The Cwmbach Male Choir was formed in 1921.  During its 100 years it has flourished and built up an enviable record of success in competitions and concert performances.

Since its inception the Choir has upheld the tradition of Male Voice singing in the Cynon Valley and further afield.  The choir is based in an area of deprivation and every year, the choir raises funds to support the local community.  Its aims are to educate the public in the arts, in particular, choral music. The Cwmbach Male Choir Centenary Bursary Fund aims to inspire and encourage a new generation of musicians and its mission is to help children afford a musical education regardless of their financial background.

The Issue

The Choir celebrated its centenary in 2021, but they were concerned that a recent grant request for £5k in connection with the centenary had been pared back to £1k because of their large unrestricted cash balance of £103k. The Charity Commission website showed 2019 annual income as £22k.

The main issues the charity wanted to address through our On Call telephone support service were:

  • Explanation of the relevant accounting regulations including reserves policy
  • Advice to improve the prospects of future grant requests.

The Solution

In October 2020 the Cranfield Trust matched Denzil Boaler with Frank Learner, a volunteer  chartered accountant.

The volunteer’s first telephone conversation with the charity included asking for the latest annual accounts as the Charity Commission website showed latest annual income of £22k (below the filing and independent examination threshold of £25k). When these arrived, the volunteer noticed that there were some inconsistencies.

Over the course of three telephone conversations and follow up emails (10 hours in total), our volunteer was able to identify the reasons why there were inconsistencies in their annual return and with less than 3 days remaining to the Charity Commission filing deadline the sub-optimal alternative was a prior year adjustment to the 2020 accounts.

Our volunteer was also able to advise on their reserves strategy and to structure their annual accounts accordingly and also gave advice on future fundraising

The Cranfield Trust had also noticed from the Charity Commission website that the Choir was unincorporated and our volunteer suggested that they should consider converting to a CIO which would remove the unlimited personal liability that each trustee had for all aspects of their activity.

The Impact

Our volunteer was able to help resolve their immediate concerns relating to their charity accounts submission and suggested the following actions:

  • Improve the understanding of reserves, work out what is needed for today’s beneficiaries (working capital, current plans and contingencies) and then what can be justifiably set aside for tomorrow’s beneficiaries. 
  • Step up the number of grant requests made to improve the chances of finding a funder that is less concerned about reserves levels.
  • Consider the desirability of becoming an incorporated charity.

Denzil Boaler said:

“I wanted to offer my enormous thanks to the Cranfield Trust with regard to the presentation of our annual accounts and how we manage our reserves.  Our Cranfield Trust volunteer was well informed and his advice was invaluable in how we both prepare and present our accounts in the future.  Once again, thank you very much on behalf of Cwmbach Male Choir.” 
Registered Charity No: 800072 | Scottish Charity No: SCO40299 | Company No: 2290789 | Telephone No: 01794 830338
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