When communicating financial information to boards and committees, keep the following three key factors in mind.
Your credibility is on the line when you provide financial information for meetings. A mistake can happen, but if there is a pattern of necessary revisions to reports that have already been released, people will begin to lose trust in the information. It’s important to view preparing for these meetings as more than just another task on your to-do list. The information you provide may be used to make significant decisions about the direction of the ministry. It is critical that every report is accurate.
Information that is received too late may be as useless or detrimental as incorrect information. For example, let’s say you made an electronic payment for a large bill incurred to resurface the parking lot. It didn’t come through as a check, so it would require a journal entry to record the activity. If you are not entering information and producing monthly bank reconciliations in a timely manner, the bank balance will be overstated. Also, if you find that you are not closing the month and are producing month-end financial statements late, look closely at what is causing the delay. Once you get behind, catching up becomes difficult.
Is the information you’re producing of value to the board or committee? You may be working hard and generating multiple reports that are many pages long, but your readers are probably looking specifically at a couple of pieces of information. They flip through the reports, look at those numbers, and then shut down. Work with the group to identify their key information needs and then generate reports that provide those specifics. It may take some training for them to understand what they should be looking for, but giving board or committee members 40 pages of material won’t be beneficial.