How and whether a u3a uses Beacon for Financial Accounting is down to the individual u3a, though adopting it is strongly recommended in order to fully benefit from the Beacon System. For guidance on things to consider before implementing BF refer to 7.10 Financial Approaches.
This article is aimed at u3a's that are considering using Beacon’s Finance (BF) facilities for the first time, either when going live or at a later time. If Beacon was previously used for Finance more than a year in the past there are special considerations as described in 7.10.3 Resetting Finance after a period of non-use.
If you adopt BF in the middle of your FY then you can either manually add transactions from the start of the FY or wait until the end of the FY (scenario b) Starting to use BF at a later date below).
Starting to use BF it is likely to be one of the following two scenarios:
a) Using BF from Day 1
If your u3a wishes to use use BF as soon as the site goes live (or soon after), it is ideal that migration is timed to correspond with the start of your Financial Year (FY). You should discuss this with your Supporter prior to migration and one option may be to load historical transactions.
Check that your required Finance Accounts and Finance Categories were set up by your Migration Supporter as specified in your Migration Template. If you need to amend these refer to 8.6 Finance Set-up.
The first thing to do is to adjust the starting balances for each Account such that the balance on the first day of the current Financial Year is the same as that in the corresponding bank account. This is done by adding a Transaction with the date being the last day of the previous financial year and the Detail shown as Starting Balance. Refer to 7.2 Transaction Record.
Then go to Ledger - by account and for each Account in turn, update the Brought Forward amount by pressing the Update B/F button.
If there have been subsequent payments in or out of any of the accounts since the start of the current Financial Year, these will need to be replicated as Transactions in the Beacon Accounts.
Note: if your u3a is using a "Membership" Account, this will have any membership fees recorded since the u3a went live.
b) Starting to use BF at a later date
If a u3a doesn't use BF initially and decides to start using it later, it is recommended that the start date should correspond with the start of the u3a's Financial Year.
You will first need to create your Finance Categories and a Finance Account to correspond with each bank account, and possibly ones for "Membership" and "Cash" too, as described in 8.6 Finance Set-up
After creating the Finance Accounts, adjust the starting balance for each as described in a) above.
Note that Beacon will always record all the payments received from new members or members renewing. If you are not using BF this can provide a useful cross-check against your accounts.
Even if you are not intending using BF for recording non-membership transactions, you can still use Beacon to generate Gift Aid claims on Membership payments. Please be aware that Gift Aid cannot be claimed retrospectively on payments made before the system was configured for Gift Aid claims; refer to 7.8 Gift Aid for further information.
Graeme Bunting & Graham Tigg