  More traditional spreadsheets and account reports are available, but these give a simple easily understandable overview.

Glancing at these will give you a deeper understanding of the answer to that perennial question, “Where does the money go?” as well as its partner, “Where does the money come from?” In this meeting, as in so many, room hire brings in more than Quaker contributions and collections.

  • Have you tried such illustrative reports?
  • Do you have any other suggestions or examples for ways to encourage interest in the financial aspects of the meeting?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: V is for Vulnerable Victim

2011 07 28 banking cheques

V is for Vulnerable Victim

After a case of fraud in North Somerset and Wiltshire Monthly Meeting, members of that Monthly Meeting and Quaker Stewardship Committee produced a report titled: A vulnerable victim (you can download a copy at that link). The Judge at the Crown Court hearing referred to the Religious Society of Friends as “a vulnerable victim” and the report continues this theme:

This report was commissioned following a joint meeting of members of North Somerset and Wiltshire Monthly Meeting and members of the Quaker Stewardship Committee. The report outlines events leading to the theft of £148,151 by a Friend who had been serving as Treasurer of the Monthly Meeting and the steps taken by Friends following its discovery in June 2004. The prime purpose of the report is to provide the Monthly Meeting with an independently written record of events and to draw the wider lessons that will be of value both for itself and to the wider Religious Society of Friends in Britain Yearly Meeting; it does not set out to identify responsibility for events or to apportion blame. The history of events shows Friends trying to find the best way forward for the perpetrator and for the Monthly Meeting; balancing necessary legal processes with seeking to find ways to apply principles of Restorative Justice. The report also describes how Friends set about finding ways that enable them to fulfil the responsibilities of Trustees to protect the property of the Monthly Meeting and ensure that it is used properly.

This report is not only a useful summary of the events and procedures (and lack thereof) in this specific instance, it is also a useful reminder to all people charged with handling monies that it is in their own best interests to ensure good financial handling and reporting procedures are available.

A Friend in NSWMM has written: Speaking as a past treasurer [in a different MM] the question of trust versus bureaucracy should not be an issue, rather, sound financial systems should protect the treasurer against any allegations – true or false. I would require this if I was ever to be treasurer again.

An article by Alan Sealy in the Friend also endorsed the view that this report should be mandatory reading and commented on the thoroughness of the report – which drew upon Business Meeting minutes and reports that had been kept.

If you haven’t read this report – or haven’t read it in some time I do recommend it. Especially the ‘What can be learned?‘ section which points out possible solutions to the difficulties and problems discussed in the report – but common throughout the voluntary management sector.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: S is for Safeguarding

2011 08 07 worshipping group & cathedral 2

 A&Q 18 How can we make the meeting a community in which each person is accepted and nurtured, and strangers are welcome? Seek to know one another in the things which are eternal, bear the burden of each other’s failings and pray for one another. As we enter with tender sympathy into the joys and sorrows of each other’s lives, ready to give help and to receive it, our meeting can be a channel for God’s love and forgiveness.

S is for Safeguarding

Safeguarding is the protection of children and adults from harm. It is often seen as only applying to children, and yet abuse can affect anyone no matter their age, so safeguarding guidelines apply also to vulnerable adults.

It is often seen as only applying to sexual relationships, however, abuse can happen within other relationships too.

Fundamentally, harassment and abuse is a serious misuse of power and authority, committed by a dominant partner in an unequal relationship. Power is a fact of life, it is present in every relationship and situation, it is how that power is used that causes problems.

Area Meeting Trustees have a responsibility to adopt a Safeguarding policy and to see that all AM activities abide by it.  This includes all local meeting activities and any Quaker residential events.  Premises committees need to consider how to remind Friends of the policy. A local meeting can choose to create and adopt a more stringent safeguarding policy if they feel it necessary.

However any other non Quaker groups who are hiring the building do not need to be aware of, or to follow the AM Safeguarding policy. Instead they must have their own policy and ensure that they follow any other laws or regulations. Premises should ensure that the group know that it is their responsibility to do this and to ensure that they know it is not Premises’s responsibility to critique the policy or to ensure that it is abided by.

