Part of nonprofit financial management is the annual audit. Just when you were getting into the swing of summer comes that time of year when you must start preparing for the annual audit. In some states, an annual nonprofit audit is required. Many nonprofits prefer an independent audit that helps them verify their finances. Audits are good tools to learn more about your organization, as well as provide transparency and clarity to donors and members.
You’ve probably organized your paperwork and updated your systems in preparation for the annual audit. But have you updated the people involved in the process? Managing the human component of the annual audit is an important task, too, and the one that may take the most time. Here’s what you need to do to make sure that everyone working on the audit has what they need to do their jobs well.
Managing People: Scheduling the Audit
The first task is actually scheduling the audit. Juggling multiple calendars, some from within the company and some from the auditing firm, can be confusing.
To schedule meetings from multiple stakeholders, you can:
• Coordinate the auditor’s schedule well in advance of the dates. Give the auditing company plenty of time to figure out their travel schedule and arrange time with your organization.
• Offer three days/times or blocks of days and times for the audit. Clear them first within your organization so that those who need to work on the audit are already available and you are just waiting to hear back from the auditing firm.
• Clear the calendar for all so that no other major meeting or event is scheduled for the time of the audit.
Helping the Auditors Help You with Nonprofit Financial Management
It’s important to make the auditing process as smooth as possible. The auditing firm only wants to help your organization. In order for them to help you, they need logistics handled in advance.
Make sure that they have a quiet, private place to work that’s free from noise or distraction. A conference room should be booked for them or an office set aside for their work.
Be sure that the space has a telephone and strong Wi-Fi signal. Give them the Wi-Fi password or have your IT professionals add them to the network so that they can access information as needed.
Lastly, be sure you’ve got places for them to park and that they have directions to your office. You may want to order in meals and beverages for them as well.
Tell the Staff What Is Happening
Be sure that everyone in your organization knows that an audit is taking place and that the auditors must be left in peace. They shouldn’t be interrupted. Make sure that staff understands they cannot use conference rooms or offices in which the auditors are working, and that the audit takes priority over other meetings or events.
It’s also important to make people available to the auditors if they need help. Even the best-prepared office can miss something, and the auditors may need help to find bank statements or other paperwork that they need for their work. Although you don’t need to assign someone to work exclusively with the auditors, appointing someone as the point of contact if they should need something can save time later.
When the Audit Is Over
After the final report is reviewed and you’ve presented it to the Board, consider sharing top-level findings with the staff. They’re probably curious about how well the organization is doing and what impact their work is making. Sharing audit findings offers a sense of transparency and clarity to your work that employees, members, and volunteers find reassuring.
RBP Methods: Auditing and More for Nonprofit Organizations
RBP Methods offers nonprofit financial management advice, software, and more. We help nonprofits achieve their mission through good financial stewardship, support, and services. Contact us at 503-648-9051.