The annual PTA/PTO financial review (aka audit) is something that often strikes fear into the hearts of many Treasurers and committee members. Many consider this mandatory task a tiresome burden at best or a complete nightmare at worst; but it doesn’t have to be that way.
DEVELOP A NETWORK
Utilize your local PTA/PTO community to streamline the audit process. Most audits are conducted with an Audit Committee of three to five people who have had access to the check book. Some groups select a volunteer from the organization and some hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Instead of delegating or outsourcing to a CPA one idea is to invite area groups to conduct their audit for each other; so you can share resources and compare policies. This way audits are completed on the same day, no volunteers are needed and hopefully, no CPAs.
Excitement over the annual audit procedure is an issue that many groups struggle with. Engaging other groups who may have more experience will be helpful for the first-time, or novice, auditor in reviewing financial statements. Auditing each other should make the audit process easier.
WHEN TO AUDIT
A typical annual audit is conducted at the end of the PTA/PTO’s fiscal year. Mid to late summer is an ideal time because financial activity is generally at a low point and there will be very few outstanding checks. There are other times that an audit is important, say when a new Treasurer takes over or financial mismanagement is suspected, but that would best be taken care of on your own, not with a group of outside organizations.
Pick a Saturday morning and a location with plenty of outlets/Wifi. Invite area PTA/PTO’s and a member of the local Council or other leader to attend if questions arise. If an accountant is needed see if one is available that would let you can split the cost amongst yourselves. Have food and drinks on hand or plan a potluck. Great food should take some of the sting out of spending a summer Saturday morning doing an audit!
SAVE THE DATE
If this system works well for you, make it an annual affair. Each year thousands of dollars pass through the account of a PTA/PTO. It is an auditor’s job to review all of those transactions. Auditing other organizations is a great way to get your own audit done, get experience and to build valuable skills. The audit not only is a financial “house clean” it is a great way to start off the school year with confidence.
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