Not that your reports aren’t important; in fact, they’re vital to your organisation’s financial health. The point we want to make is that you don’t need to stress about presenting a report. If you’re a new treasurer or feeling a touch nervous, you can note your key points on paper first. But as you grow in confidence and knowledge, you’ll find it easy to glance over your accounts and deliver succinct, yet relevant, information off the cuff.
Of course, using accounting software helps. The right software automatically generates the figures you need in the Treasurer’s Report format, so you don’t have to write up any financial statements. What’s more, these figures stand alone, so you can simply hand them to your secretary to file when you’ve finished presenting your report. However, if you don’t have appropriate software, you will need to prepare financial statements based on the information in this article.
Whatever accounting method you use, the structure of the ideal treasurer’s report is the same:
- You start with a summary
- Continue with an overview of your organisation’s income and expenses
- Expand the overview by providing more detailed financial information for specific activities and areas of operation
- Finish with housekeeping matters.
Kick-off with a brief summary of your accounts, including important matters for the committee’s attention and your opinion on your current financial position. These might include:
• Unexpected income or expenses
• Overdue money owed to your organisation
• Financial issues, such as poor cashflow or relying too much on credit and savings
• Updates on legal requirements, such as GST.
Also known as a Cash Report, this is a summary of the income and expenses from your main bank account year to date. Start with the total amount earned and spent. Then break this down by category, comparing each one against your budget (the right software automatically generates this comparison for you).
For example, your organisation’s income might have been $3,500 for the month. Of this, $3,000 came from grants, which you anticipated in your budget. The other $500 came from events, which you had budgeted to earn twice as much.
Meanwhile, your expenses for the month might have been $1,150. Of this $150 was spent on the events, which was $100 less than expected. At $1,000, your operating expenses were your main cost, which matches your budget forecast.
Other Bank Accounts
If your organisation has other bank accounts, you need to briefly outline balances and transactions. For example, your savings account might contain $416 and have earned $3 interest this month. If there is a lot of activity in those accounts they may also require a detailed report.
Note how much petty cash was spent for the month and on which major items. This is a good time to have the other signatories in your committee sign a cash cheque for the total amount of the receipts presented to top your petty cash float back up to the original amount.
This is where you go into more detail about individual events – whether for fundraising or other purposes – drawing attention to both income and expenses. As with your Category Report, you need to compare these figures against your budget (again, the right treasurer software automatically generates this comparison for you). For instance, a sausage sizzle may have earned $200 and cost $50, which was in keeping with the amount you budgeted. In contrast, your annual Christmas party might have earned nothing, but cost $1,000. This loss is not necessarily a bad thing – you may have planned for the party to be a purely social event and anticipated a loss.
As with above, this is your opportunity to go into more detail about income gained from member fees. If relevant, note which groups, or sections, of your organisation this came from. For example, your junior members may have contributed $2,000, or 60%, of your membership fees for the month.
It is also helpful to provide information on:
• The percentage of expected fees that have been received so far this year
• Overdue fees received from previous years
• Fees received in advance for next year.
Cheques for Ratification
Draw your committee’s attention to cheques that need to be ratified. Essentially, this is about confirming that money has been spent on goods or services that your committee has previously approved.
And That’s It!
Assuming it’s fine, your committee will approve your report by moving and seconding that it be accepted as accurate. If there’s a problem, they’ll probably accept it on the condition you make any required amendments and resubmit your financial statements for filing.
Wait… a Few More Tips
- Hold the committee’s attention – aim for a report that is comprehensive, yet concise and easy-to-understand.
- Avoid using jargon – your committee members may not have strong accounting skills, so deliver your report in simple, everyday language.
- Add real value to your report by analysing the financial information you have at hand. For example, how could trends or patterns be applied to future strategic planning? And what can you learn from an unsuccessful fundraising activity?
- Always sign and date your report.
- Circulate copies of your report well before your monthly meeting to give committee members time to read and digest the information.