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Meet our conference sponsors: HW Fisher on surviving and thriving in 2023

What can charity finance leaders do to help their organisation survive and thrive? Carol Rudge from HW Fisher shares her insights and reveals why she's excited to be sponsoring CFG's Annual Conference in 2023 in June.


The operating environment has continued to be challenging since we saw you at last year's CFG Annual Conference. How have you been supporting charities so that they can not only survive but thrive?

I always think it is important to plan and prepare as much as possible for what lays ahead. This includes ensuring that processes around forecasting and reporting are robust so that reporting is timely, enabling prompt action where necessary based on firm foundations.

An important question that leaders should be asking themselves is 'which of the services we provide make the most difference to the most people?' It’s a difficult one, but it is better to start planning now where cuts might have to be made rather than leaving it until they have to be made. It is also better to make cuts decisively rather than constantly chipping away which can be demoralising for those involved from all perspectives.


In your experience, what are the key ingredients for survival in a world of continual change?

Charities need to be agile in such a volatile environment. This might seem like a very simple statement to make, but it’s about looking wider than the financials.

We know that recruitment and retention in organisations has been hugely challenging, so leaders should be thinking about how charities go above and beyond in demonstrating how important their staff are to the organisation, and thus making it a great place to work.

Ensuring that people feel psychologically safe at work creates the best platform for innovation as it gives a safe environment in which to 'fail' and learn from mistakes.

While charities might not be able to compete with the private sector when it comes to take-home pay, a top priority should be to create a working environment where everyone feels respected and believes that there is room to grow.

We're looking forward to discussing this in our 'How to create a culture of inclusion' session at this year’s Conference.


What steps are charities taking to be more resilient and increase their impact?

It was interesting to see the improvement in charities embracing digital according to the Charity Digital Skills Report. It is great that new ideas are being tried out; digital can make such a difference across a range of areas, reaching new sources of income and new beneficiaries, in a relatively cost-effective way.


What are the biggest issues facing your charity clients currently?

I think the biggest challenge charities continue to face is the impact of rising costs from inflation, especially as income is unlikely to be rising to match those costs. Thus very hard decisions will need to be made, as noted above, as to what to activities to cut and what to keep against a backdrop of increasing demand for services in many areas.

Recruitment comes a close second in terms of challenges particularly as the wage gap is predicted to widen further for charities compared to counterparts elsewhere.


What do charities need to be thinking about from an accounting/reporting perspective?

The key thing is to talk to your auditors ahead of the year end so that you can understand any likely issues from a financial reporting or audit perspective.

One matter that is still high on the agenda for many organisations is going concern, so understanding what is needed in that area will ensure that you can plan properly.

There are also changes in auditing standards which are effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after 15 December 2021 so, for most, that is year ends from 31 December 2022 onwards, and therefore it is sensible to establish what new information your auditors will need from you.


Why is the CFG Annual Conference important to charities and organisations like yours?

Networking with peers from other charities and taking time out from the day job to think about other things is especially important during difficult times.

Making time to attend events such as the CFG Annual Conference means you have the space to talk to like-minded individuals who are grappling with the same issues.

I have been attending CFG's Annual Conference for close to 20 years and it still really hits the mark in terms of the range of sessions and the opportunities to network.


What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

We are really excited to have the opportunity to see everyone in person given so much is still done on Teams, as well as sharing our thoughts around creating a culture of inclusion in our session on the day.

Thank you for your time, Carol. We look forward to seeing you there!


Our Annual Conference on 29 June is now fully booked. But you don't have to miss out! Please join us online during Annual Conference Week when we'll be running a range of exciting online sessions!

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