[Osmf-talk] Handling OSMF finances going forward

Andy Robinson blackadderajr at gmail.com
Fri Oct 31 12:33:04 UTC 2014

Some observations. 

The reporting process for a UK registered company (including OSMF) is formally laid down. There are requirements for filing accounts that meet Companies House rules and separate rules applying to HMRC (for a Return). Nowadays you can submit both filings (they take a slightly different form) via the HMRC website though the last submission dates for the two are slightly different so you have to be a little careful.

The directors of the company (in the case of the OSMF its therefore the board as all board members are directors) are responsible equally for the filing of accounts by the due date with Companies House. I'm not aware of any process that requires members to approve them beforehand but the board does need to do so.

It is not normal in the UK for small businesses like OSMF to have an audit. Official audit only kicks in when a business reaches a certain size.

The key checking tool during any financial year are the management accounts. These are not the same as either the accounts filed for Companies House or those for HMRC. Management accounts show the day to day situation. Typically a board would use these accounts for monitoring the financial state of the business on a monthly or quarterly basis say. It is the management accounts which give the directors the knowledge as to whether the business is solvent. A key responsibility for the UK company director.

More info can be found at:


http://www.lawdonut.co.uk/law/ownership-and-management/the-board-of-directors/your-responsibilities-as-a-director-faqs - this is just one example of a director FAQ, plenty of others exist.


-----Original Message-----
From: Frederik Ramm [mailto:frederik at remote.org] 
Sent: 31 October 2014 08:26
To: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
Subject: Re: [Osmf-talk] Handling OSMF finances going forward


On 10/30/2014 11:02 PM, Johan & Marguerite wrote:
> I would be happy to advise the new board on governance (both financial 
> and non-financial), since I have a background in accountancy & 
> controlling.

I think that waiting for a new board to contact you and ask for your expertise is perhaps sub-optimal. I would encourage anyone who has good ideas or a perspective about what could be done better to air them here in the open, for other members to see and discuss.

I'd be extra interested in hearing from people who already volunteer in other UK non-profits, and what measures their organisations take to ensure financial propriety.

A volunteer auditor system, of course, would have the volunteer auditors reporting to the membership and not the board; they would be a body controlling the board, not advising the board.

Would you also be available for a volunteer auditor position if one were created, or would your professional background prohibit you from doing that (I know that it is difficult for lawyers in Germany to voluntarily help out in matters that might touch their professional sphere, not without setting up a complex agreement at least)?

One question that the new board will have to deal with is that we might have to change our schedule of making the financials available to the members. In one of the last messages before he left, Simon mentioned that he had read up on UK procedural issues and that it is likely we have circulate our financial accounts to the members *before* they are filed with Companies House; at least since SOTM moved to autumn, we've usually done that the other way round. This might also signal a decoupling of the GM (for which we usually publish the accounts) and SOTM, but I haven't looked into this at all, I'm just repeating something that Simon said.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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