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Financial Record Keeping - open

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By Caterine - open for editing

Ahead of the Event

You will need to put an event proposal before Council and have this approved; part of this will be your event budget. Check out the pages Budgeting 101, How to Find Your Break Even Figure, and What to Put in a Budget for some thoughts that may help you with this.

You will need to keep track of who has booked, what you expect them to pay, how you expect them to pay it (direct deposit, cheque, cash), when, and whether they've done so.

The reeve can keep you up to date with deposits. Usually, our bank-statement is emailed to the Council List once a week. You're welcome to join the council list if you're not on it. You can also ask the reeve to give you a list of people who have paid.

About a week out from the event, email anyone you were expecting to have paid, who hasn't done so yet.

Keep track of who you're expecting to pay in cash, and how much they will be paying. Send out an email prior to the event to remind people to please bring exact change. Also have a cash float ready so that you can give change as required - plan on allowing between $50-100 depending on how many cash payments you are expecting to take. You can either fund this yourself, or ask the Reeve for an advance for this purpose.

If you or any of your stewarding team (most likely the cooks) need a cash advance for purchases, email the Council and they will approve this for you. Normal protocol is to email in with how much is required, and for what, and the amount is usually based on how many bookings have been made at the time that you are asking, and the amount budgeted for that item. For example, if a cook is wanting an advance on the money that is paying for lunch, and you have 35 adults booked for the event with $5 per head budgeted for lunch, the cook will most likely be granted an advance payment of $175 to go towards lunch purposes. The only times an advance payment might be declined would be if the intended recipient had a bad track record of keeping receipts, or of reimbursing the group for monies unspent.

Keeping Receipts

I've divided this section into two parts.

The first is my rather militant argument of the case for keeping receipts, and an explanation of the consequences of failing to do so.

The second is a few suggestions that may make it easier for you to keep event receipts - mostly, this is a practice I've developed as a tool to prevent my own receipt loss when stewarding an event.

The Importance Thereof

Keeping receipts is one of the most important aspects of event financial record keeping!

SCANZ Financial Policy is quite clear on the need for receipts.

To quote section 6.3 (Receipts): "Fully documented receipts or detailed statements of expenditure (which must be witnessed by the Branch Seneschal or Branch Treasurer) must be provided to support all expenses.

This rule applies to anyone expecting reimbursement. The Corporate Treasurer handles emergency situations on a case-by-case basis."

The occasional loss of a receipt is perfectly human and understandable. For example, in a case where you have lost a receipt for $40 that you know you spent on groceries for an event, you might be asked to put into writing what you purchased, when, and from where.

Losing all or the majority of the receipts for an event is unacceptable. You cannot do this and not expect some serious questions to be asked. Whether you are reimbursed in such an instance is at the discretion of the Reeve, Seneschal, and Council. It would also have repercussions for you as a steward of future events: you might expect queries about what your plan is for the financial management of the event, or you might simply find your bid rejected.

How to Keep Them

When you get a receipt, write your name on it, what the receipt is for (e.g. "food" or "food for lunch" or "cleaning supplies" and so forth), and the event name and year. Some stewards number their receipts. Keep event receipts separate from personal receipts, and store them in a consistent place (e.g. labelled ziplock bag, or certain portion of wallet). You might also like to scan them as they come in.

It's easiest for all if there are not personal items and event expenses on the same receipt. If there are, cross out the personal items, recalculate the total, and leave a note on the receipt.

If you're feeling particularly efficient, you can keep a spreadsheet of receipts and log them as they come in. Include the date, the store name, the receipt number, the purchase amount, and what this was for. I've done this before and it's worked well, as this is something that you'll want to do after the event anyway. If you have a system in place for keeping receipts and it works, then it's not critical. However, doing this means that if you happen to lose any receipts, you can very easily go back and ask for a receipt copy.

Once you're at home, it pays to transfer receipts to a different snap locked bag that remains in the same place at all times so that you know where it is.

It's also an extremely good idea to photocopy and/or scan all the receipts (you can email the scans directly to the Reeve), as these will fade over time. Depending on the event that you're running, you might make all the purchases in the week before the event - or you might be starting on these six months ahead of the event, in which case copying and scanning is very necessary. It's also extra security against loss of receipts.

A Cash-Handling System for at the Event

Firstly, encourage people to make payments online where possible.

A cheque means a separate trip to the bank for the reeve, so encourage someone who wants to use a cheque to instead visit a bank-branch themselves and make a cash deposit. Cash is a hassle at events - discourage it where reasonable.

The exception is overseas visitors: we usually invite overseas visitors to pay in cash on the day, as it's less hassle and expense than making an international transfer.

This is a system Caterine developed for an event she ran, from something that Edward Braithwayte used at an event he ran. It's easy to follow, and a really good, straightforward way of keeping track of the cash that you take in at an event - and making sure that everyone has made payment for the correct amount! Feel free to use it if you would like.

You are of course free to use any other system of cash handling - just as long as it's accurate and you can track what comes in and out, and ensure that you've received all the payments that you should have.

What you need:

  • A print out (usually a spreadsheet*) of everyone who has made payment via direct credit, or by cheque, prior to the event (if you don't know who has and has not paid, talk to the Reeve and ask them to check the bank statements for you).

  • A print out (another spreadsheet*) of everyone who intends to pay cash on the day, along with the amount that they should be paying (remember to include Event Membership of $2 if they're a non-member!).

