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Frequently asked questions about the Diploma in Charity Accounting (DChA)

Select one of the following topics that relates to your question. If your question is not answered here, please contact us by email or call +44 (0)1908 248 250.

Eligibility to apply for the experience route

Do I need to be a Chartered Accountant to apply?
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There is no requirement for you to hold a professional accounting qualification. To be eligible to apply you must have specialised in the field of charity finance over a number of years with experience of voluntary sector policy, resource management, marketing and fundraising, strategy, diversity and governance, charity accounting audit and taxation, and voluntary sector financial management.
How much experience do I need to be eligible to apply?
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All senior professionals who have at least three years of experience in charity accounting and financial management are eligible to apply. You will need sufficient work experience to meet each of the requirements in the Examination of Experience, as set out in Section 3 of the application form.
If I don't quite meet the experience required for a particular requirement, what can I do?
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If you are highly knowledgeable in most of the six areas but lack expertise in one of them, there is the opportunity for you to take the relevant DChA study route module at Cass Business School to broaden your knowledge, and thus meet the standards required to obtain the DChA. Alternatively, you may choose to obtain additional experience in your role before submitting your application.
I work for a charitable and industrial provident society registered under the FSA rather than the Charity Commission. Am I eligible to apply?
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As long as you are working in or advising the charity and voluntary sector, and feel that you are equipped to answer all the requirements, you are eligible to apply.
If I have experience of UK charity accounting but currently live overseas, can I still apply?
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Marking of the Examination of Experience is based on current UK legislation. Living overseas does not disqualify you from applying, as long as your experience is current, covers each of the six main areas and is consistent with UK legislation.

Examination of Experience

I have moved jobs within the last three years but the application form requires the referee to have known the applicant for at least three years. Whom should I approach for a reference?
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You can provide a maximum of two references to cover the three-year period.
I'd like to apply but don't know where to start. Please can you advise me?
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A good first step is to update your CV and reflect on the experiences that you have gained; this will help you identify the best examples to use. You may find it beneficial to discuss your application with a colleague or associate who may often be able to identify other examples.
Is there a limit on the number times that I can apply?
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You may apply up to a maximum of four times; this includes applications made under both the original experience route (2007-2008) and the re-launched experience route (2010 onwards).
What is the cost of the experience route?
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The cost of the Examination of Experience is £675 + VAT.
What is the deadline for applications?

You may submit your application by either of the deadlines below:

 Experience route application submission deadline 1
 22 May 2017
 Experience route application submission deadline 2
 4 December 2017

Answering the Examination of Experience requirements

Which requirements do I answer ('a' or 'b') if I have both worked for a charity and advised charities?
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For each question contained within the Examination of Experience there is an 'a' and 'b' option relevant to whether you work for charity or in practice supporting charity clients. If you have moved from practice to a charity or vice-versa (or indeed act in both capacities) during the period covered by the application you may provide a mixture of 'a' and 'b' answers, weighted (as closely as possible) according to the period spent in each environment.
Can I include more than one example from the same charity client?
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You may use more than one example from the same client, but you should choose carefully the examples you use to illustrate each answer and ensure that your answer and examples are relevant to the context of the requirement. If you want to use the same charity client, please ensure that your examples are from different situations, as this will best reflect the breadth/range of your experience.
The Examination of Experience refers to the use of examples of experience that are recent. What does this mean?
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This means examples of experience from within the last five years; examples taken from more than five years ago may indicate that technical knowledge is not up to date.

I wish to respect client confidentiality: must I give the name of my client(s)?
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You may choose, in the interests of client confidentiality or commercial sensitivity, not to give the names of charities being used as examples. You should, however, give an indication of the financial size (level of income and assets) and the nature of the work of the charities referred to, so as to place your responses in context.
The Examination of Experience requires the inclusion of ethical issues. Can you give some guidance on what constitutes ethical issues?
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Ethical issues could constitute the following:

  • seeking advice and consulting on difficult matters
  • dealing with fraud and whistle-blowing
  • confidentiality (including Chinese Walls aspects)
  • conflicts of interest
  • matters relating to the payment of fees and expenses (whether in relation to professional services or trustee work)

The assessors stress the importance of including experience of ethical issues as this can affect the outcome of your application.