I suggest my clients put the following clause, or something simialr into their terms and conditions:

The Hirer must ensure that all necessary Child Protection checks have been undertaken before the Hire Period commences. (Name) Meeting cannot accept any responsibility for a failure to comply with this legal requirement. Children must be supervised at all times.

Quaker Resources

National resources

  • Churches Agency for Safeguarding (CAS) is the national body that provides Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal records application service and safer recruitment training, information and advice.
  • NSPCC has useful resources including research and fact sheets
  • Elder Abuse has resources specifically aimed against the
  • Mencap has resources for people with learning difficulties.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: R is for Responsibilities

2015 07 17 Colourful pencil sharpeningsThis post is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

R is for Responsibilities

Every Relationship has more than one side, as well as more than one set of rights and responsibilities.

Local Meetings may be used to reporting that they have at least considered the list of their responsibilities found in Qf&P 4.33 to Area Meeting. If a local meeting decides to hire out space to other groups it also comes with responsibilities.

There are various responsibilities linked to having a public building open and available to the public.

  • Some are legal – like fire risk management or accessibility
  • Others are good stewardship such as keeping the building in good order, or ensuring good security.
  • Or make management of the building easier such as updating inventories and contracts
  • You might consider customer satisfaction for example hirer management – ensuring that groups have are compatible to be next to each other.
  • Community consideration – for example ensuring groups are respectful of the local neighbourhood when leaving.

What other responsibilities can you think of?
Has Premises ever considered such a list?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: O is for Openness

2009 08 30 open signThis post is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

O is for Openness

Qf&P 20.20 For a Quaker, religion is not an external activity, concerning a special ‘holy’ part of the self. It is an openness to the world in the here and now with the whole of the self. If this is not simply a pious commonplace, it must take into account the whole of our humanity: our attitudes to other human beings in our most intimate as well as social and political relationships. It must also take account of our life in the world around us, the way we live, the way we treat animals and the environment. In short, to put it in traditional language, there is no part of ourselves and of our relationships where God is not present.

Harvey Gillman, 1988

Openness is therefore also something that should be included in the way our buildings are used by both Quakers and the other hiring groups.

It is hard to move beyond our own unconscious processes and inherent biases. This is one of the most complicated issue – and often over looked. How can we ensure that the way we allow our buildings to be used and the relationships these usage create reflect our Quaker way rather than just a business matter.

How can we find ways not only to be willing to work with those in our local communities but also to welcome them – to live out our openness.

Qf&P 13.32 We appear to offer our facilities, but in fact we offer our love’

This is easy to say but can be tricky to do!

One simple step to demonstrate our openness – is the use of a publicly available lettings policy. Such a policy can be a way of ensuring that those coming to look at or use our building can see and assure themselves, that our decision to hire or not is not based on personal biases but on our overarching concerns and testimonies. It is also a good way of giving us a frame work of reference to work from when a enquiry comes in and there is a concern about the appropriateness of the hire.

Good Business: Ethics at Work: When we realise that everything we have comes to us as a gift from God, we understand that we are all stewards accountable for our use of time, people, money and all natural resources. In each situation a good steward seeks the right balance between prudence and adventure; conservatism and creation; leading and serving; stimulation and supporting. Good business is the way we serve the social and economic community.

Friends House has their letting policy available on their website, so does Bridgend, Ealing, St Albans and others – search for ‘Quaker meeting house lettings policy’ to find more.

  • How does your meeting show and practice openness to the wider community around you?
  • Do you have a lettings or room hiring policy?
  • Is it publicly available?

You can find more information on this topic in: H is for Hirers and Hospitality.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: N is for nonsensical Notices

2015 06 10 statis cupboard notice

This post is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

N is for Nonsensical Notices

It is always sensible to ask someone else to read your notice before putting it up.

Just to check that it means the same to someone else – as it did in your head.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.