Rationalizing expenses refunds

In this post I want to consider the possibility of using specialized software to manage the reimbursement of expenses. I would like @reef-finance to make a recommendation on this to the plenary.

The Reef does not have a proper accounting system, only a spreadsheet where we record

  1. The ASBL’s expenses
  2. The member’s “tabs” (membership fee - what they paid - any outstanding expense that they might have fronted).

This system is super clunky. Imagine someone has paid for something, let’s say a course or the drinks for an event. For now, it works like this:

  • They need to scan the receipt, or take a picture of it.
  • Then they send it by email.
  • I download the file and re-upload it in this folder.
  • Next, I create a line corresponding to this expense in the Invoices tab of this spreadsheet.
  • I also create a line in the Members' Tabs tab of the same spreadsheet.
  • At this point I pay back the expenses via online banking.
  • And add to the line I added in Members' Tabs the date if refund.

So, I am looking into Expensify. There are two ways to run it: with many personal and free accounts (free), and with that + one business account (paid).

The main advantage of personal accounts is that Expensify has an app, and that app supports the automatic classification of receipts. You take a picture of it, and the app creates the expenses report. When the report is ready, you send it to The Reef.

The business account, I guess, has the advantage that all the expenses coming through form something like a simplified accounting system, but I’m not really sure.

A clean solution would be to purchase proper accounting software. I like FreeAgent, which has a “Global” version where you can run in EUR. It costs 20 USD per month, and is somewhat overkill for The Reef. Mark recommends spreadsheets, like we are doing now, but I think our current system is clunky and not robust enough.

@Mas proposed a spreadsheet-based system, but it is meant for nano-businesses, so it has a focus on profit and loss, and downplays the balance sheet side of things (assets, liabilities, debts and credits). So, that does not do the job either… what do people think?


What if all Reeflings upload their tickets and fill in the spreadsheet tabs themselves?

1 Like

I personally use Xero for the ASBL that I run, but I think that at this point it may also be overkill (it comes at a price of $22/month). I like Celine’s idea of getting people to do some of the leg work. Also, the reimbursement could be done on a monthly basis. So people upload their tickets and expenses, and at the end of the month someone from team finance verifies the tickets and entries and reimburses people (if we want an extra safeguard, we can also do a two step system where someone sets up all the reimbursements and another approves them).

For now, even this is overkill. I think I had 2 or 3 requests for reimbursements in total over the last month.