What is the role of the treasurer?

The Treasurer has a watchdog role over all aspects of financial management, working closely with other members of the Management Committee to safeguard the organisation's finances.

It is important to note that although the Treasurer ensures that these responsibilities are met, much of the work may be delegated to a finance sub-committee and paid staff or volunteers.

In summary, the Treasurer is responsible for:

  1. General financial oversight
  2. Funding, fundraising and sales 
  3. Financial planning and budgeting
  4. Financial reporting
  5. Banking, book keeping and record keeping 
  6. Control of fixed assets and stock 

Given these responsibilities, the Treasurer typically acts as an information and reference point for the Chair and other committee members: clarifying financial implications of proposals; confirming legal requirements; outlining the current financial status; and retrieving relevant documentation.

Main responsibilities of the Treasurer

Each Management Committee will have its own way of doing things, and the way in which work is shared out can also depend on the skills, interests or amount of time that a person has to offer. Always ensure that the role description for your Treasurer matches the current dynamics of your organisation. (see links below or click here for more on developing role descriptions).

The following points outline the typical financial responsibilities of a Treasurer:

1. General financial oversight

  • Oversee and present budgets, accounts and financial statements to the management committee
  • Liaise with designated staff about financial matters
  • Ensure that appropriate financial systems and controls are in place
  • Ensure that record-keeping and accounts meet the conditions of funders or statutory bodies
  • Ensure compliance with relevant legislation.

More on financial oversight

2. Funding, fundraising and sales

  • Advise on the organisation's fundraising strategy
  • Ensure use of funds complies with conditions set by funding bodies
  • Ensure fundraising and sales complies with relevant legislation and is bound by effective financial systems and controls
  • Ensure effective monitoring and reporting

3. Financial planning and budgeting

  • Prepare and present budgets for new or ongoing work
  • Advise on financial implications of strategic and operational plans
  • Present revised financial forecasts based on actual spend.

4. Financial reporting

  • Present regular reports on the organisation's financial position
  • Prepare accounts for audit and liaising with the auditor, as required
  • Present accounts at the AGM
  • Advise on the organisation's reserves and investment policy.

5. Banking, book-keeping and record-keeping

  • Manage bank accounts
  • Set up appropriate systems for book-keeping, payments, lodgements & petty cash
  • Ensure everyone handling money keeps proper records and documentation

6. Control of fixed assets and stock

  • Ensure proper records are kept
  • Ensure required insurances are in place.

In all of these areas the Treasurer is responsible for ensuring that effective financial systems and procedures have been established, are being consistently followed and are in line with best practice and legal requirements.

Delegating financial responsibilities

It is not good practice for all tasks associated with the finance function to be performed by one person (whether a management committee member or staff) without supervision from others. For this reason, it is good practice for both small and large organisations to set up a finance sub group to manage and monitor their finances (see below).

How this happens will depend on the size and dynamics of your organisation. For example:

Even if the Treasurer and finance sub-committee carry out much of the work, final responsibility for the organisation's finances rests with the Management Committee as a whole. All members are accountable.

Does your management committee take an active role in financial management? Use this handy checklist to find out.

In small organisations with no staff....

...the finance sub group could consist of the Treasurer and 2 other members of the management committee. The Treasurer often chairs and gives leadership to the finance sub group. This provides an opportunity for those with no experience of finance matters to develop their knowledge and skills.

In larger organisations...

...the finance sub group could consist of the Treasurer, 1 or 2 other members of management committee, the Chief Officer, and the senior staff member responsible for financial management and fund raising.

The financial duties undertaken by people/groups in the organisation should reflect levels of authority and responsibility. The management committee should identify:

  • which tasks need to be performed,

  • who will undertake the tasks and

  • how will they be monitored.

It is important that these are defined in role descriptions or in the terms of reference for the finance sub-committee.

More on the role of the finance sub-committee

More on delegation

More on segregation of duties