A – B

Account Reconciliations The accounting practice which aims to ensure that two sets of figures which should agree with each other do so; for example a check takes place that the organisation’s cashbook agrees (reconciles) with the bank statement.
Accountability The obligation a person or body has to ensure that work has been conducted in compliance with agreed practice, rules or standards. Who can stop someone doing something? Whose permission is needed for someone to act?  Who pays them?
Action Plans Action plans answer questions of what do we do next? who does it? with what resources? Action minutes after meetings should ensure something happens, and clarify accountability.
Active Citizenship Citizens taking opportunities to become actively involved in defining and tackling the problems of their communities and improving their quality of life
Activists Activists is used to mean those people active in local organisations and/or developing projects for community benefit, but who are not paid workers.
Activities Anything which is done in the name of an organisation, using resources belonging to that organisation, or under its control and including all of its work and services.
Added Value The amount of extra benefit in terms of outputs gained as a result of specific funding or delivery for the project, over and above those benefits expected to be obtained
Additional Support Needs The support needs of people with mental health problems, physical health problems, physical, sensory or auditory disability, people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, people with learning disabilities and people with criminal records, as well as people with low self confidence
Agenda Agendas are the traditional means of planning what will be discussed at a formal meeting. It is usually circulated in advance with back-up papers.
AGM The Annual General Meeting of an organisation, open to all members and where the management committee is elected
Aim (Overall) See Mission
Aims (Specific) The particular changes or differences a project or organisation plans to achieve for its users or community
All Volunteer Group A group or organisation that employs no paid staff and in which all work is undertaken by volunteers
Annual Accounts The statutory financial statements relating to a particular financial year required to be drawn up by organisations.  These must be submitted to OSCR in the case of charities and Companies House for incorporated charities. The required content of the accounts varies according to the size of the charity and further guidance can be found on www.oscr.org.uk/ScottishCharityAccounting.stm
Annual General Meeting The annual meeting, called by the management committee, or directors of an incorporated charity, to which members are invited to attend. Subjects normally discussed include the annual report, annual accounts, election or re-election of committee members.
Annual Report This is the organisation’s verified yearly statement of good financial management and reporting. This is usually a comprehensive document including:

  • a trustees’/committee report;
  • a statement of financial activities;
  • an income and expenditure statement for the year;
  • a balance sheet;
  • a cash flow statement; and
  • notes to the accounts.
Annual Return A return which must be made by all charities to the OSCR each year providing information on their income in the previous financial year. The information given on the Annual Return may be recorded and is open to public inspection via the OSCR website.  Incorporated organisations are also required to make an annual return to Companies House annually. In both cases a form is provided for this purpose.
Annualised Hours Employment Contract A contract which calculates an employee’s core working hours on an annual basis. The worker may negotiate a working pattern with his or her employer, provided that they meet the basic annual minimum of hours stipulated by the contract.
Anti-discriminatory practice Working in a way that actively removes barriers that might prevent people or groups engaging in community activity
AOB Agenda item – Any Other Business may also be AOCB for Any Other Competent Business
Assessment Measuring the extent to which an outcome has been met
Assets The property of an organisation, including, cash, bank and building society deposits, consumable stocks,  debtors and prepayments or any other amounts receivable in the short term; land, buildings, vehicles and equipment and investments held on a continuing basis; copyright and intellectual rights.
Asset base If organisations are to sustain their activities beyond a few years, they need to plan how to generate revenue after initial grants ends. An asset base usually involves acquiring land, buildings or an area of specialist knowledge which can then sold to others for income.
Audit An independent, external and objective review of an activity, project or organisation’s accounts.. The specifics of the process will depend on the context in which the word is used. Charities with an income exceeding £500,000 or assets of more than £2.8 million are required by law to have an annual audit from a registered auditor. Charities below this amount can elect to have an audit (for example if a funder requires it) or instead to have an independent examination. These income thresholds are in the process of changing due to the various implementation dates of the Charities and Companies Acts 2006.
Autonomy Individuals, groups or organisations, independently taking responsibility for their own actions
Away Day A period of time dedicated for the accomplishment of clear and realistic objectives in order to achieve a specific action plan. Often  this takes place away from the normal location for meetings.


Balance Sheet A ‘snapshot’ in time of what the company owns, and what assets and debts represent the value of the company.
Baseline Information about the general situation a project is trying to change, showing what the situation was like before the intervention(s) took place
Benchmark A standard of achievement achieved by a project or organisation, which it can compare against other  achievements (of its own or of other projects) to gauge its effectiveness or impact
Benchmarking A systematic comparison of performance and processes. including

  1. measuring what you do
  2. comparing your organisation to others in a similar field
  3. identifying gaps in performance where the expectations of customers are not being met
  4. looking for new ways of reducing those gaps by learning from others
  5. reviewing the benefits of what has been achieved.
Beneficiaries The people who benefit, and/or receive services, from the organisation
Bequest The donation of cash money or other assets to a an organisation upon death of the donor through a will.
Best Value A requirement on Local Authorities to review services – challenging whether they are still needed, whether they adequately meet current or expected future needs and whether the service should continue to be provided in the same way. Best Value is seen as a means of ensuring services are based on the priorities in the community strategy and expected to result in more diverse service provision with the private, voluntary and community sectors taking a greater role. 

At the core of Best Value are the four tests known as the 4Cs:

  • Challenge why and how a service is being provided.
  • Consult with the community in deciding service priorities and setting target.
  • Compare performance against comparable service providers.
  • Compete to ensure that services are being provided efficiently and effectively.
Board The Board is an organisation’s governing body. This may be called the management committee, executive committee or board of directors, or may be referred to by some other title.
Brainstorming Brainstorming is defined as ‘a means of getting a large number of ideas from a group of people in a short time’. It is one of the most widely used workshop techniques, and useful when partnerships are trying to shape their agenda and tackle problems creatively.
Breach of Trust Committee members are found to have acted in a way which is inconsistent with your powers and duties as trustees, whether those powers and duties are set out in the charity’s governing document, or are part of general law.  Trustees who work outside their governing document may be acting “ultra vires” i.e. outside their powers and in breach of trust. This may mean that Trustees are wholly and personally liable for any losses that the charity may incur. Whatever the legal structure of your organisation, the liability of the trustees’ liability will not be limited if they act illegally.
Budget Means an amount of money planned to be spent on a particularly activity or resource, usually over a trading year, although budgets can apply to shorter and longer periods.
Buildings Insurance Insurance cover for the fabric of the building itself. Where a charity is the owner of a building and insurance is not the responsibility of a lessee or tenant, it is recommended that the trustees should normally insure the building for its full reinstatement value, even if there is no actual duty to do so.
Business Plan A document prepared by an organisation, detailing the past, present, and future of the charity. It generally projects future opportunities for the organisation and maps the financial, operations, marketing and organisational strategies that will enable the organisation to achieve its goals.