Understanding Audits for Nonprofits (Part 2)

Now that you have determined the need for a nonprofit financial statement audit, it is time to select an accounting firm and begin the process. This can be an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right team on your side and all the documentation you need prepared ahead of time, you’ll be ready to execute a successful audit.

Choosing a Firm

As soon as the need is determined, you can start the process of selecting an accounting firm for your financial statement audit. In addition to selecting a firm that’s certified to perform audits in the state of Illinois, you’ll want to make sure that you choose a team that truly understands your operations and transactions. It’s critical that the firm has extensive nonprofit experience since the regulations differ significantly from those of for-profit businesses. It is highly recommended to ask all potential accounting firms to provide a copy of their most recent peer review certificate and report.

Beginning the Process

After your firm has been selected, you’ll start the organizational and preparation processes.  Your audit team should clearly communicate what documentation you’ll need to have ready initially. You’ll also meet with your auditors to understand what metrics, such as key balances from your balance sheet, will be important to the process. The auditors will go over your risk assessment and internal controls to ensure that they’re working properly. In a perfect world, those meetings should take place throughout the year so that nothing is missed. Finally, the team will review your accounting and personnel policies to ensure everything is up to date. Based upon these discussions, your audit team will determine the procedures that will take place during the audit.

Communication is Key

Once you’re ready to move forward, the most critical element of a successful audit is good communication between the auditors and your internal team. The audit team will relay which key documents will be necessary. Having all of your documentation and reporting ready in advance of any on-site visits will save you time and money. Since most firms bill by the hour, the less time that’s spent on the audit means more resources to devote towards fulfilling your mission.

2018 Changes

As a final note, there are going to be updates to the financial statements themselves. There are new reporting standards that will take effect for 2018’s audits. These changes are going to require major revisions to the current accounting policies and reporting for nonprofits. It’s important to start implementing these changes prior to the end of this year so that you’re prepared for next year. Click here for more information.

An unqualified audit report from the audit firm will provide reasonable assurances to your governing bodies, lenders, and donors that you’re running your organization responsibly. It can help open doors for more funding so that you’ll be able to pursue your mission to the fullest. Contact us today if you have questions about whether you need an audit or to see how we can make the process as seamless as possible.

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