4-H Clubs’ financial reporting obligations

4-H has procedures in place that help 4-H clubs meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s and Michigan State University Extension’s expectations of fiscal accountability.

Having a 4-H club treasury has advantages. However, it comes with serious responsibility.

It is important that 4-H club leaders and members understand what is expected when it comes to 4-H financial matters. The requirements are not hard to comply with and reflect the generally accepted practices for non-profit organizations. In addition, learning these procedures help young people build life skills that will be advantageous as they grow older.

It may be helpful to understand why these procedures are in place.

  1. According to the Financial Manual for 4-H Treasurers, first and foremost, 4-H is a public organization and as such, money that clubs receive from dues or fundraising is owned by the group, not any individual member or leader of the group. The public holds 4-H to a high standard of accountability and these reporting procedures ensure we are following the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and Michigan State University Extension’s financial expectations. Note that these standards apply whether the club has 25 cents or $5,000 in its treasury.
  2. The procedures are in place to protect the volunteer as well as the 4-H organization as a whole.
  3. Involving members in the process of fiscal accountability is an excellent hands-on educational experience for young people.

For those clubs who maintain financial resources and conduct any fundraisers, there are at least four reports they are required to complete. The 4-H financial reporting requirements include:

  • A written Treasurer’s Report must be presented to the club membership at each meeting. All reports must be kept in the club’s permanent file.
  • An Annual Summary Financial Report is required of every 4-H club whether or not they handle money. If they do not have funds, the club treasurer or leader should mark zeroes in the blanks and sign it. This report form also includes the 4-H Club Inventory Record; all non-consumable items purchased with club funds or items donated to the club must be recorded.  A completed form from each club must be submitted every year to the county MSU Extension office by the specified deadline.
  • For those clubs choosing to conduct a fundraiser, the club leadership must first complete the 4-H Fund-Raiser Application and obtain approval from the 4-H staff before the activity can begin.  Upon completion of the activity, the club must submit the 4-H Fund-Raising Report Form to the MSU Extension office.

The Financial Manual for 4-H Treasurers: Managing Money Wisely contains all the forms mentioned in this article. The 50-page booklet is an excellent reference for club treasurers.  4-H club leaders will also benefit by being familiar with the document created for their use; titled Financial Manual for 4-H Volunteers: Leading the Way to Financial Accountability

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