By Andrew Holt

Finance Count 2013, the sector’s leading financial management benchmarking study, has been launched by Agenda Consulting and Charity Finance Group.

Over 140 organisations of different sizes and sub-sectors have participated over the past three years of the study, which benchmarks each charity’s finance function against a customised group of other participants, as well as the sector as a whole.

This year’s study takes the form of a new, streamlined questionnaire, focusing on key financial management metrics, and aims to enable organisations to pinpoint key improvement opportunities and areas of concern.

Caron Bradshaw, CEO of CFG, said: “Benchmarking is increasingly important in the sector.

"We have worked hard this year with Agenda Consulting to ensure that Finance Count captures the most relevant, meaningful and worthwhile information for charities today, ensuring that it offers a cost-effective opportunity for organisations to explore how their management and performance compares with their peers. This is an invaluable service to any organisation in a period of adaptation.”

A CFG member who recently participated in the study commented: “Benchmarking ourselves against others has given us a better sense of where we are, and where we need to improve.”

Finance Count 2012 provided detailed insight into how charities are reacting to the current economic climate and where they could make efficiency savings. It demonstrated:

Where charities were top performers, such as in the area of credit repayment, leading to significant benefits to these organisations when negotiating costs.
Where there were common issues across the sector, such as balancing income and total costs when delivering public service contracts.

Which areas of the finance function were being prioritised by different organisations seeking to adapt to the changing environment.

Kate Sayer, partner at Sayer Vincent said: “Rather than being part of an admin cost, finance functions should be focussing on how they contribute value to the organisation. This study helps them to identify how they can do more to add value.”

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