As County Commissioner you have overall responsibility for finances and accounts in your County. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is one that can be delegated to someone with more specialist knowledge as long as you maintain an overall view of accounts and budgeting. This may be an ideal opportunity to recruit volunteers within the County who cannot commit to regular meetings.
County finances (as with all charity finances) must be separated into unrestricted and restricted funds.
- Unrestricted funds are funds that have not been restricted for a specific purpose and are income that can be used for any purpose consistent with the charity’s objects. Trustees may designate these to a particular use but this is reversible at the trustees’ discretion.
- Restricted funds can only be used for the projects or cause for which they have been received/raised as made clear by the donor/fundraising process. This is a legal restriction and cannot be varied by the trustees. In certain circumstances the donor of donated restricted funds can change or remove the restriction attached to the funds. You should keep a copy of these restrictions to be referred to when needed.
Endowment funds are a form of restricted funds that are usually required to be maintained intact and invested for the purpose of the charity, with only the investment proceeds able to be spent. There are circumstances where these restrictions can be varied but it is a technical legal process and you should seek legal advice if you wish to investigate this course of action.
Some endowments do not require the capital to be preserved and these may be spent out completely. With all endowments the conditions that accompany the funds must always be followed very carefully.