  • A permanent marker and a biro.

  • A packet (or two) of ziplock snack-size plastic bags

  • A receipt book - you must be able to give people receipts if they would like them - and cash box (you can get these from the Reeve).

  • A set of instructions for the person at the gate. I have a template here that can be adapted for your own use, or you can come up with instructions of your own to suit your event. It's good practice to talk through the instructions with whoever is on gate duty; if you have successive shifts then ask them to please do this with the next person/people.

  • A cash float. Even when you ask everyone to please bring exact change, there will always be people requiring change. For our group at the moment, $70 seems to be a good amount for a big event. This gives you $20 of $10 notes, $20 of $5 notes, $20 of $2 coins, and $10 of $1 coins. The float remains in its own ziplock bag, marked as "float". You can ask the Reeve for this, or organise it yourself.

*Ildhafn's booking forms usually include a question about how you're intending to pay; the results of the form can be downloaded as a spreadsheet.

What you do:

    • Get people to sign on the Members' or Event Members' sign in sheet as normal.

    • Check whether they need to pay against your print out.

    • If they need to pay, write their name and the amount (e.g. John Smith - $50) that they are paying onto a ziplock bag, put the money in the bag, and SEAL IT TIGHT!

    • Put the bag into the cash box.

    • Mark them off as paid against your print out.

    • If they need change:

    • Write the total amount of money that they have given you onto the bag.

    • Write the amount of change that you have given them below this. Take the change SOLELY from the float, never from any other bag.

    • Write the new total onto the bag (this should equal the amount that is on the payment print out), and put their payment in the bag.

    • SEAL the bag, and put it in your cash storage receptacle, mark them off as paid against your print out.

      e.g.:

John Smith $30
  - $ 3
  = $27

After the event:

  • Unless you have someone looking after the financial side of the event for you, it's your job as Steward to go through and make sure you've taken the correct amount of cash, and that it's all still there.

  • Check each payment off against each person.

  • Also check that the amount of money left in the float is the amount that should be there, i.e. $70 minus all change noted as given = $correct total.

  • Once you're satisfied that you've got payments of the correct amount from everyone that you should, you can combine all cash received in (but NOT the float - this ALWAYS stays separate as it isn't part of the event takings).

  • Calculate how much money you should have in total. You can do this using the AUTOSUM function of a spreadsheet, or you can do it using a calculator or you're head. If you're using either of the latter two methods, do it twice, or until you are getting a consistent result.

  • Count the cash. It should equal that total you just worked out.

  • If it doesn't, the first step is to check that you have actually received all the cash payments you were expecting. There may be a name on the list that isn't ticked off, in which case you will need to follow up with that person. You can also check that you have all the now-empty labelled plastic bags that you should.

  • The second step is to check your totals and count the cash again.

  • The third step is to check in with those that were on gate in case they remember any confusion over a payment, or a payment being misplaced, or gave cash to someone for an urgent event purchase that has been overlooked. Be very careful that you approach this in a totally non-accusatory manner; it's almost always going to be a case of simple human error. Chances are if you go in, guns blazing, accusing people of theft, you'll find that extra bag that slipped down the back of the desk while you were counting two days later....

  • If it's still out, and it looks as though it may remain that way, let the Reeve know if the cash payment is out, how much by and where it is out, and why you think this is.

A Note on Making Payments from the Cash Box:

  • It's best practice to never make payments from the cash box, as this is when things tend to get messy very quickly.

  • If you do need to make a cash payment from the money that you have taken in:

  • Draw the money from one bag and one bag only if at all possible.

  • Put the receipt and change straight into that bag as soon as you get given them.

  • Use your vivid marker to elaborate on this, noting down on the opposite side of the bag to the person's payment details, what the cash was taken for, how much was taken, and how much change came back.

  • Don't use the float to draw cash from. The float is there purely to give change. As soon as you start using it for something else, it becomes easy to lose track of how much should be in there.

Event Reporting

You must submit the financial report of your event within 30 days of the event. You would normally expect to do this at the next Council meeting after your event, along with the rest of your event report.

For your reporting, please use the Event Report form, which can be found on the Kingdom Exchequer website (it's in the link marked "Exchequer Form Jul 2011", you want to use the sheet labelled "Event 1"). If you are having trouble filling this out, please contact the Reeve, who will help you with this.

Double check that you have received all the payments you were supposed to, and follow up with anyone who hasn't made payment (in most cases you won't need to do this at all). If there is someone who hasn't paid and they're being problematic or non-communicative about it, have a quiet word to the Reeve or Seneschal (this is highly unlikely to happen).

Additional Things to Consider Doing

I usually find it helpful at this point to list all the receipts on a separate spreadsheet to keep track of them. I've already mentioned the concept of photocopying and/or scanning your receipts, but I'm mentioning it again now because if you haven't done it already, now is a good time to do this.

I also find it helpful to keep a list (usually another spreadsheet) of cheques to be written. This should include the bare necessities: the name of the person (as it should be written on the cheque - you may need to check this with people), the total amount, and the description of what this is for.

It seems like a finicky thing to be doing, but the reason that I like to keep these extra records is because it helps me to make sure my event records are accurate, and is a quick way to help pick up on any discrepancies in the financial report. As a Reeve, I don't expect but would appreciate this extra effort, as it will make my job (and the jobs of future Reeves) a little easier.

Back to Information for Stewards.