Statistics that matter - financial summary reporting
Regular financial reporting for your non-profit organisation often has to reach very different audiences. Most boards have members who come from widely diverse backgrounds and many will be time-poor. Some board members will be more than comfortable with detailed financial reporting (the standard reports you generate from your financial management package) and others will be less experienced or prefer to only see the key items.
How can you present summarised information in a way that all board members understand?
Synthesizing the financial details for your organisation down to a one or two pager, using a dashboard or summary type of approach, is a very good starting place.
This summary doesn't replace more detailed reports, it presents an overview. You will still report financial details to your board - profit/loss report, YTD compared to budget, comparisons with prior years, income statement, balance sheet, cash flow etc.
Involve the board in the development of your summary report
The management and board know your business so get them involved in defining the content of your summary reporting. You can put together a draft summary report, ask them for feedback then incorporate their feedback into future reports. Keep these questions in mind when you are working on your summary:
- What KPIs (key performance indicators) are relevant to your board?
- Are you providing your board with the appropriate context for this financial information?
- Is all the information you present to your board needed/wanted?
- Have you presented the information in the best way? Some people prefer looking at graphs and others love figures. Use a combination of different methods - make it visual (graphics, charts) and use plain-English explanations.
- Does your summary include key operational data that will help your board to make meaningful decisions?
- Is the information in your summary clear and straightforward? Avoid overanalyzing!
Our simple summary report template...
We are sharing a simple template that our Trust has developed, working collaboratively with friends in other non-profit organisations.
You can download an editable, simple Financial Reporting Template from the Supporting Files section at the right side of this page. It's a simple Word document with some high level information sections - use these as 'starters' and adapt this table to suit your organisation. Add in graphs where appropriate but remember to keep it high level.
Do you have a summary or dashboard report to share?
Do you have a summary financial report that works for your governance group? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share it with other organisations.
Other helpful resources
Financial reporting is covered in the Community Resource Kit on CommunityNet Aotearoa - https://community.net.nz/resources/community-resource-kit/financial-reporting/
MBIE have a good overview of 'how to read financial statements' - https://www.business.govt.nz/business-performance/strategic-finance/how-to-read-financial-statements/