Fair per hour rate for a Charity Accountant

What's an Accountants value?

Didn't find your answer?

I'm a qualified CA (SA) - 1984 and have run my own accounting business and worked for multi nationals.

After a break, I was offered the position of CFO of a new charity.  Initially I was paid £500.00 per month, increased to £1000.00 six months ago. I'm. now being faced with what feels like an untenable offer - a monthly fee of £280.00 made up of 2 hours per week at £35 ph

The charity CEO and Chairperson recently met with funders who advised them to become more strategic. They have said they dont need a 'CFO' but do need someone for 'finance'.  Their expectations are, as set out by them:

  1. Assist the CEO to prepare the annual budget and periodic financial report to funders.
  2. Prepare a budget and monthly balance sheet for .... and each project/activity
  3. Monitor expenditure 
  4. Prepare the annual management accounts.
  5. Prepare a short quarterly report for the quarterly risk and finance sub-committee meetings.
  6. Attend, deliver and lead the trustee’s understanding of the financial report at quarterly risk and finance sub-committee meetings, and other trustee meetings.
  7. Contribute to the risk register with financial matters
  8. Input relevant data to accounting systems in liaison with external bookkeeping services/provide in house bookkeeping services eg 
  9. -Bank reconciliation
  10. -Cash management
  11. -Income and grant analysis Bank receipts and payments
  12. - Expenses
  13. -Purchase approval and recording processes
  14. Provide necessary information timeously to any externally appointed bookkeeper.
  15. Run payroll
  16. Filings at Companies House, HMRC and to other bodies as necessary
  17. Ensure compliance with any financial statutory or regulatory requirements
  18. Ensure ...has compliant financial procedures and complies with its procedures
  19. Maintain security of finances and systems 

Their understanding and value of this is 'Finance - 2 hours per week @ £35 per hour' which equates to £280.00 pm.  They've also suggested I take on an extra role, that of a Project manager. I have never project managed. Without saying it directly, this is suggestive of 'if you want to still earn £1K a month, take on another role.  Dont take on the additional role and we'll drop your rate down'. The charity looks to grow, obtain further funding, add employees.  This conflicts with dropping my rate and undervaluing my skillset, or any accountants' for that matter. 

I spotted a helpful thread on here recently covering a similar topic - https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/what-is-a-reasonable-hourly-... which separates a bookkeeping function with a more advanced accounting function. 

Looking at the expectations they've set out above, I'd appreciate what rate would be fair for an accountant delivering such outcomes. 

Thank you in anticipation

 

 

Replies (26)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

RLI
By lionofludesch
22nd Sep 2023 10:57

The question is not so much the rate of pay as whether you could get all that done in two hours a week.

I take it £280 a month means you'll be paid four weekly?

I'd be grand with £35, provided I supported the charity, but I'm afraid I'd be leaving when my two hours were up - if only to make a point..

Thanks (9)
avatar
By WhichTyler
22nd Sep 2023 11:22

You haven't said how big the charity is, or where it is or if there is anyone else doing 'finance' (is there actually a bookkeeper at the moment), or if this is a salaried role or a fee for freelance work, so it is hard to tell (but it looks a lot for 1 day/month)

But you could (a) benchmark similar roles in similar charities on https://www.charityjob.co.uk/ and (b) estimate how much time will be needed for the tasks listed and go back with a revised/realistic proposal

Thanks (0)
Replying to WhichTyler:
avatar
By WhichTyler
22nd Sep 2023 11:26

Ps who is doing statutory accounts and audit liaison ifneeded (or are they the 'annual management accounts'?)

Thanks (0)
Replying to WhichTyler:
avatar
By Scrabble
23rd Sep 2023 12:43

This is a fee for freelance work.

That would be me!

Thanks (0)
Replying to WhichTyler:
avatar
By Scrabble
23rd Sep 2023 12:41

Its a small charity, going for two years, with regular grants from JRCT and Joffe Trust. Intending to expand in the next 12 months (which makes the reduction in my earnings hypocritical, IMO)

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Bobbo
22nd Sep 2023 11:31

Extrapolating the hourly rate to a full-time basis works out to not a bad salary... but not great either.

As Lion notes, the key point is whether that can be done in 2 hours per week.

