Reporting to stakeholders: What, why and how often?
Federal and State regulators dictate the reporting required of not for profit organisations – and in some situations you might have to report to both a Federal and a State body.
If you happen to be an organisation that receives funding from the government or another provider, then it’s likely that your funding is tied to some regular reporting requirements too.
The truth is that for many not for profits with small administration teams, producing this kind of compliance reporting can be an onerous task – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Making financial reporting easier
You can make the process simpler and smoother with the right financial systems and processes.
One of the key reasons that the Accounting For Good team likes cloud based software (such as Xero) is the ability to be up to date – with live bank feeds and the ability to automate routine tasks. Cloud accounting software helps many organisations to have a deeper and broader view of their finances. You can view and access your records from anywhere, at any time, with online access.
We have so much power at our fingertips – smartphones, tablets, laptops – it makes sense to have systems that support real-time management information and reporting.
Essentially, the right software not only cuts down the time, effort and stress involved in preparing the end-of-month, quarterly or annual accounts, it means they can be presented in a variety of formats to suit your range of audiences, internal and external. Reports can be easily tailored for the CEO, the board, funders or auditors.
Reporting to stakeholders and donors
The other real benefit of the volume of information at your fingertips means that you can report to your benefactors with ease at any time too.
Australians are exceptionally generous – we give more than $12 billion a year collectively to causes that touch our hearts and align with our values. In return, we expect transparency, accountability and we love information. Ease of reporting means that you can provide interesting stats and facts for the marketing/PR team.
With the rise in popularity of social media, (which by its very nature demands ‘immediacy and relevance’, and which, by the way, eight out of ten Australians use on a regular basis) you can gain an ‘edge’ in the marketplace with simple, distilled reporting of things like financial goals, progress and achievements, statistics and stories, keeping your donors regularly informed and engaged in your cause.
This is incredibly important as the sector continues to grow and compete for a slice of the fundraising pie. With nearly 60,000 not for profit organisations nationally, the competition can be fierce!
Ease and accuracy and streamlining of reporting cannot be under-estimated. Overall, Accounting For Good’s clients who have embraced cloud-based accounting systems are thriving, quite simply because they have better control over their finances. They’re not caught up in paperwork, which means they can dedicate time to being more effective financial stewards – not just accounting for the numbers, but having a more thorough understanding of both income levels and cost control right across the organisation. And many have been surprised at how cost-effective it is to embrace the change and make the transition.
Future-proofing your organisation
There’s also the future to consider. Not for profit organisations are having to get innovative in the way they accept donations now that people generally carry around less cash. Some have developed their own apps, others have ‘tap and go’ facilities at major fundraising events, many have online facilities for giving. This all makes perfect sense – Australia will at some point in the future, be completely cashless, and when digital transactions are the ‘norm’ your organisation will need accounting software that can make your accounting and reporting seamless, no matter how the funds are collected.