Railfuture operates a zero-based budgeting philosophy, which applies across the organisation. The assuption is that if no funding request is bid for prior to the start of the financial year (1st January to 31st December) then none will be required. No unused funds are carried over into the next year (except branches who have their own bank accounts or virtual accounts within a national bank account).
A set of budgets are approved by the Board of directors at the last Board meeting of the calendar year. These are based on bids from the branches and the national groups. Draft budget bids need to be submitted by 1st October each year, but can be revised up to the Board meeting in November.
Branch budgets are based upon the activities which the branch plans for the year, including meetings, newsletters and campaigning. Funding is provided to cover this budget and the branch committees (which inculudes a treasurer) are then responsible for managing their finances, and are expected to live within their means (although it can make a request for more money during the year for campaigning, not operational, purposes).
The operational budget is paid around February and the campaigning elements paid when they are delivered or the expense is about to be incurred.
It will never make sense for Railfuture to not do something really important and useful because there is no budget remaining, so if it can be properly justified then branches can request additional funds.
Each of the national groups (for example the Passenger Group, Communications Group and Governance Group) is awarded a budget for the financial year and its director is responsible for ensuring that it stays within its annual budget.
The Governance Group has prepared a Meetings Policy (that has been approved by the Board) to help Branches and Groups decide on how to hold their meetings. The policy seeks to ensure that a consistent approach is adopted to minimise meeting costs, but not to discourage in person meetings where there are reasons for holding them because of added value. It is important to remember that in person meetings are useful to engage with stakeholders, members, potential members and the general public, but the benefits have to be balanced with the cost of holding such meetings. The Covid 19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that many meetings can be successfully operated “virtually” with all the resulting savings of cost, but equally importantly, the saving of people’s time and inconvenience.
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Zoom Accounts Protocol
To accompany the Meetings Policy we have prepared a Zoom protocol. This sets out guidance on use of borrowed account and sets out the operational arrangements for using Railfuture's own Zoom accounts.
Zoom Accounts Protocol
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Reimbursement of Expenses
We operate to a framework that sets out how a member can claim and be reimbursed for reasonable and authorised expenses that have been necessarily incurred. Branches do not normally pay travel expenses for local travel but should refer to this policy for longer-distance travel.
The Governance Group have produced a Policy (that has been approved by the Board) that it is strongly recommend be read prior to planning any travel (or other cost) which is to be expensed.
- Expenses Policy
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Expenditure from these budgets, such as travel expenses, postage and telephone calls, is claimed using the Expenses Claim Form below. This is approved by the budget holder or secretary and forwarded to the national Finance Officer to make payment. Because of the prevalence of email, postage and telephone calls should only be claimed in exceptional cases.
Volunteers incurring expenses for group activities should inform the budget holder of their intention to claim as soon as possible and certainly within four weeks. It is vital that the budget holder as an up-to-date balance, particularly towards the end of the year.
To avoid complicating the annual accounts, expenses must be claimed before the end of the year.
Expense Claim Form
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Please note: wherever possible payment will be made directly into the bank account of the person who incurred the expense. Anyone who requires payment by cheque (which will normally only be produced once a month) should state the reason for this.
Anyone who is a Railfuture Director is required, as a condition of office, to maintain a list of all their 'on business' activities during the year and submit an expenses declaration of what was claimed and waived for that year. These are listed at expenses