I am an accountant working in practice advising charity clients and so have had little marketing experience. How do I answer requirement 3 of the exam?
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Requirement 3 asks you to describe one marketing, fundraising, income generation or income distribution campaign, and explain the advice you gave in connection with the campaign and how this benefited the organisation.

The nature of the advice that you have given in this area can be technical as well as commercial. For example, you may have advised on tax efficiencies or operation of gift aid forms, or on how to set up a website to collect donations and market the charity. A broad list of possible situations is included in the application form; these examples are for guidance (as is also the case for the other requirements) and are not intended to be exhaustive.

What guidance will I receive from you to help me apply for the experience route?
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The application form (PDF 301KB/13 pages) contains detailed guidance as to the form and content of your submission. Guidance from the assessors (PDF 50KB/4 pages) and sample scripts are also available.
What support is there if I am unsure what to do?
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If you require further information or advice please contact us on +44 (0)1908 248 250 or email dcha@icaew.com

Resubmission requirements

What do I need to do if I fail the Examination of Experience?
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You are eligible to attempt the examination up to four times. If you fail, you should review the marks and comments made by the assessors in your results and feedback letter; read the requirements together with illustrative examples and guidance available in the resubmission application form; and review the guidance from the assessors (PDF 50KB/4 pages) and specimen scripts available on our website.
Do I answer all the questions when I resubmit my Examination of Experience?
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When you resubmit your Examination of Experience, you must re-attempt any of the requirements that you failed (ie, received 0 to 5 marks for requirements 1-6 and 0 to 1 mark for requirement 7).

You are strongly advised to re-attempt any requirements 1-6 that were marked between 6 and 10 or marked 2 to 3 for requirement 7. Re-attempting these requirements may help lift your total mark above the overall pass mark of 55.

Further guidance and advice is available within the DChA Examination of Experience resubmission application form and guidance notes (PDF 78KB/13 pages

Do I need to include new examples in the answers that I am resubmitting?
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The examination of experience refers to the use of examples of experience that are recent. This means examples of experience from within the last five years. As it may have been some time since you last applied for the DChA experience route, you will need to make sure that when resubmitting the answers previously failed, you include examples from within the last five years. This enables you to include and reflect upon the most up-to-date and relevant examples in your answers.
Do I need to include a reflective curriculum vitae (CV) in my resubmission?
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Yes, it may have been some time since you applied for the DChA experience route, so an-up-date copy of your reflective CV is requested. This enables you to include any new positions you have held or currently hold since your last application. Details of what to include in your reflective CV are included in the resubmission application form (PDF 78KB/13 pages).

Do I need to include an updated reference when I resubmit?
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Yes, the assessors will expect your referee to have read your resubmission and be satisfied that it is correct.

You may use the referee that you have supplied in your previous application(s).

What is the cost to resubmit my application should I fail?
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The cost of each resubmission is £500 + VAT.

Assessment of the Examination of Experience

Who will assess my Examination of Experience answers?
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Suitable people have been invited by ICAEW from the charity finance community who possess the practical skills and experience and who are respected professionals. ICAEW's experience as a qualification awarding body means that cross marking is undertaken. This ensures that the experts in assessing the technical material are blended with the experts in examination techniques and standards to ensure a robust, fair and thorough process.

DChA study route

If I go through the study route, how will I be assessed - is it both exams and course work?
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The study route delivered by Cass Business School is assessed by a mixture of exams and course work assignments.

What is the deadline for applications?

Cass Diploma in Charity Accounting study route for ICAEW members only

Application submission deadline: 4 March 2016
Cass Diploma in Charity Accounting study route for non-ICAEW members

There is no deadline: courses will close when they are full and notification of the closure date is added to the course overview page when closure is imminent.

When does the study route start?
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The course at Cass Business School starts on 6 October 2017 and runs on a Friday from 1pm and all day Saturday for one weekend per month. ICAEW members may be eligible to start a nine-month programme in April.

How much does it cost
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Cass Business School £6,000 (exempt VAT) 
Where do I study?
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At Cass Business School in London.

Will I acquire work experience during the course?
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At Cass Business School a shadowing / fieldwork exercise will be included in the course, if you begin the course in October. Applicants are generally expected to work in a charity or in a finance role linked to charitable organisations, for example, in auditing or as a trustee.