Six Different Ways to Reimburse People Not on Payroll

Reimbursing expenses can be such a chore for business owners and organisations that need to reimburse one-off expenses. 

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 There are several ways to reimburse expenses depending on the claimant’s situation. For example if you’re an employee, you would normally claim expenses through your HR system and get reimbursed as part of their payroll that they have in place. Companies have been doing this for many years and almost all HR systems these days have an expense processing feature.   

 However the problem arises when trying to reimburse people who are not on your regular payroll, how do you go about doing it? The team here at vHelp have been carrying out a lot of research and worked closely with multiple organisations who suffer from this pain. In turn, we have compiled a list of different ways that you can reimburse people who are not on your payroll.

1. Add them to Payroll  

This could sound like overkill, but we have come across multiple organisations, including universities, who add anyone who needs to claim an expense onto their payroll


  • There is one system for all which will have a  full audit trail of transactions 


  • This can be very costly and the organisation may only need to pay one or two expenses a year for a speaker or volunteer, yet they need to pay for an annual licence for the HR software.  
  • Users will only get reimbursed on the payroll schedule, which is usually once a month  

2. Pay Cash

Pre-Pandemic this was the most popular way to pay expenses - people would submit an expense form, whether that be in paper form or email, then pay a visit to their charity office to collect their reimbursement. 


  • Many users like to receive cash as this is a simple process and they can get their reimbursement up front. 


  • The pandemic made this option very difficult as people weren’t able to meet in person to get reimbursed  
  • If the organisation doesn’t have a local office it makes it difficult for people to visit in person  
  • These organisations would have to constantly get cash out.  
  • The process is still paper based with very little audit trail of transactions taking place  
  • Any mistakes in the forms submitted would result in further delays in reimbursing the user while investigating and correcting the errors 

3. Pay by Check

Some organisations choose to reimburse using cheques. The user would still be required to submit a paper or an electronic form of some kind, then at the end of week/month they write out cheques and post to all their users.  Medical research organisations tend to do this as they operate on a national level and the expenses they pay tend to be on the larger side 


  • Once their request has been submitted, the users will receive the money directly into their bank account  


  • The cost involved; in addition to the cost involved in manually processing all these expenses, writing individual cheques and posting those cheques, there is also the cost of envelopes and stamps where a first class stamp cost 85p  
  • Time taken for the user to get reimbursed with a manual process  
  • Any mistakes in the forms would result in further delay in reimbursing the user’s expenses  
  • Paper audit trail of the process means slow response to any queries/issues  

4. Pay via bank transfer  

Again, post-pandemic many organisations have moved away from petty cash boxes and cheques to making payments via a bank transfer. On face value, this process may seem electronic but in reality it isn’t; the forms are sent via email or a basic web page, then they process each transaction individually via a bank transfer.  


  • There would be no in person contact required, ideal for these post pandemic times. 
  • There is money saved on sending cheques as bank transfers are typically free 


  • Time consuming as it’s still a heavily manual process which will be difficult for those organisations processing more than a couple of expenses a day  
  • Risk of data breach as users details may be exchanged via email or WhatsApp and saved on spreadsheets 
  • Audit trail is within emails and messages which is difficult for reporting purposes  

5. Pay using a prepaid card  

There are few prepaid cards that are designed for paying back expenses.  The organisation would have to issue each user a prepaid card and manage the balance by topping it up when the user needs to use it.  


  • The user is never out of pocket  
  • There is an audit trail and reporting on all transactions  


  • It is costly, the organisation has to pay a fee between £6-£20 a month for each card issued and at times have to sign a minimum 12 months contract.   
  • The organisation has to top up ahead of time which means they have no control on approving or rejecting an expense. This also means some unused balance may be left on cards and therefore lost 
  • Not ideal when your users are submitting few sporadic expenses (like volunteers and research participants)  as you still need to set up the user, issue them the card and pay the monthly fees  

6. Pay using a bespoke/fit for purpose expense system  

 vHelp was born out of the pandemic to address all the issues mentioned above that are associated with reimbursing expenses.  

 vHelp enables the organisations to invite users/volunteers to submit an expense on a simple web and app based form. Once the user submits the expense the organisation gets notified to review the expense, a dedicated manager within the organisation can approve or reject the expense. If the expense is approved, the payment will be processed directly to the user’s bank account within 24 hours. If the Organisation’s manager has a query they can reject the claim and put a note for the user to amend it, the user can then update the claim and re-submit.  


  • Huge time savings for organisations when it comes to processing expenses, vHelp proved that they can save organisations 88% on time spent processing expenses  
  • Pay their users within 24 hours, this ensures your volunteers or users are never out of pocket.  
  • Paying users quickly means the organisation can be inclusive, involving people from various backgrounds  
  • Personal data is stored securely with full GDPR compliance  


  • There is a cost involved but still more cost effective than other options

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