My plan to set up the spreadsheets for the garden club accounts came to nought a few days ago, when I discovered I did not have a copy of last year's income and expenditure and balance sheet, as presented at the AGM, at which I'd been present. To limit costs and cut down on waste paper the organisers had limited copies to one per table rather than one each, but I'm pretty sure I did leave the annual supper with one in my handbag. What I did with it after that is a mystery, and there wasn't one in the folder the outgoing treasurer gave to me.
Never mind. The chairman made a copy and gave it to me at the lecture, and so this morning I sat down again at the kitchen table, prepared to Get to Grips with it all. I was a little worried about how I would fill in the gap between the end of the last financial year and the committee meeting held two weeks into the current one, when I took custody of the box containing the club's entire financial records since inception, plus a roll of white banqueting fabric, and box containing a cruet set with some pieces missing.
The outgoing treasurer had forwarded me the bank statements which were still being sent to her house, even though we called at the bank in mid November to complete the paperwork to change the contact details and signatory. The statements ran from mid month to mid month, while the club's financial year ended on the last day of October, but it was soon obvious that the bank balance on 31 October plus the £41.16 I'd signed for in cash did not remotely equal the year end balance at cash and bank. I remembered there was a deposit account. Any sensible club booking paid speakers in advance makes sure it keeps some funds aside for a rainy day. Only I had not seen a deposit account statement when I read through the folder on Monday. Probably the bank only sends them out quarterly, or every six months. I went and looked in the other folders in the box in the spare bedroom, but couldn't find any statement for the deposit account there either.
I turned my attention to the current account statements, and began checking off the payments that had gone through since the year end against the stubs in the cheque book. Several related to cheques written before the year end, and I realised that there were no creditors shown on the balance sheet as presented at the AGM. Presumably they were netted off the year end cash, otherwise the balance sheet wouldn't have balanced. I couldn't ask the person who prepared the accounts, because they are currently on holiday. Whale watching, in New Zealand. I looked hopefully at the gigantic blue ledger in which past income and expenditure were meticulously recorded in biro with red auditors ticks against them, but couldn't find anything that obviously looked like the balance of the year end cash.
I decided that there were too many unknowns, and that I had better wait for the whale watcher to return and then ask politely how it was done. I know how to maintain accurate records my way, and present them as income and expenditure at the end of the year. I even know that the club assets at the end of the current year have to equal the total of last year's assets and this year's surplus or deficit, a concept that eluded the new treasurer of one club my mother was involved in. Determined to accomplish something, and reassure myself that I hadn't made a mistake, yet, I set up a sheet for the petty cash, entered everything I'd received and paid out at my first meeting, and filed the receipts and dockets in my new folder. To my slight relief the total physical cash as of this morning reconciled with the total of the £41.16 I started off with and the transactions I thought I'd made at the meeting. Then I ordered myself a cash box from Amazon. Having in the course of the evening been given money for future visits, paid out for expenses to do with the hall, and had to find the small change in my own purse to reimburse a volunteer for refreshments, I could see that if I didn't keep a very beady eye on the cash I was soon going to get in a complete muddle, and that stuffing envelopes of money and cheques into my handbag at intervals wasn't going to be enough.
The club is affiliated to the RHS, and I got the renewal form off in good time, so I think that so far I have done everything I was supposed to do. I still don't understand the opening balance sheet, but I have months to work that out.