Also, is it specifically 2 hours per week? Or can you do say 4 hours one week and 0 the next - the listing of duties suggest there will be some busier times (e.g. prep for quarterly trustee meetings).

Thanks (0)
Replying to Bobbo:
avatar
By Scrabble
23rd Sep 2023 12:42

In the CEOs' newly formed opinion, after 2 years, the job can be done in 10 hours per month. In my experience, this is untrue

Thanks (1)
DougScott
By Dougscott
22nd Sep 2023 12:32

Don't forget holidays/sick leave in your calculations of how much time those tasks would take. The rate per se of £35/hour equates to £63,700 so not a bad rate of pay for what appears to be straightforward stuff. However if you assume you have an average of 5 weeks holiday and 1 week sickness per annum then you only have more like 1.75 hours per week working time. That's barely enough time to make a cup of tea and have a chat....

Thanks (1)
John Toon
By John Toon
22nd Sep 2023 14:36

Given they're offering to pay bookkeeping rates I'd suggest you'd do 9 thru 13, not sure about 14 which feels completely pointless. Everything else is a FC/FD/CFO role responsibility. Up to you if you want to do all that for nothing.

Thanks (1)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
22nd Sep 2023 14:46

Its funny how in most Charites, some people get decent sums.

And other are expected to do it for love. Usually by those on a comfortable wedge for not doing much.

Thanks (3)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
avatar
By Scrabble
23rd Sep 2023 12:45

I agree. I've done some due diligence on charities who have been funded by JRCT grants and some of the salaries are not very 'loving'

Thanks (0)
avatar
By paul.benny
22nd Sep 2023 15:25

How much of that task list are you doing now and how many hours are you working?

At the same rate as proposed, your current rate of £1000/month suggests you are working around one day a week.

Thanks (0)
Replying to paul.benny:
avatar
By Scrabble
23rd Sep 2023 12:48

I'm providing all of the services in the task list. I've never noted the hours, because they're not consistent. eg: before a Board meeting, there are extra tasks; before a fund application there is a 3-year forecast required etc

My concern is how they have valued my role at £1K per month, only to devalue it to £280 per month. How is this charitable?

Thanks (0)
Replying to Scrabble:
RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Sep 2023 13:02

Scrabble wrote:

I'm providing all of the services in the task list. I've never noted the hours, because they're not consistent. eg: before a Board meeting, there are extra tasks; before a fund application there is a 3-year forecast required etc

My concern is how they have valued my role at £1K per month, only to devalue it to £280 per month. How is this charitable?

To be fair, the charitable objects probably don't include you.

Just tell the CEO you can't do all this in ten hours. If he can get someone who can, grand.

Thanks (4)
Replying to lionofludesch:
avatar
By WhichTyler
23rd Sep 2023 15:17

It sounds like you perhaps don't have complete faith in the management, but if you do want to continue working for them, work out the time you need to do all the tasks and send them a proposal (either fixed fee or hourly rate), and get a robust contract in place.

If you are a freelancer, you don't have a role, you have a client...

Thanks (2)
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
22nd Sep 2023 15:56

You are being asked to do the impossible - for peanuts. Charities 'think' that the stuff they've listed can be reeled off in minutes, most have little idea about finance. You will end up working extra hours for nowt.

Thanks (3)
avatar
By bettybobbymeggie
24th Sep 2023 10:31

I'm not sure why any qualified accountant would consider any job for c.£3k a year no matter how few hours - would you really notice an extra £280 in your bank account each month? Based on that job specification I would run a mile unless I was a) desperate to do charitable work and/or b) desperate for money.

Thanks (4)
avatar
By FD-HBC
27th Sep 2023 09:42

Do you really need the £280 per month ???? - walk away and leave them to it.

Thanks (0)
By Duggimon
27th Sep 2023 09:43

You could always accept the £35 an hour but not the £280 a month and see if they'll agree to pay you at that rate for the hours actually worked. If the CEO is sure you can do it in two hours a week he should have no objection.

Thanks (2)
Replying to Duggimon:
RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Sep 2023 09:57

Duggimon wrote:

You could always accept the £35 an hour but not the £280 a month and see if they'll agree to pay you at that rate for the hours actually worked. If the CEO is sure you can do it in two hours a week he should have no objection.

