The view from: the voluntary sector
Roger Frimpong FCCA, Head of Finance, Samaritans
How has the recession affected donations?
Our donations are up 11% in the last year. The economic downturn has meant an increase in demand for our services. With less than 2% government funding, perhaps our donors and the general public recognise the importance of Samaritans’ service right now.
Are you facing higher costs?
Our costs rose 24% in the last year. We expect this rise in costs to continue as the VAT increase and general inflation take effect.
How are you coping with the higher costs?
As well as routine but essential disciplines of cash flow management and monthly financial performance reviews, we are introducing a three-year corporate and financial strategy with project prioritisation. We are reviewing our major supplier contracts and putting more resources into effective financial management for managers and budget holders.
Does it help being an FCCA?
The discipline and the breadth of knowledge required for FCCA status, and continuing professional development, equips one for such a period of analysis and scenario planning.
What keeps you awake at night?
As the long-term effects of the recession, rising unemployment and budget cuts take their toll on the mental health of the nation, we expect an increase in the demand for Samaritan’s services. The challenge of delivering and sustaining Samaritans’ UK and Ireland wide operation on a central turnover of less than £10 million, given its demanding yet awesome nature, calls for a sound and robust financial strategy with adaptive control systems on the macro scale, and maintaining our reserve level and budgetary discipline, across the central charity and its 201 branches. However, as I lay awake mulling financial issues, the assurance that many are being helped by Samaritans’ service keeps me calm.
Donations in 2009/10: £8.33m
Value of volunteer time in 2009/10: £29.7m