The Great Annual Street Appeal

Facebook has been in the headlines recently after announcing an ambitious foray into the cryptocurrency market with its new currency, Libra. Backed by Facebook, Visa, Mastercard, Uber, Paypal, Spotify and more than 20 other major global brands it represents a significant step forward in global acceptance of alternate, online currencies.

With uptake of new technologies and the evolving cryptocurrency market, cash use in society is becoming more and more limited. From a fundraising perspective, charitable entities are embracing innovative new ways to fundraise using online platforms.

Despite this, the street appeal remains a mainstay of any serious fundraiser’s annual calendar.

These street appeals present their own unique challenge – beyond that of volunteers bearing the brunt of a bone-chilling Wellington southerly – in that they’re dealing primarily with cash donations.

Large amounts of cash handling, especially in the form of donations, promote the opportunity for misappropriation should key controls and procedures not be in place from the get-go.

One of the most common ‘qualifications’ flagged in an auditor’s opinion relates completeness of cash donation revenue. That is, the auditor wasn’t satisfied that there had been adequate controls over cash donation receipts to confirm whether all cash donations have been properly recorded in the organisation’s financial statements.

This doesn’t need to be case.

There are key steps any organisation can put in place to ensure a successful street appeal, limit the opportunity for misappropriation and avoid a potential qualification in the audit opinion at year-end.

Try to have the collectors work in a team – a two-person team still counts as a team! Not only is it much more fun, having two people involved reduces any opportunity for errors or misappropriation at the initial cash collection stage.

Pre-numbered, sealed collection buckets – this is particularly important. If buckets aren’t sealed the cash inside may be easily accessible. Further, pre-numbered buckets allow for an easy system of ensuring all buckets are returned after collection.

Separate team to unseal the buckets and count the collection back at HQ – this represents segregation of duties, in that a process is broken up with different individuals performing different tasks, to prevent one person from having excessive control or input into a process. The general idea is that it reduces the risk or opportunity for fraud or error.

At least two counters – it’s easy to miscount! Having a second count reduces the risk of awkward inaccuracies that could occur when the banking doesn’t agree to the cash count.

A signed cash count – the cash count should be signed by both counters to evidence the total takings, and the banking done as soon as practicable. The cash count can then be reconciled to the banking by a member of the finance team.

If you follow the above steps, you will go some way to making your next street appeal the most successful one yet.

Questions? Get in touch.

Published winter 2019.

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