Accountancy

Element Descriptor

Being able to keep track of what money is coming in, where it is being spent, at what rate and keeping records that meet legal and ethical standards is a crucial and all-to-often neglected skill. Without it, money goes walkabout, things can go tits up

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
You can keep basic books for a small organisation with small and regular/predictable outgoings and incomings, and make sure cheques don’t bounce (sorry to you under 30s who have never seen a cheque. They were things)You can keep track of revenues and expenditures for a small to medium organisation, providing year-on-year comparisons, showing where more or less money is coming/going. You’re able to spot shonky practice and incompetence.You can keep the books for a large organisation, produce accurate and legally kosher reports efficiently and without confusing yourself or anyone else. You get headhunted by various forensic accountancy outfits, looking to uncover clever malfeasance…You know that character Ben Affleck plays in “The Accountant”? You consider him a rank amateur. You can reconstruct what happened to a bankrupt organisation from a few damp and semi-legible receipts and an unsuccessfully burnt and shredded bank statement.

Element Overview Essay

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So the reason social movement organisations, small ones often keep very bad books is that accountancy is a skill. And it’s more than just stuffing all the receipts in a paper bag and handing them over to someone for an audit every year or two years.

The consequences are you can fall if you’re an official organisation, you can fall foul, understandably, if your auditors and the charity Commissioner etc. And you can run out of money to pay for things. And this means that individuals are having to dip their hands into their pockets. And that gives those individuals two things. One is resentment. But two is power. If they can afford to do that, and you create a filter, where lo and behold, it turns out That the wealthy slash middle class people are the ones calling the shots because they’re the ones secretly funding what’s going on.

So the fixes Well, no, we have software for this these days. And there are basic sets of advice and how to use on the internet and there are people out there with the skills. There’s also a good book, no way to run a railroad, I think it’s called, came out at some point in the 1980ss. I think about just this question of social movement organisations, and where their funding is coming from. Now, accountancy is distinct from becoming dependent upon philanthropy capitalism, which is, of course, an entirely different story

What a Way to Run a Railroad: An Analysis of Radical Failure.  Organizations and Democracy Series, No. 1.: Landry, Charles, etc., Morley, David

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