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Each semester, the treasurer of our fraternity sets up a new gnucash file, based on a template without any transactions (just the accounts already created).

For each active member, the majority of alumni and certain other accounts he has to copy the account balance from the old book into the new one. This is generally done by creating a transaction for the appropriate amount.

This is both tedious and very error prone.

Is there a way to simply copy the account balances into the new book?

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There is no method for doing this directly in GNUCash. I'd also seriously question the treasurer's methods: if there is turnover from semester to semester, just move those accounts to a 'former members' account(s) or something similar. Likewise just add new members to the 'current members' account(s). What's he doing with the balances of former members? Is he closing them out by either collecting what's due, refunding positive balances or transferring to the general fund?

Simply starting over every semester is a big accounting no-no and should be questioned if the fraternity intends to keep the treasurer accountable. Ultimately, the finances should seamlessly match up from one semester to the next and this should be easily verifiable from the treasurer's report. If not, your treasurer is not being open (whether accidentally or maliciously is up to you to decide - trust but verify).

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    We are basically starting over. The treasurer changes every 1-2 semesters (normally 2). This has been done in the last 3 years at least, probably longer. The books are checked against the physical records by 2 independently elected members, so we don't think this has been used malicously. I will propose that we just use the same book for every semester and ask, why we are creating a new one every time. – Nico Mar 9 '18 at 18:16
  • Then I'd recommend leveraging GNUCash reports for this, along with some account cleanup. Reports can easily be constrained by time period and that's how most people gain a 'window' into things. – Andy Mar 9 '18 at 18:17

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