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Often departmental activities will be funded from a variety of sources that may include one or more donations. Where these costs do not relate to either research grant or trading activity there may be some discretion as to where these are charged.

In order to make the best use of the various funds available, a Department should in general seek to charge expenditure against funds in the following order of priority, subject of course to eligibility and to the extent of available balances.

First call against Restricted funds:
  • Trust funds
  • Appropriations in Aid
  • Specific endowments
  • Specific donations
Then General donations
Finally against Other balances available to the Department

Responsibility for ensuring that Departmental procedures achieve this order of priority rests with the Head of Department.

We have a duty to spend any restricted money first, and the key factors affecting the order of spend are likely to be a combination of:

  • Order of receipt - we have a prior duty to spend earlier funds first (and this should affect our decision to accept subsequent restricted gifts);
  • Relative restriction - if fund A's purposes are wider than fund B then it may make sense to spend fund B first in case its purposes "dry up" in the future.
  • We have a moral and charitable obligation not to avoidably accumulate balances in trust funds;

Example of priority spending

A Department wishing to purchase a new telescope at a cost of £1.8m and has set up a specific cost centre to collate all the expenditure.

It has received a £1m donation, specifically for the telescope purchase which is allocated to source of funds HYCA. The balance is to be funded by £755k from a general donation (SoF EFKM) and £45k from a surplus on a trading account (SoF GAAA).

The department should therefore:

  • initially charge all expenditure to HYCA until the £1m limit has been reached;
  • then charge all of the remaining £800k directly to EFKM;
  • once £755k worth of expenditure has been reached on EFKM then a monthly journal should be raised to transfer the additional expense to the trading account surplus using transfer codes. (NB, never code directly to the trading account when spending a surplus - see section 3, Chapter 3, of the Financial Procedures Manual)

Telescope Cost Centre

HTCA Specific Donation receipt   £1,000,000
EFKM General Donation receipt   £755,000
HYCA Refurbishment expenditure £1,000,000  
EFKM Refurbishment expenditure £800,000  
EFKM Transfer of expenditure to GAAA   £45,000
  TOTAL £1,800,000 £1,800,000

It may be tempting to code expenditure to just one source of funds with the intention to transfer elements as part of the year end process. Please do not as it could have serious implications for the University's Financial statements and the information that is provided to Finance Committee.

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