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Pros and cons of per/km Travel Policy of NGO ?

In earlier posts, we have seen what should be good NGO Travel Policy.  As questions asked by many of my readers regarding each traveling policy in detail,  I inspire to write a blog on each  Traveling Policies prevailing in the NGO sectors in detail and also its advantages and disadvantages. Today, Let us take a traveling policy used by many NGOs, from small one to huge one, which is per kilometer charge to project.

Charging per kilometer to Funding Agency

We all know that NGOs have to agree on a specific budget with Funding Agencies. Many of the NGOs have decided per kilometer rate and charged to Funding Agency and created a Fund with whatever name, be it Vehicle Maintenance Fund, Vehicle Fund, Traveling Fund Reserve…. etc.. Now from this fund, actual expenses for travel (Fuel, Servicing, Oil etc…) is paid. Is this an ideal policy? In my opinion a BIG NO. One should avoid this policy. Lets us discuss positive and negative points of this travel policy of ngo. Start with Negative.

Why one should avoid this policy?

  1. The amount charged to Funding Agencies may or may not be same as actual total expenses of travel. This lead to generate surplus amount in your Vehicle Fund in your Balance Sheet at the end of the year.
  2. This give wrong impression, that you are saving some money from year to year from Projects supported by funding agency.
  3. Some NGOs even raise a Bill of Traveling to Funding Agency as support. This will lead into double entry of Income and expenses. First time entered as income in Grant Received and Project Expenses and second time Traveling Income by raising invoice and actual travel expenses. If you are doing this , stop it immediately.
  4. By using this you are violating terms of Project Agreement with Funding Agency. Because you agreed to spent budgeted money on specific Project. However when you adopt this policy, you are saving some money and not actually spending all as per agreed budget.
  5. As per FCRA rules, you have to spent Foreign Grants for the purpose it is received. You can not create reserve or Vehicle Fund  from FC money.
  6. When Vehicle Fund gets accumulated from year to year and showing balance of considerable amount on Liability side on Balance Sheet, it is assumed that you have that much amount in your Bank or FDs on the assets side correspondingly. This sometime become obstacles in getting fund from Funding Agencies.

What is the solution then ?

In my opinion, Actual expenses of travel to be booked to project. In supporting, original fuel bills, maintenance bills should be attached. In second level supporting, a Log book should be maintained. In case of more than one project, bills and expenditure should be divided proportionately.

Summary

Try to adopt that Traveling policy which suits your organization and your funding agencies more. My advice is, if you are following this travel policy, add one clause in the agreement with funding agency.

 

What should be Good NGO Traveling Policy ?

ONE of the main question asked by funding agency before approving any budget is what is your NGO Traveling Policy? In NGO Traveling Expenditure is one of the major component of total budget, whether traveling for Project Implementation, Advocacy, Training, Monitoring, and thus there must be  particular NGO traveling policy for the organization.

IN this article, i would like to focus on which points to be keep in mind while framing traveling policy so that it becomes best.

Good NGO Traveling Policy is one which is in Writing

You may be have one of the best traveling policy and procedures implemented in your NGO, but if it is not on paper, it is useless. Traveling policy must be in writing and must be part of the NGOs Working Manual

Good NGO Traveling Policy is one which is Approved

After framing NGO traveling policy, it is advisable to approve and authorized by trustees or by board members or may be by chairman and secretary.

It should not be rigid

NGO Traveling Policy should not be rigid, in the sense, that one rate or one rule for traveling expenditure can not apply to all types of travelling

It should frame according to Types of Traveling and conveyance

There are different are types of traveling and conveyance we can see in NGO. Sometimes traveling expenditures are reimbursed, sometimes NGO is having own vehicle, sometime staff use own vehicle for project work, sometimes funding agency provide vehicles or provide funds to purchase vehicles. So NGO traveling policy should includes all these possibilities.

Supporting and proof of Traveling

NGO Traveling Policy should includes which type of supporting or proof staff has to give to account and finance department after traveling. It may be Traveling Summery Sheet or Monthly Conveyance Statement or Log Book etc..

Avoid CHARGING of Traveling Expenditure to Project

Some of the NGOs are following practice of charging fixed per kilometer amount and transfer this to some pool or fund and then fuel and maintenance are paid from that pool. It is strongly recommended not to follow this type of practice of “charging” Expenditure to Project.

Summary

Apart from above points, there may be many other points to be consider while framing traveling policy depending upon the nature and work of your NGO. But, one has to keep in mind all the above points to framing good traveling policy.

Hope this will help you in your NGO, if you have any question,  you can ask here or chat with us. Also your comments are welcome on the above subject.