Well, that's the whole issue, is it not?

£35 an hour is a respectable, if not over-generous, rate for an employee. And here I note that the OP has not actually confirmed his employment status - it does make a difference. But if he is an employee, he's entitled to do his two hours and go home. If things don't get done, it's management's problem.

The OP's issue is that his proposed £280 a month should be a lot more on the grounds that the time required to complete the work is far in excess of two hours a week.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By bendybod
27th Sep 2023 12:06

If it is a charity that you want to work with then I'd say have an honest conversation about how many hours per week or month you think the work will actually take.
I have a reasonable amount of experience of working for them and it can vary a lot. Some very small charities you could do all of that in 10 hours per month but it sounds like quite a structured set up for a very small charity.
If someone else is doing the donkeywork of the bookkeeping then it might be possible and, to be honest, £35 ph is probably pretty much all a small charity can afford. If they're asking you to cut your hours then I'd be asking what they think you don't need to do anymore. If they genuinely can only afford the lower amount each month then, again, you have to decide whether you support the charity sufficiently that you're prepared to do 10 hours per month at £35 per hour and the remainder for free - or 20 hours at £17.50 per hour. I know qualified accountants who would work for less than £20 ph for smaller charities. It depends upon a) whether you need the money - and whether you need £280 or £1,000 and b) whether your discussions with the powers that be lead you to think that you're going to deal with a lot of grief for not a huge amount of money and whether you'd rather walk away now and let someone else have the stress.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By sammerchant
27th Sep 2023 14:37

If you are in practice, remember that charity begins at home!

Thanks (1)
avatar
By SuperAccountingSteve
27th Sep 2023 15:20

The rate, i.e. £35 i think is fair enough for the work described, i.e. charities normally pay less than the market rate, this rate equates to about £70k p.a.

Its the 2hrs a week that seems laughable. Why dont you say, you will stay but only if youre paid by the clock.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By GDavidson
27th Sep 2023 18:37

The chances of you doing all that in two hours a week are zero. Maybe at a push ten hours but more realistically two full days a week.

Thanks (2)
avatar
By GMTax
27th Sep 2023 18:53

I've spent many years advising and supporting small charities on issues of financial management (if plugs are allowed, I'm co-author of The Charity Treasurer's Handbook (DSC) of which the 6th edn has just been published this month - see www.dsc.org.uk/ctr).

I share the concern of others on this forum that even in a small charity, 2hrs/wk is not a realistic time commitment for a CFO role. You just won't be able to get a proper understanding of the charity and be able to support them on the issues they list in such a limited time.

But the actual time required also depends on other roles, in particular:

(a) Nothing has been said about the charity's treasurer. Every charity needs one of the trustees (the voluntary board members) to take the lead on finance issues and usual this person is called the "treasurer"). The level of experience of the treasurer and the amount of voluntary time s/he is willing to give will make a huge difference to the time needed from the CFO. I would be inclined to refuse the CFO role completely unless the charity has identified a specific trustee as your main contact with the board.

(b) Secondly, as others have said, is there is bookkeeper or administrator handling the day to day accounting records and bill payments? Is this person using some accounting software? Does s/he understand key charity issues such as fund accounting (otherwise you will end up having to repost all the transactions). But even so, if your role includes supporting a bookkeeper that in itself may take up the whole of the 2hrs/wk.

I agree £35/hr sounds a fairly decent rate for a charity of this size of you are effectively taking on a staff role, but I really don't feel you can do much more than act as a consultant / external finance advisor in 2hrs/wk and if it's a consultancy role a higher rate might be justified.

But in general, a small charity may be better off with a competent trustee as treasurer (even if this person is not an accounting professional) and a bookkeeper for day to day admin. They will of course need to engage an independent examiner for the year end accounts, and many IEs will also offer some degree of consultancy advice in terms of accounting procedures (though an IE must not of course end up acting as CFO or s/he would no longer be independent).

Thanks (2)
avatar
By Dogracer
27th Sep 2023 19:57

Walk away because at that hourly rate you are a charity working for a charity

There is a lot better paid work out there

Thanks (0)